Counters and Calories

In which I inhale and exhale.

Another day, another month.  Another month, another challenge.

So how did I do in January?  I shall use my favorite word from my podcast today: it was a “mixed bag”.

I didn’t technically finish any of the series I was hoping to (I did finally finish Gossip Girl at lunch today – if you don’t count the psycho killer book, which I don’t – but it was still technically 12 hours late.  I tried to finish last night but fell asleep 15 minutes too soon according to my kindle).

Here are the books I did read in series I am working on:

The Time Paradox

Only in Your Dreams
Would I Lie to You
Don’t You Forget About Me

Mind Games – not a series I was even considering continuing, but I hit Sherlock withdrawal and grabbed it.

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

Dark Days

What’s on the docket for this month?  Counters and calories.

Calories – my goal this month is to track every meal (and every snack) in my fitness tracker.  I’m still battling the holiday weight and I’m ready to turn the battles to the war.  I want to shave it off this month and a lot of that depends on holding myself accountable.  Today didn’t start on the best note as I couldn’t stop snacking on the chocolate chips (long story) at my desk, but I’m hoping to amp up my will power tomorrow.

Counters (and more importantly sink) – no going to bed with dirty dishes in the sink or on the counters/stove/etc.  I never used to be bad about this, but the busier life gets, the more the dishes stack up (literally and figuratively).  So this month, all dishes have to be cleaned up and washed by the end of the day.  Gonna be leaning on the hubby for this one.

 

Completely Unrelated Tangent:

In one of my science podcasts, I heard this morning that deep breathing can have a lot of health benefits, including a longer life.  So I started this morning at work.  My question, however, becomes if deep breathing still ups the longevity if you are inhaling stale cigar smoke, burning electronics, and jet exhaust.  Methinks not.  I might just let me allergies keep my nose stuffed up at work and do my deep breathing at home.  On that note, I’m hoping to get some yoga in tonight =)

2017: Kicking My *$& Into Gear

In which I start the new year in high gear.

A year of cooking light.  A challenge to “bike” the Appalachian Trail in 365 days (on my spin bike or my actual bike – weather ever permitting).  One out of shape, sleep deprived girl taking on a buttload of work in the dream of one day (soon) retiring to a 40+ acre ranch in Wyoming.  It’s gonna be a fun year.  But first!  Am I the only one who sees the striking resemblance?

yannitributecoverwillforte

Am I right or am I right?

Okay, anyway.  A rundown of my year (so far): (I type this midweek with my laptop balanced precariously on my lap desk precariously balanced on the handle bars of my spin bike.  I’m pretty sure this type of multitasking will not actually fly on the AT, but hey – everyone has to start somewhere!)

Progress on the Trail:
Sunday, 1 January: 7.5 miles
Monday, 2 February: 7.5 miles
Tuesday, 3 February: 8.0 miles
Wednesday, 4 February: 7.5 miles

How’s it feel?  I don’t remember the last time my shins didn’t throb and when my (let’s just call it the lady business) wasn’t completely numb and aching all at the same time.  Have they made a comfortable bike seat yet?  I sure as heck don’t have one.

Cooking Light Annual Challenge Rundown:
Sunday: Lemon-Artichoke Halibut en Papillote
Monday:  Pierogies (not a Cooking Light recipe but a light fare and delicious all the same – we still have three more boxes crammed in the overstuffed freezer)
Tuesday: Sweet Grape Tomato and White Bean Pasta
Wednesday: Baked Flounder with Dill and Caper Cream (Winner Winner Chicken Dinner of the batch)

Back to the Daily Grind:

So I actually (almost) took a full week off from work last week.  I had to do a few hours of work and field a few phone calls, but other than that I did some hardcore staycation vegging.  It was great, I’ll admit.  The problem is I had to start work again on Monday.  That?  Not so great.  This whole week has been the week that keeps on giving, a Groundhog Day of Monday’s where my inbox never whittled down to empty.  Am I the only one who comes back from vacation and works twice as hard to get caught up?  I found myself questioning my decision to take the time off about halfway through this week as my tired forehead drooped and touched the gel wrist set in front of my keyboard.  If I’m going work 80 hours a week after taking a week off, is it really worth it?

And then I slap my stupid self in the mouth.  Of course it is.  Life lesson #1 of 2017: VACATION IS ALWAYS WORTH IT.

This Month’s Challenges:

Reading: Series Sweep: I’m trying to finish reading some of the book series I haven’t finished.  Possible contenders are: Gossip Girl, Project Paper Doll, Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl (how have I never finished this one?!?!), and Underland Chronicles.  Keep tabs in my book reviews section =)

It Depends

In which I take someone else’s idea and project it to the extremes.

Monthly Challenge Roundup:

Though not as painful leaving as it entered, November on the whole was not my favorite month this year (and 2016 has not been my favorite year in general).  It was chaos and frustration and anger and fear.  And turkey, though.  Can’t forget the turkey.  Or the pounds of butter in the side dishes.  Still, November did not leave a lot of time for yard work, blogging, writing, or really even breathing normally.  So last month’s challenge of taking back the yard is rolling over into this month (my minutes may not rollover, but my challenges can gosh darn it).  I am also going to do an unofficial challenge of trying not to gain a goggol (no that’s not a typo.  Look it up!) pounds.  I already have a few hitchhiking pound that I’m trying to pry off.  If anyone lost some of their weight, the good news is I found it.  You can have it back anytime you want.

Weekly Roundup:

It Was Totally Planet Nine (from SciFi podcast): There are a lot of so called Planet Nine scientists out there (Pluto says stop hatin all you haters).  One of them is Konstantin Batygin (awesome name, I have to admit).  He claims/has evidence for Planet Nine in the influence of Niku’s orbit (whatever the heck Niku is).

Le Theatre (I’m too lazy to go through the character map to type this word correctly) du Grand-Guignol (from Stuff You Missed in History Class): So Le Theatre du Grand-Guignol was a horror theater in France back in ye good ole days.  Their special effects were so good that audience members were known to faint.  There would be murder and eye removal, torture, etc.  And yet apparently the “skyboxes” in the back of the theater were often the sight of romantic trysts.  To which I can only say: WHAT?!?!  What kind of weirdo wants to be going at it when people are on stage stabbing each other and murdering one another?  That has to be one interesting sex drive.

Electron Microscopes (from SciFi podcast): Electron microscopes reveal their images in black and white.  Why?  Because the magnification is so great that the image is on a level too small (anything less than about 0.2 micrometers) for photons to resolve.  Electrons are used instead of photons on this level, and electrons don’t pick up color.  Now they are using rare earth metals called lanthanides to add color to the images.  Pretty cool.

Also, October 25th was a milestone for New Horizons.  It sent back its last batch of data from the Pluto fly by (traversing distances that large, you don’t even complain about old dial up speeds).  Pretty swag.

The Future of Climate Change (from the David Biello SciFi podcast): A couple of people with the USGS are going through old records of big earthquakes in California and correlating it with the oil drilling.  They have come up with a hypothesis that some of the major ones (including one in 1933) were caused because of the drilling out there (I believe near LA).  This archival data may be able to cast a light on the current earthquakes in Oklahama.

They also suggested in this podcast that Trump should commission Musk (read: SolarCity) to line The Wall with solar panels.  Most of it is, after all, in the desert.  And when you’re already looking at a 50+ billion dollar project, what’s a couple more billion when the solar energy will help pay for the panels?  And if Mexico has to pay for the wall, then they can keep the energy.  And if we put the panels on the US side and then angle them into a Fresnel lens, you could aim the light beams at the mouths of the tunnels people use to sneak in and out of the respective countries as a deterrent as well (not that I’m saying I want to burn people alive.  Please don’t believe that.  Not the intention at all).

Sin Taxes (from the SYSK podcast): Did you know that in 1764 the American colonies had a sugar tax?  It was called The Sugar Act (how original) or, actually, The American Revenue Act of 1764 (I guess that’s a bit better).  I wish we could do this in America now.  Our health care system is more of a sick care system and a lot of the illnesses we have are self inflicted.  Whenever I think about taxing sugar my mind always comes back to Parks & Rec:

Did you know that the first excise tax levied by the US government was a Whiskey Tax?  Up until 1913, sin taxes were the US government’s major source of revenue (until they proposed the beloved income tax).

Do sin taxes actually work?  Well…. it depends it seems.  But that’s a topic for another day.

Just Keep Swimming

In which life takes another stab.

Time for a round of good news, bad news.

Good news:

  •  I completed both my monthly challenges last month *waits for applause to die down*  Tumblr withdrawal hit around day 25 but I trucked on through.  Facebook didn’t even hit my radar of emptiness.  I have enough friends and family to send me all the important memes.  The Hurricane Matthew McConaughey was definitely my favorite.  As for the healthy portion of my monthly challenges, my gums stopped bleeding about halfway through October.  I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a rousing success.  I’m doing my best to still floss once a day, but you know how these things go.  There’s no prize in it anymore, no sense of accomplishment.  Sure, I won’t need a root canal down the road, blah, blah, blah.  Instant gratification fuels me; that’s not a hard selling point for me.
  • Less than a month until GILMORE GIRLS!!!! OMIGOD!!!!  AHHHHH!!!!
  • I got a new laptop.  It’s pretty wicked.  And after the last time I trudged through setting up a new computer, I wised up and saved most of the big software installation files.  It’s still taking for bloody ever, but it’s now 2x faster (like the original broadband was to dial up)!  Now if only I could find a flashdrive big enough to move the install applications for the Adobe software duo.  My mobile technology is so two thousand and late.

The corresponding bad news:

  • I had to buy a new laptop because my old one was stolen, along with a host of other things.  But that’s all I want to say about it because I’ve already been complaining for a week and there’s only so much complaining a gal can do (when it’s not about her boyfriend/ex/husband).  I’m trying to employ the Dory mantra.  I’m swimming my little land fins off.
  • I’d forgotten how bad the last season of Gilmore Girls was =(  I’m remembering – painfully – during the final stage of my rewatch.  #TeamJess
  • Two cancelled vacations for two hiking trips this month.  Needless to say, the Nike Training App has been deleted and the elastic sweat pants are officially back in style.  But hey, that’s why New Years Resolutions exist.  I can fail at getting fit next year too!  So bring on the Snickers Ice Cream Bars (oh man, now I need to make a Publix run).
  • I voted.  This year’s presidential race it like Aron’s Choice (Between a Rock and a Hard Place for my literate readers; 127 Hours for the filmophiles.  But really, if you have to explain it, it loses some of its charm.  Where was I?).  You can either vote for one candidate, which is like having to cut your own arm off with a dull pocket knife, or you can stay pinned under the heavy boulder until you eventually die by voting for the other candidate.  Since I don’t want to get all preachy and political on you, I’ll let you infer which one is which.  Refreshing for a change, right?  (Oh, but in other news, if you haven’t checked out Save the Day yet, you really should.  Joss Whedon, y’all).

November monthly challenge:

  • Take back the yard!
    • Our yard looks like a forest.  Vines are strangling the trees, snakes are a slytherin’ in the underbrush.  Three layers of dead leaves crunch under foot when I’m trying to scout out where the dog crapped.  With the recent thief, I am taking a page out of Donald Trump’s America playbook.  We are going to build the wall.  We are going to increase the border patrols (no more free lunches noming on our grass for the turtles.  Food stamps are out!).  We’re going to deport the illegal stray cats lounging around in our back yard all day mocking our dog while they spread out and lick themselves publicly.  And, best news for us, we’re going to make our neighbors pay for our fence.  Because we want to keep them out, so they should have to pay for it, right?

Alright, alright (,alright).  I said no politics (I’m sure I’m the only one in America ready for next Tuesday to be over).  So let me just end it here.  I have like a googel things to do anyway.  TTYS.

DUFFin It

In which I redecorate my house and my free time.

Well, September was a bust on the personal challenge front.  The last week or so went better because we ran out of Dr. Pepper, so there wasn’t any soda in the house to pine after.  But, all in all, I failed.  Miserably.

This month will be different, I say!  With all the depressing posts and pregnant baby bumps (your body will never be the same again, friends) and nasty sonogram alien baby photos (seriously, people, why?!), coupled with all the garbage about the farce that is the upcoming election, I am actually really looking forward to this month’s challenge.  And since I bombed last month, I’ve decided to make it a two-fer.

Have you seen the movie the DUFF?  I actually quite enjoy it, far better than the book (in which the girl was just such a little s*word).  Anywho, there is a scene in which she is mad at her two best friends, and they start unfriending and unfollowing each other across all the platforms of social media.  It’s quite funny because that is the way our society runs now.  Sadly.  Here’s a clip below, though it is an abridged version:

If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Mae Whitman is ❤

So my challenge for October is: NO SOCIAL MEDIA.  No Facebook.  No Twitter.  No Tumblr (admittedly going to be the only difficult one since all the new fall line ups are starting and Netflix is letting me binge to almost get caught up).  No Instagram.  No Pinterest.  Nothing my friends.  NOTHING.  And it is going to be glorrrrrrrrrrious.

Think of all the free time I’m going to have to spend on productive things (like writing posts on this blog).  Just this morning I woke up, turned on my phone, went to hit the Facebook icon, then remembered I deleted the app last night.  So I put the phone back down, picked up the Kindle, and finished the book I’ve been struggling with for a week.  Boom.  More productive already.  Didn’t get me out of bed any earlier this morning, but I definitely felt more productive.  And I’m on a redecorating kick this weekend after visiting my sister friend last weekend (she’s been in her place about a month and it was gorgy.  I’ve been in my past a year, and we still have the doormat’s the previous owner left), so that project will definitely gobble up my extra time now.

Also, I am going to floss once a day this month.  Because I am tried of getting that look from my oral hygienist.  Don’t judge me!  Or my mouth.  You don’t know us.  We’ve been through a lot.  Stop hating on my gums!  But really, I can’t afford a root canal.  And my genes and my family’s experience in that area does not bode well for me.  So let’s go, bleeding gums.  We’re gonna tough it out.

In other news, I would say I survived my Nike Training Club so far this week.  I did cheat a wee bit and skipped a couple repeat intervals (I blame the fact that I forgot to bring a water bottle).  Taylor Swift kept me motivated by whining about all her failed relationships (but to a fun, upbeat pop tune).  Since her very short lived relationship with that Tom Hiddleton/the guy from the terrible Thor movies has ended, I’m looking forward to see when her new album drops.  Sure it’s gonna be just about any day now.  I’ve feel sorry for her, but I’ve read the lyrics to Blank Space.  So. You know.  My muscles hurt a little the morning after (that’s what she said), but it was nothing like my recovery (or lack thereof) after my “baseline” Sunday.  And I got to use my new medicine ball.  Bonus!  Now I just need to get the motivation to do a trial hike before I tackle the big beast that is Yosemite before too long.

Training Day

In which I’ve poured more than I can swallow.

My monthly challenge has already gone for broke (and, a bit ironically, for nothing it turned out.  But that’s a long story with a lot of complaining, so it’s best saved for another day.  Say, two weeks from never).  Long story sorta sort, I caved and had a Dr. Pepper.  Which lead to another.  And another.  And so let’s just forget about it and look forward to next month, shall we?  And since I’m being a bit more realistic, we aren’t going to be cutting caffeine next month if I’m going to be crossing time zones on a night before work.  So I’ll think of something else, and we’ll try these two beasts at a later time.

But I did get 11.6 miles out of my 15 miles of “biking” done earlier this week (it’s still too bloody hot to go outside and do much of anything, so I did the spin bike.  Sue me).  Gotta say, LOVE my new compression socks.  About 9 miles in, those puppies helped me eek out another few miles towards my goal.  I also learned a very important life lesson, which I am more than happy to share with you now.  Alcohol and step aerobics DO NOT MIX WELL.  Maybe if you treat yourself (quick tangent, I swear:

)
to a nice little ‘congrats you lazy bum, you actually did (part of) your workout today’ celebratory drink after you bail halfway through the beginner’s step aerobics video.  But – and I cannot stress this enough – don’t have a drink while surfin the internet and then decide a half hour later it might be a good time to try step aerobics for the first time.  I’m telling ya – don’t do it!

Though I about puked my brains out last night, I gotta say – I actually quite like step aerobics.  I’m just hoping it will translate well to hiking and that I won’t still get cramped up muscles all over my body next month.  Once I get past the beginner’s step aerobics, I’m gonna add wrist weights for arm strength (since I currently have zilch, nada, goose egg).

While my body is currently a walking target of which zones of muscles are going to ache beyond belief any given day, I do feel a little better.  A little healthier.  A little more fit.  I will conquer this hike, dang nab it!  That mountain will bow down to me.  And my doctor will say I am a freak of nature for how healthy I am.

In other news, my first reverse shameless plugging.  As much as I love my Vibrams monkey shoes, I will never, ever try to jam my dainty little feet into their insulated hiking shoes ever again.  Holy mother of Buddha, those were the most uncomfortable shoes I have ever tried on.  Even the pair two sizes too big were trying to guillotine my little baby toe off.  I couldn’t even get the heel in, let alone stand up to try to walk.  My weirdly wide one foot (the other one is perfectly normal, thank you very much) did not like any of the hiking shoes I tried on either, but I have not given up.  I’ve got like a month left so by George I’ll find something to wear.

Oh, and if anyone has any suggestions on brand/types of clothing, gear, etc. one should wear or pack for day hikes, please shoot out in the comments below.  This nature noob would be forever grateful.

 

All Eh That Ends Well

In which one challenge falls flat, so I torture myself with another.

So I survived the monthly challenge from August. Just in time, too, because my husband – let’s just call him G – decided that he needed to get up at 5AM this morning to get into work early. To which I replied, “F that”. I’m paraphrasing, of course. I think. I don’t really recall, it was pretty late last night and I was dog tired.

I survived not snoozing, but I don’t think it did me a lick of good.  I didn’t get more exercise.  I didn’t end up being more productive.  I think Starbuck got more out of it than I did.  She enjoyed the extra snuggling and getting dog hair all over my work clothes since I was dressed a half an hour to forty five minutes before I actually had to leave for work.  Fun times, this past month.

I probably could have used the time to work on my writing.  I probably could have used it for a long of things.  I did get a little extra reading in.  But it usually just resulted in me staring at the inside of my eyelids and, let’s face it, that’s basically the same as sleeping.  So we’ll call it a bust, but at least I made it through.  Now time to move on.

Drum roll please.  September brings:

Or, actually, quite the opposite.  And we also need to substitute sugar for caffeine, kind of sort of.  But who can resist a Homestar Runner photo?  NO ONE.  Actual you youngsters out there probably have no bloody idea what I’m even talking about (this also applies to anyone that’s not a complete nerd.  Have I told the Trogdor story on the public transit in Calgary yet?  No?  Well, just you wait, it’s a doozy.  But for another time).  So just take it from me, it’s funny stuff.

September will be the month of no sodas (I am cheating a little and allowing the occasional energy drink, since next month will actually be no caffeine (which means I will get to use that picture again, thehehe)) <- forgot to close the second bracket the first time.  But you don’t see the blog editor giving me any errors for that.  It should.  Just in time for the annual writer’s conference (because who needs energy for that?!).  It’s a good thing this isn’t actually a thing:

I’m dying for a root beer already, but I’ve seen the video and watched the Mythbusters episode about what happens to a steak left in Coke, so I’m actually looking forward to this month.  G might even join me.  We really don’t drink much soda to begin with.  But, of course, ginger ale, root beer, and Coke products are all 50% off at the grocery right now.  So that’ll be the first test.  JUST SAY NO!  They should hire me at the ad counsel.  I’ll get my CV right over.  Just don’t ask me about energy drinks.  Not until October.