Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January challenge: What I learned

I completed my fitness challenge for January - and I learned a few things.

- I can go a whole day without eating meat, but I can't necessarily do it the same day every week
- I need to eat more fish
- Brown rice isn't that bad
- Neither is multi-grain anything
- I can't survive without caffeine
- I need to drink more water

For February, I'm going to modify a few of these challenges. I'm going to try and drink more water everyday - 6-8 glasses is my goal. I'm going to switch to multi-grain wherever possible, including pasta. I'm going to try and eat no meat at last one day a week, and another day where the only meat I'm allowed is fish.

For February, I'll be joining Baking Suit in a challenge inspired by this post. For my part, I'll be setting an NSV (Non-Scale Victory) goal, setting and tracking nutrition parameters and committing to an exercise goal.

- My non-scale victory will be to lose 4 inches (from wherever)*

- My nutrition goal will be to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, and eat at or below my recommended calories at least 4 out of 7 days a week. I'll track this via My Fitness Pal.

- My exercise goal will be to get to the gym a minimum of 3 times per week. (I'm already doing this, but not with any consistency.)

I have no plans to weigh myself, so I won't be able to report any weight loss numbers, even if they do happen. If, in my mind, going to the gym and eating better are tied to a new weight, and I don't get to that weight, I'll give up on the healthy goals. And, let's face it - drinking more water, eating better and going to the gym are good for me, no matter what I weigh. So, I don't want to do anything to discourage myself.

I can be very complicated sometimes.

*I'm not actually sure if 4 inches is a reasonable goal, or too difficult (or too easy). I tried to find out what made sense, and the best answer I could find was that one inch per week was reasonable.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Movie Monday: One for the Money

One for the Money is a book written by Janet Evanovich, who is easily my favorite writer. It's not a classic, nor is it what you'd call literature. It's not poetic, or particularly evocative writing. It's not intellectual or really challenging to read. There's no lesson, or moral or even really a point to the Stephanie Plum novels (there are 18 now).

But the books make me laugh out loud. No other book - none - has ever gotten such an honest, true reaction from me.

They're a fun, easy read that leaves you wanting more. The first book was published in 1994, and I think I started reading them around 1998 or so. Believe it or not - my father introduced me.

Fourteen years is a long time. I consider myself pretty invested in these characters and stories. Years ago, I started hoping they would make a movie. I talked about it with other fans, and together we came up with a cast to bring life to our favorite characters.

But now those actors are all too old to play the parts. One even died. So the movie, that came out on Friday, has a whole different set of actors.

That's tough; when you read a series of books, you get an idea of what the characters would look like, and you visualize the setting, and the scenarios. To see it all brought to life on the big screen can be exciting, but also a little scary.

What if they don't get it right? What if the author doesn't consult, or worse yet, her vision is different than yours? The last time I had this issue was with the Harry Potter books. I stumbled upon those by accident, and was immediately hooked. When the first movie came out, I was excited - but also nervous it wouldn't do the book justice. Those movies were so loyal to the books that it was as if they'd been pulled right from my imagination.

I was worried that One for the Money wouldn't do the same. First of all - Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum?! That seemed wrong. The actors chosen to play the two leading men (Morelli and Ranger) weren't quite right, either. And Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur?! Awful. Sheri Sheppard as Lula made sense, though.

I went to see the movie yesterday, and it turned out, they were very loyal to the original story. Ranger and Morelli were played just right, even if they don't look exactly like I expected (Morelli's hair wasn't long enough and Ranger wasn't tall enough). Their lines and delivery were flawless - just like I imagined. Even Heigl wasn't that bad - though, I felt like she played Stephanie a little dumb, and I don't imagine Stephanie as dimwit at all, just an average, single gal - whose cars routinely explode.

I was right about Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur. She pulled off the older-lady-with-an-attitude - but she's too young to play the real Grandma. The whole point of the character is that her actions don't mesh with her age - why Betty White wasn't cast for this role is beyond me.

All in all, it was a decent - but not great - movie. It was fun to life brought to my all-time favorite characters. I enjoyed it more having read the book, and anticipating what will happen next. Honestly, for the non-Stephanie-Plum fan - you're better off reading the book, first.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Retail nightmares

Though I'm not crazy about my current job, it's definitely not the worst I've ever had. That honor goes to the job I had as a sales associate/cashier/service desk associate for two year, for a large big-box store. You know the one - the world's largest retailer; it begins with the letter "W."

I worked there in college. Ironically, I took the job because my abusive boyfriend wanted to get me away from my mall job - and all the friends who were encouraging me to get out of the relationship. I met X at the retail job, and broke up with Jerk-Face a couple months after changing employers. Everything really does happen for a reason. 

I have about a million stories I could tell about why it was a tough place to work: No breaks, we worked for hours after closing with no real scheduled "end" time, and I won't even get into how they handled the fact that I was dating another associate (which was frowned upon at that time). 

For my last year at "W" I worked at the service desk. I was that employee who you would talk to about returning merchandise. It was a job no one wanted - long hours, no real relief and cash drawers that almost never balanced. I worked for hours on end without so much as a bathroom break, never mind a chance to eat a meal. Once, a person being escorted out by police threw a phone at me, just because she was angry. 

For my trouble, I made .25 extra an hour. 

To this day, I don't shop at "W." Over the years, I've wandered in there to save some money (though never to the store where I worked), but in the past 10 years or so, I've really stopped going altogether. When I think of how I was treated, I just can't stomach the idea of giving them my money. 

Something else I really don't like is when people are rude to retail workers. Listen, not all retail workers have a great work ethic. But it's no different than any other profession. Not all government employees are lazy, and neither are all sales people, even if it does seem that way sometimes. Plenty of retail employees are hard-working, motivated, smart people trying to work their way through school, or jump-start a career in retail management. Plenty are happy to help - but just like anyone else, they're much more likely to help those who treat them with some respect and courtesy. 

On my last night at "W," I had an incredibly long line at the service desk. It was wrapped around the counter, and nearly out the front door. A woman said to me angrily, "Can't you get some help?"

I thought to myself, "Don't you think if I could, I would?" It was 10:30 at night, I'd been standing there since 5:30 without sitting down, eating dinner or going to the ladies room. There was no end in sight, and this person thought I was doing that to myself?

Since it was my last night, I let my edit-chip fly, and I said to her, "If I could, I would. I'm not any happier about this line than you are." 

She was quiet after that, and so was everyone else on that line. I have not complained to a retail worker since, even though I haven't been one in almost 15 years. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don't judge Paula Deen

I have terrible eating habits. That's not exactly breaking news, nor does it make me very different from a lot of people. What does tend to separate me from the pack is this:

I don't blame my problems on anyone but me.

"I was taught bad eating habits."

In fact, I was. My father (who is now so healthy he'll probably out-live me) didn't improve his habits until I was grown and out of the house. I grew up on a diet of Freihofers, fast food and salt.

"Eating right takes time and money."

This is also true. Go to the store and buy enough fresh food (veggies, meat, ingredients, etc.) for a week, and then buy a week's worth of processed food. What's cheaper, and faster/easier to prepare?

But those are excuses. You know it, and so I. If I want to eat better, I can budget the time and the money, and my diet hasn't been anyone else's choice in almost 20 years.

So I'm working on it.

But that doesn't change the fact that no one can blame a celebrity chef like Paula Deen for their weight problem. Least of all me, since I've never even watched her show.

It's not Paula's job to make sure kids eat healthier; that's for parents to do. It's not her job to make sure adults like me make better choices; that's our responsibility.

So why all the hate? Because she announced she's had diabetes since 2008? Seems to me a poor diet and little-to-no exercise were her choices to make - just like the consequences are hers to handle.

She kept her diagnosis to herself. So? Was it anyone's business? Not really. Her recipes are blatantly unhealthy - which, I believe she's admitted. OK - so all the adults watching had a choice: Eat the food and suffer the consequences - or don't.

Seriously - no clue this might be bad for you?
Now that she's gone public, people are questioning if she did it for the money. Um, yes - she went public for the money, because a pharmaceutical company is paying her to endorse their diabetes drug. If you already had diabetes and were using a drug to manage it, and they agreed to pay you to share that with the world, wouldn't you? I would.

Does that mean she endorsed an unhealthy lifestyle so she could purposely contract diabetes in the hopes she'd get an endorsement deal?

Yeah. And Jennifer Hudson put on all that extra weight so that some day she'd be good and famous and Weight Watchers would come a'callin'. And Valarie Bertinelli and Jenny Craig? Or how about Janet Jackson and Nutri System? Yup. Packed on a few pounds so someone would pay them take it off.


Paula ate bad food because she likes bad food. Turns out, so do a lot of other people, and she found a way to make money doing what she loves. That's not a crime.

She made bad choices, and contracted a disease. Some say fine - but she should change her habits, rather than use medication to control it. OK, Dr. Know It All - and what makes you so sure she hasn't changed her habits? Just because she cooks bad food doesn't mean she eats it. And maybe - just maybe - her body needs the medication now, but after improving her habits, she won't.

Think of it like having this conversation with a friend who just started taking anti-depressants:
"I mean, why can't you just snap out of it. Just choose to be happy. It works for everyone else."
"What's that, your body can't? You have a chemical imbalance, so you have to get help from medicine, until your body is able to work on its own?"
I'm not saying if she's right or wrong. Personally, I don't care either way. I'm just saying that no one should blame another person for their problems - and it's not a good idea to judge others until you have the whole story.

I mean, consequences can be a bitch. Just ask Paula Deen.

Oh - and ps, her restaurant in Savannah, GA is amazing. But don't eat there everyday. Duh.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Monday: Red Tails

Red Tails is the story of "a crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard."

I've never seen the made-for-TV movie Tuskegee Airmen, but I'm told it's good. Much better, in fact, than the just-released Red Tails, which I saw this past weekend. 

It's an important story. Like the tag line for Tuskegee Airmen says, they fought two wars. Serving their country in World War II, these men fought the same fights as their counterparts - struggling to keep their spirits up while separated from family in a foreign land, and facing their own mortality while losing friends. 

At the same time, these men also had to fight the discrimination that was still an everyday part of life, even while fighting for their country. Can you imagine - they were literally dying to defend freedom that some people didn't even think they deserved.

For that reason alone, the movie is worth seeing. Unfortunately, the very thing that makes it an important movie to see is also that thing that makes it difficult to enjoy. There is so much going on - discrimination at the Officers Club, people dying, falling in love, alcoholism, fighting for fair treatment from their own army... 

All inside two hours and five minutes.  

On the one hand, I would have liked the story to focus more on the segregation, and the challenges it presented. But it would be unfair to ignore everything else, and pretend that they didn't have to deal with anything else. They were still in danger and separated from their families. Their friends were still dying. 

So how do you balance the story? Maybe you don't. Maybe it's too much for one movie, just like it was more than any man should have to manage.  
Honestly, it wasn't a great movie. I won't buy it on DVD; but if it was on TV, I'd watch. Why? It's an important story, and one worth hearing. 

If you need more motivation, there's also him.

Nate Parker

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jewelry conundrum

I have a ton of jewelry. Mostly costume, some a little pricier. I don't have a ton of real diamonds or semi-precious baubles - I like to change it up too much to spend quite that much of my budget on one item.

I realized the other day that my jewelry was taking over my dresser. I want my things out and easy to grab as I'm running out the door 30 a few minutes late for work - but I don't want my dresser looking like a messy front lawn the day after Christmas; cluttered and sad.

I have a huge jewelry box, but it belonged to my Grandmother and came to me filled with her things. I don't have the heart to part with any of it. I also have a smaller jewelry box, which she gave me - but that's filled. I have an organizer for rings, and one that can hold necklaces.

My most recent kick has been bracelets and big earrings - and my most recent problem is where to store all I've collected. So I bought a small organizer that can double as a jewelry roll for travel. It can also hang on a doorknob or a drawer handle when not on the go. It has tabs to hold bracelets, pockets and holders for earrings and rings, and a teeny-tiny mirror.


I got it home and opened it up, and like any kid with a new toy, I started opening all the compartments. Imagine my surprise when I found a necklace already tucked inside one of the zipper pockets. A bonus, I wondered? Except it can't be - it's labeled for sale, and made by a different company than the organizer. The same company also makes costume jewelry, so I'm sure if they were going to include a give-away, it would be their own product.

At first I thought maybe someone had taken the organizer out of its packaging, and put the necklace inside. To see if it fit? To make it easier to steal? Because they were bored?

Then I looked more closely. The price on the necklace had been crossed out - the way you would if you were giving the necklace as a gift.

So I think someone removed the organizer from its packaging, put the necklace inside, and gave the whole thing as a gift - and the receiver returned it to the store without ever opening it to find the bonus gift.

Exciting! It's a bonus for me!

I guess you could say I unwittingly "stole" this necklace. I mean - I left the store with it, without paying. But the person who gave the gift originally did pay. The person who returned the organizer didn't get the money back for the necklace - so technically, the store isn't out money.

It became a gift to me instead. Right?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Movie Monday: Etiquette

I had one of the worst experiences in a movie theater this weekend. The movie was excellent (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - go see it) but the audience was scarier than Jason and Freddy fighting to your death.

Not only did people not move over,  making the task of finding a seat nearly impossible, but the people sitting around us would not shut up. At all. Through the whole movie. Add to that the fact that they kept getting up and climbing over each other to leave the theater or change seats (and hitting my chair while they did so) - I was ready to go ghost protocol on them.

You're in a movie theater. The whole purpose is to watch the freakin' movie. Don't talk. Don't get on your phone. Don't get up and leave (unless you need to talk or get on your phone; in that case, don't come back til you're done).

While you're at it...

Chew with your mouth closed...don't hog the arm wrest (especially if the person next to you is not your date or friend)...unwrap noisy candy packages before the movie starts...don't burp...or fart...sit still and be quiet.

Basically, act like you didn't grow up living in a barn with other animals. Behave in a way that your mom wouldn't want to disavow you.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Are you superstitious? I am. I won't walk under a ladder, if I spill salt I have to toss some over my shoulder, and I don't plan anything for Friday the 13th.

It's not that I think the universe suddenly becomes a bad place, or that bad things are more likely to happen on that day. It's more like I figure we'll find the bad more easily, because we're on the look out. Or, worse yet, we'll create situations that are more likely to end badly.

Like, if I have to walk under the ladder, I'm so focused on not knocking it over - that I knock it over.

So - no blog post today. I'd be afraid to see what might happen.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Move over

We arrived to church on Sunday (I know, right?!) a little late. We found empty seats in the middle of an aisle, so we had to excuse ourselves past this woman who was sitting close to the end of the row.

The row in front of us was largely empty as well - in the middle. Another group came in after us, and had to climb over the three people sitting at the end of that row.

It got me thinking - in these situations, when someone needs the seats, why do we let someone climb over us? Why don't we just move over, and give them the seats on the aisle? To that end, why don't we just sit in the middle of an aisle in the first place? That way, stragglers don't have to climb their way to a seat, interrupting us, the people sitting near us, and in some cases, the speaker or performer.

That's a good seat.
In situations where we've paid for a particular seat, I can understand. But in those cases, everyone should be in their seats before the show/performance/speech/whatever starts. You can always exit the aisle, let people take their seats, and then sit down.

In general admission, first-come seating arrangements, though, it doesn't make sense to me. What is it that makes us so attached to those aisle seats? Easier to get up for the restroom or to take a call? I hope not. Adults should be able to sit still for a couple of hours. Are we worried about an easy escape? That seems a bit extreme.

Or is it just that someone points and asks, "Is that seat available," and we're that incapable of thinking outside the box?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Recovering Catholic

At church on Sunday, the sermon was about fear. The Pastor was talking about how people with different fears don't have to live that way; that they are only in that situation (one of fear) because they have lost God's way.

I started shaking my head.

Later on, I explained that I was shaking my head at the examples. One in particular - a single woman who becomes pregnant unexpectedly - really got to me. "It sounds judgmental," I said. To me, that sounds like the Pastor is saying - see, you lost the way. You didn't do things the right way, and now you're in trouble.

Like it's a punishment or something, and only happens to bad people.

That is something that has always annoyed me about religion - some more than others. The idea that there are certain rules, and if you don't live by them, you're nothing but trouble.

But maybe - just maybe - that's not the message.

It was suggested to me that the message is one of faith and hope. That if you're in a situation and feeling fear, you're only feeling that way because you're not turning to God - you've lost his way. If you find him, and accept his grace rather than fearing him, he will take those fears for you - and you won't have to be afraid anymore.

If that's true, then I stand corrected. The message wasn't harsh or judgmental, but rather helpful and full of peace. Give your fears over to God; let him help you through the difficult times. You don't have to feel fear, and you won't, if you remember you can turn to Him.

That's actually a nice message. It's one I could get behind.

It was suggested that I might have a "chip on my shoulder" from my experience with the Catholic Church. That maybe I'm so jaded by the feeling of judgment and guilt that the Church supports, that I'm cynical whenever I hear a message from a Christian.

OK - that might be true. I'm willing to admit that I might have a skewed perception of religion - any religion - and that any messages I hear are clouded. I still think one has to be careful, and question what's presented. That we should discuss and dissect, and try to understand messages thoroughly, rather than just taking them at face value.

I guess maybe that's what is meant by the term Recovering Catholic. Just a person trying to get past the jaded view of someone who was taught she was all kinds of wrong, and find the message of peace and hope and love that we all want so badly in our lives.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A change in goals

Baking Suit and I are doing a weekly challenge for the month of January. I'm doing okay on the challenge - I messed up last week, but I made up what I messed up. I'm okay with that.

I got to thinking about the Wednesday goal. Weightless Wednesday - a day to weigh yourself, and "base the rest of the week on how you do on this day."

I don't like that goal. I've said before, I don't feel like weight is a good goal for me. I get too focused on that number, and lose sight of nutrition and consistent, lifestyle changes.

Since the point of this weekly challenge seems to be choosing one healthy habit to focus on each day - which will hopefully make them all a bigger part of my lifestyle - I've decided to change Weightless Wednesday.

I'm going with Whole Grain Wednesday - "Today, make sure any starches you eat are whole grain. No white bread, rice, etc."

That's healthy - right?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Move Monday: Bridesmaids

When the movie Bridesmaids came out last spring, I heard it was everything from average to hilarious. I heard it was a total chick-flick, and it made people laugh out loud. I even heard about how awkward the opening scene can be if you watch it with your parents, or teenage daughter.

What everyone failed to share was how much of a train wreck the movie actually is.

Don't get me wrong - it's a good movie. Well acted, the story is good, the comedy is top-notch, and the story is totally relatable.

In fact - it might be too relatable.

*Spoiler alert - I'm going to describe some scenes, so if you haven't seen the movie, and that bothers you, stop reading.*

I watched the movie last Friday night. I wasn't alone, and I happen to be watching it with a guy. He laughed the whole way through the movie - when Annie gets stuck on the fence during her walk of shame, when the girls get sick whilst wearing couture gowns, when Annie performs a dozen stunts to get the attention of the lovesick cop, and even when she goes nuts on a plane, after a bad combination of medication and alcohol.

He laughed. I cringed. At one point, I think I even looked away. Honestly, I've been less stressed out watching real-life crime stories and slasher films.

"Why?" he asked. "What bothers you so much about this movie?"

I gave that some thought. I mean - the movie is funny. I did laugh a few times, and of course the Hollywood ending made me smile.

It was really the perfect exaggeration of all that is wrong with women, especially when they're competitive and put into a group - and especially when that group is a wedding party. It seems like those situations not only bring every insecurity, irrational worry and fear to the surface - they multiply them by a thousand.

As I was watching the movie, I found myself wondering why Annie would put herself in that situation. Couldn't she see he was using her? Couldn't she see Helen was manipulating her? Couldn't she see how she was making herself look bad?

I was scared and embarrassed for her, and angry with her at the same time. It was like being forced to watch home movies of your own most awkward moments - and then watching live as a friend makes the same mistakes.

Awkward, amusing, nostalgic and frustrating, all at the same time.

That was a lot of stress. I think a nice serial killer movie might be in order to break it up for me.

It's a great movie. I give it four stars - except I don't think I'll ever be able to watch it again. I hope they don't make a sequel.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Follow Friday Fun: Baking in my Bathing Suit

The blog Baking in my Bathing Suit was started by my good friend, who just felt it was time for a change. I love her old blog - and now I love this one just as much. You never know what you might find, she has good insight, and she shares an awful lot, sometimes even at her own expense. 

She's just fabulous. 

One of the things she shares on the regular are recipes. She loves to cook - and bake, obvs - and is exceptionally good at it to boot. She emailed me her recipe for muffins - or breakfast bread - to make sure that someone who doesn't bake could understand it. She figured if I could follow the instructions, anyone could.

Really, there's no arguing with that logic.

So, I'm sharing that post with you, as a way of introducing you to one of my new favorite blogs. 

You can also follow Baking in my Bathing Suit's adventures on facebook and twitter.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012