BODY LANGUAGE

I am not, by any definition, a thin woman.

I don’t consider my weight to be anyone’s business to comment on nor am I ashamed of my body. I’m frustrated by the stereotype that overweight people are automatically unattractive or lazy or even unhealthy. Like any generalization, it’s dehumanizing. Looking at the individual, it becomes harder to judge. And to those who judge, I say, get a life and buzz off, because I don’t need your approval.

Balancing those values of body acceptance with a desire to trim down is tricky. Not mutually exclusive, but a balancing act none the less.

My “dieting” history is relatively brief for an American woman of thirty-one who’s been curvy since, ugh, around thirteen. It was a magical traumatizing time when my average little kid body started to do all kinds of weird stuff. Ladies, tell me getting used to boobs isn’t serious adjustment.

I spent my teens and early twenties blissfully unaware of my actual weight. I wore between a size sixteen and eighteen, twenty in jeans. I walked all the time, ate whatever and didn’t own a scale.

A few years ago in a land far, far away (Missouri) I was diagnosed with several health conditions which are typically improved by weight loss. I was twenty-six that I went on a formal diet for the first time. I did Weight Watchers for maybe six months. I learned a lot about portions and planning indulgences. For multiple reasons, I didn’t stick with it.

My recorded high weight was 280 pound. It was sometime at the end of 2009. I’d spent several years working in a call center, on my butt all day and oft rewarded with sweet snacks as if they were fattening us for the slaughter a la To Serve Man. Add in depression, anxiety, and sleep apnea induced migraines and I wasn’t exactly making better food choices. I didn’t feel there was much I could do to change anything about my life let alone changing size and health.

In the chaos of early 2010, I shed more than twenty pounds within a month. Now, brief reactive psychosis – or in lay-terms a nervous breakdown – isn’t a recommended reduction program. I was, however, determined to use what happened to better myself. Mental, emotional and living circumstances were the bigger fish to fry. Working on my physical well being gave me a sense of control when I’d lost everything. Simple matter of eating less and deliberately. One slice of toast instead of two. No fries with my hamburger. Walking, both for exercise and transportation.

My recorded low in the brief time I spent staying with my parents in the Seattle area was 221 pounds. It was enough of a difference to require a near complete replacement of my wardrobe. I’d been, solidly, a plus sized twenty-two. Can I begin to explain my excite when I realized I could drip my toe into the misses and junior sections? Maybe a XXL seems huge to some, for me, fitting into a junior dress (boobs and all) is thrilling. By no means a fashionista, I love expanded options and expressing my own style.

In the last year since I moved to South Carolina, I’ve hovered around the same weight. At some level, I’m okay with it. Being back in the range I was in high school boosts my confidence and conforms to the image of myself I carry around in my head. I’m not as fit as I was at eighteen, but I’m far more fit than I was at twenty-eight. Still, I wouldn’t mind dropping a few more dress sizes.

More than the goal of wanting an excuse to once again replace my wardrobe, I am concerned about the easy, slow upward creeping of those pesky scale numbers. My post Dragon*Con weigh in revealed a disturbing 230 pounds. And that was after four days of walking and more walking at the con. Not cool.

Here we are, two weeks post-D*C. I started using SparkPeople on Monday. It’s a nifty fitness and weight loss tracker. I love that it’s free and, naturally, a mobile app is a requirement these days. What am I doing to do? Write things down? I’m primarily counting calories with a glance at protein, carbohydrates and such while not being a total hard ass with myself. Studies have shown dieters who simply write down what they eat tend to loose more weight. I suspect it’s part brutal honestly coupled with avoiding mindless grazing.

A brief stint on a very strict diet – lots of legumes, veggies and meat – earlier this year made it clear I’m better at modifying and tweaking than chucking out habits and rebuilding from scratch. Kudos to those with the discipline, but I find it easier to honor cravings in small doses than deny entirely. Even with a free eating day built in, too much structure and too many forbidden foods isn’t for me.

So far, the results are promising. I weighed in this morning at 223 pounds. Not to shabby. I know the first week tends to be a loss of water weight and weights tend to level off in the subsequent week. I’m okay with it. Goodness knows, I’ve got the metabolism of a three-toed sloth. But not eating gobs of excess calories in a given day and way less junk food is a good thing no matter what the scale says. One of my mantas for this adventure is borrowed from The Happiness Project: Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.

One other proven way to improve results is having support and accountability. I have plenty of in real life support. Especially and most importantly Chris. He’s used SparkPeople before and is generally awesome to live with, grocery shop with and talk over details and problems with. Heck, he’s generally awesome. I count myself blessed to have any number of friends and family who care about me and will want to celebrate successes or commiserate on struggles. I count among those anyone who cares enough to read my blog and am always open to new friendships. Without turning the blog into a Tina-diets-diary, I’d like to post from time to time on the topic as I will on Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to drop me a comment, keep me accountable or tell me a story about your success or struggle.

*Song title subject borrowed from Queen. Idea for stealing song titles or lyrics for subjects borrowed from Chris.

THE GHOST BRIGADES BY JOHN SCALZI

I wrote the following review of The Ghost Brigades back in July of 2009 when I first read the book. I am in the process of reading the Old Man’s War books for what must be the fifth or sixth time. I’m just as excited about them and it seemed silly to write a new review

The Ghost Brigades is the second book of four set in a future universe where humanity has a precarious foothold in the universe. The colonies are protected by clones enhanced through genetics and technology. The rank and file are volunteers from Earth in the twilight of life who have their consciousness moved into modified soldier’s bodies.

For the dirtiest of dirty missions, Special Forces are born without consciousness. Referred to as Ghost Brigades these super soldiers are thought to have no soul.

Our hero is Jared, a cloned Special Forces soldier implanted with the consciousness of a scientist who betrayed humanity. The transfer from a computer data bank is an experimental process. Consciousness had always been transferred from brain to brain.

Jared is not informed of his unique origins. He is trained with other Special Forces for the purpose they are born for – protecting humanity.

In training, Jared is assigned to read Frankenstein then disseminate what he finds to his training mates through their wireless brain connection via an implant called a BrainPal. Frankenstein gave them an understanding of how humanity views them. Dangerous, unpredictable, and nonhuman.

Jared’s research leads him to other science fiction nonhuman intelligences including my lifelong friends Data and R. Deneel Olivaw, along with several notable others. Everyone knows Data, of course. R. Deneel Olivaw is the humanoid robot detective of Asimov’s robot novels, my personal favorite Asimov novels. I was excited at Scalzi’s skill in connecting this future world to Earth’s past. It lends reality to the universe he builds, along with winning my eternal devotion.

Since I don’t do spoilers there is only so much I can say about the details. Both action/adventure oriented sf readers and those who prefer more ideas and philosophy based science fiction will find something to excite their imagination. No doubt an Asimov devotee such as myself can live without action, but not without discussions about the big questions about life. A perfect balance is at the heart of The Ghost Brigades.

ANALYSIS OF A PROCRASTINATOR

In my last post, I discussed my procrastination and perfectionism tendencies especially related to blogging. I promised to take a quiz about procrastination I found on Psychology Today’s website. As it’s a magazine style quiz rather than an internet quiz, I decided to “live blog” taking the quiz, grading myself and scoring my answers as I go along rather than simply publishing the results. It’ll be fun!

The scoring on the twenty questions is as follows: A three point scale, zero for not me, one for somewhat like me and two for like me. I’ll note the meaning of the score on each question and tally the numbers at the end. I’ve yet to ponder the questions though I did read a few while formatting what I copy and pasted from the original site, so like I said, it’ll be live. By all means, play along at home.

Oh boy!

1. Procrastination comes naturally to me. Like me. I waited every school project I ever did until the last possible minute.

2. I have responsibilities that I’m not doing. Somewhat like me. I do what I have to do. I’ve always been good at fulfilling responsibilities at least to the point of good enough to keep me in a job. I keep dishes done and laundry even if things are messy and cluttered. It’s sometimes bare bones minimum and sometimes at the last possible second, so I couldn’t say not like me.

3. I have plans that stay on the drawing board. Like me. If there was a four point option for exactly like me, I’d take it. I have all kinds of plans. Take one example, OgleFood, my food blog which I have owned for, I believe, four years. I still love the name and the idea. Frankly, food and cooking websites do well for themselves. At one time I dreamed of a (modest) blogging empire for fun and profit. It is one dream I haven’t entirely given up on hence the domain renewals and my utter refusal to blog on a free site. I will be empress of my blogs, dang it! They will dance for me!

4. I sidestep uncomfortable priorities. Like me. Doesn’t everyone do this? No? Oh…
5. I tell myself that later is the time to begin. Like me. Sort of the heart of the problem, isn’t it? Years ago in therapy, I learned a sneaky way around which sometimes works. I essentially make a deal with myself to continue my procrastination technique until a set time then I must do whatever it is I need to do. For example, I can finish watching the show I’m watching then I must get up and load the dishwasher. It’s like a pre-reward in a very positive self talk kind of way. Mixed results over the years, but better than nothing.

6. I start things that I don’t finish. Like me. Like washing and drying laundry then failing to put it away? Half done craft projects and blog posts waiting in draft? Never.
7. I have a habit of showing up late. Not me. Finally, I can answer no thanks to being raised by two chronically early, on-time-is-late thinkers.
8. I delay acting to meet a deadline. Like me. I file my taxes on April 14th and sign up for benefits on the last possible date.
9. I find ways to extend deadlines. Like me. My life doesn’t include many extendable deadlines beyond the self-imposed. Those, I have trouble not sliding back.
10. I come up with excuses to explain delays.Like me. Even if the excuse is just too tired so I slept, in some cases.
11. I put off hard decisions.Like me. I am thirty-one years old and I haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up.
12. When I’m not sure, I’ll avoid the situation.Like me. Especially if what I’m not sure of involves potential conflict.
13. I put off making a needed lifestyle change.Like me. I spent the entire decade of my twenties putting off eating healthy and trying to loose weight.
14. My pessimism causes delays.Like me. One example: Nobody is going to read my posts anyway, so why bother?
15. My emotions affect what I do. Like me. I have gotten better, but still fight anxiety when things go wrong.
16. My intimate relationship is going nowhere.Not me. Chris is the best boyfriend ever and our relationship is ridiculously awesome. No one is perfect and expecting someone to be is unfair, but we complement each other perfectly. Wanting the same things makes it pretty easy to stay on track as far as the “going somewhere” part.

17. I avoid what frustrates me. Like me. It is a fine line between managing anxiety and ignoring the things which make me anxious.
18. I get side-tracked by conflicts. Not me. I often say, I would rather walk out in front of a moving bus than get in a confrontation. Conflict is one thing I avoid, sometimes to the point of causing it’s own problems.
19. My doubts and fears inhibit my actions. Like me. It’s a vicious cycle of putting things of because I doubt myself, loosing out on the experience and possibility of success, making me feel more doubt about my abilities.
20. When I feel anxious, I’ll avoid what I fear. Like me. At worst, I’m paralyzed by anxiety. Most of the time, I push through and do what I’ve got to do.
The results: 33 of 40 possible points. Obviously, I knew going in I had a problem. I do suspect I graded myself harshly, both an admittance of my perfectionism tendencies and wanting to acknowledge where I struggle in hopes of changing what isn’t working.
The interpretation of the data available in the article is a little loose for my taste. It says “items one to 10 suggest procrastination tendencies. Items 11-20 point to more specific procrastination hotspots.” They recommend retaking the test every two months to see where I stand. I, knowing me, may or may not do so no matter what my intention. I can always revisit this post which helps.

So what did I learn?
I put off situations with emotional consequences more often than simple tedious tasks. So, the day to day responsibilities get attention more readily than big decisions and projects. At least in my mind, it rules out “lazy” as the real problem rather than procrastination. It’s a better fault, I guess, since lazy is hard to fix. I most often avoid things that make me anxious, trading the big gulp of fear at facing the task for the under current of worry at a task left undone. I (almost) always find, no matter how unpleasant the task is less stress done than left undone. Knowing my procrastination is closely tied to anxiety is an advantage in combating both.

Will I improve myself as a result of thinking and blogging about procrastination?
It’s hard to say. I do have a track record of using blogging – and before that journaling – as a self improvement tool. For me, I almost always have to write out the problem before I can do anything about it. I don’t really understand the issue or see the solution without this step. I swear sometimes my fingers know more than I do when I start typing.

Since one of my goals in overcoming procrastination is to be a more consistent blogger, I’ve already had a little success. Such success often builds confidence in my abilities and furthers my resolve. I’ll be around and might just build that blogging empire after all.

ONE SENTENCE JOURNAL

Like birds returning to nesting grounds, I find myself in the back-to-school section talking myself into notebooks, pens and pencils. The logic of stocking office supplies for household use at ridiculously low prices is not up for debate in my world. Ever been in a home where you can’t scrounge up a notepad and a pen to keep score in a card game? It wasn’t my house.

I kept my purchases to a minimum (so far) this August. Two composition books and a three pack of Sharpie pens in black, blue and red. Not bad for an office supply hoarder.

Other times of year, I limit myself to buying notebooks with specific purpose in mind. At forty cents each, the composition books sitting around “just in case” doesn’t bother me. Yet something about a blank notebook begs for a project.

Composition books say journal to me or at least a place to record something for future reference – quotations or recipes, for example. I wouldn’t use one for to-do lists or drafting poems where I want to finish the task by tearing out the page. If I cannot neatly remove a page, I don’t remove them. I love legal pads or steno pads for those disposable tasks, if not a plain old spiral notebook.

With the fresh pure pages as the clincher, I decided to start a one sentence journal. I liked the idea in Gretchen Rubin‘s The Happiness Project to keep a brief daily journal documenting a moment. As she says, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Or as I think of it, it all runs together. Pattern and routine are comforting, but they blur the days.

I found myself on the phone with Kate earlier this week responding to her inquiry about my weekend activities with “I don’t remember.” Now, I’d worked all three days (we include Friday as a weekend day), so that contributed to my brain fog. Still, I was frightened at the idea of looking back on my days as tiring but nondescript. Thinking I must have done something fun and important isn’t the same as vivid recollections of good times. So I have vowed to record something, anything, each night before bed to look back at how much goodness even my dullest days contain.

Several days into my “One Sentence Journal” I am laughing at myself for keeping the name. Writing less than a half a page in nearly impossible, a problem I can only partially attribute to large handwriting. The name is a reminder to be brief. The purpose capture a moment, thought, or feeling rather than a full recording of the day’s happenings. Even the example from her journal Gretchen gave in the book was, I believe, three sentences. Meeting word count has never been my problem. Consistently writing has been. Asking as little as one sentence of myself should, in theory, should be easy.

The question, intimidating and inspiring, becomes: What do I say about today?

GIDDY WITH EXCITEMENT

Tomorrow, I take an important step in expanding my credibility as a geek.

No, I’m not getting the IDIC tattoo I’ve (half) joked about for years.

I’m attending my first convention. Even better, it’s a Star Trek convention. Best of all, I’m going with my favorite Klingon. Chris had offered for me to go and share accommodations for TrekTrax long before we were dating. In fact, we talked about it our first in person meeting which happened to take place the Thursday after Dragon*Con. Like Thanksgiving, we intend to mark the occasion on that Thursday each year regardless of the date. He seemed so nervous the pictures he showed me of his Klingon costume would scare me off.  On the contrary, I was suffering con-envy (valid medical condition) and was genuinely impressed with the work he’d obviously put into the costume. I was, after all, the girl who made a point to visit Captain Kirk’s chair before leaving Seattle.

It seems a little silly posting the night before a bit event, but I’m doing it anyway. For one thing, I haven’t been the most faithful of bloggers. It’s not advised to point out absences, but I’ve been pitiful. Oops. Be on the lookout for stories and pictures from the convention. If I’m a good little blogger, I might even post from the hotel, but I wouldn’t advise anyone hold their breath.

I’m oddly nervous. I don’t know how normal it is to have nervousness along with excitement for a new adventure, but I’ve always experienced even the happiest of events with the odd mixture of feelings. With this, I suspect it’s partly because I want to love the convention experience and partly because I don’t really know what to expect. That is, besides unadulterated awesomeness and a hotel full of people who don’t think my obsessions are weird. If I went back in time and told my fifteen year old self about it, she’d laugh and go back to reading Issac Asimov. Yes, Tina, there is a community of people like you. They are called “geeks” and you’ll fit right in.

TRON: LEGACY

Here at NerdBliss, I strive to maintain a spoiler free environment.

Sweet visuals. Cool music. Not much plot.

As I’ve been told, the original movie is much the same. I’ve not seen it. Blame Netflix for not streaming it. Or the fact I’m too young to have seen it when it came out in 1982. Either way, Legacy was my firHere at NerdBliss, I strive to maintain a spoiler free environment.

I loved the look of the movie. The elder Flynn’s place in the digital world, as pictured above, especially excited my minimalist side. The table and chandelier are drool worthy. Every set is visually stunning. All the action looks so darn slick. Exactly how it should for the story.

The music is seamlessly joined with the visuals. The soundtrack by Daft Punk goes a long way towards evangelizing on behalf of House and electronic music. I’m learning to enjoy the genera thanks to Chris and his diverse musical taste. The movie was like a feature length, 3D music video. I don’t mean that in a bad way.

In defense of the film, I will say I tend not to go for action based movies. I’m sort of into more intellectual and more talking in my movies, less racing and things blowing up. It’s not a defect in the movie, but a poor match for my taste. I can also report Chris found it lived up to his expectations, but did not exceed them. Not high praise, but still worthwhile for fans of the original movie, fans of Daft Punk, and fans of slick action movies.