Retail therapy #7

Item: Old Navy swing dresses
Purchased: February 24, 2018

A few weeks ago, before I started my clean-ish eating plan (I am trying to make it more of a lifestyle rather than a finite period of food restrictions), I was really unhappy with my body. It was outward proof that I hadn’t been taking care of myself and I desperately wanted to do better, feel better, and look better. But I knew that dramatic change wouldn’t happen overnight so I had to find a way to improve my self-image and my confidence in my appearance while I was still putting in the hard work with diet and exercise. This is one of the reasons I ordered a ton of new clothes as part of my retail therapy spending spree this spring (besides being sick at home and feeling depressed). I was tired of wearing the same pants and blouses at work, donning a similar boring outfit every day, so I decided to diversify my wardrobe with things I can wear now, when I’m still chubbier than I’d like to be. This is where Old Navy swing dresses came into my life. I already have a closet full of beautiful Ann Taylor dresses, but they are all at least one size too small for me at the moment. It’s frustrating! Luckily, until I get myself back into those size 2s I have Old Navy swing dresses in my life. Not only are they attractive (I bought several in different colors and patterns), but they are flattering, loose-fitting (i.e., figure-friendly), and super comfortable. And since I am a cardigan addict I can easily pair one of the dresses with any number of colorful sweaters and my favorite flats to make a perfectly appropriate work outfit. Plus, the economical nature of Old Navy clothing meant that I was able to purchase a number of items for a reasonable price. That provided me with lots of options while keeping my credit card bill from being astronomically high during this active period of retail therapy. I appreciated that! (More money for me to give to the Walt Disney Corporation. It’s inevitable, really.) I’m actually planning to wear one of the Old Navy swing dresses to work tomorrow so they are being put to good use on a weekly basis. They make me feel confident even though I know I’m not currently at my best. What could be better than that?

Business travel again (Part 2)

A continuation of my musings from the Denver airport on 4/14 while waiting for my flight to DC. Because my train is tired tonight and writing something original isn’t going to happen after such a long work week!

As I was preparing for this trip I checked the DC weather and saw that it was going to be fairly cool, but not exactly frigid while I was there. It’s been three weeks since my last visit and much to my delight I wasn’t going to need the super warmth factor of my North Face down jacket this time around. So while I was packing I flipped through my closet and pulled out another option. It was the North Face jacket that I purchased back in 2016 for a January trip to DC. You know, the one that went completely unworn because the week I was there was unseasonably warm? Well, it still had the tags attached! I can’t believe it’s been hanging in my closet for over two years, lonely and neglected. But no more! It’s a lovely purple color and it fits great so I’m glad I kept it. Hopefully this jacket will be just what I need to brave the weather in DC this week. Of course I already spilled some of my protein shake on it this morning on the way to the airport so that’s annoying. It will have to go straight into in the wash when I get home!

This time around I also didn’t need the boots and their accompanying knee socks I hastily purchased in March. It’s not going to be nearly cold enough to require such hefty footwear. And it’s a good thing too because those boots gave me blisters. They fulfilled their purpose of protecting my feet from the cold on my last trip, but I don’t foresee myself wearing them again anytime soon. My favorite little leather flats were perfectly suited to handle the last gasp of winter in DC this week. And they take up so much less space in my suitcase. That allowed me to pack both my running shoes and my gym shoes for maximum workout potential. Whether I’ll wear both pairs on this trip seems unlikely, but at least I have them if I get ambitious with my exercise!

Business travel again (Part 1)

Written on 4/14 in the Denver airport while waiting for my flight to DC. I never feel comfortable using my laptop on a plane anymore given how cramped all of the seats are so I spent most of my layover in Denver writing. I have a silly follow-up story that I will post later this week.

I’m headed to DC again this morning. Currently I’m sitting in the Denver airport waiting for my connecting flight. And in similar fashion to all of my other recent travel, it’s delayed. Why am I not surprised? When going to DC I always like to arrive as early in the day as possible, but having to stop in Denver this time makes that a bit difficult. Luckily all I really need to do when I arrive this evening is go to the grocery store. There’s no way I can maintain my clean-ish eating plan without some fresh produce and healthy snacks. Temptation is always present! This time it will be in the form of Firehouse Subs and Potbelly Sandwiches. (Maybe they make salads? I’ll have to check.) Luckily I did find at least two restaurants that are salad-focused so I won’t have to eat pre-packaged ones every day. If I can stick to my diet this week I’m going to be very pleased with myself. And a little shocked! Similarly, I’d also like to hit the gym tonight, but that’s debatable given that my flight won’t arrive until about 5 PM. I’m missing my usual classes at the gym this week, which annoys me, but I’m going to try to keep up with the workouts on my own. My running buddy will send me the exercises from the classes she attends and I’ll do my best to replicate them in my hotel fitness center. I picked this hotel because they seem to have a nice, large workout space, unlike so many other places that only have a couple of cardio machines, and sometimes only one of each kind which can be problematic. I’ll definitely need some weights to do the boot camp routines. I really should run on the treadmill a couple of times as well, but that’s unlikely given my hatred of that infernal machine. I even brought both my running shoes and gym shows with me this time in case I feel motivated to mix things up. There wasn’t a single bit of extra space in my suitcase when I finished packing, but it’ll be worth it if my fitness routine doesn’t deteriorate while I’m away from home.

Regarding my flight back to LA on Friday, I was fortunate/smart enough to book a nonstop flight to LAX to hopefully avoid the drama of my last trip. Like last time, I have an event that I don’t want to miss shortly after I get home. I’m going to the Dodger game with some co-workers on Friday night so I absolutely, positively have to meet them at 4 PM to carpool to downtown LA. I hate making that drive myself, especially in rush hour traffic. My flight home is supposed to land at about 11:30 AM so that should give me more than enough time to stop by my house, change into baseball game appropriate apparel, and still make the required rendezvous. It’s Hello Kitty night at the Dodger game so there’s no way I’m going to miss it. We get t-shirts! Also, we’re sitting in the coveted all-you-can-eat section of the stadium. Usually that’s a great deal because you can get as many hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, drinks, etc. that you want, but it’s not so great for those of us on a diet that prohibits almost everything that tastes delicious! If I can successfully avoid sugar and grains while I’m on business travel I think I’ll allow myself to eat one or two hot dogs (necessary carbs for weekend running) at the game. And I’ll wash it down with unlimited diet soda! Not the healthiest choice I could make, but not the worst under the circumstances either. I do have a race on Saturday morning as well so that’s another reason to get home on schedule. Funny enough, it’s the Angels 5K at Anaheim Stadium. My running group is will all be there. It’s funny that I’ll be visiting both LA baseball stadiums in less than 24 hours!

Stay tuned for part 2!

Butter management

November ended on a low note with the death of my friend Tiki. Due to my grief, I never got around to writing a couple of webpage posts that I had planned for the beginning of December. In one of those I wanted to share this silly exchange I had with my co-worker Dave on November 28th, shortly before I learned that my friend had died. I’ve stated on many occasions how much I love my colleagues, and this is just the latest in a long line of examples of how much fun we have together. They keep me sane when work gets too busy or stressful. You might think that engineers spend eight very uninteresting hours at their jobs Monday through Friday, which sometimes does happen, but just about every day my co-workers make me laugh with some crazy situation or observation. (Like today when my boss blamed me on the fact that our group has to give up our cubicles and move to another area soon. Apparently when I unpacked my office belongings this time, unlike the last several moves, I inevitably doomed us to another relocation.) It makes the daily grind a little more bearable, and for that I am very thankful.

11/28/17 @ 8:38 AM
L: I tried to type “buffer management.” Instead I wrote “butter management.” I guess it’s time for breakfast?
D: When eating toast, butter management is very important. If we have improper butter management it’s definitely a high priority issue.
L: There’s nothing funny about improperly managed butter.
D: It could get messy really quickly.
L: Or that rock hard butter you get at restaurants sometimes. That poor bread.
D: Mauled senselessly by that frozen butter.
L: We should write a PSA. Everyone should know about the tragedies caused by improperly managed butter.
D: Whimsy level = epic.

Day off for a cause

Today was only my second day off since February 5th. Work has just been crazy, and even with wrapping up a major event yesterday, my list of obligations doesn’t seem to be getting shorter anytime soon. So how was I able to manage being out of the office on a Friday when I’m obviously swamped? Well, it was for a very good reason. Today was basically my only chance to complete my necessary 20-mile run in preparation for the LA Marathon as dictated by my training plan. Ideally I would have waited until tomorrow or Sunday for my last long run before the marathon, but being in Las Vegas for the Hot Chocolate 15K this weekend complicated things. So my running buddy and I decided to take some time off from work in order to run this morning. I’ll write more about that in another post. If I’m honest, I should have gone to work for at least a little while this afternoon, but that didn’t happen. Instead I spent my extra free time doing a things around the house and relaxing more than I have in weeks. It was lovely. But right now I’m exhausted and I need to finish getting ready to go out of town tomorrow morning. I’ll try to write something more substantial while I’m in Vegas!

What weekend?

My last day off of work was February 11th, the day I went to Disneyland to see the Main Street Electrical Parade (which I wrote about last week). Starting last Sunday I worked night shifts for five days, and then put in as many hours as possible in the office over the weekend. That kind of schedule doesn’t make for much of a social life, but sometimes it is necessary.

On Friday morning I blearily stumbled out of work at 6 AM. There was a major winter storm bearing down on Los Angeles that day, but it hadn’t arrived yet. I was lucky to get home before the crazy wind and rain hit Orange County. I fell asleep around 9 AM and slept through a lot of it, but I had to get up around 2 PM to get ready for an appointment with my sports chiropractor. It was still storming when I had to leave the house and an umbrella wasn’t the least bit effective in such severe weather. I threw on my raincoat, but still got soaked by the time I got to the chiropractor’s office. The reason I was there was to get some relief from my knee pain before starting my highest mileage week of LA Marathon training. My chiropractor does great work, but it always hurt like crazy during the treatment. He always leaves bruises behind! It’s worth it for the great results, though. After I got home again I knew I needed to get ready and go to work, but I stalled because of the terrible weather that I wasn’t willing to face again quite yet. I even resorted to filing my taxes to have an excuse to stay home a little longer! (The good news is that I got a decent refund.) Eventually I made it to work for a few hours to make sure everything was set for the tests I planned to run over the weekend.

On Saturday I woke up late because my body still hadn’t readjusted to a normal schedule (i.e., being awake during daylight hours) after a week of night shifts. I dragged myself to work for eight hours, and only got home in time to wash a load of laundry before bedtime (workout clothes, of course). Sunday was slightly more interesting because I didn’t go to work first thing due to some computer maintenance that was happening in the morning. It was the perfect time to get together with my running buddies and complete a 14-mile LA Marathon training run. We ran on a path in Brea which was very pretty, but our pace was much slower than usual. We also got rained on for a while in the middle. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but luckily, thanks to the slower pace, I still felt good when we were done. The downside is that we weren’t done until a lot later than I expected. I drove home, ate lunch, showered, and rushed to work as fast as I could, but I didn’t get there until 2 PM. After seven hours there I managed to escape. Since it was already 9 PM all I accomplished after that was getting ready for work the next day. And thus a busy, but not very entertaining weekend came to an end. Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to write about after this coming weekend.

Blog excuses

Try as I might, the regularity of my webpage updates has suffered lately. There are multiple reasons for the reduction in frequency, just like my excuses for not getting back to the gym sooner that I wrote about in my last post. I miss writing every day, but it just hasn’t been possible. The bottom line is that all of my waking hours have been consumed with one of the three activities below for the last week or so. I haven’t really had any free time in nine days, and I don’t really expect that to change until the upcoming weekend when I head to Las Vegas for the Hot Chocolate 15K with my running buddies.

1) Work
Last Sunday night I started my first of five night shifts at work. It was rough. Working from 10 PM to 7 AM takes its toll on you, especially when sleeping soundly during the day is challenging. My body just didn’t want to stay asleep when it was warmer than usual in my bedroom and sunlight was pouring through the cracks in my blinds. I did get paid a little extra for working such odd hours, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the upheaval in my daily routine. Even after my night shifts were over I still had to work both days this weekend. Not the best way to spend my days of rest, but my overwhelming workload demanded it. I can’t wait to have next weekend off!

2) Running
Luckily my crazy work schedule still allowed me to complete my weekday runs and attend my usual boot camp classes in the evenings before I went to work. I got my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays training runs done without too much trouble. The above photo was taken during my 9-mile run at Bolsa Chica State Beach last Wednesday which I was able to start at 5 PM (something that’s not possible on most regular work days). The picture doesn’t do it justice, but I got to see a beautiful sunset as I was running along the Pacific Ocean. You just can’t beat that. I also ran 14 miles with my running buddies this past Sunday morning. Some computer maintenance at work that morning gave me the perfect excuse to get another marathon training run done. I can’t believe the LA Marathon is in less than four weeks!

3) Sleep (or not)
At the end of each of my night shifts last week I was completely exhausted. It was all I could do to throw on some pajamas and crawl into bed when I got home. Falling asleep wasn’t my problem at all, but staying asleep was another story. Even though I wasn’t able to get enough hours of slumber in between work shifts I still spent a fair amount of time in bed either trying to go back sleep or lying there staring at my iPad when sleep was elusive. It was kinda nice to lounge in my lovely flannel sheets before getting up and facing the day, but I’d have much rather have worked and slept on a normal schedule. And speaking of a normal schedule, I’ve stayed up way too late tonight writing this post. At this rate I won’t get enough sleep to face a day shift (you know, that thing I was longing for last week?) at work tomorrow. Good night!

Gym excuses

Three night shifts done with the fourth starting soon. I’m starting to get into the groove of this schedule – just in time for it to be over after tomorrow night. While I’m waiting to go in to work tonight I’ll start catching up on some of the backlog of blog topics that I’ve been intending to write about for a while.

I didn’t get back to the gym after the Disney World Marathon until last Monday, 2/6. That was a hiatus of more than a month. I intended to go back a lot sooner, but there were some extenuating circumstances. Illness and injury kept me sidelined for a while after I got back from Orlando, and I only seriously considered going to boot camp on Friday, 2/3. However, it didn’t happen on that particular day for a couple of reasons.

1) Cubicle move…again
My work group was slated to move our offices to a different area at the end of the day so all of our belongings, including our computers, had to be boxed up and ready for the movers by 5 PM. Since I started working on my program in 2005 I have moved my cubicle so many times that I’ve lost count of the actual number. It’s somewhere on the order of 6 or 7 – enough to make you wonder whether unpacking is even worth it. So on top of having a lot of work to do that Friday, I also had to pack up all of my personal items and disconnect all of my computers (I have more than one in my cubicle) before leaving for the day. It was a messy and time-consuming endeavor. The office move preparation was complicated by the fact that I had to leave early that day for a doctor’s appointment at 3:30 PM.

2) Doctor’s appointment
If you read my blog then you’re familiar with the foot and knee injuries I sustained during the Disney World Marathon. Luckily the foot problems disappeared shortly after I got back from Orlando and never reappeared, but The knee pain lingered a bit longer. Every time I went running my knee would hurt for about 24 hours afterwards, especially when I was going up or down stairs. This made me wonder if there was something more serious going on. So just in case I made an appointment with the physician’s assistant that I saw the first two times I had running-related afflictions. The last thing I wanted was to continue running through the pain (which was admittedly mild compared to previous ailments) and cause permanent damage. I was late to my appointment due to the cubicle move at work, but that annoyance was forgotten because I got good news from the PA. I was very happy when she told me that my symptoms are simply due to IT band tightness and nothing serious. Phew! Nothing some stretching and visits to the sports chiropractor can’t fix!

After this ordeal last Friday I did make it back to the gym on Monday, 2/3. I’m so happy to be back to my regular workout routine so I hope I can keep it up. No more excuses (or injuries, hopefully)!

A fortune for the ages

I was at work for 11 hours today supporting an important event. Catered meals are one of the only enjoyable aspects about these kinds of activities and today we had a variety of options from Pick Up Stix for lunch. The food was pretty tasty, and we ended our meal with the usual fortune cookies. My co-workers each opened theirs and read the fortunes to the group. Most were encouraging but vague phrases about something like friends or trusting your instincts – exactly what you’d expect from mass-produced products meant to satisfy a wide variety of consumers. I was anticipating something similar from my fortune as I cracked open the cookie and pulled out the tiny slip of paper inside, but when I read what was written on it I was completely taken aback. It said, “Your judgement [sic] is a little off at this time. Rely on friends.” WTF? Did I just get insulted by a fortune cookie? Luckily I was in a positive state of mind so my first reaction was amusement. I found it so hilarious that I could barely compose myself enough to share it with my co-workers. They were all flabbergasted as well! Who in their right mind thought to put such a pessimistic statement into a fortune cookie? At least we all got a good laugh out of it, which was very therapeutic after our trying day at work. So maybe it wasn’t such a bad choice after all!

P.S. I decided to highlight my dubious judgment by photographing the fortune in question surrounded by my still not put away Christmas decorations. As you can see, Santa Yoda doubts my judgment too.

Potluck Day 2016

Yesterday was my favorite day of the year – holiday potluck day! It was a great day. Since it was Casual Friday I got a chance to finally wear the holiday running shirt I ordered last month. I arrived to work early to get the hot chocolate started. It needed two hours in the Crockpot before it would be ready for the breakfast crowd. When I tested it at 6 AM it was the perfect temperature, and so delicious! I can’t believe anything that simple could be so popular, but I had several people ask me for the recipe again this year. I am happy to share it, of course. The biggest lesson I learned is that I need to get an extra large Crockpot so that I can make a double batch next year! (Also, I need to get a picture of a finished batch and post the recipe again. A good recipe is worth another share.)

Speaking of breakfast, I’m not sure if you’ll believe it, but I only had two scones yesterday – one caramel apple one and one maple bacon. They were amazing, but I didn’t want to go overboard before 9 AM. However, those two scones were accompanied by half of a waffle, a glass of milk, and a little hot chocolate. Maybe I did go overboard after all, but my scone consumption was still significantly reduced this year. When lunchtime rolled around I was still pretty full from breakfast, but I still loaded my plate with Chinese chicken salad, BBQ lil smokies, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole from the buffet. My contribution to the feast was turkey meatballs with cranberry barbeque sauce which turned out really well – and disappeared fast! I started cooking them in my other Crockpot at 6 AM so they were just right when everyone was ready for lunch. This was just the second time using the recipe, but this time I used a whole cup of barbeque sauce rather than the usual 1/2 cup, and I think the sauce was great. I’ll have to make those more often. I did indulge in a rare can of Coke, as you can see in the above photo, because of the cute polar bears on the can.

After all of the food I consumed at breakfast and lunch I absolutely zero room for dessert. Nothing looked at that exciting to me anyway, but I did take a couple of extra scones back to my desk with me. I thought they’d be great when I got hungry later. But by the end of the day I was still so full that the idea of eating them didn’t appeal to me at all so I shared them to my cubical neighbors. ‘Tis the season for giving! As usual, my favorite day of the year didn’t disappoint. Good food and a lot of laughs with my co-workers. I can’t wait for nest year!