Sunday, June 26, 2011

Forbidden Fruit!

I'm here to report on my first week on the diet train.  As previously reported, it was time to Get Serious and after some serious consideration, I selected The 17 Day Diet, which consists of four 17 day cycles.  Right now, I'm in the "Accelerate" cycle, which is fairly restricted.  However, I must say that this first week has gone better than expected.  While I may occasionally feel a twinge of "hey, I'd like to eat something," my plan allows me to munch away, so I never get to that crazy, shaky, "I'd eat the lid off the peanut jar and push my mama off a cliff to get to the jar" stage of hunger.

A few things to know:  Plenty of lean protein, but as I'm not a fish-eater, I've been getting creative with chicken, as two-plus weeks of grilled chicken salads would get me to clucking!  I'm still getting plenty of carbs, but it's all coming from fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.  No bread, no potatoes, no rice, no pasta (yet).  No sugar and no artificial sweeteners, so no diet soda.  Some fruit is okay (not melon though, so the muskmelon sandals at the top of the post are merely decorative.  Then again, they probably should stay that way in any event), but fruit is to be consumed before 2 in the afternoon to give my body time to burn off the sugar.  That's actually turning out to be good for me.  I tend to get wound up at work and eat very, very late in the day.  This makes me go "Hmm.  If I want those blueberries, better find a stopping place."  I had a long drive on Friday and was snacking on fresh blueberries as I drove along the interstate.  Better than popping M&Ms.

I'm exercising more.  On top of my cheapo pedometer tracking my daily step count, I've hit the gym three times this week and done a "briskly paced" walking DVD at home two times.  (By the way - that phrase "briskly paced" should be read as "it's good for me, but it's also good that chirpy woman isn't in the room with me.  These hand weights could do some damage and, around Minute 22, it looks like maybe a good idea").

So what's the bottom line?  It's Day Seven and I'm down two kilos (4.4 pounds).  I've got more energy than I had last week and I'm willing to not throw it all away for a box of Red Hots.  Parts of this seem a little crazy to me - I'm guzzling water like a camel at an oasis, hot lemon water when I first get up, plenty of green tea every day - but I can't argue with results.  I'm eating foods I haven't tried before, getting experimental with spices, and actually liking going to the gym for circuit training.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Time to Get Serious!

I'm changing the focus of this blog for the next few weeks - hope you don't mind.  Like many women, after a certain birthday, I've found pounds creeping on and refusing to vacate the premises.  I've tried a variety of methods to counter the trespassers and, while I've had some success (I took up whole grains, for example), I'm just sick and tired of not seeing much change.

So it's time to Take Steps.

I've never been one to closely examine bookstore shelves for diet advice, feeling that it's all either (1) pretty much the same - cut sugar and fried foods, watch portion size, and exercise more or (2) kooky junk that desperate women will do despite usually having common sense, like slurping cabbage soup three times a day.  Therefore, I was a little shamefaced about looking at these books, almost like I'd been caught doing something Not Quite Polite.  Also, I accept that obesity is a (pardon the pun) huge problem in American society and I know that I'm really just looking to lose what my English friends would refer to as "a stone," but it's been a nagging problem for me.

But, like Willow, I am wearing my Resolve Face.  I've looked over the book and made my shopping excursion.  I have the CliffsNotes version printed out and posted on the fridge.  Everything starts tomorrow.  The first cycle only lasts 17 days and the only restriction that seems tough to me is giving up even whole grains for that time (rice, pasta, and bread are all verboten for the first cycle, after which I get to reintroduce them). It's a little of Atkins in that it's high-protein, low-carb. The idea is to spark a noticeable weight loss during this first cycle so I don't get discouraged.

I'll keep you posted.  Don't worry, this won't turn into a place where I constantly fret about "how I'm doing," but knowing that I'm going to post will (I hope) keep me on the straight and narrow during this time.

In some ways, this is just another way that I'm Getting Serious.  To wit, I've always been interested in politics, but mostly in the theoretical way.  I vote (not straight ticket) and I follow the news and I go tsk, tsk a lot, but until recently, that's been the extent of it.  But there's a change in the air here at the Nest.  My much-beloved state is doing some things that aren't just bordering on the country of Stupid, they pretty much are setting up housekeeping there.  Of course, the state budget has plenty of things in there for everyone to get upset about - I could almost accept that, in working on such a gargantuan task, there would be some tough decisions that I didn't like.  Well, I was right about that.  But:
  • Cutting all funding to Governor's School.  This is a summer enrichment program for advanced high school students who show unusual promise in science, mathematics, writing, the arts, etc.  Founded in 1963, NCGS is a jewel.  By being forced to impose tuition, which for the next year affected by the just-passed budget is estimated to be $1,700 per student, the program will be unable to meet one of its primary purposes which is to reach the promising student of limited means.  The best and the brightest shouldn't have to rely on the kindness of strangers dropping spare change into a pickle jar at local gas stations to fund such programs.  
  • Cutting all funding to the NC Teaching Fellows program.  This program is a merit-based program that grants scholarships of $6,500 per year to students throughout their four years of undergraduate instruction, with the provision that upon graduation from college, the students will repay the state by teaching for four years in NC public schools. Built-in trained teachers ready to tackle work in public schools - can't have that.
  • Muzzling the state Department of Revenue from vigorously going after multi-state corporations who juggle the location of their taxable assets in a transparent dodge to avoid paying state taxes.  We already have the lowest business taxes in the nation (same as the previous link) and the lowest percentage (3.2%) of unionized workers.
Those items were included in the state budget that our governor vetoed and the legislature overrode.  I can't do anything about that - until the time comes to hit the campaign trail.  But the next one got me involved - I've never written so many e-mails to my elected representatives before.  Both my state representative, state senator, and governor heard from me.  It might not matter - I'm only one person, but it has to start somewhere.  And this is simply outrageous.

Disingenuously called the "NC Women's Right to Know Act," the bill (which is waiting for the governor's signature or [please] veto) would require the following before a legal abortion could be performed:

  • A 24 hour waiting period (which for many in NC will involve finding a place to stay the night since abortion clinics aren't all that widespread in NC, which is mostly rural)
  • A required ultrasound, paid for by the patient
  • A session with the doctor, who will explain the ultrasound images, the development of the fetus, and explain what alternatives are available to the woman.  The woman is permitted to "avert her eyes" from the images.  The doctor is given a lengthy list of items that must be included in his spiel - yes, the legislators thoughtfully provided a script for the licensed professional physician to follow.
  • The only exception here is a "medical emergency," which is defined as imminent danger of the death/irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the woman.  Psychological or emotional damage from continuing the pregnancy is specifically not included in the definition of a "medical emergency."  See subsection (4) in the "Definitions" section at the start of the bill.
  • Oh, and there's no exception in the case of rape or incest.  None.
At this point, I think I actually felt my blood boil.  Imagine a rape victim who has become pregnant as the result of the attack (or an incest victim, a crime that only became a serious felony in NC in 2002.  Outrageous and it wasn't easy to strengthen the penalties - read here for details) having to pay for an ultrasound and then having to listen to a doctor explain the development of the fetus and explain what resources are available to help her with the pregnancy, which is the result of a heinous crime against her.  

How dare the legislature treat NC women as so thick-headed that they don't know what's going on inside them?  And how dare the legislature interfere in the very-nearly-sacred privileged relationship between a doctor and a patient?

I see the trend here - and it's time to start yelling.  You'll find me writing more e-mails, volunteering with my local precinct and talking your ear off about these issues.  I love North Carolina, but I'm not going to live in a state that dismisses the average citizen the way our current legislature is doing.

And I'm not leaving.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Big Hats & Delta Blues

An eventful couple of days.  Yesterday, I hosted a "Belmont Belles" soiree.  Basically, about a dozen fillies got together to put on floppy hats and pick horses.  More than anything, it was an excuse to visit with friends and nibble on Southern summer delicacies such as chicken salad, strawberries with powdered sugar, and pimento cheese.  Yum!  The preacher's wife picked the winning horse, which makes me more prone to believe in divine intervention.  (I picked the favorite - nearly always a mistake in the Triple Crown races - who was lucky to finish sixth after a collision just out of the starting gate.)  It was a fun time and I think I'll try that one again.

Poor FryDaddy was put to work - he valiantly cleaned, chopped, swept, shoved furniture around and then disappeared with Victorian Marxist to watch a movie in peace while the hens descended on the house.  He really was a trouper about the whole thing.

Just the day before, I had an appointment to follow up on something that my "throat doc" had been concerned enough about to send me to a colleague.  Leaving out some of the gruesome details, I have scar tissue in my trachea.  This has to be monitored (leaving out the "how" that is accomplished is one of the aforementioned gruesome details) because scar tissue is rather like kudzu.  It's a non-native species that, if left unchecked, will totally take over, choking the very life out of whatever it curls around.  Thanks to modern medicine, taking care of this isn't that terrible.  But lately, my nose seemed to be getting involved, along with the throat, so off I went to see a "nose doc" who would interpret the CT scan.  (That's not mine at the top of the post, but it gives you an idea.  Sort of like a Rorschach inkblot, isn't it?  Or like an aerial view of a river delta.  Mine's not nearly so symmetrical, which explains the "delta blues" part of the post title.)

The doctor and I got along well - always a consideration with me.  If I can't crack jokes and still get my questions answered, it's best for all involved for me to find someone else.  (My favorite involved a doctor I saw about my throat seeing on my chart that I was an attorney [strange, but true - passed the Bar exam more than a decade ago] and asking, "So are you a malpractice attorney?" and me answering, "Not yet."  He laughed and we got along famously.)  All joking aside, I make my living talking and teaching other people to talk - I'm very particular about who gets to poke around my larynx and in such an instance, I much prefer to go to the people who write the scholarly articles rather than the ones who (hopefully) read them.

As he put it, "You have some anatomical anomalies here."  Yep - I have mutant sinuses, yet without any accompanying mutant powers, which just seems unfair.  Shouldn't I at least get to breathe fire?  In short, I have a septum (the thingie that divides the nostrils into two sides) that goes hard to the right.  I have openings in my sinuses where I shouldn't and I have closed chambers where there should be openings.  In short, it's a mess which is causing swelling, pressure, "recirculation" (the snot's too dumb to get out of the sinus chambers), and shortness of breath.  Nothing dangerous, but it's beyond just being annoying.  So in August, both docs are going to work on me.  (Much preferable to me than having two surgeries done.)  The throat surgery is quite minor (again, thanks to modern medicine) but the nasal work is more involved.  He'll "detach" the septum and reset it, then basically reconstruct my sinus cavities to close off opening and open up closings.  Recovery will not be lengthy, but it's likely to make me grumpy - stents to breathe through, black eyes, packing - much yuck.

And no guarantee of mutant powers at the end of it.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Welcome to Pip!

The Nest got a little bit bigger this week, as we adopted (or were adopted by, there's a bit of confusion on that point) a teensy grey ball of fluff. FryDaddy had been longing for a cat for quite a while and I certainly have no aversion to the felines of the world - in fact, my very first pet was a Siamese/alley mix named "Mishka" whom I loved as fiercely as any five-year-old has ever loved. We didn't know this one's name at first, which is okay as animals will tell you their name, if you're just patient for a bit. Turns out this little lady is Chiana, which just happens to also be the name of an exceptionally agile, acrobatic, grey-skinned thief in the TV show Farscape. Like that Chiana, this one is nicknamed "Pip."

Pip seems to be settling in nicely - she only arrived Friday night, and she's already had the indignity of her first vet visit. She's quite healthy, has had her first round of shots, and has figured out where her food and litter box are located. She's discovered that she can climb, so it's time to "kitty-proof" the house by putting up some of the breakables that I would both cry over and cause others to cry over should they be broken. Spooky is entranced by Pip and wants very much to lick her. Pip, on the other hand, is understandably cautious about this mountain of slobbery fur and is prone to hissing and lashing out with teensy claws when Spooky ventures too much into what Pip considers her space. I have high hopes that things will work themselves out over the next few days as the critters find boundaries and treaties are reached.

It's likely to be an interesting week, don't you think?