Sunday, January 31, 2010

One month down, a lifetime to go!

Let's take a look back, shall we, to my first Ramblings On for 2010, when I waxed philosophical about the year gone by and made my annual resolution list.

They were as follows:

1. To strive to be kinder, gentler and less stressed, to go with the flow, where the wind takes me, etc, etc ...
2. To be healthier, in food intake and exercise output.
3. To continue squirrelling away savings.
4. To write something every day for me, be it in journal, a haiku or tanka, blog or working on novel(s).
(I might even be so bold as to break out a creative writing book that has prompts for every day of the year!)
5. To keep a better, more organized household.
{Read the full blog here.}

Let's see how I made out on this 31st day of January:

1. I've really detached myself from a lot of things that used to piss me off. That's not to say that I don't still seethe, but instead of lashing out (too much) or binge eating, I exercise. I take a deep breath. I move on.
2. I have never, ever, felt better than I have this past month. Health wise and head wise. I chalk it up to really, really, REALLY sticking to a plan no matter what. My clothes are getting baggy, I look forward to the alarm going off (most) mornings to exercise. I am happy to report that, since starting The (New) New Regime on Sunday, Jan. 3, I've exercised all but four days (Saturdays, because of my schedule at the tanning salon, and I don't mind - see No. 2). I am so immensely proud of that fact.
3. Still squirreling!
4. This is monumental for me: Of January's 31 days, I only missed one day of writing for myself. One day. I would go weeks without writing a poem or working on my novel(s) and days without journaling. It's been cathartic, wonderful and inspirational. I can't believe I didn't do this before.
5. This is getting there ... slowly.

All in all, I am pretty damn happy with myself so far in 2010.
Life is brightening up by the minute, and I find that quite exciting.
I chalk it up to finally getting myself happy with myself.

How are you faring so far?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

No blue hair here, just blue-hair hours.

I have been burning the midnight oil this week, and I not-so-secretly love it.
{Though I did conk out last night - Friday night - at an embarrassingly old-lady-like time. I don't even care if you scoff!}
It's been worth it, because I've been having some really, really great marathon conversations.

In other news, I can't wait to write tomorrow to give my progress with The (New) New Regime! The Lifestyle Change has seriously been made!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ladies who lunch.

I had such a crazy busy, yet delightfully fun week this week.
I daresay I wasn't home but to sleep, something that usually makes me a bear, but I loved every second of it.

The week was capped off with a day off where I took a delicious little daytrip to Jim Thorpe with Adrianna, my best gal pal from college.

If you've never been to Jim Thorpe, you are missing out.
It is the quaintest, prettiest little town in Northeastern Pennsylvania I've ever seen. (Click here for info:

There's tons of little shops, a few restaurants (I highly suggest the pork quesadilla at Mollie Maguires Pub) and lots of gorgeous historic buildings.

They call the town "America's Little Switzerland."
{Don't quite know who "they" are, but they are so right!}

We had such a great day being Ladies Who Lunch, Shop and Wine Taste ... and try on hats fit for old ladies.
{Yes, I will be uploading pictures soon!}

I got a bottle of tasty, locally made wine, four gorgeous green glass pieces to add to my collection, earrings, a surprise for Mommalah and treated myself to three pieces of chocolate that I savored the whole way home.
{Never you mind that they were gone before I even went 10 miles on the turnpike!}

It is so refreshing to know that Adrianna and I still have just as much fun as we always did way back when. After reconnecting for the first time last month, we decided to do a monthly Girls Get Together. Next month, we're thinking about a spa day, which excites the hell out of me because I've never had a complete spa experience.

Not only is it great to rekindle a great friendship, but it's also a great way to give myself a non-food reward for being such a stickler on The (New) New Regime.

Pretty sneaky, huh sis?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A pearl of wisom was supposed to be in this spot.

I had all these ideas of things I wanted to blog about - things not related to diet and exercise for once - and as I stared at the black canvas in front of me, my mind just went completely and utterly blank.

Naturally this would be the first time in eons Blogger loaded* right quick for me and here I am with egg on my face.**

Oh well.
Some days you step in it, some days you don't.***

*You'll recall, I'm sure, that I still have dial-up, which is going to change within the next two weeks because I almost had an aneurysm of rage Sunday morning when I tried to blog. I need to get with the rest of the millennium already methinks.
**I love this saying and have no idea how it even started (and God forbid I try to open another window to Google it. My question is Why egg? Why not pudding? Ketchup, which seems so much more normal? Egg makes me think of an egg salad sandwich which makes me vomit a little bit in my mouth, even though I adore eggs. Egg salad. Eww.

***My evil grandmother had a magnet that said this, and it had a cartoon of a cow that stepped into a metal milking bucket. Anecdote has ended.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

When does a resolution become a lifestyle change?

I'm two weeks in on The (New) New Regime, and I'm still going strong!!
I've exercised 13 of the 15 days that have passed since I began on Sunday, Jan. 3.
Some of those days were nothing more than 15 minutes on the Air Climber, some I did dozens of squats, lunges and abs, some I even worked out in the morning and evening.

I know T(N)NR is still in it's infancy - it's only been two weeks for heaven's sake - but I can't help but wonder:
When does a resolution become a lifestyle change?

Is in when you're excited about getting up in the morning to exercise?
Is it when you restructure your day to include some sort of movement, whatever you can do because it all counts?
Is it when you stop stuffing yourself when you eat, even if you're still a little hungry?
Is it when you mentally put the "Closed" sign on the kitchen?
Is it when you automatically seek out healthful items on a menu instead of going for what you really could go for?

Whenever a resolution becomes such a change, I'm ready for it.

If you struggle to make those changes you vowed to do two weeks ago - which seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? - here are some things that I found are really getting me closer to the lifestyle change:

- Every night, I put my workout clothes at the end of the bed so they're already at the ready for my morning workout.
- I set my alarm for super early so if I hit snooze like I usually do, I still have more than enough time to get some sort of movement in.
{Being a night owl/insomniac like I am, this sometimes sucks, but I try to have lights out by 11 p.m. during the week.}
- I keep a food diary religiously. More importantly, I keep an honest food diary.
{I'm not helping myself at all if I keep mum about the two links of hot sausage I just popped in my mouth because I was feeling peckish.}
{While I've always loved drinking water, I finally understand how much of a difference drinking the correct amount makes. I'm still hungry a lot of the time, but it's definitely more manageable because of making sure I get at least my eight glasses in.}
- I keep nothing tempting in the house. Nothing.
{For my daily dessert, I've stocked up on Skinny Cow mint ice cream sandwiches, which are horribly expensive but necessary giving my penchant/weakness for chocolate.}
- Moderation, moderation, moderation.
{I finally learned that "diet" isn't "die" with a T. It's something manageable that I can still enjoy everything I love on sometimes, but without stuffing myself sick.}
- Mix it up.
{I'll do my Air Climber most days because it's convenient. Sundays are my walk days, weather permitting, and I clock in 2-3.5 miles, depending on my route. Some mornings I do yoga or Pilates so I don't get bored. Food wise, I generally eat the same things for lunch to keep myself in check (and because I enjoy my "usuals"), and try to have a different dinner each night.}

What works for you?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The klutz strikes - or trips - again.

While this week has been good (knock wood!), it's been one pickle after another.

For starters, I have a horrendous toothache that's been on-and-off for the last few days. I've never actually had a toothache before, so this kind of pain is new to me (and very uncomfortable).

As if that's not bad enough, yesterday I stopped at a local UPS store to mail something, and as I walked to the counter, I completely biffed and fell flat on my face.

Both leopard-print heels flew off and my purse went flying.
I. Was. Mortified.

The guy behind the counter started freaking out because he thought I killed myself.
{No, I just killed my ego for the entire duration of my transaction.}

By the time I got back to the office, my knee was throbbing so bad, I had to go home to put ice on it.

The silver lining of the whole damn Incident was I got to see a truly amazing hot dog show on The Travel Channel, so it was very nearly almost worth it.

Naturally, I wore flats to work today.
(and naturally, I hated it almost as much as Samson hated getting his hair cut ...)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Addendum to my previous post.

I am happy to report that when I got dressed this morning, the belt I usually wear with one of my favorite dresses was ...

... wait for it ...


So much so, in fact, that it kept slipping down throughout the day!

Talk about a Pick Me Upper - and Diet Success!!

Disappointed, trying not to be discouraged.

I'm trying not to be upset.
Today was my first weigh in since starting The (New) New Regime and after exercising every day but Saturday and eating really, really well and in moderation and some days not even hitting my points allotment I only lost two pounds.

What the [loudly shouted expletive]?

I know I know I know two pounds is a commendable loss.
I know it is a safe per-week loss according to all those reports from doctors I've been reading about in my health magazines all these years, but
that's it?

It's better than a gain, so there's that.

My plan is to continue on the same eating course I've been on, up my exercises - shooting for twice a day if possible - and upping my daily time on the Air Climber, even if I have to get up even earlier to do so.

This is that important to me - and my health.

Plus, like the good Joan Baez said,

"Action is the antidote to despair."

I'm sure the "despair" she speaks of is a lot worse than the "despair" I'm feeling this morning, but I'm sure she'd be glad to know her words came into my e-mail inbox at precisely the right moment.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Books of 2010: "The Thorn Birds"

I finished my first Book of 2010 tonight.
I reread - probably for the fourth time since discovering it as a young teen on Mommalah's bookshelf - Colleen McCullough's "The Thorn Birds."

This tale of a priest - Father Ralph de Bricassart - who falls in love with Meggie Cleary, who he's known since she was a young girl in the early-1900s Australia is sordid, heartbreaking and one of those books that Takes You There.

The book spans 54 years - 1915-1969 - and three generations of the Cleary clan, and takes place in the continent's sheep country. It's a hard life for Meggie, as the only female aside from her emotionally unavailable mother Fee. Ralph is her one bright spot, her one talisman that keeps her going, even when he leaves her for the priesthood's big show: The Vatican.

Though she marries Luke, a slight doppelganger of Ralph, the real love of her life will always be Ralph, who eventually fathers her beloved son Dane, who goes into the priesthood himself and tragically drowns soon after becoming ordained.
{Luke fathered Justine, the daughter Meggie never got along with.}

McCullough's writing is effortless to read and even though you know the love and attraction between Ralph and Meggie is morally wrong, is true love ever really wrong?

I don't think so.

Especially when the cover image is from the ABC mini-series and features Richard Chamberlain as Ralph and Rachel Ward as Meggie.
{I mean, Richard Chamberlain as Ralph de Bricassart? Who wouldn't?}

The series aired in March 1983 and was the second highest-rated mini-series behind "Roots." I saw parts of it as a teen, but never in its entirety.

Now, of course, I desperately want to rent it, not only to see Richard as Ralph, but to see if the translation from page to screen was a worthy translation because the book is that stellar.

When Ralph and Meggie finally consummate their years of passion, your heart almost bursts for them because, really, is anything really as horrible as unrequited love?

So when they finally are able to act on this love that has built and boiled under the surface, Ralph must leave to go back to Rome, never to be Meggie's again.

There's no happy ending for the two of them. Their passion-filled tryst at a beach side cabin is to be enough, no matter the pain that follows.

The book is brilliantly named after a mythical bird which is said to search from the moment it cracks through its egg for the perfect thorn to impale itself. Just before it dies, it sings the sweetest, most beautiful song.

"... One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain ... or so says the legend."

Like that bird, Meggie and Ralph had their one chance to sing their beautiful song, and that was it.

It'd be a horrible book because of how tragic it is ... if it wasn't such an incredible, breathtaking story.

"The Thorn Birds" by Colleen McCullough.
Copyright 1977.
692 pages, paperback.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

An angelic dining experience

Last night, the old folks invited me to dinner at Olive Garden because Papa had a gift card from work.
Naturally, I accepted.
{As I would any one who offers to take me to dinner.}

I was interested to see how I would handle my first non-controlled meal of The (New) New Regime, especially at a place that brings delicious bread sticks repeatedly to your table.

It would have been so easy to go with the stuffed chicken Marsala* Mommalah got because it sounded yummy, or the steak and gorgonzola Alfredo** I've had before, but I wanted to behave so I went with the grilled salmon and broccoli.

I had soup as an appetizer and
bread stick.

Not. A. One!

Can you see my halo?
I can!

*A whopping 32 Weight Watcher points!!
**I was afraid to check the points value in fear of heart attack

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The New Regime: Lunges are bastards.

Today's exercise challenge was to do 50 squats and 50 lunges.

I hate hate hate lunges.
My legs hate hate hate lunges.
I think everyone hates hates hates lunges, too.
{And if they don't they're probably bastards, too. Ever-so-sweetly just sayin'.}

In the morning, I did half the squats before Air Climbing and half after, forgetting about the lunges until I read my e-mail after exercising.

About halfway through the day, I got excited to come home and exercise, and then quickly wondered what the hell I was becoming.

I got home and though it was really, really tempting to white flag the evening's exercise because I was famished, I put on my workout clothes and did those damn lunges and Air Climbed again.

Plus, because my short-term memory forgot that we got the 50 squats out of the way this morning, I did 50 more, bring today's squat grand total to 100.
{And who says writers aren't good with math?}

I sent a whiny text to Tiffany saying that her [expletive] lunges will - paraphrasing - never be welcome in my home again, she replied with a previous blog's main point:

No pain,
no gain.

Hmmph. Tell that to my quivering legs!
{But I admit I am feeling pretty bad ass, like I could almost deliver a Sparta kick to somebody's chest ... almost ...}

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The New Regime: Challenge No. 2? MET!

I am extremely happy to report that I survived my 100 required sit ups this morning!!

In fact, they were completed before 7:30 a.m.!
I did 50 before and 50 after Air Climbing, and though it did get rough at the end, I pushed through it.

I felt so accomplished and honestly, I carried myself a little taller today because I felt good about myself.

When I looked in the mirror this morning, I already saw what a difference a few days of being mindful of my eating and actually working out made.

I'm finally chiseling away to the Nikki that's been hidden under all this extra baggage for so long.

But instead of using a hammer to pick at it, I'm going all jackhammer on its ass.

And that's kind of my favorite part.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A challenge has been issued.

First, I'd like to let you know that I'm still calling my current diet and exercise goals The New Regime because:

No. 1: I plain just like the name.
No. 2: I've already created a tag for it.

Now that that's been cleared up, my dear friend Tiffany - who I've written about here before and who has always been my "thinspiration" - and I are trying to keep ourselves on track together, despite me living here in NEPA and she out in Pittsburgh.

We are going to do daily calls, e-mails or texts to each other to motivate ourselves and hold ourselves accountable.

One of our goals is to take part in the inaugural Red Cross 5K in March.

Tiff decided today that we need to issue ourselves little challenges to keep us constantly on our toes.

Today's was easy: Drink eight glasses of water.
It's something I do pretty much every day because I love water, so wasn't too much of a stretch for me.

However, that doesn't mean I didn't feel the benefits of really making sure I got my eight in.

I am usually starving beyond belief by the time noon rolls around (and I eat a well-balanced breakfast every day), but today, because I was mindful of continually sipping my water bottle, I ate an hour and a half later because - I can't believe I'm even typing this - I wasn't hungry.

Say what? I'll say it again:
I. Wasn't. Hungry.

Since we both did swimmingly on our challenge, we decided to keep it up tomorrow, and then Tiffany added this wrench: Plus do 100 sit ups.

Are you serious?
I'll die.
I can barely do 40 when I "work abs" without wanting to cry or stop from the sharp, searing pain of working a muscle that is buried under years of bad, bad, bad food!

But I accepted the challenge with determination.

No guts, no glory.
No pain, no gain.

Isn't that what Under Armour-clad gym rats and girls who can wear a sports bra as a top at the gym say?

Do you think I can do it tomorrow?
Stay tuned!

Introducing the 'Books of 2010' segment.

Last night, as I nestled all snug in my Snuggie whilst rereading "The Thorn Birds," I decided I wanted to keep a running tally of the books I've read in the course of the coming 12 months.

I'm calling it, quite whimsically, the "Books of 2010" segment.
{What can I say? My creativity level was pretty high when I came up with it.}

I've always been an avid reader, but sadly, my book reading has been relegated to a few minutes before bed to relax me from my often hectic days. I've also been playing catch up with a bunch of magazines too, which I do also love, but kind of makes my book worm feel kind of dirty.

I would like to change that, broaden my reading horizons - as soon as I finish this tragic, saucy and sordid tale of improper love that makes me swoon.

Plus, it will certainly help me keep my resolution of writing something for me daily if I'm blogging about them! That's called teamwork methinks!

What books do you plan on reading this year, and do you have any recommendations for a fellow book worm?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Eating good is definitely in season.

I was so excited to grocery shop last night - and not only because Mom gave me a $100 gift card to my grocer, which essentially meant this trip was free.

No, I was excited because I was going to buy food - good-for-me food.

I stocked up on a plethora of fruits and vegetables - salad, cucumber, avocados (my serious addiction), oranges, broccoli and red peppers, as well as tofu, Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizzas (my very serious addiction) and Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches (my very, very serious addiction).
{I am proud to report that I've yet to eat two of said ice cream sandwiches in one day. Keyword is clearly "YET."}

I felt like I was conquering my fridge.
Like I should put up a flag that said, "I stake this land out for only good things that will keep me on track."

I'm going to make guacamole. Tofu fettuccine Alfredo. Steamed veggies with a few sprays of butter and dry ranch dressing.

I'm going to keep buying these fruits and veggies, changing it up a bit so as not to get bored, and I'm going to not only conquer that fridge of mine, but also my obsession with food.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I do, old typewriter, I do!

Last night, I watched "Starting Out in the Evening," a lovely little film about the relationship between grad student Heather, played intriguingly by Lauren Ambrose, doing her thesis on her favorite author, played by the always amazing Frank Langella.

Langella plays Leonard Schiller, an aging novelist who received accolades early in his career, but now has been struggling with his next book for the past decade. His books are no longer in print and all but forgotten save for Heather.

Leonard sets aside a certain number of hours and days he writes and sticks with them religiously, usually dressed in crisp slacks and button-down shirts (just the way I like my men dressed), and pecks away behind his typewriter.

Long after I watched the movie, I was still haunted by the image of Leonard writing clackity-clack behind an old-school writing utensil such as the typewriter.

I became slightly obsessed with looking at photos on the Interweb of old typewriters today, almost as obsessed as I was with writing.

I've been feeling so inspired to write lately, be it here at Ramblings On, in my journal or in my haiku/tanka notebook. Seeing "Starting Out in the Evening" only fed the fire that needs to come out of my fingers and onto a page.

I wish I could have been one of those literary greats from those days in New York, like Dorothy Parker and her cohorts on the Algonquin Round Table. I'd like to have written, toiled and created behind a rickety typewriter, feeling those round buttons slam against the white pages with words - my words.

I'd like to take that typewriter above, move to a delightful apartment in New York circa the 1920s-1930s and marry it.

We'd live in that apartment together quite happily, I reckon, drinking Manhattans from gold-gilded glassware, maybe smoking ever-so-gracefully from a pearl holder, surrounded by books, books and more books as we wrote and wrote, hoping that someday, an aspiring novelist such as myself would blog about wanting to be like me many, many years later.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dog-eared resolutions, and others.

And so another year has come to pass.
2009 was a bitch and a half, but I still thought it was a pretty great year.
I met a lot of amazing people, deepened some relationships - and ended some, interviewed some great people, did some fabulous things and really found out what's important in life:

Enjoying every moment, big or small, happy or sad.

Life is too short to pretend to be happy - you have to be happy.
With yourself, with your choices, with the people you surround yourself with if you ever want to make your pursuit of happiness a reality.

For the first time in all the years I've been journaling my resolutions - if you must know, I've been keeping a journal since 1994 and am currently writing in book No. 20 - I think I've made ones that are finally attainable.

Gone is the lose 25 pounds by the time I'm done writing the resolution list out, gone is the pay off credit cards in the same unattainable time span.

Herewith the official, one-day-old Nikki's 2010 Resolutions:

1. To strive to be kinder, gentler and less stressed, to go with the flow, where the wind takes me, etc, etc ...
2. To be healthier, in food intake and exercise output.
3. To continue squirrelling away savings.
4. To write something every day for me, be it in journal, a haiku or tanka, blog or working on novel(s).
(I might even be so bold as to break out a creative writing book that has prompts for every day of the year!)
5. To keep a better, more organized household.

What do you resolve to do for yourself in 2010?