Friday, April 30, 2010


The long winter was rough on my fitness level and my jeans size, as I've noted before. When I realized two months ago that I'd gone up a size over the winter, I realized it was time to get my crap together. The problem is, it's difficult to figure out the best way to get your crap together when you're already working out several times a week.

For me, it's about finding the right balance of intensity and endurance. For nearly a year, I've been up at 5:30 in the morning doing 30 minutes of pilates and free weights, but it was just so low intensity that about all it was good for was flexibility and casual activity maintenance. I was getting about 20 minutes on the elliptical a couple nights a week, too, but this was dramatically different to my workout back in November, when I had two solid 30-40 minute workouts through my day job fitness program every week (suspended in December), plus five days a week of pilates, plus biking to work five days a week, plus another 3-4 days on the elliptical. Good weather is good for fitness.

But if my fitness level drops, my mood and energy start going wonky, and it very quickly gets tougher to fit into my existing clothes - and we all know how much I hate shopping for clothes.

When I got on the scale a couple months ago, I discovered I'd gained a whopping 18 lbs over the winter. Seriously? I thought, in just four months? Besides the money-spend on clothes shopping (I've long given up hating myself over weight. It's not so much asthetic as practical anymore), the frustration, for me, was the I just didn't feel very good. I was having more trouble controlling my blood sugar, I was more down than usual, and I just didn't have any energy. Going to bed at 8:00 pm sounded like a fine idea some nights. Not because I did anything exhausting, but because I felt depressed.

So, even with a modicum of fitness in the mix (30 minutes in the morning and 2-3 days in the evening), I was not at my best.

By concentrating on cleaning up my diet (oh, I do love that low-carb coffee cake, but eating one a week was a little much), I easily dropped 6 lbs in a couple weeks, but without the fitness part, I was still tired all the time, with wonky sugar, and still stuck buying new jeans.

It was time to mix up my fitness routine. The new day job was great for switching up my fitness routine, so when I started there at the end of March, I started biking six miles roundtrip. With all the lights and switcheroos, it takes about 20-25 minutes to get there in the morning and again to get home at night.

But this still wasn't cutting it.

Pilates, relaxing as it was in the morning, wasn't the best use of my time either. The great thing about my morning routine was that - unlike my afternoon elliptical slacking - I did it every morning without fail. So I needed something in that timeslot that was going to make the best use of my time.

See, I always put off changing my workout routines as long as possible because, of course, there are a couple days of insulin adjustment involved, and highs and lows and math and needles are always annoying at 5:30 in the morning (for those interested, the magic formula was calculating 10 carbs for breakfast instead of 12 and then rounding down the number of insulin units my meter calculated for me, unless my blood sugar is below 90 during my morning test, at which point rounding up is actually better).

So I went ahead and pulled out my copy of Jillian's 30-Day Shred and said, "OK, it's time."(and if you think Jillian is like some Jane Fonda "squeeze your butt while wearing a leotard" thing, think again. Her videos are the closest thing to the tough-love circuit training I was getting at the POW gym back in Chicago, with the same immediate results).

This 25 minute cardio and strength routine regularly kicked my ass when I first got it, but I'd set it aside for awhile and moved on. So Monday morning I got up at 5:20 a.m. just to make sure I had enough time in case of sugar wackiness, changed my clothes, and got started. At the end of it, I realized that all that bike riding had indeed actually been paying off, because my endurance was much better than the last time I'd done the workout.

What I love about this routine is that the fitness, energy and endurance improvements are evident pretty much immediately. On day one I was bouncing around at 6:00 a.m. ready to start the day. By day two, I noticed a marked improvement in my bike riding and on day three the workout was already a lot easier. Last night, I noticed better definition in my arms, and this morning I stepped on the scale for the weekly weigh in and found that I'd dropped 2 lbs. Not bad for 25 minutes in the morning (and another 40-50 minutes a day of bike riding, of course, but the morning workout was the only thing I changed).

I also went ahead and took another look at my diet to make sure I'm making the best use of my calories. I made the switch from almond flour to soy flour, which has half the calories and only 4 more carbs per serving (and still less than half the carbs of regular flour). It's also cheaper, so: win!

The last big push will be to break my new daily popcorn habit at the day job. We have a popcorn machine here at work, and I regularly eat 2 cups of popcorn as a complement to my lunch. That's an extra 200 calories a day, which doesn't sound like much until you realize that's 4,000 calories a month.

It's the little things, you know? They add up.

At any rate, this week has been bursting with far more energy and alertness, much improved sugar numbers, and a noticeable toning of my legs and arms, which has gone a long way toward improving my strength on the bike, too.

I'm still looking at trying to fit in at least two more workouts per week, preferably at the boxing gym downtown. Downsizing freed up some cash for J. and I and it looks like we'll be able to start boxing classes next month. I figure that's another 2 hours of fitness a week, which should be about right to get me to the level I'm most comfortable at.

It's funny, you know, because there certainly is a genetic component to how *easily* one can lose weight. For those of us with the best of the survival genes, it's not that we *can't* be 150 lbs (or 185 lbs, in my case. I don't ever want to see the tail end of 170 ever again), it's that doing so requires a lot *more* effort than most people. In fact, I don't expect to see that wishy-washy 185 by making these changes. What I want out of this is to get me at the fitness level I'd prefer and get me back into November's jeans.

That's it.

And to do that will require about 1.5-2.5 hours of exercise 5-6 days a week. That's just how fun it is to be me. And probably another reason why I get so pissed off all the time when people assume that anybody clocking in at over 200 lbs must just be lazy and sit around eating donuts all the time. This is what it takes for me, personally, to clock in at around 200 lbs. More than that requires extreme self-deprevation of the 1400 calories per day and 2-3 hours exercise 6 days a week, and you know what? That's not the life I want to live. I love my body. I love being big and strong and scary. If I'm too hungry to throw a good right hook, what's the point?

I'm all about practicality, people.

Keep Calm and Carry On

Because in the face of Nazi invasion, this is generally the best thing you can do as a civilian.

Well, that, and join the resistance. But for those of us often overwhelmed by simple daily living, it's not a bad mantra for life-crazy. Sometimes we get worked up over the daily grind like it *is* a Nazi invasion, and you know? Not so much.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lunchtime Limbo

While I have a few minutes here at lunch, how about some updatitude:

Pandorum was a great little lower-budget SF movie about one of my favorite tropes, which isn't done enough in movies (likely for budgeting issues). Also, unlike most French films and pretty much all apocalypse novels/movies, the desperate folks were far more interested in eating the ass-kicking female character than raping her, which I appreciated. Because, you know, when you're starving and desperate you're far more likely to eat somebody than rape them (dunno what you all feel like doing when starving, but sex - forced or consentual - generally isn't the first thing that comes to mind). Also, space zombies.

The longer I work at an ad agency, the more I love Mad Men. Am on season 2 and still in love. I had somebody say they thought all of these characters are intensely unlikeable, so they couldn't watch it. I actually find all of these characters intensely interesting because of their crazy faults. I love watching how other people justify their poor behavior. I love watching people put home/work into neat little boxes and pretending those worlds will never meet. I love watching the lies and half-truths and understandings people come to that allow them to do business every day. And I love watching that struggle. In part, what I love so much about this show is that nobody is perfect. Even more, I love watching people navigate a social climate slightly different from my own. They say that folks who read a lot of books tend to be more empathetic, in part because they're exposed to so many different points of view. I don't have to agree with what you're doing to understand why you did it. Mad Men is a wonderful romp through rich-white-people-are-crazy-land.

I finished reading Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood, which was a great little SF jaunt. Atwood's poo-pooing at SF the last few years had really turned me off to her, and I'd forgotten what a good writer she is (if you haven't read The Handmaid's Tale, how is it you're a reader of this blog??). It's a solid little book about gene splicing and the end of the world. Strong female protagonists, rich setting, fun thought experiment, and did I mention end of the world? However, unlike Pandorom, she did fall into the "all bad men want to do is rape women especially during the apocalypse when they are starving" thing, which was a tougher suspension of disbelief than aforementioned gene-splicing apocalypse. Have I mentioned that there are certain sexist tropes that just annoy the tar out of me? She does also seem to have a love of exploring the social intricacies of whorehouses, as many of the scenes at a whorehouse in this book reminded me of some of similiar tone/feel from The Handmaid's Tale. I'll be picking up Oryx and Crake and giving Atwood another go.

My preference for PCs has evolved into blind hatred for Macs now that I'm spending my 9 hour days in front of one at the new day job. Control click THIS, Mac!!! Yeah, not a fan.

Also, actually pulled out and submitted an old trunk story a couple weeks ago. I haven't had anything in circulation in a few months, and it was nice to get something out there. Need to get back on that writing schedule that I'd redone and then had to can when all the free time I was expecting wonderfully dried up. No complaints! Just paperwork.

Annnnnnnnd.... I'm off.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You Know You Haven't Blogged in Awhile When...

... you've got half a dozen spam comments to clean out. I'm alive, just work-busy and busy-busy with some promo projects for God's War (really want to have a killer FB page and flash-based site for the book. I know, I know, but fans love flash).

I promise, more content soon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happiness is...

Friday, April 02, 2010

In the Bag

Book 3 work this weekend. Also, bumped into yet another person who doesn't know what a "copywriter" does. Has the term just totally died out, or do folks just think magazine copy and web page copy gets cooked up all by itself?

Hrm. I blame blogging. I supposed that if just anybody can "publish" some words online, there can't actually be a job that *pays* you to do that... heh.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Open Letter to (Scam)

Dear Bill Strauss,

I am writing to let you know that I am among the hundreds of people who have been defrauded of over $100 by your company's deceptive and misleading business practices. As I'm sure you're aware, customers who order flowers from or goodies from or those of your partners are lured into getting "free shipping" coupons or other discounts for clicking a coupon that shows up at the end of their order or in their email box after they order - what they don't realize is that clicking the coupon itself automatically enters them in a recurring subscription to an "Easy Saver" program at $14.95 a month.

Nowhere on the coupon does it state that clicking the link will automatically enroll them in this program. *After,* they click, they're told what the program is. Like many consumers, this is where I stopped. I did not continue enrolling in the program (foolishly thinking I'd have had to enter my cc information, or at least click an "OK" or "Agree" button. Ha! So naive!). Since I had deliberately chosen not to save my credit card information on your site, I believed this meant my information was secure, as I hadn't signed up for anything and a third party biller shouldn't have had access to my credit card information.

As I hadn't been using my credit card much the last 9 months (I have been working diligently to pay this off), I had no reason to check over my statements... not until the last month, when I had to lean on my credit card to get by between jobs. And then I found out what you guys were up to.

This deceptive little cash cow, I know, was concocted by Encore Marketing . The fact that they can't name you directly as the client in their "successful" case study on their website (which I can't directly link to because they built their site in flash, which tells you what a premier marketing company this is) is very telling about how proud both of you are with this strategy.

As a communications professional familiar with firms who have a similarly short-term profit strategy, I wanted to advise you against continuing these deceptive practices. I understand that charging folks $14.95 a month is wonderful for positive monthly cash flow. But I've also seen how quickly complaints pile up on the complaints boards (here and here to name a few) and the news stories that start highlighting consumers who've been defrauded, and I've seen how repeat business dries up, forcing companies to rely on more and more deceptive marketing practices just to make ends meet. The "ProFlowers is a scam" group on Facebook only has 15 friends as of yet, but I figure if I put out a few Facebook ads - investing no more than you and your company defrauded me of - will help it get some traffic.

I am incredibly disappointed in this practice not just because, you know, it's wrong, but because your products are so *good.* You have *great products.* You don't need to be fraudulent and deceptive and defraud people's grandmothers of $14.95 a month plus the inevitable 18-25% interest rate they're being charged by their crappy-ass bank.

You can run a better company than that.

I am currently working through your company's customer service channels to get all the fraudulent charges refunded to my account in full. That said, getting back the interest that's been charged to my card for these charges will be harder. I pity the grandmothers who have 20% interest rates.

Until then, I'll be sharing my Proflowers/Cherry Moon Farms horror story on my blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, and engaging with your lively Facebook fans. I have also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and am working on one for the Attorney General.

Shame on you. And shame on

Good luck.

Kameron Hurley


This is why you complain, people:

Dear Mr.(sic) Hurley,
Please accept my most sincere apologies. I was recently informed that you enrolled in our EasySaver Rewards partner program and that enrollment in this program was not your intention.  I have called EasySaver Rewards on your behalf in order to cancel your membership and procure a refund.  When I called I found that your membership has already been cancelled and the refund of $14.95 has already been applied.  I then had them refund the additional charges of $149.50 (10 months x $14.95 a month) and $1.95, the full amount of fees charged to you for this program.  In most cases you will see the refund appear on your billing statement in just a few days, however please allow 1-2 billing cycles for the refunds to process, depending on the terms of your specific card issuer.  We have a partnership with EasySaver Rewards where we provide customers an opportunity to click on and enroll in their service from our “order confirmation page” after placing an order with us.   I’d like to apologize for any confusion you may have had over the enrollment process with this partner offer.

If you have the opportunity and would like to discuss this with me in further detail, my phone number is 858.909.3785.  I am typically in the office from 8am to 5pm, Pacific Time.  I am also always available via email. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if there is ever anything more I can do for you.



My Response:


Thank you for your prompt response. The monetary expenditure was terrible for me, but I know it was worse for others who have cards with higher interest rates right now. I'm more devastated by the deception. Your company has some excellent products, and it's a shame that I can no longer recommend Proflowers or their affiliates in good conscience.

Thank you again. I'll be watching my account for the credit.