8.18.2011

Returning to the Stage

Weight and opera singers is a connection that has been around about as long as opera has. We are all familiar with the whole "fat lady singing" thing, and the stereotypical opera soprano who is quite rotund and wearing the helmet with the horns. There is a famous (infamous?) review of two well-known singers in the 50s or 60s that stated "it was like watching two refrigerators make love on stage." In truth, the days of the overweight soprano have ended. I'm not saying that all opera sopranos are model-thin, not at all, but it is no longer common to see women weighing upwards of 250 pounds on the major stages. To this end, there is now an insurgence of negative weight loss issues rising in the opera world, but that's another blog for another time.
Part of the reason for thinner singers is the rise of media like movies and television. The public sees beautiful women in leading roles on their screens, and they have developed a certain expectation for the same in live theater as well. The "suspension of disbelief," which is key to many factors in live theater, can only be taken so far. One "joke" about opera I've read says something like... it's an art form where the audience is forced to believe a woman who weighs 300 pounds and has been singing for 4 hours is dying of consumption.
Another part of it is sheer vocal and personal health. In the days of significantly overweight opera singers, air travel was not as easy as it is now. Singers would be contracted by a house (opera company) for extended periods. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for a singer to fly in, sing a weekend of performances, fly to another city during the week to rehearse a different show or sing an audition or simply see their family, and they fly somewhere else come the weekend again. All that air travel takes a toll on your physical and vocal being, and you simply have to take care of yourself.
I'm trained as an opera singer, and it is something I enjoy doing although various factors have made it a very secondary focus in my career goals. I'm happy to do regional singing, and this weekend I'm returning to the stage (for lack of a better phrase) singing some scenes with a fledgling opera company. The last time I sang opera on stage, I weighed about 40 or 50 pounds more than I do now, and I was in considerably worse cardiovascular shape. The rehearsal and performance schedule for this weekend's performances is a bit taxing -- we are cramming quite a lot into a very, very short period of time. But I have noticed a few things that I credit to the weight loss for me.
I have much more self-confidence on stage. Now I was never one to be really shy on stage; my very first role at the age of 19 or 20 I was required to do a complete costume change on stage while singing, and even sang a duet wearing nothing but my skivvies and a slip. You just do it. But there would be those moments where I would be a little self-conscious about my shape, my roundness, the excess weight. Now the added confidence I have in everyday life translates to the stage as well.
This is particularly true in one of my scenes which is a love duet. I will digress for a moment and say how nice it is to work with professionals as opposed to some academic situations; pros can step in and do an intimate scene without weirdness where as when you are still in school sometimes it is harder to separate the actions of your characters from real life. This weekend the love duet I am doing is with a wonderful tenor who is very comfortable in romantic scenes and has no qualms about being physical. And now that I am slimmer (not slim, but slimmer) I am more comfortable in the scene, and the scene is more believable.
There is one downside to the weight loss, though. I've lost some of my padding! I've always enjoyed physical scenes -- scenes with combat or other specific physical actions. I'm particularly good at stage fainting. During my Masters, I actually had a director ask me to make my faint less real, because I was scaring him in that I was actually fainting and not acting. One scene this weekend ends with me fainting (how operatic, no?) and after three or four faints I'm nursing a rather deep bruise on my hip.
However, I will take a few bruises over the 75+ pounds I've lost to date!

8.01.2011

Long Overdue Update...

Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged, and it hasn't been because I haven't had anything to say. The past few months have had their ups and downs, as any weight loss will have. Here are the highlights of the ups, though:
1. I am now a group exercise instructor at my gym. I have completed all the required trainings and jumped through all the hoops. I've already taught 2 classes, both Power Yoga, as a sub. I'll be taking over several classes when one of our instructors goes on maternity leave. If you had told me even 2 years ago that I'd be a "fitness professional," I probably would've laughed. I'd have laughed even harder if you'd told me I'd be teaching aerobics. Because...
2. I now have my international Zumba instructor license. If you don't know what Zumba is, go to Zumba.com and check it out. This isn't your mother's aerobics workout with Jane Fonda. This is a party, a fusion of Latin dance with hip hop that sneaks in fitness elements that you aren't aware of because you are having so much fun! I did my training yesterday, and it was the most enjoyable day I've had in a very long time. I also danced/worked out for about 6 hours, which is why I neither feel guilty about the dessert after the Chinese take-out I had last night nor about skipping my usual 2 classes at the gym today.
I have officially hit the 75 pounds lost mark. Today I was trying on some of my gowns for an upcoming gig and the gown that fits the best is the smallest (cue "squee!") which unfortunately is from my senior year of high school and is a true early 90's wonder. Remember when column dresses with high slits were the big thing? And puffy portrait collars? Yeaaaaah. I have a couple of other gowns that are okay in their fit, bigger than I prefer (one is from my senior recital in college, but is more "period neutral") but will still do. I'm going to hold off on the shopping for the time being, though.
I am dealing with one issue I was hoping to skip -- excess skin. I have come to realize that I have excess skin with some fat on my upper arms. It is a little unsightly and somewhat uncomfortable, especially during some of the Zumba stuff. I also have some on my upper thighs, but it is less noticeable. If I ever again have health insurance, I will probably consider the surgery. At this point, being uninsured and putting together a living from multiple part-time jobs, it isn't a possibility. I had hoped that I wouldn't have this issue, which is common in people who lose a great deal of weight, because I am losing the weight so slowly. Unfortunately, excess upper arm flesh runs in my family on top of the effects of the weight loss.
In the end, I'll put up with it, for the alternative -- being super obese again -- is not something I ever want to be again. Ever.

4.27.2011

Empty Closets

Closet purging is quite cathartic, and even therapeutic. It is nice to walk into my closet (yes, I have a walk-in closet) and know that everything in there will fit in a flattering way without significant adjustments, such as belts, pins, etc. But after my latest round of closet purging, I'm in a very new area.

I'm now small enough where the purging is becoming significant. For years, I was a size 20W. I fluctuated up and down, but consistently a 20W is what I wore. When I got much heavier, I did eventually get up to a 24W, but for years and years, when I went shopping a 20W is what I pulled off the rack. Now, my 20Ws and even many of my 18Ws make me look like a little girl playing dress-up. So, out they go.

I have not yet purged my gowns. That may not ever really happen. I have many memories associated with those gowns, and they are a good reminder of how big I'd gotten. The dress I wore for John & Wayne's holy union is my "before" dress. My other gowns... I can look at them and tell you about the gigs I wore them for, what I sang, and even how it went. This is the dress I wore to win a competition, the one I wore for each of my recitals, what I wore when I sang with various orchestras.

Even without purging my gowns, though, I am now at the point where my closet is equal parts clothes and empty hangers. I have always been a clothes horse, I admit it. To see so much empty space in my closet is almost unnerving. And yet, exciting at the same time. Of course, I'm adding a couple part-time jobs to my schedule because a new wardrobe doesn't come cheap -- especially when one is as particular about what they wear as I am.

So what is happening to my old clothes? There is a lady at my church, a friend of mine, who recently underwent gastric weight-loss surgery. She is still over 300 pounds to my best estimate, but she's loss over 100 pounds so far. Her financial situation is not quite as good as mine; her husband's business is weather-dependent so during the winter, he isn't working. Also, plus-sized clothing is very, very expensive. Because of how she carries her weight, her top is much smaller than her lower half. So, her torso is already able to fit into some sized 24 clothes. She is the recipient of all my hand-me-downs, which to date is 11 kitchen-sized trash bags. She's thrilled, and what she doesn't want or need will go onto other ministries and people in need.

Meanwhile, I'm collecting coupons and scouring clearance racks. The only shorts I own are for the gym, and summer is about to come knocking -- including a business trip to Florida in a month. At least summer dresses can forgive a multitude of sins through a couple of sizes, even if I have to pull out a belt or two.

4.12.2011

Those Who... Can't?... Teach?

I've been practicing yoga for over 13 years. Granted, there have been times where I've slacked off, not been consistent with my practice, and my mats have gathered dust and stray cat hairs. When I'm consistent with my practice, I feel so much better. Yoga isn't just about turning one's self into a pretzel. It's about mind, spirit, and body working together; relaxation and balance coming from within. When I got my gym membership, I also started taking yoga classes pretty regularly. I've had a love/hate relationship with most of these classes; often they are just too beginner for me and there's only so much you can do to advance your practice. Some poses just don't have an advanced level. I like the instructor as a person, but I've had my struggles with how she chooses to teach her class. Yet, I tend to be quite regular because it keeps me in practice, and I have learned a few new things. We've known for some time that she is eventually leaving. She hasn't set a date yet; they are just now putting their house on the market, blah blah blah. But at tonight's class she put together the fact that I've been practicing for over 13 years with the fact that I'm a teacher, mixed in her own imminent departure, and decided I should become certified and take over her classes. Um, what? Ok, this isn't something completely new to my brain. I've thought about pursuing an instructor's certification through my gym, but I've always had some reason... like, I need to lose another six gazillion pounds before I deign to stand in front of a class and tell them how to work out. So I posed the idea to a friend who is also another of the instructors at the gym. (She's the "tough" one of the instructors!) Her response: "Go for it!" And then she said that while I was at it, I should become certified in Zumba as well. So I'm seriously considering it. It would be a little extra money (after the outlay for the certification classes) and ultimately not really adding anything to my schedule, since I already take many of these classes. And it would be combining things I love to do: teach and work out. But that voice I've blogged about before -- the "there's no way you can fit into those pants" voice, remember him? -- is laughing a little. Really, if 2 years ago you'd said to me at this point I'd be considering teaching a fitness class, I'd have laughed, and laughed hard. It would've taken quite a bit for me to wrap my brain around me taking a fitness class. Amazing what a difference two years can make, no?

4.09.2011

A Milestone

After a somewhat disappointing February, March was ultimately a turn-around. And so far, April has been great. Of course, I now have some added motivation. A high school girlfriend and I have decided to go on vacation this summer, and most likely to Cancun. I don't just want to be "okay" in a swimsuit, I want to be confident in a swimsuit. So I've buckled back down on my eating habits, which was what had gotten away from me. Today I had to go clothes shopping. Yes, had to. I have several gigs coming up and my concert black is all too big. Two years ago, I had enough concert black to go a 5-performance gig with only re-wearing the same pants once. Now, I don't have ANY concert black that actually fits. Off to the mall I went. While I was there, I perused Easter dresses as well. This'll be the first Easter in several years where I'll be at a church and where I won't be wearing a choir robe the entire time. In the Women's section, someone had accidentally restocked a 16 misses with the Women's dresses -- same basic cut, same designer. I took both the 16 and a 16W into the dressing room. (Mind you, there was a 3" difference between the two!) The 16 actually fit. I ended up trying on a 14W blazer, which fit but was a bit snug. I then went into new territory. After decades of shopping in plus size sections, being able to shop in the misses departments is uncharted territory. I discovered, at least at this store, that 14W was equal to a little smaller than an 18 misses. Go figure. I headed down to a well-known national plus-sized women's store. For a brief period during my MM, I was able to fit into a 14-16 at this store. To be more honest, I managed to get into 14-16 things, and did wear a pair of size 16 jeans from there. Today, I put on a 14 fitted jacket -- something I've never been able to do there -- and buttoned it. I opted for a 16 simply because I need it for tomorrow and it would be more comfortable for sitting down after I'd lost about 5 or 10 more pounds. I'm beginning to enter the expensive part of weight loss. Bras, underwear are at the point where I need to replace them. My skinniest clothes are gradually getting to be too big. I'm pulling dresses and summer clothes out of my closet that I haven't worn in a couple years only to make them work with belts and then ultimately relegate them to my "donate" piles. I own no shorts other than workout shorts that fit. T-shirts and tank tops are fine oversized. Pants that threaten to fall off if you sneeze or move wrong, not so much. I think I can now officially say I'm the smallest I've ever been in my adult life. I lost a lot of weight prior to starting my MM, but I wasn't into misses sizes. I was happy to eke into a 16W. I went through another weight loss two years later, back into the same range and the aforementioned 14-16s. Then I went on Prednizone. Then I did additional graduate studies. Then for many other reasons, I ultimately ballooned up to a 22, in some cases a 24W. So this is a milestone that has boosted my ego. I still have 65 pounds to go, give or take. At 70+ pounds lost, I'm just over halfway there. Next goal: under the 200 mark.

3.28.2011

Re-affirmation

I haven't posted in a while. Frankly, that's because I've seemed to hit another plateau. After a great January, February wasn't so spectacular. A mere 2 pounds, total, and only about 5". When the numbers slow down like that, sometimes it's hard to get motivated again. I do know one of the problems is that I haven't been nearly as good with my food as I was. The occasional indulgence isn't bad; in fact, studies show it can be a good thing. But every day, or every other day, isn't "occasional." Having dessert after both lunch and dinner, no matter how low-calorie it is, is still two desserts in one day. And while I'm a master at justifying most anything to myself, scales and tape measures aren't forgiving. They're just blatantly honest. Because of all this, I went to North Carolina last weekend with mixed feelings. I was going to surprise my brother-in-law for his 40th birthday, and it'd been just over 7 months since I'd seen him and my brother. I hadn't lost nearly as much during that time as I'd hoped to, and I was at a point where I look in the mirror, and was frustrated. The party and the visit ended up being exactly what I needed, though. Mutual friends kept commenting on how fabulous I looked. The best comment for me, though, came from my brother. He said, "I knew you were going to be there, and yet I did a double-take when I saw you. I almost didn't recognize you because you've lost so much weight." Later that evening the three of us were just talking about various things, and he mentioned how some mutual friends were considering lap band surgery, and that he wished they'd talk to me, because I was "walking, living proof you don't need to go to the extremes of surgery." While that is true, where I am is the result of 18+ months of dedication. It's truly been a life style change. I work out - a lot - but a big part of that is because I enjoy it. Watching what I eat isn't nearly the fun. I love food. I love it quite a lot. I love it like a dysfunctional lover - I know I should say no and walk away, but sometimes it's impossible. I down around 70 pounds, and it has taken me quite some time to get here. I have another 40-60 pounds to go, and I know I can do it, even when I have set-backs. Fortunately, I have several points along the way this summer where I'll see people I haven't seen in a long time. That should keep me motivated.

2.15.2011

6 and 1/2 Minutes to Feelin' Like a Bad A$$

I've said it at least once, if not a dozen times. Sometimes, it's the little victories that keep you inspired as you battle The Bulge. That's why I don't just weigh myself, I take my measurements and I look for those little benchmarks, like my endurance, pace, current weight used in resistance training, etc.

In my last post, I'm pretty sure I mentioned that I did upward facing dog and didn't even think about it -- other than to think, "Holy Yoga, Batman! I'm doing up dog and not even thinking about it!" Upward facing dog, or up dog, is a real test of upper body strength. Most everyone is familiar with downward facing dog, or down dog. That's where you turn your body into an inverted V: hands and feet on the ground, and butt up to the heavens. You do your best to "raise your sit bones" and lower your heels to the ground. It is a pose that even beginners can do at their first yoga session. The heels probably won't get to the ground -- I've been practicing on and off for 13 years and my heels only make it to the ground if I'm in shoes, doing down dog as part of a cool-down from another workout -- but it is definitely accessible.

Upward facing dog is not a beginner's pose unless you've already spent a few months (years) lifting weights with your upper body. To assume the asana that is up dog, lay on your stomach with your hands, palms on the floor, at your chest. Now, push up, raising your entire body off the floor -- with your toes uncurled so you are on the top of your foot, and let your pelvis drop so your back does a big curve. Because of the position of your feet, the majority of your body weight is on your arms, with the added torque of the dropped pelvis coming into play. Your back and core do not help in this pose, unlike in plank. Now that you are in up dog, hold the pose -- but not your breath.

But enough about up and down dog. Today's post about 6:37 to feeling like a bad ass has to do with plank, side plank, advanced side plank, and chaturanga, with a little down dog thrown in.

One of my trainers/instructors is hard core. Her classes are awesome, but they are HARD. It is a significant achievement if I can leave a class of hers and not have wussied out at some point on something -- "taking a break" as it is kindly called. At Saturday's and Monday's resistance training classes, she did a combination resistance band and body-weight-as-resistance class, generally choreographed to music. After a brutal bicep song, and a little later crucifixion of the triceps, up comes "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.

For over six minutes, we cycled through plank (which is basically the beginning position of a push-up on your toes), down dog, chaturanga (which is basically the bottom of a push-up, where you hold your body as close to the floor as possible without actually being on the floor), side plank (start in plank, then rotate your body so you are on one arm and the sides of your feet, with the free arm raised to the sky), advanced side plank (in side plank, take your bottom foot and extend it out so there is no weight on it and you are holding it off the floor), and a few short breaks in child's pose. And, we can't forget down dog with movement, where you raise one foot up to the ceiling, then lower it around to the side, bending your knee to touch your elbow via your obliques while lowering your body into plank. Our arms were already tired. In side plank, you could see our arms shaking as the muscles struggled to support our weight. Aside from child's pose, there was no break for our arms.

Other than chaturanga, which I'm still probably years away from really being successful at, I didn't wimp out. Not once. Advanced side plank? Oh, yeah. For some, this may not seem like the biggest deal, but for me it is. See, less than a year ago, holding plank, let alone side plank, for more than about 10 seconds was difficult if not impossible. I just didn't have the upper body strength. Through resistance training, regular yoga practice, and weight loss, I have gone from not being able to support my weight on my arms for more than 10 seconds to being able to do it on tired muscles for over 6 minutes. To top it off, I really wasn't sore the next day.

Now, to get over my inhibitions and master crow...

2.05.2011

February's Day of Reckoning

I decided at the beginning of the year that on the first Saturday of every month, I would take my measurements. Watching the scale can be frustrating, especially when it goes down, then up, then down. And, we've all heard that muscle weighs more than fat. So I figured keeping track of my measurements would be one way for me to see my "real" progress.

January's measurements were my baseline, obviously. I set up 25 places to measure -- with the biceps being measured twice in "relaxed" and "flexed" positions. After all, gotta measure the guns! LOL! I take my measurements at the same time, basically, on these Saturdays: after my usual Saturday morning gym time, but before I eat lunch. I also weigh myself at the gym, usually after my workout.

The weight loss for January logged in at about 4.5 pounds. That is not necessarily impressive, but when doctors recommend 1-2 pounds per week as a healthy weight loss, one that can be maintained long-term, then I'm pretty much on track. It was my measurements that told a different story.

When adding up the changes, my total was 15.875 inches (15 7/8) lost. My biggest changes:

Chest: 1 1/8"
Upper arms: 1" each
Midriff: 1 1/2"
Hips: 1"
Left thigh: 1 7/8"
Right thigh: 1 1/4"

Everybody is not perfectly symmetrical. My legs, in particular, tend to be a bit lopsided because of my history of orthopedic injuries to my left leg. I have more muscle atrophy and fat build-up there. My right quad is still larger because of favoring it, but my left is getting stronger.

I was apprehensive before taking these measurements, as anyone who is overweight tends to be around scales and measuring tapes. I had a wee bit of confidence given to me about 10 days ago, the last time I could take a yoga class before SNOWPOCALYSE 2011. We did upward facing dog, which requires quite a bit of upper body strength. It is a pose I have rarely been successful at, but at this yoga class I was able to do it and think little of it.

Then the blizzard came and I spent two days sitting on my butt and grazing. And, not working out. Given that, the mere loss of 4.5 pounds made me happy. Heck, I was happy just to not have put ON weight! The measurement changes have left me stunned.

I know this won't keep up, but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts!

2.02.2011

Rethinking Some Tenets -- Red Meat

Well, January was an interesting month, weight-wise. One particularly good period saw me eating foods that I was certain wouldn't help my efforts, and yet I ended up losing weight. So this has me doing some more research and reassessing a long-held tenet of mine: that red meat is bad.

I love red meat. Always have, always will. Comfort food for me is a big ol' greasy cheeseburger. But I have heeded the warnings of diets rich in cow and generally limit myself to a serving of red meat about 3 times a month. Yes, you read that correctly: a month. I would get a hamburger - my weakness - about every two weeks, with perhaps a random meal involving red meat thrown in somewhere along the line. However this period I am referring to had 3 meals of red meat in one week.

How did that happen? I made tacos at home with ground beef. A pound of ground beef makes 3-4 servings of tacos, and the cooked meat only keeps so long. In this economy, I don't have the resources to make a whole batch of meat to only eat one serving and toss the rest away. So, I had tacos for dinner three nights in a row. And I lost weight.

Curious, I did some quick on-line research and here is what I discovered. What makes red meat bad is two things: quantity and fat. A serving of red meat should be 3-4 ounces, cooked. To put that in fast food terms, a McDonald's Quarter Pounder patty, give or take a partial ounce. (The "quarter pound" is pre-cooking weight.) A Big Mac is about 6 ounces total, cooked, between its two patties. 4 ounces is not a lot of meat. When was the last time you saw a 4 ounce steak on a menu anywhere? Restaurant portion size is a whole 'nother blog, but you get my point about quantity. My pound (pre-cooking weight) of ground beef produced 7 tacos, which made each taco portion 2.3 ounces (pre-cooking weight). Factor in that I purchase 75/25 ground beef because of the price, each taco after cooking was less than 2 ounces of meat. So factor numero uno is one thing that ALL diets can agree upon: portion control.

When it comes to fat, red meat can be loaded. The best cuts of meat are those with the highest amount of marbling: tiny rivulets of fat amongst the muscle layers. This marbling is what give the premium steaks their flavor and juiciness. And it is 100% saturated fat. There is nothing wrong with consuming a wonderful filet mignon, as long as you do it sensibly. If you choose to make red meat a standard part of your weekly diet, though, leaner choices should be made.

Ground beef can be surprisingly lean, depending upon how you prepare it. If you are making something where the meat is browned first (like tacos), then you can cook out the majority of the fat and drain it off. If the meat is not pre-browned, like meatballs or meatloaf, then you'll retain a higher amount of the fat. Other lean cuts would be anything that is suggested for slow cooking, like beef short ribs or stew meats.

Red meat is high in iron, a very important mineral for women. Specifically, it contains heme iron, which is easily absorbed by the body and is crucial for women who are menstruating. Red meat also contains B12, which helps build DNA and keeps red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which strengthens your immune system. Calorie-for-calorie, beef is one of the nutrient richest foods you can eat.

Sensible eating, according to some nutritionists, is to consume about 6 ounces of lean protein per day. If your protein is forcing whole grains, fruits, and vegetables off your plate, you are consuming too much protein. (Sssh! Don't tell those Atkins fanatics!) So for the time being, I'm going to add more red meat back into my diet, but in smart ways (meaning, no fast food hamburgers for me) and see if this has long-term benefits for my weight loss.

As always, I'll keep you posted!

1.14.2011

Closet Purging

One thing I have consistently been in my life is fairly picky about my appearance. As a result, I do love shopping for clothes and accessories. I'm quite girlie that way. Of course, it helps when I have funds or gift cards with which to do so, and it is even more fun if I have a need to fill.

I've been in the midst of a closet purge, getting rid "What Not to Wear" style the clothing that shouldn't be in there. The vast majority of what is being removed is coming out not because it isn't stylish or appropriate, but because it doesn't fit anymore. It is just too big!

As I am approaching what may be the smallest I have ever been as an adult, I am realizing just how attached I am to some of this clothing. Today to wear to work I grabbed a pair of pants that are the lower half of a suit. In December 2008 I wore the jacket to a job interview -- unbuttoned -- but the pants? No way would they fit! Today they were so big on me, it was comical.

As I was consigning them to the "donate" pile, I was actually sad. A few other pieces in my wardrobe I'm not just ready to part with, even though they are really, honestly, too big. It feels like I've spent too much of their "lives" either too fat to fit into them the way they should be worn, or too "skinny" to wear them the way they should be. I know I've gotten wear and use out of them, and that by donating them to charity others will also get further use out of them. Still, I'm having a hard time saying goodbye.

It does, however, free up more hangers for the new clothes. 5 kitchen trash bags of old clothes are on their way to charity, once the snow and ice has disappeared sufficiently where I can haul them out to my car without the danger of falling on my arse. And I do love new clothes!

1.03.2011

I Resolve to... Not Make Any Resolutions

Both the blogosphere and Facebook have been a-buzz with the question: what are your New Year's resolutions? Around the world, people are saying they are going to lose weight, stop smoking, eat out less, etcetera, etcetera. I have avoided posting a status along those lines, and I haven't commented on any. Why? Because I'm not making any resolutions.

Now don't get me wrong, there's plenty about me that needs attention. But I am a work in progress, and have been for some time now. Resolve to lose weight? Well, that's what I've been doing actively for the past 16 months, give or take. I intend to keep up, as it has become a lifestyle and a habit for me. So, it's not really a resolution that I can make. I don't smoke, so stopping smoking isn't an option. I don't drink that often, so drinking less makes about as much sense as giving up raw fish for Lent.

If I was going to make a resolution, something to actively change about myself, it would be to cease being single. However, that really isn't something *I* have all that much control over. To bastardize a line from one of my favorite authors, it isn't like love is something I can buy at the store, a tangible item I have yet to obtain like crackers or soap. There are steps I can take, and I've taken many of them. I've posted a profile and gotten a membership to a high-profile online dating website. I'm trying to get myself "out there" more, making new friends who, theoretically, can introduce me to their friends. Three new jobs means oodles of new colleagues -- which has been a bit of a bust, since at job #1 all my coworkers are married, job #2 all my coworkers are female (and married) and job #3 my only true coworker is gay. The other folks I'm exposed to via that job are married and the median age, I'd gander, is around 65, at least of the men. Job #1 also exposes me to many people, but so far I've yet to meet anyone male, single, and 30-45. Yet I remain optimistic.

That aside, I intend to do what I've been doing. Keep taking better care of myself, and be a better person in general. I'm not going to let a temporary misstep be a "broken resolution." I'm just going to pick up and keep on going.

And if you know any single, straight men, age 30-45 (roughly), let me know.