Thursday, August 27, 2009

NutriSystem: Week Two

I don't recommend shopping at Costco if you haven't had a meal in a few hours. It's even harder to resist the tempting concoctions there if you know your next meal is a 200-calorie NutriSystem entree with two sides of vegetables.

I love Costco food—they have an awesome bakery and deli area, and that's just for starters. One of my favorites there is the brownie bites. Or Berger cookies (only found in this area of the country). They also have great spinach salad, stuffed salmon, and creamy pumpkin cheesecakes and chocolate pies that they put out at Christmas time.

So, at Costco this week, I breezed through the warehouse without looking at anything yummy. I had to avert my eyes and jog past the food-tasting carts that they set up at the end of the aisles with free hand-outs of things like warm cinnamon buns or sausage bites.

I'm not only hungry; I'm disappointed. Thursday marked the end of week two of this NutriSystem diet. Two full weeks of going to bed hungry and feeling an empty stomach about an hour after I've finished a meal. All of that, and I only lost three pounds. Three pounds! I really felt that I deserved more.

Granted, I haven't been burning any calories due to my knee injury. I'm sure that's what has minimized my weight loss. But it's really hard to deprive yourself of life's pleasures day in and day out and not be thoroughly rewarded for it by something more substantial than three pounds!

I so want a cheeseburger. Or a rib eye steak with garlic mashed potatoes. I miss the Whole Foods salad bar and their oatmeal raisin cookies. A couple days ago I had a major craving for peanut butter. I could have opened the jar and spooned it into my mouth. The night before it was popcorn. I just know I'm not going to last another two weeks without popcorn. Aaaagh!

Dan Marino must be a masochist.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Girls

Well, Jelly and Baby are getting along better. I see progress every month. As of just a couple days ago, Jelly is willing to jump up on the ottoman to lie down even if Baby is already perched there.

That's a big step for Jelly. And this morning when Baby jumped up on the bed and walked right over Jelly to lie down close to us both, Jelly didn't immediately jump off the bed like she normally would.

Baby has had some really sweet moments. She walks up to Jelly, sits next to her, and licks the side of her face! It's really cute. See, I told you she was really making an effort at this relationship. ;)

Not only that, but Jelly doesn't hiss at her when she does that. So, yes, we're making progress. Slowly but surely.

I wish I could say the same for this stupid NutriSystem diet. I am sorely disappointed after putting up with it for a whole eleven (endless) days now. My overall loss is just 1.5 pounds! I have stuck to the diet but somehow managed to gain back a pound. Ergh.

I know why - it's because I've been stuck indoors resting my knee. If I was outside doing my usual multi-mile walks almost daily, the pounds would probably be melting off.

Still, with all the starving I've been doing eating these low-calorie, low-carb meals—added to the grave suffering I've endured by completely giving up chocolate and popcorn, I feel I deserve more. I better see some improvement by Thursday or I'm gonna have to take drastic measures—like go for the cortisone shot in the knee. Yuk.

Oh, and by the way, I was just kidding when I wrote that the hamburger patty is probably something that you "just add water to" in order to get a burger out of it. Guess what?! I was right! You add boiling water to the plastic tray it comes in and let it sit for two minutes. Then you're supposed to put the soggy burger on a non-existent roll.

Check it out:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

NutriSystem: Week One

I survived a week on NutriSystem without blowing it. It appears I've lost three pounds. Or maybe two. My scale tends to fluctuate. So let's call it 2.5. Not bad for a week of going to bed hungry, although I sure feel like I deserve more! But I won't make jokes about being hungry because it's a very real problem for a lot of people around the globe.

One thing that I've found about this diet is that I'm having the most bizarre dreams. One dream of a couple nights ago was so horrific (involving murder and dismemberment by hatchet), that I won't repeat the specific details here. Early this morning I went through an entire wedding day preparation that involved my ex-husband's little sister (whom I used to babysit back in the 1970's).

I know I could've lost more weight this week if it wasn't for my knee pain preventing me from walking my usual 10-15 miles. But the good news is that, as it turns out, the problem is not a torn meniscus (thank goodness) as previously diagnosed in a hurry by a local orthopaedic surgeon. Thanks to spending my entire $1,000 deductible on an MRI, it was revealed that this is a problem with the semitendinosus tendon—either it's irritated, or the pain stems from bursitis (fluid around the tendon). It sure helps having a sister-in-law who is the head of radiology at a Naval hospital.

At least I know I don't need surgery. I haven't decided whether to go back to the local doctor, who refuses to discuss possible treatment over the phone after all the money I've already shelled out for this. He obviously prefers that I fork over another $500 to sit in his waiting room for an hour and spend three very quick minutes with him before he rushes me out of his office to get to the next patient, only to find out he wants me to come back daily for expensive rehab that I could do myself at home. I just can't afford that right now.

Anyway, I can't believe I lasted a week on a diet. Yuk. I'm just no good at self-deprivation, except when it comes to the really bad addictions, like nicotine. Speaking of which, I just realized that it's been five years to the week since I quit smoking. Hence my chocolate addiction. . . . Oh, well. It could be worse.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

NutriSystem: Day Four

Well, I'm almost done with the fourth day on this NutriSystem thing. Surprisingly enough, I haven't blown it yet. But after a week of this I'm sure I'll be craving some serious chocolate. Lots of it.

I gotta say, this might be an OK way to lose weight for the short-term, but there's no way I could eat this stuff on a regular basis. It's not great. In fact, the "beef pepper steak" I had for dinner was mostly liquid. I actually had to add some brown rice to my plate just to try to absorb some of the soupy stuff that had spread across the entire dinner plate. I couldn't even put my peas on the same plate. They would have drowned.

Same with the stroganoff last night - it was about 70% sauce, 29% little tiny beef-flavored chunks, and 1% pasta. I think there were two small pieces of pasta in the whole thing. Good thing I left that one in its plastic container instead of dumping it on my plate. I didn't like the taste - it reminded me of burnt roux. This is not my mother's stroganoff.

On Wednesday I'll weigh myself and we'll see where this gratification deprivation program is going.... It better be worth it!

Friday, August 14, 2009

NutriSystem: Not for the Hungry

I don't know what they call the "Freshman fifteen" for grad students, but I'm definitely suffering from it, whatever you want to call it. I've gained about 10 pounds since my last move in December. (Moving is my best weight loss program - works every time.) Between school, studying, a sit-down job, and all my various aches and pains that have forced me to cut down on exercise, I just couldn't keep the pounds off this year.

I've had a bad case of plantar fasciitis in my right foot for over 13 months, plus a painful right hamstring injury of some sort for 11 months that just hasn't healed yet. And today I was diagnosed with a meniscus tear in my right knee that I've had since late June. It's frustrating because walking is my favorite activity. In fact, it's a required activity because I don't own a car. When I lose that ability, it really screws up my day-to-day life.

So since I can't lose weight with exercise right now (and it's too soon to move again!), I thought I'd use my Costco discount to try out NutriSystem for 35 days. I managed to survive the first 1-1/2 days, but here it is 9PM on Day Two and I'm starving. Again. It's Friday night. It's time to put in a Netflix DVD and pop a big bowl of popcorn—in oil, of course! Oh, wait. That's not on my list of "allowed" foods. Drat. The only thing I can have the rest of the day is four servings of vegetables. Yuk. That's just not gonna cut it.

I'm not sure if I can make it a whole month and then some. Last night I was so hungry that I ended up going to bed at 9:30 just so I could sleep through the hunger. It was that or eat something and be a failure on my first NutriSystem day!

I didn't know what to expect when I ordered a month's worth of food online. Would it arrive frozen and packed in dry ice? Who knew? Boy was I disappointed when I discovered that what I got was a 46-pound box of MREs. Now I know what the astronauts get to dine on.

First of all, I don't have room in my apartment for 46 pounds of food. And secondly, I didn't know that a lot of this stuff requires that you add water and watch it grow into food in the microwave. Blech. That's no fun.

Don't get me wrong, the stuff tastes OK. But the portions are so small that you couldn't feed a bird with this stuff. I poured a little bag of cereal out into my bowl this morning and it was barely enough to cover the bottom of the bowl. I ate it in about 90 seconds. And then I was still hungry.

See, this is why I don't diet. For one thing, I can't go around hungry all day. For another thing, I don't like having my daily routine prescribed to me. And I don't like tracking everything I eat on paper. It's a pain and takes the fun out of my day. It's like organized exercise. I'm an adult; I don't want anyone else telling me what to eat or how high to jump. I like my freedom. In fact, I've been single for so long that I'm used to doing whatever I want and being spontaneous about it. If I'm in the mood for steak, I have a steak. A big spinach salad? Sure! Popcorn for dinner because I'm too tired to cook? Popcorn it is!

Those days are gone. With NutriSystem to look forward to, why get out of bed in the morning? Besides the tiny portion size, these NutriSystem meals just aren't appealing. There's a box marked "beef patty" that weighs about the same as six paper clips. I can't even look inside because I'm afraid I'll find out that I need to add water to this bun-less hamburger and call it"dinner."

Sure, I could do this for a month and probably lose 10-12 pounds. But then as soon as I go off, I'm going to want to reward myself with a big bowl of popcorn or some Giradeli triple-chocolate brownies. I'll go right back to my usual eating habits. What's the point?

I'll eat the stuff. I have to. I paid for it. But let me tell you, I don't give myself one more day of making this work. In fact, I probably won't make it through the next hour without making popcorn. I'm just not cut out for this!! Aaaaaagh!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tanless Summer

This is the first summer in my recollection that I don't have a tan. I have been indoors too much. That's what summer school (and the D.C. heat and a bad right knee) will do to you. For the Masters program that I'm in, summer session means cramming 3.5 months' work into 10 short weeks. I swear I read over 900 pages of articles about cyber Ethics in that time.

Truth is, some of the ethics stuff was pretty cool - especially an article called The Dark Art of Interrogation by Mark Bowden. Most of us fail to receive ethics training when we enter our computer careers; it should be one of the first things taught and it should be regular corporate IT training. But I digress.

So I stayed inside every single weekend this summer. I had to stop my frequent walks in late June when my right knee went out (and stayed out!) anyway, so I spent the weekends icing my knee and doing school work. I managed to swing two A's out of it, so I can't complain. I am fortunate to have a 4.0 (which isn't saying much because it's based on only one semester's worth of classes because the previous semester's grades in the forensic pre-reqs don't count toward my GPA). We'll see how long it lasts. This ain't rocket science, but it's not undergrad school either. It takes a lot more effort to get an A than I'm accustomed to.

And, needless to say, it looks like I'm going to be unemployed again soon because the contract I'm working on is going south. There's nothing like paying two different companies to do the same job. Oops. I now have clarity on the phrase "good enough for government work," which my mom used to say to me when I was a kid. Need I say more?

That's OK. I'll survive. This job wasn't "me" anyway; I really didn't like the work, which didn't last long. It's been exactly five months since I started. But the staff has basically been sitting around the past eight weeks while the government works out the contract mess they're in, and I couldn't take much more of that. It's not easy spending eight hours a day doing next to nothing.

Besides, I'm ready to get out of IT work and do real forensics work. I can't wait until that day arrives. I'll have to start at the bottom and work my way up, but it'll be worth it to finally do something I'm passionate about. It's time I made my contribution to society—something beyond helping big-time corporate execs make their multi-million dollar bonuses. Ick.

It's corny, but I have a need to contribute to the greater good, not just be another cog in the corporate wheel. And I need a reason to get out of bed in the morning, a job that I'm excited about. If I can work in a law enforcement digital forensics lab for the same pay I was making in 1996—which is probably the way it'll go—I'll be happy. :)