Monday, December 04, 2006

The Best Laid Plans

This past weekend was a perfect example for me of how trying to be mindful of moderation in eating can go terribly wrong.

My lovely daughters both had cotillion dances, one on Friday and one on Saturday. If you are not familiar with these, which seem to be a uniquely southern American tradition, they are fairly short (1.5 hours) dances wherein young pubescents (11-13 year olds) are schooled in the basics of ballroom dance. As someone said to me on Friday night, they are as much as anything else exercises in supervised touching. They are an excuse for kids to get dressed up and hang out with friends in an environment unlike anything they’re used to, one that begins to approximate the grown up world.

In addition, since it is the holidays, this month’s dance was the so-called “Holly Ball,” during which parents are encouraged to come dressed formally to dance with their son or daughter. It’s a tradition that can seem pretty pretentious and out-of-date or somewhat sweet and special, almost totally depending on mood and execution.

Anyway, for the Friday dance, a parent of one of the girls in my daughters “posse” had organized a post-cotillion reservation at a local restaurant, a chance for the girls to hang out a while longer while all dressed up and gossip intensely about the boys they danced with, etc. etc. I fought like hell to try to get out of this. I was annoyed enough that I was going to have to get dressed up and hang out with a bunch of other guys who all were much more comfortable in tuxes and Italian suit than I was and make small talk. I also didn’t want to give up a night during this season when there are lights to hang, trees to decorate, gifts to buy, and other anxiety-producing activities to bitch about. But, after talking it over with my daughter, we agreed we would go, maybe grab a hot chocolate and then leave. So I imagined the whole thing taking about 30 minutes top.

So I went to the Holly Ball and danced with my lovely daughter and it actually was sweet and special and I was aglow with the sentiments of the season. Then we packed up and drove on down to the restaurant and things went to hell. First off, this restaurant turned out to be the most expensive one in the city, so I’m already imagining my hot chocolate costing $8. Then, it turns out that this organizational parent had actually booked us a guaranteed special-sitting dinner, complete with dessert, wherein they were going to bring us food whether we wanted it or not and it was going to cost $50 per adult and $25 per child. I had the choice at that point to make a mini-scene, embarrass my daughter, and leave or graciously smile and take the blow to my wallet and preconceptions like the wimp that I am. In other words, I was stuck. Defense mechanism #1: order a drink.

Now that I’m already pissed, it ends up taking the restaurant nearly an hour to take our orders and than an additional 30 minutes to bring us the first course (of a three course meal). My half-hour jaunt becomes a two and a half-hour slog, waiting for incredibly expensive food that I didn’t want to arrive as if delivered from Detroit via pony express. I had visions of eating the salad, having a bite or two of the main course and passing completely on the dessert. As things unfolded and my aggravation grew, there was no way I wasn’t going to eat it all (oh, and another drink please waiter. Could I have that before next Tuesday?)

The Saturday night fiasco was different but no less frustrating. We had planned for some good friends to come over for dinner on Saturday, not factoring in the details of my oldest daughter’s cotillion. With the excitement of our friends’ arrival, our new puppy pees three times in the house within a half-hour span. When we finally calm her down, my oldest begins her prep work for cotillion, resulting in much heartache and consternation because she’s fat, neither of her dresses look right, she doesn’t have the right makeup and her face is breaking out. We finally get her out the door so she can have dinner with her friends but, since she was running ½ hour late, I only have about ½ hour to hang out with my friends before I have to get dressed and out the door to meet my daughter at the dance and do my time with her.

Luckily, there isn’t any post-dance shindig but the dance itself makes me feel like shit. It’s largely a result of the contrast of hanging out with our friends – younger, hipper, smarter versions of my wife and I who are a little earthy-crunchy, a little liberal intellectual, a little middle-class angsty – and hanging out at cotillion with guys who all make 6 figures, own tuxedoes, and are the types of upper management honchos that I was supposed to be by the time I hit my mid-forties. I end up feeling like an older crankier twenty-something who is going to be stuck contemplating big questions and my navel until I wake up and realize I’m 60 and the essential big questions have whittled down to “what city can I retire to where my rheumistism won’t act up?”

So after the dance I head back home and, since our friends have been decent enough to stick around even with my one hour disappearance, I do them the courtesy of drinking too much and eating everything left on the dinner table that they left behind, including some incredibly rich peppermint patty brownies.

The upshot of all of this is that, instead of weighing in this past weekend comfortably on the good side of my WW goal weight so that I can coast through the holidays and not worry about getting in the ballpark until the end of January, I wake up Sunday straddling that goal weight line. And, as soon as I kick this funk I’m now in, I’ll have to get back on the wagon and be a good WW core eater for a week or two so I can make weight before Chanukah rolls around.

Certainly my life still doesn’t suck. But still, that sense of best laid plans being whittled away until they are totally laid to waste kind of sucks. Back to the salad bar…

Monday, November 27, 2006

Blogging keeps you trim

...apparently, since the vestiges of my weight loss program have whittled down to virtually nothing but the tip-tapping of my fingers. And yet, after a Thanksgiving of little restraint, I'm holding steady at 166, only a few pounds above my preferred weight (163) and still a couple of pounds below my Weight Watchers threshold weight of 168. Here are another couple of possibilities:

Hating Work Keeps You Trim

During this past 6 weeks or so, work has been a veritable cavalcade of dismalness as a project I should have had finished back in September drags on and on and on. The internal struggle that fills my mornings as I decide whether to get up, get dressed and go to work versus say, selling the house and moving to Mexico, must burn many calories.

A New Pet Keeps You Trim

After months of being patient and responsible and just darn lovable, our 2nd daughter finally convinced my lovely wife and I that she could handle a puppy. We finally relented about 10 days ago. Having to be hyper-aware of defecation habits of a new little one less than 6 months after our youngest matured out of diapers must burn up all sorts of energy in both sensory awareness and annoyance.

Lack of Sleep Keeps You Trim

My goal for this year was to improve on my 5-6 hours of sleep per night average. At some point during the late summer/early fall, the average moved into the 6-7 hour range but has since slipped back. The force required to keep my eyelids open must burn countless calories.

A Hot Wife Keeps You Trim

A year after I dropped my 25 pounds, the wife buckled down and entered an intense exercise-and-nutrition program since WW was not working for her. About 6 months into it, she is now really starting to see results; the pounds aren't exactly melting away like butter but she has lost some and she's fitter than ever. Most importantly, she looks damn hot in clothes (probably out of them too, but I wouldn't know about that...). So my resurgent testosterone levels must be working to keep my weight down.

Truthfully (and hopefully, the truth won't hurt in this case), I think some of the WW sensibility has sunk in so deeply that, even when I'm "pigging out" over Thanksgiving, I'm actually showing more restraint than I would have in years past. And, come to think of it, I only had 2 beers on T-day versus the 5-6 I might've had in the past, one slice of pie instead of 2 (or even 3), and a modicum of mashed potatoes and stuffing versus an overflowing plateful.

Or possibly, it's just taking a couple of days for the weight to catch up with me and day after tomorrow, I'll step on the scale and see 178...

Sorry to be such a slacker, my comrades, I've been devoting a lot of blogging energy to my other blog at Richmond VA Theater. I promise to do better from here out and, given the temptations of the holidays, I'll need the reminders and support of you all to stay the course. Best of luck navigating these last weeks of 2006!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Once in a Lifetime

..And you may ask yourself, “Am I right? Am I wrong?”
And you may ask yourself, “My god! What have I done?”

Appearing worn and slightly delirious, Lord Lessimore was found sprawled on the front stoop of his manor house this afternoon. Though his voice was barely audible underneath his abundant beard, he was said to be mumbling incoherent phrases about “core plan,” “Duchess of York” and “Go Owl 8.”

Reconstructing missives the Lord issued shortly before his disappearance, it appears he had embarked on a two-week quest to acquire something valuable to him that he had lost several months before. This “Go Owl 8” is apparently a highly valuable commodity among an elite international core of knights, requiring drastic modifications in lifestyle and consumption.

Though nothing was found on Lessimore besides a small satchel of raisins tucked inside his loincloth and a silver “Bravo” sticker affixed to his forehead, he claimed to have this “Go Owl 8” in his possession. It is hoped that after a day of recuperation, more details about the Lord’s harrowing quest will be available.

Years as Lifetime WW Member: 1
YAM: 1.2
Last HSW: 162
Last 4W: 164

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Some kind of medal

11:15 on a Saturday night. Have been out at a "social event" with the lovely wife, threw down a couple of beers and a complimentary glass of wine, never had a real dinner. Feeling relatively exhausted but can't quite find my way to the bedroom.

Inevitably wander to the fridge, where I know there is ice cream laying in wait. Am surprised to find that not only is there the Low Fat pseudo-ice cream food product that usually lurks in the freezer, but that the LW has snuck out at some point during her day and bought a pint of the real stuff, the real GOOD stuff from Cold Stone Creamery so that it’s got all sorts of yummy naughty bits mixed in.

Sweat starts to form on my forehead. Slowly reach for the little Styrofoam container. Open the top and look in. Mmmm…look at that creamy goodness…

Something, not sure what, shifts in my brain. Subtle but distinct. Top goes back on, freezer door closes. It occurs to me that we have a lot of leftover Mediterrean food, hummous and baba ganoosh and such. Realize that a tangy, salty taste is more what I want anyway. Decide on a tidy little bowl of tabouli. Tastes pretty darn good and I go to bed.

Wake-up realizing I should get some kind of freakin medal for the events of the night before. I had the ice cream IN MY HAND.

If I doubted before that this WW process had affected some kind of paradigm shift for me, I do not anymore.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Units of Measure

After faithfully following Sir Man Boobs’ weight loss progress in all of his various units of measure, I played some “fun with weight conversion” games and I believe it’s given me a new paradigm of thought.

11.5 stone = 161 pounds ~ 73 kilos
12 stone = 168 pounds ~ 76 kilos

These are the lower and upper boundaries of where I’d like my weight to be. My sweet spot (as it were) is about 163 pounds or roughly 74 kilos. When I start to feel it’s time to rein things in a bit is around 165.5 pounds or roughly 75 kilos.

For some reason, it simplifies things to imagine my weight on a scale of 73 to 76 with the sweet spot at 74. I guess just because the numbers are smaller.

It may be one small and rather esoteric step toward following Thoreau’s simplification edict, but hey, it’s something. The journey to Walden Pond is taken one step at a time…

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Conspiracy of Girl Scout Cookies

Girls scout cookies (GSC) have seasons. There is the GSC spring, a time that happens I think around November, or maybe January, I can’t really remember. That’s the time of year that the little GSC sign-up sheets are everywhere, enticing you with cute little pictures of various multicolored cookies that don’t look like they could have much more than a half-gram of fat each, really, at most. You might even see the occasional table at your grocery store with a variety of pre-adolescent girls clustered around it, the sign-up sheets out and samples offered.

I made it through GSC spring with no problem this year. Those peanut butter patties and thin mints almost broke my resolve but I resisted. But now it’s GSC fall – harvest time – and those cheerful boxes are everywhere, thicker than pumpkins in a patch in October. It’s insidious. I resisted the work boxes for a couple of days. Then, clearing out my daughters’ lunch boxes, what should I find but two boxes squirreled away in there. The little punks had brought the offending substances into the house! There was no way to avoid a thin mint at that point.

And so through the thin mint gateway I went. The next day, those peanut butter patties called out and, having succumbed to a thin little mint, I couldn’t in good conscience eschew the patty. And one patty led to another. And – sweat breaking out on forehead – another. By the end of the afternoon, I had to finish off the patties because I was in danger of spiralling out of control into the shortbreads and the caramel delights.

This time shall pass, I hope, and quickly. But in the meantime, I don’t expect anything significant in the weight loss effort. In fact, the one pound drop I saw at WW last night must be almost completely attributed to the exercise regimen with Sir Chub. I have 2.5 weeks until my one year anniversary of WW Lifetime Membership and 2 more pounds to drop. Should be a cake walk, as long as I can muster the will to walk past any cakes I see…

YAM: 1.1
Last HSW: 164
Last 4W: 166.2

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Breakthroughs?

Two developments over the past week: 1) the boy has started to sleep better, usually making it past 6am and when he hasn’t made it that far, he can be made to go back to sleep again with the aid of a little music, and 2) I’ve been joining in with Sir Chub every other day on his spiritual quest of insane amounts of exercise.

The former has quelled some of the pissiness that had come to dominate my mood and the latter seems to have provided significant enough impact to push my weight down below 165 again. I still haven’t seen anything below 163.5 yet – and with the influx of Girl Scout cookies in my workplace this week, I won’t likely any time soon. But I feel slimmer and the exercise seems to provide a cushion within which marginal food choices can be absorbed. If I can knock off another pound or two before my WW year-one anniversary I’ll be extremely happy.

I’ve been thinking about religion again (as distinct from spirituality) lately and it’s a difficult thing. Intellectually, I tend to sort through everything and arrive at most religion as the opiate of the masses (when I’m feeling cynical) or as a pleasant fairy tale we tell ourselves to deal with the fear of death and other things unknown (when I’m not quite so cynical). I guess this would be fine if there was something a bit more compelling about my general humanist “faith.” I generally believe in kharma and that if you do good things, have good intentions and treat others with love and respect, more often than not the universe tends to give you a fair shake as far as everyday pain and suffering goes. I tend to think it’s way more important to be good to those around you and act out of empathy than to go certain places on certain days or say specific things at certain times.

But that’s all a little squishy in terms of rousing passion for one’s faith. There’s no battles or downtrodden ones or mysterious rituals or saviors or prophets or fanciful sayings in Latin. So I’m left wondering how to maintain an active exploration of my spirituality and, without that, it remains a background process in my life and something that’s hard to enervate the children with. I’m starting to think maybe, since I’m in graduate school anyway, it may be time to take a religion class and see what I can find there. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to peruse the course catalog for the twelve-hundredth time. Some folks love to shop for clothes or books; I love to shop for classes!