Friday, March 26, 2010

To Where You Are

I got home from work this evening (well actually got home from having my nails done because I have a black tie event to go to this weekend), and after sitting down briefly to watch Lilo & Stitch The Series with my daughter, I decided to get dressed to go to the gym.  Because, after all, I knew I had to write my blog post tonight and I have to make sure I look like I'm committed to working out like I said I would in last week's post.

When I headed down the hall to leave, my daughter asked, "You're wearing your pajamas?"  I explained that they weren't my pajamas and that I was going to the gym.  She asked, "Why are you wearing your pajamas to the gym?"

The truth is, my black workout capris with the white and light blue stripes down the sides have been worn more often while lazing on the couch and, ultimately, to bed than at the gym.  In fact, they haven't entered the Benicia Health & Fitness doors in about eight months.  Even a three-year-old knows that!

And with that, I headed to the gym for the second time this week to work out on the elliptical machine.  Tonight, though, I brought my iPhone in hopes the music would make the time fly by faster than it did when I went earlier in the week.  During that workout session, I was forced to watch "Food Wars," which was playing on gym television.  I've never watched that show before, but judging from the closed captioning, this episode was basically a whole bunch of potbellied men from Texas blind taste-testing barbecue kielbalsa and brisket from a brother's and sister's competing BBQ restaurants.

Somehow, it seemed cruel to have to watch that while working out.  But, then again, seeing all the overweight men in cowboy hats licking their calloused fingers after eating greasy sausage was somewhat motivating for me as I continued on my journey to shed my own potbelly.

My son Will joined me on my first day back at the gym. 
He likes to do the kids' circuit while I workout.

But tonight, I ventured to the gym alone with iPhone in hand and my husband's earphones in my ears because I can never seem to find my own.  I tried to step in time to Keith Urban's "You Look Good in My Shirt" and "run just as fast as I could" to Pink's "Just Like a Pill."  I just LOVE Pink!

It's not pretty, but I took a photo of me with my iPhone while working working out on the elliptical machine.  Just in case you didn't believe that I actually made it inside the gym doors!

And then Josh Groban's "To Where you Are" came on, which is not your typical workout song.  That's one of the songs we used for the video montage at my mom's memorial service in January. She passed away on January 10th after a very long illness.  I miss her.  I think about her a lot, and I remember all the Weight Watchers meetings we used to go to together years ago.  We were both so proud when we reached our goal weight together. 

It was towards the end of my 30-minute workout when Josh's song came on.  At that point, I was getting a little winded, but I seemed to hit my stride when he sang:

I believe that angels breathe and that love will live on and never leave.  Fly me up to where you are beyond a distant star.  I wish upon tonight to see you smile, if only for a while to know you're there.  A breath away's not far to where you are. I know you're there.  A breath away's not far to where you are.

I do believe in signs, but recognize that Josh's song playing on the iPhone was likely just happenstance given that it's one of not many songs on my play list.  Nevertheless, the timing of it all gave me an extra spring in my step and reminded me that mom would be proud of me.  And I'm certain she's rooting me on from heaven as I attempt to lose 40 pounds by my 40th birthday. 

The good news is the exercising and eating right is working.  I lost another 1 1/2 pounds this week, bringing my total weight loss to 8.5 pounds.  For fun, here's a photo of me just before I started my journey, when I was 8.5 pounds heavier....

and here's a photo of me from today.....

It's not a terribly dramatic change just looking at the picture.  But, I can tell you that I definitely feel better and more in control of my diet.  And my jeans are baggier than they were four weeks ago!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March Madness

There's been a lot of madness going on at our house this March. And I'm not referring to the basketball tournament that my husband is currently watching. 

The saga continues with our quest to find Pepe Le Pew. For two weeks now she has avoided our tuna-laced trap. I bet the possum we caught late last week wishes he were so lucky! Yes, two weeks of skunk hunting and our trap has caught a cat and a possum, the latter of which scared me to death when I discovered it as I approached the canvas-covered trap to strategically reposition it closer to the hole. It wasn't until I was literally right up on it that I noticed its disgusting long tail and pointy little possum nose. Of course, all that happened while my husband and son were enjoying themselves at Spring Training in Arizona, leaving me to coordinate the logistics of a possum pick-up with Dennis the skunk guy.

I'm told our little friend (seen here) is now roaming free somewhere in the vicinity of Lake Hermon.

Fortunately, there has also been a lot of excitement for me on the scale this week! Since I started my challenge four weeks ago, I have lost 7 pounds! That means, I have to lose an average of 1 1/2 pounds per week in order to reach my 40-pound weight loss goal by my 40th birthday on August 15th. It's ambitious, but I think I can do it if I add into the mix the one thing I have been avoiding -- exercising.

I used to be so athletic as a child, and even into my teens. I was on the swim team, and played volleyball, tennis, softball and soccer. I even dabbled in basketball for a season during my freshman year in high school. I scored 16 points that season, and my parents paid $52 for my New Balance high tops. I've always felt they got the short end of that investment. But what I will tell you (and I now realize it might have been a foreshadowing of my struggle with weight), I was the only player to win the coach's challenge -- the first person to make a jump shot gets a hamburger, fries and a milkshake at A&W after the game.

But these days, it seems like there's always an excuse preventing me from getting to the gym. Today's excuse: I have to finish the white crocheted blanket that I sold on my etsy shop yesterday (it's the second such blanket I've sold in three days and have been up until 1 a.m. for three nights in a row crocheting like a madwoman!) That leaves me to excuse number two: I'm tired.

Shameless plug for my etsy shop,
I've sold TWO of these white blankets in three days! 

Whether it's my son's baseball game, a committee meeting for my son's school fundraiser, a necessary trip to the mall to look for a dress for said fundraiser, or getting my nails done, there's always something I'm able to strategically put in the way of working out.  My boss has tried to encourage me to make use of the indoor swimming pool at the college campus where we work.  He, along with other faculty and staff members, swim during their lunch break three days a week.

But for me, there is just something wrong with mixing Speedos and spreadsheets. I just don't think I'd be able to look at my 65-year-old boss the same way after seeing him in goggles and a swimsuit. Nor do I wish to be seen by my colleagues in the patent pending, tummy tucking, makes-you-look-one-size-smaller, one-piece I purchased about 20 pounds ago.

But, now that I am approaching 40, and my metabolism is slowing down further and further with each keystroke, one thing is clear to me.  I'm going to have to put on my "No Whining" tee shirt, which is just long enough to cover my rear, and get myself to the gym.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Garnier Fructis-Inspired Funk

You might all be wondering what happened to the skunk after last week's post. We hired Dennis the varmint control guy to bring a cage out to our house.  Inside it he placed a tempting can of tuna fish. Apparently skunks like tuna. Well, as you know, so do cats.  And that's exactly what we caught that first night.

Since then, there has been no sight nor sound nor smell of that darned skunk. In consulting with our neighbors across the street this morning, they told me that they had 8 skunk incidents in the first two years that they lived here. They now swear by fox urine, which comes in a concentrated spray that apparently keeps skunks away. At least it has at their house. They gave us a bottle of fox urine to try out. Funny, all I remember borrowing from the neighbors growing up was a cup of sugar.

Fox Urine: Who Knew?

I didn't think much could top the skunk incident from last week. I was wrong. We learned today that our neighbors across the street and two doors down were arrested for murder. Apparently, several cop cars swarmed our street, cornered the two of them and took them away in handcuffs a week ago Saturday.  Apparently it was quite a scene and I don't even know how I missed it given that my daughter and I were home the afternoon it happened.  We must have been engrossed in yet another episode of Little Einsteins.

(Here's a link to the news article in case you're interested:

Unlike the activities in our neighborhood, this week of my weight loss journey has been relatively uneventful.  I haven't gained weight, and I haven't lost weight.  I'm still at a 5.5 pound weight loss, which, considering my diet started two weeks ago, isn't too bad. I have definitely been eating a lot better and I'm feeling really good about that.

I did make a couple of changes this week that have me feeling really great. Not only have I been feeling bummed about my weight, but I've also missed some of the things that have always made me "me."  You see, there was a time, before our son Will (now 9) was born, that I wouldn't be caught dead without fingernail polish on. I have also been known to be a real stickler for using salon-quality shampoo, conditioner and styling products. In fact, I've always thought that if I weren't working in the field I'm in, I would undoubtedly be a hair stylist or a salon owner. Image the deal I would get on pommade!

But, in recent months, I've been furloughed at my job, which has resulted in a 10% pay cut. And our daycare expenses have multipled with the birth of our now 3-year-old daughter. So, about a year ago, I decided to take one for the team. I began using my husband's shampoo -- Garnier Fructis -- and its fortifying cream conditioner companion. And I can't even think of the last time I polished my stubby nails.

It wasn't long before my hair began drying out, despite Garnier's nutritive fruit micro-oils. I began to feel like a frizzy, frazzled, fat mess.

So, this week I decided to take matters into my own hands to get me out of my Garnier Fructis-inspired funk. I got my hair cut and highlighted and, while at the salon, I decided to splurge on Aveda Brilliant shampoo and conditioner. I love the way my hair smells now after I wash it.

I also got my nails done this week. No, not just a manicure, but I actuallly had gel put on my nails and a french manicure spray painted on them. The best part is, I don't have to polish them at all, and they look absolutely beautiful and should last 3-4 weeks. I am in love with my hands right now. They make me feel like such a grown up!

I haven't been this excited about my hands since Christian slipped
my engagement ring on my finger!

To add to my week of pampering, I took today off as a vacation day, along with my friend and co-worker Vineeta. We hung out all day at her place, crocheting items for our shops on  Hers is at and mine is at Vineeta needed a model for some of her items, so I volunteered.  It was a riot! 

Check out my modeling pics featuring her handiwork:

Here's hoping next week's blog post has a little more excitement on the scale and a little less in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Sweet Smell of Success

My original idea for today's blog post was highlighting my first Weight Watchers meeting, which I attended this evening after a 6-month hiatus.  Hiatus sounds so much better than I took six months off to pig out and not exercise whatsoever. 

However, I can't highlight my day without first chronicling how it 3:45 a.m.

While climbing into bed at 1:00 a.m. (I was finishing up a crocheted blanket for my son's school fundraiser, for which I'm providing a gift basket featuring items from my online business,, I eagerly anticipated the decent night's sleep I was going to get on my brand new pillow.  I had just purchased new pillows for my husband, Christian, and me at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  These are the replacement pillows for the feather ones I purchased a couple of years back.  I've been cursing those pillows ever since I bought them, each time the feather quills would poke me in the face while trying to sleep.  It's a wonder that it took me two years to replace them.

But I finally did buy some new ones. And yet my satisfying night's sleep was abruptly ended at 3:45 a.m. with the sound that was a mix between a pig's squeal and a cat fight. I jumped out of bed, knowing darned well that it was the sound of a skunk. I knew it was a skunk because it was an earily familiar sound I had heard about a year back in our front yard; back then the sound was followed by a burning rubber smell that, once googled, I realized was skunk spray.

This time, that screeching sound was accompanied by a banging, coming from what sounded like our kids'  bathroom. We'd heard rustling from underneath that section of the house before, and we knew that some day we'd have to deal with it. But month after month, we kept putting it off until payday.

Christian said he thought the skunks were mating. Somewhere, during some random dinner conversation with friends, he had heard that skunks make that noise while doing it. I ran into my son's room, which is just outside that bathroom, because I knew he'd be scared. We sat there on his bed, listening to the creepy  sound of skunks banging and clanking on the pipes underneath the bathroom floor, accompanied by that creepy "mating call," or, what I've since learned, was likely a female skunk trying to fight off an undesirable suitor. Then, I heard the drain plug from the bathtub clank, like literally they were just under the drain procreating. 

The skunks' love nest is located just beneath this drain.  As you can see, poor froggy and June from Disney's Little Einsteins have been quite traumatized by the event, given their front row seats for the action.

I told my son, a fourth grader, that daddy thought the skunks were mating. "What's that?" he asked.  Already traumatized enough by the events that unfolded, I wasn't about to get into an explanation of the birds and the bees with my 9-year-old son.  

"Haven't you learned about animals mating in school?" I asked.  "Oh, yeah," he replied and smirked.  Just then, we were overcome by the grand finale of the 20-minute episode -- the skunk smell.

I'm telling you, it was the nastiest, creepiest thing I've ever witnessed in my life.  I'd seen Dolphins do it in front of me in their glass tank at Marine World before, all while looking at me and seemigly smirking.  That was creepy.  This was far worse than that.

Fast forward to this afternoon. Dennis the varmint catcher has since placed a skunk trap outside the hole that the rodents used to burrow underneath our house, which is just outside our son's bedroom window. So now, we wait.  And wait.  And pray that they are caught tonight, knowing full well that my night's sleep on my brand new pillow will, once again, be disrupted by the smell that will overwhelm us when the skunks are trapped.

But what stinks more is being 40 pounds overweight, with no quick fix like a "fat trap."  After starting my Jen's 40 by 40 challenge last Thursday, committing to lose 40 pounds by my 40th birthday on August 15th, I have lost five pounds!  There's something about bringing my plight public that has really replaced any craving for chips, chocolate or cheese with my sincere desire of not letting my one blog follower down (come on guys, follow me, please!).  And, of course, there's also my Facebook friends who have been cheering me on.

After my Weight Watchers meeting tonight, I told our leader, Norma, who shared with us that Weight Watchers employees MUST maintain their goal weight or they will be suspended from their jobs (how's that for motivation?!), about my plan to lose 40 pounds by my 40th birthday.  She cautioned me that it's an ambitious goal and that even if I lose 30 pounds by then, that will be progress.

What Norma doesn't know is that I have a logo. And you can't fail when you have a logo, right?!
And you thought I was kidding when I mentioned in my last post that my friend Eileen was working on a logo for me.  Check out her other great work at

Also in my corner is my husband, Christian, who promised to make my lunch every day to help me achieve my weight loss and healthy lifestyle goal. So, I purchased a super adorable lunch pouch from my fellow etsy friend at Do-Rah Designs (, who makes super cute lunch totes that include a panel for personalized messages using a chalk pen.  That way, Christian can include sweet little love notes and messages of inspiration to me daily.  Christian's message to me today was...

Gotta LOVE that guy!  Five pounds down, 35 to go.