Monday, February 29, 2016

95 Pounds and Counting: Backsliding, and Complacency vs. Self Esteem

So, yes, it's true: I have "backslid" to an alarming degree. And to be brutally honest, one of the reasons this post is late is that I wasn't sure what the heck I could say about the situation. Even as I type these words, I'm still not sure. Let's find out....

A Quick Recap

(You can find my previous weight loss posts at this link.)

In 2010, I weighed in at 365 pounds. Five years later, in June 2015, I had lost 100 pounds. I hit my lowest point in umpteen years on September 15, when I weighed 250. (Cue the happy dance.)

I regained a little weight after moving house in October, but when last I posted, I was maintaining my weight in the low 260s and feeling good about myself. Even after going on vacation over Christmas, I managed to maintain. Since returning home, however, I have gotten lax both with diet and exercise. Cue the frowny-face.

So What the Heck Happened?

This is the question I've been asking myself. And the rock-bottom truth is this: I got complacent. I allowed "feeling good about myself" to slide into "feeling so good about myself that I stopped taking care of myself," which is kind of a silly thing to do.

Wondering where the real difference between these two attitudes lies, I have decided to consult the dictionary (or at least, the online dictionary).

Complacency vs. Self-Esteem

Here's how defines self-esteem:

a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.

"Realistic respect." Nice, right? That's what I was feeling at the end of December, when I wrote this post.

So, now let's take a look at the other end of the spectrum. Here's the definition of complacency:

a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.

"Quiet pleasure… unaware of some potential danger… smug satisfaction with an existing situation." Boom. That's my huckleberry. I've been a little too satisfied with where things are. I need to find my hunger for change again, instead of just my hunger for French fries.

So, How Do I Turn Things Around?

Ugh. I wish the answer to that question were "order a pizza," but that's kind of what got me here in the first place.

Really, the best place for me to go is back to my old stand-bys: walking and salad. It's funny to write that, it seems so simple, but those two little things lie at the core of the success I've had in losing weight.  But the tricky thing is that I'm now in a new place, with a new schedule, and am combatting both loneliness (I'm not afraid to say it: I miss my friends!), and a fair amount of boredom (I also miss my day job… or to be more accurate, I miss having a place to go every day). (Recently, the places I've been going on a daily basis all have calories as their final destination, which explains a lot.)

So, I need to take my old successful actions and fit them into my new life. And I can do that… I think. To make it official, though, I should really make a list. (I don't get much done unless I have a list.) Here goes:

  • Walk a mile, at least four times a week. I prefer to walk at night (it's the vampire in me), so I'll set my walking time as 8:00 PM.
  • Eat two salads a day. For some reason I've lost my taste for the usual leaf lettuce, so I'm going to try some chewier greens: romaine, kale, arugula, spinach. When my enjoyment of the lighter greens resurfaces (and it always does, eventually) I'll work them back into my diet.
  • Start counting calories again. I used to use an app on my phone for this, but to shake things up I'm going to record what I'm eating by hand for a while. Maybe that will make it more interesting.
  • Give myself some motivation: I will go ahead and buy some jeans in a size smaller than my smallest size. What fun it will be to fit into those!

Ah, Catharsis

Well, as usual, writing this post has been extremely cathartic! Thank you all so much for letting me ramble and vent. I hope you've found all this at least a little entertaining, if not helpful.

My next post will be on April 11. It will be interesting to see where my weight will be at that point!

And What About You?

That's enough about me. What about you? Do you have any stories to share? All stories - whether of frustrations or successes - are always welcome. Any inspiration for me? Commiseration? Advice?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Whatcha watchin'?

In the Christoff household, we love the late winter season, because even as the wind howls outside, we're cozy indoors, on the couch, with each other, our dogs, our favorite books, our must-watch movies, and new-to-view TV shows. And if you ask our opinion, this year, TV is better than ever. Here's what we can't wait to watch:

1) The X-Files Revival
Often imitated, but never duplicated, The X-Files starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson didn't just launch the careers of its stars. It launched the fledgling FOX network and a plethora of amazing writers, directors, and producers who would go on to mastermind more TV phenomena like Lost and Supernatural. But after a rocky conclusion to the original series and a rough start this time around, The X-Files are back in a big way, if only for a six-episode event, reminding us just how tenuous the truth can be and setting new records for FOX. David Duchovny is still the "spooky" Special Agent Mulder and Gillian Anderson has only grown in beauty, grace, and ability as Special Agent Scully. With inside jokes for X-Philes and cameos by beloved character actors, this isn't a show we watch On Demand or online. This is good, old-fashioned appointment television, and you'll know where the Christoffs will be every Monday night throughout the series.

2) Pretty Little Liars: Five Years Forward
Based on the Young Adult novels by Sara Shepard, this series about four girls who are cyberbullied after their clique's queen bee ends up dead, led moms and daughters to watch TV together like the entertainment industry hadn't seen in decades--and to break land speed records tweeting about every aspect of the story. When the show's writers wrapped up the main mystery and the characters' high school days last fall, however, many thought it signaled the end of the series. In an innovative move, though, the Liars are back, fresh out of college, and facing new threats together. All at once, the show has gone from YA to NA, just as its audience has, and the fit couldn't be better for the actresses, too, who are now well into their twenties. This is the power of strong writing, and in my house, we're loving every minute spent watching it.


3) Detectorists
This British import from BBC Four features Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones as a pair of small-town misfits, armed with metal detectors and on the look-out for fame and fortune. Like the rest of us, however, they're truly searching for their heart's happiness, whether they know it or not. Always funny and often bittersweet, this show is for anyone who's hit a certain point in life, looked around, and realized this isn't the ride you signed up for. Will characters Andy and Lance find their true bliss? Mr. C and I certainly hope so, because that might mean there's hope for all of us.

So, that's what the Christoffs are watching this winter season. What's on your TV and why do you love it so?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Our Favorite Romantic Movies

Good morning and Happy Monday! We hope that your Valentine's Day was spent with someone you love. And if you live on the East Coast, we hope that you stayed warm during this very chilly weekend!

This week we want to extend the love of Valentine's Day by sharing some of our favorite romantic movies! And we hope that you'll feel free to share your favorite romances with us in the comments.

Nichole Christoff

MOVIE: The More the Merrier from 1943

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Determined to do her duty as a patriotic American during the uncertainty of World War II, Connie (Jean Arthur) sublets half of her Washington, DC apartment to ease the housing crunch. Connie counted on a respectable lady roommate, but when the doddering Mr. Dingle (Charles Coburn) cons his way into the lease, things seem all right--until he sublets half of his half to the handsome Joe Carter (Joel McCrea). Sparks fly even though Joe doesn't fit into Connie's Washington, DC world, and Joe is due to ship out on a secret mission. Add in the mores of the wartime 1940s and the machinations of the ornery Mr. Dingle, and hilarity ensues.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: First of all, Jean Arthur is a treat. Cute, quirky, energetic, smart, strong, and able, she's the lady I'd love to be. Joel McCrea as Joe is an everyman, and he plays the strong silent type to a T. Charles Coburn's shenanigans are hilarious due to sharp writing, but also his deceptively cuddly demeanor. This movie was released in 1943, right in the middle of the uncertainty of World War II, and that's a very real part of this story. No one knows if they'll have tomorrow, just like our 1940s grandparents--and just like our military members and spouses, today.

FAVORITE SCENE/FAVORITE LINE: After Connie and Joe accidentally end up on a date, thanks Mr. Dingle's maneuvering, Joe walks Connie home--and he can't keep his hands off of her. Walking down the street, his hands are at the small of her back, the nape of her neck, her shoulders, ear, and throat. She's like a toreador with her cape as she politely but firmly redirects his touch. All the while, they cling to small talk about everything else except their feelings for each other and the fact Joe must leave for his dangerous mission. But they can't resist their attraction and end up in a mind-melting kiss that's a turning point for the remainder of the film. This scene is never out-of-bounds when it comes to 1940s propriety, but don't let that lead you to assume it's old-fashioned, cute, or quaint. It's smokin'!

Misha Crews
MOVIE: Enchanted April (1991)

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: In post-World War 1 England, four unhappy women from different backgrounds pool their resources to rent a castle in Italy for the month of April. As the wisteria and sunshine of San Salvatore works its magic on their troubled souls, the women begin to come into their own, and love soon follows.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: So many things! The women are well-drawn and beautifully acted by Josie Lawrence, Miranda Richardson, Polly Walker and Joan Plowright. Their love interests (Alfred Molina, Jim Broadbent and Michael Kitchen) are quirky, flawed, as well as attractive and heroic in their own unconventional ways.

This film is a symphony of happiness, but it's never cloying or overly-sentimental. It's funny, beautiful, and so lovely that you can feel your spirits rising like an armful of balloons.

FAVORITE LINE: There are too many to count, but here's one of them: "In my day husbands and beds were very seldom mentioned in the same breath. Husbands were taken seriously, as the only true obstacle to sin."

MacKenzie Lucas

MOVIE: The Ugly Truth

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Plot summary as listed on IMBd (Because who can do it better? Right?) "A romantically challenged morning show producer is reluctantly embroiled in a series of outrageous tests by her chauvinistic correspondent to prove his theories on relationships and help her find love. His clever ploys, however, lead to an unexpected result."

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: I adore enemies to lovers stories. Period. This movie is the epitome of that trope. *:) happy.

FAVORITE SCENE/FAVORITE LINE: My favorite scene is the salsa dancing scene. What I love about it is you can physically see the sexual tension building for these two in this scene.

Lisa McQuay 

MOVIE: Sense and Sensibility

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Two sisters navigating love in Regency England.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: So much of what you know comes from what isn't said but portrayed subtly through body language and inflection.

FAVORITE SCENE/FAVORITE LINE: "What can I do?" - Colonel Brandon "Colonel, you have done so much already... " - Elinor "Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad." - Colonel Brandon, Sense and Sensibility

Keely Thrall 

MOVIE: I Love You Again (1940)

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: William Powell is a con man with amnesia. When he comes back to himself after a hit to the head, he plots to rob himself-and his business-and skedaddle. The only thing he doesn’t count on is falling in love…with his wife, Myrna Loy.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT: The chemistry between Powell and Loy is present in all their movies, but this might be the sweetest and kookiest of the bunch. Watch for the cooing, Bill dancing solo, and Myrna debating whether or not to give her guy another bang on the head to re-“cure” him of amnesia. I prefer my romance with a big splash of laughter and these two are pros at delivering both. They have such a good time on screen together that it’s impossible not to join them.

FAVORITE SCENE/FAVORITE LINE: “Ever since you got off the boat, you’ve been chasing me like an amorous goat. You’ve tried your darnedest to make me fall in love with you and now you have. So from now on, I’m going to do the chasing, and believe me, brother, you’re going to know you’ve been chased.” ~ Myrna Loy just before she lays a kiss Bill Powell.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Once Upon a Time
I’ve been on a path to reinvention and I’ve almost finished one aspect of that process as of Friday. I’m very close to finishing my certification program. It’s a very strange feeling to be so close. I would have started another class on Monday but they cancelled it. So, I have to wait until April to finish.

But, for all intents and purposes, I did it. 

Now, on to my next reinvention project—using my new certification to see what else is out there. It’s scary to think about since I’ve been in the same place for some time. But it’s also exciting. 

But the main thing I’m excited about is getting back to writing. I’ve not been able to do much of it and I miss it. I miss getting the words down, revisions, brainstorming…everything about it. I feel strange without it, like I’m not quite whole. This is another reinvention of sorts. I’m happy to be able to rededicate myself to my writing. I miss the creative process.
If nothing else, it reaffirms that I really do want to write. It’s what makes me happy and fulfills me. A friend of mine once told me that I was lucky to know what I’m passionate about since there are many people who live their whole lives without knowing this. I agree with her. Living a life not knowing what you should do is a scary, scary prospect. It’s much more frightening than facing change. Do you agree? 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Zen Moments from Austin

Okay, so . . . my life is a little crazy these days. I apologize for the tardy post. I won't go into all the reasons at the moment for the craziness. I'll touch on that in a later post one day when I'm brave enough to write about it all. However, for today's post ... We all know that my nest is emptying, and that I'm trying to find myself. Figure out who I am beyond mom and wife. One of the things I love to do is travel. I adore traveling. Therefore, in the pursuit of exploration, I took a trip to Austin, Texas, to do research.
I loved Austin. It's not called "The Live Music Capital of the World" for nothing. Every bar, restaurant, pub, you name it, has live music. If you're a musician, it's Heaven with a capital H. If you're a lover of music, it's the perfect place for you. Austin has a wonderful, funky hipster vibe. The city parties until two a.m. and doesn't wake until almost ten a.m. So be aware, early birds. You'll have to find something to do for a few hours.

What follows are a few of my favorite memories from Austin (aka photos).

My first night in town, I visited Stubb's for two young artists. Zach Kellogg and Emily Wolfe.

I visited Zilker Park which has some amazing views of the city skyline.

One night I listened to Next 2 The Tracks at the historic Driskill Hotel.

I stayed several nights in downtown, then I traveled about half an hour north to a spa on Travis Lake in the Hill Country. The scene there was quieter, but just as wonderful. The view from my balcony was breathtaking.

And I hiked Hamilton Pool Preserve, which again was gorgeous and awe-inspiring. The trail is about a quarter of a mile down to the pool. An easy hike with a great pay-off.

So, while this is just the briefest thumbnail sketches of my trip, suffice it to say that Austin, Texas, is a wonderful place to visit and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in music, people, good food, fun eccentric venues, or just a plain old good time. For a more in-depth overview of my trip, visit me on Instagram at mackenzielucas.writer.