Monday, September 27, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 4: a change in pace

If you've been following my blog for the past month, you know that I've been picking one thing to give up each week. The purpose of this experiment is to force myself to pay attention to how I live my life, and find out where I can make changes for the better.

Week one was the week without bread, week two I made no purchases, week three I attempted to give up all caffeine, and this week I had intended to not throw anything away.

So far, it's been a real eye-opener. My week without bread caused a significant change in my mood, energy level, and my pants size. Going a week without buying anything gave me a new appreciation for the things I already have and made me realize that I sometimes use purchases to "reward" myself even though I forget that I've bought something within a few hours. Special Starbucks "coffee treat" quickly becomes "coffee routine" becomes "coffee requirement." Quitting caffeine for week three was an epic failure of headaches and irritation but I certainly learned something: Not worth it!

I still plan to go ahead with the trash experiment, but it may need to be postponed for three to six weeks because...well...


"This" is my sprained or possibly broken foot.

Welcome to the weeks without walking.

Greg and I were longboarding on Friday, trying to get better at sliding, and I had a little accident.

Not a cute "little accident" like a puppy, unfortunately.

I've been trying for a couple weeks to learn how to do a pendulum slide since I've gotten pretty good at shutdown slides and now I want to be able to speed check instead of foot braking on a fast hill. I made the mistake of wearing unsupportive shoes and ended up rolling my foot under the board then coming down on the board with my full body weight and crushing the foot sideways.

The foot did not like that. Not at all.

Extra-awesome news to add to the foot fun is that this weekend was the Maryhill Freeride where I was supposed to spend two wonderful days zooming past wheat and windmills in scenic Goldendale, WA.

We still made the drive, an eight hour round trip journey through central Washington. It was a blast to see some of the girls from the Bomber Betties ride Maryhill for the first time, but it was a little hard to keep my jealousy in check. I guess that just means I'll be that much more excited for the next Freeride.

Two riders on Maryhill

Riann, Erin and Barbara watching the action



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Summer of Awesome - A Retrospective

"More and more as I delve deeper into the "adult" world, I find myself a different kind of tired. An aching tired that comes with stress and worry and the pressure to maintain order among people and things that have no desire to be organized.

I'm not saying that I've had a bad time the past few years; far from it. But I've moved away from the carefree good times of childhood and focused too hard on forcing others to have a good time. This life is one big decision, I will decide what to do with it and how I feel about it.

This summer is for me."

Selina, April 28, 2010

As that familiar Fall chill creeps back into my fingertips and slips through door and window cracks to seize my toes, I look back on a Summer that was mine.

26th Birthday - Ever Neverland

Trip to NYC - Coney Island

The Bomber Betties Womens Longboarding Club - Established May, 2010

Performing in Riverfront Park with Tony

Biking at Riverside State Park

Cindy's ninja rings at the Garland Street Fair

My first triathlon - Wunder Woman at Medical Lake

Camping at Lake Gillette

Camping at Lake Gillette

Rings & Things' new Graphic Designer taking over my old cube

Liz's going away party - 80's Prom

I'm originally from the 80's, you know

The Palouse in mid-Summer

Making slide gloves with the Bomber Betties

Green Bluff - Devon buying fresh corn on the cob and apples for the week without bread

Green Bluff - short people need short horses

The Spokane Interstate Fair

Looking back through the photos from the past few months, I can honestly say that I don't feel like I missed out on anything this Summer. I took stock of what I was doing with my life and reset my priorities.

I've discovered that everything is a choice, no matter how much it seems like it's outside of our control. These days, I'm devoting more time to my art and spending more quality moments with my friends and family. This means that finances are tight and things may need to change to reflect that, but the benefits outweigh the risks.

The older I get, the less I care about money or status. Summer coming to a close, the weather cooling off and the kids heading back to school reminds me that growing up is a state of mind.

We get to a certain age and we stop being fascinated by the world. We stop exploring. We focus on getting by and making a good life for our families (nothing wrong with that), but we push so hard to make a good life that we often forget to spend some time enjoying it.

There's no reason to stop learning and discovering. My actions are my own and I choose not to stay still and accept a mundane existence.

This is my adventure.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 3: No drinks but water, checking in

Failure Failure Failure. No caffeine = horrible idea.

The death headache that began around noon on day 1 didn't show any signs of backing off. It was the kind that starts out having a booming bass techno rave behind your eyes, then, just for fun, smacks you in the back of the head with a hammer at random. Add to that the nausea, muscle aches, fatigue, inability to concentrate and general bite-your-head-off attitude that I'd acquired, and I'm sure you can imagine that I was a joy to be around. Much like a cheery little ray of sunshine that travels through a magnifying glass and lights the forest on fire.

Anyone else out there tried to quit caffeine? I talked to a few people about my journey this week and the response I got was an overwhelming, "Why would you try to do that? Are you crazy?!"

The answer is yes. That was a bad idea.

Symptoms of withdrawal from caffeine (officially classified as a psychoactive stimulant drug along with amphetamine and antidepressants among others, btw) are not so weirdly similar to symptoms of "hard" drug withdrawal like heroin or cocaine. Depression, anxiety, paranoia, nausea, fatigue and muscle aches are some of the shared symptoms of withdrawal from both caffeine and heroin.

Check out these eye-opening statements from the interwebs:

"Kuhar explained that caffeine blocks receptors in the brain that can dilate blood vessels causing headaches. "Withdrawal symptoms can start from 12 to 20 hours after your last cup of coffee and peak about two days later and can last about as long as a week," Kuhar added.

It is not just coffee that can lead to caffeine withdrawal. While a 6-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, tea and cola have about 40 milligrams each, a bar of milk chocolate has about 10 milligrams and hot chocolate has about 7 milligrams." - CNN Health

"...caffeine is the most widely used behaviorally active drug in the world...Average daily intake of caffeine among caffeine consumers in the United States is about 280 milligrams, or about one to two mugs of coffee or three to five bottles of soft drink..."

A close friend recently shared with me that he felt it was harder to quit caffeine and cigarettes than it was to quit methamphetamine and cocaine. That's just one person's experience, but it's interesting to consider what's different about quitting something that is socially acceptable, readily accessible, and so ingrained in our daily lives. Wake up, drink coffee. Eat lunch, drink soda. Have dinner, drink tea. Relax before bed, drink hot cocoa.

Caffeine is also contained in many things we wouldn't think of (like yogurt and Excedrin), so even if you think you haven't had any, it's possible that you are an unwitting consumer.

Observations during a double-blind caffeine withdrawal study showed that although some subjects experienced mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, a few had complete break downs of daily function including missed work, errors at work and inability to care for children.

Honestly, I don't even want to think about caring for children without having had a cup of coffee or two.

You may be interested to know that the only reason I'm not screaming and crying while sitting in my sunny spot on the couch, staring at my glowing computer screen, while my neighbor mows their lawn with the loudest lawnmower ever, is because I've had two cups of coffee this morning.

I find myself sitting up straight and tall, researching effectively, confident about the day ahead, a perfect example of a functioning addict.

So weigh in on this for me. Who out there is addicted to caffeine? Is it a problem or is it a solution? Do we live in a society where this sort of pick-me-up is necessary?

Should we be worried when we haven't heard much from the scientific community about negative side effects of caffeine addiction?

Tell me what you think.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 3: No drinks but water

No coffee, tea, or soda for the entire week.

I briefly thought about lying and saying I was doing this but not actually doing it. The throbbing pain at the back of my head is proof that I went through with the plan.

This morning I awoke and stumbled into my kitchen on a lurching path toward the coffeemaker as per usual. Then I drifted slightly to one side and ended up at the sink instead, where I poured myself a glass of water and emitted a cry of frustration somewhere in between an angry t-rex and a scared pig.

I feel a bit like both.

If you have ever owned a chihuahua, or know someone who does, you know that they NEVER. SHUT. UP. Somehow, this had completely escaped my notice until today. Normally, my dogs bark and I pop my head up from behind the computer and yell something encouraging like, "Nice job guys!" It's not because I like to hear barking, it's because I'm equally excited about distant noises and the six cups of coffee I've consumed have me shaking harder than tiny, two-pound Lola in a snowstorm. I'm READY!

Bark Bark --- Shake Shake

My dogs are LOUD. These drivers SUCK. That sun is BRIGHT. It's gonna be a LONG week.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 2: Purchasing Freeze, checking in

This week has been a rough one.

None of my friends are encouraging me to spend. Not a single person has laughed or chided me when I've said I'm not spending money this week. When I say, "I can't go out," they say, "that's cool, let's stay in," or "let's find something free to do."

Do you realize what this means?!

It's my fault

Here I am, surrounded by wonderful, supportive people who don't give a flying frick if I can pick up the tab, and I've been completely oblivious.

The problem with not spending any money for one week is that it makes you realize that you shouldn't have been spending money in the first place, at all, for any weeks.

Instead of running to the store every five seconds for things I thought we needed, I actually took the time to look for the things we already have, and to see if we had something that could act as a substitute.

For example, I was making lasagna and we were out of the ground soy stuff I normally use. Instead of falling to the floor in a crying heap, I looked in the fridge and found some soy "sausage" links to chop up. Turns out, fakey-fake sausage lasagna is delicious.

Yesterday as we were leaving the gym, I was hit with the almost overwhelming urge to walk across the parking lot and "treat" myself to a frappucino at Starbucks. You know...for being so good about not buying things...

Why is that? Why is that a treat at all? What's so special about not-enough-coffee blended with too-much-ice by a stranger? favorite...?

Not only is that a silly thing for a "treat," it's a hollow reward for keeping my paws off the debit card. Here is something that tastes good but not great, lasts about 15 minutes, isn't made for sharing, creates trash, and has no positive effects after the initial buyers-high.

So instead we went home, reheated some awesome lasagna, and all sat together in the living room hanging out and taking turns playing Resident Evil (that's a heartwarming, family scene if I ever saw one).

Aside from the motion sickness that came on after watching Greg run around on a super-spin-spin-camera zombie killing spree, I felt great.

I didn't feel like I needed anything else. To be honest, by the time we had turned the corner off 57th to head down the hill from the gym, I had already completely forgotten about wanting a crappy coffee.

I wanted something that actually matters: good times with my friends.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Weeks Without - Part 2: Purchasing Freeze

Last weeks' bread fast has come to an end. I've learned a lot about how I eat, when, and why. Turns out, I'm more likely to crave bready things when I'm tired or slightly sad. I desperately want pasta when I feel like I need an excuse to crash on the couch and do nothing. Even when I eat bread for the appropriate reasons, I eat waaaaaaaay too much, just because it's so easy to do.

Eating fruit is hard. I can't just push it into my mouth and gulp it down and be done with it. It must be chewed. It demands to be peeled, or sliced, or pitted. Fruit likes to make itself difficult.

I'll be happy to reintroduce bread to my life this week, but it won't be making a full on, Madonna-like comeback.

Indeed, bread is back, but it's back like visiting relatives.

Maybe it will roll though town once in a great while, and maybe I'll go see it and have a great time, then I'll laugh about how we should get together more often, but I won't really mean it.

Bread makes me exhausted in the afternoon, sluggish, hot when I'm trying to sleep, and um...fat.

Well, not really fat, but puffy. Puffy like a puff pastry

After seven days of no bread, here are my measurements compared to last week:
  • neck: 12" ------> 12"
  • bicep: 11" ------> 11"
  • bust: 36" -------> 35.5"
  • waist: 30" ------> 28"
  • hips: 37" --------> 35"
  • thigh: 22" ------> 22"
  • calf: 15" --------> 15"
Notice that the parts of my body that have very little fat made no changes in measurement. That's good news for me because it means I haven't lost any muscle. My weight has gone from 140 at the start of this experiment to 138.5, not a huge drop, probably just water weight.

The running regiment hasn't suffered at all from the reduction in flour. I'm still trudging along at 8 minute miles for my one hour runs, and averaging 9:30's for my two hour training festival of fun.

I even managed to make it through the Spokane Interstate Fair without feeling sugar-sick or being mistaken for a bovine. Don't worry though, I spent plenty of time chewing, I wasn't out of place. Instead of my typical Fair food favorites like fry bread, onion petals, pizza, mini doughnuts and gyros, I enjoyed a corn on the cob and a caramel apple. Believe it or not, that's still a vegetable and a fruit, even when coated in butter and sugar. Better still, I feel completely satisfied with my Fair experience without also feeling completely regretful.

Check out this list of calorie content in common Fair foods from an article by John Brewer about the Minnesota State Fair

  • Caramel covered apple (1 order): 347 calories
  • Cheese curds (1 order): 759
  • Corn on the cob with butter (1 cob): 179
  • Cotton candy (1 bag): 323
  • Flowering onion with ranch dressing: 980
  • Funnel cake/ Elephant ear (1 each): 452
  • Mini donuts (1 bag): 622
  • Pronto pup (1 each): 350
  • Taffy (30 piece box): 557

  • Soooooo, for those who are like me and look at numbers like they are beautiful poofy clouds in the pretty, but not able to be touched...let me break this down:

    Selina's regular Fair Fare: 2,054 calories for a funnel cake, doughnuts, and fried onions

    Selina's reasonable Fair Fare: 526 calories for corn on the cob and a caramel apple

    A savings of 1,528 calories.

    To recap: still The Fair, still fun, still smelly like horse poopy...minus the 1/2 pound weight gain.

    Please don't try to pet me, I will think your fingers are carrots!

    Tiny horse!!!!!

    Mutton Bustin' - children dressed as tiny linebackers clinging to stampeding sheep

    Sick individuals who enjoy watching children getting thrown into the dirt by sheep

    Desi rockin' the fried potato on a stick

    Corn on the Cob...not nearly as terrifying as I've made it look

    Hi Greg

    This week the hammer is coming down. Hell and wallets are freezing over. The bank of Selina is shutting down. Cliches are coming down like mana from heaven.

    A big part of this weeks' "without" will be determining where my money goes, if I really buy things because I need them, and if my spending habits are affected by the company I keep.

    I'm hoping to come out the other side of this seven days with my new, smaller waist intact (no purchases means no restaurant eating), a budget for the remainder of the year, and a new appreciation for the things I already own.

    Wish me luck and dollars.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    The Weeks Without - Part 1: Bread, checking in

    Today is day 3 of the week without bread. So far, so good. I haven't gone on a bread truck hijacking spree or held up a Cinnabon. With a little luck, I shall remain a law-abiding citizen at least until I pass the mini doughnut guy in Riverfront Park. Watch your back, doughnut guy.

    There has been an adjustment period, a little more thinking than normal when I wander into the kitchen, but I think I can get into the groove before the week is up.

    Erin came down to the basement at 9 Monday morning and asked if I wanted to go to the gym. And of course, I said, "Yeah!" with my excited face on. I wanted to go for a run, a loooooong run, then I remembered I hadn't eaten anything yet (except coffee, which is not a food, no matter how much I think so). So I went upstairs to make myself some peanut butter toast...




    Luckily, we had some apples sitting next to the bread in the fridge, so I just let my hand drift slightly to the left and picked up one of those instead. Apples slices with peanut butter on them are the shiznit. I never would have known.

    It's strange to sit through a meal and not be constantly reaching for something in the center of the table. It's extra-weird to feel like making a sandwich then preparing and eating sandwich innards instead. But the craziest extra-extra-weirdest thing is's not really a problem. My body isn't screaming "abuse" and shutting down without flour and yeast. I don't feel tired or hungry. I'm not a flaming ball of energy either, but feeling like that is a rarity reserved for I-just-had-eight-cups-of-coffee days.

    Usually I feel like taking a nap in the afternoon. An actual nap is something that rarely happens, but I almost always wish I had the time to doze off for at least 30 minutes around 3pm. All three days of this bread-free week, I have sailed through the afternoon with the same amount of energy I typically have the rest of the day.

    Check out a side-by-side color comparison of what I ate the day of my bread ephiphany verses day 1 of this week:

    Bad Bad Beige Day

    Beige Day breaks down like this: Coffee with soy milk, bagel, pita and crackers with hummus, tortilla chips, garlic bread, pita (yet again), cheese raviolli.

    Variety Day started with the serendipitous peanut butter apples for breakfast, followed by veggie sausage salad for lunch, yogurt, stir fry, corn on the cob, and baked apples with brown sugar topping.

    Variety Day!

    Bread may not be invited back, at least not to every meal.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    The Weeks Without - Part 1: Bread

    Lately I've been thinking about what it would be like to not have the things that make life so comfortable. Not just because I don't have a steady job, but maybe that's part of it, this funemployment has certainly given me more time to read up on world news and get a new perspective. But it's not just that. Here we are at Labor Day, the end of Summer is imminent, hanging over us like the wintery clouds that are currently suspended outside my window.

    Seasons are changing but I am staying the same. And you know how much I hate that. There's nothing that gets to me more than realizing I've dropped into a routine; waking, living and sleeping again the same way, every day. Effectively going through the motions, allowing time to whip past me without even reaching for it.

    While it's true that time flies when you're having fun, it's also true that we become numb to the passing of time when we are fully embedded in our day-to-day.

    On Labor Day, the day that we celebrate the fact that the CLU (Central Labor Union) of NY didn't want to continue punching in and out without thought, I'd like to shake things up. Instead of turning my gaze outward and lamenting the political choices of foreign leaders, or the destructive nature of nature, or how nice it would be to lay on a beach somewhere instead of mowing my lawn, I'm going to spend 5 weeks truly thinking about what I, personally, am doing. Not on a grand scale, not, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" more like, "Where do you see yourself in three minutes."

    Hopefully, in this process, I will cut out some of the excesses in my daily life and get closer to my real self, without the buffer I create with food, chemicals and objects.

    Each week for the next four weeks, I will remove something or change something that has become ingrained in my existence. Essentially exploding the small parts of my life from the inside.
    • Week 1: I will consume no bread
    • Week 2: I will buy nothing
    • Week 3: I will drink nothing but water
    • Week 4: I will not throw anything away
    So here goes week 1.

    What will happen if I don't eat bread for seven days? Will I transcend this world and become something greater than myself? Will I just get snappy and irritable? Perhaps I'll waste away to nothing, or become strong like the spinach-pushing Popeye. Will I get an anchor tattoo?

    Let's find out!

    As of 9pm on Sunday, 9/5/2010, here are my measurements (weight will be added as soon as I'm near a scale):
    • neck: 12"
    • bicep: 11"
    • bust: 36"
    • waist: 30"
    • hips: 37"
    • thigh: 22"
    • calf: 15"

    No. Bread.

    This is no small feat, I eat some form of bread or starchy goodness at every meal. Crackers, pita, pizza, tortillas, bread sticks and OMG CHIPS!!!! These things go with Selina like Selina goes with running. This weeks' "without" landed on my consciousness and started lightly tapping on my brain when I was sitting at the 2-7 on the South Hill stuffing my face with garlic bread and raviolli. I ate four slices of bread, then I reached over and snatched a pita bread triangle from Greg's plate. Prior to the arrival of the entree, I had even considered ordering an appetizer: french bread topped with garlic and gorgonzola cheese(!!!). As I munched on this carbohydrate-sugar-fest, I glanced around the table and noticed that there was nothing green. In fact, everything I had eaten for the entire day had been white or slightly beige.

    I hate beige.

    What I hate even more than beige is that although I consider myself a healthy person, I had managed to entirely dodge nutrients for a day without a second thought. How many other times have I done this? There's really no way to say. At this point I could just shrug my shoulders and say, "Whatev," but that's not me.

    Bread, I quit you!