Saturday, February 27, 2010

Life Is Too Short

When I was in the fifth grade, my friend's father died. I remember not being sure how to react or even what to say to her. She and I recently got in touch again through the Internet and now her husband has suddenly died, so it's like history repeating itself. It's really sad -- some people really do endure their fair share of trouble.

Whenever I hear about a tragedy like this, it reinforces for me how fragile we are and how we can go at any minute. Sometimes I feel like I've been gambling with my life for a long time with the way I don't take care of myself. But I really do want to live longer and have a better quality of life because I'm realiing that it's not fair for me to take advantage of a gift.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Karaoke Night

I stayed home from work today, and while I'm feeling a little better, I'm definitely not 100 percent. I had what I thought was a hot flash this afternoon and realized that it was a fever. So I holed up in the living room watching movies (The Time Traveler's Wife -- eh, too many plot holes and Night At The Museum 2 -- silly, but fun) and relaxing.

With all this time on my hands, I've been thinking a lot about the cruise and the best moments. I enjoyed seeing Key West and Cozumel, and being with my husband and friends, but for me, probably the best time was when we did karaoke in the ship's Xanadu lounge (and no, I did not sing anything by Olivia Newton-John, though I was tempted).

Though I'm an accomplished flute player, I love singing. I sing in the shower, sing along to the radio and especially love singing along to TV themes. I'm not a great singer, by any means, but I have a decent voice and can carry a tune. I've considered taking voice lessons because I think I could probably turn my above-average voice into a good voice, but I feel that singing is for fun while the flute is something I take more seriously. So while my impossible dream is to star in a Broadway show, I realize that won't happen because I can't dance or act, and don't sing well enough, I can live out that dream by singing show tunes.

For this reason, I looove karaoke. I love performing in general, but with the flute, tthere's a certain amount of pressure on me because people expect me to be good. People don't invite me to play at their weddings or with their bands so that I can goof around. But with karaoke, I can do that. I can sing whatever I want and be as crazy and uninhibited as I want ... and people will still cheer for me and treat me like a rock star -- even if I suck.

I really don't suck, though, if I pick the right type of song for my voice, which is a really low song. I am an alto with a voice that's deep enough to almost be a male tenor. I always enjoyed hearing Dorothy sing on The Golden Girls because portrayer Bea Arthur's voice was similar to mine -- deep and kind of raspy. While I don't have the chops to belt out Broadway tunes that span five octaves, I sound pretty good singing smoky jazz tunes or other songs that go low enough.

Luckily, my travel companions also like karaoke so we went for two nights in a row. The first night, I did songs with Jon and then Scott, and then the three of us sang. However, the guys wouldn't really agree with me on songs so we didn't exactly do ones that were great for my range. Jon and I sang Africa and then Scott and I did Obla-di Obla-da (though I wanted to do I Wanna Hold Your Hand because I do a kick-ass harmony on it, but Scott refused). The three of us then did Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, which was a little too long and nearly put the audience in a coma. Still, we had a great time and it was fun listening to everyone else.

However, the next night I chose to go solo. My first pick, Upside Down, was okay, but a little shaky on the high notes because I hadn't warmed up my voice enough. But the next two I did -- These Boots Were Made For Walking and Fever -- I, dare I say without sounding conceited, nailed. They were just in the right octave and key for me, my nasal passages were clear, my voice was warmed up and I was feeling confident, so I managed to hit all of the notes. On those two songs, I actually sounded like an experienced singer. Everyone was looking at me and cheered me loudly when I finished, but the attention was welcome. I was being regarded because the crowd admired me -- not because I was the largest woman in the room.

I suppose you're wondering what on earth this has to do with my weight-loss journey, but I guess what I want to get out of this whole thing is that *feeling* I had while doing karaoke that night -- that confidence, that ease at being who I am, that sense of being able to let everything go and have fun and not care what people think ... but then feeling successful, anyway. I want to feel as free as I did that evening -- even when I'm not on the stage.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Home, Sweet, Home

Well, I'm back from the cruise and I'm happy to say that I had a really nice time. It wasn't quite as relaxing as I'd hoped because it was cold for the Caribbean, but I still enjoyed it.

In terms of eating, I did pretty well and while I didn't lose any weight during the week, I did maintain. You can easily eat 24/7 on a cruise -- there are midnight buffets, all-night pizza stands, treats around every corner -- but I really worked hard to watch portions. I stayed away from any of these midnight offerings and stuck to three decent-sized meals -- and that was it. I drank more than usual, but having one alcoholic beverage per day wasn't too bad compared to a lot of other people on that ship.

One thing I liked about the food at dinner was that the portions were reasonable. I expected huge bowls of pasta and giant steaks, but it wasn't like that at all. Instead, the portions were moderate -- enough to fill you up, but not make you feel stuffed -- and on each menu, there were low-calorie "spa" options. Each night, I ordered a soup with vegetables (my favorites were the gazpacho and the chill asparagus soups) and then usually chicken for my main entry. After, I had some dessert, but tried to incorporate fruit into it. For instance, one night I had a small scoop of vanilla ice cream with a fruit plate. On the day that I ordered the souffle, the waiters suddenly decided to celebrate my birthday (which had been two weeks before; I guess they celebrate all February birthdays this month no matter when they are), so I also ended up with a slice of black forrest cake that I didn't ask for. But I took a few bites and then left the rest over. By the way, I've learned that I really don't like souffle.

I was also much more active on this trip than I've been in a while. Though I've been BowFlex-ing, I haven't done miles of walking. I got to do that here. It was hard -- my back hurt and I had to stop frequently, which I'm sure annoyed my travel companions (though they never complained). But we walked all around South Beach on Sunday, all over Key West on Tuesday and then explored some ruins in Cozumel on Thursday. So I got in three good days of exercise.

One other thing I'm proud of is that I got into the pool. I was a little self-conscious about wearing a bathing suit in public, but no one seemed to care about how I looked. I then wanted to actually swim, but because my center of gravity is off (this is what happens when you have a huge stomach pulling all your weight forward), going down steps and ladders often feels uncomfortable. That said, I was afraid I'd slip into the pool and hit my head. But I managed to get in and then later get out without incident. I realize this doesn't sound like a big accomplishment, but it was for me.

Now that we're home, I've been battling a horrible cold, one of the worst I've had in a long time. I've had a fever on and off and am now developing a cough. Needless to say, my eating has been spotty this week -- lots of soup, toast and low-fat frozen yogurt. The meal of a champion!

But after doing all of that walking, I'm realizing that I miss taking walks with my husband. I'm hoping that I'll feel up to taking a short one around the neighborhood this weekend.

Which brings me to my next goal: Passover. It's in a month so this is as good a time as any to plan for losing another 10 pounds. This way, I can buy myself a nice, new outfit for the holiday and won't feel too guilty if I have an extra matzoh ball...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me

Yesterday, I celebrated my 36th birthday. All in all, it was a good day. They had cupcakes for me at work and then my husband and I went out for Japanese cuisine for dinner.

It was a little weird being "forced" to eat a cupcake. Lately I've been skipping them at work birthday parties, but when someone makes cupcake specifically for you, you kind of have to eat one. These even had gold sprinkles on them -- and were delicious.

Fortunately, dinner was a lot healthier. We went to a restaurant that has shabu shabu, which is basically like a hot pot or fondue. They bring a pot of water to your table, which has a burner built in; once the water comes to a boil, you add veggies and tofu, and then cook the very thin slices of meat. At the end, you eat the remains as a soup. It's healthy and delicious and a great way to get in veggies. I'm thinking that I might actually buy a shabu shabu pot so I can make it at home. Though we do have a history of getting interesting kitchen appliances and not using them. We own a wok, a cuppucino maker and a bread maker that were given to us as wedding presents (10 years ago!) and we haven't used any of those. On the other hand, we do use our food processor, large skillet and knife set so maybe the shabu shabu set would be a good purchase. It might be fun to have a shabu shabu party.

As for my workouts, they've been about the same. I know that I need to step things up and plan to after the cruise. Right now, I have a cold and barely feel like working out in the first place. But the ship will have a gym and a walking/running track, so that will be a good place to do some different activities and burn off the cruise food.

My weight loss has been going well, though. I lost another pound this week, so I am almost at my mini-goal of 12 in time for the cruise. I'd love to knock off another five by Valentine's Day. I know that sounds like a lot, but, well, let's just say that this week my uh, cycle, decided to cooperate with me so that swimming won't be an issue on the trip! That said, there might be a little bloat to be lost next week.

And with that dose of TMI, I'm off to relax and figure out a healthy meal.