Sunday, November 21, 2010


One of the perks of working for a healthcare institution is that they prioritize preventative care and wellness - so much so that it's harder work to make unhealthy choices than healthy ones.
There's no sugar soda available, and the on-site options stress whole grains, low fat and low sodium. And they offer free Weight Watchers.

Ok, so a bit about me and size. I have been of greater than average size for my height since I was about 9 years old. I was never athletic, but I wasn't a slug, either. I've always been active, and relied mostly on activity to keep my weight in check, since I never really felt that I ate an unhealthy diet. In fact, I've often been somewhat proud of my weight, since 98% of those who find out what it is blanche because it's a number we have incredibly low expectations for, expectations that I shatter.

So I carry it well - yay me.

When I get tired of it or stumble into some motivator for change, I would join a gym and live there 4-5 days a week. Elliptical, weight training, 2000 meters in the pool - I would do it all and put everything else on hold for 3 months to lose a hard-earned 15-20 lbs.

So I joined Weight Watchers at work to see what it was all about. I had low expectations for losing weight through diet and figured if I came out 5-7 lbs smaller in January, that would be good enough.


I'm midway though week four and have lost 8 lbs without single visit to the gym. Yoga, of course, continues twice a week - and since I've been at it long enough for the flexibility stuff to be easy, I've asked my instructors to challenge me to gain strength (it's totally working, too. I can get into, hold, and come out of wheel pose without shaking. My goal... firefly.)

I found a pedometer outside my building (with instructions!) and have been making an effort to get to the suggested 10,000 steps. I average 7,000, but I can get to 8,200 without trying too hard. And I think that's the point. I want to make a change, but one that doesn't hijack my existing stable of interests.

I value my time and the things I normally do with it: knitting, reading, exploring, spending time with friends, cooking, and tinkering - all things that are generally at odds with being at the gym or highly active. I'm sure I could listen to books on my iPod or get my friends to go on a long hike with me - but history tells me that's a long shot.

I value Thin, but inconsistently. I highly value it when I come back from a store where they didn't have my size or the things in my size were unflattering. Or when I thought that Thin would make my life better. But that was a different time - pre-Physicist, pre-career-change, and pre-Oh-my-goodness-my-life-is-really-pretty-great-what-am-I-complaining-about. Lacking that high value on Thin, I just haven't had the incentive to sacrifice all that other great stuff to a gym membership.

Surprisingly, Weight Watchers allows me both: I clearly see the road to Thin without sacrificing the things I usually give up to slog my way to a measly 10% reduction in body mass. Based on how I'm doing so far, the ultimate goal they set (based on BMI - but don't get me started on that measure) seems totally doable - scary as hell (because what happens when you actually get the thing you thought would both a) change your life and b) be impossible to achieve without fundamentally changing who you are.) - but doable.

Here's to shattered expectations...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Random act of Charming

This afternoon, I needed to run a cross-campus errand. It was a clear, crisp fall day - full sun and blue sky. I was wearing my sweet knitted beret and my blazer that invokes a 1960s boys school uniform. Perfect. Collegiate. Lovely. I likely had a spring in my step and twinkle in my eye.
As I crossed the street, there were a couple of landscaping fellows on their industrial riding mowers and one nodded to me, so I smiled and nodded back.

He was ahead of me on the sidewalk and kept looking back, which was cute... and flattering... and evidently filled me with hutzpah - as well as a bit of cheekiness to boot.

I came up the crosswalk and stood next to him while we waited for the light to change, so I turned to him and made some comment about wishing I had my rollerblades so I could hitch a ride. His reply was to offer me a ride across the street (the seat was a bit of a bench, room enough for two).



I had my own Patrick-Dempsey-on-a-lawnmover-"Can't-Buy-Me-Love" moment... (sans cowboy hat and sunset)

We got to the other side, I disembarked, laughed, thanked him and walked on.

In the middle of the work day, sometimes a girl just needs a blue sky, a lawnmower and a mysterious chauffeur.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Getting settled

I'm finally digging into my new home, getting things put away and tinkering with my environment.

I want my little cottage (850 sq ft) to be homey, but lack much of the clutter than plagued me in my teeny apartment (485 sq ft).

A great deal of this was achieved through deaccessioning - it felt great to get rid of this and that - although I have the heirloom guilt in spades, exacerbated by being the child and granddaughter of makers.

Knowing I was coming into a large space, I braced myself and made it very clear what I would and would not accept, and so far, it's working.

I'm attempting to make due with mostly used or family items (sectional from Craigslist, Knoll chair from my old office, etagere made by my grandfather, rocking chair from my great-grandparents'), but I'll admit I have purchased a few new things as a result of the drunken fog of aesthetic reverie (curtains, lamp, dreaming of a rug from CB2).

The fun has been in finding ways to showcase those items I've had squirreled away, unsure of how to work them into my life but hesitant to release them back into the free market.

This kimono, for example.

Lovely, handpainted silk; I purchased it a Unique Thrift on Half-Price Monday for about $5. I was working at a museum at the time, and my urge to save all the poor helpless items of beauty was in full effect. It was folded in tissue paper with almost maternal affection and put in the closet, safe from rays of light, degradation of acid, and all the things that break down organic material (e.g., everything everywhere).

I couldn't give it up, so I was determined to bring it out in the new home. Somehow, I managed to amass a collection of thing accented in red with a vaguely Japanesque quality, so those things went in the bedroom. Among those items were two vintage Japanese paper lanterns, and Kt-friend suggested the following course of action:

Yeah, so that's a branch.
Screwed to the wall.
With lanterns.

Kind of college-sophomore crazy, but I dig it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Random things I learned at my new job

1.0 Toward is American English, Towards is British English.
2.0 The grant review processes for research dollars is not exactly what one would call "objective."
3.0 There is more jargon is the world than my mind can possibly process.
3.1 Social determinants of health
3.2 Endpoint
3.3 MUA/P
3.4 Overweight as noun, as in "to decrease overweight and obesity."
Endless alphabet soup: NIH; CLABSI; Rx, Dx, Tx; M&M; BRCA1; MMTV-neu mouse; etc...
4.0 U.S.News & World Report always, always, always looks like a typo.
5.0 Doctors don't hold elevators - even in the parking garage - after work.
5.1 Nurses always look angry. Now I understand why.
6.0 The Shoreway is the best commuter route in Northeast Ohio.
6.1 We have the best sunrises and sunsets in October.
6.2 There are always kite fliers at Edgewater - even at 7 am.
6.3 I still haven't seen the surfers, but I'm optimistic.
7.0 Dansko clogs are not considered work-appropriate attire.
7.2 But cowboy boots go unmentioned.
8.0 The money really does go to patient care.
8.1 Because we're still working with an early 90s donor database that reminds me of the Flying Toaster screensaver.
9.0 Despite warnings that it would, my printer does not actually jam when I re-use paper.
9.1 It's called recycling.
9.2 Deal with it.
10.0 If things that cured cancer in mice could cure cancer in humans, we'd have that checked off the To Do list by now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My new life

My goodness...Is this thing still on?

So I have this new life now.
New job in a new sector, new home in a new neighborhood, and new habits that go with my new surroundings and I am about a billiondy times less anxious because I proved to myself that the status quo I was mired in could be escaped.

So now, my lazy butt gets up at 6:15, out the door at 7:15 and is often the first one at work (!).

I'm back to regular yoga, at work this time. We have class in a pavilion 9 floors up overlooking the city and lake - I actually get to do sun salutations toward the sun.

I started walking with the Cleveland Hiking Club - with a goal to be capable of handling some significant hikes in the next few years.

I also started Weight Watchers at work, because hell, it's FREE, and since my working environment is generally lacking temptation, it's that much easier to stick to the plan.

I chose my neighborhood because it's walkable and can you believe it, actually I walk a good deal of the time. I am a bit concerned about winter - not because of the cold and snow, but because I haven't yet gauged how safe it is to walk alone after dark and I know it will soon be getting dark at 5pm (shudder).

The thing I lost in all this is flexibility. I can no longer adjust to work flow and take care of this and that during the work day. My evenings are for errands and paying bills, making lunches and ironing. My weekends are for all those things I couldn't dash out at lunch to do because it would take longer than 1 hour.

So it's certainly a trade off, but in this city and in this economy, I am happy to have a job I enjoy at a place I respect with perks I could only dream of (Did I mention yoga!). So I raise my glass to change, and hope I'll be posting here a bit more now that things have settled into a very pleasant routine.