Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pushing Through the Plateau

Y'ALL! I have to blog about this, especially considering my previous post about weight loss and focusing on myself this year. It took me a long time to do that post because I was kind of terrified that I would jinx it all. And after I posted that is exactly what seemed to happen.

For the past 3+ weeks I have been on a plateau. Two pounds down, three pounds up, one pound down, one pound up. I am weighing myself every morning which many "experts" say you should not do but it is what works for me. The past 3 weeks have been utter misery, especially because I was hovering just above my next milestone but could not break it. I was getting on the fucking treadmill religiously but seeing no results. When I was in my 20s I could drop extra weight with little to no effort. Now that I am in my 40s with a hysterectomy under my belt it is HARD!

Last week I decided I had to push through it. I ramped up the treadmill work. I didn't do this by increasing my time but by increasing my average heartrate. I walked faster and even RAN!

Since I began this little journey I have not deprived myself. If I feel like I want a cheeseburger I make myself wait 2 days and if I still want that cheeseburger I go to Burger King. Every now and then I will buy a small bag of chips or a candy bar and then I will make it last. I haven't cut out anything, I've just adjusted my attitude and my portions. But last week I got all drill sargeant on myself. I knew I HAD to see some results if I was to have the incentive to continue getting on the fucking treadmill.

And I did it! After 3 weeks of bouncing around the same 3 pounds I finally got 4 off and it has held! I have broken through my milestone and am well on my way to the next one.

I am so embarrassed to put the numbers out there. But maybe it's time to do it.

I kind of started this back in October/November but only casually - I decided to wait until after the holidays and of course New Year's was the obvious choice. I got terribly sick the first week of January to the point where I couldn't eat and I didn't get started on my plan. When I weighed myself for the first time the second week of January I was 200 pounds. I am sure I was at least a little above that at some point but that was the official starting point. 200 pounds made me officially obese. I didn't want to leave my house. None of my clothing fit and the clothing that did fit didn't feel good on my body.

This morning I got up and weighed and I am at 175.

Y'all know I work from home and my uniform is sweatpants and sweatshirts. In the summer it is shorts and t-shirts. If I leave the house I wear my jeans. I have noticed for several weeks that my jeans are loose, even just out of the dryer. That has made me very happy. It had gotten to the point where even my fattie jeans were uncomfortable but now I can take them off without unbuttoning/unzipping them!

Today our CEO did a global webcast for 90 minutes. It got very dull and I needed to amuse myself but wanted to keep listening so with my bluetooth on I stripped down and started trying on things in my closet.

The cute things that last spring were uncomfortable are now cute! My shoulders and arms look good in them! I have 3 shirts that still have the tags on them. One I bought the yeear I was in Japan (2005) and I have never worn because it was too small. I bought it because it was cute. Now I can wear it! I have 2 shirts (office wear quality) that I bought 2 years ago and have never worn. They were on sale. They now fit and fit well! I have 2 pair of nice khakis that I am within maybe 5 pounds of wearing. I can zip them up but they are still just slightly tight.

I am not yet in my skinny jeans and in fact I did not even try them on today. But I now have a closet full of very nice things that I can wear! When and if I have to travel to the UK for a month I will not need to go out and buy anything unless I lose a lot more weight and all of this is far too small for me.

I have 25 pounds to go before I will consider myself in range. My doc says 150 is where I should be. I think I should be 135 so that means 40 more pounds to go. My goal date is June 30 which is my 47th birthday. If I have to travel to the UK for a month I am sure I will not reach my goal by then but I know now that I can push through.

I wish I loved to exercise. I wish I was the kind of person who woke up and lived for the moment I could start sweating. I am not. But honest to God y'all that is the key. Every day that I force myself to strap on my Polar and get moving is a good day. I hate it - but it makes me feel good. And obviously it is working.

How did I treat myself? I got online and ordered two pair of Crocs! One pair in orange and one in fuscia!

Just wait til I hit 150!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

McLovin's Big Night Out

My cats are all indoor cats. We live on a posted 25 MPH street where traffic goes up to 75 MPH and it is just far too dangerous. Sonny is allowed outside on warm sunny days because he is just far too old to jump the back fence. But the rest are strictly indoor. When it is warm enough to have the windows open they have full access to the front screened in porch via my two living room windows which do not have screens. I open the windows and they can come and go as they please.

The front porch is the favorite place for Phoebe and Mac. Camille likes it but she despises the traffic noise and if she hears something loud coming she scoots back in immediately. But Phoebe and Mac I think would be happy to live out there.

Yesterday was a warm day and the windows were open and the cats were on the porch. About dusk it got chilly enough that I had to close up the house and turn on a little heat. I went on the porch without turning on the light and there were no cats there so I closed up and watched a bit of TV and then turned in early to read. I lasted not too long before I turned out the light and fell asleep.

For some reason at 2 am I woke up. I can count on Mac to always be on the bed with me. He might not be there when I get in but without fail he has always been there if I wake up in the middle of the night. He wasn't there last night. I got up for a glass of water and decided to do a head count. They were all ther but Mac was not. I decided maybe I had missed him on the porch so turned on the porch light and went to check. He wasn't there but one of the screens was completely pushed out and torn away from the frame! I panicked.

I put on my shoes and at 2 am went out in the front yard calling him. This is a cat who has never been outside since he was rescued. This is a cat who loves sleeping on his back in the middle of the bed. This is a cat whose favorite activity is to take his play mousies into the kitchen (because the floor is bare vinyl) and chasing them around for hours. This is a cat who is entirely happy living inside. I knew he did not have the street smarts to be outside on his own and I was scared.

From the front I made my way around to the side yard. Calling him I heard a far away meow. It didn't sound like him but it was a meow in response to my calls so I kept walking toward it. My journey took me back around the house into the gate and into the backyard. I kept following it and calling and walking up into the far backyard and all the way to the back fence. To my dismay the meow I heard was coming from far outside the back fence.

I managed to open the back gate which was only recently cleared of ivy and walked into the trolly track easement, still following the weak meow. I know the voice of each of my cats. They each have a very distinct voice. But this was not a voice I recognized. This was a weak and tiny voice. But I kept calling and shining my flashlight and eventually I heard something moving through the leaves and underbrush. I called and called and finally MAC came out of the woods! I grabbed him which he hates and so he struggled with me as I found my way back to the gate and then into the backyard and down to the house.

I inspected him thoroughly and he had no injuries and not so much as a burr on him. He ate a little bit and while I tried to wind down he got in the middle of the bed and fell asleep.

All day I've reminded him of how lucky he and the others are to have such a good home and such a good Mommy who would get up and look for him in the middle of the night. But I am the one who is lucky.

Today I went to Home Depot and got a huge roll of screen and tomorrow I will fix the damaged area and do regular patrols for anything that needs to be replaced. Until that happens the porch is a restricted area!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I'm coming clean here. 8 weeks ago I adopted yet another cat.

I am not a "collector." My absolute upper limit is 5 cats. I can provide for 5 cats and make sure they receive excellent care. I am pretty sure that I could not add a sixth and provide excellent care so 5 is my limit.

Princess had a very sad story. She is 3 years old. A no-kill rescue organization saved her from a county shelter 2 1/2 years ago just before she was to have been euthanized. This organization brings cats in to my local PetSmart every Saturday from noon - 6 pm for adoption and I first saw Princess there just after she was rescued 2 1/2 years ago. I fell in love with her immediately and I wanted to bring her home with me but my job-buzz told me I would be going to South America "any day now" and I could not justify bringing a new cat in only to leave for months on end. So I didn't bring her home and I also stopped going to PetSmart on Saturdays. My bleeding heart could not take it.

A few times since then I have, out of scheduling and necessity, ended up at PetSmart on a Saturday and Princess was still there. I tried to ignore it and tried to not feel guilty. In January I ended up there again on a Saturday and Princess was NOT THERE!!! I got so excited and I approached the woman in charge of the adoptions and mentioned that I was so HAPPY that Princess had found a home! She told me Princess had not found a home but had developed a bad enough case of cage-rage that she was now considered "unadoptable" and was living in this woman's garage with virtually no human contact. They were thinking about having her put to sleep to end her misery.

I told her to BRING ME THE CAT!!!! As long as I have space for another there is no such thing as an "unadoptable" cat.

Princess came home with me in mid January. For the first 2 weeks she pretty much stayed under the bed and anyone who made the mistake of walking in the bedroom got an earful of growls and hisses. It was like there was a 200 pound satanic troll living under my bed and we were all slightly scared. I began to think I had made a very bad decision.

Then one night I woke up in the middle of the night and Princess was on the bed pressed up against me. I stroked her and talked to her and she let me and I heard her purr for the first time. And ever since she has made huge progress.

She now actually lets me pick her up from time to time for a minute or so. She is learning to trust me and every day I work with her on trust issues. She has made fast friends with her brothers and sisters. She is very protective of me and if she hears something outside she will run to the window and growl. She is learning so fast and has made the most remarkable progress.
Princess had her first visit to Dr. Aponte Friday for her rabies shot and annual exam and I warned them that I could not be certain about how she would behave. She ended up behaving like a true Princess and I was so proud of her! I told them her story and Dr. A came around the exam table and hugged me. It seems she has been very disheartened lately with clueless pet "owners" and the staggering increase in abandoned pets due to the economy and she told me Princess's story made her week.

No cat should ever be tagged as "unadoptable." Given a bit of love, space and patience nothing is impossible.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Yard Progress and PI

More progress was made over the past week. I was able to get out Thursday and Friday afternoons last week for an hour or so and several hours each Saturday and Sunday. 24 more bags on the street come Monday pickup.

A few before and after shots to show the huge progress.

The area around the magnolia before:

And after:

Between the shed and deck before (primo snake area):
And after:
The way upper backyard before:
And after:

In addition to hurting (I cannot make a fist and find things as simple as picking up a small object are almost impossible) I have major poison ivy. I did not see poison ivy but something poison was in all that rootage I pulled out of the ground because my forearms are like hamburger meat and the left side of my face makes me look like I'm dating Chris Brown. I am so serious. It is bad.
You will not often hear me say something like this but thankfully some cooler, rainy weather is moving in tonight which should give me a chance to heal before the next bout of yardwork comes around.
This is such a huge accomplishment. There is still so much detail work to be done but that is easy stuff in comparison.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Extreme Yardwork

I have a rather big backyard. It has always been rather "natural" (not landscaped) but I try to keep it maintained. Lots of trees means lots of raking. Because the back of my lot is against the old trolley track easement owned by the city, and because the city does not maintain this area, I have always had an ivy problem. As long as I keep it cut back everything is OK but if a year goes by and I don't do maintenance it becomes a problem.

So I realized that the last time I did any kind of maintenance back there was spring 2004, and not a great deal that year. Let me 'splain.

2004: I re-did my bathroom and had my chimney rebuilt from the roofline up. Then I went to the Caribbean in July where I ruptured both Achilles and was in a wheelchair for 8 weeks.

2005: I was in Japan the whole year.

2006: I had a hysterectomy in the spring and it took quite a while to fully recover. Hard yardwork not really an option.

2007: I was here, I was healthy, and I managed to get a little bit done but was working mainly in the areas directly outside the house. Since these areas had been ignored so long that was a huge undertaking.

2008: I was in Chile.

The key is that all this work needs to be done in the early spring. By Memorial Day the heat in Atlanta is too much to be doing more than simple upkeep. Also there is the snake factor. I hate snakes. I am terrified of snakes. If I am mowing the yard and I see a snake I stop immediately and go inside and leave the mower where it is. If it gets stolen I don't care. This is how much snakes terrify me. So upper backyard work MUST be accomplished prior to snake weather.

We had a couple of lovely warm weekends in February and I got started. I don't have full "before" photos but I do have a few that will give you an idea.

This area beside the shed was a mess - ivy, blackberry vines, leaves, debris, vines on the fence . . . This is where I started.

I raked the lower backyard thoroughly and cleared all the dead planting stuff from around the pond.

To orient you - the tree in the center of the above photo is a huge magnolia. Magnolias have the biggest, toughest leaves. They don't even compost they are so tough. You see the dirt before the patchy grass starts around the pond? The ivy was all the way to there and up into the magnolia tree. I got all of that cleared.

Since I began in February and as of this morning I have put 43 Lowe's bags on the street PLUS all the branches I've picked up. I have in my possession 22 empty Lowe's bags and fully intend to have them all filled before the weekend is over.

After all this work and all these bags what could I possibly have left to do you ask?

Just this.

And that.
I'll take more photos Sunday to show you the progress! I really do think I can get all of this done before heat and snakes move in.
I have a Brit co-worker who, in addition to earning what I am certain is a huge salary (he is one of the top IT people), owns several of his own companies. He lives in a multi-million dollar MacMansion in a swanky neighborhood. He asked me why I don't just "hire a gardener."
Right. I'm going to get right on that. But until then I am thoroughly enjoying being outside on my own property sweating a little.