Monday, July 21, 2014

Counting Hours

                Recent steps forward include a good practice last week, and me really looking forward to practice again tomorrow evening. Last Thursday, there were two other girls brand-spankin’ new to derby, like myself (named Sara and Amanda). Plus we were fortunate enough to have a huge amount of people there- about 21 ladies on skates, including trainers, and one woman from Turn Two Skate Shop in Maine! It was really fun to skate with girls on my level, and to have so many experienced women to generously give us direction. We practiced single knee falls, standing on one foot, pre-transition stepping to turn around 180°, and then that pre-transition stepping 360°.

            We also practiced double knee falls, or as I like to think of this particular maneuver, “The Rockstar,” since you’re supposed to be leaning back with knees and legs wide apart so you don’t accidentally stick your skate up your butt. (If you’re into that, more power to you, but I think derby is the wrong environment for intentional insertion.) I am really, really bad at these. Plus I (while the other new girls were getting their feet wet) started to try to put one foot out in front of the other to try to aim towards crossovers. I am really bad at these, but possibly not as bad at these as I am at the double knee falls. I think it’ll take a few more weeks to master these skills, but I look forward to trying again soon, and at least getting my first unintentional crossover fall out of the way.

            I feel like that’s always a step for me. I’m going to fall a lot, on purpose and by accident. Most of the new things I learn, I will eventually fall down while I’m doing. I kind of want to get all of my first falls out of the way to help reduce the "fear" of falling. Like with everything else derby-skills-related, it will all happen in time and with effort. For example, I feel like I wasn’t sore enough after this derby practice, and so I’d like to make more of an effort to stay lower when I’m in stance tomorrow. I will definitely spend at least a little time this week on those crossover pre-steps, and on those double knee falls.

There were also a few girls there taking their [insert scary music here] Level One Assessments. Big congratulations to them, as everyone I saw was working hard, staying low, and keeping their heads in the game! It was great to get a sneak peek at the real skills I’m working towards. Crossovers, toe stops, jumps and hops- if I wanted the skills extravaganza, I certainly came to the right practice.

            I can’t go backwards yet. This might seem pretty “duh” to everyone, but it looks so fun, and I keep feeling impatient about it. At least I can plow stop now. I can’t T-stop yet- but using plow stops, at my second practice ever I was able to stop for the first time, on purpose, and without hitting the floor or wall. I mean, I’m still like a baby giraffe up on those things, but I have to give it time. (Remind me if you see me getting frustrated with myself out there.) The other week, I was so sore after practice that I couldn't walk up and down the stairs except sideways clutching the railing like an elderly woman, for two days. There's got to be an in-between- sore enough to know I worked hard, and yet still capable of engaging in my everyday activities.
           I think I'm much more prepared for my discomfort now, at least. During the skating, it's my lower back, my entire "Tramp Stamp" area. After? It's pretty much everything, back and legs. I think once I get the hang of engaging my core more, it'll be the abs, too. But I have tiger balm, Aleve, Advil, Tylenol, lavender-scented Epsom salts, and peas in the freezer. Bring it, body.

           On a significantly more downer note. I debated about whether or not to discuss this but I want to be as honest as possible about my experience and where I am on my derby journey. I mentioned in my last post that I’m out of shape. I did not include detail, but I am overweight, and not insignificantly so. While I know health and fitness are long-term goals, I still had a rough end of the week, when I hopped on my scale and had basically gained ten pounds. Yes, I know, it’s most likely me building thigh muscle; muscle is heavier than fat; the muscle will help boost my metabolism in the long run by helping me burn more calories.

            But that doesn’t change the feeling I get when I see the number on the scale. That doesn’t change the way my heart drops and I get discouraged. Shaking it off and getting my head back in the game does not come naturally to me. It takes effort, and more than that, it takes a conscious choice every day. I am making that choice for myself today, and I can tell you, I'm more than likely to make it tomorrow. I just really want to see myself making that choice next week, if/when it happens again and I'm feeling disheartened.

            I don’t want to exercise myself out like crazy today and head into derby tomorrow already too sore. So I am going to be patient so that tomorrow night I can kick my butt on skates for as many of those three hours as I can make it to. It’s another crappy night where I have to leave right from work just to make it onto skates at all. I wish this were easier- but at least, having practice Tuesday means I can go to adult skate on Thursday near my house, and log more hours on the track. I wish myself luck...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Popping my Derby Cherry

By Freshmeat Sonya, Special to Journey of a Freshie

One fateful Saturday evening, after five months of friendly urging and insatiable curiosity, I drove down directly from work to see my friend play in the first bout I ever saw, for the Bloody Bordens. I went intending to watch Hexy (Surreal Hexy Chaos) all evening. Lucky for me, her husband (Al Jynx U) was not being a zebra that evening, and he was able to explain what was going on to me. I had a lot of questions, and although I tried to keep my eyes on my friend, my attention was glued to the jammer almost every time. Something inside my brain awoke to the realization that I, too, wanted to be a part of this.

By the following weekend, I had done enough research to see that New Hampshire Roller Derby's (NHRD) Millyard Misfits practiced closest to where I live of all the leagues in my area. I tried to tell myself that maybe if I was still interested in a month, and if the schedule would fit into my work schedule, I would consider signing up. Then I threw logic, scheduling, and caution to the wind, and I sent the first fateful e-mail about beginning my derby journey. I got all my gear (after consulting with Hexy for suggestions and having Chiff from Urban Mayhem in Manchester help size/direct me), and I attended my first practice.

Contact-eligible Misfits practice pack drills at the NHRD warehouse
To wet my feet I got on my R3s once, the day before practice. So I showed up to the Misfits a little sore already. I was frustrated with myself every time I had to take a break, both independently and at practice. I am a very stubborn person- I just want to be good at this, already! But my lower back has other ideas. Seriously, sometimes it's like the entire tramp-stamp area of my back is on fire, and I have to stop, even when the rest of my wants to keep going.

I will be the first to admit, I'm out of shape. I don't like working out, I never have; I don't like sweating, or breathing heavy, or feeling tired and sore. But even by myself, before I'd met a single Misfit or trainer, I realized that after just a little while, even if I wasn't good on the skates, and I fall down constantly, and even if my back and feet were sore, some part of me felt good. It’s a very independent feeling. There aren't many places I can go where I don't feel weirdly paranoid, like people are watching me in a negative and judgmental way, but the benefits to being new are that I don't feel obligated to prove anything to anyone. Even practicing on my own has a unique feeling to it, like I’m somehow flipping off everybody else on the track; I only care about what I’m doing out there.

The strategy I've been using so far to help combat my frustration is to remind myself that I need to take it one step at a time, to not get ahead of myself. Derby society has been incredibly welcoming and open to me so far; even just going out for drinks with Hexy's gang after her bout, it was obvious to me that the people who do derby are doing it for the right reasons (i.e. themselves and nobody else). I think it's only realistic for me to try to take it slow- try to give myself at least two days a week on wheels, to begin, and maybe reassess in a few months where I’d like to take derby from there in my life.

I've been slow and selective about who among my non-derby friends I've told. (I haven't even really told my mother yet, for example, and we're pretty close.) I don't like to go back on the things I say and I don’t want to be too open to anyone’s criticism until I’m actually ready for it. I want to give myself freedom if I keep going and this doesn't wind up being for me, too. Despite my hesitance, the most popular response from my friends, by far, is that everyone seems to believe I’ll be a perfect fit. While it doesn't really matter what others think, it’s nice to have some kind of validation from somewhere familiar that yes, taking this step might really be taking one step closer to finding out where I belong right now in my life.

The biggest question I've been asked so far is something I feel is pretty heavy: “What's your Derby name? Do you have a name picked out yet?” Honoring my personal commandment to take it slow, I refuse to announce anything yet. I want to put in the work. I need to make myself keep working hard, possibly harder in a physical way on a consistent basis than I ever have before. For the record, I have an idea about what I'd like, but I don't want to set anything in stone, at least until I'm considering Level 1 Assessment. And I'd like to think everyone already knows, but I feel a need to add, this is not a dig: if someone comes in, guns a-blazing, and they are ready to go from the first moment, then I want the best for them, and for them to be addressed by our derby community however they feel most comfortable. For me? I need to keep pushing myself, to keep earning things for myself. And my identity is a big part of my journey. I will pick up the mantle when I'm ready.

So much of the time in the rest of my life, I feel like I’m not good at things. Sometimes I feel like I'm just not good at anything I do. But the truth is I do have some talents, and some natural traits that can be both advantages and disadvantages: as I mentioned, I'm stubborn, and on the negative side, I tend to hold grudges. On the positive side, however, I've committed myself to at least trying my best at something new. I don't want to speculate too far into the future. I want to look at the next step I'm taking on the path that I'm on. Here's to hoping that I can let go of the grudges I've held against myself and my own abilities, and not let anything hold me back.

So what's next? Tomorrow, I go up to Bruised Boutique in Nashua, NH to pick myself up some outdoor wheels, before heading over to adult skate at Skateland in Bradford. Sunday, I'll break in my outdoor wheels and skate with Hexy for the first time. Tonight? I go to my second Misfits practice and try to spend at least an hour doing what I'm told and kicking my own butt in the process. Maybe I’ll see you there sometime soon.

If you would like to write about your freshmeat experience for Journey of a Freshie, email Helen Carnate at helencarnate (at) gmail (dot) com!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Journey of a Freshie Lives Again?

So back in the stone age (January 2010) when I was freshmeat with NH Roller Derby (NHRD) I decided to start a blog about my experience called "Journey of a Freshie". After every practice, good or bad, I would write down how things went, how I felt, where I had successes, and where I had failures. When I did this I had no idea how far it would reach. I had views and comments from all over the world with suggestions, words of encouragement, etc.

When I stopped skating in the spring of 2011 (couldn't make the time commitment with a new house and job and we had no rec team at the time) I stopped making posts on the blog. I would continue to get the occasional comments from people which I thought was kind of cool. Before I went to D1 Richmond last year I sort of semi-converted it to an announcing blog but left all the original posts.

Don't worry... I'm getting to the point!

There's nothing quite like some nice, tender fresh meat!
At the East Coast Derby Extravaganza (ECDX) in Philly this past weekend I was sitting out at the ONE picnic table where I could get service and a skater in a blue jersey came up to me. She asked if I had a freshmeat blog a few years ago that had sort of turned into an announcing blog and I said, "Yep, that sounds like me!" She told me that my posts were one of the things that helped her mentally make it through freshmeat with her league in Delaware. She said that it made her feel so much better to know that there were other people out there with the exact same struggles that she had, even if she felt like she was the only one on her league with them.

That really warmed up deep down in the cockles of my heart, maybe in the sub-cockle area, maybe in the kidney... maybe in the liver... I just don't know (bonus points if you get the reference). Anyhoo... that got me thinking that I don't have much to say about announcing these days that would warrant a blog post and if I did I'd probably post it through the NHRD blog.

SO... that being said, I'm thinking about resurrecting "Journey of a Freshie" with some contributing freshies from all over the place who are interested in writing regularly (once every week or two) about the trials and tribulations, the highs and lows of going from the start(ish) all the way through as far in their derby career they want to go. I'd delete/rehome my announcing posts and redo the theme of the blog to return it to its roots.

Here is the link to the blog: I'd recommend reading in reverse order from 2010 to see what sort of stuff my posts were about. Very mundane stuff but apparently quite a few people like reading about those every day derby experiences!

If you are interested in becoming a contributor, please email me at helencarnate (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thanks bunches!
~Helen Carnate
NH Roller Derby 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The journey has ended...

...for now.

I'm posting here because it seems weird for me to make an "announcement" on the league forums. On Thursday, April 21st, I resigned as an active skater from NHRD. Before people freak out, I am still very much involved with the league, just not as a skater. I'm still League Coordinator, forum admin, and PR foot soldier. There are a lot of factors that went into this decision but they all end up circling back to time at one point or another.

Bad Timing
As my last post stated, Mr. Carnate and I closed on our house the same day the season started. I had a conversation with another skater at our 2010 Awards Banquet and she asked me if I thought I would be able to keep doing everything I was involved in on the league once we bought the house. "Sure! It shouldn't be a problem!" but as soon as we grabbed that set of shiny new keys and walked into our first home I knew that wasn't going to be the case.

Sure, I denied it for a while but things came to a head when I found out what the fresh meat and teaming process was going to be this season. Since I was only a Level 1 I had some work to do before I was eligible to scrimmage. More on that later. We had some interesting house experiences that caused me to miss some practice early on (like the furnace being completely psychotic and having to keep a fire burning in the wood stove to keep the pipes from freezing).

As the weather grew warmer and the feet and feet of snow from this crazy winter began to melt we finally had a chance to look at our yard. It needed (needs) some serious work. Because I had prioritized derby over everything else, there was no time for anything BUT derby. Between skating in various locations and all the off-skates work I was involved in there was no time to rake leaves, mow lawns, stain furniture, make curtains, and don't even THINK about planning and planting a garden.

It turns out that skater I talked to on that chilly December night was absolutely right; houses change everything. My priorities slowly shifted and by the time April came around I really just wanted my life back so I could actually DO things around the house. As another skater put it in a completely unrelated forum post, "Derby will always be there. Other things may not"

Insecurities and Lack of Practice
So yeah... anyone who has read this blog knows that I am fairly insecure about my abilities as a skater. When I started I hadn't been on skates since the age of 11 or so. I was/am overweight and out of shape. I've made a lot of progress between when I started and now but things changed this season. Last season I was able to make progress at my own pace. This season I had to make progress on someone else's pace. This put me on what I like to call "The Derbycoaster" of emotional ups and downs from about late January up until the day I resigned (and even a little beyond).

In late January I took my level 2 assessments. There are two things I always knew that I needed to work on: transitions and endurance. As expected, I failed transitions and missed my 25 in 5 by two laps. I thought to myself, "I can do this! 2 laps isn't as bad as it could have been!". The other members of "Team Misfits" - the group of skaters from last year who weren't teamed but weren't fresh meat either - were skating just about every night of the week. To be perfectly honest, with all the other time I spent on derby, I had no desire to put  even more time in. At this point, more time skating would have been at the expense of off skates derby work.

I took my level 2's again in early March - I needed more consistent transitions and turning toes stops and I failed the 25 in 5 again. By 2 laps, again. This frustrated me to no end because I had been going to practices and pushing myself and made no progress whatsoever. Still 2 laps away. It felt like 20. This was the first nail in the coffin of my skating career.

I knew that I needed to put extra time in on skates to improve enough to pass that damn endurance test but I just wasn't willing to do that. That's the bottom line. I love skating with everyone but if I'm not willing to put in the work required to get where I need to be to skate with everyone then I have no business skating with a WFTDA league like NHRD.

A Series of Unfortunate Events 
In mid-March, just after my second round of assessments, we got word that my father-in-law's terminal cancer prognosis had gone from 12-18 months to "weeks" overnight . His esophageal cancer had spread aggressively to his lymph system, lungs, and liver. Mr. Carnate and I dropped everything and flew over to the UK within 24 hours. We're so glad that we did but that was a week off of practice.

We came back on a Tuesday. The next Wednesday, after worsening reports, he passed away at home; a week and a half after we saw him. Mr. Carnate was, obviously, very upset being stuck all the way over here. There were a lot of logistics to be sorted out and it would have been extremely callous of me to say, "bye sweety! Good luck arranging everything... I'm off to practice!" So I missed practice all of the week before we headed back to the UK again, this time for longer for the funeral and to spend time with Ian's family.

On top of this, my grandfather passed away four days after my father-in-law. The day before I had been "teamed" on the Seabrook Meltdowns, my favoritest team in the whole world, as an alternate (since I wasn't scrimmageable). By the time I got back from the UK the second time I had missed two team practices and lots of bonding time. I went to a team practice on April 12th and felt completely and totally out of place (through no fault of the team or coaches).

I felt so far behind... to the point where I felt like I would never catch up. This feeling, paired with the "I'd rather be gardening" feeling was the biggest contributing factor in my decision.

Meat Hearts... I Love my Husband
The Derbycoaster was pretty brutal for me. After one of a handful of practices where I felt like I did really well I'd be riding on a high when I got home. Most other practices, I felt like I was never going to make it where I need to be and came home in tears. Mr. Carnate was completely puzzled by my apparent Jekyll and Hyde reaction to derby this season. I would be frustrated sometimes last year but never like this.

After a particularly bad day of derby I came home from work to Mr. Carnate standing in the kitchen with something reddish brown in his hand. It turns out he had cut a leftover pork chop into a heart shape and colored it red with paprika. He said, "I know you had a bad day so I made you a meat heart!". It takes a special kind of guy to do something that... creative (as it takes a special kind of gal to be completely touched by it). I love Mr. Carnate with all my heart and it hurt me that The Derbycoaster affected him, too.

We came back from our second trip to UK and I immediately jumped into bout week mayhem for our season opener. I had so much off-skates stuff to do that I skipped all but one practice that week to get ready for the day. That Sunday I had a frank, teary conversation with Mr. Carnate about my frustrations with skating, the things I WANT to be able to do with my time, and lots of other stuff. His concerns can be summed up in the statement that sealed the deal for me. He said, "If we spend this little time together now, what would it be like if we had kids?"

I want kids. He's on the fence, mostly because of how little *quality* time we spend together now. If I'm home (i.e. not at practice, I'm sitting in my office doing off-skates derby stuff). While we're in the same house, we're not spending time together if you know what I mean. We tried the "set one day a week aside" thing and it just wasn't working out. Something would always come up, usually family-related, that would torpedo our 100% free day with each other.

Something had to give. With tears in my eyes because I didn't want it to be true but knew it was, "I have to stop skating." I couldn't keep going on like this. I was tired of feeling like doo doo about myself after every practice. I wanted to do other things around the house that I could never get to. I wanted to get off the damn emotional Derbycoaster. And I wanted to spend *real* time with my family and not be worrying about what I wasn't doing.

My Wish
I wish that I still had a derby skating outlet that was low-commitment and mixed ability. This would solve both the time issue AND the feeling like crap about my ability issue. I could go back to progressing at my pace without all the pressure. Hopefully in the future, NHRD will decide to create a recreational group for the many people like me to can't or don't want to commit to the whole enchilada of the derby lifestyle. NH needs a recreational derby outlet and I would love to be a part of it when one pops up.

If any number of the circumstances above had been different, perhaps I would have made a different decision. If I had been a bouting skater, I would have probably felt comfortable missing the odd practice to do stuff that needed to be done. If I hadn't missed so much practice time due to, well, everything then perhaps those last two laps might not have been so elusive. If I hadn't bought a house I wouldn't have found all this neat stuff to do (pelletized lime, anyone?) or spent so much time/money at Home Depot.

My decision made me sad, but at the same time I knew that it was the right one. NHRD is awesomely amazing and I am glad I am still able to be a part of it in a reduced way. Maybe one of these days circumstances will change and I'll be in a position to come back full time and in better shape, but for now I know I'm doing what needs to be done. <3

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm still here!

This is just a quick note while my boss isn't looking to say that I'm still here! I was unable to skate for most of September and October and NHRD has been on their off-season for November and December. We just had our season kickoff league meeting last night and we are ready to rock and roll for a super exciting 2011 season! Our first practice is tomorrow night and, Sod's Law, Mr. Carnate and I are closing on our first house that day. Only a handful of things in life trump derby but that's one of them.

I hope to get a post in this weeknd before my first practice on Monday but that will depend on Comcast's ability to keep their promise about turning on our interwebz on Friday.

See you all SOON!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The incredible invisible freshie.

"Where have you been?" you may ask. The answer to that well-deserved question is, "not skating". At least with the league. There comes a time in some derby girls' lives when their real life must temporarily push away their derby life. Unfortunately, I have been experiencing one of those times.

Between the tailbone injury, the leg injury, and a hellish situation at my real-life job, it has been a good two months since I've had a proper practice with the league. I was attending practices during my injured periods, just not skating, but since mid-August I have been working too much to be able to make weekday practices.

I've been trying to skate when I can - typically at lunch or at the end of the "standard" work day. It outdoor skating, which I have to say I'm not a huge fan of, so skating at Roller Kingdom on Saturday on the silky smooth surface was lovely. I know. I used the words "silky smooth surface" and "Roller Kingdom" in the same sentence but after the parking lot at work, I meant it.

I have been trying to stay involved on the weekends - those two precious days that I have deemed "mine" and which I refuse to let work defile as it has the rest of the week. You don't need to know what I do for work. It it will suffice to say that due to several unforeseen circumstances, most outside of my control, I spend a lot of time doing it as of late.

I miss derby. I miss the feeling that I'm doing something completely badass, even though I know that my skills are far from it. I am petrified that when we move to tryouts next season that I am going to fail and be exiled from this amazing group of women who I adore. The day of the meeting at work when I knew that the next few months would be hell, I spent my lunch in Mr. Carnate's car crying in the Wal-Mart parking lot about how work was going to temporarily force me to stop derby.

After a couple of productive weeks recently (and an article about Life/Work balance sent by Mr. Carnate) I decided that for one day a week (for now) my company can make do without me. It will do me (or my company) absolutely no good if I finish these projects, only to be a completely useless mass of gibbering human. One night a week of getting my ass handed to me for three hours will hopefully recharge me for the week to come. I just want to feel like I'm DOING something!

So this Thursday I am going to practice. From what I hear I am going to be in rough shape on Friday morning - must remember to strechhhhh afterward!

On the food front, Weight Watchers has been going quite well, considering my activity level has been low. I've lost 12 pounds in the last 6 weeks, although some of that may have been muscle mass from being derby-less. That's 12 less pounds to lug around the track for 25 in 5. That's 12 less pounds to land on my ass practicing transitions. That's 12 less pounds to haul up off the ground after being taken out in spectacular fashion during a drill.
I've lost 12 of these!
I have miles to go - in order to become a WW lifetime member I have to eventually make a goal weight of less that 169 pounds. I haven't been that weight since I was 19 and fresh out of basic training. I don't know if that's attainable now in my early 30's. I sure as heck am going to try. 85 pounds to go... the average weight of an 11-year old girl.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Heart Food

My post this morning is going to be a little bit about Helen and a little bit about the person behind Helen.

I love food. I love the taste of a juicy medium-rare steak (apologies to the veggies I just grossed out). I love loaded baked potatoes. I love lasagna. I love bacon. I love ice cream sundaes. Food just tastes so freaking nice I can't stand it sometimes. This is at least a part of the reason I am the size I am today. (Note: I do eat a variety of foods, these are just some of the "bad" foods that I *love* the taste of)

In an attempt to reconcile my love of food with my desire to be able to haul my butt around the track fast enough to pass my 25 in 5 sometime this century, among a few other personal reasons, I decided to join Weight Watchers last week.

I really think I am ready at this point to make my eating habits a "lifestyle change" as all the people who know about such things say it should be. One of the things that I have learned very quickly in the last 7 days has been that the alternative choices I've been making to try to be healthier aren't, in fact, all that much healthier after all.

For those who don't know, the Weight Watchers system assigns all foods a point value based on calories, total fat, and dietary fiber. A 200 calorie food with 8 grams of fat and 1 gram of fiber is going to "cost" more points than a 200 calorie food with 2 grams of fat and 4 grams of fiber. Each person in the program is assigned a points limit based on current weight, gender, activity level, and age. At the moment, I can have 32 points each day.

One might think, as I did, that they are being "good" by having a Chicken Caesar Wrap at D'Angelo's versus, say, an equivalent size BLT. Said chicken caesar wrap will put you out 20 points. That's right, boys and girls, 2/3 of your daily points allowance for one "healthy" wrap. Let's look at this example for a moment. Sure, it's got lettuce (0 points veggie, yay!), and chicken (lean protein, yay!), but it also has creamy caesar dressing (fatty), parmesan cheese (fatty), and a wrap (fatty). I have learned quickly to not be fooled by a food item's "healthy" appearance.

I could give any number of examples of places where, in the last 8 months since I started roller derby, I've tried to make the "healthy" choice where that choice really wasn't any good at all. Here I am wondering why I'm sweating my ass off for two hours at practice twice a week and going to an open skate on my own and NOT losing weight.

The answer to my question has johnny rocketed me in the sternum and hip checked me off into a far corner of the rink in the last week. What I'm trying to do now is reconcile my love for "bad" foods with my desire to be successful in the program. My first experiment starts today.

Mr. Carnate (who is also doing the program) and I have done really well this week. I found a way to make spaghetti and meatballs for 11 points (whole wheat pasta and ground turkey meatballs), and I made a chicken chow mein recipe packed with veggies and yum for only 5 points! We are treating ourselves to "bad" food tonight. I am planning to have one of my vices... a loaded baked potato (SO GOOD!) which will hit me 13 points all on its own. The point is, I have to plan for it. I'm being extra careful with my points today and munching on lots of veggies (cucumber slices on a hot day anyone?) which have 0 points. I can't do this every day but the beauty of the WW program is that it doesn't say, "you can't have this food because it's bad," it says, "Have the foods that you enjoy but in moderation and if they have heavy points, plan for it."

The first true test will be this weekend's away bout in Vermont. I'm staying in a hotel, dangerously close to the Ben & Jerry's and Cabot Cheese factories, and going to after parties where large quantities of food and alcohol will undoubtedly be consumed. Will I have the will power to say NO to that plate of bacon ranch fries or that giant glass of fruity carb-laden alcoholic yumminess? If I breakdown and partake, will I be honest enough to tally up what my indulgence has cost me in progress? We shall see.