Tuesday, February 17, 2009

101 Things in 1001 Days and First Update

This is something that I discovered through my friend the Angry Redhead's blog (she stole it from our mutual friend the Stitch Witch) and I thought it was a great idea, so I decided to make a list as well. The basic premise is that you make a list of 101 goals you want to accomplish in 1001 days (approx. 2.75 years); it's kind of like making a list of New Year's resolutions, except that 1. you should be specific both in the wording of your goals and the steps you plan to take to meet them, 2. you actually make an attempt to meet these goals, and 3. you can start a list anytime you want. Now, I know that this isn't necessarily related to weight loss, but it is all about self-improvement, so I figured I may as well post the list and updates here. So here it is:

Start Date: Feb. 14, 2009
End Date: Nov. 12, 2011
Updated info in purple.

1. Get a car and get it registered. This goal may be fulfilled before I post this online (maybe even before I complete this list) but I’m listing it anyway as it’s my most important goal right now. Done! Car was purchased on 2/14/09 and registered on 2/17/09.

2. Get a job. I’d like to be idealistic and say “Get a job I love that pays well and has great benefits” but I need to be a bit more realistic right now. I've been unemployed for over 10 months now – I need to just find a job so I can get some money coming in. After I have something I can think about upgrading to something better as necessary. Side goal: update my Monster profile.

3. Go through the books I own and update my “To Be Read” shelf on Goodreads to reflect all the books I own that I have yet to read. Have at least 75% of these books read by the end date. Books that I need to read for my book group do not count toward this total, nor do books acquired and read after the shelf is updated. Shelf has been updated (185 books total), and goal has been changed somewhat: My goal is now to clear at least 90% of the books from the shelf. I don't have to read the entire book if I'm not enjoying it, but I will read at least 50 pages before deciding whether to continue with the book or drop it and move on to the next.

4. Stop buying so many books. Until my “To Be Read” shelf has decreased by 50%, institute a rule that I may not buy a book until I've read at least 5 books that I already own. Books that I need for my book group will be exempt from this rule.

5. Complete the Artist’s Way program that I started a few weeks ago but let slide over the past week.

6. Once I have completed the Artist’s Way, do the Right to Write program.

7. Continue with my healthy eating program and strive to reach my ultimate goal of losing 245 lbs by the end of the 1001 days. Only 205 lbs to go!

8. Get back into the habit of going to Curves 3 times a week.

9. Get back into the habit of doing yoga at least 3 times a week, aiming to increase my flexibility to the point where I can easily do flow yoga. Strive to be able to master Cyndi Lee’s OM Yoga DVD by the end of the 1001 days.

10. When the weather is good, go for regular walks of at least 1 mile. Build stamina by gradually increasing the length of my walks over time.

11. Finally learn to speak Hawaiian. I know there’s not much practical use for this, but it’s something I've wanted to learn for a number of years. I already have the language CDs, dictionary, and grammar books, I just need to put them to use.

12. Find out how one becomes a dietician/nutritionist. I had some nutrition courses as part of my program in culinary school, and I've certainly learned a great deal over the past few months as I've lost weight. I don’t yet know whether this is something I’d want to make a career out of, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to get more information. I can use my sister’s friend Andrea as a resource on this goal. Progressing -- I have gotten info from Kaplan University about their online Bachelor's Degree program in Nutrition Science. If I can get enough federal aid, I will be doing the program.

13. Find out how one gets certified as a yoga instructor. As with #12, I’m not sure if I’d like to make a career out of this, but it wouldn't hurt to get the information.

14. Fire walk. Give myself the opportunity that I missed out on a few years ago due to rain. Research whether there are people in this area who provide this service, find out whether they provide the venue or if I would have to provide it (pray they have their own space as I doubt Daddy would allow me to build a fire pit in the back yard.)

15. Finish the scrapbook I started 3 years ago for the vacation I took 9 years ago.

16. Finish the 3 cross-stitch projects that I started last year.

17. Learn how to sew buttonholes. Enlist Erica’s expertise on this.

18. Once #17 has been accomplished, use my new skills to finish the throw pillow that I started last year. Also make the runner for my console table for which O bought the fabric last year but never got around to making.

19. Take a trip somewhere with Ericka.

20. Take a trip somewhere with Barbara.

21. Take a trip somewhere all alone.

22. Get my passport.

23. Attend the Bookcrossing Convention in Amsterdam in 2010.

24. Attend the Travel Channel Academy digital travel filmmaking course. Consider attending a session in a city I've never been to before (although NYC is always a great destination.)

25. Get my own laptop so I can stop using Ma’s. Do plenty of research before buying to make sure I get one that properly meets my needs.

26. Upgrade my current iPod to one with significantly more memory. Gerald has been a wonderful companion for the past 3 years, but 30 GB just isn't doing it for me anymore (I seem to have become a technoslut!)

27. Listen to at least one podcast episode per day until I am caught up with all my podcasts. Once caught up, stay caught up; also look into other podcasts that may be of interest to me at that time.

28. Get over my fear of singing in public. I’m not quite sure how to go about this without doing karaoke on a regular basis, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Maybe I should start by singing in the shower when I know other people are in the house.

29. Try Thai massage. If I like it, and if my income permits once I find a job, set up regular appointments.

30. Treat myself to another Watsu session. This will probably have to happen on one of my trips as I have yet to find a spa in the area that offers it.

31. Learn to follow through on my ideas, especially my business ideas. I will devote a notebook to these ideas where I will write the ideas and then record all the research I do into the idea. Once I research the ideas, I will take steps towards implementing them.

32. Do some general research into forming and running my own company, such as registering a business name, setting up a business account, and writing business plans and proposals.

33. Grant at least 5 wishlist requests per year on Bookcrossing. Goal has been reached (exceeded, actually) for 2009.

34. Host a challenge on Bookcrossing.

35. Frame and hang some of my grandmother’s paintings which have been languishing in the closet for the past 11 years.

36. Pull my box of Erte collector plates out of the closet and figure out which ones will look best in the guest bedroom. Buy some plateholders and wall hooks and hang the plates up.

37. Figure out why the TV and DVD player upstairs have suddenly decided not to play nice anymore. Fix the problem once I've figured it out.

38. Figure out how to hook up the VCR to the new TV downstairs and then do it. Buy any needed cables to complete the project.

39. Either get a camera phone or start carrying my camera with me so I can take more pictures. Done! After my father ran over his Palm Pilot with his van, he upgraded to a Blackberry and gave me his old phone. Date completed: 2/16/09.

40. Look into how much it would cost to replace the carpet in my bedroom. If the cost is reasonable, do it.

41. Do some research into my travelogue ideas (which I won’t mention here as I want to keep them secret.)

42. Go play mini-golf at least once a year.

43. Get my last loan paid off.

44. Start an ING Direct account. Contribute to it regularly.

45. Invest some money into a CD. When the term of the CD ends, roll that money into a new CD. Repeat.

46. Create a regular spiritual practice.

47. Journal on a daily basis. Blog at least once a week.

48. See a Reduced Shakespeare Company show live.

49. Learn to Rollerblade once I've lost enough weight to do so safely.

50. Learn how to manage my time more effectively so I won’t be chronically late anymore.

51. Take at least one step towards my goal of hosting my own women’s festival by doing research into locations/venues, costs, liabilities/insurance, and other practical considerations; also brainstorm/research activities, artists, vendors, etc., to have at the festival.

52. Reconnect with friends from high school and college with whom I've lost touch. Progressing, thanks to Facebook.

53. Donate my excess stuffed animals and coloring books to the children’s section of the hospital.

54. Donate blood more often. Look into the possibility of donating platelets.

55. Improve my sewing skills. Consider taking a class; perhaps convince Erica to tutor me.

56. Design and construct a winged cape and headdress so my Bast costume can do double duty as an Isis costume.

57. Come up with a design for a Kali costume. Do not begin construction until all craft projects previously listed have been completed. Feel free to begin sourcing materials.

58. Learn archery.

59. Go through my desk and the big plastic bin that’s been sitting on the floor of the library for the past 2 years. Discard or donate (as appropriate) items I no longer use or need. Once purge is complete, put the items from the bin into the newly-created space in the desk. If there are items that don’t fit in the desk, find appropriate homes for them elsewhere. Store plastic bin in an out-of-the-way place until needed for something else.

60. Organize and host a fundraiser for a charity. The fundraiser doesn't have to be a big, complicated affair, it can be something as simple as a bake sale, neighborhood yard sale, or craft fair. Just pick a worthwhile charity and go for it.

61. Take day trips into Boston at least twice a year when the weather is nice – once in the spring and once in the fall would be ideal. Visit the MFA, the Gardner Museum, the Museum of Science, the NE Aquarium, the Arnold Arboretum, or any other places that strike my fancy.

62. Visit the library in my town at least once to check it out (I've lived here for 15 years and never been.) If I like it, make a point to go regularly.

63. Visit the bead shop I recently discovered on Rt. 111 in Hudson.

64. See at least once “arty” film per year at the Wilton Town Hall Theater.

65. Organize a craft supply swap, where crafters can trade their unused craft supplies with other crafters. This could also be done as a drive with craft supplies being donated to a school or other youth organization.

66. Discover which museum houses the Venus of Willendorf. Income permitting, take a trip to the museum to pay homage. It's housed in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. I could possibly combine this with #23 if there is rail service from Amsterdam to Vienna.

67. Same as #66 with the artwork in question being The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago.

68. Start learning another language, other than Hawaiian, that actually does have practical applications in the modern world. Possibilities include Italian, French, Portuguese, Spanish, or German.

69. Try Barbara’s secret flan recipe. See if I end up with actual flan and not just cream of flan soup.

70. Finally return Barbra P.’s beads to her. Mail them to her c/o her church if necessary.

71. Play around with watercolors sometime and see what I can create. Make bookmarks out of the results and offer them free to Bookcrossers.

72. Find out if Terry Pratchett will be doing a U.S. book tour when his next book is released. If he is, find out when and where he’ll be appearing and attend at least one of his signings. If he won’t be touring, pick another author of interest and go to a signing.

73. Find out whether the light fixture currently in my bedroom is properly wired to support a ceiling fan. If it is, purchase and install a ceiling fan that will match my d├ęcor. If it isn't, get a new fixture that will accept energy-saving bulbs.

74. Buy an Isabella Fiore handbag. Try to track down the Gypsy Fortuneteller or What’s My Sign? Libra designs on ebay.

75. Work on the purple lotus design that I want for my tattoo. Get the tattoo when I reach my goal weight.

76. Seriously consider going back to college, either to get certified as a dietician/nutritionist, or to get a degree in another field. Possible fields include business, marketing, and broadcasting. Even if I don’t go for another degree, taking some basic business courses would probably be a good idea. Request catalogs and enrollment info from colleges in the area; also look into online colleges. Progressing -- see #12.

77. Mail a secret in to PostSecret. Done, and I may do another one.

78. Find out how one goes about registering patents, trademarking images, and copyrighting written works. Find out if one can patent a product for which one only has an idea (as opposed to having an actual product or a design for a product.)

79. File my personal papers at least once a month. Go through my personal files at least once a year and shred all papers that are no longer needed.

80. Expand my knowledge of crochet to include bead crochet and thread crochet. Learn to make doilies and snowflakes.

81. Compile a list of travel tips gleaned from my own travel experiences and from other sources such as travel books (guides and memoirs) and travel shows (TV, radio, or podcasts.) Computerize the list and organize by subject.

82. Re: #81, consider starting another blog or registering and creating a website for these tips so that others may benefit from my research.

83. Once I have a steady source of income, work out a budget. Figure out how much I spend monthly on necessities (gas, car insurance, Curves membership), figure in a small but reasonable weekly allowance, and divide the rest of my income between paying off my last loan and investing in high-yield savings.

84. Research government grants and find out if there any for which I qualify. Apply for the grant(s) if I qualify.

85. Find out what my credit score is and take steps to improve it as necessary. Check my credit reports regularly (yearly at the very least.)

86. Make some new playlists on my iPod. Try to use songs that aren't played as often.

87. Do something fun at least once a week. This could be anything from going to a comedy club, to going to an arcade and blowing $10 on playing pinball, to playing board or card games with friends.

88. Go to a water park once I've reached my goal weight. I've always wanted to do this but have always felt too self-conscious about how I look in a bathing suit.

89. Expand my wine horizons in one or more of the following ways: go to a wine tasting event; once a month, buy a bottle of wine of a type I've never tried and share it with someone; visit a vineyard. Whatever I do, I will keep a log book of which wines I try and what I think of them.

90. Get a PDA of some sort (or learn to use the organizer functions on my phone.) Consider upgrading to a Blackberry or iPhone for that all-in-one convenience.

91. Have at least one yard sale during this time.

92. Go to Fenway Park. Ideally to see a Red Sox game, but at least take the tour if I can’t make it to a game.

93. Go to a day spa at least once and treat myself to the full package: manicure, pedicure, facial, and massage.

94. Have lunch at Pickity Place at least once a year.

95. At least twice a year, go to a restaurant that I’ve never been to. If I like it, post a review on Google, Yahoo, and other such sites.

96. Become more aware of what’s going on in the world by reading more than just the comics page in the daily newspaper and by regularly checking news online.

97. Find some good recipes for low-sugar jams. Make low-sugar strawberry and mixed berry jams every summer.

98. Learn to be more tolerant of people who have views/opinions/beliefs that are different from mine, esp. religious/spiritual.

99. Dance more. Make use of the dance fitness videos & DVDs that I already have, and also consider taking a class in hula, bellydance, or some other type of ethnic dance.

100. Get together with friends more often.

101. At the end of 1001 days, review list to pinpoint any unattained goals. Assess whether those goals still fit my lifestyle. If they do, roll them onto my next list of 101 things. If they don’t, either rewrite them to fit my lifestyle and add them to the next list, or discard them completely. Write up a new list and start again.

As you can see, I've already completed a couple of my goals. I will continue to update as more goals are completed. For more info, check out the Day Zero website.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Plateaus and Chocolate

I know it's been over a week since I last posted (in fact, it's been 10 days) and I had originally promised to post weekly at least. But I seem to have hit a plateau immediately after reaching my 40 lb goal, and it's pretty boring to blog about not losing and not gaining. I'm not too worried about hitting a plateau, they happen whenever you try to lose a large amount of weight and I was prepared to hit one eventually. Everything will be fine as long as the plateau doesn't last too long, and as long as I continue to eat right and exercise it shouldn't last long at all.

I wanted to talk a little bit about chocolate. Valentine's Day is tomorrow (not that that really means much to little-old-perpetually-single me) and I'm sitting here alternatively blogging and watching an episode of Modern Marvels all about the history and production of chocolate. I have always been a big fan of chocolate, and even though I am very serious about eating better and losing weight, I have no intention of giving up chocolate. I don't think there's any need to give chocolate up completely in order to live a healthy lifestyle, you just need to be smarter about which chocolate you eat and how often. First of all, if you're going to eat chocolate (and this goes for regular people as well as people who are trying to lose weight) you should eat good chocolate. Low-quality chocolate will usually have more sugar than high-quality chocolate, and may also contain more artificial ingredients, all of which adds up to chocolate that just won't taste that great. Yes, really good high-quality chocolate will cost more than your typical supermarket-checkout-line candy bar, but trust me, the cost will be worth it. Why? Because when you have good chocolate, you won't have to eat as much to be satisfied. No, really, you won't. I bought a $4 bar of Green&Black's Organic 70% chocolate a couple weeks ago. According to the label, the bar was 2.5 servings of chocolate, but I made that bad boy last all week because I had less than half a serving each time I had some. I could've bought a Hershey bar for less than $1, but I would've eaten the whole bar and had nothing left over for later. Second, if you are trying to lose weight, you should eat mainly dark chocolate, solid (as in unfilled) preferred. You don't need high-sugar fillings adding carbs and calories and distracting your taste buds from the chocolate. Choose dark chocolate with a cacao content of at least 60%. These days, you can find eating bars with cacao content up to 90% (anything over 90% won't contain enough sugar and should be used strictly for baking) so what you choose will depend on your personal taste. If you usually eat milk or white chocolate, you'll probably want to start with 60% cacao chocolate and go up from there. Personally, I usually aim for 65%-75% cacao content; more than 75% is too bitter for my taste. The best way to figure out what you like is to try different brands and different cacao content levels. You could even have some fun with it and get some friends together for a chocolate tasting. My personal favorite is Ghirardelli, but I also found a great product made by Dove called CocoaVia. I found it in the health food aisle of the grocery store. They're little 100 calorie dark chocolate bars that come in a box of 5 (they have a couple other varieties, but this is the only one I've tried) so you can have a little bit of creamy dark chocolate whenever you need it. Which brings me to my last point: how much and how often you eat chocolate is just as important as which chocolate you eat. Having a large portion of chocolate every single day is simply not conducive to good health. Having a little bit of chocolate a few times a week is a smart way to satisfy cravings while still following a healthy eating plan. Yes, you can eat chocolate while losing weight and eating healthy. Just be smart about it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


To your left, you see a woman who has lost 40 lbs. Woohoo! If you remember, this was the first goal I set for myself as it was approximately 10% of my starting weight. Reaching this goal is significant in a couple other ways as well. Firstly, I am now at the weight I was 12 years ago when I started Weight Watchers. Secondly, and more significantly, this is the most weight I've ever lost at any one time. When I was on Weight Watchers all those years ago, the most weight I ever lost was 33 lbs. When I first joined Curves in 2006, by exercising regularly I was able to lose 25 lbs. without dieting at all. However, each time, I would lose my focus and regain the weight. One of my fears when I started my program in September is that the same thing would happen, but the fact that I've been able to get this far proves to me that I can do this, plus it motivates me to go even further.
So here's where I am now:
Weight: 365, total loss (TL) 40 lbs.
Bust: 57.75 inches, TL 2.75 inches
Waist: 57.75 inches, TL 2.75 inches
Abdomen: 62 inches, TL 2.5 inches
Hips: 61.5 inches, TL 3 inches
Thigh: 31.5 inches, TL 1 inch
Upper Arm: 16.25 inches, TL 1.75 inches
BMI: 55.5 points, TL 6.1 points
Imagine how much better my results will get once I get another car and can get to Curves more than once a week!