Monday, February 25, 2008

Doctor Visit

I have been sick.

Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.

So I finally went to the doctor.

Though the reason I went to the doctor actually had very little to do with feeling under the weather. The reason I went was because I got a jury summons. I went to the doctor to write me an excuse note so I wouldn't have to go, since I've had a problem with irritable bowel symptoms off and on ever since I had my gallbladder taken out eight years ago.

Not that I would mind so much serving on a jury. I just think they would mind, as soon as I started bounding out of the jury box for multiple potty trips.

So I went to the doctor. She was pleased -- I've lost ten pounds since my previous visit last May.

Ten pounds? WTF???

By my reckoning, I've lost at least 20. Now, I'll agree that there's going to be a certain amount of variation between my scale and the doctor's scale, but I don't understand how I can show a 20-lb loss at home, and come up with only half of that at the doctor's office.

Can you spell discouraging? I knew you could.

We talked about a variety of things. She was happy I'd lost ten pounds. We talked about my ongoing problem with exercise-induced urticaria (hives), and she recommended that I consider cutting aspirin, tomatoes, fish, strawberries and nuts from my diet. She also recommended that I think about taking an over-the-counter anti-histamine before I exercise. She also suggested that an over-the-counter acid reducer such as ranitidine hydrochloride might help, as it has anti-histamine properties as well.

I don't think I'm too interested in giving up any of those foods, so I'm going to try going the anti-histamine route and exercising before I eat.


The doctor also said that my dirty rotten cold had moved into my ears, and she thought I had the beginnings of an ear infection. I ended up coming home with a huge list of drugs, both OTC, and prescription. Some $80 later, I had an antibiotic, a cough suppressant, an expectorant, and two different types of anti-histamines. Oh, and a 7-day supply of a popular sleeping pill that sometimes causes sleep eating because I mentioned that I haven't been sleeping worth a darn for the past several months because of all of our legal hassles involving The Kid.

My insurance won't cover the $150 prescription, so a 7-day supply will have to do. When I found out my insurance wouldn't cover it, I told the doctor to forget it, but she told me to at least get the 7-day trial from the drug company's Web site, and we'll see what happens after that. Sleep is important, but I don't think it's $150 worth of important.

I don't have trouble falling asleep, I just can't stay that way. Once I wake up, then I can't go back to sleep, and I'll spend hours tossing and turning. It's making me tired, and I'm sure it doesn't help my weight loss efforts one bit.

Even though I am still moving in the right direction, I have to admit that losing a measly 20 pounds (or 10 pounds, if I go with what the doctor's scale says) in 10 months is pretty crummy.

I guess I'm going to have to hire a personal trainer or something...


Friday, February 22, 2008

Review: Skinny Songs

Earlier this month, I received an e-mail from someone who is involved in promoting a new CD entitled SkinnySongs. (Warning: link plays music) He sent me a note, wanting to know if he could send me a copy so that I could write a review about it on my blog.

Being incredibly curious, I agreed. I figured, why not? My blog has been pretty quite of late, so I thought having something to write about wouldn't be a bad thing. Between the holidays, legal hassles involving The Kid, lots of overtime at work and two really bad colds, I haven't had much that's particularly blogworthy to post.

Sure, I could have whined about all things rotten in my life, but I'm not sure how that would help me move forward with my weight loss efforts. Nobody likes to read posts from a constant whiner, so I figured silence in this case was definitely golden. The only major positive of late is that I've learned that colds, with their resulting loss of appetite, are good for my diet.

If it weren't for the fact that I've missed way too much work, I'd be telling everyone, "I'll have another side of germs, please."

Going back to the SkinnySongs CD, the whole idea sounded gimmicky and a bit silly. I have to admit to giggling when I read the e-mail. I couldn't imagine how a CD containing weight loss songs could be worth listening to, but I figured it was worth a shot. I clicked through to the artist's web site, and listened to a few clips. What I heard didn't sound so bad, so I e-mailed the gentleman back and asked him to send me a copy.

A few days later, I received a copy of the CD in the mail. On the front, it showed a picture of a woman zipping up her impossibly-tiny skinny jeans. On the back, it listed the following description:
If you've decided to lose weight and get in shape --and if you've ever sung along to a song at the top of your lungs because it really meant something to you--SkinnysongsTM is made for you. I came up with the idea for SkinnySongsTM because I wanted great music to keep me motivated about losing weight and getting in shape--but couldn't find any. So I convinced superb producers David Malloy and George Daly, and fabulous emerging artists such as Tania Hancheroff, Kaleo Futuristo, Larkin Gayl, Susan Shaton and Rachelle Byrne to turn the idea into reality. You can listen to these songs in your car, on your walk, at the gym, on the dance floor, or even in the kitchen if that's where they work for you. This isn't self help or preachy stuff, it's fantastic, radio-hit-quality music that just happens to be about winning your battle with the bulge. Enjoy!

-- Heidi Roizen, Founder and lyricist of SkinnySongsTM

I'd never heard of any of these people, so I wasn't expecting a whole lot when I plopped the CD into my boom box in the garage. And, to be fair, the idea sounded like a far more girlie enterprise than anything I'd enjoy. I'm a professional curmudgeon, and stuff that appeals to most women turns me off in a big way. I don't do babies, make-up or dresses, and my idea of a quality weekend would involve spending an entire day washing, polishing and waxing my full-size pickup while grunting happily like Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor.

As for things that motivate me for weight loss, I've learned that has to come from inside. Stuff that tends to motivate most people I tend to find off-putting. Weight Watchers meetings, for example, do nothing but piss me off because I get tired of listening to the same women whine about the same problems week after week. "But I stuck to my diet like glue, and gained three pounds."

But I digress.

Even though I didn't expect much when I popped the CD into my boom box, I was actually pleasantly surprised. Most of the songs on the disc weren't half bad, and some of them were actually pretty good. When I listened to the music, I felt like I was biting into something I expected to hate, but actually discovered was surprisingly decent.

The Pluses

The songs are recorded in a variety of styles, including pop, hip hop, and country/crossover. They all have a great beat, and definitely are well-paced for just about any kind of workout. The production values on the CD are as good as anything you could buy at the record store, and there's at least one song, Blowing You Off at Eight that with a little bit of a stretch, I could imagine hearing on the radio. Overall, I think the CD is pretty well done given the subject matter.

The Minuses

Most of the songs on the CD sounded like music I'd heard before. Although the lyrics were certainly different, each song had a familiar beat and tone that I couldn't place, but that I swore I'd heard before. That's not to say that I think the songs infringe copyright, but rather they were all produced in what I would consider a formula style. I also wasn't thrilled with the number of country/crossover tunes on the disc, as it happens to be one of my least-favorite styles of music. Of course this might not be a minus to someone who really enjoys country music.

Buy or Don't Buy?

The CD is available for purchase from a variety of sources, including ($14.99) and iTunes ($9.90 album/$0.99 song). It's clear this product is well-marketed, because it's available in so many different places. The price is certainly fair and in-line with other popular music.

In this case, though, I don't think I can make a strong recommendation either way, as to whether this is a buy or don't buy item. Music is very much an individual taste, and this CD appeals to a rather limited market in that it is targeted for women who are trying to lose weight. The music definitely has a great beat, and the lyrics are definitely motivating, but I'm not sure that they will appeal to every dieter.

I guess your best bet in making a purchase decision would be to visit the SkinnySongs Web site and listen to the music yourself.

I am glad I have the CD, though, and it will stay in the garage boombox next to my weight machine.

Thanks, Keane Li, for the CD. I've really enjoyed having the opportunity to listen to and review it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Absent, but not Forgotten

It's been quite some time since I've updated this blog, mainly because I've been overwhelmed with some pretty negative life events. I can't go into details, but it all involves The Kid.

Needless to say, the stress has been over-the-top lately, and my diet efforts have pretty much stalled.

The good news: I didn't gain back all the weight I lost before all of this started.

The bad news: I'm a few pounds higher than my lowest weight.

So really, it's mostly good.

Over the years, my family has often given me checks of various sizes for gifts. For the longest time, I've just plopped that money in a bank account, saving it for a rainy day. No single check was really large enough to buy something noteworthy, so I just kept saving it, hoping I'd eventually have enough for a big-ticket item.

Well, I finally spent some of my hoarded money. I bought a Bow Flex home gym from a big box discount store.

It was expensive, though not as costly as the gyms sold online. It was a pain in the ass to put together. Now that it's up an running, I like it.

We'll see how much my muscles like it...