Thursday, September 30, 2010

Belize on the government's dime?

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I've been seriously considering going somewhere tropical for a month next spring or summer. I'm getting the travel bug again and going home for the holidays is just not cutting it anymore. My method of travel usually involves "moving" to a new country for a significant period of time and living with a culture instead of just going around and sightseeing. I hate sightseeing and I generally suck at it. That's where Belize comes into play.

I've exhausted Europe and have no desire to go to Asia. Canada's too similar to the U.S. and Mexico's in my backyard. So that leaves Central and South America, as well as Africa. I would absolutely LOVE to go to Africa and work on animal refuge or something like that but it's so far away and so expensive. Belize, on the other hand, is just down the Yucatan Peninsula from Mexico and its official language is English, meaning the transition to "living" there won't be nearly as tough as it was in Italy. AND (drumroll please...) it's got the second largest reef in the world, right after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. That means a water-based culture, lots of SCUBA diving, and the possibility of volunteering at a reef conservancy, which would put me on a boat or in the water every single day. Just the way I like it.

I talk about volunteering because I think that's the best and easiest way to get thrown into a culture when you're only there for about a month or so. It puts you right into the inner workings of an organization and, most importantly for me, you're pretty much given people to hang out with/talk to so you're not completely alone when you first arrive. That, and it gives me something to do while I'm there. And lastly (like the title suggests), you can write off all expenses (flights, visa fees, etc) from your taxes if you put in enough hours. So essentially a free trip.

So far I've decided on two different kinds of volunteer groups: a home for abused and neglected children on the outskirts of Belize City and a reef conservation group on one of the beautiful cayes off the coast of Belize. They are two very different experiences and so I don't know which one to actually pursue. The kid's home requires 40 hours a week but gives food and housing (also has a "strict no alcohol policy" which sounds like no alcohol on the premises but maybe can go out once a week...kind of like camp) while I don't know about the reef conservation group since I haven't even contacted them yet. From what I can gather, I'd be on my own for food and housing but I could also do whatever I want during my free time. For the kids, I'd be more inland, as in, not directly on the beach, and for the reef, I'd be surrounded by water. Decisions, decisions...

I'm going to look into more reef/marine animal conservation NGOs and email them about volunteer positions to see what's out there. I'm leaning towards the kids though, because it'd be great volunteer experience for a potential med school app and I'd be able to follow a pediatrician around in a somewhat family practice environment (in that it's not emergency medicine, but rather everyday coughs and colds). And right now, my future is somewhat more important than hanging on a beach. But at the same time, the whole point of heading to Belize is to be in a beach-like culture and be in or on the water as much as possible. Assuming I have weekends off, I can still do that even working 40 hours/week. So for now, it looks like I'm going to the orphanage.

As for the weight-loss thing...I've been getting better about not eating out and eating more healthy. I still haven't made a food schedule, but I'm getting there. My parents are in town this weekend, so I'm pretty sure I won't be cooking much at home (hopefully my mom will because she's awesome like that) so I haven't been grocery shopping at all. I'm saving that for when they leave.

I know I keep putting off food shopping cooking and all that jazz. It's so easy to blame my laziness on other things going on in my life and making excuses because school's kicking my butt or I have a huge project due at work. But, if this is so important to me, then I should be able to make time for it. I mean, I make time for going to the movies or playing a soccer game, so I should have a couple hours to spare for my health!

So I need to give myself a routine and all will be well. So far I've incorporated my homework into a weekly schedule so I know exactly what to do when. Now the next step is adding grocery shopping into it (I've planned for Wednesdays). And after that, a specific workout schedule, like run on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, bike on Saturday and Sunday or something like that. I want to enjoy all aspects of my weekend and keep the unpleasant things for the week (such as work, school, and running), so I think that schedule looks pretty awesome. I'll probably move it around a bit, but for now that sounds good.

Been biking to and from school on Mondays and Wednesdays. Nothing today.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Work, work, work, play, play, play

This weekend was crazy and indulgent. Here's a photo from Saturday night's party. I was in the White Trash group (more details to follow). And I won third place out of over 50 costumes. You would've never guessed that I absolutely hate Halloween:

Now onto the rest of the weekend.

I had this huge final report due this week so I was super stressed. And by "due this week" I mean I should've had it in about two weeks ago but had been slacking and not putting in my hours, so it got postponed a bit (I never said I was good with fact, I believe that they don't apply to me). Anywhos, my boss finally asked for a firm deadline so I told him I'd have it done by Thursday. I didn't have it done by Thursday. I did spend about 8-9 hours on it that day, but by the end my brain was so fried I couldn't write another word. So I finished it on Friday and he seemed pissed. I'm also pretty sure it's not was he was expecting after I'd been leading him on about how much time I'm spending on it. So tomorrow (Tuesday) morning I get to get chewed out/possibly lose my job. AND I have to get up early to do it. Double whammy.

I may be being a bit overdramatic here, but he is not happy with me. Couple that with the fact that he's already running out of money and I may be out of a job by the holidays anyways, and you can see that I'm not in a good spot right now. I should be kissing his ass, doing everything and anything he asks for promptly and diligently to give him reason to fight for more grant money for me, or at least recommend me to other co-workers/collaborators, but I'm not. I kind of like the idea of focusing on school and being a college student again. I don't want to have to worry about putting in 30 hours/week in addition to two science classes and labs. But I need health insurance and I need something to put on my med school app. And research apparently looks good. I also need a good recommendation from my boss as well as a paper or poster or something to show for my year(s) of working there. Oy, so much to do, but so little motivation. And all that explains my sleeping problems. I'm generally a bad sleeper, but I haven't been able to fall asleep before 3 am for at least two weeks now and I'm absolutely exhausted.

But I'm digressing again. So Friday I was super tired and stressed and I just wanted to finish the damn thing. Once I did, I needed to do something for myself to get my mind off work. So, in true Boulder fashion, I decided to go on a bike ride! Instead of sitting in front of the TV or lying in a hammock, I went on a bike ride!!! I'm so proud of myself. :) It was so nice and amazing. Every time I get back on my bike I am reminded of how much I love riding and I wonder why I don't go more often. So I rode for 10ish miles on my favorite short route and it was awesome. Deserted country road along the country airport and the country schoolhouse. Just plain awesome. That is, until my seat came unscrewed. That was a shocker! I had installed a new one right before the ride to test it out and see how it felt (I'm still on a seemingly never-ending search for a "comfortable" saddle, and by comfortable I mean doesn't-make-me-cry kind of feeling). So I must've not screwed it on right or something because four miles from home in the middle of business park, my saddle came undone.

And I began despairing. I called anyone I would think who could be out of work to drop off an Allen wrench or something. That didn't work out. So eventually I started pedaling home, out of my saddle the entire time. That was painful. Oy. Not even a half mile down the road I found a coffee shop/bike shop and they fixed it up for me. But my great ride turned bleak for about 15 minutes there.

Anywhos, the rest of the weekend wasn't so good exercise or weight-loss wise. Right after the bike ride, I went to happy hour with my brother and his girlfriend and ended up drinking way too much booze of all shapes and flavors. Saturday we had a themed flip cup birthday tournament/party so that also involved a lot of PBR. I was supposed to have a soccer game on Sunday but it got canceled so I spent the entire afternoon either watching football or asleep on the couch. It was glorious.

As for food, I ate about half a container of raw cookie dough. Ugh. What was I thinking? I need to start logging my food again because that makes me realize how many calories I'm putting into my mouth and for the most part curbs my impulse appetite. That, and it's a pain in the butt to input every single bite of food I take and that's usually enough to keep me from snacking on things. I'm obsessive like that. I need to know the weight or amount of everything when I write things down, which I guess is a good thing.

It's a new week and a new mission: Run three times. I really need to get myself in shape enough to run 10 miles on January 29th. More on that later. This post is already too long.

218.5 on Friday. No weigh-in today. Waiting til Wednesday for the beer water weight to go away.
Bike to school: Up and down Folsom (3 miles - 320 calories - GWF on left calf)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another success

I overcame my inner lazy person and biked to the library today instead of driving. Granted, that was instead of biking up the monstrous hill to work, but I still got pretty winded going the barely-sloped-upwards 1.5 mile ride, but it's something. And this way I don't have to worry about getting a parking ticket (the other real motivation for biking). So although my motivations for biking around town don't have much to do with weight-loss and/or getting healthy, I'm still doing it and that's all that matters.

As for the rest of the day, I have a huge report due for my boss "for Thursday", as I told him (and Thursday ends at midnight, right?), so I probably won't be doing much of anything else besides stare at my computer screen. And instead of working on that, I'm posting on here. But I'm glad to see myself actually writing a blog three days in a row, and I've started posting on 3fatchicks again and weighing myself somewhat consistently (I forgot this morning). So it's happening slowly but surely.

Oh, and about the library...I wish I had an office this nice. I work in the engineering building so the whole thing is a concrete bunker with small windows and no open space. In addition, my department is small and cramped into this wing with super narrow hallways that make the whole place seem very claustrophobic. So where's my office, you ask? Tucked away between the computer graveyard and the freight elevator. I feel like I've been stuck in a closet, or more accurately, a concrete dungeon. There aren't any windows, even though the long wall faces open blue sky. My office-mate and I have been tempted too many times to take a sledge hammer to the thing to give us some light, but I'm pretty sure there are major fines associated with such an action. So instead, I don't go into the office unless I need to talk to my boss and instead work from places like my bedroom (which also has minimal natural light, but at least I get a sliver of trees above my desk) or the library where I can look through the whole wall of windows and see the mountains and the creek and people. Wow, it's so nice to see things other than artificially lit concrete.

So yeah, I need a better office.

Forgot to weigh in this morning.
Bike to and from library (3 miles - 260 calories - GWF in left side of bra)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Baby steps, but need to do more

Day One and I've already failed at sticking to the plan. Well, partially, at least. And I guess technically it's Day Two, so I'm really off to a bad start.

Yesterday I'd planned on going on a ride, but that never happened. It was such a beautiful day, too, so it's quite a bummer. Instead, I ate a package of Mambas and half of a homemade raspberry pie. But, mmm, that was delicious.

It's been really hard to get myself out the door once my butt hits the couch. And usually that's the only thing I want to do when I get home from work. I need to figure out a better system/schedule for this exercising thing otherwise I'm never going to make it stick. I'm not a morning person, so waking up early to work out is most definitely not an option. I know a lot of people say that and then go on to change their habits, but it's absolutely impossible for me. Believe me, I would love to be an early bird (I'd even settle for a normal human being at this point) because the few times I've worked out before classes and/or work, it's been marvelous and I was on such a high the rest of the day. But that only lasted about two days and then I made up excuses, some of which were fairly valid, such as I'd rather sleep. Well, valid for me.

So the morning thing is not going to happen. The next option is right when I get home. Don't even think about changing into sweatpants and sitting on the couch! Instead, change into workout gear and get out the door! I think that's more feasible, except for maybe days like today when I was dragging so bad. I'm so tired that I can't even read a book because the lines keep moving, which is why it's 9:30 pm and I'm getting ready for bed already. Somehow I found the energy/determination to write this entry, so that's most definitely a positive since I knew I wasn't going to write tomorrow about today and one missed day usually leads to another and another and another and soon enough I'll be back changing my template and promising to stick with the plan.

Ok, I'm babbling. Ooh, I had a sad realization today about my calorie burning. As I mentioned before, I started wearing my GoWear Fit (GWF from now on) to keep me motivated and interested in this weight loss journey on a daily basis (I LOVE seeing and plotting my daily calories in and out). Anywhos, instead of wearing it on my arm like recommended or my leg like I thought I would, I put it inside my bra under my left armpit. I've read online that the GWF gives relatively accurate readings from that location for all sorts of activities, so I figured I would give it a shot. I'm tired of having to explain what's on my arm and a couple of months ago I would dread having people touch my left arm because I was worried they'd ask about it. I'd physically recoil.

Here's what it looks like on the lady's upper left arm (that's not me, if you're wondering). My armband is black instead of gray/silver. So ugly and so obvious:

I'm getting off-topic again. So, I wore my GWF starting this morning and I thought I would have burned way more calories on my bike to work. Granted, it's barely 1.5 miles and takes me maybe 15 minutes if I'm really slow, but there's a HUGE hill at the very end (7-8% grade) and it's super hard to get my out-of-shape self up that thing on my 30 pound rusty bike. So I thought I would burn a significant amount going up it. Boy, was I wrong! The whole 20-minute ride burned only 102 calories. Agh! Granted, it's about 70 more than had I sat around doing nothing, but that's just sad. Looks like I'm going to have to actually do something outside of the commute to work to get this weight off (duh!). But at least that monstrous hill a few times a week will help with strengthening my quads and getting me used to hills again.

Either I'm really not burning that many calories, or the GWF mismeasures when it's in my bra. I'll try it on my arm tomorrow and calf on Friday to compare the data and see what's going on. It's also not nearly as accurate during activities like cycling or the elliptical even if you're wearing it correctly, so that could also be the problem. We'll see. I'm hoping the bra thing works out because it'd be so much nicer and less anxiety-inducing if I could keep it secret from the world.

And now onto another great positive thing that happened today...I didn't chicken out from biking home. It's completely downhill so not hard, but it was raining and all I had was a t-shirt. But once I got on the bike and started heading home, the rain/drizzle didn't bother me at all. I even ran an errand on the way home. Go me!

Baby steps :)

220.5 lbs.
Bike to and from school: up Folsom, down 17th (3 miles - 240 calories)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Usual

I did what I always do when I decide to make a new resolution (usually because I've been away for a while and let myself go): I changed my blog template. And because I do this relatively often, I'm getting pretty good at xml codes.

So here's the new motivation for keeping to this plan...the (hopefully) upcoming trip to Belize. I would love to be there right now :)

Edit: Now that I've seen other beach blogs I'm having second thoughts. This one is indeed too neon, so I'm going to try to find a more peaceful template. I know this has nothing to do with weight-loss and I should be working/studying/biking/all of the above instead of obsessing about this, but that's what I do.

220.5 (new high...ugh)
So far nothing, but may head for a ride in a few.

I need to start slowly

Another good sign: I've dug my GWF out of the drawer and it's charging right now. I haven't worn it because it's been summer and I don't want people to see me wearing it, but I've heard that there isn't much discrepancy in calories burned if it's worn in the bra. So I may try that. Or on my calf since it's becoming jean weather for good now.

I figure if I start off with it in a different spot and then feed it calories eaten and weight then the algorithm should adjust for that location and work better than if I just wear it there once in a while and on my arm the rest of the time. We'll see.

And lastly, I need to start off slowly, with this getting-back-to-working-out thing so the goal is 3 exercise sessions this week. Biking to/from school/work doesn't really count as a workout since it's only 5 - 10 minutes of actual sweating. The rest is flat biking. So here's the amended schedule:

Monday - Biked to school/work (doesn't really count, but I want to write it down and feel good)
Tuesday - 10 to 15 mile easy ride
Wednesday - Bike to school/work, maybe run if leg up for it, soccer in evening (in goal so don't actually sweat)
Thursday - Off
Friday - 10 - 15 mile easy ride
Saturday - Run if leg works, bike 10 to 15 miles (harder) if not
Sunday - Hangover day = off!

Breaking the cycle

Lately I've been a huge sloth. I've gained about 10 pounds in less than a month (eww). I get winded when I walk up a flight of stairs. And I sweat profusely all the time. I am disgusting.

So of course I come to this blog, post something inspiring, and hope it works out. But I usually quit a few days later. I don't know if this will be any different. But I'm tired of being ashamed to look in the mirror or dreading dressing up because I don't look good in anything. I'm also tired of being single and not having anyone interested in me because I live in the thinnest city in America (no joke, we really are). I know that if I had a stellar personality or some confidence then that would all change, but I don't have anything to be confident about so that option's out the window.

Ok, enough self pity. The motivation I'm going for right now is feeling comfortable living in a bathing suit again since I'm heading down to Belize for the month of May and maybe June. It's not set in stone and the closer it gets the more nervous I am about the whole trip, but I'm determined to make it all work out because I'm kind of wishing I'd gone this summer and May is a great time to leave Colorado.

And although I've said this before, I'm one step ahead of myself in actually making this work since I already printed out a workout calendar as well as started planning my meals for the week. So at least there's progress. Oh, and I've been biking up that dreaded hill to work a couple times a week so there's some exercise there, even if I've only done it two times. You gotta start somewhere :)

The only thing holding me back from going on a run in the next few days (which I want/need to do but at the same time don't want to do) is a monstrous bruise on my leg that hurts even when I walk. I've been limping around all day. And I'm no pansy. This thing is a deep purple and about the size of both of my palms. Yeah, I don't take care of myself real good.

So I may start the push-ups again since that doesn't involve jiggling my legs. I thought about a swim, but then I remembered how bored I get every time and end up quitting early. And now a bike ride idea popped into my head. So I guess I'll be doing that tomorrow. Probably a short one (10-15 miles) to get myself back into biking shape.

Ok, so here's the plan:
Tuesday - 10 to 15 mile ride
Wednesday - Bike to school/work then maybe run afterwards if leg is feeling up for it
Thursday - 10 to 15 mile ride
Friday - Bike to school/work, run afterwards
Saturday - 10 to 15 mile ride (faster)
Sunday - Venus Women's Ride/hangover recovery

No official weigh-in this morning, but 222.0 at the end of the day. I hope that goes down by morning.
Bike to work: 17th Street hill...not nearly as bad as Folsom: my lungs didn't hurt for hours afterwards.