Monday, July 25, 2011
I have thinking about budgets a LOT lately.
There's a pretty obvious reason. Unemployment is now gone. So we have to, quite literally, watch our pennies. We turn off fans and lights after each other. We sit together if we turn on the a/c (fortunately, the heat finally broke, so we can keep the a/c off -- and most of the fans as well -- and save more $$). And, of course, there's also the food budget. No more presliced mushrooms. I slice them now, and we save a buck. We eat more beans (they're good for ya! Just don't stand downwind of my home, mmmkay?) than chicken. Our salads are not piled quite so high. We use coupons. We look for generic alternatives. The once weekly dinner out is down to once every other week. It may end up being once per month but right now this scarcest bit of luxury is something we are holding onto.
I suspect that, at some point, this will translate into some losing (not this week, but TOM is looming). If nothing else, it should translate into some more cooking creativity. We are finding all sorts of interesting leftovers in the freezer, and they are finding their ways into our meals.
So -- anyway -- I wanted to talk about calorie budgets, and making good food choices. So many of us are overweight because of junk food, bad, greasy cakes, stale company meeting cookies, day-old doughnuts and the like. I suspect that few of us are, truly, carrying around extra poundage because we got too much Kobe beef or truffle oil or pheasant. And food need not be expensive to be good, of course. I am not saying that we didn't overindulge on things that tasted really good, or that were even good for us -- we just overdid it. Repeatedly.
If we are on a calorie budget, it makes sense to choose the best foods, right? To spend our caloric "money" wisely, and carefully decide where and how to spend it. Why purchase junk that won't be sustaining? Why not work to get the best that you can, within your limited means?
And that got me to thinking, which is always dangerous.
The idea of choosing the best foods reminded me of someone I knew a good 25 years ago.
I worked with a gal, a secretary, who was up to her eyeballs (and beyond) in debt. She made, probably, about $11k/year (I knew this because she told me; this was Delaware and apartments were $150/month for nice ones) but was in debt to the tune of about $50k.
Yes, more than she made in 4 1/2 YEARS.
And what was she buying?
It wasn't medical care or a house. It wasn't even a car. It was ... stretch pants. And blousy tops. I bet she had one for every day of the season, let alone week. She bought and ate fast food (yes, this was a large gal), and I recall overhearing her tell one of her pals, "I got a new credit card offer in the mail; the limit was $5,000 so I got it and once I got the card I went out and spent that sucker right up."
And I am thinking, huh?
You are destroying your future and essentially creating indentured servitude for yourself, probably for the remainder of your life, for Wendy's hamburgers and cheap stretchy pants from KMart which will not last beyond five washings. ARE YOU OUTTA YOUR FREAKIN' MIND?????
And becoming overweight, at least for me (and possibly for you), was not a festival of eating amazing foods, but just too much of them. I was not gorging myself on caviar and lobster and chateaubriand and truffles.
Nope. I did it on Taco Bell, stale old potato chips and low quality vanilla ice cream -- and a lot of it was foods that were not even marginally delicious, let alone super-delicious (and of course, as you are well aware, it need not be expensive in order to be super-delicious).
Essentially, I put myself into indentured servitude with my weight, and I sold myself out for cheap, much like the gal with the rainbow assortment of stretchy pants and no retirement fund.
The freedom is to eat the super-delicious (or at least rather delicious) foods, in moderation, LOVE them and stay out of indentured servitude.
Sparklies of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your calorically-induced chains!
Monday, July 18, 2011
This is my 5K finisher song. I try to be hitting the end somewhere during this song. I like it and, because I am more of a lyrics than a music gal, the lyrics have some meaning to me.
I was originally going to post this for the blog entry where I hit goal. Well, that ain't happenin' any time soon and I like the song so, why not? That rule was self-imposed, anyway. It does not mean I am leaving, etc. Don't worry, lil Sparklies.
I ran my 20th 5K on Saturday and it was meh. It was hot as blazes so times were not good for either Mr. J or me. Sobeit. No biggie. But a few other things are happening at the same time, which got me in the mood for this song and, in particular, for the lyric that is this week's blog title.
Unemployment is gone or nearly gone. Communications from the Commonwealth are confusing. Am I done? Done in a week? Done in a month? I have no idea, not really, and it's impossible to get through to a live humanoid. Because Massachusetts hit less than 8% unemployment for 3 months in a row, the big Federal extension was cut. Well, less than 8% should be a source of celebration, yes? It still means that a good three-quarters of a million people are outta work in my state alone.
Including me, and since November of '09.
It is not that I don't look, apply, go on interviews, network and otherwise try.
It's that the economy stinks on ice, 8% or no. I suspect that the less than 8% figure is a chimera. It probably reflects people who completely dropped off the grid, who hit the absolute end of their benefits and are now, doing what, exactly? Defaulting on their mortgages? Handing out "Spare Change" newspapers at South Station? Leaving the state? Knocking over liquor stores?
Regardless of what is really happening with my benefits, my husband and I are on severe austerity. We know that, even if I have $$ coming in until mid to late August, we should still do some serious belt-tightening. We had been going out to dinner once per week. That is now gone. He had been buying both breakfast and lunch out almost every day of the week. Now he's eating breakfast at home and trying to bring sandwiches. I quit the gym (my last day I've paid up to is August 15th). We won't sign up for any more 5Ks this year (although we have already paid for another 3. We will definitely go to those). Lights are off unless we are in a room. Fans are mostly taking the place of air conditioning. We are trying to think of other areas where we can cut back.
I cannot imagine what my retirement will look like. Actually, I can. It will be a void, because it will not exist. I will be either managing an online community or doing data analysis when I am 97 (if I should live so long) when I suddenly keel over. That is assuming, of course, that I get work then.
I am not writing this for a pity party (really, I'm not). It's more as a meditation on self-reliance. And this does fit in with health, believe it or not.
There are a lot of things that we can do on our own which will help us lose weight and keep it off. We track, we measure, we purchase the right foods, etc. We report on these things (sometimes). Reporting on them does not cause the weight loss. It's the doing of those things that does, yes?
But sometimes -- and maybe even a lot of the time -- what we are doing does not have immediate results, or even results that seem directly applicable and can be traced back in a chain of causation. I want to believe that the application for a job I put in today will lead to an interview by Friday, an offer by next week and a brand-spankin' new job by the first of next month. I want to believe that the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I just had for lunch, and the swimming I am going to do later today will lead to a pound or two off next week.
But they might not, or that job might come later, or not at all. That pound lost might be a pound up next week, or down in five weeks, and it's hard to trace it all back and see the connection.
This does not mean that doing the right things is futile.
What it means, instead, is that cause and effect are a more complicated marriage than we probably realize.
And we still need to do the right things -- whatever they are -- for any goals in our lives that are worthwhile, whether they are losing weight, finding a job, running a 5K, saving money or anything else.
And we should help each other along the way. For the title to this blog entry is actually a bit wrong.
Go ahead and ask for shelter. Ask for charity. For we have all been there, or are there, or will be there, and if we don't have each other, then all of that doing of right things is just so much isolation. It's like a boulder we're pushing uphill.
I will help you push your boulder if you help me push mine.
Monday, July 11, 2011
I have been thinking a lot about messages and communications lately. How we talk past each other. How we disagree ... kinda. How we say one thing but imply another. How being online distorts, changes, transmogrifies and royally screws up the layers, textures and nuances of meaning, and how an emoticon is a poor substitute for how we really feel.
I went to a forums site recently, one that I had not been to before. Like 99% of the planet, I skimmed the Terms of Service when I signed on. Then I went to a welcome area and I told people, I'm new here but have been on forums for over 9 years (it's probably 10 by now, and I've been in forum management for it'll be 9 years next month).
And all was well until I made some wave or another. Which, truth be told, might've been prevented by a much more careful reading of their Terms of Service, going over it, syllable by syllable, much like people go over the Zapruder film frame by frame. The big rule that I violated (and I checked this!), was buried amidst other rules, rules that seemed more important. Essentially what that site had done, as they say in the journalism biz -- they buried the lede. What that means is, the most important piece of the rules (to them) was not spelled out, clearly, bodly, importantly, etc., front and center, first on the list.
Nope. It was down there.
So I suggested, maybe change the order of the rules. Not change the rules. Just, move them around and put your Numero Uno really up there as #1. Or, perhaps, do something to your software, adding a reminder or feature that can really spell this out.
And, I had my head handed to me.
I will not go into specifics (the site has naught to do with diets, exercise, health anyway). It did make me a bit peeved (including when I was told the protocol for going to a new site -- uh, I've been going to new sites for years. I do actually know the drill). This should not bother me, but it does, and it is not because I had my hand slapped (it's been slapped before, and it will be slapped again, I have little doubt), as rather that it seemed that so much of the communication going on was at cross-purposes. Mixed messages were spiked with what certainly looked like anger, then the anger was denied even more vehemently, and around and around we go (and yeah, I offered an apology, was told there was no anger, and then my head was handed back to me again. WTF?).
My husband has heard me complain about this treatment for days, and he finally said: Sever all ties.
And of course he is absolutely, 100% correct about that. And I make an effort to do that but it's the nagging question of: could communications have been better?
And that brings me to my point and the actual connection to here on Sparkpeople.
I see people asking all sorts of interesting questions that, essentially, truly just boil down to communications:
* How can I tell my mother-in-law to stop offering me seconds?
* How can I tell my husband he's eating himself to death?
* What can I tell people (some zinger) when they are mean about my weight?
And on and on, ad infinitum, as if we were all back in Junior High.
And I dunno about you, but I was last in Junior High a good 35 (yes, really) years ago. I'm glad to be done with that, and have no desire to return.
Are we all really so bad at communicating, at telling people what we want, that we cannot do it? I can understand a teen being confused, or even a younger adult, perhaps, being befuddled. But at a certain point, shouldn't experience and (somewhat) common sense kick in? I wonder. Are we all so intimidated by others, so afraid of making offense or, whatever, that we cannot (with grace, good humor and KINDNESS) tell each other what we need to?
Kindness, yeah, that's a good one. Criticism is fine, and when it's leavened with kindness, there's a fighting chance that it will sink in. When it is not ... it is easy to tune it all out, yes?
Good humor, yeah, there's another one. Humor in understanding our shared foibles, as opposed to mean spiritedly laughing at each other. Do we do that? Not outwardly, but there are judgments, even here, yes. Don't deny it, folks. I've heard 'em -- oh, I did it all without drugs (therefore I am superior) or I did it all without plastic surgery (and therefore I am superior) or I never let myself get that big (whatever the magic figure is -- and therefore I am superior).
And grace, too, as we are on the receiving end of it at times. But I don't think there's anything wrong with pushing back when you need to. If a reaction to you is all out of proportion, well, I say feel strong enough to push back and face that reaction, and challenge it.
We are the message.
Monday, July 04, 2011
Y'know, today I am wearing a top that -- gasp! -- shows my navel.
The top is short and the capris are low and so, yeah, you can see it. It's, eh, it's not the nicest one in the world. I had a tummy tuck a year ago and the way my navel healed is that it ended up very shallow, almost looking (but not quite) like an outie. Don't really wanna post pics of it but at least I have one -- there are people who get tucks who lose 'em, which has gotta be really bizarre, like you've stepped into some odd, alternate Stepford Wives/Barbie dream house universe or something.
So I have one, and it is imperfect, and I do not have a flat stomach so that is imperfect, but yanno something? I am wearing the top and the capris anyway.
I have seen folks who constantly harp on things that others should not wear. Oh, she's too fat for a short skirt. Oh, he should stick to dark colors. She shouldn't go strapless. He has no business being in shorts. Or whatever.
And while I am as in favor of happy, pretty aesthetics as anyone is, I suppose, the takeaway for me is -- I am a damned grownup and you are not gonna tell me how to dress. I am well aware that I need to wear a suit for job interviews. And I should not go swimming in blue jeans. And my clothes needs to cover my private parts. And certain clothes can invoke certain reactions or judgments about me, e. g. thoughts that I am cheap, or authoritative, or poor, or educated or whatever. I get all of that.
But I am still a grownup. And if I wanna show my wacky navel then dammit, I'm gonna show it. If you don't like it, well, my eyes are up here, anyway.
That is my Declaration of Independence today.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Ah, and here is the week where I lose 1/3 of what I gained last week.
So why is it so often that the highs are no so high, but the lows can be devastating?
We are nuts here, many of us, overthinking the scale, cramming as much control into our days as possible, oh so carefully balancing work, home, family, life and calorie cycling as well. Oops, can't have carbs from a yellow vegetable because it's 9 AM on a Monday. Oh, no!
Breaches in our routines throw us for considerably larger loops than they should. And we worship and track and pay attention to the scale in a manner that is not good for us. It occupies a position of far more importance than it should.
Now, I am not knocking calorie cyclers. If that works for you, hey, have at it. And I am well aware that, for many diabetics, life is kinda like that whether you want it to be, or not. I am also not saying to pitch your scale out the window, despite how tempting that may seem. It is a useful tool. IF YOU LOOK AT IT ONCE PER WEEK.
After that, though, really, what are you expecting to see? I ate a grape yesterday, let's see what happened? Cripes, you ate a damned grape! It was, what, 2 calories? I got news for you. The scale will only tell you one of three things:
1) you lost weight. Was it because of the grape? No, it was because of other good choices, and from working out.
2) you gained weight. Was it because of the grape? No, it was because of other choices, and they may even have been good ones but there may be something else at work, like water retention or the workout wasn't as good as you thought it was or the diet gods are laughing at you this week.
3) you stayed the same. Was it because of the grape? Helfino.
Substitute grape for Pasta Alla Puttanesca or spelt or pizza or birthday cake or whatever and you get thousands of inner conversations that so many of us have as we step on the scale.
I refuse to have those internal conversations anymore. I am sick of them.
I pledge to you, from now on - I will step on the scale on Monday morning ONLY. And I will lose, or I will gain, or I will stay the same. And the world will not break away from orbit and spin off its axis and life as we know it will not end because I wasn't insane for every single minute of every single day. This does not mean that I stop tracking, or I stop working out, or I stop eating well or that I stop caring. No.
It means that I am going to do my level best to stop obsessing.
It's just overkill.
Get An Email Alert Each Time JESPAH Posts