Life Update

I survived my first PhD Hell Week… Yaaaaayyyyyyy! It was exhausting but I feel pretty good about everything overall. I feel a bit more stable in classes now. I have enough of the lingo down that it doesn't sound as much like a foreign language anymore, which is a relief. Lots of BIG projects looming in the near future, I'm trying to keep on top of everything so I can (1) sleep and (2) not panic. Both very important.

However, this will be me this time next week as I am facing the research methods mid-term next Wednesday. Eeeeeeekkkkkkkk! Very scared of that one.

I also registered to vote in PA on Friday. Whatever else was on my to-do list, that was the most important. Got in right under the wire, Monday is the last day.

Went to a friend's for a movie night – Iron Man – Robert Downey, Jr. Yummmmm… The problem with movie nights with nocturnal friends is they don't want to start watching until my bedtime. Crappers. Feel kind of crappy today as a result.

Oh, I think we need a little more RDJ… All nice and yummy and intense…

What the heck… one more… I like the silly RDJ too…

Still running kinda regularly. Proud of myself for that. Less jiggly now, I think. I'm getting into my medium-sized clothes again. I have not tried on my fat jeans in a while because I want to absolutely SWIM in them so I can pop with pride. Want to get down into my skinny sizes so I can wear all the fabulous clothes I bought a couple years ago. I think it will happen if I stick with running, it gets me fit like nothing else. One of my classmates and I are going to keep each other motivated through winter by going to the gym together. Yay for friends.

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After a tumultuous three weeks, I have officially lost 10 pounds! Yaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

It has been the smörgåsbord season at JMU. End of the year banquets, receptions, graduation parties… that ends up equaling eating, eating, and more eating. Being on a weight loss plan in the midst is very difficult because the food is SO GOOD and very tempting

I am proud to say I only gained weight one week and then only one pound. One of my friends who is on the same plan gained 3 pounds after one fateful weekend – yikes! It has been most difficult to balance moderation and low salt options. Several times I felt shriveled up like a prune because I ate something really salty. I don't ever cook with salt so I tend to be very sensitive to it.

I started this plan because I had outgrown my FAT clothes. Yes, my fat clothes. The ones I went and bought at Goodwill because I couldn't wear any of my regular clothes. I am happy to say I have started getting back into my regular clothes now. I can't wear them all yet, but I can wear some, and that is GREAT motivation to keep up the momentum. Woohoo.

Having my brother here has helped too because he is super healthy in his eating habits which helps me stay on track. I've had a few moments when I've been exhausted or emotionally spent. Those are the days I would have come home and fixed comfort food. But with Ryan here, I've eaten salads, grilled chicken, fish, and veggies just about every night. Yum.

So… onward and upward. I currently weigh 152. I am most comfortable and happy when I am 135-140. Twelve pounds to go… I can do it! You can do it! We can do it!

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Seven Pounds Skinnier

Today ends week two of my diet. Last week I lost 3/4 of a pound, this week I lost two pounds. All in all I am down 7 pounds since I started. Not too bad! I have started feeling the difference in my clothes, which is very encouraging and motivating. My fat clothes are a little baggier than they were before.

I already ate pretty healthy before this diet, so I have not had a huge shift in eating habits. I never eat chips and other snacky junk food. I never have cakes, brownies, ice cream or other desserts in the house. My basic problems are (1) portions, and (2) sugar. This week I have been working to re-frame how much I REALLY need to eat to be full, not how much I WANT to eat, or think I NEED to eat. It has been relatively easy because there is always something I can eat if I start to feel hungry – celery, an apple, a protein bar – so I never feel like I'm starving myself.

For anyone who wants to play along at home, here is what I ate this past week. See if it works for you.

DAY ONE (Friday)
BREAKFAST – coffee w/ sugar free Coffeemate, Egg Sandwich – 2 eggs, raw spinach, 1 slice cheese, on multigrain bread
SNACK – protein bar

LUNCH – 1 can tuna fish w/ mayo (By itself, no bread. Ate it out of a bowl with a fork.), can of peaches (in own juice)

DINNER – 2 veggie burgers – one slice of multigrain bread per burger
SNACK – protein bar

DAY TWO (weekend)

BREAKFAST – coffee w/ sugar free coffeemate, 2 packets of oatmeal

SNACK – protein bar

LUNCH – grilled tuna steak, brussell sprouts

SNACK – cottage cheese

DINNER – grilled chicken, apple

SNACK – protein bar


DAY THREE (weekend)
BREAKFAST – coffee w/ sugar free Coffeemate

LUNCH – salad (mixed greens, celery, cucumber, sautéed shrimp)
SNACK – protein bar
DINNER – hamburger on multigrain bread, 1 slice cheese, lettuce, onion, and mixed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)



BREAKFAST – 2 fried eggs, coffee w/ sugar free coffeemate

SNACK – protein bar

LUNCH – turkey wrap, lettuce, tomato, peppers

SNACK – apple

DINNER – 1/2 chicken breast, broccoli, cauliflower

SNACK – protein bar



BREAKFAST – coffee w/ sugar free coffeemate, 2 packets of oatmeal

SNACK – protein bar

LUNCH – turkey sandwich on wheat bread, lettuce, tomato

SNACK – can of mandarin oranges

SNACK – protein bar

DINNER – grilled mahi mahi, grilled asparagus
SNACK  – protein bar



BREAKFAST – coffee w/ sugar free coffeemate, 2 packets of oatmeal

SNACK – protein bar

LUNCH – 6” Subway Club on wheat

SNACK – apple

DINNER – Tossed Salad (raw spinach, tomatoes, carrots, sunflower seeds, raisins, and pineapple chunks)
SNACK  – protein bar



BRAKFAST – coffee w/ sugar free coffeemate, yogurt, apple

SNACK – protein bar

LUNCH – Small Quiznos Mesquite Chicken Sandwich on wheat

SNACK – can of pears in own juice

DINNER – Tossed Salad (mixed greens, ground beef, salsa, and tomatoes)

SNACK – protein bar

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Walking my Butt Off (hopefully)

Soooooo… I signed up for a walking study being done by a graduate student at my school. Her hypothesis is that walking a minimal amount a week can actually impact your health. She is comparing four groups: smokers with walking poles, smokers without walking poles, non-smokers with walking poles, and non-smokers without walking poles. I am in the non-smoking without walking poles group.

True confessions, I peeked in my file during the first session and I was labeled sedentary! Sedentary! Me… who swam competitively all the way through college and used to run ten mile races… sheesh… Yes, I really have fallen that far. A big part of it is this mysterious crappy thing I've been dealing with. It leaves me exhausted for the most part. I can go to work and do my thing full tilt, but when I get home I have barely enough energy to do basic house stuff. It has killed my exercise routine. Well, that and living literally on a mountain. Running and biking used to be my activities of choice, but danged if I can do either one on a friggin mountain.

So, enter said walking study. My attempt to get at least a little exercise back in my routine. It will take a total of 16 weeks. The first eight weeks we are to walk 90 minutes per week. That's 90 minutes per WEEK. That's nothing! I used to run 90 minutes per day 4-5 days a week. The second eight weeks she wants us to kick the walking up to 150 minutes per week. Ok, fair enough.

I gotta tell you. That first eight weeks was a killer. Truly, I could barely get 90 minutes per week in successfully. I had to walk on Saturday for at least 45 minutes because I was lucky to get 45 minutes in the other six days combined.

She is running a series of tests on us too – at day one, week eight, and week 16. She took three blood samples for cholesterol, some kind of protein, and something she won't tell me about… ooo…. a secret! She put us in a bod pod to measure body mass index. She did a series of breathing tube exercises to test our lung capacity and oxygen levels. And we walk fast on a treadmill uphill until we are going to die. Seriously. She wants us to go until we are about to keel over and cannot walk another step. She hooks us up to a heart monitor and we wear this breathing mask that measures how effectively our bodies utilize oxygen.

On day one my cholesterol was 229. Yowza! It is pretty much always between 205 and 209. It doesn't really matter what I eat or how much I exercise, it always seems to be in that range. Apparently not anymore. Fortunately at week eight it had gone down to 225, so that's progress. I had gained four pounds (which I actually thought might be more) which she was not happy about (stress eating from the PhD process and an incredibly stressful opening of school). But my lung capacity, blood work, and oxygen measurements had all improved. During both treadmill tests I was able to get my heart rate to 102%. She wanted at least 100% so I exceeded expectations. All those years of hard core cardio did pay off.

Today I took a 90 minute walk up a gigantic steep road to the scenic overlook where I live. This is a road that people drive up and go "oh, wow, this is steep" and I walked up the whole dang thing. I am so proud of myself! I was bopping along on my way back down, skipping, whistling, and patting myself on the back when what did I pass? A biker on his way up the hill. jeez louise. That is crazy hard core.

Just to give you an idea of how big of a deal this is to me, here is a photo from my house to the scenic overlook…

And this is a view from the overlook to my house…

And I'm going to do it again tomorrow, Go, me!

P.S. If you liked the editing I did on the two photos to show the overlook and my house, I am available to do design work for your website. Call 1-800-1AR-TIST. My rates are reasonable. 🙂

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Warning… Cat Food Commercial to Follow

Disclaimer: If you are easily offended by cat food, commercials, or individuals expressing completely unsubstantiated opinions, please turn off your browser now.


Since my cat Isabel disappeared for a few days last week I have been trying to figure out why. I suppose I should explain that this was COMPLETELY out of character for her. If cats can be homebodies like some people are, Isabel is one. Since I brought her home at 4 months old, she has been like clockwork: plopping herself on my lap the MINUTE I sit down, coming in to snuggle and sleep every night, and showing up in the kitchen for breakfast every morning. Like clockwork. Completely reliable.

Then Thursday morning came and went, no Isabel for breakfast. Thursday evening came and went, no Isabel for snuggling or sleeping. It did look like she might have been around eating on Thursday judging from the amount of food in the bowl so I didn't worry.

Friday morning came and went, no Isabel for breakfast. Friday evening came and went, no Isabel for snuggling or sleeping. Friday's food bowl did not look like two cats had been eating from it. I begin to get worried.

Saturday morning, no Isabel for breakfast. Saturday evening, no Isabel for snuggling or sleeping. Now I am very worried and walk the streets in my neighborhood calling her and looking for her on the side of the road. I begin to make all kinds of plans for Sunday to go door to door with her photo, call the SPCA, etc…

Fortunately, she showed up about 1am on Saturday night to snuggle and sleep. Purring as if nothing had happened. I thought she might have seemed a little skinnier and more skittish, but that was probably me projecting my worries onto her.

So, the analytical part of my brain has been trying to figure out why. I've been at home on vacation this week working on my PhD apps and so have had more time that usual to observe her. She has been back like clockwork for her daily routines – whew – but I have noticed a few other things:
1) she is not parked 22 out of every 24 hours on the back of the couch in her sleeping spot;
2) she can run – who knew?;
3) she has been outside in the yard chasing things like she used to as a kitten.

What has changed? Nothing except her cat food. Can that be it? I have heard the commercials on tv claiming how much more energy cats have after eating a certain brand of food and my brain automatically responded with "yeah, yeah" because that's what they are SUPPOSED to say in commercials, right? But, I think I am starting to believe that this might just be what has happened to my sweet little Isabel.

All that running around, being outside, and chasing things hasn't been just one or two days, it's every day. The other afternoon when I went for my walk I found her halfway down the block in a woody lot stalking and chasing. This is a cat that pretty much never leaves my yard. Seriously. Neither does Dunkin – it's a great yard and the perfect place to live if you're a cat. So it was surprising to see her so far away.

I truly believe that she may just be experiencing some sort of resurgence since I switched her cat food. And I'm a believer.

So what about Dunkin, you might be wondering.Honestly, I haven't seen any difference in Dunkin, but he has always been an active cat – outside a lot, exploring, having adventures. My neighbors tell me they have found him in the bed of their pickup and outside their back window visiting with their indoor-only cat. Dunkin is also the one who defends the fortress, yowling and hissing whenever an unwelcome feline-type happens to wander into the yard. I know he has been in at least one physical spat because of the tufts of grey fur I found one day. Don't worry – Dunkin is black, and there were no pieces of skin attached so I don't think the other cat got hurt either. It looked more like the piles of cat fur some of you post after you comb your cats.

So, what is this wondrous stuff that seems to have worked miracles for Isabel? Nutro Dry food for Weight Loss, Roasted Chicken flavor. Gotta tell you, for now I'm a believer. We'll see how it plays out over time. I plan to take photos to see if she really does seem to be losing weight and, of course, vet visits will confirm it eventually. But for now… wow… just wow.

Chicken Meal, Ground Rice, Wheat Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Whole Wheat, Poultry Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Natural Flavors, Sunflower Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dried Egg Product, Lamb Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Monosodium Phosphate, Salt, Taurine, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Inositol, Vitamin E Supplement, DL-Methionine, Ascorbic Acid (source of Vitamin C), Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Niacin, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of Vitamin B2), Vitamin A Supplement, Sodium Selentite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (source of Vitamin K activity), Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid.
Nutro supports the safe, ethical and humane treatment of all animals.
  Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein (minimum) 32.00%
Crude Fat (minimum) 10.00%
Crude Fiber (maximum) 6.00%
Moisture (maximum) 10.00%
Ash (maximum) 6.50%
Linoleic Acid (minimum) 2.50%
Zinc (minimum) 180 mg/kg
Taurine (minimum) 0.16%
Ascorbic Acid (minimum)** 26 mg/kg
**Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles.


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