Friday, August 26, 2011

Where did August go?

Okay, so since I last posted, I exercised the next week.  Took a week off to take my son to Alabama to move in for the semester - he's off campus this year (say prayers for good decisions and wisdom). Exercised the week after.  Then school started this Monday, so I couldn't get into the groove - too stressed about being on time and starting classes.  Now Hurricane Irene is on it's way, and I'm anticipating a power outage.  Maybe September will be better.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Foodie: Lies Your Govt Tells You

In my continuing research for what is truly healthful for the body and doesn't put unnecessary stressors on the organs and cells to receive their nutrition, I have run across Fat Head and this article from Lew Rockwell.  Amazingly enough, I hadn't actually been trying to put this all together, it just all happened to fall right in my lap and what astonished me was how similar this two sources were.  Paired with what I know already, I just thought that I would share the info with you.

I really can't do either of them justice with a summary.  If you're low on time, start with the article, then plan an evening to watch Fat Head, the documentary rebuttal to Supersize Me.  The importance of this film is not that Naughton proves you can lose weight on fast food.  I am not a proponent of fast food and rarely ever eat it.  Part 2 of the documentary discusses how and why our government (FDA) lies to us about what we should be eating, the destruction of pertinent research, and how to get off your current medications if you have diabetes or cholesterol issues.

Just because a doctor has a doctorate doesn't mean he shouldn't be questioned.  It is your body and the quality of your life is at stake.  I'm not accusing doctors of purposefully lying to you and steering you in the wrong direction; I'm just saying that important information has been covered up so others can make money.  That means that medical residents are being taught the information the FDA and pharmaceutical companies want them to have.

Read and see for yourself - have an open mind.  It can be difficult to believe that these things can happen, but the powers that be no longer care about the common people - just take a look at what's happening in Washington right now. 

Fat Head is available on DVD and streaming from Netflix.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday - Small Victories

Here's my happy feet in my new shoes:

I'm so excited - I can't wait till I have money and can get more :)  I weighed myself at Mom's again and her scale said 186.  So maybe a 1 lb. muscle gain from bootcamp?

I've been doing Zumba and will probably do some circuit training next week to mix it up some.  I've been trying to limit my carbs to about 100 grams a day - not too horribly hard since I've mostly been craving proteins anyway.  Not too much to report this week.  I don't want to be taking my measurements every week since there wouldn't be much change - I like surprising myself with big numbers.  So here's me in my dress at the wedding - an outdoor wedding during a heatwave.

Oh yes, one more small victory - I can wrap a 48" towel around myself and it closes completely from the bust to the hip.  Still have a small open triangle at the upper thigh, but I've gotten away from the Super Sized towels I needed to cover me :)

Oh P.S. Big shout out Happy Birthday to Mom today!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday - Shake It!

Shush already!  I know it's not Wednesday - just pretend.  So when I left Bootcamp last Friday, I stepped on the scale and it said 188.4.  Either Mom's scale is wrong, or I gained 3 lbs of muscle in 3 weeks.  Let's go with 3 lbs of muscle.  My measurements were as follows:

Bust: 43"                0"
Waist: 39"             -1"
Hips: 47"               -.25"
Arms: 14.25"         -.5"

Compared with the last set of measurements:
Start:                                      6/20:                                       Change:
Bust 43.5"                              43"                                              - .5"
Waist 41.5"                            40"                                              -1.5"
Hips 49"                                 47.25                                           -1.75"
Arm 15"                                 14.75                                           - .25"

Not bad for 3 weeks, especially with all that large muscle group work.  This week I've gone back to my DVD/TV routines, since now I have to kick my own butt.  My beautiful, gorgeous, skinny but also had 4 kids sister is a Zumba instructor.  She lives 3000 miles away, or else I would let her kick my butt (only for exercise reasons!).  But she was kind of enough to hook me up with some DVDs.  Zumba's been kicking my butt this week!  I just want to say that if you do 50 minutes of Zumba 5 days a week, you will lose inches - it just melts away.  If you don't know what it is, it's basically Latin dancing - salsa, meringue, some hip hop, all set to routines.  If you shake your butt while you are doing all this jumping around, you can actually feel your waist getting smaller.

These are my measurements this morning:
Bust: 42"                -1"
Waist: 38"              -1"
Hips: 46"                -1"
Arms: 13.75"         -.5"
I'm not kidding!!!!  The bootcamp measurements were taken Friday.  I took these this morning - I haven't done today's Zumba yet!  But I will in 10 minutes when I finish.

Small Victory:  I loved stilettos as a teen.  I used to vacuum the house in them - I wore them everywhere.  I haven't been able to wear any skinny heel for 15 years - even if it was only 1.5".  I've been stuck with flats, until the Wedge Revolution happened a couple of years ago.  Thank goodness for the 70s - wedges and platforms have given me the illusion that I was in heels for last 3 years.

Over the weekend, hubby wanted to go to Steinmart to buy a dress shirt for a wedding we are going to on Saturday.  I saw these shoes and I've been dying to try on a pair in this style for about a year, but could never get up the nerve.  I mean what's the point, I'll love how they look and then I'll break my ankle 45 seconds later.

Yep, Fergalicious!  I tried them on anyway.  They felt great and I COULD WALK in them without any problem!  I pranced around the store for 5 minutes without incident.  I couldn't believe it.  I can usually tell in less than 30 seconds that a heel is too narrow or too high to support my weight.  I was practically in tears!  I didn't buy them - not enough money on hand.  Maybe it was fluke.  So I went to RackRoom yesterday for Test 2.  I tried these on:

They had music on in the store - I danced inconspicuously between aisles for 5 minutes, then walked around for another 10.  No problems!  My high, narrow heel wearing days are back!  I am SOOOOO excited!  Thank you Bootcamp!  Thank you Zumba!  You are making my dreams come true!  After Saturday's wedding, I'll post a picture of me in the heels I bought for myself (neither of these).  Well, gotta go - Beto and his Calypso beat are calling me :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday - Boot Camp Week 2 & 3

Okay, well I took last week off from blogging, but I did have an abbreviated Boot Camp.  They gave us Monday off for the holiday and boy, did I need it!  The 3 days off gave me time to languish in my pain and heal up a bit.  Once we started up again, I was still very sore after the workouts but I felt like my endurance was improving.

So far this week, we've been concentrating on heavy lifting and large muscle groups, so my knee is whacked again, but there's only 2 more days and I can consider myself a survivor.  I definitely feel muscle building, but I don't feel any inch loss - we'll see when I measure next week.  I like the idea of the Boot Camp.  I may do it again in the winter after I've had a chance to whittle away at the fat more.  I definitely don't want to build everything I have into muscle - need to lose more inches first.

Still disliking the skinny people there, but I feel progress is being made, so giving myself a pat on the lats for not ending up flat on the floor :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Feel Amazing!

I did it!  I made it through a whole week of bootcamp.  It was REALLY hard and I even thought about skipping out of it one night.  I was really sore all week.  Now after day 5 is complete, I'm not nearly as sore.  I still can't complete each exercise repetitions until the end, but I didn't collapse and I pushed myself to my limit. 

I feel great!  I've been getting amazing sleep and waking up fully refreshed an hour earlier than usual.  My food cravings are regulating what I eat and I'm finding that it's working.  I've been craving proteins and fruits on a more consistent basis.  I am eating carbs, but they are portion controlled.  I don't feel stuffed or sluggish.

My summer Latin and Chemistry classes are finished also.  And I managed to get the final grading done right away, so I feel mentally relieved as well.  I have so many summer projects I want to get to - a teacher's manual for Latin that I'm writing for homeschoolers, lesson planning for the new school year, sewing projects for my shop, and lots of fact finding for the American History class I'm teaching this Fall.

I'm ready to take it all on - I feel good mentally and physically.  Next weekend, I'm taking my boys on vacation to the annual sci-fi convention - so psyched!  Feeling good feels good :)  Still busier than I should be, but I feel like I'm taking care of me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday - Boot Camp Week 1

I'm broken.  I'm writing as I'm getting to go in for day 3 of 5 this week and I'm already broken.  I shudder to think what would've happened to me if I hadn't started working out a month ago!  Most of the people doing this have done it many times and are within their correct body weight ranges, which of course, makes me feel horribly inferior.  They are sweating and puffing as much as I am - the difference is that they are completing each set of exercises.  I'm not.  I would be in the hospital if I tried to keep up.  What have they done to me so far?

Day 1 Strength
5 Stations - 5 minutes each, 3 exercises each, 50 reps each exercise.
So this was not on machines, but rather these hideous moves like Mountain Climbers and Burpees, planks and sprints, and all sorts of jumping around and using things like kettle bells and rubber tubes.
Very sweaty and not so bad until I woke up the next morning and couldn't move well.

Day 2 Conditioning
6 Stations - 2 exercises each, 45 seconds spent on each one - twice
This was supposed to be the light day, I was told.  Bah!  Jumping jacks, push ups, reverse lifts and lunges, etc.  More sweat and a quickly deteriorating knee last night.  I think I've already made the decision to not go to Thursday's class, because I'm worried about my knee.  We'll see how I feel after Day 3's workout.

Day 3 Strength
6 stations - 1 exercise, 50 seconds, 10 second rest to move to the next station - 4 rounds
Oh sweet blessed relief!  It was arms day!  Okay, yes I still sweat like a pig, and was shaking from the effort; but at least my knee was spared.  We did rows, lifts, plank rows, and other nifty things involving weights and bands.  I was silently cursing - others were grunting out loud with each exertion.  Sweat was flying everywhere - quite nasty if you ask me.  BUT, I did it!  And since my knee got a reprieve, I will go tomorrow night.

P.S. They have a scale there.  I didn't get on it - I'm a little frightened.  Maybe I'll do it next week.  Blaise says I look like I should be losing 1 pound a day from all the sweat that comes off me.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Foodie: A Typical Day of Organics

In today's Friday Foodie, I thought I'd share with you a typical day in my diet.  Now, when I use the word "diet", I don't mean that I'm on some menu trying to lose weight or even counting calories.  I'm just letting you know what a food day is like for me.  I'm choosing yesterday's meals because it was a particularly busy day and I didn't feel like cooking.  I'm sure many people can relate to that!

After workout and shower, I had a 20 oz. glass of water and 2 hard boiled eggs with salt.  I find that I really crave proteins only after my workout.  Just that little bit fills me up until lunchtime.  The days that I ignore my protein craving and have cereal instead, I'm usually ready for a snack 2 hours later.

3.5 hours later, it's lunch time.  I made a salad with green and red leaf organic lettuce (never use iceberg - it has no nutrients; it's just a ball of crunchy water), black olives, dried cranberries, bacon bits, organic tomatoes, shredded colby jack, and sliced chicken I had grilled the night before.  Quick, easy, and no heat necessary!  I had blue cheese dressing - not light, just regular yummy blue cheese dressing :)

3 hours later, got home from school and the kiddies were screaming for smoothies.  Why not?  I used frozen blueberries, 100% Juice Cherry Pomegranate juice (for extra vitamins!), and raspberry sherbet.  Delish and filling!

3 hours later, chicken sausage cooked and crumbled, sauteed onions over hash browns (potatoes run through my salad shooter) and a side of scrambled organic eggs with cheese.

2 hours later, 2 handfuls of baked Cheese Nips while watching Eureka.

At some point during the day, I had about 4 other glasses of water, 1 glass of iced tea, and half a glass of grape Fanta.  I try not to fight my cravings - that just makes them spiral out of control.  I'm not an emotional eater, so I usually only eat when I'm hungry.  I try to make sure that my portions are within recommended guidelines, but that doesn't always work - most of the time it does though.  I just can't put off eating until I'm starving because that's when I eat waaayyyy too much.

So that's it :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday - Baby Steps

Well, I'm actually amazed that I've made it this far. Usually, I would've given up by now, since I hate sweating and I'm tired from the one million things I have to do. So Yay me! Small victory - I'm still working out 4 or 5 mornings a week. On Mon/Wed/Fri, I usually go for the 45 - 60 minute workout, Pilates, Yoga, or some Core strength routine. Tues/Thurs (I have school classes at 10am) I do 25-30 minute cardio - jump around, dance/sculpt. Comcast has a variety of workouts in the On Demand section, and they vary every 3-4 weeks. I also found that ExerciseTV has a few free downloadable workout plans. You can more if you buy a subscription, but the free ones correspond to the On Demand workouts, so it takes the guesswork out of it. I have one that I want to start, but I'm waiting.

Back in October, I had bought a Groupon deal for one of my local gyms - 3 week Express Bootcamp. They were completely overwhelmed by the number of deals bought and are just now getting to me. My Bootcamp starts on Monday, 6/27. I figure that will kick my butt pretty fiercely, so ExerciseTV can wait a month. I'm actually a little scared about this bootcamp. They SAY all fitness levels, but I don't believe that. So I'm really glad that I've already been working out for a month, because this blog might've been coming to you from the hospital.

So you want to know how I'm progressing?

Start:                                    6/20:                                 Change:
Bust 43.5"                            43"                                          - .5"
Waist 41.5"                          40"                                         -1.5"
Hips 49"                               47.25                                    -1.75"
Arm 15"                             14.75                                        - .25"
I think I'm ready to go down one size in underwear, but I'm gonna hold out a little while longer :) Wanted to share a little tidbit with you - I read somewhere on the web a couple of years ago that if you stick with your workout during PMS week, you actually lose 30% more fat that week than any other week of the month. Don't remember where I saw that, but I'm going with it.

So there it is, I'll give you more stats AFTER the Bootcamp (provided I'm not writing from the hospital!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday - No Pain, No Loss

Oh! Dear lord, please save me from sweat! I hate sweating; it's so un-ladylike! Also, please save me from the boredom of DVD workouts. I have 3. How many times can I rotate them to make them interesting and useful. Here's a little tidbit for you Weight Loss Warriors, doing the same workout day after day results in less.... results. That's right. If you walk every day, your body becomes used to the movements and the movements become less effective as a weight loss mechanism. How do you know? You're not sore.

Remember that addage, "No pain, no gain." It's actually true. When you've done the first workout, you are sore the next day. When you've done the same workout day after day, you're not sore the next day any more. Why? Muscle memory.

Oh save me from muscle memory! You have to vary the workout type, and be sore. If you're not sore twice a week, it's not working anymore to the efficiency that it first was. So you are now asking this Weight Loss Warrior what she's doing now.

On May 18th, I turned on my streaming Netflix (to my Roku player - see my Cutting the Cable series) on to a Crunch Pilates series video. It kicked my ass - my 185 lb ass, that hasn't exercised in at least 3 years. I was sore the next day, and worse - the day after that. We had a family trip so I couldn't exercise again until the next week - excuse I know, but I don't have spousal support in this endeavor, so I have to work out when he's not around. So lesson to you, do what you have to do when nobody's looking if you don't have support. Hold yourself accountable to supportive friends or the general public (like I've suckered you into).

So week 2 entailed the same workout and I was sore the next day, but not so much. Changed it up on day 2, definitely sore the next day. So I took that day off. I started up again the next week on Monday. I did a different Pilates video, but didn't feel as sore - see how quickly the body adjusts. Went back to the first video on Tuesday - I know, I was just testing - call it the scientist in me. I took Wednesday off. Then on Thursday did a 3rd different Pilates video - a tiny bit sore. On Friday, I did a cardio dance video. I was slightly sore after that, which meant I would feel it the next day. Progress. Ugh! The price to be a goddess.

So my pattern will have to change daily, because I cannot afford days that I'm not sore. I only have a finite amount of time. School, and the hectic schedule that goes along with it, starts again in August.

I'll let you know next week how my inch stats are doing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Foodie: Organics on a Tight Budget

So you want to start buying organic and farm fresh food, but you're on a tight budget. Let's face it, the convenient organic foods sold at your local grocery store are typically much higher in cost than their preservative and chemical filled counterparts. This falls into one of my many conspiracy theories to keep the little and middle people down, but we won't go there right now. If you bought all organic products at your local store, it is likely that your weekly grocery bill would increase significantly - possibly by as much as 50% in some areas.

What's a poor girl to do? There are a few ways to incorporate more organics into your diet without breaking the bank. Here are a few:
Farmer's Markets: There are farmer's markets everywhere. Some even travel to a location near you! If you have no idea where to find your local market, just check out Local Harvest and Eat Wild. By entering your zip code, you can find what's available near you. If you are in Virginia or Montana, you can also take a look at Lulu's Local Food. They connect farms within a region with a customer base through online ordering. Your order (which may have items from several different farms) is picked up and delivered to one of several nearby central drop-off points. How's that for convenience!
Join a CSA: CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a wonderful way to begin your organic adventure! Through a search on Local Harvest, you may find that there are farms in your area (within a 30-mile radius) that are looking for loyal customers. You purchase a seasonal subscription, maybe $300-$500 for a six-month time period, usually payable in installments. That money is then held in an account in your name for you to draw upon at a local drop off point. For example, week 1 I go to the drop-off point, do a little browsing, fill up a basket, go to checkout, and (since I have a big family) $30 is deducted from my account. I've bought enough produce for a couple of weeks, so I don't need to go during week 2, and that's just fine - no penalty or lost money. Each CSA is run differently, so you'll have to check with the various ones in your area to see which one is right for you. The good news is that the pricing for produce is typically the same as or slightly less than what you are paying for non-organics in the grocery store. Your money stays local (helping the local economy); you are keeping a farmer gainfully employed doing what he loves so he doesn't have to convert his farm into an ethanol field to get government subsidies; and, you know where your food has been (many times the farmers have family parties at the farm or ask for volunteer harvest help) and that it was grown without chemicals and has not been irradiated for preservation. This is win-win-win.
Stock up: When organic dry goods or frozen foods in your grocery store go on sale, stock up. It does happen - look for it.
Read labels: If you can't buy pre-packaged organic foods, or your budget is especially tight this week. Read the labels carefully of the non-organic selections. The Kroger/Fry's family of supermarkets offers their Private Selection store brand for very reasonable pricing and many times doesn't contain some of the big no-no's. Try to avoid: high fructose corn syrup, monosodiumglutimate, carrageenan, partially hydrogenated anything, and any words that have 4+ syllables that you can't pronounce.

One important fact that you must wrap your head around, and I know it will be difficult, is that foods advertised as low fat, non fat, or diet foods will be filled with all the no-no's. I know you've been told for the last 30 years that this is the way to be healthy and lose weight. It's a lie. The human body is meant to easily process animal (butter, cream, bacon) and plant (vegetable, canola, peanut oils) fats. As a matter of fact, animal fats work in harmony with certain vegetables to bring more of their nutritional values to your blood stream. This means that bacon and spinach were meant to go together - that's why they taste so good together! The animal fat helps your body extract and keep more of the vitamin A from the spinach - it's the same with broccoli and cheese (not low or non fat).

That's enough for today, we'll talk more later. I know that's a lot for you to digest :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday - Changing the Essentials

Okay, so this really is Part III in my series, but I'm not going to keep numbering them since these are likely to go on forever, so I'll try to subtitle them with a relevant subject pertinent to my ongoing journey. I last left you with meeting my friend Jenny, who gave me a book to read. That book was "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral" by Barbara Kingsolver. I have already posted on this blog about the impact that this book made on my life. I immediately went out and began buying local farm foods and whatever organic products I could find at a reasonable price (for a one-income family of 6).

I've always been a cook-from-scratch girl, so it wasn't too much of a switch for me - only ingredient-wise. I've always spent an hour cooking dinner, thinking about what I'm going to make right after breakfast. As I was making this food source change for my family, my children were at the ages of 12, 9, 6, and 3. I was very happy that they all embraced it well. We began buying pasture-raised meat, and joined a CSA. We started a home garden in our very regulated sub-division.

At this point in my constant weight loss journey, I just became concerned with eating locally and healthfully. My brother-in-law told me about Dr. Douglass' website and I started reading that and putting together what I knew about how people ate in pre-industrial times. It all began to make sense. Eliminate the preserved, enriched, and chemical additive foods, and simply make whatever you want from wholesome, fresh ingredients. "What does that mean?", you ask. That means that low-fat margarine is so much worse for you than real butter ever would be. I'll get into those things in future posts, so don't go away :)

Anyway, back to the present, it's been about 3 years since I went strictly natural, organic with my food ingredients. During that time, I have actually gotten so busy with homeschooling, teaching classes for the outside world, and managing my online dress shop that exercising has become a non-existent factor in my life. So what do I weigh now?

185 lbs.

Not perfect, by any stretch. I'm still 5'4", although those heels in the picture make me 5'8" - heehee! However, I hadn't stepped on a scale in over 3 years because it's my enemy and I get obsessed with it. My scale doesn't even have working batteries. I used my mom's scale last month while visiting for a museum trip. I was stunned! I was fully expecting 210lbs since I don't exercise. I don't eat less, I just eat food that I know where it's been, where it was grown, how it was grown, and what I did with it once it got to me.

So now that my hectic school schedule is over for now, I'm on the exercise bandwagon. I want to be 165 lbs or less. I'm actually more concerned with inch loss than a number on the scale - especially because I'll have to go use a scale at a store to check it. I began exercising on May 17th, but only did one day that week because I forgot hubby took the next 2 days off work. I don't exercise when he's home - I feel self-conscious and he makes the occasional failure type of comment. But that probably worked out okay, because I sort of eased into it. Starting stats:
Bust: 43.5"
Waist: 41.5"
Hips: 49"
Arms: 15"

Ask me how I'm doing beyond the posts I'm going to make. I won't lie to you. If you know me personally, you know I'm brutally honest, even with myself. This is my constant struggle - weight loss. The one thing in my life I don't do well but I'm not afraid to try. Let me know I'm not alone, comment with your failures and successes. If a friend of yours is going through this same struggle, invite them to read along and comment on what works for them.

And by the way, I want everyone to know, that I truly believe beauty comes in all sizes. I love making dresses for plus-sized women because I think the world thinks we should all be in muu-muus. We have a sense of fashion and want to show off our assets - and yes, everyone has a least one. Stay tuned, walk with me, I promise it won't be all bliss :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Weight Loss Woes - Part II

I maintained that steady 175lbs for the next 3 years and became pregnant with my second son. Yes, I was paranoid about more weight gain, so I was diligently counting every morsel that went into my mouth. I delivered an 8 lb 2 oz boy with only a 15lb weight gain. I was thrilled - on both counts! But that still left me at 175-180lbs.

About that time I heard about the Atkins diet, no carbs, ketones, etc. I thought that since the low-fat, calorie counting way wasn't making any difference, I would try that. I met a lady who provided weekly check-ins - check the food diary, step on the scale, here have a B6/B12 shot, pee on the ketone stick please. I did that for almost a year and lost 40 lbs. Ecstatic, yes, miserable, definitely. I'm married to a meat and potatoes guy. I can't tell you how many times I had to hear that I was punishing him by not making carbs with dinner, and just because I needed to diet, he shouldn't have to do without. So, yes, then I started making the mashed potatoes, rice, noodles, and not eating it. It sucked. But I was thin! Oh, and guess what, I was pregnant again.

Ketone lady worked with me during that pregnancy to make sure I didn't gain tremendous amounts of weight. I was walking 3 miles a day at 5am because we lived in Phoenix, and in the summer (March to November) that's the coolest part of the day - at 95-103 degrees. So I delivered a healthy 6lb 4oz girl one month early, but dang! I was only 155lbs when I walked out of the hospital. I managed to stay at that weight for another 2 years.

Then we moved. Cross country. AZ to VA. And I kept my job, which meant I was working from home. No more gym, new area, and life was just managing fires. 3 kids, an ailing parent-in-law, job stress, looking for a new job... Started a new job one year later (in an office) at 175lbs again. 3 months into that job, oh yes you guessed it, I was pregnant again. I had stopped that whole Atkins thing when we moved, since I couldn't bring Ketone Lady with me. I did start walking with a neighbor - a couple of miles a couple of times a week. Obviously that wasn't doing the trick since I put on 20 lbs within a year of my arrival.

So, I walked into the hospital on December 20, 2002 weighing in at 225 lbs and delivered an 8lb 6oz boy 7 hours later. 3 months after the birth, I was a steady 195-205 lbs. Here's a picture of me in December 2005 at about 205 lbs.

That was also the year I quit my very good Human Resources Manager job to homeschool my oldest (6th grade). Many changes that year, some good, some bad. Loss of more than half the family income - bad. Homeschooling my child and connecting in a way I never thought possible - priceless. Weight gain - bad. Spending amazing time with my toddler - excellent. Redefining myself and becoming more than I even thought I was capable - nothing short of amazing. Did I say weight gain - bad?

Then I met my friend Jenny through a knitting class I was teaching for homeschoolers. She told me to read a book. And like anything else, when I tell someone I'm going to do something, I do. That book changed my life!

Stay tuned....

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cutting the Cable - Part II - The Decision

To recap, I've been taking steps to dismantle my Verizon bundle - cut cable completely, change phone service, but keep the internet. I had purchased a Roku and tested the availability of content that my kids like and found that they were quite capable of doing without traditional cable. We had decided to go with Vonage for phone service due to Magicjack not allowing us to keep the phone number we've had for 10 years.

We are now beyond the contract expiration (April 2011) and hubby is still having trouble deciding to go completely without cable. He is a news and weather junkie, and I'm totally a football widow from August to February. So what to do, what to do... I kept saying "Cut it!!!" Of course, I get all the sci-fi and Grey's Anatomy my little heart can handle through the Roku :) While the hmmming and hawwwing was going on, I did a little more searching and found a subscription service called PlayOn.

PlayOn is an internet streaming service for devices like a PC, Wii, Xbox, iPad, Android, Roku, and many others. There are free movies, live sports, TV Shows, and much more. PlayOn supports the channels that come with their lineup, but they also have a vast community of users who write computer script to access other cable channels. They have a 14 day free trial and you don't have to buy any equipment - just have one of the supported devices, and if you're reading this - you have one! They have different tiers for subscriptions - monthly, annual, or lifetime (only $80!).

Last night, after a call to Verizon to verify pricing (since our latest bill was $20 higher now that we are off contract), the decision-making conversation came to a head. Verizon informed us that all pricing will go up June 1, contract or no. When I spoke with a Rep the other day, they said internet only was $50 a month, and oh by the way, your internet package is no longer being supported since our signup was 2 years ago. Apparently, they've upgraded from 10Mbps to 15Mbps as the basic package, so our service is slower than their most basic. That didn't register in my mind until the next day, so I called back. Rep #2 says, oh no internet only is $60 per month. I asked why our less than basic super slow internet wasn't upgraded when they upgraded across the board. Response: well the customer has to ask for the upgrade. We don't just do it automatically.

Please tell me how I'm supposed to ask for an upgrade that I don't know exists. So the decision to switch to Comcast was made right then and there. To make this long story short, Kevin has decided that he is not quite ready to cut the cable until he is sure this Roku/PlayOn thing will let him watch live football on the TV. So we've entered into a one year contract with Comcast for internet and TV ($80 per month). This next year we'll save only about $40 a month, but that will help a little bit. It will also be used to help him slowly upgrade his TV-watching equipment to be ready for the overhaul. We still have a standard TV downstairs that he uses, so that will need to be upgraded to a flatscreen HDMI-ready TV, and purchasing a Roku player for him.

We've subscibed to PlayOn for one month to check the streaming quality and how live is live. Right now, The Weather Channel is streaming about 2 minutes behind live - but we still have our super slow non-upgraded Verizon speed. The big test will be faster Comcast speeds and football season. Stay tuned, because we certainly will :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Weight Loss Woes

Why does weight loss have to be so hard? I've been down this road a few times and it's very tiring and seems to have no actual destination. Starting attempt number 57 (I guess, I don't know) and taking you along for the ride.

A little background: I was not a chunky child. I was always a good weight for my height. In high school, I weighed about 95 lbs soaking wet and after a hefty McDonald's meal and wore a size 5. I was about 5'2".

That's me, 1985. I grew 2 more inches and went up a size by the time I was 18. I'm good with that. My metabolism slowed down a little around 20 - you know, Freshman 15 and all that. However, I did have a gym membership and was going at least 4 days a week. Young, spritey, no kids, money to spend, that sort of motivation. In this photo, it was my 23rd birthday and I was still comfortable with the weight I'd settled into - roughly, 5'4" and about 135-140lbs (lots of leg muscle!).

I think that dress was a 10 or 12, can't remember, but I do remember that I felt in shape and wasn't freaking out over the size of my clothes. As you may know, I'm a dressmaker (didn't make that one) so numbers by themselves don't frighten me. I don't actually care what the tag says since manufacturers can vary in sizing. Nice white makeup face too, huh? :)

So moving onto when the weight became a problem. My first child was born in 1993. My OB said, "Oh don't worry about weight gain, you'll have 9 months to put it on and 9 months to take it off." Ugh, famous last words! I gained 60 lbs during that pregnancy and had a 7lb 12oz boy. Guess what? It didn't just fall off like she said. And yes, I was exercising. Okay, so your body changes a bit with pregnancy, (and just to explain the photo - yes I put the cart before the horse). Here's me, 1994, still 5'4" and 175 lbs.

But weight! (pun - see what I did there!) There's more! Stay Tuned....

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cutting the Cable

We aren't totally poor and destitute, but we are a one-income middle class family. We don't have tons of credit card debt, our cars are paid for, and we never take all-out destination vacations. But to make this homeschooling/one-income thing feasible, we do have to cut corners. Sometimes it seems those corners keep whittling away until there is only a small disc left, but that's a lament for another day (sigh!).

Like most everyone else, we have one of those lovely TV, phone, internet bundles from the local provider, in our case - Verizon. Over the years, we've played that back and forth game between Verizon and Comcast (our only choices) to get the best price on the bundle. Verizon made us do a 2 year contract this last time, which expired in April 2011. My oldest son started at an out-of-state college last summer (thank you FAFSA and Grandmas!), so I've been really watching the bundle bill and looking for a way to cut the cord.

At Christmas time, after doing a bit of research for a couple of months, I decided to purchase a Roku player, to test the waters in my home (cable dependency). If you are unfamiliar with Roku, it's a small device about the size of a slice of bread, that plugs into the wall and into your TV. It connects wirelessly to your modem and provides internet streaming directly from the modem to the TV. Some channels are free, but some like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu require a monthly subscription. Well, I'm already paying for Netflix, so that wasn't a big deal.

The Roku has really been wonderful! For a one time charge of $80, the device is mine, and my kids have found just about everything they want to watch either through Netflix or free content. I was actually quite surprised how easily they disengaged from the cable box. (I did help them along a little bit by actually disconnecting it for 2 weeks, so they would have to learn how to use the Roku and search for what they wanted to watch.)

Then I began searching telephone replacement options. I have a pay-as-you-go cell phone that I don't use often, and no one else in the family has one, so I need land line service. I checked in to Magicjack and Vonage. I have friends who've used both; they've had good and bad to say about both. My preference was to go with Magicjack since it's $40 for the first YEAR, and $20 for each YEAR after that - but they don't let you keep your number. So hubby has opted for Vonage - $16 per month - our device is due to arrive next week. I'll let you know how that goes.

So obviously we are beyond April, and we hadn't made any decision about whether or not to keep cable. Actually, I decided we should drop it, but hubby is afraid of not seeing The Weather Channel, MSNBC, and live football games. In my world, these don't matter, so I was good to go. Then I discovered PlayOn...

Stay tuned for Cutting the Cable, Part II - The Decision....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Seriously, by now, pretty much everyone knows about the evils of HFCS. But when did they start putting it in sandwich bread?! What? Seriously?! Sugar is listed as an ingredient, but HFCS comes before it. Are they intentionally trying to kill every last person in the nation? "They" can't even use the excuse that it's just sweetening if sugar is an ingredient and the product is SANDWICH BREAD.

Not sure what I'm ranting about or why? Food for thought, click here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

First Year Away

My oldest son, Max, came back today after his first year at college. He's not a freshman, nor is he 18. This has been the hardest year of my life. He went away at the start of his sophomore year (having completed freshman credits at the local community college) at 16. He turned 17 without me. He turned into a man without me. He has excelled and disappointed himself without me there to help him. I don't know yet the full extent of the life lessons he's learned, but I feel fairly secure that I did a good job. I'm not sure at the moment that he's aced all his classes, but I think that he has learned a lot about the world and himself. Sure, there have been disappointments, but life is that way. As a homeschooling mom, I'm happy to have him home, whole and safe, with all the lessons learned - good or not.

I was young once and made mistakes. I'm pretty sure he's made less than me. I call that a victory.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Universal Healthcare

I spent this past week watching "Sicko" in bits and pieces (only because my kids kept interrupting me). I know I'm a little late to the game here, but I thought I'd better watch it, since healthcare is all we hear about it in the news. I have long thought that we needed some kind of overhaul to our present system. After watching Michael Moore's documentary, I'm ready to do something about it! But what? What do I do? I'm one little house mama with so much going on that it's hard to keep my head on straight.

We are the only industrialized nation in Western civilization without universal healthcare! Cuba has a better treatment rate than we do, and they don't turn anyone away, nor do the patients have to pay. Cuban hospitals treated a group of our American 9/11 workers because our systems wouldn't help them. I'll say it again: Our heroes had to go to Cuba to get treatment and healthcare that was being denied to them here in the US.

I won't talk about how beautifully universal healthcare works in Canada, England, and France, as well as other European nations. Watch the movie and find out for yourself. Do some research and look at the statistics. Citizens in other parts of the Western world live longer, feel better, are healthier and happier. They aren't starving because of higher taxes; they don't worry that their cancer treatment is considered experimental so they'll die before they get help. They aren't overworked, working more than 40 hours, not taking sick or vacation days, etc.

We have gone horribly wrong somewhere, and it started with healthcare for profit. If you know how I can make a difference (without money, cuz like you - I don't have any), where I can go to start a revolution or become part of one, please leave a comment with info. Heck, leave a comment about how you feel about this!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

NYC in a Minute - Nail Polish

Okay, so I'm not a manicure purist. I would LOVE to have a manicure every 2 weeks, let alone once a year. It's just not in the budget. I was not asked to make this review. (I would love to receive free nail polish, btw!) I have always had trouble with polish not drying fast enough. Literally, I mean after the first hour, I can still get a "dink". Salon or no salon, I'm always in trouble.

So, today I bit the bullet once again, hoping for that miracle polish that wouldn't look like I did it myself and smudged it.

I found it! I found the miracle! NYC in a Minute polish, literally dried super fast, maybe not a minute. I don't know. I didn't time it, and I was afraid to touch. But I did one coat on every finger, then every toe, then every finger/toe again. I was still afraid! "Honey, plug in my laptop.", Honey, could you please get me a drink?", "Honey, could you...?" So I bit the bullet after 20 minutes, and (barely) touched. Dry. Dry as a bone. Dry as the Arizona desert, (and I know since I lived there 8 years of my life!) I couldn't believe it! I waited 10 more minutes and tried to dink my nails = nothing.

So, my review, buy it chicas! Buy it fast! It takes less time to dry than it does to complete the transaction.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Reclaiming my personal blog

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here. Okay, I'll be honest, it's been almost 2 years. This blog started as a forum for me to share what I did in the handcrafting world, as well as what was happening to me personally. Once I opened my blog just for my handcrafting, this one... well it slipped into oblivion.

I've decided it's time to reclaim this blog. I love writing, and well if you know me, giving my opinion. So here is the resurrection. I won't be talking about my handcrafting stuff, since you can read about that elsewhere. I'll reserve this forum for revelations, findings, info, and my personal journey through life. Please feel free to leave your comments on any post, whether you agree or not. Welcome back!

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Put even the plainest woman into a beautiful dress and unconsciously she will try to live up to it. - Lady Duff-Gordon

Please visit my online shop, Callidora's, for clothing and accessories. I'm adding new items all the time and I'm always happy to do custom work in any price range. You can email me with any requests and we can create your unique, handmade item together.

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