Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pet Food Looks Eerily Like Human Food. And the Reverse.

I had the funniest catch-up call with my sister-in-law last week. Bunch of great stories. I was reminded of one today when I went for a scoop of peanut butter as a midday snack.

I bought myself a small jar of reduced fat peanut butter to use for snacking during the day, instead of say carbs. Sometimes I just have a teaspoon, and sometimes I put it on something (usually a carb). At the same time or nearly, I bought our dog a large vat of regular fat peanut butter because she also loves it as a snack. I take my snack from my jar and Daisy's snack from her jar, until one day my husband started filling her Kong ball with my reduced fat peanut butter.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

""Giving the dog a treat," said Rod. 

"But that's my treat," said I.

Turns out I have been co-mingling / sharing peanut butter with my dog for I don't know how long now. The other thing I find disturbing is that my husband gave the higher end, lower fat version of the peanut butter to the DOG. 

Along those lines, my sis-in-law was telling me about my brother eating bird kibble at her parent's house. Apparently, it looked very much like trail mix which actually I would buy that those two foods could be mistaken. Except the bird kibble was made for large birds that destroy foods with their beaks, so it contained things like whole nuts in the shell. 

I guess my brother took this as a challenge to eat the trail mix / bird food with whole nuts. Cracking whole nuts probably slows down your snacking and that's why animals are fit and we are fat. Not my brother, but other humans.

I just did a search for whole foods bird food and the first result that came up describes their product as:

This parrot food is so delicious that you may want to share it with your parrot. As with all of Dr. Harvey’s Avian Blends, Exotic Parrot Food contains only 100% human grade ingredients. We use only whole nuts, fruits and vegetables. We never use pieces or “pet grade” with any of our products.
That picture is my son Will around 6 years old with a birdie named Cha Cha.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Congrats Fitness Edge of Fairfield on the Worst Sales Pitch EVER

"Well technically, you're obese," said the Fitness Edge Fitness Consultant.

"Um okay. Wow. That's news to me," said me.

Thus began my renewed love / hate relationship with The Edge Fitness in Fairfield. My son had been bugging me and bugging me and bugging me and flailing himself against stuff to join a gym. He went to the jiu jitsu place. He went to the cross fit place. He went to the open 24 hours place. Do you know how much these places cost? Like $100 a month per person. For a 16 year-old. So we went back to my old gym that I practically had to sue to leave the first time. God I hate gyms. But I love gyms. Cuz they have so much stuff.

As part of my new life as a freelancer, I decided to take off the 10 pounds I'd gained in my last year as an employee. What with the stress, and the M word -- if you don't know what that is, then you're not 50, or a girl. I'm working on it. I've lost about 5 pounds now and have another 5 to go. I'll get there. 

As part of my new Fitness Edge membership, they offer one hour of free personal training. I thought hey maybe this will help me get there faster. Just FYI, it's total bullshit. It's about 10 minutes of personal training and a 45-minute sales pitch on being obese and getting their "Total Fitness Solution." Really guys? I'm in marketing, so there's pretty much no Total (insert marketing word) Solution I'm buying.

They take your weight and height and then ask you to hold this gizmo that looks like a gaming controller to calculate your BMI (body mass index). After going blank several times, the Fitness Edge gaming device says my BMI is 34. I freaked, so today I went to the BMI calculator offered by the NIH (National Institutes of Health). The NIH says my BMI is 24 which is NORMAL. It's high normal, but still normal.

And did I mention she was rounding up my weight? No one rounds up on weight. Not even guys. 

This gets better. Then they created an avatar of me in my current obese state. Really I think I would rather have had a ________(you fill in the blank). Oh my god. I have no words. 

After shaming me with the "obesity" news, the Fitness Edge Fitness Consultant then took me through multiple scenarios involving working out with a personal trainer and tracking my food online. I get it. I've done that food tracking before with Weight Watchers when I would guess my BMI was 34 after having a 10 pound baby. And it works. I am a huge fan of Weight Watchers and their non-shaming approach to weight loss.  And I get that working out with a trainer is probably a pretty cool thing too.

Finally, the end of the sales pitch. The end of the worst sales pitch EVER. For a mere $499.93 a month, I can get three 30-minute personal training sessions per week plus unlimited "Edge Strong" team training, plus diet tracking. For $369.99 a month, I can train twice a week, etc. For $199.97 per month, I can train once a week, etc.

Thank you Fitness Edge Fitness Consultant for the information, but I can't spend $500 a month on personal training because I don't have it. Maybe instead of spending time creating my fat avatar, you should've checked my bank statement. Or you could've just asked me.

One thing I will say is that after only 10 minutes with my personal trainer, I loved her. She was funny and honest and paid very close attention to what I was doing, correcting my form etc. Liz Heatter. Ask for her. Avoid everyone else. 

Wait I forgot. When I first sat down with Liz she asked me some questions about my goals, any injuries etc. She said, "Someone wrote here that one of your goals is to lose 50 pounds. But I'm looking at you and wondering from where?" That's when I knew I loved Liz the personal trainer. Then she took her pen and scratched it out over and over again. 

NB: You may recognize the iconic Piggly Wiggly logo above which actually looks exactly the same as my Fitness Edge fat avatar.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Path We Choose

Too long off the blog. Wow I haven't posted anything since May. I've actually had a few ideas rumbling around in my head but I've been so busy this summer writing for work, I haven't felt like writing for fun. So this idea is one of my rumblings inspired by my neighbor Cynthia.

When summer got into full swing, I started taking our dog Daisy for a walk first thing in the morning. Typically it was still cool outside so we could walk for about 35-40 minutes without succumbing. The path I chose goes through our neighborhood and around to Brooklawn Avenue, which is a large street that cuts through both Fairfield and Bridgeport. It's actually quite picturesque in sections, mainly the section that doesn't go through Bridgeport.

Bridgeport for those who don't know, is one of the largest metropolitan areas in Connecticut and also one of the poorest, if not the poorest. I just googled it to look for stats and found a great article that says the area surrounding Bridgeport is "home to the biggest income divide of any metropolitan area in the U.S." 

When I walk the path I chose, I'll know immediately when I've hit Bridgeport. Trash everywhere. You have to sidestep it and make sure the dog doesn't eat something that was wrapped in tinfoil and discarded. It's so bad I am planning a clean-up party on the corner down the street. And I'm seriously thinking what should I wear for this in case I find something contagious, shall we say. But I keep taking that path with the garbage and the odd characters I meet along the way.

One day my neighbor Cynthia suggested we take a walk. Instead of walking through Bridgeport, we took her path through the Brooklawn Country Club area. It's a far cry nicer than my path. There are beautiful homes with manicured lawns. The homes have grand entrances and gates that say, "Don't you dare think of driving your crappy VW through here." And I started thinking about why I would choose my path, when Cynthia's looked so much better. 

Then my friend Leslie came for a visit. She lives in East Hampton full time, which sounds super swanky but she's not that kind of gal. I mean it's swanky, but Leslie is very down-to-earth.We agreed to meet for lunch and I would choose the place. Since Leslie and I had both grown up in Westport (me part time), and we'd been to some places in Fairfield, I thought why not try some out of the way little place in Bridgeport?

My son came along too. First stop was Bloodroot. Bloodroot is an organic, vegan, possibly lesbian, definitely feminist little joint overlooking Burr Creek in the Black Rock area of Bridgeport. They offer weaving classes if that sort of sets the tone for you. Sadly Bloodroot was closed, so we couldn't experience it. Although Leslie said she was definitely coming back. 

We ended up at Harborview Market, another Black Rock gem. Harborview has fantastic chocolate croissants. They are so fantastic, I can't go there anymore.  Or at least I can't go there and have those croissants. We had some salad and sammies and sat outside. Even Will liked it and he's 16. I think he liked it better than Bloodroot. I think he was a bit frightened by Bloodroot.

During our conversation, Leslie mentioned she liked these places that she'd never tried before, and I only knew about now because of our proximity to Bridgeport. Then she said something to Will about "your mom always lives on the edge." Or the fringe, something like that. And she was right. But it had never occurred to me.

I went to college in New Orleans which is, I would say, where you can certainly live an alternative lifestyle. In DC I lived in Southeast on Capitol Hill. At the time, it was the murder capital of the US. In Raleigh, I lived in Five Points, a cool yet edgy section near downtown. And now I live in what I've termed Fairport - Fairfield on the Bridgeport line. All of my former neighborhoods have since become gentrified and their property values have shot through the roof. If only I'd stuck to my edgy instincts and purchased or held on to one of those properties.

Maybe my instincts are right about Fairport. It has been a long haul I can tell you that, completely gutting and renovating our circa 1925 house. We are currently in the midst of a mini crime spree. But as the cop told us when he came to take a report on stolen goods from our car....last week it was Southport. And before that Burr Street in Greenfield Hills. Neither of those neighborhoods can in any way be described as edgy. See crime happens everywhere. So why not live on the edge?

Maybe if we stay here in Fairport the tide will turn. I can tell you that I am one of the biggest supporters of Bridgeport catching a break. I like the feeling of urban in suburbia. I love our neighbors, those who've lived here forever and the new ones moving in. Maybe because we're on the edge together, we're nicer to each other and we look out for each other. But the speeders and the robbers and the litterers can make it tough sometimes. 

The picture above is the Perry Arch from Seaside Park in Bridgeport. It's a grand archway that was designed by architect Henry Bacon, who also designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. On any given Sunday at Seaside Park, you'll see lots of picnics and beachgoers. You'll also see guys waxing their cars with their pitbulls sitting faithfully nearby. It's the perfect sort of contradiction that goes on in Bridgeport. Here on the edge.