Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gardening: Like a House of Cards, Part 3

Then, one morning I woke up motivated,  finally having the courage to weigh myself.  Those seconds staring down at the scale, waiting for the big red digital number to appear, it feels like being a little too close to the edge of a cliff staring down at jagged rocks, the wind at my back. I gained two pounds and poof, the freak-out switch was flipped on. I was mad at myself for not trying harder and for even bothering to weigh. That scale has caused me to quit so many times over the years. The irrational personal assault tape was on play. Outwardly I could feel my facial expression and my body shift position. I withdrew into the vortex of negative self talk. I surrendered to it, fully.

Because I hadn't shopped for food that weekend I went to work that Monday morning after weighing, having skipped breakfast with no lunch packed. I skipped that too, because I didn't feel like I had enough self control to get a healthy restaurant meal.  By the time I got home I was ravenous. I don't recall what I ate for dinner but lets say it was pizza and cake. Or something just as bad. The rest of the week was basically the same. In fact, until I wrote Cris that email in which I had a simple yet profound discovery, every day was one long string of depression, skipped breakfasts/lunches and binging dinners.  I floundered through all those hours knowing I was in a bad place but unsure what to do about it. And I had no motivation, whatsoever, to get to the bottom of things.  I didn't feel like I'd done anything to cause this but more like a cloud of badness was cast upon me without warning. I couldn't move out from under it. So I wallowed in it...and I ate.

Somewhere in that email to Cris I started to realize that yeah, the weight gain sucked. But the biggest problem wasn't the weight gain, it was that I was totally unprepared for it. In fact, I was unprepared for the week in general, regardless of the scale debacle. I hadn't stuck with my plan, and I never realized until that moment how important the plan actually was. If I'd taken the time to shop for healthy food and map out my meals for the week, maybe after I'd gained that two pounds I would've hung my head for little while, all day maybe. But I probably would have at least stuck with my eating plan. And if I'd stuck with my eating plan I wouldn't have been starving when I got home and if I hadn't been starving when I got home maybe I wouldn't have thrown in the towel and pigged out on pizza and cake...for an entire week.

Not taking the time to shop and plan my meals turned out to be so important that not doing it literally ruined my entire week. What I signed up for seemed like a simple nutrition and exercise plan I could easily slip into my life but I was realizing that it was much more complex than I ever knew.  Looking back over my shoulder, my success or failure was was much less a state of mind and much more a bunch of little processes, one connected and dependent on the next. It was like a house of cards. And pulling that one on the bottom out caused the entire thing to fall. School started > no meals planned > no grocery shopping > no lunches prepared > 2 pound weight gain > KABOOM!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gardening TV Shows: Dig In Chicago

If you follow me on twitter you probably know I listen to The Mike Nowak radio show every Sunday 9-11 on Chicago's Progressive Talk Radio.  Well don't look now but he's started a gardening TV show!  "Dig In Chicago" airs every Saturday morning at 10:00 on Comcast channel 102.  I watched the first episode on my iPad this weekend and I'm hooked already.

At first I was skeptical. There aren't that many gardening TV shows out there and I have watched most of them, at least once. There's the big garden makeover ones which just piss me off because it's no fair I had to work so hard for my little garden and these people get a big fancy one for happening by some big box store at the right time. And there are others that are just too persnickety for me. I loved "The Manic Organic" which went off the air almost immediately upon my discovery of it.  It seems like gardening shows with content useful for real gardeners never seem to survive. Maybe that's changing. I hope so.

I love Dig In Chicago. That's the bottom line. It is informative, has gardening information that is relevant for the time period in which it airs and it even has a short segment from a local restaurant on how to make a couple of garden related cocktails and an easy meal using stuff commonly grown in our edible Chicago gardens.  The first episode featured a discussion about Lurie Garden which is apparently actually a rooftop garden sitting atop giant underground parking lots. As a Chicago gardener, I'm ashamed to admit that I did not realize this.  I've read and seen photos of Lurie Garden, their "Salvia River", on all my favorite Chicagoland garden blogs but seeing this TV segment made me push visiting Lurie to the top of my list of gardening things to do this year.

Chicago has a vibrant gardening community that I think will love this show. Even if you're not in our area, you should check it out. The show airs Saturday mornings at 10:00 am on Comcast and you can watch the previous episodes here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

White Peony In Bloom

I love these big gaudy flowers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Troy-Bilt Saturday 6, We're Back!

You know how I know I'm not a real journalist/salesman/marketing type person? Because I've been trying to think of the right way to write this post about how I'm partnering with Troy-Bilt again for the second year in a row and it's caused a war in my head.

On one side there's the voice saying to just announce it. Be positive, sterile. Something like "I've teamed up with Troy-Bilt again! I'm so excited to be able to review their awesome products, give some away, write some articles for them because, hey! I love to write about gardening!"  On the other side there's what I really want to say about it. And the same ole question over whether I'm being too personal. If I write what I really want to, will Troy-Bilt be disappointed in me? What if my fellow bloggers call me an ass-kisser? A shill? But at the end of the day, when a blogger stops being authentic all in the name of product endorsements, it's over! Right?

Here's the truth. Last year I was so shocked (flattered) that Troy-Bilt asked me to become one of 6 bloggers in a new program they were trying that I couldn't stop questioning why they'd pick me, of all people. I know a lot of you thought the same thing, whether you said it or wrote it or not. It ended up being such a pleasant experience that I'd made up my mind when it was all over I would write an open letter to Troy-Bilt thanking them. One that would explain to all of you exactly why I loved working with them so much...after the contract expired and there was no incentive to continue writing about them. I wanted to be able to openly and honestly talk about how I'd long respected them like a lot of you because they were one of the first companies to ask garden bloggers for real, honest reviews of their products. But not that long after our contracts had expired, there they were again, asking our opinions on ideas about other programs they were considering for 2012. Then in a move that shocked the shit out of me, they asked us all back for a second year. Instead of indoctrinating a whole new set of garden bloggers, they were investing in the same 6 of us all over again.  We talked about what worked and what didn't work and here we, back for season 2.

As a member of the Troy-Bilt Saturday 6 I'll review a few products here on my blog, give a few away, and write a couple of articles for their online newsletter, The Dirt. I am particularly looking forward to trying some of the newer products now available with rechargeable battery power. I encourage all of you to check out Troy-Bilt's new Facebook page where they are sharing good gardening info.

Troy-Bilt, one day I'll write that letter so everybody will know the real deal. In the meantime, I am honored and appreciative of the opportunity to work with you again and I'm looking forward to this new gardening season.

On my end, consider this the official disclosure that I am being compensated for honest reviews of their products. If I don't like them, I'll tell you so.