Monday, November 4, 2013

This Little Piggy Cried Weee, Weeee, Weeee, All the Way Home

None of my clothes seem to want to fit anymore.  No, it's not because I've gone down a size; I've gone up.  Almost two dress sizes now.  But, ya' know what?  I'm ok with that.  Because I'm ok with why my clothes are too tight.  I'm excited by what's going on with my body.

I'm pregnant!  So yeah, I'm excited.  Please see also: ecstatic, nervous, worried, neurotic, moody (volatile).  Plus, I haven't told very many folks yet, and there are some people in particular who I hope to avoid telling, period.  But that's an entirely different story, and one I'd imagine you don't care to hear about.

It's been quite difficult since I found out for me to eat as healthy as I want to and should be for the health of my little one.  I tried to limit my intake of grains and sugars, but it only stressed me out, and caused me to eat more than I intended, and then some.  So I let myself go for awhile, just eating what I needed (or wanted) when I needed to eat.  Which is always.  Um?  Is that normal for the first few months?  I feel like I'm really out of whack right now, and that I'm consuming way more than I actually should.  I'm nervous that I might give myself gestational diabetes, or that it will affect the baby.  Any mothers out there reading my little blog, here?  What was the first trimester like for you?  Did you feel like you wanted to eat everything?

I'm hoping to get on a healthier track by my second trimester.  I kinda worked out a deal with myself/promised myself some time to relax and become comfortable with the pregnancy.  I've been dealing with an abundance of stress lately, and I didn't want anything to go wrong, or to harm my growing baby, so I've made a concerted effort to keep calm and relaxed as much as possible; to ask for help when I need it, especially when lifting boxes or bags of groceries; and not to beat myself up (too much) over how quickly I've outgrown my clothes.  I had a miscarriage a few years ago, and I'm convinced I caused it by not taking good enough care of myself.  I must admit, though, it has been a struggle.  I went up a dress size over the summer, most likely because my body was preparing itself and adjusting for what it knew was happening, but then, once I found out, it was like overnight I jumped up two more sizes...and it bothered the bejeezus out of me.  Irrational, I know.  I'm trying to deal it.  I know my body is going through some beautiful amazing changes, and I want to embrace them.  (The tatas are larger, which is kinda nice for a B cup girl, lol...but then they're also sensitive, which is not nice for anyone!)

So, anyhow.  What I'm trying to say, basically, is: I need your help.  I really do.  I need your encouragement, but I also need you to help me stay accountable.  I have a few changes, for the better, that I have to adopt by my second trimester, which is coming up pretty soon:  I've gotten start eating better (as in, stop eating chocolate and pizza just because I'm craving it, because it isn't best for baby), and -- this is a big one, and I know I'm going to get a lot of grief for it, and I'm prepared, and do understand the gravity of it -- I have to stop smoking cigarettes.  My excuse (reason? can I call it a reason, instead) for not having already quit?  The stress thing.  Not wanting to traumatize my body by suddenly quitting, and thus putting the baby in any more danger than I already am in smoking.  Please do forgive me?

So, you see?  I need you.

Until next time, thanks for reading!  -- xoxo Jess

How did your diet change during pregnancy, or what kinds of changes have you observed in others during their pregnancies?  Did you or someone you know find it difficult to kick a nasty vice once they discovered they were pregnant?  If so, what kind of tips can you offer to other pregnant ladies who may be struggling with the same habits?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Traditions Around the World: Fun Facts

Hey there, here's a short list of fun facts from Fall Traditions around the world.

Did you know...

- In Japan, where ancestor-worship has been practiced for thousands of years, a special celebration called the Obon Festival occurs during July or August. While not a typical Fall festival, special foods are prepared, and lanterns are set afloat on rivers and in the sea. Fires are lit every night of the festival to guide departed souls to their families. This is just one occasion during the Japanese year when souls are believed to return home.

Lanterns are set afloat to honor the dead during Japan's Obon Festival

In Austria it is believed that on Halloween night, due to the enormous amount of cosmic energy brewing, if bread, water, and a lighted lamp are left out it will attract and encourage the spirits of loved ones to return home.

In Many Spanish-speaking countries, such as Mexico, El Dia de los Muertos, or the day of the dead is celebrated to commemorate loved ones who have passed away.  Rather than being a somber occasion, it is a time of great joy in honor of the dead.

During El Dia de los Muertos families set up altars and dress up in traditional
costumes and face paint to honor their deceased loved ones.

- France didn't celebrate Halloween, or a dedicated "day of the dead" until the 1990's once it adopted the "American" practice.

Have any fun or interesting facts about Fall Traditions around the world?  Share 'em in the comments!

Maryland Renaissance Festival 2013

Whoops!  I haven’t posted in…quite some time.  My bad.  And please don’t point out that my October/Fall Celebrations series has a total of…zero posts.

Can we just blame it on the Shutdown?  (…and overlook the fact that I could have been posting a ton from home?)
Promise a post later today with some fun facts on Fall traditions around the world, with a more in-depth series on the way.  Crossmyfingers.
Here's a brief (and not-at-all-complete-because-I-forgot-to-take-pictures) recap of this weekend's activites:
Saturday we went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival.  If you've never been, it's well worth the trip.  Unfortunately, however, this past weekend was the last they're open for the year.  And it was packed as a result.  I'm actually disappointed, now, that I didn't capture a photo of the c  r  a  z  y  lines of cars spanning several different [major] roadways this weekend with folks trying to make it to the Ren Fest.  I think we even heard they sold out to capacity on Saturday!  Lucky for us we got there early.  Anyhoo, I did get a few photos early in the festivities.
Chuck did some axe throwing...and didn't get a single one, unlike the lady next to him. *Gigglesnort*

The horses in this year's jousting match were very pretty. 
Especially this white/black beauty on the right, of whom I took 1,000 photos.

To be, or not to be; that is the question.
What's the answer?!
If you're interested in visiting the Maryland Renaissance Festival next year, here are a few fun things to do while you're there:
- Costume rentals, if you'd like to join in on the fun and dress in period clothing.  (About 50-60% of people will be dressed up)
- There's a jousting circle with matches every few hours.  An honorary royal court oversees the events.  (The horses are gorge!)
- Knife, hatchet, and star throwing booths - for those of us adventurous and skilled enough.  Also many, many other fun games.  There's even a rock climbing wall type activity/contest.
- Camel, elephant, and pony rides (for kids, of course); and a free reptile exhibit.  I know this many concern some of you, but I assure you the animals are very well-loved and well-treated.
- Bizarre creatures and crown jewels exhibits.  The bizarre creatures exhibit is $1 admission, but it's cute.  The crown jewels exhibit...well, it's a gallery of recreated English/British/Scottish/Irish [??] crown jewels over the centuries.
- Several taverns for you boozy folks.  ;)
- 10-15 stages with performances every hour/few hours.
- A kid-friendly play area and stage, complete with a wooden pirate ship.
- Tons, and tons, and tons of "shops" and booths with amazing, handcrafted goods.  Period clothing, hats, jewelry; leather-works; blown glass...there's quite a lot to see and buy!
- Food.  Lots and lots of great food.  Ever had a croissant sundae?
Sunday we went thrift shopping and drove around for a little bit to get out of the house.  I picked up a few new dresses for a special...uhm...event.  But we'll talk more on that later.  ;)  Chuck picked up some vintage comic books, including a Generation X (X-Men series...from 1990's, so not too "vintage") with...Howard the Duck...?  I also picked up a cute book of fairy tales from around the world for $3.  Other thrift store finds: two awesome 3D puzzles, set of three paint-your-own porcelain bowls, two adorable (uhm, how so I describe this?) stuffed animal/porcelain babies - lol, like this one.  I already have a butterfly doll somewhere, so now I have two more to add to a hopefully growing collection.  (They were hard to get out of my mother's hands once she saw them and claimed them as her own).
Welp, that's it for now, so I'll see you next time!
What kinds of fun events are your area right now?  Would you recommend a trip?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Where'd You Go?

So today begins the dreaded Government Shutdown.  This means that, while I am fortunate enough to remain at work until the end of the week thanks to my wonderful CIO who very strategically funded our contract until her FY13 cache ran out...after that, if Congress doesn't get their act together, I am temporarily, but indefinitely without a jobOh dear.

But, ya know what: also lucky for me?  I just switched to a new company, which has yet to establish 401K for their I just got a nice-szied check from my 401K because I opted not to go ahead and open an IRA yet.  Yet.  I know how important that is, so it's on the list.  But, I mean, really.  Could it have happened (my being able to take a payout) at a more opportune time?  I have no idea when I'm going to return to work, so here I have this nice bit of money to tide me over.

Sometimes nice things do happen to me.  S  o  m  e  t  i  m  e  s  .

Anyhoo...I've got to get back to work.  We're currently restoring a few things that we lost over the, yeah.

Are you directly affected by the Government Shutdown?  What do you think of Congress' antics surrounding the budget?  It seems that do this every year and yet...they still get paid.  Curious.

Monday, September 30, 2013

And We Danced

...Toby and I, that is. I recently introduced my one year-old nephew to Fraggle Rock. And let me tell you. Boy does that kid ever love to boogie down and wiggle. And the opening theme song set him off. So now, anytime he's upset I'll start to sing that song and we'll shake our stuff. And then there's no more being upset. Or when it's time for nap-nap...boom.  Fraggle Rock.  I've got that kid figured out; he's so wrapped around my little finger [and most definitely not the other way 'roudn ;)].

Anyway, moving on.

I'm happy to say that I feel a little less bloated this week, and a pair of dress/work trousers that were awful tight last week are slightly looser this week.  Progress.  But, funny thing: I haven't changed my diet yet.  I've tried.  And failed.

I wrote out a two week meal plan, and came up with a shopping list (making sure to sneak in some stuff for the sweetie, who isn't cutting down on his intake of carbs or processed food...because he's a butt)...and then some not-so-wonderful/I-was-upset thing happened.  A hold was placed on all funds going into my bank account...until Wednesday.  Which sucks.  I have $200 until Wednesday.  Well, we have $200 until Wednesday.  Did I mention that this sucks?

No grocery shopping.  No pet shopping (my poor, sweet animals need shampoo and conditioner!).  No fun; no family outings to eat a ton of pizza in farewell.  Just enough for our respective commutes and other necessities.

So I'm still eating a large load of carbs.  Boooooooo.

But I'm optimistic and looking forward to Wednesday.

What is your favorite childhood cartoon or television show?  What was it about this show that drew you in; that made you fall in love?  Would you, could you, do you still tune in to see your favorite show?

Friday, September 27, 2013

Just Over Here Doing Some Planning

Whoops, no post today. I've spent the better part of the afternoon putting together my meal plan, and organizing a shopping list for the next two weeks. Look for an update Monday!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Confessions of a Diet Pill Addict

My Story
I've had an undiagnosed eating disorder since I was around 13. That's when I started taking diet pills, and worrying increasingly about my weight. I'd always been overweight; always the "fat" girl in class, but until then it had never really bothered me all that much.

Then things changed, as they often do. It started with Ephedrine, which has been illegal in the US, now, since 2004; then I moved on to Stacker 2. Since then I've experimented with many different forms of "weight control" supplements: from any/all of the Stacker brand products, to Hydroxycut, GNC's CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), and probably many more that I can't even remember.

If I'm being honest, I still have a problem with diet pills. Today it's Stacker 3 with Chitosan, or Stacker XPLC. I have no idea what XPLC is. I wouldn't recommend them, or any weight control supplement, though. They affect my mood, and make me anxious; they increase my appetite, rather than suppress it, making it hard to even gauge it's effect on (not my weight...I don't very much care about weight...ironically) how my clothes fit. Because of the caffeine content, my energy levels are unbalanced on their own; it's difficult to wean myself off because I get terrible headaches, and can barely keep my eyes open without something. I'm mean, short-tempered, and just an overall ugly person when I'm under the influence. I get physically ill from the headaches, sometimes, if I don't take any. And at the end of the day I'm always left feeling even more insecure about myself.  It's not fun; it's not a choice I would make, to start taking them, if I had that choice again.  Hindsight, as they say.

Aside from that, I've tried a ton of things to get to a healthy dress size and/or fitness level.  When I was in high school I would workout for, maybe 3-4 hours a day; weight training, using a ski machine or stationary bike...taking long, probably-not-very-safe walks around my neighborhood at 11:00 at night.   When college began I started to rely more on the diet pills, less on being active.  I overdosed (a term I use mean I took too many, and threw up the rest of the day/night) often.  I definitely wasn't feeding my body what it needed at this point, and I really didn't even know how.

As I grew a little bit older, a little bit wiser, I started to look more at what I was putting into my body food-wise, and at ways to incorporate good activity into my days to, kind of, trick my body into getting exercise without really knowing it.  I began to be more mindful of what I ate at meals, using smaller plates so I wouldn't over-eat; and I forced myself to walk an extra 10-15 minutes to a bus stop farther from work.  I had the time, so why not?  It worked.  I felt better and I got a tiny bit smaller, and gained some confidence in myself as a result.

But the weight always seems to catch up to me.  Either I get bored of the food, or I become lethargic over time - usually because I've pushed myself too hard at the beginning, taking all the fun out of enjoyable activities.  I gained my dress size back.  And then I lost it again...and then some.

The first time I moved out of my parents home I lost a very considerable amount of weight.  So much weight, in fact, that my family thought I was abusing drugs.  Ironically, I wasn't even using diet pills at that time in my life.  Since then I've learned just how much my mood and stress levels; how my overall happiness affects my body and fat content.  That isn't to say I haven't still struggled.  It's been four years since that drastic drop in weight, and I've rollercoastered back and forth a few more times.
br> Right now, I'm on an upswing, and I'm desperate not to let it get out of control.  I'm desperate for some balance, and permanence; not be fretting everyday as to whether or not I'm going to eat something that will leave me bloated the next morning, and my pants tighter.

So, what's the point? Why share this with strangers on the internet?
I don't know, to be honest. Just a whim, maybe. Perhaps I'm looking to be shamed, or for someone to hold me accountable for myself... because I don't do a good enough job of it. Or maybe I'm hoping that my struggle will help others like me.  I'm hoping we can fight together.  I vow, right now, right this minute, to treat myself better.  And if anyone reading this is in a bad place, too, just know that you have someone on your side; I'm here for you.

Where I am, Now
As much as I've researched different diets (lifelong dietary habits, not temporary fixes), and explored different aspects of fitness; as much as I love weight training, one would think I'd have an easier time of it. But, unfortunately, life has a way of making things difficult, I think, when/if we need it the most.

I know I, for one, have a ton going on my life: a long strenuous commute to and from work (1 to 1.5 hours each way) plus the eight hours I put in at the office; a house full of people and pets that need to be cared for - I secretly tell people I have 13 children between my fiance, dogs, cat, and rats - dogs to be walked, pets to be petted; dinner to be made, laundry to be laundered, a bedroom and living area to be cleaned; myself to be bathed...and on top of all that I'm supposed to find time to both exercise and relax? Are you kidding me?

So, I'm really stressed all most of time, is what I'm saying. And, according to my very scientific research (I took this quiz to find out my body type) that means my cortisol levels are probably pretty high. And that means that no matter how well I eat, or how much I exercise, I'm actually going to have pockets of fat on my belly and upper back because my body is in fight or flight mode, and so it's overcompensating to protect all my vital parts.  Does this mean I'm defeated, and that I'm going to give up againHell no!

This means that I'm going to go to my first yoga class to meditate and gain some inner peace.  This means I'm going explore my bi-polar and seasonal affective disorders and I'm going to find a way to manage them.  It means I'm going to learn how to balance myself so life is not a day to day struggle to just get through all of my responsibilities, but also to enjoy myself and the things I love: the people, pets, and activities that bring me joy.
It's not going to happen overnight.  I know that; but it has to start somewhere, right?  So why not here?  Why not today, in front of the entire internet (or a few people who have chance upon my little blog)?
Have you ever struggled with an eating or mood disorder that makes it difficult to get through the day?  To survive to the next day?  Are you still struggling?  Maybe you could use a little help, a little inspiration.  Or maybe you have some encouraging words to share.  Speak up in the comments.

So, On a Sidenote

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I'm Going to Kick Winter in the Butt

Oh, hello there.  I haven't seen you in awhile.  Mostly because I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off due to alot of stressful stuff going on...and now, with Winter on its way, I find that my cortisol levels are up, and, as a clothes are too tight.  And that, coupled with the daunting change in seasons (and thus, light...and thus natural, sun-given Vitamin D, and my happiness) makes me want to curl up into a ball under the closest, largest rock...and knock myself out with it.

But, this year I'm trying things differently.  This year will be different.  Or so I keep telling myself, hoping to will it so.

I've been, ahem, slacking, so to say, on my bloggy friend here.  I know.  (I mean, honestly, how many readers are there out there in Interweb land, anyway?  Like, a half a person?)  And, I'm setting goals for myself in an attempt to right the wrongs in my brain, and find some level of balance, and the ever elusive carefree happiness I've hoped for...forever.  Maybe write one blog post per day, even if it's a few, short, corny lines - just write, should be on that list.  Maybe now it is.  Maybe you'll never know.  (Or maybe you will, because duh there will be daily blog posts if it's on the list.  Right.)


Here is my list of *new* things to try this Winter - mostly to keep myself away from the cliff's edge...and, alright, also to tighten my waistline again...

Jess' Kick the Winter Blues List of Things
  1. Try yoga.  In a class/social setting.  To help find some measure of inner peace, and to help with your agility and overall fitness/physique.
  2. Start (restart?) a Paleo-esque diet.  See this post, but different.  (I've tailored the diet to my needs/wants, so it looks a little different for me this go-round.)
  3. Visit the new gym at work.  Start going for weight training, or treadmill intervals 2-3 times per week.  [Sidenote: in keeping with the "Paleo" philosophy, workouts/exercise don't need to be a 60 minutes per day, 5 days a week thing.  Workouts should be short and intense.  Kinda like you're being chased by a wild animal, or doing manual labor.  Think like a primitive human being, is what they're saying]
  4. Get out more.  Go to the movies, or a restaurant; play in the snow (if there happens to be some this winter).  Just get out of the house and be active/social.
Needless to say this will be a set of evolving goals.  And I'll try to have a post or few about each topic listed above, and each new addition as they make the list.

How do you beat the Winter Blues?  Or Greys, or Blacks; or Rainbows?