Monday, August 19, 2013

Who Says I Have to Choose?

One of the things that I have had the less than pleasurable experience of dealing with over the past twenty years Christina and I have been married is the fact that of the "married friends" that we have known, been close to, or have been associated with, roughly 50% of them are no longer married.

Often, in the process, something happens, and the couple in question will do one of three things. They will:

- close off from us and we just stop hearing from either of them.
- one of the couple continues to interact with us, and the other fades away in the background someplace
- in very rare occasions, both individuals will actively try to keep in contact with us.

I was reminded of this recently when I saw an old email from a friend. We had not talked in awhile, and it was fun conversing on a number of different things that we both liked and shared as interests. In the process, she said to me "I never thought it was fair that Kevin* got to have you, Christina and the kids as part of the divorce."

I was stunned. At first, I genuinely didn't know what to say. After pondering the various thoughts I had, I decided I had to answer her back, and I've decided to answer that same question here, because it's how I've always felt:

"Jennifer*, I was never told that I was part of the custody proceedings. Regardless of how things played out between you and Kevin, it wasn't a one way street. We weren't friends with Kevin, and oh well, I guess Jennifer just came along for the ride... we were all friends, and I value both of you. we stopped talking because you changed your phone number and your address, and didn't give me a new one. Your old email didn't work any longer, and we had no forwarding to tell us what your new address was.

Kevin never asked me to not remain your friend, and I genuinely never considered that I wouldn't be. For some reason, you came to the conclusion that Kevin deserved to be our friend, and that you no longer belonged. We are here, the address and phone number is the same, the email is the same. If you want to talk or visit with us, we are here. if you would like us to come and visit you, we're happy to. We have always, and will always, be your friend."

In a very few instances, due to genuinely terrible circumstances, I have with relief watched relationships end, usually due to dangerous behavior or psychotic tendencies in an individual, but even there, I never wished anything bad to happen to them. I did wish for those specific people to go and get help. Those that did, are in far better places today. Some have even reached out to me to talk again, for which I am happy to do. Some are still out there somewhere, and I really wish them well and hope that they are happy or can become happy once again.

To those out there who have ever wondered "What would the Larsen's say if I contacted them after so much time?" I would say "Hey, it's great to hear from you, how are you doing? What are you up to? Where do you call home now? Let me know when you are in the area, I would love to see you and say hello in person. If I'm in your area, the same applies." With a very few exceptions, that would go for most of those people we were friends with for all those years. The exceptions know why they are exceptions. I don't want to have "toxic" or "abusive" around my family, but in most cases, neither toxicity or abuse factored into the issues. Life did, and sometimes, life is not fair. I ask that you not compound life's unfairness by cutting us out of your lives when we certainly had (and have) no intention of cutting you out of ours.

* - names have been changed, but this conversation has happened a variety of times in a variety of ways, and applies to many couples and families over twenty years.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Weeks 11 & 12: Removing the Monkey

You may notice that I have not posted an update the past couple of weeks. There's a reason for that. No I haven't quit, but I have been less focused on the diet front for the past two weeks. This is two-fold. First, it's because I want to spend some time to let my head and body rest a little before I pour on another ten weeks of focus. The second is because I had to get a monkey off my back.

One of the things that, like clockwork, tends to happen whenever I decide that I need to lose weight, is that my caffeine consumption starts to rise, first slowly, then precipitously. I noticed at the end of week 10 that I was averaging 4-6 Diet coke drinks every day. That's a lot. Too much, in fact. that's almost 200 mg of caffeine per day, which would be equivalent to two cups of coffee each day. Being a Latter-day Saint, I don't like that comparison (and yes, I am perfectly aware that Diet Coke is not part of the Word of Wisdom, I've rationalized that argument hundreds of times over my lifetime). Caffeine is a wonderful little appetite suppressant, but it only works for so long, and then you need elevated doses to get the same effect. I've decided this time around that I want to get to my weight without the little helper taking part of the credit. So I've spent the past two weeks dealing with a cold turkey withdrawal of caffeine from diet soda.

How does it feel? So far, it hasn't been too bad. I haven't had the headaches or irritability I've had in the past, but I definitely notice the appetite suppressant quality being gone. I feel hungry a lot more often, and I find myself snacking often in spite of myself. I'm trying to supplement this by drinking protein shakes during the day. I'm not ashamed to say, it's a darn lousy substitute (LOL!).

So my next cycle officially begins today, and this time, I decided not to weigh myself. Have I relapsed a little? Yeah, I'm sure I have, but part of me is OK with that. this time around, I'm going to do it without my "old friend", because i want to prove to myself I can do it. Frankly, I think I'll feel better about the result. Here's to "round two" :).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 10: Steady the Hovercraft

So at the end of Week 10, I tipped the scale at 240 pounds, which is down two pounds from my last weigh-in, a total of 10 pounds dropped total, 42 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds, and effectively a two week flat-line when taken together. I'm hovering, and I don't like it.

One of the challenges is that I'm in class right now. I'm working on the Bug Advocacy class for the Association for Software Testing. Don't worry if that doesn't mean anything to you, the key is that it's messing with my schedule and my hours, and it's causing me to spend less time walking about and more time curled up with a laptop and typing. Not a great formula for weight loss success, so after this next week, when the class is officially finished, I meed to up my game.

How to do that? I'm working it out, but I have free weights, I have a Swiss Ball, I have a mountain bike, and really, I have zero excuses. What I don't have is a lot of time, but actually, that is also not true. I have the same1,440 minutes every single day, so somewhere in there, I should be able to fit 30 to 60 minutes of doing something active and physical. You know the old line "if you are too busy to do [fillInTheBlank] then you are too busy!" It's not a matter of time, it's a matter of choice and what matters to me. I claim to want to drop the weight, but until I actually get out and run a few laps or pedal a bike for awhile or take the skateboard out for a ride or start pumping some iron, I'm all hot air!

So yeah, I need to make a priority on dong more movement, because the food option is kinda' reaching its limit, and I want to see the progress bar start going down again. Overcoming inertia is always the hard part, so that's my plan, overcome inertia, as soon as class is over ;).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The ABC's of Me

Clarese did this, and hey, I'm going to borrow it from her as well. Think of it as a diversion from my current obsession with losing weight :).

A. Age: 43
B. Bed size: California King
C. Chore you dislike: Mowing the lawn
D. Dogs: Rikku (Corgie)
E. Essential start to your day: check on the fish upstairs, make sure everyone is OK and all the food is gone.
F. Favorite color: Hunter Green
G. Gold or silver: silver
H. Height: 6'2"
I. Instruments you play(ed): Primarily a singer, but I an play a little guitar, bass and drums, plus plunk out some chords on a piano.
J. Job title: Software tester, instructor, podcast producer, writer
K. Kids: 3 of them :)
L. Live: San Bruno, CA
M. Mom's name: Dorothy
N. Nicknames: went by Kelly as a stage name
O. Overnight hospital stays: so far, my birth is it
P. Pet peeves: Overly padded writing, which is ironic because I am certainly guilty of it.
Q. Quote from a movie: "Self-realization. I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "... I drank what?"" Chris Knight (Val Kilmer), Real Genius
R. Righty or lefty: mixed (write with right hand but do a lot of other stuff left handed)
S. Siblings: Oldest of 4 (one brother, then two younger sisters).
T. Time you wake up: 4:30-5:00am, typically
U. Underwear: standard issue ;).
V. Vegetables you don't like: haven't really met one yet that fits that bill :).
W. What makes you run late: train schedules
X. X-rays: teeth, shoulder, ankle, lower back
Y. Yummy food you make: I have an awesome cayenne pepper salmon dish, speaking of which, I'd really like to make that again, thanks for the reminder :).
Z. Zoo animal favorites: Lions and Tigers are all the rage!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 9: Vacations Rarely Lead To Weight Loss

So at the end of Week 9, I tipped the scale at 242 pounds, which is up two pounds from my last weigh-in, a total of 10 pounds dropped total, and 42 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

This past weekend we went down to Fresno to visit with our friends. Usually, as you can imagine, these trips tend to involve a lot of dining out, socializing, and frankly, not a lot of rigorous control on the diet front. Thus, I fully expected a bit of a rebound this week, and yep, I got it! Of course, going to John's Pizza, an Asian buffet, bagels and Dairy Queen didn't help matters *AT ALL* (LOL!), but hey, I'm not going to play the miserable little dieter while I'm out with my family on a visit, so I was prepared to take the hit.

On our road trips, whenever possible, we like to find fun and unusual sodas that we’d never tried before. This trip, we explored the options that Fentiman’s offered, including their Curiosity Cola, which I discovered is one of the oldest small brew colas still made, Burdock soda, which tastes a bit like bubble gum and licorice, and Shandy, which is a beer soft drink… yes, you read that right! It’s basically a malt and barley soda pop with sugar and lemon.

Interestingly enough, with the hit, I'm actually back on the even keel I'm supposed to be with a 1 pound a week loss, and I'm actually still a pound ahead. Remember I stalled for a week, then dropped four pounds the following week, then dropped another pound, then back-tracked two. All told that puts me at losing 11 pounds in ten weeks, which is ahead of where I intended to be in the first place, so no harm no foul :).

It can be frustrating, though, to spend a lot of energy hoping to see a drop and not seeing it happen, but then, I also realize that the prepared foods often have higher sodium content (hey, it's part of what makes them taste good ;) ), and that higher sodium content directly translates to higher water retention, meaning this could all slip away in a couple of days of getting "back to normal". This is why I don't freak out too much about the day to day weight fluctuations, and rely on my weekly "weigh-in" to balance out the story. My weigh in just happened to come after my weekend away. Justifying much? Absolutely (LOL!). Ah well, it's a new week and a new chance to get back on the horse, so here we go again...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 8: It's The Little Things

So at the end of eight weeks, I weighed in at 240 pounds. This is down 1 pound and puts me 42 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

I feared I might back-slide due tothe big drop of last week, but I definitely smiled when i saw a 1 pound drop. Of course, the drops are sort of a ratchet effect. Within a day or two I'm up over the weight again, often by a couple of pounds, and then I do a taper towards the end of the week to help me "make weight". this was a technique I learned when I was on the wrestling team in high school (honestly, i sucked at wresting, and I was totally built wrong for the sport; too tall and too heavy to be effective against my competition who was usually much shorter and much more powerfully built). Still, the "ratchet taper" is a technique that helps you to ease off the pedal for a couple of days, and then go into a slow dive that helps you make your target. this ios a much more healthy way to "make weight than other methods I've tried over the years (diuretics, etc.). To this end, I tend to remind myself that a couple of pounds up each day or down each day should be weighed into the final weigh in Monday morning, and that's the figure that matters (otherwise it's just way too frustrating and demoralizing to see the fluctuation of down two one day, up four another, etc.).

One of the little treats in the office that it a guilty pleasure of mine are the stacks of Otter Pops in the freezer. I'm convinced I'm the only one that eats these, and I have to remind myself to go easy on them  (I try to limit myself to just one a day, but some days are worse than others (LOL!). Still, it's a small little thing, and it greatly improves my mood on certain days, so I don't fight it too much :).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 7: The Thrill of the Ride

So at the end of seven weeks, I currently sit at 241 pounds. This is down 4(!!!) pound and is 43 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

Wow! 4 Pounds?! How in the heck did that happen? And will I be bummed if I back-slide from that level? I really don't think I did anything that extreme, but I did go snowboarding this weekend with my family, and I will admit the anticipation and all the running around to get everything ready would certainly have been an influence, but wow, four pounds in a week is both huge and scary (I always worry in the early stages of a weight loss that a radical drop is usually more associated with a clean-out of the gastro-intestinal tract than it is any big weight loss; my clothes don't fit much differently, so it's not like I'm dropping a waist size. still, a drop is a drop is a drop, so I'll take it :).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 6: Creative Tricks for Quick Wins

So at the end of five weeks, I currently sit at 245 pounds. This is down 1 pound and is 47 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

It was nice to see the scale move again. Back feels much better, but it’s reminded me that the extra weight is hugely responsible for the pain. Needless to say, I’m more motivated now to get rid of the remainder.

I started thinking about the little tricks that I tend to play on myself in the early going any time I diet or try to lose weight. I do them for a variety of reasons, but generally they are to get me some quick wins, so that I feel motivated to keep going over the long haul. One is a minor habit tweak, one of them is a regular thing I’ve been doing for years generally speaking, and one of them is a new development and is, well, somewhat bizarre.

1. I work with a small company on the 4th floor of an old brownstone. As it’s an old building, it has older infrastructure, the most obvious being the fact that it only has one bathroom. Put 25 people onto a floor with only a single bathroom, and needless to say, the line can be long. At the street level, there is a meeting annex to one of the nearby high-rises that has a Men's & Women’s restroom. When you make it a point to go down and up four flights of stairs every time you use the bathroom, that can have a cumulative effect (especially since I make it a point to drink 64 oz of water each day ;) ).

2. In my faith (for those who don’t read this from my obvious sources or can’t figure out from my blog feed, I’m L.D.S. ;) ), every month at the start of the month we have what is referred to as a “Fast Sunday”, where we go without food for a 24 hour period (or more precisely from end of dinner Saturday until start of dinner on Sunday). Mileage varies on how this is done or how strictly you do it, and for what purpose it is normally done (I do it in association with a goal that I wish to pray for or a question I want to pray about. Well, back in 2007, when I shed 52 pounds in 6 months, I decided to have a Fast Sunday every week. I don’t recommend this for everyone, but it has generally worked well for me and has actually had other benefits outside of the purely weight loss related. It also helps that it tends to give me a good push towards weigh in day (which is always first thing Monday morning).

3. You all jumped ahead to see what the bizarre thing was, didn’t you (LOL!)? Well, here it is. One of the things I discovered back in my last big shed-down is that having an overpowering taste can really be effective as a weight loss and appetite suppressant aid. In 2007, my spice-meter went through the roof, to the point where I was literally filling a shot glass with either Tapatio or Sriracha hot sauce. I don’t know if it really had much of an effect by itself, but it certainly helped blunt my hunger. Problem is, it doesn’t work anymore; I’ve become too used to it. This time around, I wanted to try to find “calorically empty” foods. Not those bereft of nutritional value, but I mean literally those with an almost zero caloric input. Perfect candidate? Pickles! So some of you are asking “what’s so bizarre about that?” well, nothing yet, but as I was trying to dig into the jar, I decided that I needed to do something with the vinegar that I had to dunk into. Instead of pour it down the drain, I drank about a quarter cup of it. Wonder of wonders, it had this really strong sour taste (not altogether unpleasant, but not something I’m normally go out of my way to drink straight). The really cool thing was that, within about 15 seconds, I had a total blunting of any appetite! Just by drinking about ¼ cup of pickle juice (which is effectively garlic infused vinegar). So now each time I reach for a pickle or two, I drain off just enough of the vinegar to get a “fortifying shot”. It probably won’t work forever, but right now it’s strangely effective.

So how about you? What are *your* psychological tricks to help you score your quick wins :)?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 5: Back Trouble and Standing Still

So at the end of five weeks, I currently sit at 246 pounds. This is down 0 pound and is 48 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

So yeah, you all caught that, right? No movement. that's because I had limited movement this week. I don't know what I did exactly, or what triggered it, but when I reached for something this past Monday evening, I felt that tell-tale "bass string Pop" sensation above my left hip. Each time this happens, I know what I'm in store for... limited movement, large doses of Ibuprofen, and me totally frustrated. With less movement comes more boredom and, often, a desire to eat more food, so I found myself snacking mindlessly at times when I didn't even really feel hungry or want to eat. It provided a distraction for my ache, but it's not the distraction I really wanted.

Fortunately, the ache is subsiding now (these episodes usually last about a week), so I am finding it easier to get out of the snacking mode (that, and an increased consumption of water).

So I have figured out the rhythm of the breakfast delivery at work. As I mentioned, yes, the entire office gets breakfast. Monday's are breakfast sandwiches from various places (they rotate where they come from, but basically they are usually egg, ham or bacon, or vegetarian, on either English muffins or toast. Tuesday's are bagels w/ various schmears and a plate of cut fruit. Wednesday's are breads and baguettes with really heavy Greek style plain yogurt and various flavorings (my preferred method is Turkish style with a tablespoon of honey). Thursday is breakfast burritos of various kinds (usually ham, bacon and veggie). Friday is steel cut oatmeal and mixed fruit. Seriously, my company buys enough for everyone each morning. Pretty cool, huh :)? Of course, with so much food about, it's easy to make frequent trips to the break room and see what's there, so it's up to me to decide when to steer clear.

Well, here's hoping this coming week will see a return to greater mobility and also to reduced pounds.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 4: New Temptations

So at the end of four weeks, I currently sit at 246 pounds. This is down 2 pound and is 48 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

This in a way surprises me because I started my new job this past week... at a place that has even more food in the office than the place I just left (LOL!). What's more, they feed the staff breakfast every morning. Yes, you read that correctly (start-up culture, it's a beautiful thing in many ways; this just happens to be the tradition of this place). What's neat to see is that they get actual hearty breakfast foods, like egg sandwiches, granola, yogurt, fruit plates, breakfast burritos, etc. and they get enough for everyone! What's more, they foster a sense of community when they eat lunch and take their breaks to eat. They all hang out together. All of this makes the meal time breaks more anticipated, but more to the point, it makes snacking practically stop.

The third story stairs deal also seems to be helping a little bit. I was leaving the building to go out and in at least three times a day the first couple of days, but that has mostly stopped (LOL!). Seriously, though, I think just a break from routine made enough of a switch-up that I was able to drop two pounds without making much of an effort. The healthier breakfast food options, and later in the day, are probably helping, though (I love my friend Curt's response when I told him my company feeds us breakfast. He said "Breakfast?! What are you, Hobbits?!")

So there it is week one of a new job down, and a plan to see if this change up is just a temporary blip or actually has a longer term effect. We'll see next week :).