I Watched: BLACKFISH

I’m in the early stages of a free month of Netflix. A couple of weeks ago my cousin and I were talking about SeaWorld for some reason and she mentioned the documentary Blackfish. I had heard of it, but hadn’t seen it. I have, however, been to SeaWorld. The summer of 2004 I had a season pass to the San Antonio park. I went three times.

I had seen the Shamu show and it made me nervous the same way that ice skating and ballroom dancing make me nervous: I always wait for something bad to happen, like, somebody falls or gets dropped. In the case of the killer whale show I expected somebody to get chomped or flattened. I’ve always thought that orcas were too big for captivity and it always made me sad to see them in the small pools (possibly seeing Free Willy as a kid has something to do with this opinion because dolphins, whale sharks, and other ocean animals do not bother me at all to see them in captivity). Or maybe just having a general sense of physics – orcas are big and seemingly intelligent, the SeaWorld pools are small.

Anyway, so I was curious about watching Blackfish.

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The documentary discusses killer whale performance and captivity and is centered around the death of a SeaWorld trainer in 2010 by a whale who had previously displayed violent tendencies, and had been involved, however directly, in two previous deaths, one in Canada and one also at SeaWorld Orlando in 1999. Former SeaWorld trainers were interviewed discussing various aspects of behind-the-scenes life at SeaWorld and various other incidents of killer whale violence.

The film does a good job of getting their point across and I definitely would recommend watching it. However, it is clear propaganda –  an anti-SeaWorld point of view from what I believe are essentially animal activists. The filmmakers have a clear agenda for wanting to shut down SeaWorld and similar parks. At no time did they ever address the conservation efforts that SeaWorld has accomplished, nor did they interview any current employees of the company. I also would have liked to see the point made that the reason for keeping some animals in captivity is to educate and to promote conservation efforts in natural habitats.

Some further reading:

From MySA.com: Ex-SeaWorld trainers dispute ‘Blackfish,’ say phase out whale show
From SouthernFried Science: Blackfish: the Science Behind the Movie
From CNN: ‘Blackfish’ film ignores SeaWorld’s benefits to conservation, research
SeaWorld’s Rebuttal: Truth About Blackfish

There is a lot of information out there – and it’s a subject worth learning more about. I think Blackfish is a good place to start, but you can’t take everything at face value. I am, currently, mostly undecided on this subject, but leaning towards “not a fan of killer whales in captivity” if only, because it seems so sad for such big, intelligent creatures to be kept confined.

(I am totally pro those whale sharks at the Georgia State Aquarium though so take my opinion with a grain of salt. Those guys would have been eaten out of Taiwan’s then-quota of allowable whale sharks caught for food. They may be in captivity but at least they are not lunch.)

SCHWAAN, finally

Back in April/May of 2013, I randomly got a bee in my bonnet to KNIT A SWEATER™ and I’m not really sure where it came from (probably Pinterest) but I decided I wanted to knit SCHWAAN, the cover sweater from Norah Gaughan Vol. 8. And so I started, with the wrong type of yarn and nowhere near gauge.

The first go didn’t work too hot but I was able to determine what did and didn’t work, and that I really did not want to handknit a whole sweater that involved purling in any way (there’s a reason that my other sweaters I’ve made have been in the round!) so I decided to uncover the Ultimate Sweater Machine from underneath the pile of mail and do a swatch.

I had a bunch of Knitpicks Comfy (a worsted weight cotton/acrylic blend) that I’d started a sweater with oh, last year or the year before, but it had gone to the wayside due to knitting ennui on my part and too many purls. I’m a Continental knitter and I’ve never really figured out a way to purl that isn’t completely annoying/slow, which is why I generally like to knit top-down/in-the-round*. I’m sure that’s not uncommon. Anyway, so once I determined that A) the sweater needed to be bigger and B) I really hate knitting boring stockinette in flat pieces (cursed purls) I decided to bite the bullet and go the knitting machine route for the solid stockinette sections.

In the case of SCHWAAN (yes I feel it’s necessary to capitalize every letter) I was interested in handknitting the edges and the front lace panel. The actual construction of the sweater was interesting to me as well – it seemed like it was put together slightly different than regular sweaters (set in sleeve or raglan – seemed a bit of a hybrid though mostly raglan).

That left me with the mass amounts of stockinette to knit once I’d done the edges and I had the sweater parts completed in about three evenings. Seaming took another evening and then I had a sweater about a week after I started the process (including the day or two that I spent handknitting and then deciding I didn’t want to handknit the whole thing.)

So, SCHWAAN:

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It has its problems – namely the armholes need to be a little bit bigger, as do the arms (I read later that several Ravelers had noted that the arms seemed tight) and it needs to be longer, though the latter is a personal preference due to fit – I have a long torso. However, it’s totally wearable! (#win)

I followed the pattern exactly for the largest size since my gauge was mega off. This only took just 8 skeins of Comfy – more like 7.5.

I ordered two more colors of Comfy and plan to make two more SCHWAANS – one a pale pale almost white turquoise, the other a rosey red. I ordered ten skeins of each which I think will be sufficient for the added inches, plus it will be slightly smaller since I’m somewhat smaller. The back only took 2.5 skeins so I wouldn’t think I’d need more than a half skein per front/back to achieve an extra 2 inches of length (maybe three – we’ll see). The white one will probably be completed as written but I’m toying with doing clean edges; i.e. a folded hem. The red one will have a 2×2 rib but no lace on the edge.

I also worked out a better way to bind off directly from the knitting machine – it’s a little time consuming but much nicer looking than the way I initially learned how. So I’m looking forward to incorporating that into the new SCHWAANS, including all of the tricks I learned while seaming SCHWAAN #1 together. Not sure which color I want to do next, or if at this juncture two years after the fact, if I want to still make two. Maybe the red wants to be something else. The white is definitely destined to be a longer sweater.

Incidentally, my sister, who took the above picture, asked me, somewhat critically, “Did you MEAN for your sweater to be this length?” A sisterly way of saying it is too short, haha! But she’s right, it’s too short. Doesn’t mean I won’t still wear it though.

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*This does not explain Vaila (or Flowing Lines! Newly knit in 2015!), which is a lace pattern on a sea of purl. Loved knitting that sweater, though I did turn the arms inside out and knit them in the round instead of purl, hah.

Fitness Friday 2015 #1

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Oh you guys, I fell off the health bandwagon the last few months. I was going strong for a solid year but then, bam! Went on vacation, had that plane thing happen, got a flu shot (I don’t think my body liked it much), hurt my shoulder, and basically anything that looked delicious went down the hatch. It’s funny how life can get in the way and kick you in the pants.

I’m back in business though – I generally feel terrible and I’m wondering if back when I was fatter I felt like this all the time but I was used to it so didn’t notice it so much. Ugh. So I’ve been getting back up to speed this week with eating healthy and next week I’m going to ease in to exercising – I’ve been sick so I haven’t had the energy to do much more than go on walks. Aside from the usual reservoir walk with my dad I want to add at least 3-4 more days of 30-45 minutes exercise/weight training. I also signed up for the weight-loss competition at the office which started yesterday with our first weigh-in. (Ouch.)

Other things I’ve done to get back on the health train include:

  1. Buying an actual food scale (I killed my yarn one using it for food. It needs a new fancy battery so once I get that I’ll clean it and put it back in the studio.)
  2. Buying an actual scale – I’d been using my Wii Fit balance board for this, heh.
  3. Bought some vitamins, just Vitamin C and Oemga 3/Fish Oil ones. I really like the NatureMade brand gummies (I’m such a child). I’ve never been able to manage taking vitamins consistently before but the combination of them being tasty gummies and keeping them in my laundry room by the back door causes me to actually eat them on my way out the door in the morning.
  4. Bought supplies to package up smoothies for the freezer.
  5. Making plans to do some hardcore crockpotting and stock up the freezer with healthy homemade items. Need to clean out the freezer first though. :/

I plan on starting the Jillian Michaels Killer Buns and Thighs next week (heh) and I’m going to order her new BodyShred system which is apparently using the 3-2-1 system (3 minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio, 1 minute abs/core that 30-Day Shred and Ripped in 30 use). I like the Body Revolution workouts as well – I did those last year and dropped two dress sizes once I’d completed all the disks.

I’m also moving into eating mostly whole foods – meats and plants with little to no processed items, which includes bread (I love bread). I’ve had a hard time saying goodbye to tortillas but they use processed white flour (and whole wheat tortillas from the store are gross) and I’m trying to eliminate that from my diet for the most part. I don’t drink milk but I do love cheese and yogurt so those products are here to stay. I may lose my mind and attempt to make my own yogurt one of these days.

I’m undecided about canned food. I am on a budget and canned food can be convenient and inexpensive however the salt content is prohibitive. I did find a brand of tomatoes that has no salt added so I’m headed to Winco this weekend to grab some of those. And I love Rotel. So I’m torn on this subject. I know there are a lot of opinions about canned food in relation to GMOs and all that – while I do think that organic is good I don’t necessarily think they’re the best and I think the anti-GMO people have probably drunk the kool-aid so to speak. But I’m not really interested in arguing about that kind of stuff with people – I think everyone should do their own research and decide what is best for themselves and their family. And let’s get real – you will pry that can of Campbell’s Mushroom Soup out of my cold dead hands.

I guess the hardest thing about all this is not the eating or the exercising, it’s the planning. I don’t really have an aptitude to plan much in advance, so I have to be better about that. I’m really good about planning for travel that’s happening months down the line, or what I might be having for dinner tonight, but what am I having for dinner two nights from now? I have no idea.

Anyway, I’m hoping to use this space to talk about this in a more candid manner than I have previously, and maybe post meal plans that have been helpful. Honestly if I can get two posts out in a month that will be a miracle! Hah.

2014 Recap

*dusts off blog*

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I went to Florida! And a Dodgers Game in LA. Walked to the garbage mound (er, Seal Point) on the Bay Trail. Went to Gilroy Gardens

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year??

No New Year’s Resolutions – I don’t believe in them. I do have some goals for 2015 though, and that’s hitting various mile markers on my health quest, hopefully at least one of them before Memorial Day Weekend when my cousin gets married. And resurrect this blog from the depths of despair! haha

3. Did anyone close to you give birth??

Baby-palooza up in here this year. Malvina sprung the Boo in June, Felicia had Miss Alice in October and Jenny had Sierra in October (I think possibly the same day actually, or within a day or so of each other!)

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Nope.

5. What countries did you visit?

The United States of America!

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Last year’s wants remain true: “Money, time, more friends, pants.” I do have more friends now, so that’s nice! Maybe figure out that “relationship” thing but there is a genuine dearth of people I’m interested in dating here, so who knows. I might finally get around to doing an online profile but that seems so inorganic.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

August 27th aka the day that I learned how to sit in an airplane IN CASE OF CRASH LANDING. EMERGENCY LANDINGS ARE GREAT. NOT REALLY THEY SUCK.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

– NOT DYING ON AN AIRPLANE
– Getting down to a size 16 in clothes! I’m down two sizes since I started Health Quest.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I gained back some of the weight I lost after vacation so I’m working on getting that back off (turns out you do need to keep exercising and eating right, haha…) I joke about the airplane thing now but I had some problems with it for about six-eight weeks afterwards. Nothing like the possibility of death to turn you into a self-destructive twerp. I’m still the same size though!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My near death experience gave me a cold so a month later I got a flu shot. In October I did something to my shoulder (too heavy purse) and have been kind of dealing with that ever since. Things are getting better though so that’s good.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Last year: My tablet and my running shoes.
This year: A new tablet and new running shoes, heh. Also a new internet router because that is the heart and soul of my existence (sadly). Oh, also my plane tickets to Florida and Texas, and also booked the last two rooms with bathrooms at Wawona for the wedding.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Bills, nail polish, traveling.

13. What did you get really excited about?

My Florida/Texas trip, going down to see Sarah in LA, various baseball games (besides the Dodgers made it to tailgating at a Bay Series game, and at least one or two other games? I think I went to four this year), my cousin’s hilarious Save The Dates, winning the office pool tournament by accident, seeing my friends’ babies, etc.

14. What song will always remind you of 2014?

John Newman’s Love Me Again
Hozier’s Take Me to Church

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:?

– happier or sadder? Happier I think
– thinner or fatter? About the same!
– richer or poorer? Richer

16. What do you wish you’d done more of??

Traveling, sleeping.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of??

I don’t think I have any #regrets this year, haha. Maybe less procrastinating but that is how I roll y’all.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

At my house for Christmas Eve with my mom’s side of the family. At my parents’ house in the morning for Christmas Day with just us and then later my aunt and grandma came over for dinner. My mom made the most EPIC meatloaf – it was 100% delicious. She makes a great meatloaf anyway, but for some reason (the Kinders ground chuck maybe? lol) it was just effing delicious.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Orphan Black – Continues to amaze me with the acting on this one
True Detective – Aside from the amazing acting, did you SEE that six minute uncut shot in episode 4?! Best thing I’ve seen on TV in ages
Game of Thrones – After being traumatized by the Red Wedding, how can we go on? But we did and it was great.
The 100 – this post apocalyptic teeny-bopper show on the CW has delivered with each and every episode. I’m so surprised by the great storytelling and forward moving plotlines. Who knew that a show about a failing space station sending their delinquents down to a wasteland Earth could be so good?
Supernatural – always and forever in my heart, Winchester Bros.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Magic Shifts / Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews – still my favorite author(s). Magic Shifts is the latest in the Kate Daniels series (we finally meet Roland!) and Burn for Me is the first in a new series/trilogy.
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – this book got me through the plane incident and was really good to boot!
Wild Man / Law Man / Heaven & Hell / The Will by Kristen Ashley – Kristen Ashley is an acquired taste and her voice is unique. Her books don’t always work for me (i.e., the majority of the Rock Chick series was deeply annoying) but when they work, they really work.
The Razorland Trilogy (Enclave / Outpost / Horde) by Ann Aguirre – this YA postapocalyptic YA series is fantastic – mutants, cave dwellers, war, peace, etc. It’s great. And Horde is the book that really turned me onto the path of ebooks because I wanted it right then.
Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry – part of a concurrent duology (?) about a woman who falls in love with her best friends ex-fiancee (the other book, Hot Island Nights, is about the best friend breaking off the engagement and running away to Australia to find her birth father, also good). I really liked how the characters of Violet and Martin were fleshed out from the first book. It was a sweet, emotional romance.
The Others Series (Written in Red / Murder of Crows) by Ann Bishop – in an alternate world humans live in small cities surrounded by the Others (werewolves, crows, etc.) that shapeshift into human form. The series centers on a girl who has escaped a serious situation finding refuge in the Courtyard (where the community of Others live in a human city). It’s a complex, interesting world – and far far better than Bishop’s famed Black Jewels Trilogy, which did nothing for me, alas.

2014 was the year I moved mostly over to ebooks – something I never thought I’d do! But the ability to download a book whilst sitting upon your ass and not having to drive to Walnut Creek and find parking at the only Barnes & Noble around? Priceless.

21. What was your favorite music from this year??

John Newman’s Love Me Again
Hozier’s Take Me to Church

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Guardians of the Galaxy! And, well, the Lego Movie.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

34 – had a whole weekend of stuff, met Felicia and Tyler for breakfast the day before and then crab cakes and mojitos at Havana with Sarah and Bill.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

To have been in ignorant bliss on how to sit in a crash landing and not to have hurt my shoulder.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

Hipster chic. I don’t really wear cardigans anymore, either, weird.

26. What kept you sane?

Coffee, the sweet elixir of life that giveth and ne’er taketh away. No but seriously my daily coffee ritual is simultaneously a grounding and transcendent moment.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014?

Life is short and next time fly Delta.

Socks for Boo

Knitted some baby socks for the first time for Ms. Boo Belle. The little lady is still a bit too little for them, but the important thing is that they fit, or will fit, eventually:

Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll Handpaints in Tiger (discontinued colorway, sadly)
Needles: Ehhh, 2 US probably??

I also made myself some fingerless mitts out of this yarn earlier this year but I haven't taken a picture of them yet. I will have to do that.

Summer 2014

I know, I know… The updates are few and far between these days. But here's a sampling of what I've been up to this summer!

In May: Malvina's baby shower –

Look at all that delicious flavor! Or, it would be that now I see the cheese ball is missing. Huh. Anyway, the food seemed to go over well with the guests. I was worried that there wouldn't be any parking, but it was literally the only day this entire year (that I've noticed) that the visitor parking across the street from my house was totally free. Go figure.

We had a mini high school reunion –

And then the baby was born about six weeks later!

In June:

I (and my dad) repainted my living room. We removed the valances above the curtains (see above pic – aren't they awful??) and it was a lot of work and a big construction disaster for about a week. I learned I can't live without curtains; it creeps me out.

Yes, I didn't take down my Christmas tree. From 2009. ;)

I think this is the first time I've posted the china cabinet on here. I refinished it in the fall of 2012 – that was a big job too. I still should paint the handles. Ah well, eventually. One of my coworkers saw these pictures and said… "You have a lot of stuff." I just laughed.

In July: birthday and box game at the A's.

Met up with Felicia on the 4th (my birthday weekend) for breakfast, and Sarah and Bill for dinner on the 5th. Had a great birthday dinner with the family on the 4th – my mom parents got me a Fitbit! And Abby got me Season 1 of Game of Thrones… it makes so much more sense after watching 4 seasons, haha.

And now it's August. I'm actually knitting a sweater, so I think I might document that later. Unless I get eaten by alligators next week… stay tuned!

Why I’m Irritated at the HIMYM Series Finale

Yes, it took the ending of a beloved television show to get me to post again.

But seriously guys, the series of How I Met Your Mother has really annoyed me.

It didn’t send me into rage spirals like the LOST finale (STILL MAD ABOUT THAT ONE, even though it’s been over for like 4 years already), it didn’t perplex me with its sheer wtf-ery like the Dexter finale (random lumberjacks!) and it didn’t pull the “Oh wait, what – it got canceled six months ago and I didn’t know about it?” crap that the poor The Glades got last year (and the last episode was a cliffhanger! Phooey!).

SPOILERS AHOY

So what the HIMYM finale did was negate an entire series with the last five minutes of the finale. How I Met Your Mother was not, in fact, about meeting the mother. It was about how Ted fell in love with Robin, never got over her, met the mother and had kids, then eventually got back together with Robin after the mother died. This whole time, Ted wasn’t telling stories to the kids about how he met their mom, he was telling them about his life so that he could justify getting back together with Robin several years after losing his wife.

Now generally speaking, had the show not gone on for so long, this could have been perfectly acceptable. It works in books and isn’t uncommon in real life. But the show went on for nine years and the entire last season took place over Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend. Then, in the final episode, they had Robin and Barney get divorced and Barney go back to his philandering ways – which the show had spent YEARS developing Barney into a better person. And the show had spent YEARS developing the idea that Robin and Ted were wrong for each other and that the mother was the love of Ted’s life.

Had the events that took place in the finale took place over the entire final season, I think that would have been much better. HIMYM has proven over the years that while generally a comedy, they can have tough stories lines and go about them in a serious way (Marshall’s dad dying and Robin’s infertility issues) – I actually think they could have done that whole final episode over the final season and those fans who expected Ted to wind up with the mother wouldn’t be so PISSED that they got cheated out of what they thought was the ultimate end game for the series.

Because ultimately that how I feel – cheated out of what I thought the show was about. While I can appreciate the creator’s artistic vision (the plan all along was to kill off the mother), the title was a misdirect – it wasn’t “How I Met Your Mother”, it was “How I Hard Time Dating, Met Your Mother, She Died, and Got Back Together With Robin.” And as someone who never thought Ted & Robin actually worked as a couple, I thought that was lame. I liked Robin & Barney together.

So, points I guess for taking a storytelling risk (the finale has been almost universally panned by fans/critics from what I can tell). I didn’t care for it, am disappointed by it, but wish that if that’s what they wanted to do, that it had been executed better.

Still, I did love the early years of this show. Lily & Marshall are probably one of the best TV couples ever, and it brought us the glory of NPH. I liked the flashback/flash forward structure which was unique to sitcoms. And I don’t feel like I wasted a bunch of time watching it like I do LOST, so there’s that!

2013 RECAP

End of year meme for my recollection and edification.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Rode the CalTrain, tailgated, attended a box game at the SF Giants’ stadium. (I had previously attended box games at A’s games… I’m spoiled, haha)

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year??

I made ZERO new year’s resolutions as usual but I do have one for 2014, and that is DRAW MORE (or at all, really). I find that trying to make THIS YEAR YOUR YEAR can only lead to failure, but having a mindset that you’re not getting any younger and you may as well start today with whatever it is you want to do is far more beneficial. Hence my current 23.4 lb weight loss (as of 12/30/13!) which I never would have done without just doing it and going for on September 2.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth??

Nope! This is year has been one of the first baby-free years in awhile! Though one of my co-workers had a baby and he is pretty much the cutest baby I have ever laid eyes on, for reals.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My cousin R died in February and that was a bummer. He was really instrumental in helping me learn more digital art skills by getting me Bryce 3D years and years ago. I really appreciate that.

5. What countries did you visit?

The United States of America!

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Money, time, more friends, pants. Evaluating the friends thing… I have managed to make a couple of new friends this year and that’s been really nice. I have felt rather isolated with my closest friends being far away so to have some local friends finally… it means a lot.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

July 5th- my birthday, had a fun time at Havana in WC and September 2nd, the day I started hardcore on my health stuff. It happened to be the first day I used MyFitnessPal and the first day of Level 2 of the 30 Day Shred, which is hard. The last Saturday in July when we went to the baseball game in the Tony Bennett Suite at AT&T park, was pretty fun! I’ve become spoiled with some of our work perks, and box games is one of those things! Hopefully we have some more opportunities this upcoming summer. :)DSC04663

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

– LOSING TWENTY-THREE POUNDS IN 4 MONTHS
– Shaving about 4-6 minutes off our time at the Lafayette Reservoir
– Adding a number of healthy options to my cooking repetoire
– Saying “YES” to more things.
– Having two new legit friends.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Well, that whole “dating” thing. And I do still have tendencies to overreact hysterically when presented with too much information all at once.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yes, I was sick A LOT this year – for almost two months total if you count the 32 days I had the flu in January/February, my bout with food poisoning in Reno, and two more weeks of a cold in October and then two MORE weeks of congestion in December. It has been unpleasant in that department.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My tablet and my running shoes. Actually I got myself both of those for my birthday, and they have really served me well since.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Bills bills bills, nail polish. My Disneyland trip was a wee bit more expensive than planned, lol.

13. What did you get really excited about?

My birthday, LA/Disney trip in October. Tailgating at one of the Battle of the Bay games in May (A’s vs. Giants, our homegrown teams! Was really fun!)

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Daft Punk’s Get Lucky. There was an incident that involved dancing at a bar.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:?

– happier or sadder? Happier, I think! So so stressed out, but happier.
– thinner or fatter? THINNER!! FOR ONCE IN MY LIIIIIFE
– richer or poorer? RICHER (woooooo!!)

Hmmmm… this year was better to me than recent previous years, I think.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of??

Traveling, for sure, but I just didn’t have the time/money/energy. I’m over Disney for now so at least I can focus on other potential trips in the next 18 months – Texas, Florida, Germany maybe.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of??

Being anti-social. But I try to go to most of the work functions and try to go to most things I’m invited to. Had to bail on two recent things because I was too tired/sick and that was a bummer because they sounded like they were fun (though one did end up with someone puking in the backseat of a car…)

18. How did you spend Christmas?

At my house for Christmas Eve with my mom’s side of the family. At my parents’ house in the morning for Christmas Day with just us and then my uncle’s house for the afternoon with my dad’s side of the family.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Orphan Black – probably the best acted and tightly plotted show of the year.
Game of Thrones – I finally fell for Game of Thrones after something like 14 episodes (had to justify my HBO subscription, you know), and season 3 was killer… literally… heh (Red Wedding!). Now that I like the show and actually know which character is which, I’d like to go back and watch from the beginning, I think I would like it a lot more.
Nashville – what can I say, I love a good nighttime soap, and Nashville is extremely soapy.
Supernatural – always and forever in my heart, Winchester Bros.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews (online serial)
Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews
Married for Christmas by Noelle Adams
Bittersweet by Noelle Adams

I… really like Ilona Andrews – they’re my current favorite author. And I recently discovered Noelle Adams and have been reading through her backlist on my Kindle App. This was a light year for reading for me, aside from blogs and online stuff. Sorry brain, I didn’t really stimulate you much. :/

21. What was your favorite music from this year??

I don’t think I bought a single album this year. Or downloaded any music (I never do, though). I did listen to a lot of radio and enjoyed Imagine Dragons, AWOLNation, Lumineers. Fell hard for Mumford & Sons. Last year’s favorite Of Monsters and Men became way overplayed and if I hear Dirty Paws one more time I’m going to scream.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

The movies I saw in the theater were:

Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Pacific Rim
Oblivion
Oz: the Great & Powerful
Star Trek: Into Darkness

I loved Pacific Rim – it met all my expectations of robots vs. monsters plus the epic bonus of robot wailing on a monster with an aircraft carrier. BONUS: IDRIS ELBA. I could listen to that man talk all day long.

However, the movie that I liked the most and has stayed with me the most is Cloud Atlas. I actually think it may be one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. It came on HBO or something a couple months ago and I was like, ehh, I guess I’ll watch this, and oh man, it turned out I really wish I’d seen it in the theater last year. I’m not even sure what exactly struck me, the intricate story telling, the excellent performances… I may even try to tackle the book it was based on.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

33 – mojitos at Havana, then we hung out at my house and played Cards Against Humanity. It was a good birthday!

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Not getting sick every time I turned around, that would have been nice. More $$$. I know, I know, money doesn’t solve your problems, but having more of it would solve some of my $$$ problems, heh.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Right now it’s “Nothing fits.” And, “Hey, that kind of fits, let’s wear it.” And, “Ooh, maybe I have some pants in the giveaway pile that fit, sorry charity!” I did, and they do.

26. What kept you sane?

Hahaha. I am coming off a pretty stressful month and need to sleep for like days. Honestly, a lot of my really harder workouts were a blessing as they really cleared my mind and made me feel better about life. And did I mention I’ve lost 23 lbs?! ;)

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013?

Two things:

1. If you want to lose weight, what matters is diet and exercise. Damnit. They weren’t kidding. Eat at a calorie deficit and be more active. I’ve had total success with this and while I have a long ways to go still (I’m about a third done, and when I reach my goal I will evaluate if I want to lose more – I suspect it will take me most of 2014 to reach goal, but I’m hoping that a year after I started I’ll be there)

and

2. Being open to people, to feelings, to experiences. Be less afraid to express yourself; your feelings matter.

***

It’s been a year. Hopefully 2014 will be a good one.

FITNESS FRIDAY, the 22-lb Edition!

Yes that’s right folks, my hoped-for goal to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year HAS BEEN MET. AND EXCEEDED.

SUCK IT NONBELIEVERS! (and by that I mean the me of four months ago.)

There are two things I really would like to talk about regarding this whole thing:

1. Support Systems
2. How you have to do it.

1. Support Systems
To my surprise, my biggest support for all of this has come from my coworkers. I get encouragement and understanding from these people that I didn’t know they were capable of. There are a couple in particular, but in general basically everyone in the office that I’m friends with has noticed the results and has been very encouraging. It’s really been an added bonus and motivation to keep this up. I do spend most of my time with these people, so I’d just like to acknowledge how awesome they’ve been. It’s a little annoying in that my success has become encouragement to other people, which means that as an unexpected role model, I can’t slack off! Phooey! (LOL!)

It’s really nice that people have been noticing my hard work though! I like that.

2. The Process – How you have to do it
It’s pretty annoying to learn that in order for this to work, the old standby call of “diet and exercise!” is actually how it works, and how you will keep it off. And I don’t mean diet in terms of weird crash diet or extreme calorie deficits or cleanses or whatever. I mean it in its actual meaning:

di·et1
noun
  1. 1.
    the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.
    “a vegetarian diet”

Because for me, this is a very huge lifestyle change. I’ve gone from someone who would eat out a couple times a week for lunch and have a lot of convenience foods at home, to someone who brings lunch everyday and pretty much cooks from scratch every meal for the most part (though not spaghetti sauce!).

I have to admit that one of the harder things I’ve had to do is cut out a lot of the “fun” eating – meaning, I didn’t have that much crazy food at home or anything, but I definitely have had to cut out eating out A LOT, and I think that is a tough thing to have to decide to do, especially when so many relationships revolve around going out to eat, or meeting up for drinks, or whatever. I’ve even cut out most of my Starbucks consumption (which I had earlier anyway because $$$) and so I’m not even that fun to go grab coffee with anymore! I just have to make different choices and I choose not to eat out so much, and to not have white chocolate mochas. <insert SAD FACE>

I still drink a lot of coffee but I make it at home and add creamer. I like the Safeway/Lucerne brand Italian Sweet Cream and International Delight Salted Caramel Mocha (which is, sadly, limited edition for the holidays). Actually the Lucerne brand makes a lot of really tasty creamers; I also like the Cinnamon Vanilla one.

I measure out my portions and make sure everything is accurate, and more or less obsess about everything I put in my mouth. I have to decide if I really want something. And for the most part, I do really want things, and I don’t feel like I’ve had to give things up. For the nights out that I did go out, I tried to make sure that I had a pretty good idea of where I was going so I could decide in advance what to get. Like when we went for mojitos, I knew I wanted two mojitos and knowing the people I was out with, the revelry would probably devolve into shots, so I would most likely have one – and I was able to stick with it. Another time that was a challenge was the Brazilian steakhouse for my dad’s birthday and then the Italian place the office always goes to for a Christmas lunch. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to get and I was able to stick with my plan for the most part. I think it’s totally possible to go out and have fun and not blow 4,000 calories on your day out, but at the same time, I’ve had to distance myself from these kinds of things.

And I lost 5 pounds in December – despite Brazilian steakhouses, office parties, and Italian restaurants because of it. As of right now, I’m down 22 lbs since September 2.

I’m pretty proud of myself.

2014 GOALS

For the new year, nothing’s going to change. I’m going to keep tracking everything in MyFitnessPal, try to eat well, and try to finish Ripped in 30 (I got sick last week and haven’t had any energy to do the videos, though I’ve still been walking every day). I completed Week 3 and now have to start Week 4 (aka “The Mother of All Workouts”. I also have the Jillian Michael’s Six Week Six Pack, and for Christmas I got her Yoga Inferno AND the Body Revolution set! I’m excited about that – and considering how long these videos take me to do, I’m set on workouts for probably anywhere from 6-8 months. Then I’ll start over with the 30 Day Shred and see how far I’ve come! I bet it will be pretty easy so I’ll up my weights.

I also plan on trying out new recipes – I have two new Weight Watchers recipe books, the Chicken one and the 50th Anniversary one. My goal is to try at least one new recipe a month. I think that’s reasonable. Usually if I like something it gets added to my ongoing repertoire. This year I didn’t do too much from cookbooks but I did figure out some lighter recipes and I crockpot chicken once a week now, in addition to turkey burrito filling and I made applesauce, which was fun.

I’ve switched to whole grains for almost everything except tortillas (whole wheat/grain tortillas are disgusting, I don’t care what anybody says) (As a Mexican I’m offended by whole grain tortillas being disgusting) and I’ve even added ground flax to other stuff. I plan to expand my healthy grain horizons and figure out more ways to eat quinoa.

So that’s about what I expect from 2014 – more of the same and also just MORE. I just want to be more hardcore, and hopefully WAY LESS SICK next year – as I’m currently fighting off yet another cold, and for those counting, I’ve actually spent two full months sick in 2013, which has been unpleasant, to say the least. Here’s to not only fitness in 2014, but actual health! Where I’m not coughing! Ack!

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