Monday, October 08, 2007

A Comedy of Travel Errors

Friday was travel day. Do you know that Orbitz calls you 3 hours before your flight's due to take off?!?!? Great service... except if you're on the 6:30 AM flight. Not only does the caller stutter but it's a computer so there's no one to hear you yelling! Marbleman got that call and never did get back to sleep. I was up at 4 AM - that should give us plenty of time to park and shuttle to our terminal an hour early. It was 5:30 in the morning when only insomniacs are up, and the lines aren't more than a few minutes long, so let's all take our time, right? Wrong! We got lost finding the parking lot in the dark and finally got to the terminal 30 minutes before the flight.

Why are we in this mess? Marbleman and I flew to Boston this weekend for his brother's wedding. We've heard about the woes that fliers encounter & so followed travel advisors who said we should buy tickets for the first flight of the day to avoid delays. Soooo.... four weeks ago we fired up the trusty iMac and noodled around Orbitz to snag tickets for the 6:30 AM flight.

Boarding passes in hand (Waddaya mean I need to request a seat? We requested seats a month ago!), we're off to the security check point. Oh... my...GOD: The line was at least 30 minutes long. Now what? An airport official told us about another line at the other end of the terminal, just a two minute walk. We jogged to the end of the terminal, and nuts! That line was even longer than the first one. Finally, we followed the other sheep through the line with a minimum of trouble, even had the time to engage the TSA people in some easy banter (don't want to look too nervous right?).

OK, sneakers on, laces retied, luggage in tow, we RAN to the gate and got there 5 minutes before take-off time. The airline person appeared to expect us and had my seat assignment in a couple of key clicks. Whew. We staggered onto the plane, flopped in our seats, only to hear the flight attendant say they were holding the flight for some people still stuck in the security line. We didn't need to run after all! The rest of the the trip was easy, even though it took 25 minutes to shuttle our way to the car rental place. Add another 20 minutes waiting in line, and 20 minutes to actually rent the car, and the fun begins. We did make mental notes to get to Logan 2 hours early for the return trip - surely their security is much tighter.

(We had a marvelous time in Boston, I'll post about that later.) Back to that return trip. OK, the flight out of Logan is at noon. We were in Natick, about 30 minutes outside Boston, so if we left there at 9 AM, returned the rental car, and took the 25 minute shuttle ride to the terminal, we should be there 2 hours early. Plenty of time for that long security line.

So, we got to Hertz in perfect time, and hopped onto the shuttle. Two minutes later (!) we were at at the terminal. Apparently we got the shuttle at the beginning of it's loop around Logan when we arrived. That's OK, we're in good shape. Let's hit the security line. Wait, what line? There was no one ahead of us. *sigh* Now we have to sit at the gate for the rest of the 2 hours until take-off. The flight took off without incident, maybe 25 minutes delayed. Again, easy peasy flight. This is good, since I hate to fly.

We took the shuttle back to the long-term parking lot, got in the car, turned the key in the ignition, and *click*. Nothing. Dead battery. Shoot. A really nice shuttle driver gave us a jump, and off we went. "Hey! Who turned on the passenger overhead light in the daytime?" Oh. OK, rephrase, "Who's the dumbass who left the overhead passenger light on over the weekend and drained the battery?" Oops, that would be me. Sorry!

Lessons learned: If you hear you should take the earliest flight to avoid delays? Assume other travelers had the same advice. Also, assume that things will go wrong. If they do, don't sweat it, they'll also turn out alright.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Eat more, weigh less?

An inspirational tale of the Amazing Shrinking Woman (again)

Last Thanksgiving I had terrible back pain - I mean, the flat in bed, gorked on muscle relaxers and pain pills kind of pain - the second episode in two years. My doctor looked me straight in the eye and delivered the bad news: to avoid a lifetime of back pain, I had to take off at least 50 pounds. *sigh* I've known that for years. I guess I wanted some professional in a position of authority to say it aloud. Be careful what you wish for, right?

5 years ago I tried the South Beach Diet and had some success. I bought the book, joined an online support group, and ate so many veggies, fruits, and whole grains that I knew every bathroom in town. Intimately. At 5'3" I was a pretty hefty gal weighing in at 180 pounds . After a year, I was down to 145. I felt (and looked) mighty fine. And it was easy. I still wanted 15 more pounds off, but somehow lost my way and wandered off The Beach. A little cheat here, a little over there, and the weight crept back. Finally, in pain from recent hand injuries (and feeling sorry for myself) I nibbled and noshed my way back up to 178 by last Christmas. Damn! Why, oh why, did I do it? I knew how hard it was to lose the first time. Now I have to do it all over again. (You can see my "before picture" in the previous California post in all my double-chinned glory.) But then things started looking up.

I have this new motivation - I mean, who wants to face their doctor to explain why she hasn't followed prescribed advice? Another New Year's Resolution: I went back on South Beach, back to the online support group, and followed the diet like a person possessed. I had a little success in the beginning, but I'm five years older now, and things aren't as easy as the first time around. I lost weight, but it was so slow, about .2 pounds a week. (FRUSTRATING!!! I want it off now!) I watched my calorie intake like a hawk - keeping it to about 1200 per day. I felt full and the weight came off. I was also exercising like crazy, taking a 60-90 minute walk six days a week. This diet, this mission, was my life, not my way of life.

By April, I lost 12 pounds. Then, my weight stabilized. I managed to chip off a couple of pounds only to see them reappear a week or two later. Over and over, I lost, then found, the same damned two pounds! This went on for about 3 months. I mean, I tripped over myself to do everything "right" and I was getting zero results. Mid-July, I called my doctor's office to get a checkup - what if my thyroid was misbehaving? They fit me in to see him the following week. But, I wanted answers now. I asked a friend, a personal trainer and nutritional counselor, what she thought. When I told her all I was doing, she said "I don't think you're getting enough calories." Waddaya mean?!?

Apparently, with all the exercise, I needed to eat a lot more calories every day - my bod was in "starvation"mode". This was so counterintuitive! The trouble was that I wasn't all that hungry. So, after my dear friend dropped this bomb on me, I whined to her "you mean, I need to choke down another 500 calories?" After threatening to smack me (most folks would love to eat an extra meal every day, right?), she said if I followed her advice for two weeks, I would get that hungry. I did talk to my doctor later. After hearing my routine, and my friend's advice, he agreed with her. He told me to eat 5 times a day and to have at least 1600 calories every day. He also ran blood work to check my thyroid, just in case (these were normal, thankfully). Finally, he told me: "make this part of your life, not the whole focus - just relax".

I followed the new plan, added strength training to my cardio, and stopped taking it all so seriously. You know what? Good advice! I've lost 24 pounds and feel fantastic. I still have 23 pounds to go to my goal, but now I can see it's gonna happen. With this recent loss, I've been sporting the "jail house" look. My jeans are falling off my hips - I really need to get new pants ... or a belt! I've given myself a queen-sized wedgie hoisting them up all day. Now that's attractive! (not)

I've weeded out my "fat clothes" with a brutal eye (sent most of them to the thrift shop). I'm under doctor's orders, so I'm not going to get fat again, right? Every 10 pounds I shed, I "go shopping" in my skinny clothes box. I try things on; if they fit, they get hung in the closet. If not, they go back in the box to be tried again at the next 10 pound mark. When they do fit, I'm super critical, thinking: "OK, it fits, but how does it make me look?" If the answer is anything but "sizzlin', smokin' hot", it's gone. The end result: I have a wardrobe that is versatile, age-appropriate, and makes me look and feel mah-velous.

I can see this will be a lifelong effort to maintain. Worth it for sure!