March 9, 2010

Stamping on Hamsters

This is Tuesday, so of course I am over on Five Full Plates, oversharing about Dark Events that took place in 1997, oppressing teeny rodents, and prepping to triumph over my closet. Maybe even my garage, which hardly deserves the name. Garages, by definition, hold cars. This cavernous yet completely filled space has not held a car since…well ever. Maybe before we owned it it held one? Since the day we bought the house, which was ages ago--- Maisy was barely more than a FETUS--- it has been used as a tool shed slash poo heap.

Wow. Perhaps I need to NOT Epic Fail the upcoming Spring Clean Challenge with quite the same vigorous lose with which I pursued the 10 in 10 challenge...And now you pop in the back of the head like Gibbs and say, “Ya THINK?”

PS The titular hamsters are metaphorical. I did not ever nor will I in the future stamp on any actual hamsers. I only stamp on the HOPES AND DREAMS of would be Olympic hamsters. *shrug*

Posted by joshilyn at 9:37 AM | Comments (4)

February 18, 2010

Party Poopers

Once I again I completely spaced on telling you I would be at Five Full Plates on Tuesday. I am spacing on a lot of things these days. I am about to achieve cadet status. I hope cadet status comes with a cunning little hat.

SO, if you want to hear me say ethically questionable and possibly inflammatory things about my hate/hate relationship with medication, you can make the clickies here. The title of the entry was “Attack of the Creepy Night Puddings,” and I really thought I had the best title for the week until I saw the one on Jill’s post. She named hers, “Do You Poop Out at Parties.” I initially thought it was going to be a post about how some people can poop anywhere (even at parties!) and how some can only poop alone at home when all other residents are at least five miles away. Heh. I was quite relieved to see it was actually about energy loss and vitamin supplements.

My favorite PLATES moment so far happened today, when Kira posted this GREAT, SOLIDARITY, POWER NOW post about virtue and follow through and determination and doing things correctly and how the hard way is hard but works and is good in its good heart, and my Biffle from the way back back, Lydia, responded by saying, "You and your logic and reason! PSHAW! If I could drink a big cup of poison that would kill my frontal lobe, melt my liver into a fire truck, and cause me to forget my family, I would probably drink it! If it meant I didn’t have to slog through diet and exercise to get thin. Regrettable, but true."

HA! I JUST love her.

And as for that big old cup of poison? My only question is, does it come in fat free chocolate flavor?

Do not forget that you have bare minutes, only until MIDNIGHT TONIGHT to give yourself wholly over to the merciless attentions of the Random Number Generator to win Lori Lansens completely great book, THE WIFE'S TALE.

Posted by joshilyn at 3:53 PM | Comments (4)

February 4, 2010

Go Red on February Fifth

I am off to California to talk with some folks about BACKSEAT SAINTS. Did I ever tell you the original title was TEXAS ROSE RED? Sad, I know, but that is as close to a segue as I can get at butt-thirty in the black morning while hurling myself full tilt toward the airport to catch an early flight. See, it KINDA works, because the book used to have the word RED in the title, and now I am telling you why I want tosupport the AHA’s campaign to raise awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. You can, too, by wearing red on Friday.

Best reason? Girls who go red get more play. Because we live longer.


Posted by joshilyn at 4:37 AM | Comments (12)

October 11, 2009

Up-ly and Forwardish

I need something. (And here my voracious id pipes up to say, “OH YEAH I DO HAVE A NEED! I should place a classified ad to find someone to fill it! Please note that the successful applicant will probably be made out of candy.”) No, id. Bad, id. I mean I need something to re-motivate me.

I finished the American Heart Association’s fitness lifestyle change heart healthy program. Remember? Better U? And I was better. I WORKED hard and I changed my basic habits and was eating better and working out harder and I looked and felt better. Right?

Here is the problem. I am LESS better now than I was a month ago when I finished. I have been too busy to do 5 or 6 boot camps this week, and though I am on the elliptical every day that I miss boot camp, these things are not of equal value. At the same time, I have been constantly putting beautiful things with butter on them into my horrid gobhole. IN A SINGLE IRRITATED WEEK I have gained back two and a half pounds. It took only one week of bitter nomming to undo a full 25% of all that work. I have the metabolism of an expired sea urchin...if I have a perfect PERFECT week of exercise and no candy, I can expect to drop MAYBE half a pound. SO WHY DID I CREATE FIVE WEEKS OF CRAPULANT EFFORT FOR MYSELF???

I knew. I knew what I was doing. YET I did it anyway, making bad choices I knew were bad each time because it MATTERED little to me all of a sudden. I discovered that MAINTAINING my new level of betterness devalued it. As the transformed me became what I was used to being, every day, the NEW became STATUS QUO, and I discovered that I was not nearly BETTER ENOUGH to please myself. So I ate some comforting bacon. I hovered a dress size smaller for LESS THAN A MONTH, my cholesterol 40+ points down, with moderately better eating habits and a good fitness regimen, and I began to think, “Meh. You still are kind of a failure. I mean, I don’t see you doing RUNWAY.”

The longer I remain at the smaller dress size, the less desirable and interesting it is becoming to me. Better is not good enough. Better is actually kinda Loathesome, even. The logic goes like this: “I need to be SUPER MORE EVEN BETTER, and it seems tiresome to try, so I might as well eat everything.” If you followed that, you have a twisty mind. If you not only followed it but can empathize, congratulations, you are very, very mentally ill indeed.

The thing that worked about Better U, for me, was the accountability and sense of competition. Something about doing it so PUBLICLY, posting all those BEFORE numbers, knowing I had to post the AFTER numbers in 10 short weeks...GARGLE. And, even more important than the hstrong possibility of total failure in a public venue, it fostered a desire to WIN. The before numbers were like a SCORE. I was in direct competition with myself, which is the only kind of competition I try to indulge in these days.

I am SO HIDEOUSLY competitive with others that I will destroy whole nations if I think “Winning” is at stake. I am not pleasant during team sports, so I do not play them. In Boot Camp the other day, we divided into four teams and then the leader hurled 4 tennis balls as far and hard as she could, each with a number (1 through 4) on it. One member of each team had to run and snatch up a ball. The tennis ball’s number was a number of points for your team, so everyone was after the ball that said “4.”

I almost killed two people getting to it one round, leaping between them like a crack addled gazelle, and then the next round I did a modified soccer check and peeled off a fine sheet of my own leg-skin, sliding in front of a girl to snatch the 4 from her reaching fingers. I felt cruel words rising in me, things like IN YER FACE and SUCK IT, and I stopped then. Just dropped the ball and quit the game and crept off to bleed quietly on my yoga mat, holding myself in a penitent plank until they were done, so ASHAMED was I. Honestly, if I had continued I suspect it would have ended in hair pulling and profane language.

I try not to even GET in those situations. I do not like the me who is so willing to salt the earth and smite lambs and rend the sky in twain to WIN.

Oh, but OH, how I DO love to win. I can’t give it up. It is delicious. I can’t imagine life without the salty tang of WIN in it, so I compete against myself. BETTER U put me in direct competition with myself, and that is a place where I thrive.

EXAMPLE: I looked at breaking into publishing as a competition with myself, actually. It is VERY HARD to break into publishing, and many people fall into the trap of looking at it as a competition with other writers, as if the publishing world is made of SLOTS and if some lesser book TAKES yours, then that book and its writer have ROBBED you. This attitude makes for some simply beasty-level ugly prima donna unforgiveable and INCREDIBLY boring and self-indulgent whiny behavior. I have MET that girl, I do not LIKE that girl, and I fought like HELL avoid becoming That Girl as I struggled to begin a career as a novelist.

I decided at the front that no one could take MY slot. No one else can write MY books, just as I can’t channel the ghost of Robert Penn Warren and write HIS next book. My books are mine, and (as the great Miss Snark used to say) books are not fungible. There is no slot that MY book was competing to get with other exactly-like books. I only have my voice, and no one else has it. And other writers only have THEIR voices, and if they got a book deal, it was because their voice caught an editor’s ear.

I decided I had to MAKE a slot for me, and if a book of mine got rejected, FINE, it simply was not the right book, not the right editor, and not the right day, and I would go write another book. I would not blame anyone who did get a book contract, because their book was not MY book, and that slot was for THEIR book. The truth is, list or no list, restrictions or no restrictions, when an editor falls for a book, all the way falls, they go to war to get it on their list. I didn’t need to beat another author, or a million other authors. I only needed to write a book that an editor with some power would go to war over. When I got rejected, I girded up my loins, looked at the rejected book as a bar, and tried to leap over it.

I still am this way. I love to set my own bar. I love leaping over it.

So. I need something. I need some sort of public accountability BAR that I set for myself, and then I want to take a run at it. I am trying to have an idea. I am trying to get a posse of my bloggy-style friends have it with me. It is going to happen. IT SHALL, she said willfully with eyebrows lowered and her mouth set to “Mutinous.”

For NOW, starting tomorrow, FIRST THING, I am setting down the butter and backing veryveryvery quickly away, backing away SO quickly that my heart rate rises and stays elevated for a good hour, and then I will drop and give you fifty. I am not going to UNDO any more of my good betterings while I plan out this new competitio---um PLAN. Not competition. This new PLAN to be even more better-er than better me.

TOMORROW. I very vigorously MEAN it. I will be Better again tomorrow.
But er, maybe not today. Today I am taking the kids to Cold Stone Creamery. Heh.

Posted by joshilyn at 4:53 PM | Comments (18)

September 2, 2009

Better U: Afters

This weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year: Decatur Book Fest. I am HUGELY looking forward to it, and trying to get my talk to come together and gel in my head, and excited about seeing people I adore and meeting authors whose books I love and I know many people who are fond of songs (yeah. I don’t get that.) are looking forward to the music and Decatur is a FOOD town, and I am going to Watershed and I am eating the Shrimp and Grits, whose cheese content alone makes my recipe for Fat Potato Fat Fat look positively heart healthy. Whee.

But before I blow it all on cheese grits, I have to tell you, I went back to Dallas for my reassessment! In twelve weeks... I am Better. And I cut all my hair off.


--I lost ten pounds and went down a dress size

--I lost more than three inches in my waist and more than two in my hips.

--My cholesterol went from 199 (pushing maximum density) to 154 (!!!)

--My BMI went down by 1.5, and I am LITERALLY 4 ounces away from moving from the overweight category to the normal one. (Martyred sigh! At HOME my BMI IS in the normal range. I should have taken all my clothes off!)

--I got back on the CRUELTY MACHINE. Remember that? Scroll down to see the pic. It’s a treadmill, and every minute the treadmill rises a degree, inclining upwards from flat into a massive hill, and you have this horrid OXYGEN SPACE SUCKER machine on your head and are hooked to an EKG and a blood pressure cuff. By the end, you feel like you are running straight up a mountain while test driving bondage equipment.

Last time, I stayed on for 15 minutes and 6 seconds.

This time, I stayed on 18 minutes and 44 seconds.

My MET level went up from 10.5 to 11.2, so my fitness catagory remains high. They also have a minute/heartbeat/oxygen processing chart thing scale in the TORTURE ROOM, I mean, stress test room, which measures your fitness level for your age.
You can be Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, or SUPERIOR.
Last time I registered as GOOD. This time? EXCELLENT.

Dudes. I am BETTER. The math SAYs so, and math, for all it is an exacting piece of crap jerk I have hated since middle school, well, I hear MATH does not lie.

If you want to try this program, you can get started by pushing this big red button:

I tell you why this program worked for me---It is REALLY simple, not time consuming, and VERY self-directed. Basically, all I had to do was read some info each week and then I used that info to set goals that were my OWN and fit into my lifestyle, but that corresponded with a specific area I needed to work on to improve my overall heart health.

It is also not FAST. I lost less than a pound a week. If you are looking for a quick fix, this is not it. But fast results require radical changes and I can never sustain radical change. (Heck, I can barely remember we now own FISH. Fish are BAD pets. They do not come and yell and scrape their pointy feet down your leg if the fish-kibble gets low. They do not even HAVE feet, pointy or otherwise, and if Scott was not here to remember they exist...It does not bear examination...)

But fishly digressions aside, this lifestyle, the way I am living now, with Boot Camps and mallowcremes holding hands and running aerobically through a meadow, and plenty of grilled squashes living harmoniously with the idea that no one ever DIED from a Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini...

It is a moderate amount of Moderation. And I can live with that.

Posted by joshilyn at 5:21 AM | Comments (21)

August 31, 2009

Better (Stick A Fork in) U

Because I am done.

I fly back to Dallas this evening, and I will spend all day tomorrow eating fruit and clambering about on the torturous treadmills of the Cooper Institute for Being Super Healthy.

The American Heart Association wants to weigh us and measure us and look at our blood (mine and the blood of my fellow BetterU Bloggers over at Mama Law) and see if we are Better. I feel better, Lord knows. BUT! Tomorrow we will see what my blood has to say. Blood is known for its honesty. Blood does not tell lies. If Blood chopped down the cherry tree, Blood would go to its father and say so directly, with no shilly-shallying or buck passing.

Meanwhile, since I KNEW I was in the HOME STRETCH and was about to be held accountable and be weighed and measured and de-blooded by strangers in another city, I decided to try and undermine 11 weeks of virtue in six days. I was ambushed by mallowcreme Halloween candy, which is COMPLETELY UNFAIR because this is AUGUST. WHY is it even in stores to tempt me? I had my internal resist-mallowcreme clock set to go off in SEPTEMBER, and considering Halloween is the LAST day of October, seemed overly cautious and excessive even to ME. But no. There it was, WHOLE ROWS OF IT in Kroger...

I’ve been doing all this crap with the good eating and the fruit and the careful choices for MORE THEN ELEVEN WEEKS NOW, yes? My HABITS are better. In general. And I’ve been working not to soothe the savage CRAZY via food. Why, not two hours before the Mallowcreme incident, I QUASI-passed a VERY difficult restaurant challenge.

I went out to eat post-church with a bunch of friends, and I KNEW THE RIGHT THING TO DO WAS TO was to not focus on the food but enjoy the company and have this spangled with virtue salad with low-fat dressing that sat ALMOST ALONE on the teeny sidebar heart healthy part of the menu... That would have been WIN. But I WANTED a bacon cheeseburger. At last, my vitals all aflutter in a pathetic internal MENU DITHER, I compromised by having this California shrimp salad. Here in Georgia, "California" means a salad has bacon and avocado...SO I got that, but I ordered it with NO bacon and I had the full fat delicious dressing on the side and ate less than a tablespoon of it. I felt pretty good, even though I blatantly stole three French fried from Maisy. So, maybe not WIN, but certainly a decent push.

Then at Kroger, I ran smack into a cruel Halloween display and my hand reached out like I had lost my OWN good hand in a terrible buzz saw incident and at the hospital, UNBEKNOWNST to me, I was given a transplant hand that had come off a murderer.
A murderer who really liked candy.

That evil hand grabbed a bag of mallowcremey, plastic-y, glossy looking haystacks and pumpkins and cat faces and witch hats and put it in my cart, and deliberately moved the bag from my cart to the check out, and then moved the bag from the check out counter to my home, and then the Bad Hand popped that sucker open and a host of Mallowcremes fell out. I ate of them and ate of them and ate-ate-ate of them until my tongue had sugar burn and I felt violently ill in the very pit of my stomach.

It was awesome.
In fact, I’d do it again. RIGHT NOW.
For BREAKFAST I would do it. Were there any left. *burp*

In other I SUCK news, I have not made it to a BOOT CAMP in a week now due to various schedule conflicts and a little 24 hour Clamminess virus that came home with Maisy and worked its way through the entire family, day by day. It was not very interesting, as Viruses go. (This is a good thing, considering that the INTERESTING viruses make you bleed out through your eyes and die. This was just a little blip.)

One by one, we got weak and headache-y and whiny for 24 – 36 hours, and we would have alternation bouts of having a low grade fever and being unpleasantly clammy. I could nto go to Boot Camp as I was home with Clammy kids or very busy being clammy myself. I did paddle my elliptical, but home work outs are just not as good. I don’t PUSH.

Blah blah, whine wine, excuses, excuses. I had a bad week.

Here’s the thing. I am not sure it matters. Really. So I attacked a bag of Mallowcreme. Eh. No one DIED. No one lost an EYE. And this morning I am up and back on the path of virtue, having a banana and a skinny latte and heading off for an early morning boot camp RIGHT NOW. Even my WAGON-FALLINGS are less bacchanalian and less gluttonous than my old REGULAR FRIDAY NIGHTS. I think that my actual HABITS may have changed over the course of this twelve weeks. I even think it’s possible that some boot camps and a bag of mallowcreme can’t derail me.

I think? I may actually be a little, a little, a little...better.

Posted by joshilyn at 5:20 AM | Comments (12)

August 18, 2009

Better tUesday: Push and RePush Are Eating a Boat

(Psst, a whispered aside to you, only you: The above title makes convoluted sense in my head. Just go with it.)

Have you ever seen that movie, Cloverfield? Scott and I are HUGE fans of any movie featuring rubber puppets attacking from space or brain worms or swamp monsters, so we were ALL OVER Cloverfield. It was the best, most original bit of horror I had seen in YEARS and to this day, we have a standardized, canned, TROPE of a reaction to any mention of the film.

When someone references Cloverfield or we see the box at Blockbuster, our eyes widen, and we get very blinky. By this I mean, we blink too much for a human of average intelligence. We blink like FAWNS do, or Care Bears. And then we say to each other, in hushed, awed whispers, “This is the story of Cloverfield, the monster. He eated EVERYBODY.”

(Psst. PSST over HERE...this whispered aside is to only, only you: I am going to get emails from earnest horror film loving anal retentives who will not be able to stop themselves from painstakingly explaining to me that the monster is NOT named Cloverfield. I think I will reply by saying, “Wow, did I blow THAT one, and guess what? I ALSO just heard from another source that there is no such word as “eated!”)

As you can probably already tell from my tone and the dearth of new blog entries, last week was a VERY bad week.
I was Cloverfield.
The Monster.
I. Eated. Everybody.

I popped the heads off my children and ate them for tiny infractions. I yelled at people who thwarted my desires in traffic. I wept copious lava-hot tears as I downed baggies full of Ghirardelli. I made chocolate martinis ALONE IN MY HOUSE and drank them ALL BY MYSELF until I SAW Pete and Repete sitting in a boat, and Pete fell out, and then I ate Repete and the boat. Pete drowned and I ate his body.

It was a VERY hard week, what with school starting and the 6 foot 4 inch 200+ pound bag of sanity I had the good sense to marry going out of town for 8 days. I made EASY goals to avoid ABJECT failure and subsequent loss of hope. They were:

1) WORK OUT EXTRA to relieve stress.
2) Don’t eat junk food, but do eat a bunch of fruit.
3) Don’t shoot anyone or become a raging alcoholic.

I am pleased to say that in spite of all the horror, I met SEVERAL of these goals. I worked out extra, anyway. I ate a bunch of fruit. Pay no attention to the mounds of freshly turned earth in the back garden, and ignore the clinky-clack of the wine-bottle laden trash bags I am furtively zooming out to the curb.

And on a physical level, it WAS a push. I did not gain any weight. I did not lose any weight. Not an OUNCE either way. I ate five servings of fruit and vegetables every day, neatly balanced by five servings of candy and liquor. I worked out assiduously and very hard. I did not start smoking again or get arrested for any murders or acts of cannibalism I may or may not have committed.

This is, in a way, my third week of PUSH. I have stayed the EXACT same weight for 3 weeks now. One of those weeks was average in terms of eating and exercising, one week I was a GODDESS of virtue and nailed it, and then last week I was the devil. No reaction from the body. I am taking this to mean that my body has a new SET POINT, and I am calling this victory. THAT SAID, I would like within the next 2 weeks – the last weeks of Better U before I fly to Dallas to be re-blood worked and reweighed and measured and re-fitness tested---to see some progress.

And this week is already BETTER. I rocked out yesterday, refinding patience with my loin-spawns, not yelling and turning purple so much, eating beautiful nutritious foods and going to a VICIOUS Boot Camp that has left my muscles all trembley and apologetic. I feel like I am ready to have actual goals again. And since I already quit smoking years ago, as we have discussed these goals are going to be CARRY-OVERS from week ten, which I all but skipped due to being a total MONSTER, which is about role modeling healthy habits for your family.

This week, I made a deal with Scott--- he is NOT going to eat fast food at lunch ANY MORE, and in return, I am not going to Eated Everybody. If he forgets to pack his lunch, he will go to Subway for a sammich that does not feature any form of Salami or Bacon, or to Chick-Fil-A for a multi-grain bun grilled chicken with fruit for a side. Also, he and I are really stepping up the cooking and eating together as family. Last night he made Lime-butter Tilapia and green beans. It rocked. Tonight I am making Salsa Chicken with a Crazy Farm Box watermelon for dessert. And I am encouraging him to get the bike back out and hit the Silver Comet with our son.

Two weeks to go before I am OFFICIALLY BETTER. How Better? We’ll soon see.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:18 AM | Comments (15)

August 12, 2009

Better tUesday: Push

I am WILLING it to be Tuesday. I do not hear you on the subjects of “LATE” and “Wednesday.”
In defense of my stance that today is ABSOLUTELY Tuesday, allow me to tell you it is the first week of school here, and my husband is frolicking about in Rhode Island, eating rare Rhode Islandish delicacies like Mango Coconut Conch Fritters and drinking Papaya Hoochie Punch while basking in a hammock and watching young, trim-waisted Rhode Island girls in grass skirts sway their hips to sound of distant drums.

Scott says that he is actually working on a trade show (right) and that Rhode Island is technically NOT an island speaking geographically, and CERTAINLY not an island in the same exotic rum-rippled blue sky and sea way that, say, The Virgin Islands are islands (a likely story), But here, smack dab in what would be the MIDDLE of back to school week if it was Wednesday which, SHH, we have covered that, it is NOT, trying to single-mommedly juggle bag lunches and laundry and the demands of my own life and job, I am BEHIND.

I think I could have handled it better if it weren’t for the fact that Scott’s absence is causing RAGING INSOMNIA.

(DIGRESSION: OKAY! Yes, three portion controlled meals + two snacks = perfectly adequate fuel for a 16 or even 18 hour day. But my day is stretching to 20 or 21 hours, and I begin to be REALLY hungry. I get four or five hours past dinner, and I am ready for DINNER PART II: SON OF DINNER. I keep calling my buddy Jill and hollering, HELP! I WANT TO EAT THINGS. I WANT TO EAT THEM IN MY MOUTH.)

I am not crating the dog (so that he can protect me when evil murderers or cannibals break into the house, unless of course the evil people have brought cheese cubes, or an ear scratch, or a kind word, in which case his plan is to wag happily at them while they strangle me in my bed.)
But it makes me FEEL better to have him out, and Scott is going to come home to find a Bagel-Dog shaped, shed-fur filled, sumptuous hole in his usual place in the bed. Even with this living pillow, I AM NOT SLEEPING.

While it is true that I DO need 20 hours in the day this week, it does me no good to have the hours available if I am going to be glassy eyed and brain-dead.


In point of fact, there were no cannibals. The contact in the back door appears to be faulty. It went off again for no reason, same door, yesterday, racheting my exhausted nerves up to ELEVEN. (That’s one louder.)

It also did not help that LAST night (which coincidentally also appears to have been Monday Night since today is CLEARLY Better Tuesday) but anyway, last night, very very late, AFTER the alarm had already freaked me out again by spontaneous whonking so I had to DISABLE IT and I was alarmless and vulnerable, the dog LOST HIS MIND and started telling me, emphatically, that there WAS actually a marauding band of cannibals, in the backyard, near the VERY door that has been saying it is being broken into. He was wild-eyed and ADAMANT. The kids were in bed, it was DARK AND LATE, and I was freaked enough by this point to go and GET THE GUN I used to learn to shoot in order to write Backseat Saints.

Then I told the dog to shut his pie hole and went out in the night to kill everyone who was on my back porch.

It was a POSSUM. A huge, slavering, befanged, foul, balding, hissing possum, yes, but even that kind of possum is not a Mortal Peril situation requiring firearms. I came back in, exasperated, and while I was unloading I said so to the dog, and he said, “Marauding band of cannibals, Possum. Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to. The important thing here is, I SAVED YOUR LIFE! May I have a whole, raw chicken?”

IN OTHER WORDS, I have not even looked at the plan for this week, and here it is, already TUESDAY! (Cough) So, my goals for this week are:

1) WORK OUT EXTRA to relieve stress.
2) Don’t eat junk food, but do eat a bunch of fruit.
3) Don’t shoot anyone or become a raging alcoholic.

If I can achieve these things, we will call this week a push.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:01 AM | Comments (18)

July 26, 2009

Better Eyebrows?

This week I am at my SOUTHERN AUTHORS blog, and basically I am explaining the Better U program to a the regs over there, but I did put up BEFORE and AFTER photos---or more like BEFORE and HALFWAY pictures, as I am one week past the midpoint. SO. Please go look?

Because I heart you, oh my Eyebrow-Picture-demanding-Best-Beloveds-from-the-comments, I had Scott snap a pic of my grown up spa-waxed eyebrows. (I had never so much as plucked a single eyebrow hair before in my life):


Good to immortalize them, I think, because I doubt I will bother again. Scott does not like them. After I got home, he kept looking at me with this faintly searching expression. He had not read my blog yet, and I kept catching him sneaking sideways peeks at me with HIS eyebrows puzzled up together, trying to figure out what was different.

Him: ...Oh.
Me: I think it makes my eyes look bigger! And I think it makes my cheekbones look higher!
Him: ...Mmm.
Him: ...Hmm.
Me: Oh, poot. You hate them. You hate my eyebrows.
Him: No. You just look...
Him: ...different.
Me: BAD different?
Him: No, not BAD different. It’s like someone else’s eyebrows have snuck up onto your face and are nesting on your forehead.
Me: *whining* Wahhhh! You reeeeeally hate them.
Him: No. I just like you. I like how YOU look. I don’t mind you waxing your eyebrows if it is important to you but... You’re beautiful. You don’t need it.

That shut the whining off right quick. That’s like the 5,000 husband-point answer, right there.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:01 PM | Comments (27)

July 14, 2009

BETTER U: Cholesterol is Disgusting

And I don’t want any. THANKS. Yes, yes I know I need it to LIVE, but this week’s Better U program describes Cholesterol as “a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream.” It could not possibly sound less appealing. Next they’ll be telling me a triglyceride is “a roach-like, scuttling object that peeks out from behind the kidneys and gnashes its mandibles.” GAHHHH. Pass the oatmeal.

My cholesterol was borderline high before I started BETTER U, and now that it has been DESCRIBED I don’t want the extra, thanks. I barely want a healthy amount. Lord, but the liver is a repulsive organ, and this saddens me because I’m Irish, so I am genetically predisposed to have a MIGHTYMIGHTY LIVER.

My people are scrappy bog dwellers, and perhaps we DO NOT tan, but we comfort our pale selves with the knowledge that we have the Livers of Kings, OF KINGS, I tell you, and I have always been PROUD of my fine, fine liver. Especially on days like today when I return from a beach vacation with what I call “a savage Irish tan” and what others call “a faint patina of beige over the paper-white, only truly noticeable if one holds SNOW or A RECENTLY BATHED BICHON-FRISE up close-by for comparison.”

So I had well deserved Irish Liver Pride---Meggie, pass the Jameson!--- AND YET THE WHOLE time my liver was making SOFT FAT-LIKE WAXY CRAP and sneaking it into my blood. You can’t trust ANYONE these days. I think it’s the word WAXY that really skeeves me---makes me feel like I should be diligently swabbing out my veins with Q-tips. Gahhh. Ah well. At least I can still claim kinship with Samuel Beckett.

OH –A SPEEDY Digression for taking care of business. I have not gotten SNAIL MAIL ADDIES for either of the Better U Kit Winners. Edj of the blog PLANET NOMAD (Comment 57) and Emily (Comment 78). If I don’t hear from them by THURSDAY at midnight EST. I shall ask the gods of random to reroll.

This week (7) we are lowering Cholesterol via healthy eatings and exercise-ings, and I am down with that. But the part of the program that REALLY is speaking to me this week is the section on self-sabotage. I am AWESOME at sabotaging myself. One, in particular, hit home:
All-or-None Thinking – "I didn't walk even one day this week. I might as well give up on trying to fit physical activity into my lifestyle."

I DO THIS, I DO THIS! But with food, not exercise. I think things like, “I ate ice cream. Lookit that, now I undid my WHOLE GOOD VIRTUOUS DAY. I might as well eat an entire box of Cap’N Crunch now because it is all RUINED AND KILLED! IT WILL NEVER BE OKAY AGAIN! PASS THE CRUNCHBERRIES! NOM NOM NOM."

This week I am going to try to catch myself doing that and quit it---it is a habitual thing with me, a common pattern of thinking I . Recognizing when I am doing it and QUITTING is my MAIN GOAL. Each day this week, I will make a conscious effort to identify my ALL OR NOTHING thinking and QUIT doing that to myself. This on top of the VEGGIES FIRST food initiative, tracking via weightwatchers, the four boot camps plus 90 minutes of elliptical, ALL my previous goals carry over, world without end amen, and if I DO ALL THIS, I will get new brown Ballet flats as my current ones are ancient and in a reprehensible state of scuffed disrepair.

BY THE WAY, yesterday was the start of WEEK 7! We are halfway done becoming Better. How’s it going for you?

Posted by joshilyn at 7:43 AM | Comments (16)

July 6, 2009

Mostly About Winning


The gods of RANDOM have chosen who shall win the BETTER U BETTER ME KITS. If you are one of the peeps below, please email me a snail addy to Joshilyn at Joshilyn Jackson dot com.

Comment 57, made by Edj of Planet Nomad

Comment 78 – Emily at July 2, 2009 at 2:33 PM.

If you did not win, and you are sad, you can TRY AGAIN. I see my fellow bloggers over at MamaLaw have three more kits up for grabs, and their contest runs through the 13th of July. You can enter over at their blog---these are super cool women, you will like it there.

I shall be blogging sparsely as I am at the beach, but I will tell my fellow better Uers that UP UNTIL last night I was WINNING by having a super-perfect, exercise-centric and healthy eating Better vacation. Last night the SUN CHIP INCIDENT happened, followed by RUM CAKE GATE and SHIRAZ-IQUIDDICK and then I ran aground like The Exon Valdez into a continent of ice cream. OOPS. But. I am about to start winning again.
Almost now.
Look, marzipan!
Okay NOW.
Back on the wagon, starting NOW.

In more cheeky and uplifting news (and by this I mean, news that actually uplifts your cheeks) a REALLY fun exercise is to wade out into the sparkly gorgeous ocean, about thigh deep, and then walk-run-wade-march as fast as you can for as long as you can. I did half an hour of it before collapsing, and DUDE, my gluteous maximus is SORE and feels so EXERCISED that it is surely busy becoming a Non-Glutinous Minimous.

Posted by joshilyn at 2:17 PM | Comments (9)

June 30, 2009

Better tUesday: Motivational Goodies and My Future Doom (contest!)

My friends at the AHA want to hook you up with MOTIVATIONAL GOODIES in the form of a Better U, Better Me Kit with a retail value of more than fifty bucks. Look, it’s full of win:


o Super-cute tote bag for the gym
o BPA-free water bottle
o Go Red Grocery Guide to help you make heart-healthy choices at the store
o Go Red yoga mat
o Our signature red dress pin
o Heart-healthy snack, Craisins

Want one? I have two to give away. To enter, just leave your best tip for heart healthy living in the comments. I would especially LOVE some new healthy recipes (or a link to a recipe), even MORE especially, healthy crock pot recipes... I am getting bored with our usual dinners. If you HAVE no recipe and are tip-stumped, you can steal one of mine. Just cut and paste one of these:

---Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
---Try thin-sliced avocado instead of mayonnaise on your sandwich.

Just leave your tip in the comments before MIDNIGHT eastern time Thursday, July 2, and we will let the cruel and jaundiced gods of random decide who gets these cool things. The detailed rules are a click away, blatantly stolen from WANT NOT.

This week and the next are going to be HIDEOUSLY challenging because on Thursday, I leave for our annual beach vacation. I meet my WHOLE family there, all ten of us, so I only do 1/3rd of the grocery shopping. We plan to do a LOT of really fun things---rent a pontoon boat, see the Blue Angels practice their air show, long dawn walks on the beach, swimming, fishing, body surfing, snorkeling, so keeping my activity levels high is built in. BUT!

A huge part of this family vacation is ALWAYS the food. My sister in law makes her Satanic Chicken Enchiladas featuring about 213 types of cheese, I usually make a white chili that is as smooth as velvet thanks to a fat content equal to what’s found in your average chunk of whale blubber, my mother brings her famous cheese cake, my FAVORITE pecan rum cake and a triple chocolate cake she primly calls “Better Cake” because the real title on the recipe is “Better Than Sex Cake. “

It’s a decadent week. There are Cheetos in the pantry, and Chocolate Pop-Tarts, and Cap’N Crunch Cereal. WITH Crunchberries. Things that NEVER cross my threshold at home. All the time, they are there. Sometimes, we get crazy and have WINE WITH LUNCH like a buncha debauched Roman senators.

We go out to eat at a place that might as well be called FRIED UP HARRY’S CORONARY HOUSE OF GIANT PLATTERS. The portions there---one Captain’s platter could feed a pride of lions, and the Admiral’s platter could make every lion need some plop plop fizz fizz. You can get any kind of fresh seafood you want on these platters---shrimp, scallops, clams, fish, crab claws... but they all come fried. OR, if you really really really do not want anything deep fried, they are happy to “broil” you some shrimp and scallops. I put broil in quotation marks because they use that word to mean “completely submerge shellfish in melted butter and apply heat.”

I’ve never escaped from Beach Week unscathed by a few gained pounds, but I really want to try this year. If I can BREAK EVEN, just not GAIN any weight, I will call it TOTAL MORAL victory. Here are my goals this week, which have to change as I will not be commuting back to Georgia for six hours to attend boot camp four times a week.

---Continue to use WW to CHART everything I eat, even if it horrifies me. I read on the forums over there recently, “If I wasn’t supposed to EVER eat it, WW wouldn’t give it a POINTS value.” SO if I CHART, I will KNOW if I am splurging reasonably or if I have completely jumped the shark.

---Continue with my policy of FRUITS AND VEGGIES FIRST. Fill up on salad and fruit as I begin my meals, and THEN indulge in some Julie’s enchiladas, so the portion of SUPERFAT YUMMMMINESS that I need to feel full is smaller.

---Three Boot camps this week before I leave, and then a combo of beach walking/active swimming for at LEAST an hour every day. (This is going to happen without me even trying, I suspect. I love body surfing and snorkeling to see fishes and stuff, and I walk the beach at dawn ever day. It’s deserted then except for a serious fishermen like Mr. Nguyen. Remember him? And last year’s MORTAL DANGER? and I get to see the herons and all the little silly-footed panicky water birds and pelicans and one year I went swimming at 5 am and raninto a little pod of dolphins who parted and swam around it.

---DO NOT EAT THE POP-TARTS. If I am going to splurge – and I AM, Best Beloveds---I will blow the calories on RUM CAKE, which is homemade and tastes like my childhood and which I can’t GET anywhere else. I will NOT waste calories on a sugary slab of petroleum by products that has less nutritional value than the BOX it came in. I WILL NOT. NOT EVEN ONE.

And while we are on the topic of deliciousness, my reward, if I do this all, will be to go to the theatre and see DEPP AS DILLENGER a week from Thursday.

LISTEN, in the comments, for your entry, if you have a tip for surviving vacation eating, THAT would be SO helpful. I recalculated my BMI today as part of week 5. It is 25.5, down from 26.5. 25 or less is considered a healthy BMI, and I am .5 away. I have lost over an inch and a half in my waist, and am down 7 pounds and change. I so do not want to blow it!
But I am weak, I am weak, I am weak, and the siren song of the Cheetos is MIGHTY.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:33 AM | Comments (85)

June 22, 2009

The Better-Mint of Minty Me Continues. Fresh! (and contest winners at LAST!)

After the sinking horrors of the fried chicken biscuit affair, and especially with it being on Monday, with Weight Watchers Online pestering me to log my weight every time I go to track half an apple or some Kashi Vive, I found myself sneaking out to visit my illicit lover, The One True Scale. I know I said I was going to stop. And I am. Really. I WILL completely stop, TODAY even, and I did stop today, mostly, just after I toted him up to the One True Bathroom tile and stood on him.

(Aside: Lord it’s a good thing I never tried heroin, because I am not a good addiction-kicker. I am also not a GOOD SCALE HIDER. I always remember exactly where I put him, and I sneak him up the stairs with me for a quick morning tryst more than I care to admit.)

I was horrified to see that, 22 activity points aside, I had gained over a pound. I said a VERY bad word. I got back on. THEN The One True Scale said I had gained 9 pounds. I said 9 VERY VERY BAD words. And I thought, “That is one hella-mighty chicken bizkit!” Then I got back on and he said I weighed 97 pounds.

I was tempted to go ahead and log that on WW just to see if they deployed anorexia intervention teams. But no. I got on it again, and it said Lo. I took this as a direct compliment. THANK YOU! I said. I KNEW IT HAD TO BE LOW! Or at least Lower. But Scott said, no, the whole irritating waffling about and lying was a demand for BATTERIES.

SO I sacrificed a pack of gleaming silver AAA beauties to him, and The One True Scale was pleased. He responded kindly, by telling me that, in fact, I had lost half a pound. Chicken Biscuit or no. YAY. He is back in the garage, and I am back VOWING to concentrate on my HEALTH – remember my health???—and not my VANITY. I am doing this for my heart and my KIDS, not my BUTT and my skinny jeans.

Most days anyway.

I have to tell you, scale angst aside – I feel GOOD. I feel really, really good. This upped exercise regimen, and the way I am eating (chicken biscuits aside), here in week 4 I have more STAMINA and I am rising up perkier than usual. Anyone else noticing a change in ENERGY levels? I feel strong in my body and it’s a cool feeling. Minty cool, even. You?

1) Continue my exercise goal of 4 boot camps a week, plus either 90 minutes on the elliptical or walking the dog or swimming. I am mixing it up a little to stay FUN. Also, the dog likes it.
2) Continue eating FRUITS and veggies FIRST,with every meal, for a minimum of 5 servings a day.
3) Continue to TRACK my food and exercise using the tracking tool I chose.
4) NEW GOAL: Get support by telling at least 5 more people that I am doing Better U, and asking for their help in various ways, including inviting a new friend from Church to go hike with me, and telling the people at an upcoming dinner party not to undermine me if I skip dessert or only have a bite.

REWARD: A new read! I have my family Beach Week in July, and I have 3 books saved to read already. Three will get me to MAYBE Tuesday.

Right now I am reading a FANTASTIC book called In The Woods. Halfway in and I am worse about sneaking off to tryst with it than I am about stealing time with The One True Scale. DYING TO KNOW HOW IT TURNS OUT. If you have read it, PLEASE no spoilers. I despise even mild ones! If I meet my goals, I will pick up the sequel, THE LIKENESS for more Beach-read-y-goodness.

And now, speaking of one of the three books I have in my beach bag already, here are the winners of The Pretend Wife.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
56 -- Posted by Cass at June 18, 2009 3:02 PM
54 -- Posted by Darla at June 18, 2009 2:46 PM
10 -- Posted by Rachel at June 18, 2009 8:56 AM
Timestamp: 2009-06-22 22:22:14 UTC

If this is YOU, send me a snail addy to Joshilyn at joshilyn Jackson period com and I will pass it on to Ms. Asher.

Posted by joshilyn at 6:40 PM | Comments (22)

June 16, 2009

Better tUesday (and better late than never)

I would like some whine with my low-fat cheese, if you do not mind: Our AIR CONDITIONER DIED. Yes, died. In a Georgia June that decided on the day of the ACs demise to stop pretending it was May and start frontin’ like AUGUST. The kicker is, my friend Amy-Go comes in town today with her three boys, and I have a COOKOUT scheduled at my house---5 adults and ten children coming over to swelter and eat grilled meats and squashes. SUPER.

In BETTER news, I have I made my goals last week, and now I get a Land’s End Swim Suit. YAY. Also, as I mentioned before, the SLOW movement of the scale is bothering my motivation, so I put it away (mostly). It’s HARD to break up with your scale. I keep SNEAKING off to have illicit little TRYSTS with it. Even when I hide it way down in the garage. And then it says BAD things to me, so I slip it under my bathrobe and run it upstairs, firm in my belief that One True Scale only speaks truth when it is resting on the One True Bathroom Tile (one over from the sink, two back from the wall). OH! SCALE! I WISH I COULD QUIT YOU!

I was WHINING about my SLOW scale progress and my inability to stop peaking to my friend Amy. Not Amy-go. This is Amy-Boot-Camp. Amy-BC told me to MEASURE instead---I did so yesterday, and HELLO! I’ve lost more than in inch in my waist in the first 2 weeks pf Better U. BETTER WAIST! THAT makes me feel better about the stupid scale. Which can STAY in the garage. For now. Probably.

I am KEEPING my same goals (Veg/fruit FIRST with every meal/snack and 4 boot camps and 90 Elliptical minutes this week) and, per the advice of the Better Me Coaching Tool, this week I am going to TRACK. Those are my goals. If I eat it, or if I...bounce on it until my heartrate goes up, I will log it. By the way, that tool? It can start your 12 week program ANY WEEK you want, so even though we are on week three, you can get the tool and start your own program next week---you have NOT missed thew window. Better You Opportunities are like subway trains or the boyfriends of those Sex in the City chicks... Another will be along in juuuuuust a minute.

The AHA has a printable paper tracker you can use, and an online tool called MyStart! Online Tracker. If those do not float yer wagon train across the river, I googled “fitness food exercise online tracker” and got a good twenty options to pop up immediately.

I myself am going to SHELL OUT for Weight Watchers online, because I KNOW how to use their systems and can thus avoid having to LEARN anything. I don’t want to learn to use another tracking system when I already know how to work one. *burp* My brain is full. If I try to make my old, full brain learn a new system, I will NEVER be able to learn Japanese. That’s just logic.


Between the Lands End Swim Suit and joining WW to get that tracker, I need a CHEAP reward this week...How about this: IF I track track track all week like a good, good pack of hound dogs chasing criminal brownies, I will skip all the reading/work/crap I am SUPPOSED to do and give myself two or three hours on Sunday afternoon to crack open my hot, fresh copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that Scott got me as a present in San Antonio. It’s the Jane Austen classic, now infused with “ultraviolent zombie mayhem.”

I’m in.

Posted by joshilyn at 7:42 AM | Comments (14)

June 8, 2009

The One True Scale’s Application for Deity Turned Down: Film at 11

If I gave myself a grade for the first half of last week’s GO RED challenge, I think it would be an E. E for EPIC! FAIL! I claim oral surgery as a SUPREMELY valid excuse. You cannot eat salad with stitches in your tongue. You know what you CAN eat? Ice cream. Also, mashed potatoes. Soup was not manageable, but nice, creamy BISQUES worked juuuuust fine.

You know what else you cannot do? You can’t work out on opiates. Ever see a movie with an opium den in it? I just watched a movie in which Johnny “Yum” Depp is being led by a slinky lady to a cushiony pillow pile beside a hookah in a dim room. Yeah. I did not see any treadmills in that opium den scene, nor medicine balls. Very few racks of free weights. There is a reason for this. It is a side-effect of opiates called “Extreme Droopyness.”

I spent Monday, Tuesday and most of Wednesday lying in bed, riding a dragon named Lortab, and watching UNFORGIVEABLE television. I make a lot of fun of CSI Miami, but I realize I only thought it was a bad show because I had never actually SEEN what a bad show looks like. While on the opiates, I lost the remote and could not dredge enough energy up from the depths of Extreme Droopiness to search the bedclothes, so I just put my glassy gaze on whatever came on next. Wow. Hours and hours of The Real Housewives of Someplace Glamorous, and Millionaire Matchlady, and a Fashion contest thing that was EMPHATICALLY not project Runway, and The Real Housewives of Somewhere Else. Good lord, I was appalled by the behavior, horrified and chilled by the casual meanness and OVERSHARING, and yet I could not look away....

By Thursday, I was SO bored, and my jaw was starting to feel CLENCHED. I rose from the bed, unsaddled Lortab to take ride with my old friend Motrin. If I hadn’t already PRE-given myself my reward, I would have earned it Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I ate many soft, mild fruits like cantaloupe and bananas. I replaced the mashed potatoes with South Beach Mashed Potatoes, topped with some parmesan cheese (which makes a huge difference IMO and STILL better for you than buttered potatoes.) I went to two boot camps and rode my elliptical twice. I put ALL the leftover ice cream down the gullets of the herd of almost-pubescent boys that came galloping through my kitchen on some sort of Pokemon fueled mission. Almost-pubescent boys are like BLACK FOOD HOLES– you can put ANY food-like items down them, in any amount, and they gallop away and back and clamor for more. I got myself some sugar-free popsicles and these low-fat ice milk pop things called SKINNY COWS.

This morning, I got up, and as I sidled toward the One True Scale, I realized I was having a very HEY VANNA! SHOW US WHAT SHE’S WON! kind of moment. I wanted to get on the scale, because the SECRET under this HOLY LIGHT of HEALTHY LIVING I am smugly exuding is this simple truth: I want to get back in my skinny jeans. I want that MORE IMMEDIATELY and MORE OVERTLY than I want to “not drop dead of heart disease." Not dropping dead seems theoretical. My skinny jeans are immediate and REAL.

I realized, too, that if I got on the scale and it had not MOVED, or if it had moved wrongfully UP, I would SERIOUSLY lose motivation.


I decided not to weigh myself today. In fact, I put the ONE TRUE SCALE away under the sink. Poor OTS! It is probably terrified there in the dark, all shut in. It’s never BEEN away before. It is used to me communing reverently with it each and every morning, and taking its mystical answer to my eternal question as a basis for the how the WHOLE rest of my day is going to feel. NO MORE! I am not releasing it from cabinet-jail until I have my priorities on straight. Or STRAIGHTER. I am not going to base my rewards (or my value as a person) on a NUMBER on a scale. I am, instead, going to concentrate on treating my body like the freakin’ temple it is, and base my rewards on THAT…

If your scale is moving too slowly and that slowness is sabotaging you---and remember---exercising is going to build muscle, so you may lose INCHES more than you lose pounds--- consider putting it away and concentrating on other parts of the program.

GOAL TIME – got your goals, rewards, barriers and strategies planned? Share in the comments, please, so I can “borrow” your goals and rewards when I need some next week.

MY GOALS: Adapt three regular recipes I love---1) Meatloaf with 2) Mashed Potatoes, and 3) Crock Pot Chicken and Grits casserole---to be heart healthier. I will be lowering butter content, invetsing in more Land o Lakes fat free half and half, changing out ground beef for low fat ground turkey, etc.

I will go to FOUR Boot Camps and paddle my Elliptical for 90 minutes (in 2 or 3 sessions, not 90 minutes at once...)

MY BARRIERS: My husband is out of town all week. I am not motivated to cook---I want to make easy things like frozen pizza or eat fast food. I have added stress because he is not here to help me wrangle my mutant children, who have already lost their INDOOR VOICES. They are on SUMMER volume, which is So. Much. Louder. than School year volume.

MY STRATEGIES: I will make many, many plans with FRIENDS this week. The plans will be centered around an activity, not a food thing like LUNCH or GET ICE CREAM. My plans involve swimming and hiking and parks and running in sprinklers. I get adult conversation, which lowers my stress, I get out of the house, and my kids have fun and get TIRED and maybe turn their evening volumes down a few decibels.

I will make easy crock pot dinners so I don’t hit 6 o’clock and feel to tired to cook but NOT too tired to drive to DQ for Chili Cheese Dogs and Blizzards.

MY REWARDS: Swimsuit season is UPON ME, and I have not bought a new suit in three years. Mine are all sprung. If I do all this, ALL, I will get a fancy and expensive (and hopefully flattering) new bathing suit from Land’s End instead of going to Kohl’s and picking one up off the sales rack.

Need more? My links page (in the sidebar under the thumbnail of THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING) has quite a few POSSE PEEPS who are Better Uing. And don't forget, Tomorrow is Better Tuesday at MamaLaw...

Posted by joshilyn at 10:42 AM | Comments (19)

June 1, 2009

Better U, Week One

AT LAST! June the Oneth is here. I am about to become Better. Last night, in preparation, I took my kids to see UP in 3D and accidentally strapped a feed-bucket full of candy corn on my head, nom nom nom. I, uh, thought it was the 3D glasses when I hooked it on my ears? Or perhaps I wanted a SHARP CONTRAST between the sugar-coated mouth sweats of yicky yesterday and the beautiful, Better-filled grilled chicken on organic greens festival I have planned today. *cough*

I read through Week One, and I have set my goals and rewards. Have you?

Goal One: Ride Elliptical for 45 minutes three times and attend Boot Camp at least three times. (This ups my weekly elliptical time by thirty minutes and raises Boot Camp from 2 to 3 times. My eventual goal is to work up to 4 boot camps a week, but OUCH if I jump from 2 to 4 I will be too sore to move. BABY STEPS, remember?)

Goal Two: Eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, FIRST with every meal. This means at breakfast, I eat a banana, THEN cereal. At lunch I dip carrots and bell pepper strips in fat free Italian dressing FIRST, then see how much of my sandwich I want. I eat veggies first at dinner, and when I am full, all the veggies will be gone, but there may well be bread or some of the entree still on the plate. This goes for snacks, too. Celery sticks or an apple FIRST, then if I am still hungry have popcorn or trail mix.

If I meet these two goals, I shall be rewarded. They have some pretty cool reward suggestions on the site, like buying a (fashionable/cute/flattering) set of workout clothes (I should pick this one week…I currently wear ratty, cut-off sweats and my friend Lydia’s 20 year old, hole-filled, men’s XL Road Ponies T-shirt, the super-soft and comfy one I stole from her in 1998 when I moved away from Chicago, and WOW, I sure hope she isn’t reading this…)

Another reward suggestion was scheduling time for a long soak in a bubble-filled tub. Add a book and that sounds like heaven... Summer vacation is here, and up until yesterday it was RAINING and my kids were stuck inside and I could not (forgive the TMI) go into the bathroom to pee without having to have a conversation through the door that began with doorknob rattling and plaintive tappy-tapping and calls of “Moooom? Mooom? Are you in there?” and ended with me shrieking like a harpy, “MAY I JUST PLEASE USE THE BATHROOM IN PEACE AND THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT WHAT KIND OF JUICE I BOUGHT? YOU TINY FASCIST MOTT’S TOTS OBSESSED DICTATORS?”* so the idea of banishing my children to the basement playroom, getting the (VERY GOOD) galley I am smack in the middle of reading and soaking my boot-camp sore muscles for an hour in blindingly hot water chock fulla bubbles that smell like gardenias is AWESOME.

*For the record, I did NOT actually call my beautiful children “tiny fascist Mott’s Tot’s obsessed dictators.” Well. Not out loud.

But I did not choose these things. Will you think I am too unendurably geeky if I confess my reward for this week, SHOULD I MEET MY GOALS, is to go to the theatre sans kids, like a grown-up, with my husband to OUR kind of date movie, which is to say, Drag Me to Hell. If your answer is, “Yes, that is unendurably geeky,” then please assume I went with the bath thing.

If you have not seen UP, may I recommend it as a possible reward, whether or not you have kids? It is one of those RARE family films that is not a trial of misery for the parents. Scott loved it and I misted up three times, laughed out loud fifty, and was so enchanted that in the car on the way home, I called half my cell phone list to tell them to go. We stacked the enjoyment deck by buying tickets for an 8:10 showing, when the audience was older kids, teens and adults. If it’s in 3D near you, it is worth the extra dollar for the goggles. We saved money (and our hearts) by eating a nice (HEALTHY!) dinner at home before, and passing on the transfat soaked movie popcorn and 5 dollar Icees.

MY FATAL ERROR: I stopped by Target for antibacterial wipes (I am always scared of getting pink eye off the 3D glasses) and while there I picked up some items from the “craft supplies needed” list for one of the little camps Maisy is doing this summer: 2 inch foam balls and…a BIG bag of Candy Corn. THERE I was in the theatre with my bag from Target. About halfway through the film, the candy’s life expectancy started dropping, going from “Eternal life, preserved in Elmer’s glue” to “About 10 seconds. 10…9…8…NOM NOM NOM. Oops, I meant 3 seconds.”
Well, at least I won’t make THAT mistake again. And I shared with the family. SO.

ASIDE: I keep getting e-mails and comments from you long-time readers, snickering about the Better U bio that calls me, “happy-go-lucky.” HEE. My favorite response was from a Best Beloved who pulled the “happy-go-lucky” line off the Better U site, cut and pasted it into an email, and then asked, in all caps, “HAVE THEY MET YOU??!?!?!?” Okay! Okay! It is kinda funny, but I strongly suspect the AHA is being kind. Happy-go-lucky is, I suspect, a EUPHEMISM for “Grinning Spaz.”
See also: “Neurosis-filled twitchy-pants.”

Oh, I have a couple of Posse Blogs for you., I actually have FOUR, but I can’t find one. She left her URL in the comments instead of emailing it, and I have the organizational skills of your basic Panda bear, so I can’t find it now. I have hunted through comments, twice, and I know it is there SOMEWHERE, but I also, apparently, have the finding-lost-things skills of your deluxe-edition legally blind Panda bear. SO. If you are blogging your Better Uing, please EMAIL me the blog addy and I will add it to my links page.

Fat Man’s Daughter

12 Weeks to an Awesomer Me

Results Not Typical

AND OF COURSE, my peeps at MamaLaw:

Go forth, and do Better!
(And leave a note in the comments or on my wall at Better U---I want to know your goals and rewards, too. It will give me ideas for goals and rewards to try next week.)

Posted by joshilyn at 7:38 AM | Comments (14)

May 29, 2009

Can Birkenstocks Be Far Behind?

I have joined an Organic Farm Vegetable Co-Op.

Wow, just SAYING those words, it’s as if I can feel a thick patina of leg hair sprouting, as if I hear the pitter-jingle of little bells creeping upstairs to attach themselves to hems of all my skirts. Next I’ll be living in a commune, smoking hemp and speaking reverently about Marxism, which would be cute. IF I WAS TWENTY. AND THIS WAS 1969.

But, in my defense, organic vegetables are just SO dern expensive in the Kroger. I can’t bring myself to buy them. I am psychologically and fiscally INCAPABLE of paying four bucks for an avocado when the one across the aisle looks identical, costs 99 cents, and when questioned, the regular avocado swears up and down it was NOT grown with nuclear waste as a pest deterrent. As far as it knows.

What can I say? I buy the cheaper avocado.

But then my friend Julie told me I could join her farm co-op. She drove me out to a vacant lot where a guy in the back of a truck---I call him The Veggie Pusher---hooked us up with full boxes of the good stuff. He’s there every Thursday, and if I do not show, my box is donated to the Atlanta Food Bank. Win-win.

We call it The Crazy Farm Box (CFB). It costs 30 bucks, and it is full enough to give my family of four salads and side-dishes all week. I’m paying that in the produce section at the grocery, easily. AND THE SALADS! The first time we made one out of our CFB lettuces, Scott and I both tucked the first bites in, chewed twice, and then did double takes and stared at each other. We started chewing more slowly, more reverently.

Scott: That lettuce. It does NOT taste like lettuce.
Me: No. It does not. It tastes like…It tastes like…

I NEVER liked iceberg, because it tastes like water to me, but Crazy Farm Box is spoiling me for grocery store green leaf and radicchio, as well.

It’s also kinda exciting, because you never know what you are going to GET. One of my Better U goals is to eat more fresh fruits and veggies, prepared in heart healthy, olive oily instead of buttery ways. SO we are tailoring our menus a LOT this summer to what comes in CFB and what is wild caught and on sale at the fish counter. It’s making for adventuresome eating! Sometimes in CFB we get things…and I do not know WHAT THEY ARE. We got some sort of green leafy bundle last week, and I thought it might be some kind of FIELD GREEN. But a nibble of a corner leaf convinced me this was too STRONG a taste for salads.

Thank the LORD for Google Images. It was Arugula. I googled around for recipes and ended up putting all of it (about 2 cups worth) in the cuisinart with half a cup of toasted pine nuts, half a cup of parmesan cheese, a little salt, a clove of garlic, and a couple of TBS of olive oil. WHEEE! Pesto. A very THICK pesto that can be stored in the fridge and used for up a week. All week you can take out as much as you need, and add VERY hot water, a tablespoon at a time, until it is sauce-level thin.

I served it over whole wheat pasta primavera (just pasta topped with a colorful blend of more CFB veggie that I had stir fried in my no-stick pan with a little PAM.) Three thumbs up, although my PICKY child, Maisy, did not care for it. Understatement. She was COMPLETELY creeped out on the basis that it was GREEN. She believes spaghetti sauce should be RED! RED, MOM! Anything other than red is an abomination. Only red, red eternally, world without end, amen, and one day, come the revolution, the pasta gods will SMITE all us Crazy Farm Box mothers who try to pervert the natural order of things with our wrongfully colored sauces. *sigh* I gave her plain pasta with parm sprinkled on top and said, “MORE PESTO FOR ME THEN.”

As much as I love Crazy Farm Box, I AM still a devoted leg shaver, and there are some places my Crunchier-than-thou friend Julie goes that I CANNOT follow. For example, last Thursday, I noticed the Veggie Pusher had gallon jugs of MILK, too.

Me: He has organic milk?
Julie: It’s “pet milk.”
Me: PET MILK? You mean he milked his…cats?
Julie: No, silly. He is only allowed to sell it as milk to give your pets because it is not pasteurized. It’s real fresh milk, straight from the cow.
Me: BLERG! Ew! Yick! What is this, FRANCE?
Her: You should try it. We drink it and LOVE it – it tastes like magic.
Me: No. No.No. Because, Blerg. Also no. EW NO. And it is VERY dangerous. Here in AMERICA we are all addicted to Tums and Nexium and if we run around all French eating unpastuerized soft cheeses and drinking “pet milk” we puff up and get brain lesions and have seizures and amputations because our tamed American stomach acid is too TUMMED OUT to kill the bacteria!

Julie, who is a registered nurse, gave me very skeptical eyebrows, but I KNOW it is true. I saw it on House. So.


Posted by joshilyn at 7:16 AM | Comments (29)

May 26, 2009

Better tUesday: Fitness Before Numbers

Yes, it is BONDAGE TIME at last, but first I have to tell you that it is MAY 26th, and my third novel, THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING, launches in paperback today, just in time for poolside reading. There it is – top of the sidebar, to the right.
<-----You can click on the picture of the cover to read about it and see reviews, like, for example, the one where Entertainment calls it “a wild, smartly calibrated achievement" and gave it an A-. Or where Family Circle calls it a “spellbinding southern-gothic tale.” (Did you see how smoothly I slipped those in there?)

It should be sitting out in every bookstore in the country, and I strongly believe that you should go get you one. Oh heck, take two, they are SMALL. If you already own your copy, remember that MOST TEACHERS love to read and only have time now, in the summer. Beach reads make excellent end of year thank you gifts.

Release days are exciting. It’s the end result of a couple of years of work, made tangible. You see your book in stores, you feel hopeful that browsing people will notice the cool blue cover and pick it up and read a few lines and like it enough to buy it and give it a try. That’s the upside.

It’s also scary as all get out. Nerve wracking, in fact. You LOVE your book, and now it is OUT THERE in this uncall-backable way and people are going to buy it … or not. Like it and recommend it to their friends and book clubs…or not. My general response to this is to take a pan of brownies to the closet and have my savage way with it. BUT. I am trying to be a BETTER ME, and the ravaging of brownie pans is not exactly heart healthy behavior. Alas.

I am starting BETTER U on MONDAY, JUNE FIRST. If you if you want to do the same twelve weeks I am doing, you need to go register THIS WEEK! Be sure to FRIEND me. After today, I will be blogging about BETTER U on MONDAYS instead of Tuesdays, as we get our new program guidelines for that week. I will also give a small update on how I;ve done that week on Fridays.

The last thing they did to me at the COOPER INSTITUTTE FOR BEING SUPER HEALTHY: was give a me stress test to measure my BEFORE fitness level. I had this darling miniature nutritionist with long glossy hair, slim as a filament, slim enough to be used to pick locks, and she had glowing skin and bright eyes, and I am not saying that she had a tail under her khakis, but if DID have a tail under her khakis you can BET it was BUSHY AS ALL FRICKEN GET OUT.

Basically, this glossy haired bendy straw of a creature took me to see an equally darling, slim and glossy nurse, and she took me to a back room and taped electrode thingies ALL OVER MY BODY. Really a lot of them. In weird places. In fact, after she was finished, I think in some countries she and I might have been legally married.

The nurse took me to a glossy male doctor who was aging in that craggy, tanned, salt-n-peeper, strong-jawed George Clooney way that actually makes men MORE good-looking with each passing year. He did not look like a real doctor. He looked like the excruciatingly good looking actor who gets cast to PRETEND to be a doctor to say reassuring yet sexy medical things on informercials. He was so blindingly man-beautiful that I could only peek at him sideways, lest I go blind. I wondered why they didn’t have HIM attach the electrodes – they would have a heck of lot more female clientele, THAT I can promise you.

Meanwhile, each of my electrodes was being attached (by the nurse, alas! Alas!) to a wire that ran into a Star Trekish machine that was hooting and beeping diabolically to itself beside a treadmill. Then they took this THING and put it on my head. It was…not a good thing. It was, in fact, a terrible, terrible thing.

If an evil snorkel version of an S and M ball-gag made a baby with a medieval RACK, it would be this thing that went on my head. They screwed it on my head and said, “Tell us when it is fitting comfortably,” and then I laughed so hard while trying to say, “UM, why don’t you sit on this CACTUS and I will press down on your shoulders and you tell me when it is comfortable…” around the snorkel part that they had to take it off and start over.

The weird thing was, even after we had the thing on my head, the nurse could understand EVERYTHING I SAID. It was like, she had MAD DENTIST SKILLS. I would say “IIII ISH I HA GAA AA JA AAA-OOO” and she would say, “Well you can go to the ladies room right after.”

Then they put me on a treadmill, and started it off going at a nice, steady, not too rigorous pace. CAKE! Thought I. But every minute, they raised the elevation by ONE degree, so that I started out walking on a flat surface, la la la, but by the end I was marching vertically straight up a treadmillian Killamanjaro. (Say that three times fast.)

I was told to keep going until I my heart exploded and I died. Or maybe I misunderstood. Perhaps they actually said “until it becomes too difficult,” which is po-tay-to, po-ta-to, in my humble opinion. This is me all suited up in my ball-gag bondage gear with a robotic panel making that square JUTTING thing under my shirt and all my WIRES crossed, bravely marching forward:


Treadmill Time: 15 minutes and 6 seconds
Maximum Heartrate: 175 beats per minute (!!!!)
Training Zone: During exercise, my goal heart rate should be between 114 and 149

MET level: 10.5. (This is a measure of how efficiently my body uses oxygen. The higher it is, the greater your fitness level, and the more calories you can burn in a workout. With a MET level of 10.5, my fitness level is catagorized as HIGH. (PREEN!) I peeked at the chart and was pleased to learn that my fitness category would still be HIGH if I was 30 – 39. I looked back FARTHER and found it would also still be HIGH if I was TWENTY. So. Well, you know I am an endorphin junky, so WHY am I overweight? Oh right. Genetics. And MAyyyyybe all those hours logged in the closet perpetrating bad acts with the brownie pan…)

If you want to get some BEFORE fitness numbers and do not have access to a stress test snorkel and Dr. Hotness P. Clooney, you can do my BOOTCAMP fitness check. As long as your doc says it’s okay for you to start an exercise program, that is. You know. ANYWAY. It’s EASY.


FIRST Do the following three exercises for ONE MINUTE, and write down the maximum number that you can complete in that time. Hopefully, at the end of twelve weeks, all these numbers will be HIGHER! (If you don’t know the exercises, the links will take you to videos that will show you how to do ‘em without hurting yourself.)

Push ups:
31 (I did only 10 Marine style REAL pushups and then had to swap to Girl’s Gym push-ups and did 21 more.)

Full Sit Ups:

44 (I did 19 REAL marine style dips with my legs almost straight, then had to bend my knees and did 25 more.)

SECOND see how long you can hold PLANK: 2 minutes, 15 seconds. (When I first started Plank, my time was 14 seconds. Plank SUCKS. Then I started practicing plank with my feet braced on something, and then eventually I was Planking alone. Now, my husband calls me PLANK BEAST because I can hold Plank the second longest in my whole Boot Camp.)

THIRD: Run timed laps around something. You do not have to go to a track. You could run around your BLOCK if you wanted, and drive around it after to see how many tenths of a mile your block actually is. I ran my laps around my church building, which is ALMOST a quarter of a mile around.

Lap One: 2 minutes and 30 seconds
Lap Two: 2 minutes 45 seconds (Stop watch said 5: 15)
Lap Three: 2 Minutes and 23 seconds (Stop watch said 7:53)
TOTAL TIME: 7:53 Total
TOTAL DISTANCE: About 7/10ths of a mile.

That’s all our BEFORE numbers. On MONDAY… we begin. Let us now make our best Hayden Panettiere Cheerleader faces and say, “You better Bring it, American Heart Association. Bring. It. On.”


Posted by joshilyn at 8:08 AM | Comments (24)

May 19, 2009

Better Tuesday: Revelations

For those coming late to the party, I am prepping to begin BetterU, a 12 week makeover that probably won’t do a DERN thing about my shapeless eyebrows and total lack of fashion sense (Clinton? Stacey??), but could save my life. Also, it could save yours, so hopefully ya’ll will try to do it with me. As we discussed last time, I need a Posse.

Some of you said you were concerned about committing before you know what the program IS exactly…specifically you feared that we would be asked to sprint everywhere naked for 12 weeks, gathering tree sap and locusts for sustenance. HA! Well, this program is put out by the American Heart Association (as opposed to “The Dirty Hippie Consortium For Making You Eat Macrobiotic Lice”) so I SUSPECT it will be mostly about relinquishing FRIED FOODS and upping our activity level.

They promised me SMALL STEPS, baby steps for busy women seeking better health, not…Naked tree sap shenanigans. That would lead to scurvy and very bad head colds due to exposure, NOT better heart health. So! BE NOT AFRAID. I don’t know what the program WILL ask of us exactly, but I feel safe promising you that you can do all the OUTDOOR portions with your pants on.

BetterU begins June first, so right now I am mostly gathering my BEFORE data so that the AFTER data will be meaningful.

If YOU want to play, gather some BEFORES of your own in the next couple of weeks. The TRULY BRAVE AND MIGHTY can post their BEFORES in the comments on ANY of the BETTERU posts (There is a whole CATEGORY for it beloveds, and YES, VIRGINIA, you CAN be selective about which “befores” you choose to make public.)

I went to the COOPER INSTITUTTE FOR BEING SUPER HEALTHY to get a BASELINE for my heart health. Knowing my numbers lets me set GOALS.

The first thing they did was suck a bucket of blood out of me. I don’t much care for being POKED with POINTY OBJECTS until I release vital fluids (WHO DOES???) so I was nervous. I think my inner weird got out a little bit.
For example, the fella who played mosquito for me was trying to put me at ease before he came at me with his gleaming silver dagger-sized skin poker. He said, in soothing tones, “This is going to be easy. You have good, prominent veins.”
I made crazed google-eye face at him and hollered, “I know, right! They are HUGE. Look at THIS one! It’s like MEGA-VEIN. I bet I would make a FANTASTIC junky!”
By then he was Backing. Slowly. Away. So I shut my pie hole and let him do his business. Here is what my blood said:

TOTAL Cholesterol: 199
Um. You want it to be less than 200, so… basically I SQUEAKED under.
LDL Cholesterol (aka the very bad kind we do not want): 119
UM. You want this to be UNDER 100. Oops.
HDL Cholesterol (aka the good kind we like): 67.
You want this to be ABOVE 60, so I WIN good Cholesterol. I would like to thank all the pesto-broiled salmon I ate. *burp*

Trigycerides: 57
You want this mystical number to be under 150. I still do not know what a Triglyceride is. I only know more than 150 = bad. I am FAILING at Spokesmodeling! I WILL FIND OUT WHAT THEY ARE SOON. Unless I forget again.

Fasting Glucose: 90
This is my blood sugar, and it should be under 110. I have some relatives with diabetes, and I am a complete addict who eats a lot of SECRET CANDY, so I felt very interested and also nervous about getting this number. 90 is a delightful answer, but I am not sure it is completely accurate, as I misunderstood the word FASTING.

Apparently FASTING means you aren’t supposed to ingest anything—ANYTHING----for hours and hours before they suck out your blood. I have since been told that here “ANYTHING” includes COFFEE, which is…insane. That’s like asking me not to ingest OXYGEN for twelve hours. It never occurred to me they meant no BLACK coffee, so I may have ingested a cup. Or two. Or FINE, technically two and a HALF, if you want to get all anal and EXACT about things. *cough* I hope black coffee does not work as a SECRTE BLOOD SUGAR LOWERING AGENT and I am actually rocking a 200 without knowing. Heh.

Blood Pressure: 112/68
Lower than 120/80 is optimal, and 130/85 is considered normal. YAY! I win BP! My blood pressure is always around these numbers. I know because my children like to make me sit in the BP Torture chair at the pharmacy---their little arms are too skinny to make the machine work so they get their vicarious robot chair jollies via my squeezey-armed agony.

Here endeth the blood info.

WAIST SIZE: *mumblenumbermublemumble*

Now, one of the EASIEST before numbers you can get is your waist size. All you need is a string, a ruler, and the ability to find your waist. (It’s the piece in the middle. You’re welcome!) If you are a female person, you want your waist to be under 35 inches. Men only have to get under 40 inches, those pooheads). A waist over 35/40 inches increases your risk for diabetes and heart disease. My waist IS currently under 35 inches, so we don’t need to talk any more about that. Move along. Nothing to see here.

BMI: 26.5 (YARP!)
BMI is your BODY MASS INDEX. Here is a handy calculator that will help you figure out yours.
If yours is below 15, you are probably Kate Moss. Go eat a cookie and/or get off the coke.
Under 18.5 means you are underweight.
18.5 – 24.9 is normal.
25 – 29.9 is overweight. (YARRRRP!)
Greater than 30 is obese.

Weight: The Most I Can Weigh and Not Die Plus Eight. (Abbreviated henceforth as TMICWAND+8) The Most I can Weigh And Not Die is my own number, not from a chart. I am 8 pounds over it. To be fair, AHA scale said I was actually TMICWAND+10. This is A DIRTY LIE. According to the One True Scale, I am, in fact, TMICWAND+8. (In the AHA Scale’s defense, it weighed me dressed, but with no shoes, so, if we back out 2 pounds for jeans and a lightweight sweater, the AHA scale was rightfully concurring with the One True Scale’s one true assessment.)

I love you guys. Let’s hug! That said, you can know the exact number of pounds I possess when you weigh my cold dead body. (Also, to the person who DOES eventually weigh my cold dead body, here is a TRUE SCIENCE FACT THAT IS TRUE: DEATH causes you to weigh ten pounds heavier. *vigorous nodding* )

I know – it’s crazy. I KNOW, okay? I told you my BMI, after all, so crafty people with really, NO REALLY, wayyyyyy too much free time on their hands could get within 5 or 10 pounds of figuring out my weight. But we just don’t say that WEIGHT NUMBER out loud, much less have it in print. I would sooner die. So. Let’s just agree to call it TMICWAND+8

DIGRESSION: I am SO crazy on this point I refused to stand on a TURNED OFF SCALE for a camera crew. They were like, “It’s just a publicity shot, the scale is turned off, STAND ON IT!” I VEHEMENTLY REFUSED, and they laughed at me and told me to and told me to until I finally I got mad and said, “This feels WAY too personal me…it is like you are saying, HEY! COME SIT ON THIS TOILET AND PRETEND YOU ARE POOING WHILE WE TAKE PICTURES TO POST ON THE INTERNET—YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ACTAULY POO!” Then they laughed and seemed ot GET it and left me alone, but there was NO WAY ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH I was going to STAND ON A SCALE in front of 3 strange men.

It is TOO personal and creepy to me. Yes, yes, I AM mentally ill on this topic and if you didn’t know that by now you MUST be new here. HI! WELCOME! The first rule of Weight Club is WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT WEIGHT CLUB. Onwards!


1.Get my BAD cholesterol under 100.

2. Get my overall Cholesterol to not be the VERY VERY HIGHEST IT CAN POSSIBLY BE without being officially above Optimal. In other words, a few points lower than 199.

3.Get my BMI < 25.

4. Lose more than 8 pounds.

(I don’t want to lose EXACTLY 8 pounds, because then I am one slice of chocolate-pecan pie away from being BACK OVER the most I can weigh and not die. I need a BUFFER ZONE. If my weight is TMICWAND+8 (and it is, it is, I am sad to report.) Then my GOAL weight should probably be….The Most I can Weigh and Not Die Minus Seven. (TMICWAND-7)

Math says that 8 + 7 = I NEED TO LOSE 15 POUNDS. In 12 weeks, that is a sensible goal. Losing more than 2 pounds a week is not healthy, so with a 12 week program, setting a goal of losing more than 20 pounds is probably unrealistic, and it isn’t good for you. (blerg). I am TRYING to remember than this is not about BEAUTY and surface stuff (Although Lord knows I need one of those kind of make-overs, too, and WHERE THE HECK are Stacey and Clinton!) This is about being healthier. SO. Those are my four goals!

Any of you guys gotten BEFORE numbers done yet? Set any goals? POST YOUR GOALS OR BEFORES! come on! POSSE UP! Pls?

Here are some helpful buttons I will put at the bottom of each BetterU entry.


MamaLaw is the site where three fellow bloggers taking the challenge will be posting about their goals and progress every week. They are in our posse. *nodnodnod* OH HEY – thought! If you blog and decide to start BLOGGING your progress every Tuesday, let me know---I’ll put a section up on my links page for BETTERU Blogs! And let me tell you – nothing will help you STICK to a program like posting your BMI to the internets and saying it WILL be lower in 12 weeks. HEH.

Next Tuesday I’ll do NUMBERS REVELATION PART TWO, REVENGE OF THE NUMBERS, which is all about fitness levels and stress tests and other sweaty whatnots, and I’ll set some fitness goals.

Posted by joshilyn at 9:16 AM | Comments (36)

May 12, 2009

Better tUesday: Numbers

Or, what happens in Dallas Gets Pink Socked Into Oblivion, part the Two-eth. And immediately, I am ready to digress. Huzzah. Before the opening SENTENCE I am ready to digress, and put off telling you about the trip to talk about POSSE-MAKING.

On June first, a program called BetterU will pop into existence over on the AHA’s GO RED FOR WOMEN’s website. It’s designed to help women become healthier, and it’s FREE, and it’s all ONLINE so you can participate from anywhere. I am going to be doing it.
Here is the fun part: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT IS.

When Go Red contacted me and asked me to be an INTERNATION SPOKESMODEL for the BetterU program (they may have used another word---perhaps guinea pig? Or maybe blogger? It’s all a little fuzzy, but what is NOT fuzzy is that they CLEARLY meant to say “International Spokesmodel,” and also, they gave me this cunning little bracelet, I was all distracted by the glam title and the shiny bauble and said OH HELLZYA, and forgot to ask important questions like, “Does this program allow for the watching of the entire second Season of 30 Rock on Netflix while plowing through a bucket of Ho-Ho’s?” ALAS! It seems this is NOT the 30 Rock/Ho-Ho program. This is something else.

I am not SURE, but I THINK I am actually going to have to stop whining (My tail fell off! My tent blew down!) and take actual concrete steps to become healthier.

Here is what I know: The BetterU program starts June 1, although you can start it any time AFTER June 1, individually. It is 12 weeks long. It’s predicated on the idea that women can’t pop out of bed on Tuesday, totally change their schedule, their diet, toss in an exercise regime, abandon all their bad habits, and become Poppin-level practically perfect by Wednesday. Baby steps. BABY STEPS to being healthier and making smarter choices.

Here’s what else I know: Silliness aside, if I have a community, if I am held accountable, if I have a POSSE with me, I almost ALWAYS win. Want me to write a book? Give me a deadline. I will produce a book. Probably even on time. Is my house a filthy and disreputable slagheap? (Answer: Yes. Yes it is.) Left to my own devices, I will happily squat in my own filth until carnivorous bugs spawn from the dust bunnies via Aristotle’s theory of Spontaneous Generation and kill us all. The fastest fix for a dirty house I know is to invite people over for dinner. THEN I will DERN WELL unearth the vacuum cleaner from its musty tomb and waive a duster about with purpose and vigor. There may even be MOPPING.

I don’t work well in a void. I do not WIN in a void. I need peeps. I HAVE to be held accountable. To someone. So. This time? I PICK YOU. If we make ourselves into a POSSE, we will ALL have a much better chance at succeeding. I want you guys to hold me accountable. I will hold YOU accountable. Pinky swear.

Every Tuesday, up until June first, here on FTK, I’m going to report to you guys how I am doing on the program. YES, I said every Tuesday, as in, I am going to CONSISTENTLY do this. Stop laughing. I am. I know I always say I will do this or that (Pink Socks! FAQ! More 3Q Features! BLAHBLAHBLAH….epic fail), but THIS time I will. You know why? Because if I do not, YOU are going to be disappointed in me and tut and make sad eyebrows at me. SEE? SEE HOW THAT WORKS? Plus it’s only for 12 weeks plus whatever is left in May. Whether or not I die of totally preventable heart disease now rests squarely on your ability to make your eyebrows look REALLY REALLY sad. So begin practicing.

Now, anyone who has ever seen WHAT NOT TO WEAR knows that before you can have an AFTER, you need some before. We need some numbers. Like, for example, blood pressure. Cholesterol. Waist size? BMI? Triglycerides? (WTH IS a triglyceride? I don’t know what they are, actually, but I know more than 150 of them is bad for your <3.)

When’s the last time you had a check-up? Not, like, OH I HAVE FLU I better try to remember where my doctor’s office is. But a regular check-up. Dudes—if you are one of the lucky Americans who HAS health insurance, your regular check-up and bloodwork and such is covered – 20 buck co-pay. (Or 50 if you have my craptastic insurance…) And you can ask your doctor to tell your important numbers. Cholesterol, BP, Triglycerides. ASK, he may not do it on his own. If your doctor’s next open appointment for a check up is August of 2017, get the appointment, and try to scrounge up some baselines before then on the cheaps. You can take your blood pressure for free at a lot of pharmacies and measure your own waist with a string and a ruler.

Next Tuesday, I am going to gird up my loins and tell you MY before numbers. *gulp* ALSO, I have a fitness test scheduled at Boot Camp on Thursday, so I will tell you how THAT went and how you can do your own just as soon as I KNOW. (I have never done one before, heh.) Also, you can get a pedometer CHEAPS at Target (they starty at 10 bucks) and track your steps for a week.. I am doing that too.

Last thing, you guys need to meet the other GLAMEROUS INTERNATIONAL SPOKESMODELS-SLASH-guineapigbloggers. They are going to be in our posse. This is all of us---Me, Fergie, Ny and Jonesie---getting OUR before numbers at the COOOPER INSTITUTTE FOR BEING SUPER HEALTHY in Dallas.


They are going to be blogging BetterU over on their group blog, MamaLaw. (Pssst, today they have a give-away for a whole big bag of FREE Avon make-up and skin care products---I already entered to try to win it.)

ANYWAY. We had a crack team of glossy nurses and nutritionists poking us with needles and stuff all day----I WILL get to that – next Tuesday, when I tell you my BEFORE numbers. *Gulp*. They were exceptionally glossy, all those Cooper people. Well, nutritionists, what do you expect? They had thick, pelt-like hair, and they were all as thin as little bendy straws from the near-constant tantric-yoga, and all their skin looked glow-y and glisten-y, like they had recently been buttered. Which is ironic, because I think the last time any one of them ATE butter was in 1987, and that one STILL feels bad about it.

ANYWAY. We are not them. We are US. And we are going to BABY STEP our way to glossier pelts and butter-free-butter-skin. And healthier inside bits, too. Yes? YES? Beloveds? Will you be in my posse?

Posted by joshilyn at 7:17 AM | Comments (60)

May 8, 2009

Better tUesday: What Happens in Dallas, Stays. (But not on my butt) PART THE ONETH

It’s not news to you, Best Beloveds, that I am mentally ill on the subject of _____.

There are a multitude of things that could fit in that blank.
Joss Whedon.

But the queen mother of ALL my mental illnesses is the terminally co-dependent love-hate triangle I have crafted out of food, my own body, and a BUCKET full of grade-A crazy.

We have discussed here, nigh unto DEATH, my unending and revolting belief that my dress size is intrinsically connected to my value as a person. Like, if we were going to pick half of humanity to walk into the sea like lemmings, and if I was once again a size 8, I would believe that I definitely should be picked to cling to this mortal coil. If I was wearing a size twelve (and THIS VERY SECOND I AM SITTING HERE ON A SIZE TWELVE BUTT, God Help Me, Beloveds) I should absolutely be E-lemming-nated. If I was a size ten? Tough call. Could go either way, really.

This is ME specific. I WOULD NEVER consider something as ridiculous as PANTS SIZE when deciding what OTHER people should have to lemming on down into the Atlantic. If it were up to me, I would choose who had to walk into the sea based on things that actually matter, like, does this person consistently use bad manners, has this person ever tried to perpetrate Genocide, and is this person now or has this person ever been a dentist? Answer yes to any of those and you would be beach-bound, Beloveds, so sorry.

I wouldn’t even ASK your pants size, because in my Rational Mind, I know pants size is NOT EQUAL to value-as-a-person. Unfortunately, when it comes to me, how I see and value and rate myself, Rational Mind is seldom allowed to have the driver’s seat. In fact, in the VW Peace Van of my brain, Rational Mind is quite likely to be tied up in the trunk, or, on particularly bad days, shot dead and tied to the roof rack like Bambi’s hapless Momma.

I decided to STOP.

Quit laughing. I really mean it, this time. Or, well, not STOP, exactly, but try to change my focus. Try to REFOCUS on stuff that actually matters. Yes, yes, as I indicated yesterday, I have decided to go on ahead and grow as a person. Maybe even grow up. IT COULD HAPPEN. I want to be better. In heart. In mind. In spirit. And yes, in body.

AND YES, FINE, I am unhappy with my body right now. But Lord, When have I ever been happy with it? Even when I am fit and in my size eights, I wish I was a six… LE SIGH. I am 41. I need to stop being 13 about this. I need to focus on what’s inside---kindness, my relationships with God and my fellow man, and, yes, how my body WORKS, not how it looks. It’s about HEALTH---about putting down the butter and walking away not because if I do so, I may FINALLY get to do runway in Milan, but because I want to see my kids grow up. All the way up. I want to hold my grandkids. I want to be eighty and crabby and cheat at the bingo.

I was already thinking about all this when The American Heart Association contacted me and asked if I would like to be a SPOKESMODEL for their BETTERU program. It’s part of GO RED FOR WOMEN. You can see their little button on my sidebar now, there, to the right, under the thumbprint link of the new PB cover for The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

DIGRESSION: To be fair, The AHA didn’t use the word SPOKESMODEL. *sigh* They asked if I would be one of their “bloggers.”
They said, “Um…okay. Well. We have Andie McDowell for that. We actually need, you know, BLOGGERS.”
I said, “BLOGGER, SPOKESMODEL, PO-TAY-TO! PO-TAH-TO. I will be a, um…blogging spokesmodel!”

See, I am a child of the 80’s, and if you say ED MCMAHON to me, I do not say PRIZE VAN as a 90’s kid would, much less JOHNNY CARSON as a 70’s kid might. I say STAR SEARCH! Back in middle school, I watched Star Search religiously on Saturday mornings.

My friends and I even played Star Search, even though I CANNOT sing and I dance like a spastic penguin being electrocuted. We didn’t care about those competitions anyway. When we played STAR SEARCH, we were always, in our minds, 6 foot tall, 100 pound blondes with C cups and tease-able coils of PUFFNORMOUS hair , wearing spangled thigh-slit gowns and trying to make the words “STAR SEARCH RETURNS AFTER THESE MESSAGES” sound dirrrrrrrty. /end digression

Anyway, I said yes. I said yes because heart disease is the number one killer of women, and EIGHTY FREAKIN’ PERCENT OF IT is absolutely preventable. I said yes because my mom has hypertension, and I still need a mom. I said yes because I have delightful children, and they still need a mom, too. And yes, to be completely HONEST here, I MAY have said yes VERY SLIGHTLY PARTIALLY because IF I follow the 12 week BETTERU program, I will not only get healthier and live longer etc etc blah blah personal growth…I will probably go down at LEAST a dress size.

HEH. Baby steps to better priorities, Beloveds. BABY STEPS!

BAH, we didn’t even get to Dallas and the bondage gear. And I am out of time.


Posted by joshilyn at 6:35 AM | Comments (39)