Friday, February 19, 2010
Just a quick up date to let everyone know that I'm alive--I just haven't had very reliable computer access. I do have a new computer--it's very shiny and pretty and lighter than my old one yet with a lot more memory etc., so very cool. My old one was pretty dead--definitely a hard drive issue,possibly other issues as well. It may still be possible to salvage the files off the hard drive, I don't know yet, though if I don't get that data soon I'll have to redo at least the work on my diss. Sigh. Unfortunately, my new laptop doesn't have a lot of software on it, including MS office (need that for my diss) and anti-virus (won't get on line without it) so until the software gets installed (which will take awhile) I won't be using it much. Hopefully some of that will get done this weekend, though we're doing birthdays again and my husband (who will be doing the installing) has to work.
This past week and a half has really been a mixed bag for me. I've been really stressed out about the whole computer situation--I find it really stressful to sort through computer options to figure out what will be a good purchase (and am still not 100% confident I chose wisely) plus the whole hard drive issue since I still don't know if the hard drive can be salvaged, or even how much I've lost if it can't be. I have had horrible insomnia (a self sustaining cycle unfortunately once it gets going) and I have discovered that when I'm stressed I may not especially want to eat (food=ick when stressed) but I do tend to drink way too many caffeinated soft drinks (sugar ones too, so BAD), a tendency I restrained but not entirely successfully. And a tendency to crave chocolate, which apparently doesn't fall into the food=ick category, maybe because chocolate makes you feel better (chemically, not just psychologically) or perhaps because I crave sugar when stressed--always have (pixie sticks and Mt. Dew used to help get me through major deadlines). And while I have always read that exercise is supposed to help with stress, it didn't help me at all--way too much time on the elliptical or when doing weights to think of everything that could go wrong/be lost. So I ended up retreating into books and games and watching tv (specifically the olympics. It's very rare for me to watch tv--in the last 11 months, this is the first time I've watched more than a few minutes of television, and I've been watching hours of the olympics). So very atypical of me and not especially healthy.
It's not all bad, though. I did go to the fitness center today and at least haven't lost much, and if I go to yoga tomorrow as planned I'll get my 130 minutes for the week and may still be able to squeak in with 1000 minutes for the month. I drank my water. I ate a fair amount of vegetables and tried to remember to eat regular meals (not always successfully) and they were sometimes even healthy and I restrained from drinking gallons of Mt. Dew and mountains of chocolate, even though I did indulge more than normal and probably went over my calorie counts (I haven't logged food because of the unreliable online access. Technically, I can do it on my phone, but it's a pain).
I feel like I slipped pretty hard off the wagon but I didn't fall off entirely and I'm getting back on.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
And also a heads up.
My laptop died on me today. When I woke up this morning, it was frozen; when I tried to reboot, it failed. Repeatedly. Husband tried to resuscitate it with no luck. It's dead, and it looks like it's a problem with the hard drive.
I'm trying really hard not to panic. This is literally the stuff of nightmares for me--most everything I do is on that thing. I'm really dependent on it and yet am hopeless whenever anything goes seriously wrong. I thought I was fairly obsessive about back ups--the good news is that I did back up pretty much everything not THAT long ago. But I also have been working really hard on my diss, and have many many hours worth of work that I had been about to back up but hadn't yet. Not to mention other stuff I've done, including the pictures for my vision collage that I had found. But the biggest loss--and the thing that's making me sick to my stomach--are the hours and hours of work on my diss from the last week and a half (or more--I can't remember when my last back up was or what I have done since then) that I may have to redo. Not to mention finding money to buy a new laptop, because I have to have a computer and these days a laptop is pretty much essential. The only good news there is that I'm told that they've come down in price. *Hopes*
So prayers, candles, positive vibes, whatever you can send your way that the computer techs can at least salvage my files... would be appreciated.
Anyway, in the meantime, I don't know how much I'll be able to be around until I either get my computer fixed or, more likely, replaced.
Good news is... I'm not a person who eats when stressed. I'm more the kind of person who's stomach twists into this sick little knot and food is the last thing I want. Though today was a terrible food day--because of some screw ups on our end, there's no food for me in the house (well, for once I have fruits and veggies but not things like protein and carbohydrates. Usually the problem is the other way around). I was going to have peanut butter on whole wheat toast--only to find out after I had spread it on the last of the bread that my peanut butter had gone rancid (NASTY). So all I had to eat until dinner was a bit of cheese and some clementines--and then because we were out trying to deal with the computer issue, didn't get food and so ended up with pizza for dinner. And tomorrow I'll have left over pizza because that's about all that's available (did I mentioned that I'm stranded until we can get the van in for a new tire?) other than more cheese and maybe some more clementines, if any are left.
I did go to the gym today--figured I might as well since I wasn't exactly being productive. I didn't stay long though--too stressed out. I thought exercise was supposed to help with stress but it was almost worse for me--it left my mind too much time to think of everything that was stressing me out.. So I did cardio but not strength training. Instead, I called a friend.
Also... good news is that most likely I'll have a new computer, which means a newer, faster computer with a larger hard drive. My laptop was older, the memory was almost full, and it has been glitchy (to be polite) for at least a year. I can't say that I'm sad to have a new spiffy one that doesn't crash every other day. I'm not really looking forward to transferring all my programs, etc., but my biggest worry is that my hard drive isn't salvageable.
I apologize if this is really scatter brained. I'm too tired to be coherent, too stressed out to sleep.
Anyway--wanted to let you know why I wouldn't be around at least a bit, maybe longer. Kudos to everyone racking up fitness minutes, sparks points, meeting healthy lifestyle goals and losing lbs. You guys are all really awesome and I just know you'll be accomplishing lots of wonderful things.
Monday, February 08, 2010
I should probably post about my progress (mixed) on The Spark 28 day program, since I just started week 2, but I'd rather talk about vision collages, because I've been thinking a lot about them lately.
When I first came to sparks, I did the questionnaire about my motivations but never took the next step to making a vision collage. Part of that is just that I had a lot on my plate and I just didn't prioritize much time and energy into the vision collage, but part of it was just that I was stumped as to how to progress. I didn't know how to translate the words of my motivations into pictures, or even where to find pictures--the magazines and professional journals I get don't lend themselves to collages very well and I didn't have a clue of how to start looking on line--or what to do with those pictures once I had them. 6 year olds are more adept at collages than I am, I'm afraid.
When I read The Spark, I really understood for the first time why collages are valuable tools, and I wanted to make mine. It moved off the back burner it had simmered on for almost a year and, thanks both to the book and to the book related discussion of the vision collages, I was inspired. I was, however, still stumped as to how to actually go about doing this. I did do some online searching, but without a clear keyword to search for, it wasn't very productive.
My motivations, copied from the questionnaire, which I had printed off ages ago:
Wear a swimsuit on the beach (though I should note that I do wear swimsuits; I just don't feel especially attractive in them.)
Firm up what I have
Keep my thighs from rubbing (both humiliating and uncomfortable )
Have someone tell me I'm beautiful
Look better naked!
Have my clothes fit better
Do more active things with my spouse (also with my friends)
Have more energy
Not feel/get sick all the time
have a more active lifestyle
Feel and be stronger
Be more confident in myself, with better self esteem
Have people ask if I've lost weight (or at least not make comments like "are you pregnant?" or "your face looks fatter.")
Prove to myself I can do it.
From words to pictures:
While I didn't get very many good pictures, I did get a better idea of what kinds of pictures I find motivating. I would love to get my hands on pictures of beautiful, sexy women with great bodies living their lives--whether that be walking a beach, playing a sport, or going out to the theater. I wanted pictures that said "Beautiful" "Sexy" and "Confident" but NOT "I'm about to strip off my clothes and jump you." Maybe it's because it was the internet, but most of the pictures I saw extremely provocative--and I'm not talking porn sites, but fashion photos and the like. Maybe I'm more of a prude than I like to admit--and I do think it's a good and healthy thing to feel comfortable with your own sexuality--but that overt sexuality just isn't me. I want to be able to wear a swimsuit at the beach and be confident and comfortable in my own skin, not pick up guys. I know there are pictures out there of beautiful, sexy, confdent women, but I didn't have much luck finding them.
I found a lot of picture of women involved with athletics of various kinds, and will probably find a lot more with the Olympics coming up. The main elements I was looking for in the sports pictures were "strength" "fun" and "active," and perhaps "speed" and "endurance." I have no interest in running, so I was concentrating team sports like tennis. My biggest draw back here was that may of the best pictures were copyrighted, and I don't want to infringe on that. Outdoor activities such as canoeing or hiking might also be inspirational, though much as I enjoy them I don't get a lot of chances for those kinds of activities (though I do get to shoot target archery--does that count?).
I did, however, find some really good yoga pictures and a couple of pictures of dancers that I really like.
I love to dance. I think that i have the heart of a dancer, though I lack the body and skill of one. I wish I had learned to dance when I was young--pretty much any kind of dancing. As an adult, I have done Renaissance dancing, La Jarana (Yucatecan folk dance), Latin ballroom (mostly Salsa, Merengue, and Mambo), Swing, Belly dancing, and a little bit of Highland Fling. The only dancing I've ever been any good at is the Renaissance dancing, which is a lot like modern country dancing (say, Scottish Country and Square dancing--which makes sense, since it's their ancestor). But the rest--I lacked the coordination and grace. When I can get past feeling like a self conscious goober, I enjoy dancing a lot--but I'm not any good at it.
Have you ever really taken a look at a professional dancer? They have great bodies--almost always slim, even lean, but not skinny--they have muscles. They are powerful and graceful at the same time. Dancing requires being able to isolate muscles--sometimes muscles we don't use much normally--and move them independently--stomach, hips, shoulders, arms, head. When in a standing pose, they aren't just standing--they are standing with power, poise--feet planted, everything--hands, head, spine--deliberate. It requires rhythm and a sense of music, a sense beyond notes and meter--soul. It requires strength, stamina, and flexibility, but it is that something more--that something that makes it art--that inspires me. Dancing is poetry in motion, and it was really hard to find a still picture that captured even a fraction of the beauty and power in that motion.
Awhile ago, I took a quiz about my fitness goals and interests--I think it was one of the sparks quizzes, though I'm not sure--and it suggested that yoga would be a good fit for me because of the way it combines the mind and body. While I don't think that yoga is sufficient for me to meet my cardio or strength goals by itself, it is one of the few exercise forms I enjoy. It really is a kind of physical meditation--which is not to say that it is easy, because it's not. I can feel the burn of the strength training portions, the ache of the stretches, and hot and sweaty from the aerobic flows. But in the end I feel like I have gone through a kind of a soul dialysis, where my soul has been filtered and replaced, refreshed and whole.
The pictures I have of yoga lack to me the beauty of the dancers, but like the dancers show that coordination of strength, flexibility, and stamina. There is both grace and power in a yoga pose--especially one of the more difficult ones, like firefly where the body is balanced and supported only by your arms (way beyond my skill or ability). but even Mountain--standing with your back straight and feet firmly placed--is not a lazy or relaxed posed--it's powerful and focused stillness. Yoga unites the mind and body, tuning the one to the other while moving with a concentrated coordination.
Beyond a handful of inspirational fitness pictures, I found a few pictures that represent other goals in my life--for writing and finishing my degree, for finding time for my hobbies and for soul maintenance--especially reading and crafts--as well as spiritual maintenance, in the form of religious meditation. But I do not know if I should include those with the healthy living pictures, such as they are--would it be counterproductive to clutter up the visual landscape with images of both reading and dancing? Or is it just a natural result of the fact that I have a very full, even hectic life, with many interests and demands on my time, since fitness and healthy eating aren't supposed to be separate elements of my life, apart from the rest, but an integral part of it.
Anyway, it's a work in progress. At this rate, it will take me the whole 4 weeks just to put it together! At the very least I need more of the right kinds of pictures (four or even five good pictures does not really make a collage), more words, and figure out a way to organize the pictures so that I can display them--and then figure out where I can display them.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
I stole this from OMRIS99.
A is for Age: 33 (for a little bit longer, anyway!)
B is for Booze: Sometimes, usually wine or cider or more rarely scotch. And even more rarely real Margaritas (lime, on ice, not fruity or slushy) or a Mai Tai. But I don't actually drink a lot.
C is for Career: Professional student? When I graduate, I'd like to teach anthropology.
D is for Dad's name: John
E is for Essential items to bring to a party: Really, it depends on the party, but usually food (if nothing else, to make sure my husband has something to eat and/or drink) and sometimes games.
F is for Favorite song or music: Boy. I don't know if that's possible--I have so many favorites. It really depends on my mood, but Sing Sing Sing (Barage is the version I have, but there are many) Whisper by Evanescence, Ghost of a Rose by Blackmore's Night, You're Aging Well By Dar Williams, Fields of Gold by Sting, and Tiera La Noche by Fey are all pretty high on the list. But I have a LOT of favorites. Literally hundreds--impossible to choose between them.
G is for Goof off thing to do: Video games--especially Legend of Zeldas and Final Fantasies. I also love to read, though I actually don't think of it as goofing off--more like necessary soul maintenance.
H is for Hometown: born in Muskegon, MI but grew up in Jackson, MI.
I is for Instrument you play: Formally trained in piano, clarinet, and hammer dulcimer (rusty on all of them, especially the first two) Have dabbled in fife and non-modern flutes, but never seriously.
J is for Jam or Jelly you like: Black raspberry preserves. Yum yum yum.
K is for Kids: Not yet. Like them, but now is not a good time (yeah, I know I'm not getting any younger, but I still have a little time.)
L is for Living arrangement: An apartment. Someday I would love to own a house....
M is for Mom's name: Cheryl
N is for Name of best friend: I don't do best friends--not since a really bad experience in grade school. I have lots of very, very good friends; I'm blessed with friends. Don't ask me to chose between them.
O is for Overnight Stay in a Hospital: Never.
P is for Phobias: Mild claustrophobia. I'm also mildly phobic of centipedes and cockroaches.
Q is for Quote you like: "A life lived in fear is a life half lived." I've been in a Strictly Ballroom (love that movie) frame of mind.
R is for Relationship that lasted longest: Family? My whole life. Friend? nearly 30 years. Romantic relationship? Spouse--12 and a half years (7 and a half of them married).
S is for Siblings: One brother
T is for Texas, ever been? Yes, briefly. I remember a cockroach in a bathroom and that's about it from that trip--we were driving straight through from Michigan to Arizona and most of it's a blur--and I have vague memories of the airport at Houston. But I can't really say that I've been there to really visit.
U is for Unique trait: I talk too much about bottled water, water filters, water safety regulations, etc. It's an occupational hazard. Oh, and I'm fascinated with the bobbins in bobbin lace. I have no interest in actually making said lace (though I love other forms of fiber arts) but the bobbins fascinate me.
V is for vegetable you love: I love lots of vegetable. Currently I'm very pleased to have a jicama--love them. Best snack food on the planet.
W is for Worst traits: I'm overly critical of myself.
X- is for X-rays you've had: Teeth, foot, hip, head.
Y is for Yummy food you make: I make yummy food? I guess I make pretty good stews, since I've been asked for my recipe (which I don't really have). I do make a great sorta chop suey (that's what it's called; got the recipe from a friend), AKA Mush. It doesn't look all that appealing but it tastes great.
Z is for Zodiac sign: Aquarius.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
"I'm unworthy, and no matter what I'm doing,
I should certainly be doing something else.
And it's selfish to be thinking I'm unworthy,
all this me, me, me, me, self, self, self, self, self."
by Cheryl Wheeler
I adore this song. I rarely actually think that I'm unworthy, but I've certainly been guilty of feeling that no matter what I'm doing, I should be doing it better or doing something else instead--to focus unconsciously on my short comings (often unrealistic or self-perceived ones at that)--and then when I kick myself in the butt and say "stop that!" I feel guilty that I've been feeling guilty. Cheryl Wheeler puts all that into perspective and lets me laugh at myself.
I commented recently that I rarely get enough fruits and vegetables in, and while I'm getting more in than I used to, it's a struggle and it daunting to say the least to try to squeeze in five servings a day. For one thing, my husband has a lot of food allergies. He usually cooks dinner, but he doesn't cook vegetables he's allergic to--many of which, like potatoes, he can't handle. Our kitchen is small, so there's not really room for both of us to be in there at the same time, so it's very rare that I have vegetables with dinner that he's not allergic to (and really, just how many days a week can you stand to eat parsnips and turnips? I love both of them, fortunately, but even I can't stand to eat them every single day.) And to be honest I'm not very good at making vegetables for one person--I tend to overcook them and end up inedible rubber things that vaguelly resemle peas or beans. And some foods I can't have when my husband is home and have to be super careful not to contaminate anything in the kitchen, because, yes, he's that allergic to them (and bananas are banned from the apartment, since even being near one opened can make him stop breathing. Scary, and just not worth the risk).
So I tend to eat most of my vegetables and fruit for breakfast, lunch, or snacks. I do love soups, and I love soups with lots of vegetables in them. I also eat a lot of raw vegetables--mostly green peppers, snow or sugar peas, cauliflower, cucumbers, etc.--and fruit (varies by season, currently a lot of citrus--oranges, grapefruit, and clementines.) In a given day, I probably have at least a small amount of berries with my breakfast yogurt (which I don't count toward my fruits and vegetables because it's a pretty small amount) and at least one fruit or vegetable with lunch and maybe some dried fruit or another vegetable or something with my snack. The way I'd figured it, most days I got two servings in. A good day I'd get three and on an exceptional one, I might get four.
Talking to my parents about this recently (we were talking about a health assessment that I had taken that I had done less than stellar on--I'll probably post about that later. Dad says though that I'm being too hard on myself and that my score of 6.8 out of 10 was actually decent. Room for improvement, but decent. But anyway) about how I felt overwhelmed by the possibility of getting enough vegetables in. They think that I'm not giving myself enough credit for the vegetables and fruits that I'm eating, and that my portion size estimates are off.
For example, it is common for me to eat a green pepper with lunch. I figured one green pepper was one vegetable, right? And I know theoretically that one serving of a raw vegetable is one cup, but my strips of green pepper really don't fit well in my measuring cup (too long) but I figured that one green pepper was approximately a cup.
I should probably mention at this point that I have a terrible sense of scale. I am just not very accurate when it comes to estimating things like inches, cups, etc. Well, yesterday I realized that my sliced up green pepper pretty much filled my bowl, and I know from past experience from foods I had measured that my bowl holds about two cups. So all this time I'd been counting as one serving of green pepper was probably two--which meant I was shorting myself on calories (not a big deal, since green pepper aren't that high in calories to begin with) but also vegetable servings.
Other foods I recorded more accurately as far as calories go--so many clementines, so many halves of grapefruit, so many turnips, etc.--but my mom thinks I also tended to underestimate how many fruit or vegetable servings. Today, for example, for lunch I had a grapefruit for my fruit. In the past, I would have mentally marked it as one serving--it's one fruit, right? But I guess a serving of grapefruit is actually half a grapefruit, so it was actually two servings. And then there's the soups--I really don't know how to measure how many servings of vegetables there are in a bowl of vegetable soup. One? Two? More? I had been assuming one.
So I guess it would be more accurate, if this is right, to say that most days I get in three-four servings of fruits and/or vegetables (not five, but better than I had thought), a good day I'd get about five (yay!), and an exceptional day I might get as many as eight.
If so, I'm doing a lot better on the fruit/vegetable front than I had thought!
Now if I only it were that easy to get my four-five servings of complex carbohydrates in...
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