Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Happiness Project

I've always been a relatively happy person. And while I'm not known as the person who smiles all the time and is always in a good mood, generally, people that come in contact with me find me in good humor. In fact, there are only two times in my life that I can look back on and say that I've had significant moments on unhappiness--middle school, when I thought I was ugly, fat, and hated by everyone, and early college, when I was having similar thoughts.

This semester (and last semester, too) has been really rough. And while I wouldn't say that I've been unhappy, I've certainly had my moments. I'm homesick. I miss my fiance like crazy (I just realized today that we're now keeping up a long distance relationship--before, I just felt really lonely without him). The classes I'm taking now aren't thrilling me, and I'm wrestling with deciding if I want to jump into my PhD in the next few years, or if I want to wait, and where Dustin and I will live once I get my MA. I feel stupid in most of my classes, and I'm not exactly sure how to catch up. My cats are adorable, but they've chewed through a lot of money this semester (mostly in power adapters for my laptop). I don't know if Dustin will be able to find a job once he moves here, and I worry about our finances. And I can't seem to get below 180 lbs no matter what I do. Et cetera and so on.

I had a mild revelation a few days ago, sparked by this movie trailer. It was one of those revelations that shouldn't really be a revelation, but it was. If I dwell on these things that make me unhappy, I'm going to be an unhappy person. And I really don't want to be an unhappy person. There are far too many of them in the word already. I don't mean that I shouldn't think about my future--my education and Dustin's career and our joint bank account are all things that need to be thought about, but not with this overwhelming sense of desperation that tends to surrounds my thoughts on these subjects. I need to keep joy at my center, even when things feel unbalanced.

There are a few memorable people in my life, and I usually remember them because of how unstoppably joyful they are. I want to be one of those people, and so I'm going to try. I don't mean to be glib about life. I know there are a lot of people who struggle with being happy. It's not as easy as just deciding to be happy. I know this. But I must try. I know it won't be as simple as waking up and saying "I am going to be happy today," but can't that be a start? Otherwise, where would I even begin?

Here. Now. With The Happiness Project.

How would you start on your own Happiness Project?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Working Out Like a Girl

I've been blogging for a year now, and there have always been way more women weight loss/health bloggers than men. And dieting has been a traditionally female thing to do. Not that I think it should be. In fact, I think dieting and exercise for the purposes of losing weight has been so cast as something only women do that men are hesitant to pursue weight loss, especially publicly. I can't think of many reasons why there were so few men at Weight Watchers meetings when I was a member a few years ago (women often came to the meetings with their daughters, sisters, and female friends, but almost never their husbands or brothers or sons). I can't think of many other reasons why there are only two weight loss blogs authored by men on my Blogger, and one of them (there are more, I'm sure, but I haven't stumbled across them yet). And this has to be the only reason that I'd have a conversation like this with my fiance (I'm in the green bubbles, he's in the grey ones):

Since he thinks Jillian is girly-girl dancing around, I can. not. WAIT. for him to try her workout. Dustin is going down.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What a Bitch

I know I'm probably the last person in America to try Jillian's 30 Day Shred. It's as hard as everyone says. And it has to be, if she's going to slap a "Lose 20 pounds in 30 days!" message on the cover.

But wow, that was hard. I've always said that I wanted Jillian to come kick my ass during a workout. I lied. I don't want Jillian. She's mean, and she makes me hurt. She's kind of a bitch during this workout, shouting things like, "Don't you dare stop," "No cheating," "I've got 400 lb people that can do this; so can you," and "If you want results in a 20 minute workout, you've got to work for it." Thanks, Jillian. Of course I knew these things already, but it's not fun hearing that I have to work hard in a work out. I mean, sheesh, who is this woman?
Oh. Hi, Jillian. I don't have a picture of myself in a swimsuit, because it's scary. Um, thank you for being a bitch. I kind of need it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Little Patch of Green, Day 1

So today, I started a garden. But in planters, as I don't have a yard. Seems unfair that I have to buy my dirt, doesn't it?Growing some of my own veggies and herbs has been something I've wanted to do since I moved into my first apartment. Call it nesting. Call it healthy. Call it environmentally friendly. But unfortunately, my first apartment was on the top floor, surrounded on all sides by trees, and I had a 3x4 patio for a yard. In my new apartment, I still don't have a yard, but I have a much larger patio, that gets full sun.
So now that we're past the last frost (a phrase you hear a lot when you start thinking about gardening), I went to Home Depot and bought planters, potting soil, and 10 packets of seeds. I'm now growing zucchini, yellow summer squash, carnival bell peppers, cilantro, parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, spearmint, and catnip on my 5x6 concrete patio. (The catnip's not for me. I hope that's obvious.)To be honest, I have no idea what I'm doing. I waver between thinking I'm planting too early and much too late. I planted things too closely, too densely, and I probably covered some of my seed with too much of the wrong soil. I will inevitably forget to water and fertilize these plants. But I don't care. It's a good start, and I'm excited to watch stuff grow (or not, as the case may be). Plus, it was super fun getting my hands dirty.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Treats for People Like Me

If you're like me, you don't last very long without a sugary, usually chocolately treat. If you're even more like me, you tend to take your treats too far, and turn them into binges. And if you're exactly like me, you allow your binges to completely throw you off your game, convince me you'll never succeed, so you gain 10 pounds (or more) until you decide to star over, this time swearing off treats all together until you (inevitably) binge again.

The solution. Treat yourself. But only make enough treats to last you a couple of servings. Yes, I said make. I find that if I buy treats (say a small bag of chocolates, or a trip through Sonic's drive through for some ice cream), I don't savor it, and it's only a few days before I feel like I need another "treat," (which of course leads me to said binge).

This is my current favorite treat:

These are double dipped strawberries. They're more expensive than a regular Reese's Sonic Blast, but they're healthier, and way tastier. Oh, and you have to make them. But they are super easy to make.

You need: strawberries, 1 1/2 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate, and 1 1/2 white chocolate baking squares. You'll also need a cookie pan, wax paper, two bowls, and a microwave.

Obviously, you're going to melt the chocolates (~45 seconds in the microwave) and then dip the strawberries. (Though it's helpful to let the first layer harden before your dip the second). And the pretty swirls? That happens when the semi-sweet shell melts into the white chocolately goodness.

I've estimated each strawberry to have right around 37 calories (I use Baker's Brand chocolates), so 3 of these is your 100-calorie snack 0' the day (minus the excess packaging and ridiculous ingredients).

So go ahead, treat yourself.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Can I just say that yoga ALWAYS makes me feel super sexy? I have no idea why I stopped doing it, because really, right now? I could conquer the world because I'm that super hot. (And WAY more flexible than I thought I'd be!)

And I am LOVING the fact that you can watch fitness videos instantly on Netflix. Today I did this one: Crunch Super Slim Down. It was harder than I thought it would be, but it moves really quickly through a full body workout, and gives you several rest points throughout the 35 minute workout.

And seriously, you will feel like a super flexible, sexy goddess in a worn out pair of Old Navy yoga pants.

(Oh, and by the way? This is Day 3 in a row of me working out!)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Step aside, Jillian...

...because the people at Self may be just as cruel.

I just completed the Self Bikini Ready, Fast workout, and ohmygoodness. As Juno said in the delivery room, "Ow, Ow, Fuckkity OW!!!" Let the record show that it is after 1 AM, and I was am so committed to getting my workout done EACH and EVERY SINGLE DAY, that I started working out at 12:30. IN THE MORNING.

It hurt so bad. My legs, arms, and abs are shaking. The muscles in my back hurt. I wanted to quit, multiple times. But I couldn't. You see, the fitness leaders were working out in front the tide rolling in on a beach, and they were all tan and smiling, and they kept talking about looking graceful in a bikini, so it's not like I could stop. Not with that hanging over my head. I don't even look graceful fully clothed.

This workout targets your entire body, but the parts that are hurting me most are my quads (it's a good thing I've planned to wear flats tomorrow, because there's no way I could walk, much less teach in heels after this!). My arms and back muscles were already sore after Billy Blank's Tae Bo that I did yesterday, but I have a sneaking suspicion I won't be able to hoist my Early American Lit anthology tomorrow. I was doing curls and figure 8s and lifts and all kinds of crazy things with my arms and weights, and there were LOTS of squats involved. LOTS and LOTS of squats. And lunges, and plyo jumps. And balancing. But no smiles on my part, no way. That was totally the trainer's deal. (Maybe if I was working out on a completely tourist-free beach in Mexico, I could smile through a workout, too.)

The best part? It's on Netflix, available as a Watch Instantly selection. It's an exact half-hour workout, so it's perfect for us Lentils.

P.S. I just finished reading a few Amazon reviews, and people were calling this a good workout for your off days. I think that unless you identify more with the Roni's and Mizzes of the world would you call this an "off-day" workout. I can't wait until I'm there with you. But for now? I'm totally fine with a 30 minute workout that will make me unable to climb stairs or lift anthologies.

P.P.S. Lest people think I'm going nuts trying to look like a swimsuit model for some sports magazine, I am not. The swimsuit I'm actually trying to get into looks more like the one the girl second from the right is wearing. But in black. With cute little blue peek-a-boo flowers on the bust to emphasize my decolletage (like it needs emphasizing!) Only a few more inches!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Feeling Like a Failure

Lately, I have been one grumpy lady. I haven't been sleeping, I miss Dustin and my family like crazy, and I can't seem to keep caught up with my schoolwork. So of course, my diet and exercise has suffered. It's not even on the back burner anymore; it's completely off the stove and stored in a Tupperware dish in the fridge behind the 24-can case of Diet Dr. Pepper. And my weight is back up to 198. Granted, that's still down from my original 214 start, but c'mon! I was at 185 before Thanksgiving, and I haven't been able to even get close to that since then!!! Needless to say, this is frustrating. I feel like even when I'm doing good work and tracking my food and exercise, I'm not losing any weight. So I go on a weekend binge, and any progress I was making went out the window. And I'm not motivated at all to work out--I've only done 3 days of 8 for my Laziness-for-Lent challenge!

I need to rearrange my mind, as I can't seem to get past seeing slow progress as a failure. How do you deal when your mind is the only obstacle? How do you convince yourself that slow progress is NOT failure?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Not Being Lazy Takes Effort

Somehow, when I promised to give up laziness for Lent, I thought it would happen by itself. I didn't stop to consider that when I was giving up laziness, that meant I would have to, you know, work at it.

I did my bellydance on Wednesday, but didn't work out on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. This morning, Fat Bridesmaid lamented her funkedness on Twitter, and I was right there with her. I'd slept in until noon, and was planning on spending the entire day in my pajamas, eating whatever it was I have in my cabinet (which somehow inludes chocolate chips and white chocolate baking chunks I bought for dipping strawberries in, but so far, I've only eaten them sans fruit). We said a workout was in order, and instead of just agreeing with her and continuing to sit on my ass, I actually got up.

I just finished the "Foundations" workout for Billy Blank's Tae Bo. I took a self-defense class as an undergrad, and all the "moves" (punches and kicks) have stuck with me, amazingly, but wow, I worked up a sweat and I'm probably going to be sore tomorrow.

And you know what? I feel energized now. I'm gonna get my shower, eat a good breakfast lunch, and get on with my day. I'm ready for my day!