ack.

Guys, Hensleyitis is having a stroke. I don’t know what the hell I did. Bear with me.

Edit: Jesus jumping jehosephat christ. At least it’s readable now. I hope. I just wanted to freshen things up a little, geez. I am not a fan of this particular theme, but I’m kind of afraid to mess with anything.

day 14 and my giant mutant calves.

Doing good! I’m eight pounds down and two inches off my waist, which I figure is not bad for two weeks in. I’ve graduated from my two pound light weights up to five pounds, though I’m hanging on to the eight pounders as my heavy weights for now since I’m not really able to use them as much as I’m supposed to be doing without my arms screaming for mercy. There’s honestly not a whole lot to say about the workouts, since it’s just repeating the same seven from week one, albeit a little more efficiently.

Diet is going well, slipped up a little this week on my salt consumption, though. I’ve got to get that stuff out of the house. It calls to me like a siren who loves me and wants nothing more than for me to retain water weight and have high blood pressure, as if that’s so terribly much to ask. So today it’s all getting washed down the drain. Really. I swear.

So for the most part, I’m building muscle, and I’m happy with most of it. I’m seeing little changes where my fat is changing shape to conform to the muscle beneath it. The only thing that is not cool about this is the elephantitis (that almost-typo was fun) which has inflicted itself upon my poor calves.

Seriously. I’ve always had pretty good muscle in my calves, as a result of being significantly overweight for practically my entire life. They had to either adapt or die. But these workouts that I’ve been doing, they work every muscle, including my calves, which very much do not need to be any larger. I mean, I’m sure they’ll slim down some as I lose more weight, but seriously, guys, this is not like my baby bicep or my baby ab situation where there’s a substantial layer of fat on top. I honestly don’t know if they’re going to get any smaller, and I’m a little concerned about exactly how big they’re going to get.

In case you don’t believe me, here is the closest thing you’ll get to a before picture, at least until I hit my total goal and don’t look anything like the before picture anymore:

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Look at that. That is not natural. That is never going to fit into sexy knee-high boots. I mean, I have no illusions that I will someday be this tiny, svelte little thing (my wrists are seven inches around, y’all, there was never any hope in the known universe of my being svelte), but I would at least like to have normal proportions that don’t include hulk calves.

The mister, for the record, called them “impressive.” My calf muscles are bigger around than his head, and they’re “impressive.” I guess I’ll take what I can get.

more on this health thing.

So, I’ll start off with the nitty gritty which is, I’m sure, what you all want to know most: On day 8, I have lost a total of 5.5 pounds and one inch off my waist :D. I’m even starting to feel and see a few muscles.

I keep going back and forth with being impressed about the shakes, and right now I’m back to not terribly impressed. It didn’t seem to make a noticeable difference to my energy level after the first day, and I’ve yet to find a flavor/texture combination that actually tastes good. I mean, it’s all right, but not great, you know? So my plan is to finish out the supply I have, and then not drink them for a month, and see if there’s a noticeable difference in energy and/or weight loss.

The food part of the equation hasn’t been overall too difficult, either, though a little frustrating with trying to find different ways to prepare vegetables that doesn’t involve smothering them in butter, salt, and/or cheese. I’ve managed to come up with some tasty concoctions, though, and I’ve even gotten the mister to grin and bear it through his broccoli and carrots.

The workouts are getting progressively easier for me to do, which would be expected, I would think. I like that they work out a different group of muscles every day. I have discovered, though, that I utterly and completely despise ab workouts. I suppose that once I have a little less fluff in the general abdominal area, I’ll be able to do a crunch without popping blood vessels in my head. Until then I’ll just resort to doing a few crunches and then just repeatedly lifting my legs/hips up off the floor, which seems to work out the same muscles without trying to dislocate any vertebrae.

The absolute most annoying and frustrating part of this whole program, though, are the damned fruit flies. When you don’t really keep any fruit in your house, you don’t tend to have too many issues with them, but this past week they have invaded my space with abandon. What is it that works for them? Apple cider vinegar and dish soap? Anyone have a wading pool I can set up in my living room?

i haven’t started throwing DVDs yet, so there’s that.

I really, truly, honestly thought I’d be making a post today about how much I wanted to die.

But in all honesty, it hasn’t been too bad. The food part of it has actually been almost easy.

Instead of my usual morning coffee with an obscene amount of creamer and sugar, I just mixed it with one of the chocolate Shakeology shakes, and that was breakfast. And, honestly, I’m a little reluctantly impressed with the shakes. It did taste a little like Slim Fast, but better (after the first couple of sips), and while it wasn’t exactly delicious, it was pretty good. I didn’t add anything else to it this morning because I wanted to judge the energy level it gave me on its own merit, but starting tomorrow I’ll experiment with different fruits and see how it goes. Now, to be clear, I need my morning cup of coffee to achieve any level of functionality higher than an angry, mentally challenged orangutan. It doesn’t give me any extra boost of energy. So I’m attributing the extra energy boost to the shake, and it was pretty impressive. We’ll see if the trend continues for the rest of the month.

Lunch was a salad with a chopped up chicken thigh (minus the skin) leftover from night before last’s dinner. Dinner was a baked pork chop with apple slices on top, peas and corn on the cob (I’m on a diet?). I had a boiled egg for a snack (tentatively; I don’t want to talk about my love-hate relationship with eggs) and I just finished off a peach-pineapple-banana smoothie with coconut oil, which was a little reminiscent of a sex on the beach and amazing. I actually have enough various servings left over to make up another meal, but I’ll probably just have a banana or something in a couple of hours to keep my stomach from being growly when I go to bed.

The biggest food-related issue today was denying the craving for a Dr Pepper and not adding extra salt to anything. (Okay, I cheated a little and had salt on the boiled egg. I practically never have eggs, so I gave myself a little leeway there. But trust me, that being the only thing I actually added salt to all day was a hell of an accomplishment. I treat bouillon cubes like hard candy, for heaven’s sake.)

All right, so the food thing, I’ve got that down. I even got the mister on board with me, minus the shakes, because while I might be willing to spend $130 a month (maybe) on them, there is no way in hell that’s bumping up to $260.

I started the workout today with “Total Body Cardio Fix”, which was definitely not easy. I had to follow the modified version for a lot of it, and there is one move which involves getting down on your knees and getting back up again that I’m pretty sure actually caused my knees to start throwing tea bags into the harbor. Also, I am not good at crunches. But I did finish the full thirty minutes, and I did keep moving through the whole thing, so I feel like I deserve a gold star for that, at least. And the ankle I’ve been having problems with isn’t even bothering me too much, thanks to the preemptive strike I took involving an ankle brace.

Now, that being said, I am in a pretty good amount of pain at the moment, mostly in my inner thighs, and I have definitely been getting up and down like a 70-year-old woman for the majority of the day. But tomorrow is “Upper Fix”, so that should hopefully give my legs a rest, and I can moan and groan about my abs and my shoulders all day tomorrow.

All in all, considering that I had been completely sedentary and eating crap up until now, I feel pretty good about today. And I’m fairly optimistic about just about everything right now except for actually getting up the stairs to go to bed.

this health thing

So, I did it. I bought into a diet plan.

I know, I know. Just hear me out.

The package I got in the mail today contained Beachbody’s “21 Day Fix”:

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What we have here is lots of pictures of the scantily clad woman who developed the program. She’s a bikini competitor, whatever that means. I guess if she looks better in a bikini than her opponents she wins? I don’t know. Regardless, amongst the many, many pictures of this lady and the many (to be expected, I guess) “before” and “after” photos of people who may or may not have actually seen their results from this particular program, I feel like I have the bones of something that might be pretty effective, assuming that I actually follow it and don’t start chucking workout DVDs at the walls and wallowing around in cheeseburgers and Doritos three days into it.

The main draw of the program is the portion containers. I have seven of them in bright, pretty colors, and each of them is coordinated to a different type of food. To go with these is the eating plan, which details how many of which container I can have each day. This number is directly related to my caloric need, which is calculated by a formula given in the eating plan booklet. I have no idea where the formula comes from, but it doesn’t seem wildly off and doesn’t equate to starving myself, so we’ll go with it.

Next are the workout DVDs. I have no idea how effective these are and have no way of judging them, because I have personally never used workout DVDs before. I’m not watching them before I start them, either, because I have a feeling that they will terrify me and I’ll shut down and go cry in a corner before I even get started. But there are a total of three DVDs with eight thirty minute workouts and two ten minute workouts.

The third basic component of the program are the Shakeology shakes. They’re not an integral part of the program, but apparently Beachbody is doing a special and the shakes were included in the package. They are also about $130 for a 30-day supply, so these had better be some badass shakes. Seriously, I’m willing to try the 30-day supply I got with the package, but I’m going to have to be pretty damned impressed to spend that much money monthly on amped-up Slim Fast.

There is also a calendar with recipes for the shakes, which is pretty neat, and a little pamphlet called “3 Day Quick Fix”, which is a starvation diet and not healthy at all.

So, after taking my last day to officially pig out (mmm, sweet and sour chicken and tempura shrimp and vegetables) I’ll be starting this tomorrow. I have quite a lot of weight to lose before I’m in a healthy place, so obviously three weeks is not going to be some kind of miracle fix. The idea is to continue to eat according to the program until I hit my ideal weight, and then transition over to weight management, which is the real appeal behind it all — it teaches how to eat correctly, instead of promising a miracle and then kicking you headfirst out on your own when they program is done. The workouts are meant to be done for three weeks at a time with a few days of light activity in between.

I plan to check in a few times during the next three weeks, so that you can all join in my misery as I think longingly about Double Quarter Pounders and Domino’s.

i feel like brain to mouth filters should be something we can issue at birth.

I’m in a mood today. Actually, I’ve been in a mood for a few days, and felt the need to rant about the things people say that annoy and/or piss me off, because I am the type of person that lets this stuff build up for months on end before I get pissed off enough to say anything about it. So if you’re looking for warm fuzzies today, I do not have them.

These are not of any particular category, other than the “things I lay awake at night getting pissed off about” category.

-“Oh, you’re an artist?/Are you still painting and drawing?/Do you do (landscapes/portraits/dog butts)? You should paint/draw _______, that would be beautiful!”

No. I shouldn’t. Let me tell you why: I don’t want to, or I would have already done it. Or I already have plans to and haven’t gotten around to it. Regardless, it isn’t up to you to tell me what I should or shouldn’t be creating, unless I’m taking a class from you or you’re paying me. If you give me money, I will happily paint/draw/crayon whatever you like, but until then, you don’t get an opinion on what I as an artist choose to create — or not create. For some reason, the main suggestion people make is usually some kind of landscape, and I don’t really understand this. I don’t know why people seem to think that any landscape I paint is going to be more beautiful than what they can actually see with their own eyes. Or why they think a landscape deserves to be painted, for that matter. Yes, it’s beautiful; that doesn’t mean it needs to be on canvas. Take a photo. Because chances are if I were to paint it, it would probably be in funky colors and there would be something “off” about it that makes you uncomfortable, anyway.

-“How did you do that (painting/drawing/dog butt sculpture)?”

I can’t tell you. It’s not a trade secret or anything, I just literally could not tell you, even if I tried. Artwork (for me) does not involve a recipe or an instruction manual. I piddle around for a a little bit, take a step back and look, piddle around some more, rinse, and repeat. I eyeball and I guess and I experiment and practically none of this involves thinking about explaining how I do it, I just do it. You are not a scientist (probably) and can’t explain the exact chemistry behind why your cake rises, and I am not teacher and cannot explain the method behind my madness, because there isn’t any, and what there is has become so second nature that I don’t realize it’s method anymore. (If, incidentally, you can explain the chemistry behind batter expansion, insert your own analogy and stop being a pedant.)

-“How did you get the idea to do that?”

I went out to my inspiration garden and picked an idea flower. I don’t know, it just happens. My mind flies frantically around in endless circles most of the time and occasionally it lands on something worth putting on a canvas or paper or computer screen. If I knew the secret behind where ideas come from, trust me, I’d tell you, and then maybe people would quit bugging artists about where they get their ideas and artists would quit feeling compelled to come up with detailed explanations that they probably thought up after the fact specifically because they knew that they would be asked that question.

-“I wish I had your talent. I’ve never been very crafty.”

This is a two-parter. Firstly, do you not understand what an awkward statement this is for me? People have been saying this to me for most of my life and I still have no idea how to respond. I can’t give you what I can do, and I can’t teach you, so what do you want from me? I understand that this is supposed to be a compliment (somehow), so is this a situation where I’m supposed to say, “Thank you?” I feel like that’s probably not it. It’s also a little presumptuous. I don’t have very much raw talent. I’ve been drawing and painting for most of my life and threw entirely too much money at schooling for it. You can tell because the stuff that I do right now, out of practice, is hardly up to par with the work I did during college when I was doing it all the time. If you picked up a pencil at three years old and never put it down except to graduate to paintbrushes, and then went on to burn an extortionate amount of midnight oil in studios that reeked of turpentine and linseed oil, and still can’t manage much more than a stick figure, then you can be wistful about my “talent.” Otherwise you’re discrediting the 25 years or so of practice I’ve had at it.
Secondly, I understand you’re a victim of a society where “art” is indelibly linked to “craft,” but stop. Just stop there. I’m not going to go into definitions here because they can get a little muddy, so let’s just boil it down to this: Leatherworking, woodworking, things you make with paper and glue and string, those are crafts, though they can be artistic and in some cases can very well be art. Painting, drawing, sculpture, etc., those are arts and are not always art (and we are definitely not getting into that discussion, as there are whole college courses dedicated to that one). My painting is not a craft, although painting may be my craft.
Just don’t tell a painter they’re crafty, okay? Use the word “artistic.” It’s safer.

-“Do you want kids?”/”When are you going to have kids?”

The only person who is not related to me who can get away with this question with zero offense taken is my best friend, and she does not ask because she knows the answer because I willingly discussed it with her without her having to ask. It is a complicated one, as a person might guess by the fact that I am 28 and do not have any children. At this point, it’s a pretty safe bet that either I don’t want them or I don’t want to talk about it, and it’s an incredibly nosey question to ask, anyway. You’d have to be living under a rock at this point in history to not be aware that a lot of people exist in the world to whom the having of children is a sensitive topic, so it would behoove everyone to stop being so damn inquisitive about it, especially if this is the first time I’ve ever even had a conversation with you. “What church do you go to?” “How long have you lived here?” “Are you married?” “Do you work?” Even “Do you have kids?” These are all acceptable conversation topics for someone you don’t know all that well. “Do you want kids?” is not. Worry about your own uterus, mine is my business.

-“You’re so brave to marry into the military! I could never do that.”

Okay, first of all, I did not “marry into the military.” My husband and I had been married for three years when he joined, and it was a decision that he made sure I was okay with before he ever stepped foot into a recruiter’s office. Even if I hadn’t been okay with it, I never would have tried to keep him from doing it, because I love him and want his happiness above all else, and also because my job at Long John Silver’s — which I was definitely not interested in making into a career — kind of paled in comparison to a career in the military. There was nothing brave on my part about him enlisting; quite the contrary, it was a lifeline that saved us from a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle where we had to decide between paying the electric bill this month or getting groceries.

-“I could never stay at home and not work. I’d feel so useless, like I’m not contributing. I like to contribute to my household.”

Do you even understand what you’re saying to me when you voice this opinion? Me, the stay at home wife*, who doesn’t have a job or draw a paycheck? Think about the words that are about to come out of your mouth before you say them, and you’ll keep a lot more friends. You wouldn’t tell a vet that you couldn’t do their job because you’re not heartless enough to be able to euthanize an animal, so don’t tell a stay at home wife that you couldn’t live her life because you’re not lazy enough.
*I actually did go out this month and get a job, with the intention of gaining ground a little more quickly on the paying of debts. I worked for two and a half weeks before I put in my notice, and my last day of work is August third. I love everything about being a homemaker and missed it dearly. The only thing that would make it better would be if I could actually talk someone into giving me a paycheck for it.

-“My (really old relative or friend or acquaintance) smoked for 20/30/40/150,000 years and quit cold turkey. If they can do it, anyone can.”

I hate any statement that ends with, “If ____ can do it, anyone can.” Because it is categorically untrue about everything. I don’t care if your 97 year old aunt with leukemia who has been on radiation treatments for a year and a half just finished a marathon, there is a 20 year old out there somewhere who wouldn’t be able to do it. You’re insulting the person who has legitimate reasons for not being able to do whatever by telling them they just don’t have enough willpower or spunk or dedication to do it. Smoking, specifically, is a very personal thing, and believe it or not, not everyone can just put them down and quit. Everyone’s level of addiction is different and everyone’s level of tolerance for withdrawals is different. Also, if you’re not a smoker, there is basically no reason to have a conversation about quitting with a smoker unless they initiate it. There is almost always absolutely nothing you can tell them that they don’t already know, and nothing you say is going to convince them to stop until they are personally ready to do it. Most smokers have had people telling them their entire lives how bad smoking is — what makes you think that you’re so super special that you’re going to be the one person who has enough power to convince them to quit? You’re not. I don’t care if it’s your spouse or your parents or your kid, or how close you are to them, they will not quit until they are ready and likely the only thing that trying to convince them otherwise is going to do is piss them off.

This is why I hide in my house 90% of the time.

that old habit seems to be dying pretty easily, actually.

It’s been about 49 hours since my last cigarette, and I’m still pretty much okay! Here is what’s keeping me sane, by the way:

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The coffee flavor is what’s helping me right now. The vanilla is sitting in a dark cabinet with the top off in hopes that it might eventually not taste like death in a drip bottle.

The most difficult part so far is right after I wake up. It takes a little longer for the nicotine to absorb with a vaporizer, so if I’m actually having a craving it takes about an hour to completely assuage it as opposed to the instant satisfaction I’d get from a cigarette. That combined with what has up until now been my morning ritual of coffee and a cigarette has really made that the only real difficult part of any of this — and it’s really not that hard. It’s not a magic potion that makes me never want another cigarette again, ever, but it’s effective enough that I can definitely see it replacing them.

Vaping has had its other perks, too. Either the e-liquid or the act of vaping itself seems to be a bit of an appetite suppressant for me, at least for now. I still get hungry and I don’t forget to eat, but I’m not thinking about food all the time and I don’t realize I’m hungry until my stomach actually starts growling. Since I can do it inside I can vape almost absent-mindedly, which satisfies the hand-to-mouth urge and means I don’t get munchy. It’s also made me up my water consumption — the vaping dries my mouth out a little, just enough so that drinking tea or soda just doesn’t cut it and I actually want water instead. Before this I pretty much exclusively drank sweet tea, with a soda or two a day, so that means that my sugar consumption has dropped drastically and I’m better hydrated.

All in all, I’m very impressed (and pretty surprised, honestly) at how well this is working out. I may actually be on my way to being a non-smoker. My sense of smell is already starting to come back a little, and I’m greatly looking forward to being able to taste things more and not get winded going up the stairs.