fat girl with a fitbit

Remember last October when I started up that exercise routine? And was doing really well and enjoying myself? And then I got knocked up and promptly forgot all about it? Yeah.

I knew I’d need some particularly powerful motivation to get back on the wagon this time. I remember from Ellie’s early days how easy it is to sit around with a snoozy, snuggly baby on my chest.

Then I came across Fitbit and was immediately intrigued. I love me some tech-geeky gadgets; even better if they come with statistics and charts and graphs. I debated with myself… it was expensive, at $100 for the fancy tracker, but I could justify that easily enough. A membership to the local rec center costs $400 a year and I wouldn’t use it every day, not to mention the hassle of having to arrange for childcare, finding a convenient time to go, etc. And I do need to lose a significant amount of weight somehow. Although I’ve yet to encounter major issues as a result of my weight, I know it’s just a matter of time. I’m still relatively young and I have a sneaking suspicion my thirties and forties will not be as forgiving on the health front.

So in short, I decided $100 was a small price to pay for the improvement of my health and clicked the “Buy Now” button.

After a month with the Fitbit, I’ve not been disappointed. It’s a huge motivator–the Fitbit is always with me. If I sit on my ass all day, it knows. And I aim to please my future robot overlords, so I’m always looking for excuses to add steps or floors to my daily totals. At first I was totally beat by the end of the day–if you’re not already living an active lifestyle, 10,000 daily steps is a challenge–but now I find I can’t sit still for very long before I have the urge to get up and do something. It’s a refreshing change compared to the no-energy-to-get-out-of-my-chair feeling I had before.

Another part of this personal project involves tracking what I eat. I’ve done this before, usually without much success. I tend to get obsessive with these things, to the point where one failure equals total failure and epic disappointment. Drama queen, me? Never. But I’m finding it’s not as difficult this time. I’m more forgiving, which I think comes from knowing exactly how active I’ve been. And thanks to Fitbit’s goal program, I realized I actually need to eat more than I thought I did… if I eat too little, my body brings my already snail-like metabolism to a screeching halt and causes all sorts of problems. So this is helpful in ensuring I get the nutrition I need so I can keep my metabolism trundling along. The best part is the food tracker that tells me how many calories I’ve “earned” as a result of my activity level on any given day. If I move more, I get to eat more–awesome.

One of the things that makes Fitbit unique as a fitness gadget is the ability to track not only your daily activity but your sleep patterns as well. In my case, it’s particularly important because we’re often up and down with Gwen at night. I was surprised to find that even on our “bad” nights I’m still usually getting a solid seven hours of sleep. Not bad for having a two-month-old!

The results speak for themselves–I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last month and I feel so much better. I have quite a way to go, but I think I’m going to be able to stick with it this time. The real challenge will come in just under two weeks when I go back to my desk job. I have a feeling it will not be nearly as easy to get my steps and floors in, but I’m already making plans. I’ll cover my current exercise routines and how I plan to stay active in a future blog post.


2010 in review

Elspeth's Second BirthdayThe fact that I’m 10 days late with this year in review is appropriate, given how regular I’ve been about blogging lately… which is to say, not regular at all!

One of the things I did start in 2010, albeit a little late, was a regular exercise routine. Since mid-October I’ve exercised every single day in some form or another, and I definitely notice a difference. Without changing my diet drastically, I’ve lost about 10 lbs and I feel so much better about myself. I knew there was a reason I used to do this! I’m sticking to 20 minutes a day of either aerobic stepping with Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution… DDR in particular is a really good workout. That’s one thing I’ll definitely be continuing in the new year.

The other health-related thing I’d like to keep up with: No fast food. I don’t even really like the stuff, but it’s so easy to get into the habit of pulling up to the drive-through when I’m in a rush. Tim and I have made a point of bringing our lunches to work for the last month and it’s greatly helped our budget and health, so this month we’re using the same rule for breakfasts to save even more money.

2010 was a moderately creative year as well. I put all of last year’s doodles in a set and came up with nearly 90 illustrations, which doesn’t even include all the custom design for other clients. Photographically I was also more active in 2010–only 3 shoots total, but that’s a huge improvement over the big fat zero from 2009. And I’m really proud of the work I did produce, so I hope to keep that going this year. And I’m proud of the websites I’ve built for myself this year, even if I haven’t exactly been consistent about updating them!

On a personal note, Tim and I celebrated 10 years together in 2010. We also celebrated Elspeth’s second birthday, and our second year of parenting a toddler–yikes. And we survived our second major home project when we renovated our downstairs bathroom (practically at gunpoint, thanks to water damage and black mold, but still.) I checked an item off my life list when we saw Joshua Radin in concert. We also had our first family vacation and escaped with our sanity mostly intact, which is something.

Phew. I don’t think I realized until now just how busy 2010 was. I have a sneaking suspicion 2011 is going to be just as busy on all fronts. Case in point: There will be potty training.

Bring it on!


crockpot chicken stew with dumplings

CrockPot chicken stew

I’m a total CrockPot geek during the fall and winter. I try to make at least one meal per week in the ‘pot because it’s so easy and the ample leftovers make great lunches.

This is my favorite chicken stew with dumplings recipe–we’ve made it twice in the last month. It’s based on this recipe I found last year, and over time I’ve modified it to suit our family’s tastes. It’s really flexible… the measurements are not exact because I rarely measure anything, just toss it in and see what happens, but generally it requires about…

  • 3 chicken breasts, frozen or fresh
  • 2 11 oz cans cream of chicken, mixed with 1.5 c water (or you could substitute an equal amount of chicken stock, thickened with flour)
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp crushed rosemary
  • 1 c sweet corn, frozen or canned
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c peas, frozen or canned
  • Your favorite biscuit dough, enough for about 9-12 medium-sized biscuits should do (I like a lot of dumplings!)

Throw everything except the peas and biscuit dough into the CrockPot and stir. Cook on high for 3.5 hours or low for 7 hours or until the chicken is tender. Then shred the chicken with a fork and drop in the biscuit dough in rounded dollops. At the same time, stir in the peas (they’ll cook fast), and continue cooking half an hour on high or 1 hour on low or until the dough is cooked through.


friday favorites

I collect links the way some people collect magazine clippings for an inspiration board, and Google Reader allows me to star and share interesting tidbits I find as I’m reading. Here are some of my recent favorites:

  • A neat egg dyeing technique at IndieFixx – One of my favorite parts of Easter is dyeing eggs, and I can’t wait to share the tradition with Ellie (when she’s a little older, of course). Until then, I’m happy to try this on my own.
  • Creating the perfect iPhone app for your biz at Design Sponge – I’ve been working on a mobile Web project at the office, so I’m in an iPhone-ready mindset. This article has some very helpful information about the process.
  • Handmade Spaces: Jennifer Ladd at Modish – Loving these colors!
  • Not Martha’s vacation slides of her time in Paris – Chocolate. Chocolate?  CHOCOLATE!
  • Yummy pink at Poppytalk – I admit it. I have a love/hate relationship with pink. When I was four, my parents built an addition onto their house. When asked what color my new room should be, I (of course) answered, “PINK!” I spent the next 16 years sleeping within walls the color of bubblegum (and loudly complaining about it for the latter half of those years). I’m still drawn to all things pink, although now I’m a bit pickier about the shade!

Find these and more at my shared favorites on Google Reader!


mmm, cake

there was a little girlI’m doing the birthday thing this weekend! As of this afternoon, I can no longer pretend I’m in my mid-twenties… I’m officially on the downward slide to 30.

Tim and I had a date night to celebrate. We finally saw Avatar (I think we’re the last people in the world to see it) and the verdict was… eh. Not bad, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me. Obviously the special effects were fantastic–a tech geek’s wet dream–but I found it difficult to get attached to the story. There was a lot of yawning on my part, although in fairness, I was up way past my bedtime (I know, I know, you envy my level of cool). Personally, I look forward to seeing what other producers do with the same technology, but with a less predictable script.

Not that I’m complaining! I’m pretty sure I would have paid 6 bucks to watch three hours of C-SPAN as long as it got me out of the house. Again–envy me!

Aside from that, we’ve been taking it easy. Yesterday we visited the local farmer’s market, then checked out the Orono thrift shop, where I found some super inexpensive clothes for Ellie. I’ve been working on custom orders, one of which I can’t wait to show off. It’s been a crazy month for my business, but it’s a good crazy!

Now I’m off to finish a slice of the delicious double-chocolate cake my wonderful husband baked for me. I am one lucky birthday girl!