Diet, exercise and stretching

I’ve been eating my nutrisystem meals (left over from my diet last year) for lunch at work.  I’ve discovered a new dieting tool.  Kitty seems to think that if she went on the nutrisystem diet she would have a tendency to snack in between meals and counteract the diet altogether.  However, I think there may be a psychological advantage to eating diet food that is really bad tasting.  I’m sitting here eating this cup of “hearty minestone soup” which is by FAR the worst item from nutrisystems (visually, texturally and taste-wise and this is after I dump about ¼ cup of hot wing sauce into it).  I figure if I’m going to eat such a nasty lunch, then I’m darn well gonna stay in calorie deficit today because I wouldn’t want to counteract the effort that it took to swallow this nasty stuff.  Yuck.  The exercise is coming along.  I’m trying to do a long run, aiming for 8 miles, every week—not sure if I’ll have a chance this weekend with Al coming out for the Viking game.  I’m also trying to do the hand weights 2x/week.  The push-ups or sit-ups first thing in the morning isn’t panning out.  I did 5 push-ups one morning, but can’t seem to make it even a weekly habit.  I’ve been stretching about 3x/week now for at least 3 months and I can touch my toes.

I want to be able to do this when I’m her age.  By the way…. boy is this lady famous.  I remembered this photo from a while back and all I did was search “old lady stretching” and I found this photo on dozens of sites!

My ‘happiness’ goal may require some more effort on my part, although I do think my ‘seasonal affective disorder’ (self diagnosed) may be a bit better than it has been past years.  Maybe I need to set aside time to ‘meditate’ or set goals of some sort.  I remember Haus Frau once told me that she sets happiness goals that are small and acheivable.  Such as clean house, clean car and clean husband.  Aiming for all three in the same day….not quite as easily acheived.  As for keeping track of friends/family, I look at my facebook page periodically which makes me feel like I’m keeping in touch with people; but I’m not great about actually sending notes and I’m worse about phone calls.  I had hoped to host a wine tasting at my house this month, but I seem to have excuses for not actually doing it.


The sukiyaki moment

Many years ago, Aldo had a “sukiyaki moment”.  We took the train from San Clemente to  Santa Barbara to celebrate our anniversary.  When we went out to dinner that night, the waiter commented that in his entire career at that particular Japanese restaurant he’d never seen anyone finish the entire sukiyaki dinner by himself.  This inspired Aldo to notice that he had gained some weight and was at a new all time high.  Later, he squeezed into his biking shorts and proclaimed “I look like a tic”.

My sukiyaki moment was a little fuzzier.  I busted the elastic on a particular pair of pants I wear frequently and thought to myself, darn I may have to throw these away.  Shortly thereafter these pants became the only pair I could fit into and they were even becoming a little tight.

Wet food vs. Dry food

I think I now understand dogs or cats who prefer wet food over dry food.  Some of the Nutrisystems food that needs to be reconstituted is really bad (the minestrone soup is the worst).

I have been on this diet for 8 days now and I can say the Nutrisystem diet is working.  I weigh at least 2lbs less than when I started and I had already lost another few pounds in the weeks immediately after leaving Albuquerque when I decided to start eating like a normal person again.  The key seems to be to avoid anything that tastes good.  Aldo and I are going to gradually start eating normal food every now and then.  My biggest hurdle is to learn portion control when eating good food.  We have cheated a little on the diet.  I have occasionally substituted wine or a martini for ‘fruit portions’ and this hasn’t seemed to have a negative effect.  Kitty says I can substitute the vodka for vegetable portions since it usually comes from potatoes.

The food arrived

The bad news is that the food isn’t great. The good news is that the food isn’t great. My main problem with overeating is that I LOVE really great food, so when I am offered really yummy food, I overeat. The nutrisystem food is fine or even good (similar to lean cuisine of weight watchers type food), but it does not inspire overeating. The handouts were interesting. They make this point about eating when you have ‘internal hunger signals’ not ‘external hunger signals’. The external signals are when you see something yummy on TV or when you walk past some really yummy food somewhere.  No chance of external hunger signals happening when I walk past the big box of Nutrisystem food choices. Lunch is a teensy cup (7.5 oz) of soup (160 calories) and an example of dinner is a teensy piece of meatloaf with mashed potatoes (300 calories). A couple of things I didn’t realize when we signed up.

1. We are still buying some food. We bought soda, and milk for the cereal already, but we are also allowed to eat salads (minimal dressing) and veggie/fruit portions with most meals and these aren’t included. There are a few hamburger-like-food-product-patties for dinner and we are supposed to find a small roll to eat it with.

2. Very little of the food requires freezing, it is mostly soup and meals in microwaveable containers. There are a few items that look like they may need to be rehydrated or something.


Aldo and I are going to do the Nutrisystem diet for 2 months (and two free weeks).  First, I’m trying to get used to eating slightly less than 3000 calories a day (fabulous food in ABQ!) then I think we will officially start next Monday (or thereabouts) when the food arrives.  My goal is to lose 15 lbs.  I believe it is something like $550/month for both us on the family plan, which should be significantly less than we spend on food in a typical month (especially if we go out to eat once or twice).  We’re not supposed to drink any alcohol at all, but I will try to stick to one glass of red wine if I decide to cheat every now and then.  I’m sure you’re all dying for updates, so I’ll keep you posted.  I may actually start exercising again too.

Wish me Luck!


CPR is painful

I suppose having someone pound on your chest for several minutes would be painful if you didn’t happen to be dead at the time, but I won’t be writing about how CPR is painful to the recipient. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is exhausting and uncomfortable to perform. I took a Basic Life Support class last Friday and I ended up with a bruise on my wrist and my knees were screaming for the rest of the day in spite of the egg crate cushion we used while kneeling. The good news is that apart from the physical aspects, CPR gets easier for a potential rescuer every year. I used to complain that key aspects of CPR (such as the ratio of breaths to compressions) change every year, but lately the changes are simplifying the procedure rather than complicating it. I think the idea is to not intimidate people to the point that they will hesitate to use what they have learned. The most important improvement is with the newest AED devices (automated external defibrillators). These will literally talk you through a resuscitation. The first thing you hear when you open it is “remain calm”. I’m not sure how reassuring this will be when someone collapses in front of you, but I suppose it is a good start. The sticky pads are now one continuous pad, so placement is hard to mess up. Also, the machine will only shock someone with an abnormal heart rhythm, so there is essentially no danger of giving someone an unneeded shock. Unless of course you forget to yell ‘clear’ and someone is still touching the person who is receiving the shock.

The key points were to call for help first, then find the nearest AED before initiating compressions. Even if you have NO CPR training, this is good advice. Go ahead and open the AED (look around, they are everywhere nowadays). If you don’t happen to be carrying a mask designed for breathing into someone’s mouth, it is still useful to open the AED, follow its instructions and administer chest compressions until help arrives or the person regains a pulse. Our instructor mentioned that the primary obstacles preventing people from administering CPR even after they have had some training are: fear of germs (the solution—skip the breathing part) and fear of a lawsuit (the solution—the good Samaritan law). One thing he didn’t mention is whether or not people might hesitate to give CPR to a woman because applying the AED sticky pads requires tearing open the shirt and bra (the kit includes a pair of scissors). The other point that our instructor really emphasized was to not move someone (who is breathing and has a pulse) if he has been in an automobile accident or even if he is an older person who has collapsed forcefully. He said that the best thing you can do for someone in that situation is to leave them as they are in the car or on the ground, but to stabilize the head to protect from neck injury, and of course call for help. The last piece of advice that I’d particularly like my friends and family members to pay attention to is the idea of “ICEing” your cell phone. This means you should program in an emergency contact person literally listing his name as “ICE” which stands for “In Case of Emergency”. First responders including police, firemen and ambulance personnel will know to call this person as soon as possible.

Eckhart Tolle

I recently read the Eckhart Tolle book that Oprah Winfrey showcased with her online book club. The book is probably best described as spiritual or philosophical, but it is more practical than might be expected of a book of this genre (I wouldn’t quite characterize it as ‘self-help’ though). The author has incredible insight into human nature and he is able to describe these revelations without using excessive pop psychology jargon. He occasionally uses stories from various religions to describe important concepts, but in general he does not support the dogma of religion. Although his words have already changed my life (or my view of my life) in a dramatic way, I find it very difficult to do his words justice when discussing the book with friends, especially if they have not read the book. I think this is because each person will interpret, use and communicate Mr. Tolle’s words in very different ways.

For me, the most useful concept is that of ‘creating space’ (peace) within my mind. The idea is that if I can take a moment every now and then to quiet my mind, I will be able to observe the world and my interaction with it more objectively and therefore more kindly. If I can take a moment when I am angry or depressed I will be able to experience my emotions more fully but with a much better perspective. I can observe my own thought processes from a distance which allows me to become aware of thoughts that are counterproductive to my happiness. I have practiced this mindset on several occasions now and it is surprisingly effective (I feel peaceful). This method of becoming ‘conscious’ does not require a positive attitude, a force of will or an ability to meditate. I simply become aware; of my surroundings, my thought process and the underlying emotions. The key to this is that I don’t try to change any of these. That’s it. When I make myself aware of what I am doing and how I am feeling, it suddenly becomes less important and more beautiful at the same time.

The other day I had a task to perform at work that I have always considered tedious and annoying. This particular chore is something that I believe my coworker should be doing. It has always triggered negative feelings in me which I direct toward her (she’s lazy, selfish etc). This day, I chose to be present/conscious (outside of my own ego) while doing this mindless chore. The first thing I became aware of was my negative thought processes; once I acknowledged these, I acknowledged the underlying emotions. As soon as I acknowledged the emotions, they became intense but then began to dissipate. I then realized that the emotions were not really connected to the act of performing the chore or even really associated with the negative thought processes (except loosely in my own mind/ego). The mindless chore which I hated so much gradually became a simple act which took only a few minutes to complete. I try to do this periodically, especially when I become aware of an impending angry tirade in my mind. Of course it’s always ‘easier said than done’ when it comes to improving one’s outlook on life. But I am convinced that almost everyone will get something useful out of the book.