Wellness Wednesday – Basics

Seven years ago, when I was on my first weight loss journey, I began with some very basic principles. My goal was to eat “healthy but reasonable,” a way I could eat for the rest of my life. I would cut back on excess junk and snacks, but not cut it out altogether. I would make myself eat more produce, a hard task for me. I would also follow intuitive eating cues, both by removing all distractions while I ate (no phone, no tv, no books, no computer, etc) and by eating until “no longer hungry” rather than “full.” On the exercise side, I planned to do 5-6 hours a week of primarily cardio with some strength training, mixing up higher- and lower-intensity workouts. Additionally, I restructured my life so that it included more balance, more interests, more sleep, and better habits. After two months, I added calorie-counting via Sparkpeople to my routine.

This basic plan worked for me for quite some time. To get an idea of a typical day’s diet for me, you can look at my review of Around the World in 80 Diets. That was an actual day’s food around the time of that review, and is more or less representative of what I was eating at the time: a healthy-but-reasonable diet. After nine months and a lot of weight lost, however, I ran into a bit of a wall. Insomnia struck in a major way, and my weight loss rate cut in half no matter what I did. And what does any self-respecting data-nerd do in this situation? They tinker. And I did. I changed up my exercise routines and plans, my macro-nutrient ratios, my number of calories, all sorts of things. Through the tinkering, I managed to continue to lose, albeit slowly, until around when I hit my original goal (Feb 2013). After that, my body just stopped.

I wanted to lose another 20 lbs, so stopping was frustrating. No matter how much I tinkered, nothing happened. That made me desperate, so I began trying out crazier and crazier things. Cutting all processed foods: good but unsustainable. Shakeology: Ugh. Weight Watchers: way too little food! Heavy weight lifting: major PCOS-related inflammation and gain. Gluten-free due to a medicine issue: no change. Whole 30: excellent, but not sustainable, and caused massive regains with the slightest deviation from the plan. A less-strict Paleo: caused massive dehydration within five days. And so on.

I’ve tried so many things over the last few years, and nothing has helped. Even cutting out sugar to minimums only helped for about two weeks! I’m 70-80 lbs over where I’d like to be and that’s not really changing. Sometimes it feels that I’m simultaneously standing in my own shadow and blocking my own path. You’d think it would be easy to forget everything I’ve learned over the last few years and just go back to those very simple “healthy but reasonable” basic goals: Eat moderately, increase produce, exercise often but not overly much, and pay attention to your body’s cues. It’s not simple, though. It’s not simple to follow these rules and watch how slow the scale crawls when you’ve seen how it races while doing Paleo. It’s not simple to keep going as your body resists because it’s trying to protect you from the famine of losing. It’s not simple to eat well when you’ve suffered from nearly seven years of constant insomnia that no doctor has been able to diagnose or help.

(meal from late 2012)

Still, I’m trying. Trying to stop standing in my own way with all the extraneous information and baggage I’ve picked up since 2013. Trying for basics. I need to remember the things I learned in the beginning: I’m more likely to eat a salad if I throw a couple croutons in it. Having some frozen chicken nuggets in the freezer as a back-up emergency meal is better than needing to grab fast food. If a sprinkle of sugar helps me eat a bowl of berries, that’s better than not eating the berries at all. It doesn’t matter if the boys don’t like the vegetables we prepare for dinner, we need to prepare them anyway.

Reasonable macro-nutrients and calories. Reasonable amounts of sugar or junk food. Reasonable amounts of exercise. Reasonable attempts to sleep. Reasonable amounts of screen time. Just…reasonable. Sustainable. And hopefully, in the long run, productive.

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Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR

I’ve said before that I don’t have a huge list of books coming out this year that I’m highly anticipating, and I’m not the kind of person to keep a mile-long TBR list. I do have a few that I hope to get to (either to read or cull) this spring, though. In no particular order:

  1. Markswoman – Mati Rehmotra
  2. White Sand vol 2 – Brandon Sanderson
  3. The Invasion – Peadar O’Guillin
  4. A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard
  5. I’ll Be Your Blue Sky – Marissa de los Santos
  6. The One – John Marrs
  7. Reign the Earth – AC Gaughen
  8. Tess of the Road – Rachel Hartman
  9. The Midnight Dance – Nikki Katz
  10. The Broken Girls – Simone St. James

I imagine 75% of this list will be tried-and-culled, but my to-investigate list is getting too large, so I’m hoping to knock some of these from it this spring!


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

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Sunday Coffee – The Joys of Home Ownership

Back in mid-2014, when we were selling our house in preparation to move to Boston, I made a declaration that I never wanted to own a house again. The amount of work we’d done on that house in nine years had me frustrated – replacing the roof, siding, and windows; digging up the entire front yard to deal with a broken pipe; repairing floors and bathrooms; painting and re-texturing and replacing appliances and digging up dead trees and who knows what else. It felt like we’d put a ton of money into that house and had nothing to show for it when we sold, and it had been much the same at our previous house when we lived in Wisconsin in the early 2000s. We found a large apartment that allowed pets in Boston, and went back to renting for the first time since 2002.

Of course, I re-discovered quickly that I dislike renting more than owning. We had three more moves after Boston, and in each one, bought the house that we eventually moved into. Part of that was space necessity – it’s difficult to get apartments bigger than two bedrooms – and part was because of our cats. Then there’s the fact that everywhere we’ve lived, except Boston, it was cheaper to buy a house than rent something. Even now, when we had to pay more than twice the price of our original San Antonio house because the market exploded here in the last three years, it’s cheaper by several hundred dollars per month to own. But that does mean that all repair expenses land squarely on our shoulders.

We bought this house in August. It’s a little over 20 years old and in fairly good condition. We had to replace the water heater because it was leaking, and we chose to replace the dishwasher because it was old and didn’t work well. Recently we had to replace the roof (sigh), which was something we’d hoped to avoid for another five years, and due to the same leak issue, we still have to replace part of the kitchen ceiling. (At least insurance covers that last one.) The kitchen lights are partially replaced, and eventually we have to replace the tile in the master bathroom. All that in under seven months. And now we’ve started on the front yard.

Our property slopes from the road all the way down to the back fence. It should be terraced into tiers to prevent erosion, but no one ever did any major work on it. We have a tree in the front yard whose roots were showing on one side because of the erosion, so Jason and I have been working on how to landscape in a permanent but cost-efficient way. We drew up plans (he found an app to do this, which made the nice drawing above) and the boys started digging this week (woohoo spring break!). We already have a lot of rocks around our yards, so hopefully we won’t have to buy too much to get this work done. Just like the last two times we did a bunch of construction on our house, I might be writing a few progress posts as we go along, and posting pictures on my Instagram. Hopefully we can get the bulk of the front yard done before it gets too hot, which will be quite soon here in south Texas!

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Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue, by Marissa Meyer

This is the second (and I believe final) volume of this short graphic novel series that takes place after the Lunar Chronicles. Iko is the primary narrator, and she’s on earth fighting rogue wolf-soldiers who are intent on revenge against the Lunar government. This particular volume brings up some philosophical stuff, like how much of Iko’s personality is programmed into her android software and how much is true emotion and loyalty. That whole nature vs nurture thing, only in android form instead of human. The question becomes, what actually gives a person – or creature – humanity? Their personhood, or their actions? It was a good book, and like I said about the previous volume, a nice way to see former favorite characters and learn about the post-series world. I’ve enjoyed these graphic novels and am glad to have them on my shelf for many future comfort-rereads.

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Happy Birthday Laurence!

I know I just said that on Sunday, but I had to say it again. To my kind, gregarious, sporty, theatre-loving youngest son, happy 14th!

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Sunday Coffee – More Birthday!

I said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s birthday month in our house! Laurence’s birthday is coming up this Tuesday. He’ll be fourteen. The boy is taller than me now at 5’8 and nearing the end of middle school. He had his party yesterday, with just family and one close friend over, and he chose a “fancy” theme. This meant that guests had the option to dress up for the party (it was about 50/50 who did this), and we made fancy snack foods (like baked brie and bacon-wrapped-stuffed-dates). Laurence likes his parties to be very low-key, so he usually keeps the guest list very small (he considered asking no one to come this year) and the games to a minimum.

That was pretty much the run of it this year. I got some good pictures – cutting the cake, Laurence in his new Ravens’ chef hat next to his grandmother (who wore a party hat like in Go Dogs Go), Laurence making the “serene yoga woman” face that came on the packaging of his new yoga mat…ha! We actually pulled out the yoga dice gift that I got for my birthday last week and spun to see what moves everyone had to do. My half-sister (who is only eight months older than Laurence) did awesome on them all! And she almost never does yoga!

Laurence got some good presents too, including a basketball and hoop from his Wisconsin grandparents, a bunch of stuff for his X-Wing games, and a ton of Ravens merchandise. (Can you tell he’s the sporty one of the family?) After everyone left the party and we got the house cleaned up, we went out for dinner at a local favorite restaurant. He’ll have his special dinner (General Tso chicken) on Tuesday for his actual birthday. Happy birthday, Laurence!

Tomorrow is the start of spring break for us. Wish me luck as the boys are home 24/7 for the next week!

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Killman Creek, by Rachel Caine (audio)

To avoid spoiling the first book in this series (Stillhouse Lake, which I read last month), I’ll just say that in this book, the Proctor family is still on the run. Only now, Gwen has decided to go proactively hunting for the enemy rather than running, and the web of deception around her is growing well beyond what she expected to find.

Man oh man why didn’t I leave this series at the first book? Killman Creek was a disappointment, y’all. The things I loved about the first book? The characterization and psychology? Yeah…that was kind of a mess here. This very much felt like second-book-in-a-series rut to me. The characters changed their minds about what they thought was the truth so many times and so abruptly that it didn’t feel real. Instead, it felt like every minute change was geared toward making the plot more suspenseful. I nearly quit around the halfway point, and then again around the 3/4 point. The only reason I kept going was because I’d gotten the book via Audible and it felt like I should get my credit’s worth. (I know, I know.) It’s frustrating, because I felt like so much of the book was good and that it could have been even better if the characters weren’t going from friendly to ragingly violent to “I believe you again” in the course of two minutes.

I had some other issues with the book (particularly the dubious near-magical use of technology) but it was really the characterization that did me in. There’s a third book in the series that comes out this December, but the story is pretty much wrapped up right now and I’m not sure I’ll continue on. Certainly it’ll be with more wariness if I do.

As for the audiobook, the production was okay. There were four point of view characters each read by different readers, and I liked some of them better than others, as one would expect. Nothing really stood out to comment on.

Posted in 2018, Adult, Prose | Tagged , | 2 Comments