Friday, August 28, 2009

Aaron's Diet, Part 1*

I hit the scale a little over a week before I went to Cooperstown and showed up 1.5 pounds above the weight I have long said I never wanted to exceed. I have several reasons for why I set that weight limit, but the basic reasons are tied to my health, most significantly that my bad back doesn't need to have additional strains placed on it by having to support a large gut on the opposite side.

Given that a beerfest weekend is completely antithethical to a diet, and to give me a target start date, I didn't start dieting until I got back from there. So essentially, my diet began on Monday August 3.

Goal: Lose 20 pounds from that peak, pre-Cooperstown weight, by the end of October. In truth I'm ok with being a couple of pounds more than that, but because I expect to put a couple of pounds on once I stop dieting, I've set my target accordingly.

My diet rules:
  1. Severe curtailing of alcohol consumption. In the time I've been dieting, I've had one evening when I went drinking (4 beers), and a total of 1.5 beers otherwise. I've had no other alcohol.
  2. Don't impose my diet on the people around me. Kathy wasn't happy about her weight at the start of her pregnancy, but that doesn't mean she should be losing any weight now. It's not up to Kathy to change the foods that she and Emelia want to eat, it's up to me. As such, I'm the one who needs to have willpower. Essentially then, on the food side of things, I'm eating what Kathy is eating, but I'm taking significantly smaller portions than I was previously, and I'm doing my best to limit snacks. What that means, for example, is that we've still ordered pizza, and all that's different is that I try to have fewer slices than I ordinarily would. Also, we went out for Mexican and although I had a full entree of fajitas, I successfully resisted eating any chips and salsa.
  3. Accept that I'm going to be hungry. I've read about dozens of diets (without even looking for them) and in selling themselves, each tries to say it's easy. I don't know if they're correct, but my "eating less" diet isn't easy for me -- I'm hungry most of the time. To prevent eating every time I feel hungry, I remind myself of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. Most of the time, that does the trick.
  4. It's not cheating to have limited indulgences. This is a key to me. I don't think it's constructive for me to feel like I'm failing when I give in to the hunger, indulge a sweet tooth or actually consume a beer. The bottom line is that I'm taking in far fewer calories even if I have those "lapses," so I treat the occasional treat as part of the diet, not a break from it.
  5. Exercise. I don't burn many calories going on the walk-jogs I've been doing roughly every other morning since the first Wednesday of the diet (currently about 1 3/4 miles jogging, and 1 mile total of warm-up/cool-down walking), but I am improving my conditioning, and of course that's something that's important for my general health. The key question is whether my back and other aches will interfere -- currently I feel much more sore on my jogs than I did at the start of my regimen. Jogging is hard on the joints and frame, but I don't need any special equipment or to go somewhere to jog -- I can just roll out of bed and go. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep it up.
Status: As of August 27, I've lost seven pounds, so I'm roughly one-third of the way to my goal. I have travel and other events that may make it difficult to keep going as well as I have so far, but I accept that I may have a rough week or two (see Rule #4).

* - Disclaimer: I'm blogging about this primarily because it's a big thing in my life at present, but also to put pressure on myself to reach my goal by making it public. It is not to brag about my limited success, to suggest to others that they need to diet, or how anyone else should diet. Ok, maybe I'm bragging a little too, though I have no idea why I should be over seven frickin' pounds.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Little Girl is Growing Up So Fast!

We're down to the last four days of having a nanny for Emelia. She's shared Avery (Nana) with Jonah for over two years, but this spring we decided that Emelia was ready for something different. On Tuesday September 1, she starts in a Montessori program on the Hill.

Emelia has been excited about going to school for a few months already. In May she went to the school for a little while so the school could see how she responded, and she LOVED it. When it was time for her to leave she started crying because she was having such a good time. Ever since, she's been asking when she was going to go to school again.

For me, the hardest part of the change isn't that she's growing up. It's that we're saying goodbye to Jonah and Avery. Jonah's still around the corner from us, and we'll have many chances to get together. But Jonah has been a pseudo-sibling for Emelia (ironically, Avery says they're sometimes mistaken for twins when she takes them to the park), they get along so well, and it's clear that they're a positive influence on each other. They'll go from seeing each other three times a week for 9 hours at a stretch to a couple of hours every week or so. We told Elisabeth of our plans to switch to the Montessori program and thought she might want to do the same with Jonah, but she wanted to stay with Avery. And so the two kids will take different paths, and it's left me feeling wistful. I don't think Emelia realizes that starting school means no more Nana and Jonah.

As for Avery, we've been happy with her, and know that she's been a major part of Emelia's growth and development. When we told Avery of our decision, she agreed with our assessment that Emelia's ready for something new, and that the Montessori program will work well for her. Avery had thought that we didn't need her next Monday and had made plans to watch Emelia's "replacement" Jack (Jonah is switching to a Tuesday-Thursday schedule starting this week), but as soon as I said we still needed her for that day, and asked if she could watch Emelia and Jack together, she immediately said she'd tell Jack's parents that she'd start the next day, and beamed over the thought of having one last day alone with Emelia. Avery has offered her services if we need some assistance due to Kathy's pregnancy or because of the birth.

To accommodate the school's five-days-a-week schedule (8:30-3), Kathy is returning to work five days a week, five hours each day (she'll pick up and drop off Emelia), compared with her current schedule of working a full work day on Monday through Wednesday and being with Emelia on Thursday and Friday. We're not quite sure how it'll work -- Kathy's taken advantage of those days off to run errands or have repair people over. We'll also avail ourselves of the school's after care some days, given that Kathy's work will occasionally require her past 3pm.

Regardless how it goes, it's another chapter in the adventure known as parenthood.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


From the side of Kathy's pre-natal vitamins:
CONTRAINDICATIONS: This product is contraindicated in patients with a known hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients.
On the one hand, it states something so obvious that no thinking person needs to read it. On the other, some people who believe that the Democrats are proposing to implement death panels are or are going to be pregnant.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

We're Putting the Band Back Together

So stop me if you've heard this one before --

This extended family does volunteer work in a foreign country for a week, and spends a second week traveling around with the help of a local kid serving as translator. Nearly five years later, the local kid comes to America, and he's going to hang out with the family for a couple of weeks.

I'm not sure it'll become the latest reality show this Fall, but that's what's going on with us. Christmas time 2004, Kathy and I went with her parents, her sister and sister's then boyfriend, her sister's three kids, and her aunt to Costa Rica, where we volunteered on a coffee farm near Monte Verde for a week before traveling around the country. We met Wilfreddy during our stay at the coffee farm, where he and his family live. He then accompanied us for the second week, serving as translator and taking in some of his country with us.

Currently, Wilfreddy is taking an ESL program in Pennsylvania, and when that finishes up at the end of next week, he'll be heading to DC to stay with us. Also coming down will be everyone who took the trip with us except Kathy's sister and her sister's now-ex-boyfriend. The plan is for everyone to stay with us, something that should be both fun and challenging. The plan right now is to put Wilfreddy and Kathy's sister's kids upstairs in our loft, put the folks in our guest room, put the aunt in Emelia's room, and put Emelia on a blow-up mattress on the floor in our room (hopefully, Nora and Junebug don't become too territorial of our floor).

I'm not sure what the itinerary is -- there was talk earlier of a couple of overnight trips to nearby regions, but if those plans have evolved, I know nothing about them. I figure I'll see people when they're here and when I'm not working. My boss will be out of the country then, so I need to mind the shop -- it'll be difficult for me to take off during the visit. Regardless, I'm expecting that I'll get to do things with them, and that things will be a little crazy for duration. Fun too.

Photo of Wilfreddy and me right before we went ziplining, January 2005.

Monday, August 03, 2009

My Life With Beer Update

I've slowed down. I'm only rating at a pace of about 500-600 beers each year, rather than the 1000 or so I used to rate (ok, so it's a relative thing). I'm drinking more for pleasure rather than rating, but I'm also drinking less overall. As I'm getting older I seem to have less endurance, not that I was a real heavyweight in the first place. Also, the acidity of the beers seems to hit me a fair amount, whereas until about a year ago, I never had heartburn from beer.

Circumstances are helping with my cutting back. The DC RateBeer crew is a little less organized than it was about a year ago, as a couple of key members have moved -- thus, there are fewer local tastings to attend. It probably also helps that Tom has moved a few blocks away, so we're not drinking together as much. Also, I missed my second RateBeer Summer Gathering in a row (this year was San Francisco), after attending the first six.

Still, it's hard to limit myself as much as perhaps I should, given my continuing love for beer. Indeed, this weekend Tom and I made our way up to Cooperstown, New York to indulge in Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, an annual beer festival organized by Ommegang Brewery and held on their premises (I also made it up there last year). We got there on Friday afternoon and camped there with many other beer devotees, including a large number of RateBeer members, several of whom I've known for years. The festival is Saturday afternoon, but really the best part of the weekend is the beer that other attendees bring to share when the festival isn't taking place -- people bring bottles, growlers, and kegs to share with their fellow beer lovers.

And despite the incredible amount of great beer flowing, I actually did a fairly good job of limiting the amount of beer I consumed. I got there tired due to too little sleep on Wednesday night, and rather than force myself to stay up late that first night, I went to bed after the shmancy beer dinner (that included plenty of beer). Saturday I held off drinking until about 10am, mostly stopped by about 8pm (which was when the real beer sharing got going), and turned in early again. Upon my return I joked with Kathy that I got more sleep camping at a loud beer festival than I would have in my own bed.

For the next month or so I'm going to try to cut back dramatically, and see if I can shed a couple of the pounds that have accumulated around my waist. I'm not about to stop altogether, and indeed am looking forward to the new brewpubs to hit when we go up to Vermont next month. All the same, a little moderation for a little while could make a little difference.