Archives for category: Challenge Accepted!

Well, another Heedfest has come and gone and I can say that after the 24 Day Challenge from Advocare, I lost 10 pounds!  I’m so happy with the results and recommend Advocare to anyone wanting to start a healthier lifestyle with a kick start in the right direction.  I didn’t reach my goal 100% but I’m confident with enough time, I could get back down to where I need to be.  Staying on program even gearing up for festivals you’ve been waiting for all year isn’t as hard as you would think, but I realize that I have a lot of practice with dietary restrictions because I’m a lacto-ovo-pesco-vegetarian (milk-egg-fish for all you non-Latin speaking people), so there have been plenty of times when I couldn’t eat anything at a gathering anyways.

And after the festival I lost an additional 2 pounds, bringing my total weight loss to 12 pounds!

Here is a list of the foods I miss the most now that I’ve changed my ways:

1.  Beer – I’ll admit, I haven’t completely given this up but I used to have more of it and I miss that.

2.  Cupcakes, Whoopie Pies, Cookies, Cake – basically any baked good.  I love cake more than any other dessert so it’s been tough not having an occasional cookie here and there.  I even made cookies the other day for a coworker and it took everything I had will power-wise to not eat one.

3.  Ice Cream & Fro Yo – Nothing can take the place of peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream or a big bowl of fro yo covered in almonds and strawberries.  Sigh.  Also, Pinkberry is my favorite fro yo but it’s only in NYC and Japan.

4.  Mac & Cheese – I love everything about macaroni and cheese, especially with lots of pepper.

5.  Slushies – These are low in fat but 100% sugar and ice.  I miss them so much, especially when the temperatures seem to be stuck around 100 degrees every day.

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I decided to try Advocare, and the cleanse was really challenging but very rewarding.  Now that it’s over I’ve really learned to appreciate the foods I eat more than ever.  It sort of got me to start thinking of food as fuel again, rather than purely entertainment, comfort, etc.  I’ve cut most of the sugar out of my diet and I rarely miss it.  However, there are many temptations and it can be hard at times to stick 100% to the plan.  The worst thing is the beautiful free goodies people bring in at work (see below) because work is stressful and I love to eat sweets and carb-heavy foods when I’m stressed.

At the 14 day mark, I had lost 6 pounds and some inches!  More importantly, I’m feeling a lot better, which makes it hard to find good excuses to avoid the gym anymore.  I notice, too, that I’m working harder at the gym probably because I’m feeling less icky and tired all the time.  I realized that it’s probably not normal for a 25-year-old to be so tired just from working and so forth.  More updates to follow!

I avoided starting an actual diet for a long time, but I realized a while ago that I don’t eat all that well.  An average week’s worth of dinners would include pizza, ravioli, pizza, spaghetti, mac and cheese, pizza, and going out.  Obviously some weeks were better than others and we did get some fresh food in there sometimes.  But almost every meal started with getting into the freezer, which I’ve learned to be a bad sign because it could mean most of what we eat was heavily processed and barely nutritious.

So a friend at work suggested Advocare and after some research, I signed up and ordered their 24-Day Challenge (more on this to follow in another post).  I started Sunday, June 10 so I spent Saturday, June 9 pigging out on all my favorites that I knew I would miss – cereal, bread, sugar, etc.

I went for an iced latte at Ghostlight Coffee and got to enjoy their new patio.  (The delicious whoopie pie from Thistle Confections that I devoured was not able to be photographed for obvious reasons.)

I finished out the night by enjoying a beer flight followed by an Oberon at Chappy’s Tap Room.  (Mac and cheese not able to be photographed – again, devoured.)

Starting Sunday, I started my new diet and after several days, I can tell you I really am feeling a lot better.  The junk I was eating way too often wasn’t helping me reach my weight loss goals because it made me feel icky and sluggish and tired all the time.  I’ll let you know how much weight I’ve lost as soon as I finish the cleanse portion of the 24-Day Challenge.

Friends, I would love to report that I have so far achieved great and promising success at my challenge to lose 25 pounds by Heedfest (an annual festival held in July) but, alas, I have not really lost any weight at all.  It’s not all doom and gloom, however.  In the process of trying to lose weight, I’ve managed to get about 100% more in shape than I was when I started this whole endeavor.  I’m calling that a midterm win for the time being because it’s such a promising lifestyle change.

There are a lot of benefits to being more in shape.  For instance, you can take a flight or two of stairs at a jaunty pace and have enough breath left over to giggle at the people huffing and puffing around you.  Another boon is that I shaved some time off my 5K walk/run.  My muscles are more toned, I’m getting back into yoga, and I’m looking forward to going to the gym – even on a bad day – which is a HUGE difference from wanting to bury all of my emotions under a pile of ice cream. (Although, if you’re buying, Homemade Peanut Butter n’ Chip, please!)

My current favorite piece of equipment (because it kicks my butt) is the elliptical stepper thing.  I’ve included a picture because I’m finding out not a lot of people know what I’m talking about.  It must not be a common machine.

We balance our exercise time really well by utilizing the “anytime” in Anytime Fitness and spending nice, sunshiney days off outside walking on the trails with Julia!  You can read about our adventures in nature here.

It was a long road but I’ve finished listening to every single Robert Pollard-related song, album, EP, etc. ever released as of April 14, 2012.  (Yes, that includes the Jon the Croc single.)  If you didn’t think I’d make it, I can’t blame you because at 1,771 songs totaling 2 full days, 21 hours, 13 minutes, and 17 seconds, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this challenge or not.  (Please read this and this if you want to see how far I’ve come.)

If you don’t believe that I did it, or you’d just like to see proof, please see my page by clicking here.

Now I’m not really sure what to listen to…

I’m fast approaching the halfway point, so I thought I would share what I’ve encountered so far on this journey (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this first):

1.  My husband says “This is my favorite song” once every 5 or 6 songs.

2.  Not all Robert Pollard songs ::cough::Nightwalker::cough:: lend themselves easily to working out at the gym.

3.  Explaining the AO journey to non-fans makes you seem like a crazy person.

4.  People will therefore change the subject when you talk about AO – my advice is to let them.

5.  Being someone who sings fairly constantly, I’ve had to stay on top of my habit of trying to look up songs on YouTube when I forget lyrics, notes, or the key to a song that gets stuck in my head.  Twice I’ve started walking towards my computer with the intention of doing this and both times I caught myself before getting into the room.  It’s tricky.

And a thought that I had (because you can’t silence the anthropologist in me forever):  AO is like going from a lay person in a religion to an ascetic.  This is the Robert Pollard fan equivalent to a vow of silence or a vow of poverty, etc.  It’s just not as bad as flailing because it’s completely passive – you just let the music play and stay vigilant to make sure you don’t repeat songs or listen to ANYTHING else.

Image borrowed from GBVDB (awesome website, go visit now!)

What better way to kick off Hot by Heedfest than to attempt the rigorous Alpha Omega journey of Robert Pollard’s music?  The rules are unnervingly simple:  Listen to all Robert Pollard releases back to back in chronological order without skipping, repeating, or listening to anything else.  Anything means absolutely anything – no Pandora, no demos from your friend’s band, nothing on a juke box, etc.  Ambient music at a restaurant or store is understandable but even your friend’s radio in his car while you’re carpooling has to be silenced.  In the end, if you’re successful, you receive bragging rights and a cool T-shirt from Rockathon Records (because they are the nicest people ever).  The difficulty, as I understand it, lies in the fact that you can’t repeat songs, even when they’re really really good (and unfairly short – i.e. “Hey Aardvark”).  Also, Guided by Voices breaks up in 2003 but somehow there are still, I don’t know, 1,000 songs after that?  It’s going to be a wild ride.  And the Acid Ranch stuff is going to give me nightmares…

I have a lot of advantages other Robert Pollard fans may not have:  My husband has completed Alpha Omega twice but attempted it a few more times than that.  He’s my Alpha Omega coach and iPod manager.  Also, because he’s such a big fan, he already had most of the music he needed to complete it before he even attempted AO.  By now we own everything I will need, yes, even that.*

Updates to follow, but until then you can follow my progress on

*Any rare EP or hard-to-find side project that you can think of.

The arrival of summer ushers in many dreaded things – bugs, sunburns, all of the awkward times you try to go swimsuit shopping, actually having to wear said swim suit… But summer brings many delightful things, too.  Namely, the ability to sit outside comfortably, lighter clothing, an increase in the likelihood that real lemonade will be available just about anywhere.  Of course, the best part of summer is the annual Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard festival called Heedfest, which takes place somewhere in Dayton each year.  With no special holidays to look forward to in the summer, Heedfest has taken on Thanksgiving-level  significance in my household for the 6 years that it’s been going on.

With Heedfest being the only recurring summer event in my life, I decided to use the date on which it takes place as the goal for my weight loss plan and call it something catchy like Hot by Heedfest (I’m very susceptible to catchy slogans).  That’s right, I’ve just joined 1,000,000 other bloggers who actually write about weight loss stuff, and I’m sorry.  But getting it out there makes it real.

To motivate myself to work out all week and try to limit some of my many calories in the day (why do they make cupcakes so damn pretty?) I have a killer work out mix from the last time I consistently worked out (::cough:: 2007 ::cough::).  Here it is:

  • Holidays in the Sun – The Sex Pistols
  • Oh Bondage, Up Yours! – X-Ray Spex
  • Teenage Kicks – The Undertones
  • TV Party – Black Flag
  • Janie Jones – The Clash
  • Ex-Lion Tamer – Wire
  • Man Called Aerodynamics – Guided by Voices
  • Judy is a Punk – The Ramones
  • Pictures of Lily – The Who
  • No Cars Go – Arcade Fire
  • Thank You For Sending Me an Angel – Talking Heads
  • Hyper Enough – Superchunk
  • Wave of Mutilation – Pixies
  • Aneurysm – Nirvana

The plan is this:  I’m going to work out at Anytime Fitness, try to keep track of my calories using the app Lose It!, and try to limit my weekend fun a smidgen.  When I get bored, I will find classes or something fun to reward myself.  This shouldn’t be terribly difficult – I’ve already been doing this for 3 weeks now – but it took me 4 years to get into this mess and it might take me that long to really be out of it.  I had 25 pounds to lose, I’m already down 2.  Wish me luck!  Updates along the way (including new playlists), I promise!

President’s Day is a great day to reflect on the influence the presidents of the past have had on our lives…but it’s also a great day to get back into crafting (for me since elementary school).  Businesses are open but I (along with my sister Beth, and her friend [well, my friend too – if she’s cool with it.  How about it, Kayleigh?] Kayleigh) had the day off.  Conditions were perfect for an afternoon of crafting – a “Crafternoon” if you will.

Our day began at Butter Cafe so we would have the strength and fortitude for marathon shopping and jewelry making.  My sister got the breakfast wrap, I ordered the Vegan Scramble.  We left feeling invincible.

Next came the task of acquiring more coffee – so off to Ghostlight Coffee we went.

With an adequate amount of caffeine coursing through our bodies, it was time to revisit a bead store I vaguely remembered from going with my craftier friends in middle school.  Heliotrope Art Studio is located off of Siebenthaler Road in a small patch of artist colony that must have wafted in from Yellow Springs by accident.  The moment you walk in, the plethora of beads overwhelms your vision.  All I wanted to do was run around the tiny store touching all the beads!!  But being aware of social norms, I decided to behave.

With beads in hand, we bought the rest of the fixin’s at Hobby Lobby (“Hob Lob” for short) and settled in my living room to start crafting.

Beth’s bracelet looks perfect!

Kayleigh’s necklace is amazing.

You may remember my challenge to create the Catalina (Wine Mixer) necklace from Touchstone Crystals (if not click the link, go ahead…click it).

I tried my very best but unfortunately I am beyond rusty and it didn’t work out as I had hoped.  First I changed the findings from bright gold to bright silver because that’s all I could find.  Then I picked the wrong thread – I’ll need to remake the necklace with something stronger.  I’ll post updates as I figure this whole jewelry-making thing out.

That same day, my husband and I watched the Portlandia episode where they sing a song about people who make jewelry.  I pretended not to notice the sarcasm.  Sigh.

So the end result for me wasn’t awesome but I had a great time – and this won’t be our last Crafternoon.  In fact, maybe in the next one we can make T-shirts that say “CRAFTERNOON” so we’ll always have something to wear while crafting!  …I might be getting a little ahead of myself.