Blog/tech

Sopa and SOPA

SOPA opposition

All this talk about the blackouts today in opposition to SOPA/PIPA is making me hungry. It probably wouldn’t be appropriate to make sopa de fideo. Too bad. It’s one of my favorite foods. But I’ll give up my favorite angel haired pasta in a tomato/chicken broth to support the protest against internet censorship.

More on the SOPA/PIPA blackouts at Mashable or Google. But not Wikipedia.

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Corriendo

Egging me on

Most of my runs are pretty boring. I go out for a few miles. I listen to podcasts. I watch out for distracted drivers, dog walkers, cyclists, walkers, or cracks in the sidewalk.

Today’s long run wasn’t boring. First, I saw a rat blocking my path 2.5 miles in. I stopped 15 yards away. I hate rodents. I usually scream, but this time I just stopped and paused my watch. I looked at the rat again hoping it was just a squirrel. It wasn’t. For a minute, I watched to see if it’d go back into the bushes. It didn’t move. Then, I considered crossing the street, but jaywalking in the dark on Pico Blvd isn’t a good idea. The crosswalk was a few yards past the rat. I briefly considered making a ruckus to scare it, but nixed that idea. I ran up the hill past the rat fast as if doing hill repeats and looked away from the rat.

The middle miles around the park were uneventful except for when I almost tripped on a root and later when a nice man gave me a thumbs up and said “good job!” as I ran by.

Unfortunately, everyone in my neighborhood wasn’t so nice and encouraging. As I was approaching the last mile of my out-and-back, I got egged.

egging me on

I was running on a familiar street in my neighborhood when I saw a car approach. I moved closer to the curb as I always do when I’m on a street with cars. The car slowed down for a speed bump. As they neared, a passenger threw an egg at me. I didn’t see it, and if they said anything, I didn’t hear it. The egg smacked me hard on my left thigh and broke. It stung and I instinctively reached down to inspect what had just happened. I felt the sticky yolk and realized I’d just been egged. I thought I heard laughing and called out “assholes!” as they drove away.

I wanted some sort of revenge or justice, but there was nothing I could do. I didn’t see the eggers. I can’t even tell you what kind of car they drove aside from a red coupe or sedan.

Instead, I continued home and sped up a little. I wondered if the eggers were out egging people or homes. It was dark, but seemed early for such mischief. I thought about the waste of a perfectly good egg, or more. A moment later, I saw the lights of another car approaching and worried that the eggers turned around and were coming back for round two. I moved on to the sidewalk. Fortunately, it wasn’t them and I made it home without further incident

As I wrote above, most of my runs are uneventful. I’m grateful that my usual routes are in a pretty safe area. I know other urban runners deal with icy sidewalks, harassment, aggressive dogs, careless drivers and worse. In perspective, a rat and an egg that left a welt (maybe a bruise) isn’t going to keep me from running in my neighborhood.

I have races to train for.

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Familia

In which I get sappy on my sister’s birthday

Happy birthday, GP!

Dear GP,

Happy birthday!

When I look back at these photos, I’m reminded of a great year in which our bond as sisters grew stronger. It also reminds me of what I already know: you’re a beautiful bad-ass. They’re not so good at showing that you’re smart, kind, hardworking, generous, talented, funny and an excellent cupcake/cookie/brownie baker. Nor do they capture how lucky I feel to have you in my life.

Here’s to another year of getting all dolled up, being goofy when appropriate (or not), exploring new places and admiring nature, running a race or two, and keeping stress in check for that little event in September.

Love you more than Lilo loves Stitch,
C

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Cambios

Three years and many changes later

Yesterday my brother posted this on Facebook:

Three. Funny that he picked that number. Today marks three years that I made a big change and stuck with it.

On January 13, 2009, I walked in to Weight Watchers in Culver City and signed up. When I stepped on the scale for the initial weigh-in, I was surprised by the number. I knew my driver’s license weight was wrong — whose isn’t? — but didn’t realize I was so off. Since I hadn’t weighed myself in a long time, I didn’t know that I was almost 30 pounds over my driver’s license weight.

I sat through the basic meeting and afterward stayed for the newbie orientation. I went home, flipped through the week 1 booklet and looked up the points values of some of the foods I commonly ate.

I followed the program, even though I didn’t always stay within my daily points allotted. As I wrote last year, I diligently tracked and counted points for everything I ate or drank. I measured my food and tried to meet the good health guidelines set by WW (e.g., five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, whole grains, drink plenty of water). About six weeks into the program, I signed up for the gym and started exercising regularly. I got some help and tips from my siblings.

Good old diet and exercise worked. The pounds came off and a year later, I reached my goal weight. I lost 60 pounds, or 31% of my starting weight.

Pre and present

Recently some friends who know I was successful on Weight Watchers have asked me what I liked and disliked about the program. Would you recommend it? My response:

Overall: Yes, I’d recommend Weight Watchers.

What I Disliked:

  • Cost. It’s not cheap. I think it’s about $40 for a monthly pass, which includes the weekly meetings and e-Tools (for tracking, recipes, recipe builder). I think the cost of WW balanced out when I started cooking more and eating out less.
  • Tracking everything can become tedious. Initially I was okay with it, but after 6 months I slacked off and my weight loss slowed down.
  • I became obsessed with food and sometimes became a bit anxious if I could not control the eating situation.

What I Liked:

  • Emphasis on eating healthy rather than just low calorie or low fat. I know lots of people picked up “bad habits” of eating low-point, highly process foods like
  • There’s no list of restricted foods (e.g., bread, pasta)
  • Easy for someone not too familiar with healthy, balanced eating
  • The Points Plus system is pretty easy to follow
  • Most fruits and veggies do not count towards your daily points total. Starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes and peas will cost you, as will the high-in-good-fat avocado.
  • You get credit for working out. They don’t emphasize anything hardcore, especially if you’re coming from a sedentary lifestyle.
  • I liked the meetings, but they got less helpful as time went on. The topics can become repetitive. They’re good for the support and the ideas you get from others. If you meet a milestone, they’ll acknowledge your success, but only if you’re okay with being mentioned in front of the meeting.
  • The leaders are not too pushy with their products.
  • All the leaders and receptionists have lost weight and maintained the weight loss using Weight Watchers.
  • It works, but it’s not fast. You should lose 0.5-2 lbs a week.
  • They have apps for the e-tools to help you track. I liked writing things down.
  • Initially I felt deprived, but that feeling decreased. I didn’t feel like I was really on a diet until I started losing more weight and had to restrict a little more.
  • The plan includes a set number of points you can use throughout the week that allow some flexibility. Even if you use these points, you should still lose.
  • There’s a no-tracking or counting option focused on Power Foods (clean eating focused on lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables)
  • They reward the people who are successful with Lifetime Membership (free meetings, access to e-Tools)

As with most diets or weight loss plans, maintaining might be more difficult than actually losing. I’ve gained about 10 pounds back. I attribute that to no longer tracking points, eating out more often and being more relaxed with my eating. (See: burger week 2011… actually, I didn’t gain weight after that.) I probably would have gained back more if I wasn’t training for marathons and half marathons.

Tired, but happy

One of my goals this year is to get back to goal weight and fit in to some clothes that no longer fits, like the pants above. And yeah, I’m not immune to the pressure to lose some pounds for my wedding day. Part of my plan is to go back to Weight Watchers, weigh-in monthly, and begin counting points again.

Jennifer Hudson doing a book signing in Culver City

Today I went back to the Culver City Weight Watchers for my monthly meeting and weigh-in. When I arrived, there was a crowd outside, and security guards handing out wrist bands. I had no idea what was going on, but it quickly became clear when I saw even more Jennifer Hudson posters and women holding her book. I decided to stick around and get a book. The woman ahead of me seemed to ask for help losing the last few pounds. Jennifer responded, “really watch the carbs.” Because of the book signing, I wasn’t able to weigh-in and the meeting size was limited.

I’ll weigh-in next week.

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Corriendo

How to beat Westside traffic: Run home

Run commute supplies

Excluding weekend long runs, I’m not a morning runner. I could be if I didn’t go to bed so late.

Still, I’m not about to change my habits since running after work fits my schedule. Working out between 5-8 is a big improvement over my old habits. When I first started working out regularly 3 years ago, I rarely made it to the gym before 10. That worked for me then too. I was was a super self conscious newbie uncomfortable about working out in front of other people. So, working out in a nearly empty gym was just what I wanted.

Now, I’m used to running on weekday evenings. In the spring and summer, getting in my post-work run in is not a problem. I look forward to it during the day. I don’t mind running at dusk or in the dark. In the winter and fall my motivation wanes when it’s very dark at 5 or 6. At least it’s not very cold here. It’s worse when I leave work around 6, have a 45 minute commute (if lucky) and don’t get a run in until after 7. In January, that feels late.

One way I’ve found to deal with the winter running is the run commute. I’ve seen other bloggers talk about running to work (Runner’s Kitchen). I could do that, but I prefer the run home. It fits with my evening running habits. Plus, it’s logistically easier and the route is almost all downhill.

Here’s how I do the run commute:

1. Pack shoes and running clothes in the morning or the night before. Make sure not to forget the sports bra. I’ve done this twice before and I’m genuinely upset that I can’t run home, especially when I’m on a bus inching through Westwood traffic and it takes 20 minutes to go less than a mile.

2. Bus it to work. This is convenient for me thanks to a direct bus route and a subsidized bus pass for students/staff at the university.

3. Work, work, work. Make sure not to eat a heavy lunch that might upset my tummy later.

4. Clock out and change in to running clothes, shoes. Stash clothes/shoes under my desk at work. I could carry it in a drawstring bag, but it’s really uncomfortable to have the straps digging in to my collarbone and feel the bag bouncing against my lower back. (It works for some, see Runner’s Kitchen’s tips.)

5. Add on all the other running accessories (see photo). In the winter, I make sure to wear reflectors slap bands for greater visibility on some busy west side streets. I want to get home in one piece after all. I also carry ID, bus pass, some cash, key and phone in my iFitness belt. I typically run while listening to a podcast or music, but I keep it low enough to hear what’s going on.

6. Begin run commute! I usually choose a direct 5 mile route, which is fine for most of my weekday runs. If I need to get in a few more miles, I can extend the route as needed. I pass by a park and playground on my route, perfect if I need to make a water or bathroom stop.

7. Laugh inside at motorists traveling slower than you in their cars on clogged west side streets. Watch out for distracted drivers, especially those who roll through stops or zoom out of parking lots to make a right turn while only looking left.

8. Get home in about the same time it would have taken to actually commute via bus (or even bus+car).

9. Next day, don’t forget to bring home clothes.

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