Saturday, May 30, 2009

Turning Twenty

Any of you who have ever had trouble with their weight will understand when I say that there is usually an ominous number on that scale that you can never quite get under. As you gain and lose and gain again, the number itself may change, but the feeling never does. You look down and think, 'Geez, I've been doing so well, but I don't think I'm ever going to get below that.'.

Well, I have. I haven't been this successful at losing weight since I did Atkins for the first time 4 years ago. Granted, it's not all my hard work that's doing it, the Thyroid replacement pills I'm on have been working wonders.

I'm not starving or willingly depriving myself, just eating the foods that don't make me sick, and exercising for a few minutes every morning. It's been 2 months, and I've lost 20 pounds.

I'm feeling pretty good.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick Post

I tried to post a couple days ago, but the computer ate my draft. It's been that kind of week.

I'll start by saying that the jerks at Microsoft have screwed me over. As many of you know, I am a recent convert to gaming. Before Sean, I thought video games were at the root of many of society's problems, from so called ADD to obesity and of course violence in youth. Actually, I still have oppinions on these topics, but I'll save all that for another post. This is about Microsoft's 'Help' staff being (pardon me) dick heads.

I've always had an XBox Live 'Silver' account. It basically lets you play the games, and add friends and accumulate 'gamer points', but does not let you play online. Up until recently, I was okay with that, especially since the Silver memberships are free and the Gold memberships cost about $70/year. Now Xbox 360 has come out with a live online game show called 1 vrs 100, and I decided I wanted to try it out. Sean had a free 1 month trial kicking around, so I entered the information into the Xbox and... long story short, I don't exist.

Here's what we've gleaned so far: (and by we, I mean Sean, since he handled all of this, which I must say is extremely fortunate for the moron who took our call.) To have a Silver or Gold membership, you need to have a Microsoft account. If you use MSN messenger or Hotmail, you already have one. As I don't use msn or Hotmail, back when I signed up for the account, I used my email address for login purposes. What I didn't know was to keep your account active, you have to sign in with Microsoft or one of it's products every 3 months or they delete you. You might be playing on the Xbox 24hrs a day, but if you don't login to thier website, msn or hotmail, you're toast.

So what happens to all those lovely gamer points you've painstakingly been collecting? And all those really cool achiements you've busted your butt to get? They are stuck in your dormant account which you are welcome to continue using, but you'll never be able to upgrade your account, change your contact information, or update in any way.

So I've started afresh. I have a shiny new account, with a pathetic amount of gamer points and a handfull of achievements. On the bright side, I can replay all my old games and experience it like it's the first time, but that takes a lot of time and effort. Oh well, you've got to roll with it.

The funniest thing is I am fully aware of how ridiculous this all is, yet I'm still a little dissapointed. After all, these are imaginary points earned by doing imaginary deeds in imaginary worlds on a game console. It's meant to be entertainment, or a toy even. Even as I type this I'm wondering how long it's going to take me to re-play Fable 2 so that I can play the new expansion...

As a parting thought, can you imagine what would happen if Sean or Jeff lost all their gamer points? It's a good thing Obama closed Guantanamo.

Friday, May 8, 2009


I think I'm mutating.

I used to daydream about French cooking with butter and eggs and lots of gruyere. Now I catch myself yen-ing after tofu steaks and wondering about the many applications of guar gum. 

Vegan food now brings about salivating instead of gag reflexes, and getting up early to exercise seems like a nice way to start my day.

When did I start being one of those people I so enjoy making fun of? 

It's been exactly a month since I went off the deep end. How do I feel? Marvelous, if somewhat hypocritical. I never actually believed natural mumbo-jumbo and homeopathic pills filled with powdered monkey nuts (or whatever) could fix my broken bits, but they seem to!

I'm enjoying healthy food and exercise again, and have the energy to do things. I'm sleeping (and waking) better and I've had virtually no allergy symptoms. I've also had improvements on other fronts since I started taking supplements for my low thyroid. 

I'm not preaching, I'm just freaking out. I can't believe the changes I'm seeing and feeling. I'm just stupid happy about it all. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Courageous Coupon Collectors

I've always been in awe of women like my Mother (and also my Sister in-law) who painstakingly slog through piles of flyers, adverts and coupon booklets in search of the best deal. My Mom tries to help me by calling or emailing me about deals, and my Sister in-law has even started a blog to show the world how to stretch a buck. Growing up, my Mom & Dad were able to clothe, feed, and shelter us on what I now know was often only the 50% pension my Dad was receiving following his wrongful dismissal suit.

My Mom zips around to probably 4 or 5 different stores each week to do her grocery shopping. She reads all the flyers, collects the coupons, and makes a game plan for the week. If ground beef, or milk, or toilet paper is on for really cheap, the family goes to the store to buy the maximum number of items allowed (often through different line-ups). This is how I was brought up.

Despite all this, I've never bothered checking flyers, using coupons or shopping around. I figured flyers were a sneaky way to draw you into the store and make you think things are on sale when they really aren't. I've also noticed that when Safeway does their BOGO sales, that the 1st item costs as much as 2 items anyway. I guess I always figured that my time spent doing all that was worth more than the couple of bucks I could have saved.

A few things lately have changed my mind.

My Sister in-law's flyer blog has some great tips as well as links to several other bargain hunters. I was browsing one of them, Stocking the Larder when I stumbled across the $100 grocery challenge.

This woman is trying to feed her family of 4 for a whole month on $100.00 in groceries. I'm ashamed to admit I often spend that much for two people, in a little over a week. It got me thinking, and I guess I'm still thinking.

To explain and/or justify the $$ that I spend, I have to first say that we try to eat local and organic as much as possible. We choose (for the most part) not to by frozen, packaged or processed foods, and therefore get a lot of items, like meats, at specialty shops. I also started to shop at our mid-priced grocery store instead of the lower priced Superstore, because the lines were ridiculously long.

Money has been tight this last year, because we seem to have disaster after disaster, and on top of that, we're both people who like to spend. We've really curbed our spending, but the disasters keep coming. (for example, we have the plumbers coming for the second time tomorrow to rip up our bathroom wall. oh joy.)

I took a look at some online flyers this morning and it didn't take long to see I could save some serious money. Even buying 'whole foods' like fresh & frozen meats, produce, bakery and dairy, I could see differences in prices between my usual haunts and a few convenient alternatives. What really drove it home was knowing that every week I pay around $7/lb for center-cut pork loin chops, when IGA has them on for $3.69/lb.

So it comes down to whether I'm willing to compromise my ideals to save some money. I'm not sure. The locally raised organic meats we buy are far superior to the supermarket USA imports. I also really like buying fruit & veg directly from the farmers at markets, and that is usually a little more expensive too. At the same time, can I afford not to save some money?

I think I'll take the weekend to mull it over while I take in the flyers. I'll figure out next week's meals, and price them out. If a family of 4 can feed themselves on $100/month, we should be able to too.