Diet Challenge

I have never been one to post pics of my plates, rant on about my diets, or ‘check in’ at the local gym. It has such a self-serving, ‘look at me and how healthy I’ve become’ feel, not to mention that my sedentary lifestyle and carb loaded binge fests should not be made public. With that being said, I’m now going to spend a few minutes talking about my new diet.

A friend at work asked if I wanted to partake in our company’s diet challenge. Figuring I’d have to pitch in 5 or 10 bucks, and knowing that I needed a little push to drop a few (ha) pounds, I agreed to participate. When it was time to sign up, oh damn, it’s 20 bills a month for three months. WTF?? That’s $60 on the line, and we only get it back if everyone on our team drops 6% of total beginning body weight. I don’t gamble. My money is pretty tightly budgeted, and throwing that $60 away is not cool. Too late to back out, I paid my first 20, and then vowed to lose more than my 6%, in order to cover for any team slackers.

Alright. Money burned, and it’s time to begin. The first step after creating a profile is to weigh-in. The scale is the devil, and it sucks just acknowledging the 3 numbers it claims. Well this particular weigh in procedure is a whole new circle of hell. One must be dressed in tight fitting clothes, such as a swim suit, sports bra, tight tank, etc. Standing in front of a full length mirror- Sweet Jesus, take my eyes. I don’t wanna SEE this- IT’S TIME TO TAKE A VIDEO OF YOURSELF, STEPPING ON SATAN’S SCALE. And they want front view, side view, full body including head shot, a clear view of the numbers representing how delicious you’ve found carbs to be, etc. Damn. Here I am, pirouetting in front of a mirror I always avoid, standing on a scale I despise, dressed in shit I certainly wouldn’t subject the outside world to ever seeing, taking a video (haha) that will be seen by some random stranger or strangers. Or the whole damn office due to some glitch. Or YouTube because people suck…

Humbling. Eye opening. Heartbreaking. Devastating. Those were the resulting feelings from that debasement. It was certainly motivating as well. Nothing quite like 10 pounds of cottage cheese in a 5 pound bag in 780P HD glory to get a girl to really face reality. The time for change was upon me. *The best part was finding that fricking video in my Prime Photos gallery a few days later. Uh, no. That’s something I definitely don’t want saved for posterity, but thanks*

With that in the books (and the video in the fricking cloud), it was time to actually begin the challenge. After what I considered a decent amount of research, I decided to go low carb for this swing at a finely sculpted waistline. According to multiple studies, the low carb/high fat /no calorie restrictions diet was up to 3 times more effective than a low fat/low calorie plan. A diet on which I can binge on endless shrimp scampi at Red Lobster, have bacon and steak, and eat wings!? Hell yeah!! This sounds awesome…

Day 2 brought the reality crashing down on how hard it’s going to be to cut carbs in a completely carb filled world. I was running late for my sons’ football game- which was over an hour away from the house. As usual, I didn’t leave enough time to prepare anything to eat, and I was starving. The concession stand offered nothing appropriate; since donuts and muffins weren’t going to work, I figured I’d just get something on my way home. Ha.

*As a side note, when beginning a low carb diet, you’re hungry and thirsty all the time. All. The. Time. They claim it passes. I’ll let you know if it does, but at the time, I was as hungry as a bear waking from hibernation*

Walk into a convenience store and find 5 portable, low or no carb snack items. Um, I bet you can’t. I couldnt find any. I walked up and down the aisles, staring wistfully at Payday bars, Ruffles chips, and Cheez-Its. Trail mix, pretzels, candy, granola bars, cereal bars, and crackers. What. The. F***?!?! Just as I had given up hope (the cashier was starting to look like a chicken leg- just like in the old cartoons), I found the tiny little cooler section, and it had a package of 2 hard boiled eggs. THANK YOU, CHICKENS!! I passed the first test, but the lesson I learned was unpleasant. This wasn’t going to be as easy as skipping the bun on a hamburger, and the easy confidence I started with was going to have to make way for a more methodical approach.

I’m not looking for a quick fix, and I don’t expect the pounds to melt off like butter on a hot skillet. It is, however, pretty eye opening when you stop to think about everyday food choices. My life is ruled by convenience due to the amount of time I spend rushing all over the world, and that has contributed greatly to me becoming a bigger person- in the literal sense. Healthier options are glaringly limited, and it’s really easy to forget that a super gulp slushy and a bag of chips has consequences. Slushies… Sigh… I wasn’t thinking about having to walk away from those, too…

Ill have an unsweetened iced tea with lemon, a whole cow, and a crown of broccoli, please

More to come, soon

FML

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One

With the devastation of two category 4 hurricanes touching the USA, and as we approached the anniversary of 09/11, I think it’s important to give a shout out to the Cleveland Browns players and organization for showing how we can come together. They had an issue with First Responders Day and players choosing to opt out of the National Anthem. Rather than let hard feelings and resentment fester, they chose to try to find a solution. They had meetings and tried to determine a way to unite, which is the whole point of the protesting to begin with. The players, police, fire, EMS took the field as one. They stood side by side, sending a more powerful message than a few players kneeling: We are ALL Americans, and we need to stand together, to solve this together, to work TOGETHER.

Whether you agree with the kneeling or not, we all must concur that just calling attention to an issue doesn’t solve it. Standing together in solidarity, searching for solutions, and recognizing that race, gender, and political affiliation mean nothing when the chips are down are the only ways we remain strong. We are one America, and it still holds true that United we Stand, but Divided we’ll Fall.

09/11 brought out the best of America. Stories from Houston, and I’m sure soon from Florida, prove that we can put differences aside to work together. Cleveland sent a statement yesterday, and I hope the entire NFL felt the message. And I hope the entire country remembers today, and everyday, that we are out of the many, ONE

Depression

*Warning. Serious post ahead. Proceed with caution*

Feeling sad? Take this pill. Call this number. Post your problems on social media. Suck it up.

Real mental health crises battle against bored or ‘down’ people posting dramatic comments about how their lives suck, simply to get attention or ‘likes’. It’s getting harder and harder to determine what is a cry for help, and what is just posturing. How can we tell what’s real suffering, real mental anguish, and what’s part drama, part attention seeking? What’s the difference between anxiety, depression, sadness?

We’re not all mental health experts. It’s also not our responsibility to have to decipher everyone’s feelings. We’re so busy trying to ‘fix’ everyone, we don’t fully grasp that while well intentioned, we’re not trained for Facebook psychology. So stop it.

“I’m having a bad day” – seems like an innocuous statement, but post is as a status. Yes, you have friends, and yes they’re concerned about your well being. That’s great. But it’s only great if you meant that you locked yourself out of your house, or fed the dog the cat’s food. If your bad day is dealing with a personal loss, if it’s losing your job and your home, then Facebook isn’t where you should be turning for help. I have appx 212 friends (not a lot by FB standards) on Facebook. Do you know how many I’d turn to in an actual crisis?? Less than 10. So why should I tell 202 extra people that I’m so sad?? It doesn’t make sense. I’m not going to saddle 202 people with the burden of my mental health. Nor should YOU, part of that group, FEEL responsible for it.

Depression is a word tossed around and applied to a whole range of emotions. It’s so watered down, that people with the actual chemical imbalance that causes real depression, get fluffed aside. Here’s the sad truth: life is hard. There are ups and downs, and sometimes, it feels like it’s all downs. That’s not depression. Dealing with the shit show of life is what we do. Guess what? There are people who have it better than you, and there are people who have it worse. Deal with your particular bag of garbage. Life isn’t fair, but it is what it is. Change what you can, and handle the stuff that can’t be changed. Adapt, overcome, improvise. When we label every negative emotion as depression, we do a disservice to everyone. Learning to cope with problems is far more productive than labeling yourself as depressed and cloaking yourself in excuses to stagnate and wallow.

On the other hand, you’ve got to know when to seek help. If you legitimately can’t get out of bed, can’t stop crying, feel little or no pleasure from things that you usually love, you need to see a professional. If you feel life is futile or that you can’t go on, make an appointment. Not your PCP, either. A prescription for a magic happy pill may mask your symptoms, but it won’t resolve the issue. Neither will ignoring the signs. Speak to someone. And treat it as if you were going to get a cavity filled or a colonoscopy. Help erase the stigma of mental health care by taking pride in getting healthy. You wouldn’t let an ailing body part go untreated, so you shouldn’t let your brain go untreated either. True depression has physical,  as well as mental, causes. It’s not just going to disappear.

So please- if you need to vent, go on Facebook. If you need to talk, phone a friend. If you need help, please call a professional.

Sharing the Road

Seems as if I forgot to hit the publish button, and this has been sitting in my draft folder for over a year.  Ha-

I drove this week as a reward for solidly hitting middle age without (too many) tears, so today’s antics come from the road:

Scene: Bumper to bumper traffic, at a red light on Irvine/Greenfield Ave. Bicyclist trying to squeeze down the right side of the stopped cars. He loses his balance and literally falls into the Explorer directly behind me. The biker scoots his bike up to the driver’s passenger window. Windows are down-

Biker (B): WTF is wrong with you, you a**hole??

Driver (D): ME?? Why don’t you watch where the f**k you’re going?

B: You’re too close to the side of the road!

D: You have insurance for that f’ing thing? (Seatbelt unbuckled)

B: F**k you! You’re too close, you f’ing d-bag

D: F**k you! (Opening car door)

Biker rolls off down the street, middle finger up in the air like a flag…

Pittsburgh

I posted this a few days ago as a Facebook status, and my son asked me why I took the time to write it. I responded that I was a writer, and that’s what I do. Then it hit me that I haven’t been doing that at all. So here we go again-

Pittsburgh. This is a city like no other. The Championships our teams have won collectively put us in an almost untouchable place. We are spoiled by their successes. Yet in the same breath, their successes stem from the influence of the city they represent.

Even with the collapse of the steel mills, Pittsburgh is still very much a blue collar work ethic town. Values handed down through generations are somehow as much a part of the city as its famous three rivers and all of its bridges. Pittsburghers work hard, play hard, and definitely cheer hard. Babies are born and immediately dressed in black and gold and draped in Terrible Towels. If a child reaches 3 months and doesn’t throw his or her arms in the air when they hear, “Touchdown” or “Goal,” or if they don’t know the names Mean Joe, Lambert, Mario, Maz, Willie, Sid, Geno, Big Ben, or the Bus by 2- well, you’re a failure as a parent here in Yinzburgh.

We expect our teams to win, but that’s not enough here. Living the ‘Rooney way’ and asking what Mr Rogers would do is the way of life in the Burgh. We demand more than excellence from our players. They’re a part of the Pittsburgh family, and we hold them to higher standards in exchange for our support. Donning the black and gold means becoming a part of something greater than the game. It doesn’t matter where a player is from, he becomes a Pittsburgher for life. The price of that inclusion is that the player adopt the Pittsburgh mentality. Work harder, play harder. We demand body, mind, spirit, and HEART.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ll call someone out if they’re not performing well. Screaming at the TV, tweeting, posting, whatever the source, we’ll cheer, we’ll boo, we’ll call it like we see it. And that’s OK, because we can call a player a ‘jagoff’ a million times, but let an outsider say it once, and “Hold my Iron” is the last thing they’ll hear before hitting the sidewalk.

The seasons here are marked by sports, not by weather. Days are counted by how many until training camp, the beginning of the season, the next game, the playoffs. We look for, and find, fellow Yinzers- no matter how far we travel. And we bring it all with us if we happen to leave- flying Terrible Towels in Afghanistan, Africa, Boston, Florida, Texas, and even on the Bering Sea.

Pittsburgh, it’s a city like no other, and we’re one game away from adding to that legacy. The city will be frozen in time for a few hours tomorrow. We’ll all be joined together once again by that thread that makes us all one, wherever we are. Wear that black and gold proudly. It’s an honor, and a privilege 💛

Waiting

Sitting in a waiting room in a hospital, there isn’t much more to do than study people. As you may know, I have a fondness for the stupidity of my fellow man, and I relish every opportunity I get to watch the freak shows in action. I’ve even considered riding the bus for fun now that I’m working from home, but I’m just not that desperate for source material yet. Anyway, short of public transportation, it just doesn’t get any better than a hospital.

Much to my chagrin, the surgical waiting room was pretty well behaved. The staff was helpful, and sadly, good service prevents conflicts. There were no disgruntled, half drunk family members demanding to know what was taking so long. Nobody was writhing in pain as they waited for their turn. The staff was friendly to me, even when I left Greg’s tracking number in my car.  It was a mess. Allegheny General Hospital’s professionalism was killing any hopes of a good story.

Sure, there was an occasional ass talking loudly on the phone, a girl with jeans so hole covered I’m not sure how she was able to arrange the denim threads to cover anything, but all in all, it was quiet, calm, and peaceful. I hate quiet, calm, and peaceful.

The cafeteria was the same way. People behaving. WTF was wrong with this place? Normal people, eating decent food that wasn’t even overpriced.

After the disappointingly tranquil lunch, we went back to the waiting room.  Greg was still listed in procedure, and it was taking longer than we had expected. The woman at the desk called back to the OR, and she delivered a status to me with a smile. This was getting ridiculous. Time was ticking away, and I had nothing. Another hour or so passed, and then finally, he came.

He had the disheveled look for which I’d been waiting: messy hair, sloppy clothes, a bunch of missing teeth- jackpot!! When he asked US if his family’s name had been called, I could barely disguise my glee. Especially when the answer was no. I steadied myself to wait for the profanity laced rant. Waited. Waited. And then he picked up the damn phone, called back to the post op area, got his information, and hung up the phone. He quickly told us a story so unremarkable I can’t recall it, and then he scurried out of the room. I sat deflated, like a child who finds the beautifully wrapped gift under the tree on Christmas morning is just socks. All of that waiting. For nothing

 

In Roll the Clouds

In our kitchen hangs a sign that reads, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about dancing in the rain.”

Those words have always been an inspiration to me. Now they mean more than ever.

My fiance, Greg,  pulverized his ankle at work a week ago, and our consultation with the surgeon today went less than well. He’s facing a long road to recovery, and our wedding is in approximately six weeks. He will not be cleared for bearing weight on it, and the surgeon actually recommended a wheelchair for the ceremony. Our dream wedding has totally changed.

And although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few moments of self-pity, I’m not disappointed. We just have to dance. I am still marrying the man of my dreams at our favorite place, surrounded by the family we love. It’ll be a challenge to literally dance, but I’ve been looking forward to dancing with my husband since he asked me to become his wife. That hasn’t changed. Whether I’m spinning his wheelchair, holding onto his crutch, or we just hold each other for our song, we will dance at our dream wedding.

Figuratively, the storm rages once again, but we have each other. We’ll dance it out, remembering that it isn’t the what, the where, or the how. It’s all about the who.

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about dancing in the rain.”

We shall dance

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