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Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Sun rising over St. Croix. This was the view from our room at the Pelican Cove Resort.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

May I have another...protein shake?

For the record, I hate diets. Off the record, I had no choice but to start one this week.

I do have mirrors in my house, and I sure didn't like or even recognize the woman I was seeing in those mirrors. But the full impact of my weight issues hit me last week. A promo lured us to watch The Biggest Loser -- and it hit me. I could be on that show. Albeit, not as one of the larger contestants, but nonetheless, I could be there.

I toyed a little with the idea of applying to be on the show. But I'm the much more of a private humiliation type of person, so not likely.

Being 50+ish, my husband and I have both been battling the belly bulge. I dare say, I never thought my belly would ever be as huge as it was when I was 9 months pregnant - I was wrong. OK, maybe not that big, but it was getting close.

So we researched and both agreed that we needed a diet that would show up some quick results, then transition into a lifestyle.

We're on the Fat-Flush Detox plan. A protein shake for breakfast (not Slimfast) and another for lunch then a healthy meal in the evening consisting of lean protein, a vegetable and a salad. Four days in and we're doing well. The only concession -- we both refuse to give up our coffee in the mornings. Other than that, it's not been difficult to handle cravings. We've found ourselve munching on a mushroom or a piece of cauliflower in the afternoon or evening if we feel a need to munch. It's amazing how satisfying one mushroom can be.

This is not a starvation diet. We're not hungry. Just breaking the snacking habit that got us to where we were.

Today, we're adding exercise to the regimen.

We stay on this plan for two weeks before switching to stage two, where we add a limited number of complex carbs.

So far, the only downfall is making myself drink that second shake during the day. I'm sort of sick of plant protein shakes.

We'll keep you posted on our progress. Because men suck, hubby is losing his belly rapidly. I'm the only one who can see a difference in the way my clothes fit.

I just want to like the woman in the mirror again.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Hitting too close to home

Driving to work every day, I inevitably see the man or woman holding a sign on the side of the road. They look you straight in the eye, challenging you to look away.

I often have to fight back the urge to ask - "How did you get here? What happened to land you on a street corner, begging for money?" I've watched enough news reports to be jaded and understand that most of those people reached that point in life because of addictions to drugs and alchohol or have other mental health issues.

Occasionally, something will be different. I saw a young couple one day with signs. The young woman had tears running down her face. The young man, whom she clung to with one hand, had hidden most of his face. They looked ashamed. I gave them money.

Another time I saw a mother with two young children taking refuge from the heat of the day under a downtown bridge. Backpacks and a wagon were nearby, and the mom kept one hand on those while warily watching the "regular" homeless. My heart broke.

Still, homelessness has never really hit home.

Last weekend, my husband and I were enjoying the Grand Prix races and killing time in a local pub until a storm passed. We found a great table on the sidewalk protected from the rain by an awning. I love people watching, so it was an ideal place to sit and watch people walking by.

I noticed a woman, dressed in a flowing flowery dress. Her hair was pulled up and curly trendrils fell to her shoulders. I noticed her because she was so feminine and pretty -- seeming out of place in the uber cool downtown crowd.

Then I realized I knew her. I worked with her at my part-time job with the local MLB team.

I said hello and she quickly grabbed a seat. After introductions, she told us that she had been at a free concert after church and was heading to a museum. During the conversation, it became evident that she knew the downtown area well.

She told us she was homeless. But was thankful that she had recently moved from "tent city" to the Salvation Army shelter. I didn't know what to say. How do you say, I'm sorry you lost your home?

After a divorce, she was laid off from a long-time job. She started a job hunt, like millions of other people and soon found herself drowning in unpaid bills. Eighteen months later, she lost her home. Anything that she hadn't sold, she put into a small storage unit and lived in her car. But a part-time minimum wage job doesn't pay bills. She lost her car, and put her possessions in a cart.

She soon learned that she had to reach out for help available. She got use of a phone number where prospective employers could leave a message. She uses computers at the library to check emails and send out resumes. On weekends, she attends church, visits museums and takes in free events. During the week, she volunteers at a museum and the history center when she's not looking for a job.

"I'm thankful to have a place with a roof at night," she said.

She told us about agreeing to an interview with the St. Petersburg Times. The article was about the working poor. Her supervisors saw the article and told her to quit talking about her personal problems because that was not the image they wanted to project. She didn't think she had a job to go to on opening day.

I love baseball. I love this team, and I still work and cheer for them. But the games have lost their luster.