Saturday, October 6, 2012

Haunted House Review! Mad House - Lebanon, TN

It's October! You know what that means. HAUNTED HOUSE REVIEWS!

The first haunted house Ted and I went to this year was Mad House in Lebanon, TN. It's located in an old warehouse in a creepy area near the hospital. Driving up to it in a creepy area was a very nice start.

For your information, they only take cash; so don't arrive with only plastic to use, because you'll have to drive a bit to get to a cash machine. Admission is reasonable; $15 per person, but you can print a $2 coupon from their website and get an easy discount.

As Ted and I approached the entrance, we heard the typical loud noises and screams of teenage girls from inside the attraction. This actually tells me nothing about how the attraction will be, because I've found that teenage girls will scream at pretty much anything. So the worthiness of the venue remained to be seen.

The greeter was a fun guy. Very amusing and kept in character. He didn't try to do any preliminary scares, or be particularly creepy; he was mainly trying to set a jovial mood for the frights to follow. He responded well to our banter, which was the first sign to me that this was going to be a fun trip.

The attraction itself was populated with the usual costumed actors hiding in the dark, jumping out to get a scare. The sets were fun. There was some nicely crafted gore and well-used strobe lighting to prevent the customers from having time to acclimate themselves to night vision.

Aside from the cheap startle effects, there were some really fun audience participation scenes. The "inmates" interact with those on the tour, talk, involve you in the scenes, and banter with you to the point that you feel like you are a part of the attraction. They are not merely reciting lines, but rather are playing a character, and they have fun exchanges and are able to respond well to unexpected quips while remaining in character. They aren't at all derailed by someone who doesn't respond with a typical scream or flight response. They take the opportunity to create a fun and funny macabre scene, and they seem to enjoy the weirdos like Ted and me who prod extreme audience interaction.

I rate Mad House with a thumbs up. I got a few good startles, it was lots of fun, and the actors are great at adapting to what their audience wants. Good value: highly recommended!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Power of a Photograph

Lately I haven't done a lot of posting. When things are going well, and I'm feeling good, I'm often not inspired to post. I know I should post about the good along with the bad, but when I'm in the good, I want to just enjoy the good; I don't want to sit and type about it.

For the past few weeks, I've been eating better. I've still been exercising. I've been feeling better in my skin and starting to actually have some self confidence again. Things have been so wonderful.

And it was all shot to hell by a well-meaning acquaintance who posted some photos that made me want to kill myself.

Don't worry. I'm not going to do anything stupid. I've been through this enough times to know it will pass.

The photos were from a big gathering I attended last weekend. It was a camping weekend, and I had such a wonderful time, I don't even know how to describe it. I had fun; I made friends; I enjoyed spending the weekend with someone who is very dear to me; I felt healthy and happy. It was such a nice escape.

Tonight, one of those new friends posted to Facebook some photos she took. I was devastated. I knew that I was the largest person there; but I think I had forgotten just how large I am. I'm easily twice the size of most of the people who were there. Three times some of them.

I know I'm overweight. But I just don't think of myself as being as horribly, unreasonably fat as the woman I saw in those pictures. When I'm confronted with that reality, it hurts a lot. I don't want anyone to see me. I don't want to leave the house tomorrow. Or ever again. I truly want to disappear. I can't stop crying. I just want to hide because I'm so ashamed. More than hide; I want to disappear.

I was starting to feel like I had made enough progress that I was finally beginning to look normal. I didn't feel like the fat girl everyone likes because she's funny. Then I saw those pictures and realized that I'm still her. I'm still the fat girl no one would like without the overwhelming, always-on-stage personality. I still have to be a clown in order to be invisible.

I know it will pass. But right now, I hate me so much.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Real Conversation

The following has nothing to do with fitness or weight loss. Unless you are interested in the nutrition content of dead cats. But if that is the case, you agree with my coworker and therefore you are wrong.

Real conversation between my coworker and me:

Me: So [name withheld] was in the break room talking to a vendor.

Coworker: eh?

Me: He looked at the coolers and asked if they had any bigger ones, or if the product would go in there.
Then they talked about order sizes, how many employees we have, blah blah blah
What on earth could they be ordering that would have to stay in the coolers?

Coworker: Dead cats.

Me: Yeah, but one dead cat for each employee would be enough. They were talking about recurring orders. 

Coworker: Well, once you eat one cat you eventually run out.

Me: You eat them? Gross.

Coworker: Yes. We should be thankful the company is providing us lunch.

Me: Everyone knows what you do with dead cats is turn them inside out so you have a hat that's soft and furry on the inside.

Coworker: Nope. I just eat them.

Me: Well that's wasteful.

Coworker: I eat it all, except for the bones, and I use those for voodoo rituals.

Me: The FSM doesn't recognize voodoo.

Coworker: The claws sometimes hurt when they come out the other end.

Me: I can imagine. If you use it for a hat, the claws make good backscratchers.

Coworker: hm, that's a good idea.

Me: Of course it's a good idea.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Revamping the Reward System

My reward system is not working. So I'm revamping it.

Starting now, my tattoos and piercings are no longer tied to my weight loss goals. I'm just getting them whenever I damn well please. They have nothing to do with weight loss and everything to do with expressing myself and I'm tired of repressing that just because I'm struggling with the extra pounds.

The photoshoot and wedding dress trip rewards remain in tact; they are directly related to weight loss because they will showcase my hard work. So I'm not giving up; just rethinking.

So on the topic of piercings, I recently got a new one.

So I get asked the inevitable question, "Did it hurt?"

For those of you who do not do piercings, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. They all hurt. Sometimes the actual needle stick isn't so bad; but putting the jewelry into freshly wounded skin always hurts.

"Well, sometimes when I ask that question people say no."

When they say "no," they don't really mean no. When you get a piercing, all the endorphines released by your brain cause you to forget just how much it hurt. Let me explain what the answers really mean.

When a piercing enthusiast says this:

What they really mean is this.

No, it didn’t hurt at all.

Someone stabbed me with a needle. Yes it fucking hurt. But not bad enough that I wouldn’t do it again right now, because LOOK AT THIS IT’S AWESOME.

Not as bad as I expected.

Do you see where this is? Give that area on yourself a little pinch. Sensitive, isn’t it? Now imagine sticking a needle through it. What you’re imagining? It’s like that.

This one hurt a little bit.

Yeah, this one was a motherfucker.

Yeah, it hurt pretty bad.

This one felt like they stabbed me with a splintered wedge of wood dripping with acid. And then set me on fire.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pin-up Party

My friend and coworker Megan sent me an email a couple of weeks ago inviting me to go with her to Bettina May's Pinup Class. I was apprehensive at first, because Megan is what is commonly referred to as "DROP DEAD FREAKING GORGEOUS," and I don't really quite measure up to her. But she is also fun, smart, funny, and awesome, so I figured it will be a great time, and I don't have to show anyone the photos when we're done, so why not have a fun girls' day out?

My greatest concern, of course, was my body. Also of concern, and almost as grave, was my hair. My hair is not long; it does not fall in beautiful waves; it is not even symmetrical. Pinup hair is all the things mine isn't. 

Pinup hair:

My hair:
So naturally I was curious as to how they were going to style it.

But I went. Ted and I went shopping and he picked out a lovely dress for me; I bought body-shaping pantyhose and high heels with a bow on the toe, and waited for the big day.

It was awesome. Bettina told us some about pinup style and history, and taught us how to do makeup and hair. She and her assistant set our hair in hot rollers (though the preferred pinup method, if you have time, is to do an overnight wet-to-dry set), and we did our own makeup and put on our outfits. Then they styled our hair (they did an amazing job with mine!), and we did the photoshoots. They really did make us feel beautiful. And every woman there was beautiful. And it was an awesome experience that we all deserved. We were all in front of the camera feeling like:

Then when all the excitement began to settle down, and Bettina handed me the cd with my photos on it, I began to fear that I had actually looked like:

I was afraid that I would get home, look at the photos, and sob uncontrollably for the rest of the evening.

But what I actually wound up looking like was this:

So not so bad. I'm glad I went.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


So today I was kind of snacky all day. I didn't have a lot of calories left for dinner. I wanted something tasty, so I took Ted's recipe for Jamaican escovitch and trimmed calories, fat, and carbs from it. I also stole his photo.

Slimmed-down Jamaican Escovitch

4 Servings
per serving:
Calories: 157
Fat: 2g
Carbs: 7g
Protein: 28g

4 Flounder filets
1 Large onion
1 Medium carrot
1 Habanero pepper (or Scotch Bonnet, if you can find one), seeds removed and sliced into thin strips
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp Allspice berries
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup malt vinegar
1/8 cup water
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Heat a stainless steel saucepan over medium low heat. Briefly remove from heat and spray with cooking spray (I used the olive oil kind). Add onion, carrot, habanero, and garlic; heat for about a minute, then add the bay leaf, thyme, allspice, crushed pepper, salt, and pepper.
Sweat for about 5 minutes, stirring, or until the onion is soft and translucent. You may need to spray with additional cooking spray to keep moist.

Add the vinegar, water and lemon juice, stirring well. Bring to a gentle boil. Boil briefly to let the sauce reduce a little. Cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables are tender.

Wash fish thoroughly in water with lime or lemon juice added. Dry thoroughly.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the fish on the foil and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 18 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Spoon the hot vegetables and sauce over the fish and serve right away with lime wedges. This is also good the next day as a cold lunch (and if you leave it cold, your coworkers won't kill you for making the office smell like fish).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stepping Forward, Stumbling Back

It's hard to gauge how well I'm doing.

On the one hand, I'm staying within my calorie range most days. I'm also working out regularly, and additionally doing little fun things that are active (I went to a line-dancing class this evening; it was fun!). Everything about my lifestyle has improved. I'm eating fewer calories; the calories I do consume are mostly healthy, nutritious calories; I'm becoming more active; I'm drinking far less alcohol; I've almost completely cut out diet sodas; I've started drinking green tea. Heck, it doesn't have anything to do with fitness or weight loss, but I've even stopped biting my nails.

On the other hand, I still have days and short strings of days where I completely lose my give-a-damn, and fall right back into my old habits. Weekends are the worst; I think it is because I don't have a weekend routine. I've fit my healthy eating and exercise into my work days, and I have figured out how to maintain that. But on weekends, where things are happening spontaneously and I'm doing something different all the time and I'm unprepared for half of what happens, I wind up eating fast food. Or going to a nice sit-down dinner out. Or drinking too much scotch and cider (Scotch with a cider chaser; not mixed together. I do have standards.). And these days are affecting my progress. That is frustrating.

I truly want to focus on what I'm doing right. I want to love myself for all the hard work and sacrifice I have done lately. I want to be proud of myself. But my setbacks keep me from feeling that way. Instead of feeling like a success for the five days I was strictly on-plan, I feel like a failure for the long weekend where I completely blew it. I just can't seem to cut myself a break.

Part of this whole ordeal is learning to give a damn about myself. I'm learning more about what that means every day. I'm not there yet; but it's getting closer. I have proud moments and little glimpses of progress I have made. The good is beginning to outweigh the bad, and if that trend continues, I may actually make it this time.

I want to thank all of you. Julia and Ted have been absolutely wonderful and so incredibly supportive through all my ups and downs. SGT Ken and Amber and all the instructors at START Fitness have done so much to help me learn how to push my body and become stronger. My precious friends, Suzan, Gayle, Adam, all my FB Fit Before the World Ends friends, and many others have been there for me and I couldn't have come this far without you. Thank you so much for listening, laughing, encouraging, mocking, and pushing me. We still have a long way to go.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Warning: You Don't Want to Read This Post

You've been warned.

First, I'd like to say that I am grateful to live in the modern world, where I have options for when it is my "ladies time," and I don't have to go shear a sheep or just sit in my room in a puddle of my own uterus until it is over. Seriously, I'm happy for that.

But honestly. Feminine products manufacturers, I'm talking to you. I mean, seriously? Your target consumer group consists of women who are bloated, hormonal, and bleeding out of parts of their body that usually make them very happy. Do you really have to add so much additional complication?

I don't need wings. Not on the front, the middle, or the back of my feminine products. I'm not taking flying lessons; I just need a barrier between my unstable uterus and my underwear. The last thing I want to worry about is getting the little sticky sides wrapped around the crotch of my panties while keeping them from sticking to themselves when I'm trying to discreetly change the sheets in the women's bathroom of a fancy restaurant. Just please give me a strip of absorbent fabric to lay across the crotch of my panties. That doesn't seem like too much to ask.

You cannot say you were not warned.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It Has to Work for Me

Okay, I'm going to put this out there and I'd like to know what y'all think.

If you've been following the blog lately, you'll know I've had a few off days because of Christmas and New Year, and I've jumped right back on plan after both those events. Even with the lapses, I've lost weight since I started really counting calories in December. I'll post my official weigh-in tomorrow.

Anyway, I expect to have a lot of weeks where I have one day where I go over - not really a "free day" where I pay no attention whatsoever, but a day where I may have a heavy dinner or a few more drinks than the plan allows. For example, this Saturday night is Whiskey Club. My plan is to eat a light, sensible, healthy breakfast and lunch, and enjoy the food and drink at the gathering. Sampling whiskey and eating snacks will probably take me over on calories for the day. Could I make a sacrifice and not participate in the tasting? Sure. Am I willing to make that sacrifice? I'm not sure; I don't think so. Not yet, anyway. I am making conscious sacrifices every day. I am learning from them and growing from them. But that doesn't mean I have to sacrifice every single pleasure in my life that involves calories. If this is going to be long-term, then there will have to be exceptions. There will have to be variety, joy, and fun.

My thoughts are that this keeps me from quitting altogether, and it's still a lot better than I was doing before. I expect this to continue to result in a downward trend on the scale, though it might not be the two pounds a week that my actual to-the-letter-plan is geared for.

I'm actually making it to the gym a lot more, and mostly doing pretty intense workouts. Zombiefit and Crossfit are really tough, almost as tough as boot camp (though the workouts are shorter, so still not as intense). The Zumba classes aren't all that hard, but it's an extra hour of moderate cardio, and that should be at least a booster.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Worst is Behind Me (I Hope)

"Remember the race is not always won by the swift nor the conflict by the strong ... but if you have money to wager put it on the fast strong guy." -Zacharia TeKawaare

I haven't been the fast strong guy lately. But I have been determined.

Christmas and New Year's were a couple of tough obstacles in my nutrition revamp, but I pushed through and did not let them derail me. I had two out-of-range days for Christmas, and three for New Year's. After each, I jumped right back on and stayed on track. I have had three successful days in a row. I'm learning every day about what foods are wasted calories, and what foods contribute to long-term satisfaction and good nutrition. I'm also learning what I am willing to sacrifice, and what I am not willing to sacrifice. For those things that I am not willing to give up, I plan. If my plan does not allow for those things, I either rework it or I forego that particular vice for the day, with the knowledge that I can start again tomorrow, and make sure it fits within my plan.

Nothing is forbidden; nothing is required. This is not about anyone else's idea of what I should or should not be eating or drinking. It is about me learning what works for me.

I am going to give myself another week on my plan before I report any weigh-ins. As I said, Christmas and New Year's threw me off, so I'm going to give myself a chance to even out before I start reporting progress. I also need a new scale, as my current one seems to be behaving oddly.

I haven't been very funny lately. For that I apologize. I've been pretty focused on getting my act together, and it really hasn't lent itself to comedy. I will figure out a remedy to that soon.