Thursday, July 31, 2008

The scale giveth …

and the scale taketh away.

That’s a little bass-ackward, since last week I weighed less than I do this week, but in my little world “giving” means a loss and “taking away” means – um – a gain. Duh.

I’m not too upset, though. This has been a stressful week and I’m an emotional eater, so the food has not been exactly clean and pretty. If you’re thinking that I maybe, possibly, left South Beach by the wayside for a few days you’d be absolutely right.

I’m not sure how much I believe in the theory that’s been bandied about the internets for years now that weight-training might be responsible for a slight gain when you’re starting out. I’m happy to say that I lifted weights for 20 minutes on Monday and again yesterday. One more day and I’ll have the weekly hour done! Whether 40 minutes of hoisting dumbbells and barbells has anything to do with this week’s backward slide is debatable, considering the crazy stuff I ate this week.

Wouldn’t it be nice to do everything right at the same time?

Mindy wondered if I would share the pattern for the bag that’s up for grabs (if you’d like a chance to win, post a comment before midnight EST tonight). E-mail me at shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net and I’ll shoot a .pdf file off to you. Please don’t share it with others – it’s one of the few things I still sell on my woefully outdated website.

Today is the first tempo run of the new training schedule. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, just assume I died on the treadmill.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Better late than never

Today has been kind of wacky, timewise. And even though I woke up early, I still haven’t had time to do a quick post until now.

I had planned to lift weights and take a walk yesterday morning. I lifted weights, but got a call to be someplace a little earlier than I’d anticipated and had to ditch the walk. I feel very good about getting some weight training in, though, and gave myself a star for 20 minutes of effort.

Today I had to be cleaned up and ready to leave the house at 8:30 a.m. Kinda like you working people. The training schedule for today was an easy two-mile run, so I got it out of the way early (on the treadmill) and gave myself a star for that, as well.

As for knitting, I found a mostly finished bag over the weekend, finished the strap and felted it. On the left, before; on the right, after.

I need another bag like a need another 20 pounds – which is to say I don’t – so it’s up for grabs. If you’d like your very own blue-and-green wool bag, leave a comment before Thursday night at midnight, EST. I’ll assign numbers and pick one at random. Winner will be announced Friday, August 1.

Monday, July 28, 2008

In the beginning

Today is the first day of the rest of my life half-marathon training.

Well, it seems like the rest of my life. It was 90 degrees here in the Middle of Nowhere yesterday and it will very likely be in the 60s or colder when I toe the starting line in Richmond in November.

(As you distance racing veterans know, only the elites get to actually “toe” the starting line. The rest of us get to huddle up in corrals with the masses, several blocks behind the fastest runners. We sometimes don’t even notice the starting line when we eventually cross it.)

Nothing says “time passes” like the weather in the Middle of Nowhere.

As I mentioned last week, today’s schedule calls for a rest day. But you can also cross-train on rest days. I spent Saturday morning helping load eight truckloads of wood from our demolition project, which I thought was quite a good weightlifting workout. Lifting weights would be a good thing to do today, as well.

Here’s what’s left of our pool house:

One thing I’m going to have to pound into my pretty little head this time around is that I don’t have to start out at the suggested pace. It’s something to work toward. I’d like to finish in 2:30, but I don’t expect my first training run to even come close to a 12-minute mile. (Don’t laugh. I’m old. And slow.)

Finally, apropos of nothing at all, here’s a photo of my zinnia.

Yes, you read it correctly – ONE zinnia. I planted six packages of zinnia seeds the last week of May, watered them every day for a week and then had to go to Florida when my dad got sick. When I got back, all these cute little seedlings were sprouting, and I thought they were flowers. I figured out, eventually, they weren’t, but have been too lazy to pull them all out. Good thing, too, or I’d have missed the miracle! Heh.

Friday, July 25, 2008


What is it with .pdf files that are so freaking huge they simply won’t download? Evah? There are ways, my pretties, to reduce the file size of photos so that the resultant .pdf will download in, literally, seconds!

And while we’re at it, what is it with the Blogger/Mozilla combination that won’t let me update my Google Reader? I have to open Reader in Safari in order to manage my blog subscriptions.

And this morning when I tried to leave a comment at Cranky Fitness, Blogger kept saying it was done when it was really just giving up. Goodness knows, I don’t need another cookbook, but the one they’re giving away looks so good. I’m a sucker for a good photo of chocolate cake. Heh.

Perhaps it all boils down to dial-up internet service. Having a broadband connection isn’t a good enough reason to leave the Middle of Nowhere.

But it’s close.

Perhaps all these ‘grrrs’ mean I’m leaving the blahs behind?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Let’s weigh in, shall we?

Somehow, despite a week of steroids, crazy (non-South Beach) eating and virtually no exercise, I managed to lose two pounds since my last weigh-in, whenever that was.

What’s up with that?

For the past week I’ve kind of eaten like how I imagine regular folks eat: a brownie here, a hamburger (with the bun) there. We even had buttered popcorn one night for an evening snack.

I’m not even going to try to analyze or explain it. It is what it is, and I’ll take it, thankyouverymuch.

Forgive me a tiny bit of analysis: I hesitate to give any credit to my new favorite beverage, but it does contain antioxidants that are purported to boost metabolism. I love, love, LOVE Lipton Diet Green Tea with Citrus. Tiny Kroger even has a store brand that’s just as tasty and a buck-fifty cheaper (per 12 bottles) than the Real Stuff. But since I was at Sam’s yesterday I picked up two cases of the Real Stuff, which ought to last us, oh, a week or so.

I haven’t been knitting at all. The triplet sweaters are going to be too small for their fall wardrobe – they each weigh between 10 and 11 pounds now. I’ve abandoned that project and can’t seem to find anything new that’s exciting or tempting. I’ve been spending all my former knitting time playing solitaire, either on the computer or on the iPod.

That’s not a good sign for my mental health. I hope that getting back into a disciplined race training program will help me back out of these doldrums.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A case of the blahs

I’m going to attempt the Richmond Half-Marathon this fall. I originally thought the date was Nov. 8; turns out it’s the 15th, giving me an extra week before Serious Training commences.

That delay, combined with my doctor’s admonition to stay out of the sun and the slight puffiness from the steroids I’ve been taking (last one went down this morning!) has contributed to a case of the blahs. Or the lazies. You make the call.

Other than filling and moving trash bags for an hour or two the past couple days, my intentional exercise has been nil. Nada. Nyet. I could get used to this.

But then I remember how much I enjoy training – sticking with the schedule, adding bright little stars to my calendar when I’ve completed a workout, progressing and improving as time goes on – and suddenly I can’t wait for Monday. Because, according to the schedule, Monday is … are you ready? … a REST DAY!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Four years later …

We used to have a pool in our side yard, a ridiculously expensive hole in the ground that took tons o’ work to maintain. The amount of enjoyment we received from it was far less than the amount of time and money we spent taking care of it.

When the liner finally couldn’t take another repair, and a replacement was going to cost $10,000(!), we decided to fill it in. That was four years ago.

During those years we’ve had this squat little building sitting in the yard facing what used to be the pool. We filled it with odds and ends – books, furniture, Christmas decorations – and ignored it.

Until this year. Getting rid of the poolhouse has been high on my husband’s retirement priority list, and yesterday was the Beginning of the End.

Today’s exercise will consist largely in bagging insulation and roofing material and carrying it down the driveway for the sanitation department to take away. Thank goodness we’re not so far out in the Middle of Nowhere that we don’t have weekly garbage pick-up.

For once in my recent life, I wish I were running. Heh.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I like the nightlife

Well, not really. I’m one of those “early-to-bed, early-to-rise” kinda gals. But since last Thursday I’ve been feeling kind of like that cute little vampire over there – staying out of the sun, for the most part, although not because I’m out cruising for blood from sunset to sunrise.

At the ripe old age of 57 I’ve suddenly developed skin problems. The painful rash that sent me to an Urgent Care when I was in Florida in early June showed up again last week. So here I am on another course of steroids (this time including an injection), along with the doctor’s admonition to stay out of the sun.

Do you know how hard that is to do when you live in the Mid-Atlantic United States in the middle of July?

I may have gone through a tube of Clearasil as a teen, but for the most part my skin has never given me a moment’s concern. I’ve been complimented on my youthful complexion many times, and maintaining it hasn’t cost me more than the price of a bottle of body wash. Usually on sale.

Marathon training (or half-marathon – I still haven’t decided which) begins in a week. Early to rise will be a good thing if I have to get out and run before dawn breaks. As for cross-training? Well, I like to boogie.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

I don’t care …

if I never eat again.

That’s how full I still am this morning.

So the stress continues; my dad is doing great but another family member isn’t. There’s no illness involved, thank goodness, but there’s tension; life here in the Middle of Nowhere is definitely not peaceful.

My husband and I had accepted a dinner invitation for last night before I went to visit my father. With everything else going on around here, we weren’t feeling very sociable, but we had to cancel the last invitation with this couple because of Dad’s previous hospitalization. So it was more than a social obligation, it was a Social Obligation. If you know what I mean.

All we knew about this couple is that they raise Belted Galloways and some kind of longwool sheep (Coopworth, maybe?), that they lean to the political left and that they live even further in the Middle of Nowhere than we do.

What we learned last night is that they also are extremely self-sufficient.

The only part of dinner they didn’t raise or grow themselves were the Country Time lemonade, the salad dressing and the coffee. Oh, and the bean salad I took, the making of which meant discarding four empty tin cans.

There were seven of us altogether; we toured the house (the husband built it himself) and property before we sat down to eat. The vegetable garden covered about two acres and included five varieties of potatoes, among other things. (The Irish potato famine occurred because they were only growing one kind of spud, which developed blight.) Also corn, peas, several varieties of beans, squash, tomatoes, carrots, Brussel sprouts – you name it, they grow it.

They have four dogs – one is a pet, two work the livestock and one patrols and guards the property.

Our hosts had to cover their half-eaten dinners with napkins precisely at 7 p.m. to milk one of the cows. Without her milk, we would not have had fresh cream for our coffee or homemade ice cream for dessert. (You were wondering when I would get around to the menu, weren’t you?)

Okay: fresh salad greens with black beans, corn and onions; homemade bread and butter (also courtesy of the cow); pork roast; potato salad, garnished with sliced hard-cooked eggs; pickled beets; dilled yellow beans; bread-and-butter pickles, and the aforementioned ice cream.

This was sooo not South Beach-friendly. But it also was sooo good.

In an odd way, I think we all felt kind of wholesome and healthy as we waddled back to our cars, clutching our lovely parting gifts – containers of homemade yogurt.

And I know if I’d actually done any kind of work to earn the right to eat that way, I’d feel a heck of a lot better this morning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sliding back to normal

While I enjoy travel and company and changing my routine, I always enjoy getting back to ‘normal,’ whatever that is. Since my husband is rather, um, domestically challenged, normal has meant many loads of laundry and a more-than-normal amount of cleaning. I mowed half the yard yesterday and will finish that job today. Nothing says normal in the Middle of Nowhere like bouncing around a couple of acres on a riding lawnmower.

For those of us obsessed concerned with weight loss, “normal” eating probably means ice cream, chips and fast-food – all the stuff normal people eat. But if you look around, most of those eating calorie-laden meals and snacks don’t look very normal. In case you’ve missed the news lately, Americans are getting fatter.

My normal means getting back to the South Beach way of eating, which is easy to stick to and effective in shedding lard. It didn’t happen yesterday, I’m sorry to say, but it will today. For the foreseeable future I’ll be chowing down on eggs, lean meat, chicken and tons o’ salad.

I walked three miles yesterday, and even threw a bit of running into the route toward the end. I felt good when I was done, and am pleasantly sore this morning.

Thanks for all your welcome-home messages, and especially for your good wishes for my dad. We both appreciate it, more than you’ll ever know.

See you in the Middle of Normal. Heh.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The coma diet

I certainly don’t recommend septicemic shock, a coma, dialysis, heavy doses of antibiotics and two knee surgeries as weight-loss tools, but they worked for my dad, who has shed nearly 60 pounds since his initial hospitalization May 28.

He’s definitely on the road to recovery. His surgeon again opted for an arthroscopy, withdrawing some fluid which tested clear of infection. That means no major surgery and no six weeks of immobilization. He’ll be working on regaining the mobility he had prior to the infection and, since the infection is gone, he should be better.

The stress-and-travel diet didn’t work so well for me, and I’m back to Square One, but with renewed motivation. I’ve lost weight before. I know I can do it.

Hell seems to have broken loose around the old homestead while I was away, as it is wont to do, and while stress will continue to plague me for a while (let’s hope for not too long this time), at least I’m not on the road and will have better control of my food.

My appetite may be out of control, but I’m in charge of the menu. Heh.

I can’t really say it’s good to be back (see “hell seems to have broken loose”), but back I am, and I’ll do my best to post somewhat regularly until the next out-of-state crisis.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Of chips and cheese and cha-ching

Mary commented yesterday that the price of chips and mac & cheese are probably pretty reasonable. I honestly wouldn’t know (although I suspect she’s quite correct), since I only buy chips once a year and when I make mac & cheese, I make it from scratch.

Not this year, though. At $1.65 for one of those deluxe-type side dishes, there’s no way a “from-scratch” pasta casserole can compete. But I can afford to jazz up the boxed version. Heh.

I don’t mean to sound like we don’t have enough money to eat, because that would be wrong. And not true. My husband picked what may be the worst possible time to retire, though. Now that we know what it means to live on a fixed income, we are more aware than ever of The Price of Things.

There is a little mom-and-pop grocery store seven miles south of us (the Tiny Kroger is 12 miles north). This little market sells your basic fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, so we went there yesterday for tomatoes – 99¢ a pound, and they’re beautiful.

The Price of Sitting on My Ass in Front of the Computer this morning is that the things I didn’t check off yesterday’s list will not get done without my presence and participation. So I’d best get going. Thanks for reading, and if you’re an American, have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hoo boy

Why have I parked my ass on the Swiss ball in front of the computer when I have a bajillion things to do to get ready for:
  • 4th of July company, and
  • a trip to North Carolina, followed immediately by
  • a trip to Florida?
Because I really don’t want to start checking things off that long, long to-do list.

Seriously, I have to cook like 15 things today, plus sweep and mop the floors, make a quick-but-important trip to town and go to a meeting 25 miles away tonight. My husband has promised to do the half-dozen or so cleaning things on the second list. We’ll see how that goes. Heh.

Yesterday morning my husband and I took a 10K walk together (3.5 mph pace), which is always nice. I seriously can’t remember one time that we’ve every walked and had any kind of disagreement. I tend to be chatty, while he likes to listen and think, so it works pretty well for us. He did relist all his reasons why I shouldn’t try running a marathon at my age. Grrr.

While I was at the grocery yesterday, I realized that higher food prices may be the answer to this country’s obesity epidemic. Seriously, who can eat when a 10-oz. container of grape tomatoes is selling for $4.99? I was astonished! Not only can one not afford grape tomatoes, the very fact that one would have to hand over a five-dollar bill (plus tax – we are in West Virginia, where they tax everything) for them simply takes your appetite away.

I see a new diet book in my future. You’d buy it, wouldn’t you?

Posting for the next couple of weeks will be spotty … please don’t delete me from your Google Readers!