Monday, October 31, 2011

And Now for Something Entirely Different

Clark, Skovs & Moores - Oh My!
Happy relaxed Halloween!

Yup. Relaxed, for the first time in 15 years. Well, relaxed on this specific day/week/month.

The only costumes I worked on were the ones Dale and I wore. I did help my Dear Old Dad with his Pirate Chief make-up a little bit. But Deb had his costume ready to go and he was pretty self sufficient.

The only laundry I had to do was my own. I didn't have to help anyone discern what to be, nor did I have to lament over the fact that the costume they love is simply not their size.

The young 20-somethings carved pumpkins during their fall break and I used my favorite Halloween decorations from the now-defunct-shop to actually decorate my house for the first time in a decade and a half. I've been working pretty normally scheduled days and the only cooking I've been doing is for my own family. No extra vacuuming, sweeping, sorting, or drinking.

And on Friday of Halloween weekend we kenneled the dog at Beauty and the Beast and drove down the spectacularly gorgeous river valley to my home town-that-time-forgot, Galena, Illinois. We visited with friends and dressed up for the Halloween Parade and costume contests. My step-sister's family joined us and a great time was had by all!

Today was a relatively normal Monday and I realized that a woman with an orange, vintage motorcycle really should take it for a ride on All Hallows Eve. So off I went about an hour before sunset for an exhilarating ride on the gravel roads of the Cannon River valley.

Tonight I lit all the candles in the house decorations and posed my Gnome, Gnorbert II, with various decorations. It was all very relaxing and non-stressful, and probably healthy.

But there are no trick-or-treaters at our rural door. And the costume shop looks simply pathetic.

And I miss my friends the Costumers and our faithful Customers.

* * sigh * *

I guess I will need to find something entirely different to do next year! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday Update

In February I posted an entry titled T is for Tuesday in which I confessed my issues with weight. I had done a little bit of research about my particular situation and felt compelled to make a public pronunciation at the time. I tracked back to that particular post because I realized that it is time for an update.

I got off to a very slow start . . .

But in April an announcement went around my office in New York inviting staff to participate in another round of an office pool "Biggest Loser" contest. The rules also stated that one must work from the New York office to participate. I objected from my home office in Minnesota. When they explained the need for someone else to weigh me and report my progress on the same scale every three weeks, I suggested that I could exercise my YMCA membership and have a personal trainier weigh me and send my results. My colleagues agreed and I paid my $20 participant fee. Let the competition begin!

I received some tips from the office, but I also had a new iPhone and a friend introduced me to the MyFitnessPal application. You can access this very helpful interactive tool on the internet with a regular computer, too. I began using the app to help me simply track my food intake and calorie output with daily activities and planned exercise. Over the course of six months I have lost 20 pounds and placed second in the office pool. I couldn't be more pleased and proud. My body Mass Index has dropped to 28.3 so I have officially shed enough of me to downgrade from being obese to overweight. My next goal is a BMI under 25 to be deemed officially "healthy" weight.

I know many, many people who struggle with food and weight and my heart goes out to each and every one. I dropped my first ten pounds by willing myself to cease drinking Coca-Cola. But knowing that this woman needs incentives and rewards, I gave myself permission to drink one Coke a week (usually on Friday) and to take one day off each week: I eat whatever I want and don't track it at all. I do my level best to eat healthier foods, smaller portions, and I track all my activities using the fitness calculator. THe daily net calorie goal really works for me. I try and walk at least twice a day for a minimum of 20 minutes, and if I can't fit that in I crank up the tunes on my iPod and take a 3 pm Dance Break for 10 minutes. (Yes, I have danced like a maniac in my assigned cubicle in the New York office. It caused incredulity and hilarity. I think it helped releive stress for others, too.)

I haven't lost as much as quickly as my friend who enrolled with Slimgenics. And I have other friends looking better and better using Weight-Watchers. It is clear to me that we have to do what works for us and not the same thing works for everybody. And our national bipolar culture of food, obsessing about being skinny yet producing food in huge portions with far to many non-nutritive fillers, designed to be eaten quivkly, sabotoges healthy eating habits.

I am grateful for the 20 pounds I have lost. I am even more grateful for feeling better in a healthier lifestyle. I am also hitting one of those dreaful plateaus. I began my backslide last week and gained two pounds. In fact all but one of us in the office pool gained in the most recent three-week segment. We appealed to the HR Department for help through our medical plan and we were warned. In the fall, when days grow shorter and temperatures grow cooler, human metabolism shifts to prepare for the colder weather to come. We naturally feel hungrier. So this is the time to lock elbows in our effort, support one another with good habits, be diligent in counting our calories and taking time to exercise.

It is also clear to me that guilt, shame, and helplessness are all completely unuseful in this journey. It really has become for me more about how I feel, physicall, emotionally, and spiritually, not about how I look. (Although someone noticing how I look now and then certainly doesn't hurt. Thank you!)

The next 20 pounds won't be as easy. Dropping the Coke habit was a good boost to get me started. Now I actually have to work at it, especially since I am not yet willing to give up my beloved beer! So I guess I just need to exercise more.

Feel free to friend me at MyFitnessPal where I am known as Bskov. Or just keep an eye on my counter on this blog on the right. I'll cheer you on and share my tips and trips in an effort to be accountable to myself, my community, and my committment.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Sale is On . . . . Almost

For the past 15 years I have spent this particular week of October, post-wedding-anniversary-week, cleaning and organizing the costume shop in preparation for the annual opening for the Halloween season. It usually entails me spending every available minute in the shop and pacing back and forth between the old granary and the laundry room in the house, hauling loads of laundry across the driveway.

This year I'm spending the week saying good bye to costumes that have become old friends. My Halloween season will only be three days long this year, October 6, 7, & 8, as we attempt to sell off the inventory with all of its accessories and decorations for good. Once and for all. Forever. Wow.

Little did they know it, but Arthur and Marisol and some friends gave me the unexpected pleasure of costuming one more group as they prepared to go to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on Saturday morning. I manhandled a couple of costume rookies into a monk's robe and a musketeer costume. Robin Hood mostly costumed himself, as did Arthur, Ian, and Marisol. They indulged me by posing for pictures. Little did they know they would be the last group I sent out in costumes expecting to welcome them back. It was such a gift.

My best friends are all showing up to help with various preparations this week. Peggy keeps volunteering for "slave labor." I continue to advise her that it isn't slave labor when one openly volunteers. Peggy and Norma spent the afternoon with me painting signs today. Truaxes and Wanamakers came out to pitch the tent for the premium costumes tonight. Dale and Arthur have been helping haul heavy stuff around. And Janet, Peggy, and Mary have helped divide the personal keepsakes from the salable inventory. Over the next four days I will be blessed with help from the nine most dedicated friends and volunteers. Kathy, Mary, Barb, Dani, Beth, Linda, Phyllis, Janet, and Katie - you will never know how grateful I am for the help, and mostly the companionship and friendship, you have offered over the years. I can't wait to see everyone this weekend. We have to pack our entire Halloween season into three days!

Tomorrow I begin the pricing game and Thursday we open the doors on the tent and the shop to send it all off for good. I'm really not sure how I feel about all of this. So if you're in the neighborhood, drop in to say hello. We're charging for costumes and other household treasures, but hugs are always free!

FYI - we're selling some old furniture, antiques, camping equipment, and miscellaneous household items, too. Should be a good sale. Hope to see you this weekend!