I admit it: I am a slob. I have always been a slob. As a kid, my most common source of conflict with my parents was my incessantly messy room. And it wasn't just a little bit messy. It was can't-even-see-the-carpet (and most of the bed) messy. Occasionally, my mom would get fed up and would tell me to stay in my room until it was clean. Usually, I would just shovel everything into my closet and close the doors. Luckily my parents never looked in there. They might've been buried in an avalanche of junk.

After I moved into a bigger bedroom in the basement, I was slightly better about keeping it clean, but it wasn't really because I had turned over a new leaf. It was for only one reason: bugs. It is a lot harder to hunt down and kill crickets and spiders if they had too many hiding places available.

When I moved out for college, I had to share a room for the first time in my life. Since I had a roommate, I felt obligated to keep things relatively tidy, meaning I would just pile things deeper in my corner instead of letting it spread throughout the room.

My room as I prepared to move out - 2003
Then I got married. Dave is not a slob. He likes things clean and organized. For the sake of our marriage, I have attempted to improve my slovenly habits. I am much tidier than I used to be, but I'm still not up to Dave's standards. I take my shoes off in random places. I pile dirty dishes all over the countertop until guilt (translation=there is no counter space left) compels me to put them in dishwasher. The floor in front of my dresser is generally carpeted with my clothes. I try not to get upset when Dave puts all the clothes from the bedroom floor into the dirty laundry even though half of them are clean (I know which are which).

So when I got up at 7 AM on Valentine's Day to find that Dave had already been to the store to buy me flowers and made chocolate chip banana pancakes, I decided I needed to do something nice for him in return. So I spent the day cleaning. Much to his surprise, he came home from work to find a sparkling kitchen, vacuumed carpets, clean (and folded) laundry, and no clothes on the floor in any of the bedrooms. It was a Valentine's miracle!


Healthy Living Continued

Last summer, it was a pretty big deal for me when I got under 200 pounds for the first time in years. Well, I just reached another milestone. This week I weighed in at 189, giving me a BMI of 24.9, which is the very top of the "normal" weight range for my height. I realize that BMI is just a small piece of the health puzzle, but it certainly is nice to have one less number designating me as overweight. And to think I used to be considered obese.

A major factor motivating me to get healthier was getting my cholesterol checked last year. My HDL (good cholesterol) was low, so my doctor prescribed medication to help bring it up to an acceptable level. Since then, my goal has been to improve my HDL via diet and exercise so I can stop taking the meds. Given my family medical history, I figure I'll have to take cholesterol medication at some point, but I'm not ready to resign myself to it just yet. My next check-up isn't for another few months, but hopefully I'm headed in the right direction.

These days, my last reserve of flab is my belly. In researching ways to target my persistent paunch, I found the Flat Belly Diet. Kristen and I checked out some of the cookbooks from the library, and have worked many of the recipes into our rotation over the last few months. In addition to making us more keenly aware of our portions and caloric intake, the Flat Belly Diet has helped us target more of the right kinds of food—fresh, unprocessed, low in sugar and sodium, and rich in monounsaturated fats. We've also made other subtle dietary changes like switching from white to wheat bread, and 1% to skim milk. We still enjoy the occasional burger or slice of pizza, but in moderation of course.

I've been going to the gym regularly for a while now, and Kristen has started to catch the bug as well. Lately she has been going to Jazzercise and Yoga every week, and is working on kicking her soda habit (five days without caffeine, and she's got the headache to prove it). We are both ready to take the next step—training for a sprint triathlon in June.


Indecisive Eaters Anonymous

To say that Eddie is a picky eater is an understatement. There are a multitude of foods (like chicken) which he refuses to try for no apparent reason. But sometimes he will change his mind about his food while he is eating it. To illustrate this, I recorded a loose narrative of us going out for pizza last night.

We get settled in a booth and place our order.

Eddie: Where's the pizza!?
Kristen: They're still cooking it.
Eddie: Why is it not here yet?

The questioning continues until they bring out our cheese-filled breadsticks. Eddie examines them.

Eddie: (Without trying it) I don't like this bread.
Dave: It's just like pizza, but without the sauce.
Eddie: I don't like it.
Kristen: Well, our pizza will be ready soon.

Our pizza arrives. I give Eddie a slice.

Eddie: (Without trying it) I don't like this pizza.
Dave: Do you want me to cut it up into little pieces?
Eddie: Yeah.

He eats a few bites.

Eddie: I don't like this pizza.
Kristen: Well, that's our dinner.

Eddie continues to eat the pieces on his plate until they are gone.

Dave: Do you want more?
Eddie: No!

A few minutes pass while Kristen, Violet, and I all quietly eat our food.

Eddie: Can I have some of that bread?
Dave: (Surprised) Sure. Which one do you want?
Eddie: (Pointing) That one.
Dave: Okay, here you go.

He eats about half of his breadstick before chucking it back in the basket.

Eddie: I don't like this bread.
Dave/Kristen: (Shrug)

As we finish up, I start to put our leftover pizza in a box.

Eddie: Hey! I need more pizza!
Kristen: Oh, we thought you were done.

The rest of us sit and wait another 15 minutes while Eddie gradually downs the entire slice.