Sunday, December 31, 2006

if all your friends were jumping off a cliff...

Fellow weight-loss bloggers like The Shrinking Knitter and Cindy (and many, many others) are posting their year-end reviews so I thought that it would be a good time for me to reflect on 2006.

Last year at this time I was in Key West for the New Year. My husband and I had been looking forward to it, but for me, a lot of the fun of the trip was spoiled because I was overweight and unhappy about it. It's hard not to be self-conscious in a city full of beatiful people wearing as little as possible. I enjoyed the trip, but it was sort of like that oatmeal commercial -- I felt like I was dragging along a lot of shame in the form of my weight. It was hard walking down the street with my husband past all the women in their bikini tops and cut-off shorts. (The men walking around in just bikini bottoms didn't bother me nearly as much for some reason)

At that point, I probably only weighed about 10-15 pounds more than I do now. My attitude about myself has probably changed more than my weight, though I still have room for improvement there too. I have lost some weight, dropped a clothing size, but more importantly, I am realizing that the Snow-White-Stepmother mindset has to go -- it doesn't matter who's the fairest in the land. I don't have to compare myself to other people. I need to be grateful for my own gifts.

I have a lot of wonderful friends that I met through and AngryFatGirlz who have helped me a lot with this. I've also managed to get a lot more at peace with who I am and have gotten a lot more in touch with my spirituality. I don't feel like I'm going it alone now. And I'm working on the weight loss again, because I decided that was what I really wanted, not because anyone else thinks I should.

This year, I didn't want to go to a bar or a party for New Year's Eve. Those kinds of things are never as much fun as they sound like they will be. There's a local 5K race where you can "Run Into 2007." I just decided that I wanted to do it a couple of days ago. I've already been running so the distance shouldn't be a problem, and I thought it would be a good way to start the new year off right. And there won't be a hangover to contend with.

Though I don't believe in resolutions, I do believe in goals. Some of my goals for 2007:

  • Get back to my goal weight in the next couple of months so I can stop paying for Weight Watchers meetings
  • Defend my dissertation in May for an August graduation
  • Find a tenure-track faculty job
  • Find a home where neither my husband or I has more than a 15-minute commute to work
  • Become more centered and at peace with myself

I hope everyone who reads this has a wonderful New Year's celebration and is filled with the resolve to accomplish whatever it is they want to achieve in 2007.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

more on the weight loss quest

I've had the loveliest little holiday vacation this year. Last year we went to Key West after Christmas and stayed through New Year's Day, but I have to admit that I'm enjoying this year more. I've liked having a lot of time to enjoy at home and relax. We have been able to spend time with family and friends and enjoy a holiday at home. Besides, I don't have to deal with my winter-white body in a bathing suit this year.

One nice luxury is having the time to get lost in a book. I got Eat, Pray, Love for Christmas this year and devoured the book in two days. It really is beautiful: the language, the descriptions of the people and places, and most of all, the food. The book is a memoir of the author's travels in Italy, India, and Indonesia while on a spiritual journey.

It sounds superficial and silly to say this, but the weight loss this time around has been a little bit more of a spiritual journey for me. Like Gilbert, I am trying to figure out how to have pleasure and beauty and discipline and spirituality all at the same time. And I insist that my food be beautiful along the way. I love the kind of food that Gilbert described in the Italy section: Simply prepared, beautiful food made from fresh ingredients.

My eating habits have really changed over the years, but I'm still a picky eater. The difference is that instead of hating vegetables and refusing to try new things, now I'm too picky to eat bad, or even mediocre food. A lot of the recipes that they share in Weight Watchers meetings call for fake foods: fat-free this, sugar-free that. And I refuse to lose weight by trying to survive on Smart Ones and Lean Cuisines. I want food that is real.

One thing I do love about Weight Watchers is that their actual recipe books are wonderful. I have yet to make something from one of those books that hasn't gotten rave reviews from me and anyone I share it with. And I have to thank Chef Kathleen for teaching me how to love vegetables. Since I first saw her television show, her recipes have taught me to like fennel, asparagus, broccoli, even beets! I was still thinking of cooked vegetables as the mushy, salty stuff from cans that we had to eat once in a while at my meat-and-potatoes household. My mother's parents are both from Italy, but because my father was even more of a picky eater than me, it took until adulthood for me to learn to love real Italian food. My mom rarely made anything that my dad wouldn't eat, and I picked up my skittishness about "weird" food from him.

Now that I have learned to like everything from falafel to sushi, the hard part for me is balancing my love of good food with my desire to fit into jeans in a smaller size (or two). Add to that a few more parties in the tail end of the holiday party season and you can see why this is on my mind.

I could easily lose the weight if I was willing to lock myself away from friends, family, and any events involving food. I could subsist on frozen entrees and Pumpkin Fluff (a Weight Watchers favorite made from canned pumpkin and fat-free Cool Whip). But I want to do this in a way that makes me happy and fits the kind of life I want to live. That's what I mean when I'm saying that I see it this time as a spiritual quest. I'm not just trying to lose weight this time around, I want to figure out how to live my life in a way that makes me happy. I figure that is the only way to do this for the long haul. I don't want to be trying to recover from a relapse again in a year or two, I want to keep this going forever.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

a late Christmas gift

I decided to go to a meeting today to see how bad the damage was for my splurges on the 24th and the 25th. I felt like I had just been given a little gift when I found out that I actually lost 1.6 this week. I thought back on it, and even though I had three really big meals over those two days, the rest of my week really wasn't that bad.

I have been having very good results since starting over with the new plan. has really been dramatic since I started honestly tracking my points and making a serious effort to stay within them. (I wish Google Spreadsheets allowed you to make charts, but so far they don't.) I suppose it shouldn't be that big of news that the plan works better if you follow it!

I also enjoyed the meeting today. The leader and the other people there were fun, everyone seemed genuinely welcoming and happy to be there. I would consider switchinng to this meeting, but I'm normally at work during that timeslot.

Knowing that I don't have to be perfect all the time to see good results makes me feel a lot calmer about the whole process. I am already starting to think about maintenance, which is where I ran into trouble before. I think that continuing to track and plan meals is going to be the best way for me to maintain. Last time I figured that once I was at goal weight, I could give all of that up. It should be a lot easier with the extra maintenance points, but I know that I won't maintain successfully if I don't stick to the program. Besides, it actually is kind of satisfying to remind myself, in writing, that I stuck to my goals for the day.

Monday, December 25, 2006

overdid it

Well, predictably, I overdid it yesterday and today. The big extended-family party was on Christmas Eve. I had fun with my family but there were also mountains of food, and a lot of it stuff I would never buy to keep at home: Crackers and cheese spread, various types of chips and dips, candy, cookies, etc. I was in the house with all this food most of yesterday, and kept going back to nibble on something. I would have a hard time even guessing what I ate yesterday.

I have actually journaled today's big breakfast and bigger lunch with my immediate family. I didn't eat dinner until about half an hour ago, and dinner was two slices of toast on sprouted-grain bread with natural peanut butter, celery, an apple, a banana, and green tea. My stomach is still feeling touchy. I haven't counted points for my whole day yet but I think that the week is still salvageable as long as I keep things reasonable from here. At least I got in a run outside in the nice weather.

Unfortunately, there is another Christmas dinner coming up with my in-laws, but the food won't be as good and it will just be a few hours. I think I can do fine if I bring a few healthy dishes of my own to supplement what everyone else is bringing.

I plan to go to a meeting tomorrow, just to keep myself focused. I thought about hitting the After-Christmas Sales, but decided against it, since if I wait a few days the lines will be shorter. I got some really nice gifts and only have a couple of things to return. I don't plan to buy a whole bunch of extra stuff. I have an Ann Taylor gift card to spend, but I think I might save it as a Goal Weight shopping spree.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

have a wonderful holiday

Here's hoping for a lot more Peace on Earth in 2007. I am honored that you stop by and read my thoughts, and I look forward to seeing you all in the new year!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

fit and/or fat?

Lori and I were having an online conversation about whether you can be fit and fat. This is a topic that is going to crop up on most weight-loss blogs eventually, so I thought it was about time for me to tackle it.

Covert Bailey has a bunch pretty well-known books that are variations on the "Fit or Fat" theme. Despite highly judgemental title and the accompanying attitude that creeps in from time to time, he has some pretty sensible advice on how to take yourself from fitness to fatness. His premise is that fitness is really more important than weight, so if you focus on becoming more fit, your weight will start to take care of itself. He basically assumes that you cannot be fat and fit, that if you are truly fit, you won't be fat.

I can't say much about Sally Edwards's book Fit and Fat, because I haven't read it. But there are a lot of people who talk about being fat and fit, who exercise a lot and yet still are larger than most people might think they should be. They would say that they aren't fat people on their way to becoming fit, they are fit people who are fat, whether or not they eventually plan to get thinner.

I really don't see this as an either-or question myself. Though of course there's some relationship between fitness and fatness, it's definitely not linear. A lot of people use "healthy" as a code for "thin," but that is obviously not true. Though I would agree there aren't a lot of 500-pound marathoners out there, there also aren't a lot of 98-pound ones either. You can be too thin to be healthy, though you'd never think it from paying attention to our media.

I think that being fit is much more important than your weight -- I would never try to argue with that. When I decided, around the time that I turned 30, that I wanted to lose weight, I did the opposite of what a lot of people do -- I started exercising first. I lost my first 20 or so pounds mostly because of exercise alone while training for my first triathlon, but I couldn't get to my weight goal that way, and when I backed off even a little from a triathete's training schedule, the weight started to creep back on, mostly because I was still eating whatever I wanted, though I tried to "watch it" a little.

If you watch NBC's "The Biggest Loser," you see very fat people who are exercising very intensely. I think that people are starting to realize that you don't have to wait until you are skinny to be able to do some pretty serious workouts. Exercise can also help you feel better and sleep better, so you might not find yourself munching out of boredom, stress, or exhaustion. But, just like on the show, exercise alone never did it for me. If I were a natural, intuitive eater, I could probably just follow my body's hunger signals, eat exactly what my body needed and stop. Guess what? I'm not, and neither are most people I know. According to Brian Wansink, almost no one is. So I need to follow some kind of a food plan if I want to lose weight, which I do.

And that last sentence brings me back around to what I think is most important in all of this. We really have to think about what we want most. If what we want is to be thinner, but we don't care about how healthy or fit we are, there are plenty of ways to do that: Extreme diets, chain-smoking and drinking coffee instead of eating, diet pills, heroin... If what we want is to be fit and healthy, no matter what our size, we can exercise daily and try to eat healthy foods but not worry too much about how much of them we eat. If what we want is to do what we want and we don't care about our weight or our health, that's our choice too. Unfortunately, there is a lot of judgement that goes on about what people should want, which is where a lot of the nastiness in the comments on weight-related blogs seems to come from.

Aside from all the judgements is the reality: If we what we really, truly, deeply want is to be thinner and fitter, we have to do the things it takes to be thin and fit. This means a sensible food plan and a sensible exercise plan. That might mean consulting a coach, a nutritionist, a weight-loss or twelve-step group, or reading books that help guide us in the right direction. A lot of people have the idea that we need to be extreme about things in order to be successful, and if people think they have to eat less than 1,000 calories and exercise for five hours a day to reach their weight goals, no wonder a lot of people give up. We also have to accept that while we're getting fit, we still might be fat for a while. I would still put my money on the middle-of-the-season Pam from "The Biggest Loser" in a cage match against your average chain-smoking supermodel.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

a better day

I know I sounded frustrated yesterday with the cookies, I really couldn't believe that something so simple went so wrong. I manged to conquer the cookie demon today, made molasses cookies and made them small. The recipe was supposed to make 4 dozen but I managed to get almost exactly 5 dozen smaller cookies out of it. I figure if everyone has five dozen cookies, they aren't going to care if a few of them are little. I think part of what was provoking my anxiety was feeling that we weren't going to really have much to talk about but the cookies (I don't know half of the people that will be there) and if my cookies stunk, that leaves me feeling like a dope. I ended up with 3 extra cookies, and I had two of them (3 points) and thought they were pretty good. All the rest are cooled and put away in small disposable containers. Yesterday I ended up eating 6 points worth (estimated) of ruined, terrible cookies. I think I kept tasting them in the hopes that maybe they weren't as bad as I thought. I am so weird sometimes.

I got a swim in with a friend of mine and it felt surprisingly good. I've been avoiding the pool but it was a lot of fun. We swam for an hour, but I paced myself and managed to stay comfortable for the whole workout. I think getting up and working out might have made the difference in the cookie trauma -- yesterday I tried to work on more transcription but instead sat at my desk and surfed the internet, bored but still unable to get myself motivated. After I finish this post I'm going out to run some errands, because it is a beautiful day outside and I don't feel like sitting in this dark cave again today.

I also found out about some unexpected money -- I got a nice-sized grant to help cover my dissertation expenses, which is a really wonderful surprise. All I need now is a call from my #1 job choice requesting an interview for February (need some time to prepare) and all my real Christmas wishes will be granted.

After a lousy food day yesterday where I used 15 of my 35 weekly allowance points -- the cookie mess was just a sad finale to a day of too much starch and not enough veggies -- I'm on track for a pretty good day today. I think I can still salvage the week as long as I don't go overboard at this party tonight. I have a friend coming to visit on Friday that I know can be counted on to devour whatever cookies are still around by then.

I'm not sure when (or if) I'll get in to weigh in with Christmas closing my usual alternatives on Mondays. I could weigh in on Tuesday as long as Monday's not too much of a mess, and there's also a Thursday meeting that I like in the evenings.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Here's hoping that none of us eat too many cookies! :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

stupid cookies

My friend is having a cookie party. I am not so excited about this because I'm supposed to bring 5 dozen of one kind of cookie, and I go home with 5 dozen assorted cookies. I'm a good cook--I love to improvise with my recipes and make new things. This is not a good trait for baking, so I rarely bake, because it's not really a good idea for me. And cookies are one of my least favorite things to make.

Of course I couldn't make some easy kind of cookie that I've made before. First I was going to make meringues, figuring they'd be semi-calorie friendly. But then I realized that it would be very difficult to make that many of them. So I moved on to plan B, before discarding that plan because the cookies had to be refrigerated 2 hours. I then picked what seemed to be the simplest recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook my mom gave me and made it "Christmasy" by adding crushed peppermint candies and mini chocolate chips.

Well, they were a disaster. They spread out all over the cookie sheet and looked greasy and awful. Of course I had to taste them. The candies had gotten chewy and though they tasted okay, they wouldn't even come off the cookie sheet except in one huge mushy lump. So yuck.

The party is tomorrow and I have the day off so I can try another batch. I'm going to do something easier, something that I can't mess up. But I've never made this many cookies at one time before, and I can't believe that anyone does this because they like to do it. One dozen can be fun, but five dozen is a pain. I suppose if I had five cookie sheets it might not be so bad, but I am not going to buy five cookie sheets, because this is the last time I will ever make this many cookies. I promise.

Tags: cookies, baking

Monday, December 18, 2006

down 2.2 -- only 10 more...

...before I'm at my official Weight Watchers goal. In fact, once I lose 8 more, I'll be within the 2-pound buffer zone allowed for Lifetime members. My WW program doesn't start up again until the second or third week of January, so I've been meeting-hopping. I went to a meeting near my house last week, but for some reason they weren't meeting this week, so I went to a different one today. Christmas and New Year's both fall on Mondays, so I have to find a different meeting if I want to weigh in next week. Luckily there are a few centers within a half-hour's drive from me, so I have lots of options.

I'll be happy when I get back to my regular meeting, though. It's hard not to feel like a total dork when you go to a meeting where everyone else knows each other and you don't know anyone. I was expecting a lot of talk about how the new program went, but I guess for most people it didn't change all that much.

There was this one guy who kept complaining, in a really loud and booming voice, about how stupid it was that "if I was losing before with the number of points I had, that I should have to go up 6 points a day and expect to still lose." He was complaining because he had gained, though after listening to him say the same exact thing two or three times about how unfair it was that he had to eat all these extra points, I said, "I'll take them." The leader said a lot of the guys went up 6-8 points. I guess the days of the guy joining WW and immediately losing 8 pounds are on their way out. Maybe, just maybe, it would be safe for women to join with their husbands now, but I certainly wouldn't do it. My husband doesn't need WW, but even if he did, I have seen enough couples in the meetings where the guy is bragging about how he "helps" his wife by yelling at her to put down the snacks. If my husband did that, I'd be tempted to choke him with a 2-Point Bar and say it was an accident. "I don't know how it happened, Officer, I guess he just got too hungry and forgot to chew it. He's been so good on his diet."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

wish me luck

Tomorrow is my first weigh-in on "the new program." Though for me, the new program really isn't that much different from the old one -- I even get the same number of points as I did before -- I treated this as a new start, and I am happy to report that I even have 1 point out of my Weekly Allowance of 35 left. I am going to a morning meeting tomorrow and I'll let you know what happens, but I'm expecting a loss. I am, of course, going to wear my lucky weigh-in pants.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

don't want to jinx it

...but I'm on track for a good week. I have 11 Flex Points left for today and tomorrow, I have been getting plenty of veggies and exercising. I have been honest in my food journal and not fudging things to make it look like I'm eating better than I really am.

I think after I get through the holidays, I'd like to give Core another try, but it's hard to imagine how I'd be able to do it this time of the year, when it seems there is candy everywhere I look. I love my carbs, too, and Core doesn't really give you much opportunity to indulge in them. But I know that I would lose a lot of weight on it, for the same reason.

I did an unofficial weigh-in after my run today (one hour) and it was 163.0. I had to check it twice. Now, after a long run like that, I'm pretty sure that I was a little dehydrated, so I don't necessarily think that the scale at WW will be quite so nice to me. But it was still nice to see that number.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

don't want to spoil it for those who TiVo'd...

...but I really enjoyed watching "The Biggest Loser" season finale last night. It was just amazing to see the before footage of the contestants and to see what they looked like now, and they brought all the original 50 state people back.

There were several transformations that were just amazing. I have to admit being a little jealous of some of the women, especially the one who went from a size 22 to a size 2! The smallest women's size I ever remember wearing was a size 5 dress at my eigth-grade graduation in 1984, when I was 13 years old. Of course, I was taller than this woman is.

I was happy about how the final four thing worked out, but it was probably even cooler to see how much the people who did all or part of their weight loss on their own managed to take off. It was definitely a good advertisement for their online club -- if I wasn't already a Weight Watchers member I would definitely think about signing up.

Of course, it is a little sad to admit that I was eating while I watched this... even if it was air-popped popcorn spritzed with canola oil and sprinkled with this amazing white cheddar cheese stuff. So it was relatively healthy, but I still ate a huge bowl of it. Old habits die hard, I guess, but at least I counted the points for it. I have 20 Flex Points left to use until next Monday, which is better than usual at this point in the week.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

day 3

I think I'm doing pretty well so far. I realized as I was going through my day how many times I would have not written something small down, or tried to fudge the numbers. I guess that's part of being an old-timer, you think you're smarter than the program. I, like many people I know, really don't think the rules should apply to me the way they do to everyone else. But following the rules works a lot better than not following them -- you could just look at my old WW journals as evidence of that. So I'm following the rules.

I got out of work late for lunch today and was just tempted to grab something on the way home, but I came home and cooked instead. I made a shrimp and vegetable stir-fry and had it with some whole wheat couscous. The sauce was just soy sauce, garlic, ginger, red pepper flake, and a little sesame oil. I have tons of leftovers, so I probably barely used a teaspoon of oil between the sesame oil and the canola oil I cooked it in. The whole lunch was 4 points.

One thing I always have trouble with are the milk servings and the healthy oils thing. I never want to use my points on that stuff. I love cheese, lowfat or full-fat, but that's a lot of points per serving. I'll eat yogurt in the summer but don't like eating it in the winter, too cold. I bought some, though. And I never liked drinking milk. If I'm cooking something I use the healthy oils, or if I'm whipping up a salad dressing. Mostly I just don't get to those things, even though I know they're supposed to be important. I am trying, but if I can at least stay under my point limit I figure that's better than I have been doing.

Monday, December 11, 2006

a fresh start

I made sure to attend a Weight Watchers meeting today because my leader told me that we would be getting new materials and learning about some of the updates to the program. As Anne said in her post, the changes are more tweaks around the edges of the program than anything revolutionary. Still, I like her idea of using this update as a chance for a fresh start.

I remember when I first signed up for WW. I was so excited to begin the program, and was upset to find out that the first "meeting" of an program is really just a time for the leader to collect your money and make sure that there are enough people signed up to really start things. You have to have at least 15 paying members for an , at least in our franchise. I wanted to get started right away. I think that intensity really paid off, because I lost very quickly and was pretty strict with myself.

I regained partly because I lost that intensity and partly because I got discouraged with how much focus it takes to maintain weight loss. I tried rejoining a few times, but I never got back that "beginner mind" that is so important. Even knowing, as I do, that the program "works when I work it," I still couldn't seem to muster up the excitement I had the first time around to get going, stick to it, and plan my meals carefully to get the most out of my points.

I'm going to read all my new materials tonight and start acting like a beginner again. It's not going to work if I'm vague and loose and "just sort of watch it" without really journaling, counting points, and stopping when my points are gone. I even bought the starter kit again, which includes a new food guide, dining out guide, three-month journal, and some coupons for WW products (if someone wants my coupons, send me your address and I'll mail them to you). I am going to switch from my electronic journaling system to the paper journal again, just to make myself look things up and use the slider.

You'll notice that my ticker has changed to reflect that I'm starting over again. I even decided to shoot for 10%, like new members do, instead of my official goal of 155.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

don't bring a book!

I'm going to invent a restaurant for solo travelers with that name. I've been away from home three nights now, and it is so boring and depressing to eat (almost) every meal, but especially dinner, all alone. And everywhere I go, I see business travelers or other people like me who are traveling by themselves, with their noses buried in a newspaper or, worse, chatting the entire time on a cell phone, because no one feels comfortable by themselves in a restaurant. I wish I was brave enough to go up to someone and say, "hey, we're both tired of dining alone, why don't we just have dinner together?" The only problem is that a guy would think I was hitting on him (and feel either happy or annoyed, depending on what he thought of me) and a woman would probably just think I was a weirdo. I did have a nice chat with a woman at breakfast, but it was just because she asked me a question as I was leaving, so we didn't actually eat together.

I have heard that in other countries, people do just routinely sit together and strike up conversations with strangers. That would be very nice. I enjoy talking to new people and would find that to be a lot of fun. Sure, there are lots of people who enjoy dining solo, but there are a lot of us who would welcome the chance to have some dinner companions, and the introverts would have plenty of other places to choose from.

If someone else wants to steal my idea, go ahead, just make sure that your food is very good, have some healthy options and offer some good wines by the glass. Also, make the food manners-friendly -- nothing that is hard to eat neatly or that splatters. I'll be your best customer.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

living la vida loca

Sorry, so sorry for the annoying earworm I just planted. But I know I have had lots of times lately when I wondered why I push myself so hard when other people might have been perfectly happy with the life I had before I started working on my degree. And part of me has been thinking, "I can't wait until I'm done with this and can settle down into a normal life again."

The thing is, I hated having a normal life. I gained most of my weight when my life was the most normal, because I was bored and unhappy. I went in, spent my work hours killing time until I could go home, spent my time at home mostly in front of the TV, snacking. Even though I'm stressed and tired a lot of the time, I love my life now. I like being busy. I like having things I'm working toward. I love the days when I come home from my new job and say, "They kept me running today."

I was reminded of this because I interviewed someone last night who is in a similar situation, working and going to school, and I realized how much fun it was to talk to someone else who was doing all this and who was blissfully happy about it all. Sometimes it's hard to remember in the rushing around that this is the life I chose, but this is what I want for myself: To always be working hard, learning lots of new things, to be fully engaged in life instead of spending a lot of time plugged in to the Internet and the television. I had forgotten that, in a sense, and kept thinking that I couldn't wait until this process was over and I could settle down a little. I do want some things in my external situation to be more settled: I want to know where I'll be living and working, I want my finances to be better, etc., but I don't want a boring, easy life. Spending a lot of time killing time made me feel dead.

There are a couple of people that I have been around lately who drive me crazy, much crazier than anything they do merits. I had a little bit of a breakthrough yesterday in figuring out why. They are fact factories -- they can tell you anything about anyone around them: How long they've been at their job, who their relatives are, what kind of cars they drive, where they went to school, etc. They know all these things about people they don't even really know, people they read about in the paper or someone who just lives in their town. They also know what everyone else should do instead of what they're doing now. Listening to them talk made me feel a little insane for some reason. My current theory, and the reason that I think they bother me so much, is that this is what smart people in captivity do. People who are intelligent but don't have any outlet for their brainpower spend a lot of time collecting information, mostly trivial, and displaying it to other people. Maybe they wouldn't be so nosy if they had dreams of their own to pursue. It's kind of painful to see someone stuck in this kind of life, especially a person who has a lot of potential.

I'm reading The Rise of the Creative Class and it's making me think a lot about creativity and the mechanics of it. It's a little weird to see the formulas for what makes a town a creative place, but it makes some sense. I have only read a few chapters so I can't tell you what I think of it yet, but it's a fascinating read.

I have a really full schedule today but of course my brain is still on Eastern time so I woke up too early to really do anything yet. I am going to stop by the office of the person I'm supposed to meet tomorrow while I'm out, so if I'm lucky I can have a whole day in Chicago just for sightseeing and shopping. It's pretty cold here but I figure if I keep moving, I'll stay warmer. And luckily everyone seems pretty practical about hats and gloves and stuff, so I don't feel like a total dork bundling up myself.

Friday, December 01, 2006

good things

I used to watch Martha Stewart's show and I especially liked her "." Later, as I realized how time-consuming and expensive it would be to live the idealized "simple" life she presented, I became disenchanted. But I still like the idea of small things that can make your life happier and better. Today had quite a few little good things in it.

I wore my new cashmere sweater for the first time today ($79.99, Macy's). If I ever become much wealthier, I will have dozens of these in different colors in different styles (turtleneck, crew, v-neck, cardigan, long-sleeved, short-sleeved, three-quarter sleeves, tank) because they are so comfortable. Today was chilly here and it kept me cozy but with no bulk.

I went to a grant-writing workshop and got all charged up about the idea of doing research and writing grants. I also read some good books on how to analyze data and write up results. Both of these things made me realize how much I really do want to find a faculty position, and how lucky I'd be if I got to make a good living doing something I liked and was passionate about. I also had a good meeting with my advisor today.

Finally, Working Assets, my mobile phone company called today to let me know that our wireless contract was up for renewal. After looking at their website and going over all the options, I decided to keep my current phones but found out I could drop our coverage to a lower-minutes plan (I really am not a phone person and neither is my husband) and save $20 a month. The company has the nicest customer service of any company I have ever called, and they also gave me a credit for renewing my contract and being a good customer. I really like them and like that part of my phone bill goes to progressive causes. The wireless service is good too.

So lots of good things. As far as Weight Watchers goes, I'm over 3 points for the day (and have no Flex Points left), but I don't plan to eat anything else tonight and I don't think that those 3 points are going to ruin what has been a pretty good week.

I'll be in Chicago again next week, so I'm not sure how much I'll be online. Hope everyone has a good week.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07