Friday, April 23, 2010

Focusing Inward

Ahhhh finally the weekend! Man, it has been a really crazy week at work and we’re taking it easy tonight. A walk in the park and maybe a movie or something. I had a really good workout yesterday and am still on a high from that. I've been craving fruit like crazy every day this week and actually look forward to my work outs now. I may actually get in shape after all :)

I have felt really anti-social the last few weeks. I just haven't felt like going out much, though I'm not sure why. It's probably because I'm eating healthy and not drinking. That's a lot easier to do when you have a routine and are only at work and at home. When you're out with friends, it's easy to be more compelled to indulge. I guess I want to spend this time focusing on myself and getting to a place I want to be, so I'm trying to reduce distractions.

I was talking to a friend yesterday and was complaining how I can't take any fun trips this summer because of the wedding. Then I realized I'm going to India, Austin/Dallas, San Francisco, Scottsdale, and Chicago before the wedding! MJ's friends plan a big camping trip every year, which I'm hoping to be able to make too. So there are plenty of fun trips to look forward to!

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm currently obsessed with One of the many emails they sent me was titled Living a Meaningful Life. It really struck me for some reason. I don't know what people would do that would make them feel they'd led a meaningful life, but I really miss volunteering. I used to do quite a bit of it in Austin, but it tapered off the more I traveled for work. But I have no excuse now and really miss it. I talked to MJ and we are going to make it a priority after the wedding. We have so much to be thankful for and both really want to give back. Of course I know it doesn't make sense until we've settled down after the wedding.

On the other hand, I still don't know how someone looks back on their life and thinks it was meaningful. Maybe if they made some huge contribution to society - like curing cancer or getting a Nobel peace price? But what about the average person? Being close to their kids and grand-kids? That seems rather fleeting. Otherwise it seems like all the things people do for fulfillment don't impact many people beyond themselves, which makes them less meaningful. Like running a marathon or traveling or making a certain amount of money. I suppose charitable works are the only way to lead a "meaningful" life?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Officially Engaged!

Last weekend my family drove and flew in for an engagement ceremony at MJ's parents house. It was the official Indian engagement, even though he proposed 4 months ago! 14 of my family members came in for the event. I was so touched! MJ's family had quite a few family friends there as well. They had redone the kitchen cabinets and counters, done some landscaping, and bought a new living room rug. It was a really nice ceremony and everyone had a good time. Lots of food and mingling and everyone looked so nice. MJ even surprised my brother with a birthday ice cream cake! There was even a cute moment where MJ got down on one knee to put my engagement ring on my finger again in front of everyone! Tee hee MJ and I thought it was good practice for the wedding - even though there were only about 30 people there, everyone was staring at us for the whole ceremony and there were probably 10 cameras/video cameras! Luckily I'd gotten my hair blow dried for the first time and tried to be as girly as possible by painting my toes and nails, and generally beautifying. My parents did so much work preparing for the event, so I'm glad it's over and everything went so smoothly.

I think we're going to sign a contract with a DJ this weekend. MJ has talked to the DJs and done all the research and it looks like we're going to go with the first one we ever talked to anyway!

I still never heard back from the decorator after we last met her. I sent her a final list of items we wanted and she never responded, despite multiple follow-ups. We're still hoping to be able to sign with her, but this isn't a good sign :(

My mom and I leave for India next Saturday (5/1). Hopefully the ash in Europe will be cleared up by then, since we're supposed to meet in Amsterdam and do the last leg together. I'm a bit overwhelmed by how much has to be done after we get back. We'll only have 3 months, but we'll need to send invitations, work on our first dance, register, find an apartment and move, take care of the legal marriage, book the honeymoon, and work through all the final details of the wedding day.

I'm still hoping to work a photo booth into the reception or cocktail hour. My brother has photo booth software on his laptop that we all played with when MJ and I were there a few weeks ago. We had such a blast! You can add your own backdrops and effects, so we were having a great time in my parents' living room, pretending to swim or climb the Eiffel Tower! I can just imagine how much fun our guests would have taking pictures of themselves. The hardest thing is to figure out how to make it work logistically. Do we have someone stand near the laptop and push the button for people? Do we strap it to a table of some kind and leave instructions for people? Do we create our own backdrop or use one of theirs? How do we ensure it's not stolen, dropped or has food spilled on it? We'll see if we can pull it together in time :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Watch it Go

I haven't updated in a while, but I am home sick (yes, again!) and thought this would be a good time to catch up.

In the last few weeks I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself about losing weight. I didn't make much progress in March, due to a lot of stress at work. But I've lost 6 lbs already this month and only through healthy means. It seems pretty obvious, but the crash diets and shortcuts don't work for me. I need to use a consistent method and stick to it. I've lost 14 lbs since the beginning of the year. I'd hoped to lose 20 by the end of this month, but am giving myself a bit of a reprieve because of March. My new target was 15, but I've already lost 14, so I'll be happy with anything more :)

In terms of the gym, I found that doing a fat burn mode on the eliptical where I use it for longer, on a higher resistance, but go slower, hurts my knee less and gives me a better overall workout. I had been planning to sign up with a personal trainer when I got back from India, but tried a group class on Saturday and loved it! I'm going to try to integrate at least 1-2 classes per week into my workout schedule. I'm actually starting to look forward to my workouts!

I've also joined a site called SparkPeople to help me in the process. It gives me recipes, workout tips, provides an online community, and has an iPhone app to track my food and calories burned. It's shown me that, as my personal trainer used to tell me last winter, I don't get enough calories in a day. It's counterintuitive, but I need to eat more to lose weight. I've still been eating small meals throughout the day, but trying to eat a little more often. It's also just a very positive site with a community of people that are going through the same struggles. So I get emails with healthy vegetarian recipes, easy exercises, motivational emails, and just general positive vibes!

My clothes are much looser, but not too big yet. Clothes that didn't fit before comfortably do now. So yay!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Two Down!

I think everyone's been a bit fried from the whirlwind weekends to DC where we meet with vendors like mad people, plan every minute we're awake, and do it all again the next day. So everyone independently suggested we take it a bit easier this weekend. So we didn't make any appointments on Sat afternoon and also decided to go see the cherry blossoms in DC on Sun morning. On Sat afternoon, my dad, my brother, MJ, and his brother went to the park. The men played tennis and I read my Kindle in the sun and talked on the phone. My mom even did some yard work at home. It was very nice and relaxing. And the weather was just gorgeous, so it really felt like spring!

In the biggest news, we signed with the photographer!!! This is only the second vendor we've actually signed with, so it's a pretty big deal. As you can tell from this blog, I've spent a considerable amount of energy on selecting a photographer and I'm very happy with our decision! They're called The Edge and they've done a ton of Indian weddings and also photographed at Rose Hill Manor. I like their style and they're reasonably priced. Their colors are sharp and the finish of the photos is very crisp. They also capture people in the room other than just the bride and groom, as well as artistic touches. So yay!! We've set our engagement photo session on 5/23 in NYC as well.

We met with the decorator we're planning to use as well. I was hoping to sign the contract, but we met her at her storage facility and she wasn't prepared with it. We've also made some changes, so she needs to update her quote. She's Hispanic, but she had SO much Indian stuff! She probably knows more about Indian weddings than I do! She had 9 units at a storage facility, a truck, and 2 vans for moving stuff around. She gets a ton of Indian wedding business and I can see why. Her stuff was very good quality and she knows what she's doing. (At one point her husband was taking out a Ganeshji statue to show us and she stopped him from putting it on the floor, because it was disrespectful!) So hopefully we can sign that contract soon as well.

The next big item on the list is the DJ. The first one we met with is still our best choice, but the rates for the projector and uplights seem to be a bit high, so we're comparing to some others as well. We'd like to get that taken care of before my mom and I leave for India, but we'll see. MJ is leading the DJ search and he's having a hard time getting responses from them.

My dad's been working with caterers, so that's in flight as well. Luckily, MJ and I don't need to have a lot of input there, so it can be done with or without us. This was my last planned trip to DC before we go to India, so we wanted to make sure everything that had to be signed early was taken care of. The other item I'll focus on when I get back is makeup/hair artists. I've been talking to a few and hopefully can meet with some when I get back.

Things are going to be busy though. We also need to register, work on our first dance, and find an apartment pretty soon after I get back. MJ and I had an interesting discussion while we were stuck in traffic yesterday that led me to think moving to Queens may not be such a bad idea. I've been dead set against it, but Long Island City has suddenly become rather appealing. It's cheaper than my neighborhood, much faster and easier to get into Manhattan, and on the water with a park and great views of the City. Quite a few of our friends also moved to Queens recently, so we'd have some friendly faces nearby. MJ made me realize that our social lives are going to be quite different after we get married. We'll be nesting much more and may be spending more time with family than friends. I guess, basically, we'll be building roots. I'm excited about setting up a home together and it'd be nice to have more space to do that in.

The 3 Day Blueprint Cleanse

Weds at 6 pm: It's kind of weird how little I've eaten all day and how unhungry I am. I've only had an OJ, a snack cup of apple sauce, some organic corn, a banana, an apple, and a few handfuls of peanuts. I had more food here that I could eat, but just didn't need it. I am, however, pretty tired. I feel like I could go to sleep now :) I've been reading so much to prep for the cleanse that I almost feel like I'm on it now and shouldn't be eating. LOL

That was how I felt before the cleanse started last Weds night. I had a grapefruit after that, but was so tired I went to bed early. Things went very well on Day 1. I actually felt really full, rather than hungry, all day from all the liquid in my tummy. The juices all tasted pretty good and I felt pretty much normal. MJ and I went on a walk in the park after work, which turned out to be a mistake, as I got dizzy halfway through and we had to hurry home so I could drink another juice. I just sat on the couch the rest of the night and was fine.

I worked from home on Friday, which was a really good decision. I got extremely weak and pretty nauseous in the early afternoon. There wasn't much I could do about it, as we had to drive to DC right at 5. MJ had cut some celery sticks for me (which is an approved cheat food) and I guiltily ate one in the car over. It helped with my weakness, but not my nausea. I felt progressively worse until I went to bed. Luckily I slept through the night.

I woke up feeling good on Saturday, but I had some celery sticks in the morning just in case, as we were meeting with the photographer. But, I got progressively worse around lunch time. The weakness became so bad I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. So finally, around 5 or so, I gave in and started eating solid foods. The funniest thing was that I didn't feel hunger any of the 3 days for more than a few minutes, but as soon as I ate 1 real item (some sprouts), I was STARVING. I was so hungry, even after I had some rice. However, even since then, I get fuller on smaller portions.

I definitely lost weight and feel more energetic. I'm also craving bad foods less and want to go to the gym more. I would do it again, but I think I would be more liberal with the suggested cheat foods earlier and I would follow their guidelines for prep instead of going overboard. The way I did it, I hadn't had a real meal or any starches in 5.5 days, which is too much all of a sudden and not even what they suggest.

I'll definitely be more prepared next time. Actually I'm trying to decide what to do next. Maybe I'll go back to water fasting 1 day per week. Or maybe I'll do another 3 day juice cleanse the week I get back from India, before our engagement pictures...