Bracing for another winter

Feeling kind of down today. Not sure why. Feeling very sensitive.

Finished listening to the audiobook The Chimes by Charles Dickens and before it ended, it had me crying. It’s an emotional day. But at least it had a happy ending, unlike a lot of the books I typically read/listen to.

Grandma called this afternoon, and we had a nice chat. Was good to hear from her since we haven’t been talking as frequently over the last year or so. My best girlfriend tried beeping in too, but I texted to let her know I’d get back to her another day. The timing in their calls, one after the other and both directly after the audiobook went off, had me kind of wondering. As if we can sense one another sometimes despite being many miles apart…

Just wandering thoughts. Superstitiousness never seems to leave me.

Didn’t get to go to the shooting range today as scheduled since Former had a long, bad day at work. So probably for the best for both of us that we skipped today. We went out for Mexican food instead and then lounged around until my late-night appointment called me across town. Promises to be a busy weekend with several scattered appointments throughout, plus a meeting with a new client, plans to meet for coffee with an older lady friend, then plans for dinner on Sunday with my best guyfriend. Maybe we’ll  find time to go to the range later tomorrow afternoon.

Discarded my diet the last couple of days. Had bread last night and tortillas today. Ah well. It’s highly doubtful it’s a food plan I can reasonably expect to adhere to daily no matter what. Life just doesn’t roll that way. But it has been teaching me a lot and I intend to go forward with an eye toward reducing carbohydrate intake most days. Though probably not as low as the keto diet calls for. One issue I’ve had with that low of carb intake is that it’s left me feeling weaker when doing strength training, I’d be doing a set that I’m used to doing but then need to pause after a few reps, then continue, then pause again before finishing out. That kept happening throughout Wednesday’s training session, and Former blames the lack of carbs. So I’ll look into it further.

Had all kinds of things on my mind lately. Many societal concerns, plus private worries over my loved ones and myself staying safe. Though we live in a pretty safe area, I do get nervous in wondering how long it will remain this way. Seeing as how the crime and homicide rates have been ticking upward in recent years. Paranoid? Maybe a little. Mostly just concerned since the close men in my life have a habit of being very helpful toward strangers, and I really hope the day doesn’t come when someone tries to take advantage of their hospitality. Like, for example, on the side of the road when they’re claiming to have car problems. Hell no, I don’t trust people. Well, I do to a point since we have to, but that doesn’t mean I’d put it past a few of them running a scam or acting a fool on the bike trails (as some already do) or trying to break into houses (as already happened at Former’s place a few years back). I trust people to be what we humans tend to be, which is a bunch of opportunists. Until I know you I can’t help but be a bit wary about you. And I sometimes wish my menfolk would be a bit more so as well. Which is sad since it dampens a person’s spirit to have to walk around worrying about who might be trying to work an angle. But we hear the local news and should be aware that things are shifting in this relatively calm city as it continues growing and experiencing so many newcomers from other states. I don’t trust the suburban kids either — too many of them are up to no good also.

LoL  So yeah. In my own little misanthropic mood over here today. Just journaling it out of my system for a spell, like usual. I think it’s all of us aging that’s getting to me. Gets to realizing how vulnerable we all are (and probably always have been, though it was nice feeling blissfully oblivious in our youth). Car accidents. Workplace accidents. Asshole opportunistic people to look out for. And now that fall is creeping toward winter and it’s getting colder outside, there’s the upcoming snow and ice to brace ourselves against.

Now that I think about it, I likely get melancholic around this time every year. Winter’s approaching, and that alone always makes me nervous. Winters here can be so harsh, much harsher than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. But this is the new home, so I try to adjust and get on with it. But when your car starts sliding on ice and the others around you are doing the same, you can’t help but get nervous. Especially if you’ve ever gone off-roading as a result before (as I have once many years back — was pretty scary). Then people get stuck and need to be pushed to get started, so the guys get out to help, but there’s the worry about another car coming along and sliding into them. Scares me straight every winter knowing this going on. I’m not strong enough to help much with pushing, so I don’t usually stop for people other than to call help for them. They say I’d only get in the way otherwise. This place just turns into a big ice rink every winter (except last winter, the mildest on record in a long time). Gotta be careful out walking (my guyfriend fell on his driveway once while out trying to get the mail and smacked his head and back — I’ve fallen on ice several times but usually manage to land on my knees, a big reason why they’re so jacked up). Been rear-ended twice because of ice. I sincerely wish everybody would put snow tires on their vehicles since they help SO MUCH, but they’re pricey ($150/snow tire for a midsize sedan).

The cold itself takes a lot out of you. That chilly air blowing hard in your face, especially in the suburban areas where there aren’t enough trees and tall buildings to break it up. Fingers feel frozen even when inside super-padded insulated gloves. Gotta dress up like the michelin man just to leave the house, padded from head to toe. Long johns on underneath, three layers of shirts, thick Carhartt coat, skull cap plus ear muffs plus scarf, super-thick socks with snow boots with deep treading (and yaktrax for when even more grip is necessary). Hence why it’s no fun going to the gym in the winter — takes a while to change out of all that. Wish I could wear a ski mask so as to keep my nose warm, but then people would look at me funny and probably think I’m trying to rob the place.

Winters are just daunting. We all tend to worry about its approach, though I try really hard not to until it is here since it’s a waste of energy worrying about what inevitably will come. But then here I am, worrying anyway. By the end of this month the snow will have started falling, and it will continue to fall until March, maybe April, maybe even early May. Can’t blame the gods for picking on me in sending me here since I could’ve moved elsewhere by now. This is where the economy is good, and this is where I’ve made a couple close friends.

I tell myself that it’s all a trade-off and that these harsh winters are more bearable than Mississippi’s hot-as-hell summers. And I believe it too, up until around February. That’s the hardest month out of the year, every year. Makes me wish I had more tolerance for heat and bugs and snakes. Causes me to question the locals on why they’ve remained here all their lives. Somewhat amuses me to observe newer transplants trying to cope with all this blusteriness. It’s not fun, not when it gets down below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. But I will say this: I can’t tell much difference between 10 degrees F and zero degrees F. Both suck equally. Especially when prolonged for days on end. And the sun comes out less, and it grows so dark so early. And I’m at the mercy of ambient heat funneled into my apartment — not much way to adjust it other than to either open or close the vents.

Some years we put plastic on the windows to help reduce the draftiness. Thinking this seriously needs to be done to one of Former’s bedroom windows since its outside pane still hasn’t been repaired. While over there I can feel the coooold swirl of air drifting down across my face at night. Have to hide my nose under the down covers to keep warm while I sleep. He doesn’t mind it, but I threaten to freeze to death.

But it’s also the time of year when it’s nice to bake since the oven helps to heat the place. And a lot of us sleep better when it’s cold out (albeit not too damn cold). All that time spent indoors trying to get warm and baking leads to chubbiness though. lol

Ugh. Oh well. Another winter approaches. Nothing can be done about it. Just have to be careful. Could be worse — we could live in Alaska. So gripe, bitch, complain, fret away…changes nothing. Simply is what it is. Year in and year out. Like clockwork.

Preemptive worry never does me any good, but it’s hard to avoid. On a brighter note, Former says he’s thinking of roasting a turkey next weekend. So that will be nice. An early Thanksgiving this year. I need to figure out a veggie side dish to bring along.

If it were only weather that worried me then it wouldn’t be so bad. But when you toss in fear over others acting a fool and worry about technologies not operating as expected and then also wonder what’s going to happen to our nation on a societal scale when there’s all these divisions being sown — then worry transforms into dread. Hard enough to stomach a lot of that when Mother Nature isn’t actively draining you.

Guess this is my way of bracing for at least one inevitable set of circumstances. Maybe we’ll get lucky and experience no blizzards this time around. But as for the rest…I still am unsure how to brace for where that may lead.

For days now the song “I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After continuously plays in the back of my mind…

Inching toward winter (journaling/updates)

In other news, I’ve been doing very well on my diet the past several days. Managing my macros and keeping my carbs under 30g per day (20g or under for 4 of those days). Weighed in on Tuesday and am down to 165 lbs. (fully clothed), so that’s nice. Even decided to snap a photo yesterday (perhaps the first one I’ve taken all year).

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Not known for being photogenic, but that’s okay. Working with what I’ve got over here. Hair was frizzy after working out — didn’t feel like trying to get fancy for the camera. So anyway, I’ve been tracking my calories through MyFitnessPal for over 40 days now and am really appreciating that site. Unfortunately I’ve had to stay home and away from Former this past week in order to stay true to my diet, lest he wreck it like usual.  LoL  Missed out on his chili and tacos. Bah! But oh well. Might stop over to visit him tomorrow.

Been working out with my trainer a couple days a week (would like to do so more often but we have schedule conflicts). Beyond that, been going to the gym a day or two a week on my own. Mostly focusing on strength training, plus some cardio on the elliptical. Same old, same old there. Overall I’ve been feeling pretty good. Kind of felt like I might come down with a cold at the beginning of this past weekend, so I stayed in as much as possible and kept warm and managed to stave it off.

Besides that, the new books I’ve listened to in audio format recently were The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin Mitnick (narrated by Ray Porter); The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett (narrated by Matt Bates); The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down by the Secret Societies by Mark Booth (narrated by John Lee). Those first two were very interesting (especially enjoyed Ray Porter’s narration) — gave me a lot to think about in terms of personal security online. That last book was a bit of a wild card, and I can’t recall how it ended up on my wishlist. Actually was interesting to take in up until the last chapter or so, then it just seemed to wrap up quickly and in a super-woo-woo form of a happy ending. Can’t put much stock in the content of Mark Booth’s book, but it was something different to contemplate.

Since finishing up those three I decided to re-listen to a couple others: The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman (read by the author) and Thomas Sowell’s Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? (really appreciate this one!). Made some electronic bookmarks so that hopefully eventually I’ll get around to uploading clips so as to lure others into checking these books out for themselves.

Believe I already mentioned before on here that I also listened to Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (and loved it). Would so highly recommend that one to others. It’s a must read for people curious about evolutionary psychology, biology and/or sociology.

Been getting chilly out lately. Down in the upper 30s the last couple of days. Not looking forward to snow, but it’s coming whether I like it or not. Praying this winter doesn’t kick my ass, having been spoiled by such a mild winter last year (which people around here say was highly unusual and probably shouldn’t be expected for another 40 years or so  eye-popping_smilie ). Just a matter of weeks before I have to get my snow tires put back on (usually around Thanksgiving) and start trudging around in my heavy-ass snow boots again. What fun. But ah well. So long as we don’t have blizzards then it’s not so bad.

What else? Oh, my little brother celebrated a birthday recently. He’s now firmly in his 30s. I ordered him a cake, which hopefully tasted good. As always, he’s super busy with work.

Not been getting out much these days aside from working and going to the gym and occasionally visiting a couple of friends. Haven’t set foot in a bar in weeks, therefore I haven’t kept up with any pals in that scene. Yesterday marked week 20 in my commitment to stop drinking alcohol. Still going strong with no problems there. In fact, a couple days ago when I was out driving along I got to thinking about wine, but this time it was accompanied with a sickening feeling, reminiscent of a particular brand I used to buy and a few bad nights I had with it. Wasn’t alluring. So I suppose that’s progress — no longer dreaming of wine in a tempting fashion. Rarely do I miss beer despite that being my main drink of choice. Not sure why. Perhaps I drank enough of it to suit me for an entire lifetime. lol  Probably.  Still amazed at how much money I’ve saved by not going out to bars or buying drinks to bring home. Saves me oodles of money, no joke. Shocks my friends when I calculate up what my average cost of drinking likely was in any given month. Even the one that drinks more heavily seemed surprised. Note: drinkers are notorious about NOT tracking how much we’re spending while involved in that lifestyle. Starting to think I’m having a positive influence on Former since he hasn’t been going out to his bar as often in recent weeks, nor does he seem to be drinking quite as much at home. I never nag him about it since that’s his lifestyle and his choice and I know for certain he’ll never give up alcohol. C’est la vie. But for whatever reason he seems to at least have cut down, which makes me happy in terms of his health.

I certainly haven’t cut down on smoking cigarettes though. If anything I probably smoke a bit more nowadays, unfortunately. So easy to do when I’m hanging around the apartment much of the time. Though I do smoke less when I’m over visiting Former. My lungs have been giving me a little trouble this week, as they do sometimes. Twenty-two years of smoking is taking a toll — imagine that. Though this is one addiction that has my butt straight-up kicked, so I’m pretty terrified of trying to go up against it. Keep saying I will one of these days…

Not been sleeping too well lately. Actually I sleep fine once I finally get to sleep, just can’t seem to get there. Just bounding with energy and curious about what all is going on on the internet at any given moment. Ha! Thinking about picking up some more of that bedtime (Chamomile) tea to see if it might help relax me. Probably need to find ways to exert more physical energy.

And lastly, my eyesight is very noticeably declining. Having trouble reading more and more without the aid of my new drugstore reading glasses. Former says it’s due to all the years I’ve been sitting staring at the computer screen. Heh  He’s likely right. Thinking I’m going to have to locate a coupon and go in to see an eye specialist one of these days and maybe purchase prescription reading glasses. The joys of aging…

Anyway, that’s about it for now. Onward into November!

Betty Crockering my ass off over here!

Been a cooking and baking fool lately. chef Trying out new lower-carb recipes mostly, figuring out what’s edible and what isn’t. Attempting to break free from my old dining ways, seeing as how I keep too much weight on in going that route. Been holding steady in the upper 160s in recent weeks, which is still too dang big. Wanting to see at least a 10-lb. reduction before I’ll be somewhat content again. Still been working out at the gym at least 3 days a week, mostly focusing on strength training.

Of course my former partner will have none of it when it comes to my new diet plan, preferring to eat as he always has. And so be it. No point in encouraging him to try much of what I make, though I did get him to sample a couple brownie recipes I made a week or so back. The first one (a banana/avocado brownie recipe) came out great, IMO. He managed to eat it. The second one (a low-carb cheesecake brownie recipe) I goofed up on, and he couldn’t make it past a bite of that one. Said it was too chocolatey, going way overboard. My best guyfriend said basically the same thing. Though I thought it was all right. Won’t be trying that second recipe again.

This weekend thus far I baked up some low-carb egg cups (at least that’s what I’m referring to them as), which basically were cupcake tins filled with spinach, tomatoes, a little feta and extra sharp cheddar cheeses, and then covered with beaten eggs. Freezable, ready-made breakfast food. Though I didn’t add enough salt and the spinach proved to be too much. Next time I’ll reduce the spinach by half and increase the tomatoes and cheeses. But they’re okay and I’ll snack on them over time.

Then I baked a batch of almond flour blueberry muffins, which turned out delicious! Really proud of them and plan on sharing them with people tomorrow. Not as low in carbs as I would’ve liked, but the taste is right on.

Then today I created my first spaghetti squash lasagna. Never cooked with spaghetti squash before, so that was interesting. Lots of water to drain out of those things. I used the squash in place of traditional pasta noodles to cut down on carbs, layering that with ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and a tomato and basil sauce I’ve been meaning to try out (Rao’s brand — which I added to ground chuck beef and seasoned to my liking). Turned out pretty darn good! Doesn’t taste much like actual lasagna, but it is similar to the spaghetti bakes I typically make, and I didn’t miss the noodles in that dish. As always, I used a good amount of fresh garlic, so “Former” (easiest to just call him that on here) was unable (and unwilling) to sample that meal since garlic gives him heartburn. Served it with a side of whole green beans fixed up in my normal fashion (steamed with a little olive oil, garlic powder, coarse sea salt, and almond slices tossed in).

THEN tonight I decided to try my hand at making a no-bake pie. Been a looong time since I’ve made one since I’m not a huge pie person. This dessert does not qualify as low-carb, but Former loves pies and it was a way to use up some oreos I had up in the cabinet (that he recently gave me — I swear he’s intentionally trying to sabotage my diet, lol). My 17-year-old food processor is too small to accommodate 24 oreos, so I put them in a gallon-size ziploc bag and went to crushing them up with one of my dumbbells. Ha! Crumbled them the best I could and then poured in the melted butter and massaged it in through the baggie before pressing the mixture out in a pie tin. Refrigerated that while whipping together the filling, which consisted of melting some dark chocolate chips in refined coconut oil on the stovetop, then mixing in some coconut milk, pure vanilla extract, maple-flavored agave, and a pinch of salt. Chopped up a couple avocados and placed them in a blender and added in the cooled chocolate mixture and got that all smooth. Topped the pie crust and now it’s all chilling in the fridge, awaiting being sampled tomorrow. There’s a coconut cream recipe to go on top that I’ll whip up tomorrow once I get ahold of another can opener since my 16-year-old electric can opener decided to finally break down this evening. It served me well all these years — RIP.

So, my kitchen is officially destroyed now. Got more dishes stacked up in the sink than I know what to do with. Will wait and run the dishwasher in the morning since it’s loud. Believe I’ve gotten this cooking/baking bug out of my system for a minute and can turn my attention back to other matters. Like watching videos on youtube. Planning to hang out with my best guyfriend tomorrow afternoon and probably head out to dinner. No work tomorrow. So it’ll be an easy day of cleaning up around here, visiting with a couple of my people, and relaxing.

Been enjoying this slow transition into the fall season. And, for the record, it’s been 18.5 weeks since embarking on my decision to stop drinking alcohol. Going strong on that without a desire to return to my old habit.

Putting myself on a diet

Enjoying a lazy weekend over here. Though I am a bit moody as well, partly to do with trying out a diet plan (referred to as ketogenic wherein you severely reduce carbohydrate intake). Why? Because my weight bugs me. Went down between 2015-2016, then jumped up again in 2017, irking me a great deal. Occurred because I got lazy over last winter and spring and also because my former partner is a good cook who loves to make all things fatty and/or sweet. I don’t care to cook much, so I rely on his meal offerings instead, and so then I ballooned up 20+ lbs. once again. Certainly not his fault — he has enough muscle to allow him to eat whatever he wants. I, on the other hand, must be more restrictive.

Can’t say that I’m terribly enthusiastic in this stage of the game though. My net carbs today came out to 20g — on point. But I can’t stand the taste of artificial sweeteners. Never did and likely never will. Tried Stevia, tried erythritol. Nonplussed, to say the least. disgusted  Would rather skip sweeteners altogether than deal with that crud. Ugh. But this is a temporary diet intended to help burn off the stores of fat I’m currently toting around so that eventually I can maintain at a healthier weight level. That and I’ve been having issues with my blood sugar acting up during the day, leaving me jittery and shaky. Can’t be having that. Gotta get my body under better control and cut out a lot of this highly processed food, particularly the carb-rich, starchy products that have long played havoc on my health. Heaven forbid I turn out to be pre-diabetic.

So, this is what I’m trying to do currently. Figure it’s high time I confront this sugar addiction. Not a major fan of sweets so much as potatoes and bread, but all winds up affecting my blood sugar in a similar fashion. I guess I consider this phase 2 where quitting drinking alcohol was phase 1. Seems like a good idea, or at least it did until I tried eating a bowl of artificially sweetened chia seeds and hemp hearts this morning.  yuck_smilie  Straight-up sucked!

Lots of eggs are also involved in this diet plan. Lots and lots of them. Made an egg bake yesterday with tomatoes, spinach and cheeses that will hopefully be finished up tomorrow. Tried making a veggie pasta the other day with spaghetti squash noodles alongside a grilled chicken breast, but something was seriously off about the squash. Didn’t smell right. Must’ve bought a bad pack, so into the trash those noodles went. Settled for sauteed zucchini grown in my best guyfriend’s garden, which was great. And bacon is permissible on this diet plan too, so that’s comforting.

I’m not one to diet. Never really have been. Tried Weight Watchers once upon a time (over a decade back) just so that I could track my food intake on their nifty website (now a better and free alternative exists: myfitnesspal.com). Tried a water fast for 4 days back in early 2007, but only because it was necessary that I drop a few pounds pronto (for reasons I don’t care to disclose here, just know it wasn’t for vanity purposes). That wasn’t too bad after the first couple of days, so I’d be willing to try a water fast again eventually (during a week when I’m not too busy). But other than that, dieting has never been my bag. Always struck me as unsustainable and not worth the time and effort. Better to just exercise more and eat relatively sensibly. But then I got to reading about the dangers of sugar in our typical American diets and how it’s linked with various medical maladies. Then I learned of people who dropped significant amounts of weight (even without exercising) through cutting down on carbs. So now my vanity is acting up and wants a piece of the action.

So, this is the new project to keep me occupied in weeks to come. Have a few items on order from Amazon to aid in this pursuit, including a dark chocolate protein powder (that received high ratings and better be tastier than the other I sampled recently). The primary goal of making shakes/smoothies for me is to use them as a means to hide other ingredients within, such as beef and pork gelatin powder (for my joints — still having a lot of trouble with my knees) and veggies that I otherwise won’t eat (like kale). We’ll see how well that works out.

A few days ago I purchased a bottle of Torani’s sugar-free hazelnut syrup for my coffee and was left seriously disappointed. Perfectly good cup of coffee ruined by that. The aftertaste lasted for hours no matter what I drank or ate (even after brushing my teeth). Ugh. So gross. Wondering which neighbor I can possibly pawn that stuff off on.

Am thinking that I’d be better off finding ways to utilize the sugars in fruits instead of screwing with those nasty non-sugar sweeteners. Otherwise I’m just going to stick with eating fruits by themselves on occasion and Ghirardelli’s 86% cacao squares for when I crave a dessert. Earlier tonight I tried my hand at making a chocolate mug cake, though I reduced the amount of sweetener the recipe called for since that stuff sucks. Turned out tasting pretty weird. Not sure I want to go that route again. Seems I’d be better off using a tiny bit of actual sugar and then cutting carbs elsewhere on days I decide to fix a treat. Or maybe I can find a blueberry mug muffin recipe that doesn’t call for sweetener at all. That’d be ideal.

AND, this week I also fucked up by sampling a seaweed snack on sale at the local natural grocer. OMG! SOOO nasty! It had the texture of crinkly plastic film and came in super thin sheets. Folded one sheet into my mouth and attempted to chew, but no. No no no no no. Had to spit that crud out right away. That’s not food. Tasted like a dried salty leaf (which technically is exactly what it was) and smelled like old seafood (duh). Made me angry at myself that I ever put that in my mouth. Ha! No joke though. That was disgusting! I kept the bag just so as to warn others. Annie Chun’s Roasted Sesame Seaweed Snacks — buyers beware. Its texture and taste is still haunting me.

Yeah, so I’m off to a rough start. Not a seasoned dieter, so I’m bound to make dumb mistakes like this. Probably will be best if I just keep it simple and stick with basic tried-and-true foods that also happen to be low on carbs. Like meats and cheese and veggies. But it is fun experimenting, at least some of the time anyway. Turns out that I happen to like unsweetened vanilla almond milk. And I found some tortilla wraps that are high in fiber and low in carbs that actually aren’t bad (brand name: Tumaro’s). Sunbutter (kinda like peanut butter but with sunflower seeds instead of peanuts) is all right. And I’m planning on trying my hand at making a pizza crust using only riced cauliflower and parmesan cheese — wish me luck with that.

As of the last time I weighed myself (on Wednesday, I think), I was down approximately 5 lbs. Will likely weigh myself again on Tuesday (when I regain access to a scale, refusing to own one myself). Still working out, but only at the gym maybe 3-4 days a week right now. Playing with my dumbbells at home some too. Still trying to take it easy so that my left elbow will heal, but it’s proving to be a very slow process.

Currently am 15.5 weeks into my commitment to stop drinking, with no slip-ups since that first week. Giving up beer seems to have contributed to me turning toward consuming more carbs and putting on a few pounds — hence another reason why this all feels necessary right about now. Many people quit drinking and lose weight, but not me apparently. Nope, I turned to snacking on junk food instead. So this is my attempt to rein myself in and develop greater self-discipline while aiming to curb my appetite for sugars so that hopefully those cravings will lessen with time. Sounds good in theory anyway. It promises to be an interesting exploration regardless.

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Time for another update (journaling in late September)

Can’t complain much these days. All has been going pretty well lately. Other than my car eventually needing some expensive repairs, life is pretty good.

Been saving up so that I can finally pay the IRS their blood money. Oh joy. Extensions make life easier in that department.

Have been working out regularly lately, typically 4 times a week at the gym and most of those days with my trainer. Was sore as a mofo the other day in my hip flexors/inner thigh area, so probably wandered around town looking like I just dismounted a horse. Ah well. It happens. Comes with the territory. Slightly injured my left elbow a week or more ago and so have been trying to let that heal up and focus on other muscle groups in the meantime. Didn’t do as much cardio this week; maybe next week I’ll feel a bit more motivated. Also got in some yoga after one workout with my trainer this week, so that was nice.

As mentioned on here previously, I put back on about 20 lbs. since the winter due to getting lazy for a while there (though it was a milder winter by Midwestern standards, winter conditions still make hitting the gym a PITA). So I got back up to a whopping 174 lbs., unfortunately, and my weight has stubbornly hovered in that range, particularly after I quit drinking alcohol and began craving other carbs as substitutes for all that beer my body felt deprived of. So…that’s been an irritating development. But it’s kicked me back into gear in terms of working out more and trying to watch what I eat a bit (at least some days). I’ve managed to drop back down to 170 lbs. (once again) and hopefully this time can keep the trend heading downward instead of yoyo-ing as has been the case for the last few months. I blame sunflower seeds and birthday bon-bons for some of this stagnation and have notified my former partner that I am no longer open to receiving big boxes of chocolates on future holidays. Can’t do it. Keeps my butt too big. Heh

Part of its muscle gain though too. Can’t discount that. My arms are looking better defined once again, which is wonderful. Just love seeing definition there, though the overall layer of fluff tends to obscure it. Was down to 152 lbs. last summer and miss that. But I was working out a lot more vigorously back then when my trainer’s own gym was still open. Oh well. We adapt. The new gym he’s now working at is a comfortable atmosphere, so I’m growing more bold there now too. Just gotta waltz in and act like I belong there and not let the super-muscular guys intimidate me. Not that it’s their fault — just that one can get self-conscious in their presence. Get to feeling like a dweeb playing with my little dumbbells in the corner sometimes.  lol  But c’est la vie. There’s a wide array of people at this gym, of all ages and skill levels, so there’s really no reason for any of us to feel out of place. And I love how much cheaper membership is there.

Wednesday I stopped by the local shooting range and signed the necessary waiver and watched the video required prior to gaining access. All of that is now taken care of so I am ready to finally officially start training with my handgun. Yay! They have a really great lady’s night special on Wednesdays that I look forward to taking advantage of, as well as 2-for-1 pricing on Fridays. american_smilie  That will go a long way in making that hobby more affordable. The place looked nice and the staff were friendly and helpful, so soon I will give it a go. This has been a goal in the back of my mind for a long time that I finally can take part in and check off of my list of things to do.  I consider it a reward of sorts for knocking off the drinking habit: allowing myself to go shooting at the range and exploring further weapons training. Really proud of myself for making this transition so that I can responsibly improve my marksmanship (wouldn’t allow myself to do much of that back before, and for good reason IMO). So yeah. Yay!  Good times.  biggrin_green  Already own ear and eye protection and ammunition and a carrying case for my firearm, so I’m ready to go.

Also been considering eventually purchasing a semi-auto to accompany my revolver, but that’s a ways off into the future. Have car repairs to worry about before then. Might even have to buy a different car since this one has such high miles that it’s really not worth dumping too much money into. And that might mean taking on car payments once again.  Oy.

What else? Been learning about the ketogenic diet lately. Not sure if I’m interested in going that far, but I definitely see the benefits in reducing my carb intake. Recently listened to the audiobook The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung and appreciated it. Would recommend it to others! Also discovered several YT channels that offer HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, which are reminiscent of the types of workouts we used to do in classes at my trainer’s former gym. Had a lot of success with that form of cardio before and look forward to trying it out again. Though I’m sure my downstairs neighbor won’t be too thrilled by what sounds like a water buffalo romping around overhead.  Ha!  Ah well. He’ll get over it. Will try to time my in-home workouts around his baby’s nap-time if needed. Will be good for me, especially once winter hits for those days I don’t feel like driving through snow and ice to get to the gym and then having to change out my snow-boots once there. Too easy to blow off going to the gym under those circumstances.

Feels good to remain active. Actually been in better spirits for a while now. Even my Grandma commented on that. She’s sooooo glad that I quit drinking. It’s now been 14.5 weeks. So that’s cool. Once I began working out again more regularly back over a couple of years ago my mood began to improve, and now it’s improving even more. SO nice not waking up with a headache and feeling ran over right out the gate. So nice saving all that money and no longer having to worry about DUIs/OWIs. Nice also to have more free time on my hands to do other things and in a functional manner. Like doing my nails (not worth attempting while buzzed or drunk). Been less grumpy overall, and it’s become really obvious over the last few weeks. Notice myself laughing more. And that also has contributed to getting along better with my former partner (as I refer to him on here since I don’t know what else to call him anymore). I haven’t felt as sensitive about the stuff he might say or as reactive, which is good. If he annoys me, I manage to laugh it off (at least more often) instead of getting hot-headed or feeling insulted or whatever else. That’s worth its weight in gold: improved relations with my people. And when I don’t get snippy or over-reactive, he then is less prone to do so as well, and contentment becomes possible. Obviously he still drinks a good bit and he did have that bad night back in July where he decided to be an asshole for no particularly good reason, resulting in us taking a few weeks apart. Since then he’s come back with a better attitude, and so I’ve decided to let bygones be bygones and to just roll on. Upward and onward. Bad days happen. Less drama = less stress = less opportunities to create further drama. Glad to see us in a better cycle for a change. Reminds me of what we originally enjoyed about one another’s company. He seems to be in much better spirits as a result too. Says he has no desire to tempt me back into drinking again, that he’s proud of me for recognizing how volatile it makes me and for letting it go. I agree.

Though, he did make a comment this week about how eventually he expects me to be able to handle drinking moderately. Told him I don’t really want to, that I think I’m better off leaving it alone in going forward. That’s maybe not what he wants to hear, but he’ll learn to accept it over time. Not all of us are cut out for continuing the drinking lifestyle. Lots of downsides to it, and increasingly so as time rolls on. We discussed the matter and he expressed feeling badly about being a bad influence on me over the years we’ve known one another, but I told him that I don’t regret meeting him and likely would’ve taken drinking too far even without his presence in my life. Was mourning the illness and then death of a family member and didn’t handle it well. Besides, I’m grateful to be where I am now, so whatever had to come before to teach me important lessons was likely necessary to create this outcome in the end. So I can’t really regret what all has transpired. Just glad to be moving forward.

Am also glad to be less of an emotional drain on my best guyfriend since he’s the one I talk to on the phone the most. Lord knows I’ve probably stressed him the hell out over the last few years with all my crying and struggling with my lifestyle. But he’s remained by my side as a solid friend regardless. Gotta love that guy. Wouldn’t know what to do without him in my life. Looking forward to going out with him to a movie and dinner on Sunday.

The book I’m currently listening to is Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Owned a print copy for many years (courtesy of my Dad) and never got around to reading it, so decided to order the audio version instead so as to have it read to me while I go about my day. Am enjoying it. Much more interesting than I originally thought it would be.

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“Dr. Jason Fung – ‘Therapeutic Fasting – Solving the Two-Compartment Problem'”

Recently finished listening to Dr. Fung’s audiobook The Obesity Code and found it to be worthwhile food for thought.

Early September 2017 journaling

Had a nice weekend thus far. Celebrated my b-day (one year deeper into middle age) by heading out to dinner with my former partner (ex-boyfriend/ongoing friend/whatever we are to refer to him as these days) on Friday night, with plans to hang out with my best guyfriend next weekend. Received a couple Amazon gift certificates (yay!), a box of chocolates, some nail supplies (a couple of which I returned and shopped for other items I can use), three sets of free weights to work out with in my apartment, and a massage gift certificate from a client lady-friend. Rented the movie “Get Out” from Red Box, which turned out to be the racial propaganda I assumed it would be. Skipped the cake since I need no extra sugary calories (but received a pack of chocolate cream-filled oreos, because someone is determined to sabotage my workout efforts, ha!). We ordered pizza last night (Saturday) from a little pizzeria I’d never tried before — won’t be eating there again, but at least we gave it a whirl. Chatted with my best girlfriend on the phone again yesterday and also had a chance to get back in touch with an old friend from Mississippi whom I haven’t spoken with in several months. And I spoke to both my dad and brother a few days ago on the phone, that being the first time we’ve chatted in many months (maybe even a year?). Then Grandma sent along a card.

So it was a pleasant birthday.  party2

In two days time I will be at the 12 week mark in my commitment to stop drinking. Woohoo. Progress!

Also got to watch my former partner put together a grill he purchased for the low, low price of just $60 in an end-of-the-season sale. Very good buy. And it’s a nice big propane grill that looks pretty fancy. We’ll be hauling it out into the driveway probably later today if he can get that POS vehicle he’s been working on finished up.

Wanted to lay out at the “beach” one last time today with my guyfriend, but the gods aren’t cooperating with my plans. So instead I’ll stick around the apartment with the cat and play online this afternoon.

And there’s a problem with the software my landlord uses for collecting rent, so I’m unable to pay online at this time. So, gonna have to wait until Tuesday when their offices are open and go in to pay by check. Fun, fun. That’s what I get for not handling the matter in advance, seeing as how this is a holiday weekend.

What else? Ordered a few new audiobooks on Audible this past week and am currently listening to Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston. Honestly, her upbringing isn’t something I can relate to, nor were her professional aspirations, but it’s still interesting to take in another person’s perspective on drinking getting out of hand. She claims there are studies confirming that college-educated women are actually more inclined toward bingeing and heavy drinking, as opposed to working-class women in general. That calls into question the notion of professional women “having it all” and how stress is being dealt with.

After that book I’m finally going to listen to Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, after owning a print copy of it for a decade now (courtesy of my dad) and never getting around to reading it (and now having loaned it out with no clue when it will be returned). No worries there though since I’d rather listen to it being read aloud anyway.

Worked out at the gym four days last week with plans to return tomorrow (Monday) once my trainer is back in town from his vacation. Not too busy with work this holiday weekend either — guess most folks decided to take trips earlier in the summer this year instead.

That’s about it for now.

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Journaling on a Friday night in mid-August (on my friend’s mortality, plus an update)

So it’s been 8.5 weeks since committing to stop drinking. That’s really good, and I’m proud of myself on this. Demonstrating my will power to choose to do better, for all those out there who, for whatever reasons, like to downplay the significance of will power. Can’t claim to comprehend what those folks are talking about there, seeing as how we’re always presented with options and even people with a whole lot working against them that one might imagine would never succeed have proven they could rise on the right occasion. When they made up their mind to do so and backed it with determined effort. I take inspiration from such people.

Yesterday happened to be my mother’s birthday. Decided to send her a text today, to which she replied saying she’d received flowers from the man she’s dating now. We haven’t interacted via text in several months prior to this exchange, per our norm. Yesterday also marked the day I decided to give up smoking herb for a solid couple of weeks. Hadn’t been partaking in it much since quitting drinking, but I still worry about replacing one crutch for another. So I simply decided to take a hiatus from that as well. Will be good for me. Might bore me into going to bed earlier and actually working out more than twice a week.

Hadn’t been inside a bar in about 2 weeks until today (where I ordered iced tea, of course). There I ran into a female friend and her ex-husband (those two remain close friends), having not seem either of them in months and him specifically since long before his last heart attack back in May. Might’ve been before Christmas since he and I last spoke. So I asked questions and he shared what all he’s been going through with that, plus he filled me in on details about his last heart attack 12 years ago as well as his mini-stroke 11 years ago. Also, he had underwent having a pacemaker put in back in March, which is what likely saved his life during this latest heart attack. Though when he collapsed he managed to fall and hit his head hard, resulting in a concussion that caused periodic bouts of dizziness for a month or more. They say he might live another couple of years at the rate he’s going. He’s now 61 years old, thankful to have healthcare coverage, currently living off the remains of his 401k while waiting for acceptance on disability coverage, with plans to file for early retirement next year so as to collect social security benefits. He had always worked up until the events of this spring, but now he’s unable to fulfill the duties of his job.

He spoke of the medications they have him on and their side effects, the doctors visits and body scans, and the insomnia he’s now plagued with. But what really struck a chord with me was when he talked about their young grandson and how he’s spending as much time as he can with him and letting him know how much he loves him. Says he can’t take anything for granted anymore. I got pretty misty-eyed listening to that portion of his story.

Mortality. The hardest part seems to be knowing that your days are numbered. His father and grandfather both suffered heart attacks and died relatively young, so he’s not counting on outliving them by much. Not that I can blame him there. He has to reckon with this to the best of his ability based on the information he’s being confronted with.

He’s a good man. Very sweet and caring. A good provider and overseer for his family, despite the divorce. Told me that he’s always adored me as well, and the feeling is mutual. A part of me does love that man, just because he has a good spirit. He will be missed, but like he said, we shouldn’t mourn him when he’s gone, we should celebrate life and living.

Wish I could make it to his eclipse party later this month, but I’ll be busy working like always. Will think of him when that eclipse does darken the sky midday on August 21st, knowing how excited he is to experience it during his lifetime (said it’d been 99 years since the last one that was viewable from coast to coast). He does love to watch the heavens for activity. In fact, he and his ex-wife were the first ones to point out to me the space station moving past overhead a couple years ago. I’d probably have never noticed otherwise.

Does make me a little sad to see him still drinking despite his heart condition. He said he knows he probably should quit, but he’d also like to enjoy what time he has left and drinking is a big part of their lifestyles. I didn’t say much to any of that since it’s none of my business. Just worry for him is all, but I don’t need to state that out loud to him. It’s his life, and who knows what the future holds. Conventional wisdom doesn’t prove correct in every individual case, so sometimes you just gotta let the dice roll.

Their family has been through a great deal this year, from his failing health to their son’s apartment burning down due to an electrical fire, etc. She said their son is taking his father’s health problems pretty hard. I imagine. It’s a sad situation. But nothing can be done about it. Death is unavoidable.

Something else this man said that troubled me: he’s not worried about dying so much as who’s going to have to be the one to find his body. He’s worried for his family members being put through that trauma. Yeah, that’s heart-wrenching to deeply consider, knowing all of them and imagining how hard it would hit them inside. All I could do was just pat his leg on that since there aren’t words to comfort somebody wrestling with such thoughts. Then he broke into a bit of a joke about dying on his riding lawn mower. He’s a truly sweet-spirited person who thinks about everybody else first. Couldn’t change his nature if he tried.

We told one another to not be strangers, and I do hope to see him again sooner rather than later. Told my female friend goodbye and I left. That’s all the heaviness I could sit with in that hour.

I didn’t mean to walk away, but it felt like I needed to once all had been said that needed to be said for one day. I miss him a little bit already. Only met the man a couple years ago but he’s one of those sweet souls who leaves a positive mark whether he means to or not. We got along right off the bat, which is saying something since I’m not known for being compatible with just anybody and everybody. Told his ex-wife, my friend, that she can call me whenever she wants to talk and that I’ll be here for them. And I mean it. That family was really good to me when I met them by random chance a couple years back during a particularly bad depression spell. They befriended me and have remained kind toward me, even when I wound up pulling away over the last year so as to tend to my own matters. Now is a good time to reconnect and to find ways to help out as needed. I do need to make an effort at that, to not let it slide as if there’s always enough time. Time runs out. People grow old. Health declines. The only thing that really matters in this world are our people, however we might define that. Our relationships are what matter most. Everything else just winds up fading away without a second thought.

We just kept hugging each other. Communion in its truest form. He didn’t seem scared about all of this, but I know he’s afraid of leaving people who love and depend on him. But he’s likely still got time, maybe another year or two or more. Never know. But I know I need to step up as a friend and be around more instead of retreating to my home. And I’m going to. Been wanting to for a long while and now it feels very necessary.

What I really ought to do is make them dinner or snacks to take over sometimes. And we really ought to do game nights again like we used to. Those were always fun. Make a few more good memories while time permits.

Spoke to my former partner on the phone tonight and told him about all of that. He’s met them a handful of times in the past. Then I cooked spaghetti with a side of steamed green beans for dinner. Worked out earlier in the day with my gym trainer. Have an early morning tomorrow, so for the rest of the night I intend to relax.

The latest audiobook I completed (coincidentally) and really appreciated was Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman. A very worthwhile book. Currently re-listening to A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine.