Jul 31, 2008

Boob Tube: Tuning Out to Tune In

I've been doing allot of reflecting these past few weeks in light of my decision to finally tackle my weight problem. One of the hurdles I still face and have yet to conquer is my love-affair with television. That is to say I love watching television and I'm starting to get a clearer picture of how watching TV has a negative impact in relation to my personal weight loss goal.

After work, I typically eat my dinner in front of the television while chatting about my day with my husband Spencer. The very first thing I do once I get myself settled onto the couch is to press the Select button on our DVR remote to see which episodes are ready for viewing. Typical selections are : The Colbert Report, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Tim & Eric Awesome Show GreatJob! and multiple episodes of Locked Up Abroad on truTV. But wait...there's more.

Because I missed a text message one day from a very thoughtful co-worker scooping me that Justin Timberlake was going to be featured in a segment of Entertainment Tonight, I actually decided to record the show every night going forward so that I'd never miss out on a JT sighting again. That decision has costs me an additional 3-1/2 hours of TV viewing to my week. Besides, that's what YouTube is for, right?

Yet I bitch and moan to myself that I just don't have the time or the energy for exercise. Whine, Whine, Whine. I figure that by the time I have dinner and settle myself down for the day it's nearly 8pm and why would I want to exercise so close to my bed time? I'd rationalize to myself that I wouldn't want to get all revved up right about the time I'd be drinking a warm glass of 1% milk and tucking myself into bed for the night. I even go so far as to bargin with myself that I'll exercise on the weekends instead when there's more time, but I never do. Who am I kidding besides myself?  (Incidentally, does walking around The Solomon Pond Mall looking for plus size clothing count?)

My most recent appointment with Jenny Craig was disappointing in the sense that I only lost a pound. To my mind, certainly not good enough by any stretch of the imagination! For all the weight I need to lose to be a healthy optimized human being, I need to be averaging two pounds if I want to hit my goal by early next year.

However, I have been setting these small weekly achievable goals about getting at least 2 to 3 sessions of exercise a week. I've met every week's challenge, but my counselor did make a good point. Perhaps I may want to consider stepping up the exercise because walking my chubby beagle Minnie may not be the most rigorous walk imaginable. After all, we all know Beagles follow their noses and all that careful sniffing doesn't exactly add up to a evenly paced 3 mph walk- more like a .5 mph stroll.

I took her words to heart and intend to begin using our treadmill beginning in August in addition to whatever mild doggy walks I also do at the end of the day. Since I'm following the Jenny Craig program down to the very last exacting detail (I gave up an opportunity for just a 'taste' of chocolate cake today during an afternoon break to celebrate a birthday), I must need to exercise smarter and harder to achieve that weekly two pound weight loss.

Now stay with me for just a little bit longer because I'm about to link the TV watching and the exercise although I'm sure you're clever enough to see where I'm going.

I'm currently reading a book called Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? by Peter Walsh. I recently came across a passage in the book-page 70 to be exact-that really struck a chord in me.

He writes:

"You heard me. I said: Give up TV...TV is the biggest rut that we all fall into. What would your life be like without it? You owe it to yourself to find out. Think of your no-TV time as a gift to yourself. Use the time to plan activities you never have enough time to do: filing papers, reading a book, calling an old friend, going to the gym, hosting a dinner party. Or don't do anything. See where the time leads you." Granted there's no chance in hell I'd ever host a dinner party, but the rest of what he said makes perfect sense to me.

I decided to make a serious change in preparation for my new imposed exercise regime beginning this month. The change involved using the delete button on my DVR. I deleted what I consider to be 'time waster' shows such as all the prison shows, all the cartoons and Entertainment Tonight. I don't need any of it. The cartoons will eventually be available for rent on Netflix and what value is there in my life knowing all the behind-the-scene details about the filming of Mama Mia! the movie with Meryl Streep. Who cares?

Since making this recent decision, I've had some pretty productive past few days. Last night I got my exercise in by pulling weeds for over an hour. I was stooping, kneeling, tugging, pulling and ripping all sorts of stuff in my yard that normally I would just have cut with the electric weed whacker. I even got to see a fuzzy brown and black caterpillar slinking around amongst the weeds. I think I was like ten years old the last time I can recall seeing one of those creatures. I would have never seen something so cute if I wasn't doing the physical act of pulling weeds. In fact, I could very well have sliced and diced the little bugger in half without even knowing it had I used my lawn equipment.

Tonight I was able to stay late at work and clear my inbox which definitely lightened my stress level going into Friday and onward towards the weekend.  I also was able to write this long, long post! That's something I'd like to do more of - simply write.

I am confident that making the decision to delete selected TV shows from my weekly viewing is going to pay dividends. The gift I've given myself is the ability to exercise for 30 minutes 3-5 times a week which will ultimately result in consistent weight loss as I maneuver myself through this new world of eating healthy.

I could learn a lesson from that cute little fuzzy caterpillar - slow and steady wins the race. Or was that the tortoise?

Jul 27, 2008

Chuckles Ju Jubes

Spencer and I went out yesterday to visit the Toadstool Book store in Milford, New Hampshire. Adjacent to the bookseller was a Dollar Tree dollar store. We went in just to browse the aisles to see if they had anything interesting and I found myself cautiously walking down their candy aisle.

I love trolling any dollar store's candy section because I'm almost guaranteed to find some recent 'limited edition' confection that didn't quite make it. It's where I've found Sugar Mamas and Junior Fruit Cremes. Yesterday was no exception.

I was doing totally fine walking down the aisle and taking it all in until I found a bin with about seven bags of Chuckles Ju Jubes candy. I picked up the package and squeezed the small jelly candies. They felt pretty fresh and not at all stale as you would expect buying candy in a dollar store. I turned the yellow bag over and glanced at the calories and serving size.

I found myself having one of those inward dialogues which can only be described as a pint-size portly devil on my right shoulder enticing me with "Buy it! Do you know how rare a find this is? You've been searching for months in Walgreens and CVS just to buy one bag. Buy it! Buy all seven bags." Then I heard the healthy angel on my left shoulder calmly saying “Now Kim, you're doing so well on your Jenny Craig diet. You can't blow it on eating candy. This is a big reason why you're paying a fortune to lose all that weight." The little red devil pressed on saying: "Just buy the candy and figure out how much you can have on your plan and put the rest away deep in a drawer somewhere for later."

I am happy to say that I didn't buy the seven bags of Chuckles. I wanted to so very badly. I continued walking down the aisle thinking about how good the licorice-flavored jujubes would taste. I imagined the sugary delicious paste that three of them would make in my mouth and took a deep breath. I ended up buying a greeting card and a four pack of Certs and got the hell out of there.

Honestly, I'm quite shocked that I didn't buy even one bag of candy. Instead, I pushed past the temptation and made the healthy choice not to derail my weight loss plan. When I meet with my counselor this upcoming Tuesday she'll ask me how the past week turned out.  I'll proudly tell her how I resisted buying seven bags of Chuckles and I'm sure she'll praise me for making a good food choice. But no one except myself knows how difficult it was to walk out of that store without buying the Chuckles Ju Jubes.

After leaving the Dollar Tree, we walked over to Shaw's supermarket because I wanted to buy a few packages of salad and more bananas. I found myself walking through the aisles looking at all the food that I can't have for probably another year and strangely it was so much easier than being in the Dollar Tree with the temptation to buy a stupid bag of $1 candy. I passed large fragrant muffins in the bakery section and effortlessly walked past the snack aisle not even thinking about the Cheetos and the Doritos and the boxes of microwave buttered popcorn. Instead I made my way to the dairy aisle and looked at containers of low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese and bought a few cups for the upcoming week's lunch.

I know to some it may seem like a really small thing, but the choice of not buying those Chuckles Ju Jubes was a big accomplishment for me. Just being able to walk away and not be resentful that I couldn't have something I clearly wanted in lieu of losing all this weight made me feel powerful and purposefully motivated to continue to work towards being healthier on the Jenny Craig program.

Choosing not to buy Chuckles Ju Jubes is clearly a step in the right direction for me. It means that someday I won't have to shop in a Plus Size section of a favorite clothing store. More importantly, one day I'll be able to find another bag of Chuckles Ju Jubes and be satisfied eating the recommended serving size and not the entire bag.

Right now it's very important for me to know that there will always be candy out there to tempt me. It's more important to understand that to have some later will truly be worth the wait.

Jul 26, 2008

Review: The X-Files: I Want to Believe

***SPOLIER ALERT*** I don't consider myself to be the best movie reviewer so there may be snippets of plot revelations below. Read at your own risk.

I scheduled Friday off from work to see The X-Files: I Want to Believe at 11:30am. My intention was to see the movie, be blown away and immediately go back out to buy another ticket to see it again. Then go see The Dark Knight and possibly Wall-E. Friday was supposed to be a day of guilty pleasure sitting in a dark theatre all day being entertained and in someone else's fabricated reality. Sadly the X-Files movie didn't even come close to my very high expectations.

Sitting through the previews before the movie started was pure torture. I found myself rolling my eyes at every preview, shifting in my seat with uncontrollable anticipation while muttering under my breath "C'mon! C'mon! Start already!!"

At the first glimpse of the logo on the screen, you could say a slight shiver went down my spine. I simply couldn't believe 10 years have passed since seeing The X-Files: Fight the Future and I was completely excited to experience this heavily anticipated movie.

Sadly, it hit me about 15 minutes into the movie that this wasn't going to be a good movie. Everything just felt completely wrong. Scully was a doctor working in a creepy Catholic hospital fighting with the administration to save the life of a twelve year boy with a rare disease. My thoughts were racing ahead trying to figure out if this boy was really William (Mulder and Scully's son they had to give up twelve years ago), but realizing it couldn't possibly be because this movie wasn't supposed to deal with any of the show's mythology.

Scully gets approached by an FBI agent Mosley Drummy (played by rapper Xzibit of MTV's Pimp My Ride fame) asking for her help in tracking down Mulder. The FBI has an agent missing and need Mulder's help. If he cooperates, all charges will be dropped against him.

Since this movie was not about The X-Files mythology, the stand alone story meant that you didn't have to be a rabid fan to appreciate the nuances of the Mulder/Scully relationship nor have any knowledge of exactly what types of cases these two former FBI agents solved in the past.

When the audience sees Mulder for the first time he looks akin to Theodore Kaczynksi's Unabomber sitting at his desk with a pair of scissors cutting out newspaper articles and pasting them to his wall. Scully convinces Mulder to help the FBI investigation and away they go.

This is where I'm supposed to explain to you the plot of the movie. I can't say too much because if you do want to see the movie, I'd prefer you to come up with your own conclusions about how well Chris Carter did bringing a second movie to the screen. I can tell you it's about missing women, homosexuality, severed body parts, Russian doctors, a pedophile psychic priest and stem cell research.

I never particularly enjoyed the religious aspects of the X-Files, but I did appreciate this distinction between Mulder and Scully. I loved how Scully would have a keen sense of when to challenge Mulder about scientific evidence vs. faith even as the show strongly morphed into government conspiracy, alien presence and Mulder's stubborn refusal to give up his quest to find his abducted younger sister Samantha.

This movie tries too hard to offer the viewer some of the same flavor of the TV series without the confusing mythology, but sadly fails. I wasn't creeped out, I wasn't scared, I wasn't biting my cuticles waiting for the next scene and most importantly, I wasn't lost in the experience of watching an X-Files movie. Instead I found myself inwardly groaning over very contrived humor, a forced 'break-up' of Mulder and Scully and disappointed that Skinner makes an appearance almost towards the end of the film. Not fair!

Fans of the X-Files deserve so much more than this movie offered. Shame on Chris Carter for directing and writing a movie that was just so completely irrelevant to what made this TV show so special for millions of fans. I'm hearing that if this movie does well, he may make a third movie that focuses on the alien invasion which was supposed to happen on December 12, 2012. He should have skipped making this movie, saved the $30 million bucks the studio gave him and hold out for anotherfour years. The long wait could have been worth it. By doing so, I'm sure he could have tied up all the loose ends to the mythology in a nice package and end the franchise on a proud yet satisfying note.

The one thing this movie accomplished was to inspire me to keep plugging away watching all the shows through season nine in sequential order.  That's where the magic is and gratefully I can go at my own pace because I own all nine seasons on DVD. Also,  I own the first movie and I can watch it again and again and again and love nearly every minute of it - except that near perfect moment when Mulder leans down to kiss Scully. Damn those bees to hell!

Incidentally, I was so upset walking out of the movie that I strode right past the ticket counter and didn't buy my ticket to see The Dark Knight.  I've heard such amazing things about this movie and I didn't want to go in to it being irritated and distracted about all the things that were wrong with The X-Files movie I had just watched.  I wanted to give the movie my full attention and I just wasn't ready to step into another world.  Instead, I drove myself to Northboro and went blueberry picking at Tougas Farms. I settled myself on the ground near a blueberry bush and took out my frustration on the berries. Turns out squishing over-ripe berries is a great way to work through agression.  Who knew?

Jul 25, 2008

The Truth is FINALLY here!

Its one hour and 15 minutes before I'll be able to experience The X-Files: I want to believe movie at Showcase North. I bought my ticket online earlier in the week from Movietickets.com and was annoyed at their surcharge, but still pleased that I got my golden ticket.

I actually had this really detailed and very strange dream about the movie last night. Somehow I was seeing the movie at the old Lincoln Plaza cinema and I was sitting in the movie theatre with my mom and dad on each side of me. The dream morphed into a floating view of Dana Scully having this meeting with Fox Mulder about the two children that they had together. Apparently Dana was in prison and had given birth to both boys as a gift to Mulder. She did something terrible that landed her in prison and Mulder was out there in the world raising their sons together. No signs of Aliens or conspiracy anywhere. Odd. Part way through the dream it started to dissolve and I distinctly remember going up to the ticket booth to complain because their movie projector died and I wasn't able to see the remainder of the movie. I was very pissed off, too.

I must make thank my dad for introducing me to The X-Files.  He used to watch it faithfully every Friday night because he loved a good alien story.  I missed the first five episodes of the first season, but through re-runs was able to catch up on what I missed.  We watched it together most Friday nights in lieu of a movie rental and it was a great thing to do together.  Maybe that's why he and my mom were in my dream last night?

But now it's 10:20am and I still have this wonderful thing to look forward to: I'm going to see the movie this morning. All by myself. It will be me, my bag of fruit to snack on and whoever else is nuts enough to sit in a movie theatre at 11:30am on a Friday morning when today is really the most perfect day weather-wise. No tornadoes, no drenching downpours, the sun is out and the clouds are floating across the sky.

I am going into this movie without any expectations. The previews have been bland as hell and I'm hoping that the film surprises me since Chris Carter has been very protective about revealing the plotline of the movie.  I know it's not going to do The Dark Night numbers the box office this opening weekend, but hopefully the legion of fans known as X-Philes will come in droves to the theatre to support a show that has given them such fond memories of watching groundbreaking television in the the early 90's. 
Today and today only, Amazon.com is offering each of the 9 seasons on DVD at 60% off. That's $19.99 for each season.A very good deal indeed.

I don't think my strength is writing movie reviews, but I will definitely do a post later this weekend telling you about my experience.

Jul 19, 2008

Minnie is starting to get Mini herself !

Our beagle Minnie went to Furry Essentials this morning for her 10:30am grooming appointment.  Joanne mentioned that Minnie looked like she had lost some weight.  I happily explained that I had noticed a difference and it was probably because we've ramped up the night-time walks and have been feeding her a weight-management dog food.  I also joined Jenny Craig a month ago which has resulted in Minnie licking low-fat Ranch dressing from my salad bowl rather than eating left over pizza crusts.

When I returned at noon to pick her up, Joanne and June were so excited to tell me that Minnie weighs 24 pounds!  They last weighed her in January and she was 30 pounds.  I couldn't believe it.  I was in shock.  I mean, I noticed that the sides of her body looked a little slimmer, but six pounds?  Joanne joked about Minnie's "girlish figure." 

Upon returning to the car, I excitedly called my sister-in-law Katie's cell phone to share the good news.  Katie's been doing a great job of stopping over the house at various times each day to take Minnie on a round and sometimes the very long walk over at her house in Shrewsbury.

When Spencer got home and I gave him the good news he said something like "I doubt it."  I was crestfallen.  I knew losing six pounds in six months was too good to be true.  I thought about it and re-evaluated Minnie's 'girlish figure'.  She still was a little plump around her middle, but she definitely had developed a curve.  Maybe she lost some weight?

I guess the only way to tell is to put some fresh batteries in my digital scale and weigh her myself.  So wish us luck.  I'll be sure to post the results soon.

In other news, I discovered this site called SensibleUnits that has a clean, nifty interface proclaiming to "Convert boring units to real objects as you type."   So for the hell of it, I typed in 11.2 pounds and received the following results:

  • 36 wireless computer mice
  • 12 cans of baked beans
  • 3.1 average physics textbooks
  • 1 average domestic cat
I particulary can relate my 11.2 pound weight loss to following the Jenny Craig plan, but being able to visualize that my weight loss represented a kitty cat was more meaningful.   I recall a while back thinking as I hoisted Minnie up into my arms that this is what carrying 30 pounds on my body feels like.  I further realized that to get back to an ideal healthy weight for me would mean losing about 90 pounds.  Think about it.  I'm walking around with three Beagles on my 5'2 frame. 

I'm hoping this Tuesday will find me celebrating my first miletone of 5% weight loss since being on the program. I think I'm going to continue to track my weight loss and see what it amounts to in common everyday objects such as 12 cans of baked beans. 

I can't wait to achieve 1 average Beagle.

Jul 18, 2008

I'm Not Hungry Like...

It's funny how Friday rolls around and I realize that I'll be able to go back to Jenny Craig to get weighed again and replenish my fridge in a matter of days.  I actually now look forward to stepping on their scale.

As I've mentioned in the past, the program is very flexible about substituting one food for another if I don't like it.  I was thinking this morning that I'd like to ask my counselor Laura if I could have a muffin two times next week instead of the one I'm usually given in my menu planner.  They taste so good and I realize that I grow to look forward to the one day in the week that I have a banana and a blueberry muffin with my morning coffee and Fox25 news.  (That's what happened this morning and it was deliciously wonderful)

I came home from work today and decided to take a quick nap.  The nap ended up lasting until about 8pm and I realized after I had woken up that I still hadn't eaten dinner.  I wasn't hungry, but decided to eat anyways because it was getting so late.  That's the great thing about this weight loss program-it's very rare that I have that famished feeling at anytime during the day.

I'm also continue to make good choices about avoiding temptation.  It was so beautiful today that a few of us decided to go get sandwiches at a local deli and then go back to Sharon's house to sit out on her deck in the sun.  Sharon recently joined Weight Watchers and I already had my lunch so we simply skipped going inside the deli.  Instead we microwaved our lunch and enjoyed the beautiful sunny day.  I would never have been able to stay away from going to the deli to get a great sandwich in the past.  Being on this Jenny Craig plan really is motivating me to think about how and when I eat food. 

Jul 15, 2008

Can't Hardly Wait!

10 days to the premiere of The X-Files: I Want To Believe movie. 

I'm ready to go. I've requested next Friday off from work and I plan to see the first early morning show. And then I'll get back in line and buy another ticket so I can see it again.

I'm going solo so I don't impart painful bruising on any friends sitting next to me.  I'll do my best to keep my squeals of excitement down to a minimum, but I'm not promising I won't lunge forward in my seat in utter JOY when the movie starts.

Sadly, I haven't been this excited since Duran Duran were singing the James Bond theme song in A View To A Kill and I got myself kicked out of the theatre for causing a ruckus.

One can hope that I've learned my lesson.

Awesome! Great Job!

Just wanted to share with my readers that my 4th weigh-in at Jenny Craig has found me very pleased with myself for losing 11.2 pounds in a month.

It's been a fairly easy first month on Jenny Craig. The food is overall very tasty which still is so surprising to me. There were a few things that were hard to swallow such as their Anytime Bars which I don't buy anymore because 1% milk is much nicer. I also didn't like the salmon meal nor did I enjoy eating their tuna salad kit. YUCKO! But the really great thing about Jenny Craig is I simply have to say to Laura my counselor that I'd like to substitute the 'gross' for something else and it's a painless swap.

I have tried low fat cottage cheese for the first time in my life because on certain days it's a requirement to have 1/4 cup. I tried it and although I'm not a huge fan, I can enjoy a few spoonfuls without the gag reflect kicking in. Baby steps.

This weekend the family is going to Legal Seafoods in Natick for a dual birthday celebration in honor of Katie and Spencer. For the past week I've been looking forward to having fish and chips with a hearty desert. But after talking it over with my counselor, I have decided to forgo the splurge for two reasons: (1) I lost 3.2 pounds this week and I want to keep the momentum going strong and most importantly (2) eating fried food might wreck havoc on my delicate Eco system after eating healthy for four weeks. Makes sense to me. Her advice reminded me of an unfortuate incident I had many months ago when I decided to have a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

I'm doing great staying focused and taking good care of myself these days. It feels weird to be so concerned about myself when for countless years I put the needs of my mother first. Every pound that comes off my body reminds me that I'm slowly melting away the results of past stress and frustration and eventually I'll grow myself back.

Jul 2, 2008

Happy Birthday America!

I’ve discovered over the past few years that there are many benefits to having a long weekend as a result of a holiday landing on a Friday or a Monday.

This upcoming Fourth of July lands on a Friday and already I’m noticing less traffic on Routes 495 and 9. Monday found me running very late for work, yet due to the decreased traffic, I managed to slide into work only ten minutes late.

I’ve also noticed that people who work in offices with a holiday landing at the beginning or ending of a week take full advantage of pushing all their priorities into other’s in-boxes. They clear their desks and feel something akin to accomplishment when they can tell their supervisor or manager with confidence that they don’t have any outstanding issues going into a long holiday weekend. No worries! I’m typically the recipient of other worker’s problems. Their emails land fat and happy into my in-box and I struggle to maintain my composure trying to get everything all done before I feel comfortable celebrating any holiday we all take for granted.

Another aspect of the long weekend is getting into a funk of not wanting to achieve anything substantial because your week will be interrupted by the upcoming holiday. I typically look forward to Thursday and Friday because it’s usually at this point in the week that meeting requests diminish and folks start to slid into their weekend. Monday through Wednesday always finds me the busiest and certainly looking forward to a smooth transition into the end of the week.

Summer holidays like Fourth of July are also impacted by office workers who decide to throw in a week’s vacation on top of their holiday. Because I’m no strategist when it comes to planning to extend a holiday weekend by another day or better yet, another week- I always say to myself that next year I’ll remember to do things differently. (I said this last year and the year before that…I’ll never learn.)

Since today is Wednesday and two days before the big holiday weekend, everything around me has slowed down except me. I’m definitely looking forward to the long three-day weekend, but it’s difficult to focus on the long term benefit of sleeping in and being leisurely when I know there’s still one more day of work left in my week

At least tonight after work I can look forward to seeing Kung Fu Panda at Showcase North and ease into Thursday knowing it truly is the last day of my holiday week.