Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Keep on keepin' on

What else can one do, when all is said and done?

My husband and I have been dealing with a situation involving a family member. Such situations tend to take their toll, after a while, and this one certainly has. But in some cases – and this is one of them – there's nothing to do but to put one foot in front of the other and keep on keepin' on.

It helps to have a sense of humor about it. It's difficult to find that sense of humor in the midst of chaos and crisis, but we've managed, a couple of times. It helps to have an outlet – someplace to rant and rave and yell about it, and that can be with friends (thanks E and M!) or in the shower or in the car. Hopefully it won't devolve into ranting at each other.

I want to eat and eat and eat when I get angry and frustrated. Instead of putting one foot in front of the other, I've been able to take a step back, to be still and recognize that external factors are driving me to the pantry door. Fortunately – so far! – I haven't jumped into the pantry. (And, truthfully, I wouldn't find much to sabotage myself with anyway. I mean, how much damage can dried pinto beans or canned tomatoes do?)

As long as I continue to eat from physical hunger instead of emotional hunger, I should be all right. I know for sure that eating won't satisfy emotional hunger.

What do you know for sure?

P.S. Thanks to Denise for pointing me in Jack's direction. I've added him to my Reader and am looking forward to digging into the archives.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Running

At the beginning of 2009, I had it in mind that I would at least run one half-marathon sometime during the year. Due to a variety of circumstances, that didn't happen. This past fall, I got the bright idea that I would run a full marathon in 2010. But I already know that won't happen either.

I'm setting limits for myself, even though I know I shouldn't. But being a practical sort, and knowing my weight-loss history, it will take a good long time before I'm in good enough physical shape to run 26.2 miles in one day. Hopefully in six or so hours.

I watched Running the Sahara today. My favorite line was this, spoken by the team leader to one of the three members who wanted to quit at about the halfway point:

"If you don't want excitement, run a marathon."

That might come across as a little elitist, but these guys truly didn't know what was coming next as they ran … and ran … and ran … across Africa. It's an amazing documentary and an amazing story and if you think of yourself as a runner – even a little bit – it's worth watching.

If I can lose five pounds a month for the next 10 months, I'll be in good enough shape to run a marathon. And there's one next November I'd like to try. But I can't make that commitment now, in December, 2009. I just can't.

If I lose five pounds a month for the next 10 months, I'll be in great shape to start training for a marathon. I can wrap my brain around that. It might be in the spring of 2011 or I might wait until that fall one. Maybe I'll do both.

But right now it's just silly to call myself a runner when my average pace is little more than a fast walk.

I'm not changing the name of the blog (again), though. For someone who was always picked last in gym class and never thought of myself as athletic, I do love to run. It's just going to take some time before I can get back out there and do it again.

Tell me, please, I'm not the only one out here who feels like this.

Monday, December 28, 2009

We don't need no stinkin' Mondays

Take that, Monday. And take that, January 1st, as well! The Official Debbi Does Dieting Regime (or, ODDDR, how appropriate is that) started Saturday, thankyouverymuch, and not a moment too soon. I saw a very scary number on the bathroom scale the day after Christmas, and decided enough was enough.

Enough peanut butter fudge. Enough snickerdoodles. Enough walnut caramels. Enough shortbread. Enough, enough, enough. We're back to clean eating here at Chez Knit Run Repeat, and it feels great.

So far.

I'm sure the day will come when I'm tempted beyond my limits, but I'm hoping I'll remember to come back to today's post and instantly regain my motivation, instead of lardage.

It's truly frightening how quickly weight can pile on. As I told my husband, though, new fat disappears more quickly than old fat does, so I hope to at least get rid of the holiday damage before our winter vacation next month. And since our winter vacation will take place in sunny Florida, we're hoping a daily long walk on the beach will help continue the downward trend. (He's gained a few too many pounds for his comfort, too. It's not just me!)

If you read any outstanding and motivating blog posts as the new year sweeps in, please let me know in the comments. I've been losing (and gaining) weight for far too long and need all the help I can get. Changing habits and reaching goals is better done with help from others. Trying to do this alone sucks, frankly, but since my social network is pretty much internet-based, then you guys are my Chosen Ones. I know you didn't volunteer, but you've been so helpful and supportive over the years (ever since the Shrinking Knitter days), that I know you won't mind giving me a pat on the back or a shout out every once in a while.

Who among you is ready to finally, finally get this done?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

 
You know the drill. Save the image, punch a hole
through the white circle on the right, tie a piece of yarn
through it and add it to your bookmark collection.

Oh, and have a very merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

I got home from my little trip last night and jumped right into Life As Usual. I feel like I've already had Christmas, since I got to visit with both my children and all of their children all at the same time. My daughter took some great photos of the three grandchildren and of all of us together, so for me, Noel et finis!

My husband and I will be going to an annual open house this evening, and we're looking forward to that. Otherwise, I'm back to cooking, cleaning, laundry and, um, shoveling snow. More than a foot of it piled up while I was gone. It's lovely, really, and it's the first white Christmas I can remember since I moved to West Virginia.

I know y'all are busy doing stuff, too busy to read blogs, so this is short, sweet and full of good wishes for a lovely holiday for all of you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Quote Day


Happy Friday before Christmas!

I'm heading west, but thanks to the Miracle of Blogger I was able to create this post ahead of time and schedule its publication for today. Didn't want to miss giving you your weekly gift just because I was going away for a few days.

I didn't say anything about the health care reform debacle yesterday. Too raw, maybe. But here goes.

Many in Congress are not doing a very good job of spreading light. Republicans who are fighting reform at every turn in order to see President Obama fail certainly fall into this category. Baucus, Lieberman and the rest of the so-called Democrats who are bought and paid for by insurance and healthcare corporations do, too. Even President Obama, who surely could have handled this whole mess with more strength and conviction, is guilty of not shining the way he could and should have.

But one Senator does shine, bright and clear and steadfast, and he is Bernie Sanders. His impassioned speech on the Senate floor Wednesday in support of a single-payer system brought tears to my eyes. He has never wavered in his conviction that health care is a human right.

Did you get that? Health care is a human right. It is not a commodity to be profited from or traded upon.

Senator Sanders concluded his speech by explaining how the country of Taiwan found itself in the same position we in the U.S. are now. Health care costs were out of control, its citizens were dying unnecessarily and they were looking for a solution. They studied health-care systems worldwide and eventually picked one on which to model their system. That one was the United States' Medicare model. Taiwan employs a Medicare-for-all health care plan, and we should, too.

Shine on, Senator Sanders, and thank you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Breathe in, breathe out, move on

I love that Jimmy Buffet song. (Can you believe it? I listen to other-than-Dylan music!) He wrote it about New Orleans after Katrina, but it's applicable to many, many situations.

The Big DVD Project for my dad is done. I accidentally trashed it and emptied the trash when I was finished with it the first time, two days ago, so had to recreate it from scratch. Fortunately it was only a six-minute production (heh); it wasn't worth the time or money to download and purchase a data-recovery program. I will, however, execute a back-up the next time I do something like this.

Now that it's done I really do feel like I can breathe. Cards have been signed, sealed, stamped and sent. "Delivered" is up to the U.S. Postal Service; it's out of my hands. Today I will wrap gifts, do laundry, finish making treats and do some general tidying up.

I might even get a walk in, if I have some time this afternoon. I prefer morning exercise, but it's too cold then for me. Some people are learning to handle outdoor exercise in cold weather. I'm looking' at you, J-man! Morning workouts mean they get done; I'm sure both of you noticed my caveat – if I have time. 

If you haven't congratulated her yet, pop over to Fat[Free] Me's blog and give her a high five for giving her young self the best Christmas present ever. If I could give young people one piece of weight-loss advice, it would be this: Make the first time you lose it the last time, because it gets harder with each subsequent attempt. At some point in your life, after you've spend decades on the gaining/losing merry-go-round, your body will betray you, and while you might feel great and have wonderful lab results and be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, you will not be losing weight in any meaningful way.

Ask me how I know.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Christmas lament

Why do I do this to myself year after year after year? And please, please tell me I'm not the only one.

Christmas comes but once a year, always on the same day, and – beginning every December 26, we all have a year to get ready for it. So how come I'm not ready and it's a measly nine days away? And for me, it's really a measly two days away, because I'll be celebrating the holidays with both my children and their families beginning Friday.

My to-do list this year was too long and was created too late. I won't get any doll clothes made for my younger granddaughter's Bitty Baby, but I did manage to get them cut out. I also knit a tiny sweater for her. I even sewed the buttons on in a somewhat timely manner! But without the outfits, I think I'll just save the sweater and send everything after the holidays. The present Santa forgot. Heh.

I'm working on an iMovie project for my dad and it's being rather recalcitrant. I've had all the material for it since August, but I guess Job One for me this fall has been Procrastination, because here it is, mid-December, and I'm encountering problems and have no time to fix them. Well, I do have time, if I give up sleeping, which is what I did this morning. Did you know four-thirty o'clock came more than once a day?

The one thing I did ahead of time was book airline tickets for my husband and myself for a little winter getaway next month. That's our present to each other, and all we have to do for that is throw some clothes in a bag and make it to the airport.

Let's hope we don't have a mid-January blizzard this year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Seen a shooting star tonight

Another blog post title brought to you by Bob Dylan. I'm getting in a rut here. If you're a casual Dylan listener, you probably aren't familiar with this song, which he recorded during the late '80s, a time in which only hard-core fans bought his albums. Like me. (And even I'm not hard-core enough to buy his Christmas CD. The reviews are horrible! It's for a good cause, but money's too tight these days.)

The Geminid meteor showers are putting on quite a show. If it wasn't so cold, I'd still be outside. In five minutes I saw half a dozen shooting stars streaking across the early-morning sky.

Here in the Middle of Nowhere we aren't affected by light pollution too much except to the south, but all I had to do was look up and toward the west to catch the performance. I love starting the day – and the week – with a smile, and falling stars always make me smile.

So. The weekend was good as far as food goes. I really feel as though I've got a handle on eating. Since I'm 58 years old, one could say it's about time! I'm cooking healthful meals from scratch probably 90 percent of the time. I use commercially canned tomatoes and mushrooms on pizza, for instance, but the whole-wheat crust and mozzarella are made from scratch and the onions came from the market down the road.

Since it's the holiday season, I've been baking and making treats, but I'm freezing them and everything will be given away. I thought I was done, but sometime in the middle of the night I remembered Snickerdoodles. My mother always made Snickerdoodles at Christmas time, so I will, too. And maybe some Snappy Turtles, another of her specialties.

While my eating has been acceptable, exercise has gone by the wayside. With the treadmill being cranky and the temperatures plummeting, I've seen that I need to figure out other alternatives. Should have a good opportunity for an outdoor walk today; maybe I'll come up with some good ideas while I'm walking.

I'm dithering about the marathon in April. I haven't lost any weight. Training starts in 11 days (if I want a four-month training period). There are other reasons to put it off, too. I'm not sure I could finish at my current weight, so that really needs to be Job One.

Maybe I'll go back out and wish on one of those falling stars. As the old saying goes, it's like chicken soup in a car wreck: It can't hurt!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Quote Day

It's the second Friday of December, and you know what that means … another present!



Or, as Franklin's friend Winston Churchill said: "Never, never, never, never give up."

Since I've seen myself as overweight since I was 11, and I'm still trying to get to what I consider a normal size, I guess I've been following the advice of both Roosevelt and Churchill for most of my life.

That's both bad and good. Bad because I tend to feel like I'm on a hamster wheel (or a treadmill, when it doesn't quit on me!), working really hard but not actually getting anywhere. I try not to let those thoughts enter my pretty little head too often, but when I'm trying on jeans – as I was yesterday – it's easy and comfortable to fall into those negative thoughts.

The good is that I continue to persevere. What drives me is that I've been thin before. I was younger, of course, and I was also an insane gym rat, but I know deep inside that the possibility of a normal body is still there.

And if what I'm doing now isn't working (and it isn't), it's time to start anew. You know what? January One is nearly here. Three weeks is soon enough. I'm not going to go crazy in the next three weeks, as I don't want to pile on even more that I eventually will get rid of. But I am going to enjoy the holidays and not focus too much on any kind of Plan.

At least that's how I feel right now. It's early, I didn't sleep well and my thinking could be clouded. Heh.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Idiot wind

Those of you who know and love me might know that today's title is brought to you by Bob Dylan.

And Mother Nature.

I worked out on the treadmill yesterday for 16 minutes. During that time the belt suddenly stopped moving three times. I figured that was a sign that maybe I should go for a walk outside, as the temperature was in the low 50s and it was nice and sunny.

About the time I made that decision, the wind started blowing. It hasn't really stopped yet, although it's slowed down considerably. As I was frantically trying to batten down the hatches yesterday around noon, I watched one of our pine trees snap off about two-thirds of the way down the trunk.

Our grill is laying on its side in the back yard, 50 feet from its usual spot on the patio. (It's a big, heavy grill; I can't believe the wind was strong enough to move it that far.) I found my compost bin an acre away on the side of a hill, and while I was rescuing it I noticed a highway crew moving a tree that had fallen from our woods across our road.

Oh, and the power was out for about four hours.

Quite an exciting day here in the Middle of Nowhere. At least if the wind is going to blow at blizzard levels, we could have had some snow! I think that might be coming today, although Mr. Weatherman has been wrong in his forecasts all week.

I had spent most of the morning in the kitchen making two loaves of bread, a batch of cottage cheese and a double batch of granola. I was in the middle of making vegetable soup when the electricity went off. Usually I simmer a pot of soup all afternoon. Since we wanted dinner at a decent hour, I had to reduce the simmer time considerably after our power returned, and the soup was wonderful! Nothing in it was cooked to death except the meat from the soup bone, which had simmered all morning. I've always made vegetable soup like my mother did – cooked to death. No more! Think of the time and energy I'll save from now on.

All in all, yesterday could have been a lot worse. We have a towering pine tree near the house that's still standing. I fell on a slippery walk, but only scraped my elbow. The compost bin might be repairable and if it isn't, it's not too expensive to replace. (I might find something I like better anyway.) My husband was out driving in all that wind, and nothing blew into his car.

The worst thing that happened was that I didn't get to walk. The best thing was I found a better way to make soup. It's all about silver linings.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Back to knitting

I'm afraid to read the news this morning. My husband watched all his favorite cable news programs last night and was full of Medicare-at-55 news when I finished watching The Biggest Loser finale. I'm not sure if I dreamed his conversations or if they were real!

The finale was very inspirational; the transformations from first day to last were incredible. Best of all, I made it past the halfway point of the Big Bad Boring Baby Blanket! Yeah, me!

Seed stitch takes longer to execute than stockinette, and the blanket has a wide border of seed stitch all the way around. The center is four large squares of alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette. And I'm knitting it using two strands of softball cotton in ivory.

Yawn.

I'm anxious to start a new project. I have an idea for a child's toy that I think I should be able to sell the pattern for, but I need to find time to create the prototype. Good thing I have triplets to knit for, since I think it will take three tries to get it right!

I took a three-mile walk outside yesterday. I had every intention of going five, but it was c-c-c-cold outside. After a mile I started sweating, but by then I was at the top of a hill and in a clearing and the wind just made my sweat turn to ice. Well, not really, but it sure felt like it!

Food has been good and I even lifted weights Monday. Will do that again today. This is quite the boring post, to go along with the boring baby blanket. Heh.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Could we really have meaningful health care reform?

Depending on who you listen to, the answer is yes or no. Even when you only listen to conservatives or liberals, the answer is yes or no. But an intriguing idea was thrown around last night on a couple of MSNBC programs, giving me, yet again, a little hope.

My Senator, Jay Rockefeller, introduced a bill last year some time ago which would lower the age for Medicare eligibility to 55. It appears that an amendment to the current Senate health care bill might do just that.

I think Medicare should start at birth. It's not free health care, and it's not socialized medicine, no matter what you might hear. It's not going broke, either. Yes, reforms need to be put in place, but what's worse: private health insurance premiums rising 15 to 20 percent annually (or, in my case, 33 percent)? Or overhauling a government-administered program that works quite well.

If you didn't attend any of the Congressional town hall meetings this summer, you may have missed the geriatric crowd shouting, "Don't mess with my Medicare!" at the same time they were denouncing health care reform for the rest of us.

Anyway … the Senate switchboard number is 202-224-3121. Call today, and ask to be connected to your Senators' offices. Encourage your elected officials to vote YES for Senate Amendment 2837.

Thank you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Can't get blogger to work this a.m.

For some reason it seems not-right to e-mail a blog post. I guess I'm
used to doing it MY way, checking the formatting, blah, blah, blah,
and when Blogger is being uncooperative, I feel like e-mailing a post
is a last resort and not as good. And you probably don't even notice
the difference!

We were away for the weekend, so no weigh-in this morning. One thing I
thought about all weekend, though, was this:

I should only eat when I'm hungry (I didn't do this all the time, but
I certainly did it most of the time, which is a big victory), and

It's okay to be hungry.

We had a great time on our little mini-trip, but it was punctuated
with two pretty bad shocks. If you read the blog Bo vs. BAC, which is
listed in my sidebar, you already know that Bo lost his battle with
cancer Saturday morning. He was a friend of a friend of my son's; I
never met him, but felt like I knew his wife, who took over the blog
when he was too ill to post. They have a little girl who will never
see her Daddy again, and that's just too sad for words.

The other was learning that the 25-year-old son of an old friend had a
motorcycle accident in September, and is paralyzed from mid-chest to
his toes. He was just a little boy when I met him, eight or nine I
think. I haven't stayed in touch with my friend, but thanks to Google
was able to find an e-mail address and send a short note.

If I ever feel overwhelmed or that life is not treating me fairly (I
rarely feel that way, I'm just sayin'), I hope I remember Bo and
Brian. We all have so much for which to be grateful.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Quote Day

'Tis the first Friday of Christmas month, and you get a present! Save the image at left (I think all you have to do is click on it and it will open by itself in a new window), print it on cardstock, laminate it, punch a hole where the black circle is and tie some leftover yarn through the hole. Every time you use your new bookmark you'll think of me!

Actually, I hope you think of being ready – or getting ready – to change, not of me.

If willpower worked, we'd all be thin and sober, no one would smoke and everyone would finish what they started, be it a marathon or a home remodeling project or a boring, endless baby blanket.

(You can tell what's on my list of Things That Need To Be Finished, can't you?)

I'm sober and I no longer smoke. And it didn't take an ounce of willpower to accomplish either. I simply wanted to not drink or smoke more than I wanted to. I was ready to be a non-smoker and a recovering alcoholic.

Am I ready to be thin again? Are you?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The news

My husband and I (he more than I) are news junkies. He watches the stock ticker all day and is glued to MSNBC all evening, with breaks for Brian Williams at 6:30 and Jeopardy at 7:30. What to do with the 7 p.m. time slot? More news, of course.

If you watch The Daily Show in the early evening, you get the previous night's rerun, which is fine with us because we're watching MSNBC. (Or he is; I'm usually in bed by then.) The big news Tuesday was, of course, President Obama's speech to the American public justifying sending more troops to Afghanistan. For some, there is no justification. And for others, nothing President Obama does will ever be right … or right enough.

Jon Stewart didn't dwell on it, though. His big news story of the day was illustrated by a clever montage of talking heads. The background music was Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, and each clip was someone dithering about The Man Who Makes His Living Hitting a Ball with a Stick.

I had to climb back on the couch by the time it was over. I was laughing so hard I was crying.

I'm disappointed in Tiger's behavior, and any public figure should know better than to dally with someone not his/her spouse. The paparazzi are watching. All. The. Time.

If only someone in the film corps would take that kind of interest in, say, factory farms. Sure documentary makers have done so, but only nerds watch documentaries, right? (Yes, I am a nerd.)

I've been thinking about exercise lately, mostly because I can't do as much with this foot problem. But I've been thinking about food even more. Online nutrition counters are filled to overflowing with packaged, labeled, name-brand foods. Sure, the basics are in there, and I don't have too much trouble figuring out the data for my home-cooked meals. But it's astonishing to look up, say, "beef stew" and get three dozen results, all of which are either canned, frozen or dished up by a restaurant.

I'm convinced that processed foods are more responsible for rising obesity rates than their makers – or any official agency – will admit. Follow the money: It's cheaper to strip real food of its nutrients and then add some of them back, load it with preservatives and slap a "Healthy Choice" label on it. It's more convenient for consumers to buy a low-calorie frozen whatever, throw it in the microwave and call it lunch.

I have the luxury of being able to raise some of my food and barter for more. I still go to the grocery store – we haven't given up our soda addiction, and I don't raise coffee, tea, sugar, flour or olives (for olive oil). I've learned that organic carrots, for instance, taste better than non-organic ones. Therefore I eat them. I've ordered meat for the freezer from the man who raised the cow.

This is how I ate growing up. Our beef was always from a grass-fed 4-H cow. Chickens ran around the pen or yard until their time was up. My dad's garden was huge and he was very proud of being able to offer his family fresh, wholesome food.

I was not fat until we moved to a house located right across the street from a little mom-and-pop grocery store. I'm sure I had a sweet tooth prior to that move, but my choices were limited to what my mother cooked and served. By the time we moved to that house, I had an allowance and could cross the street by myself.

I was 11.

So here's what I hope will happen. If I go back to eating the way I did when I was seven, say – no second helpings, good fresh food, grass-fed beef – I hope to trick my body into thinking I weigh what a seven-year-old should weigh giving up some of the excess pounds without resorting to "diet food."

Diet food doesn't satisfy. One 100-calorie snack bag leads to three, or six, or however many are in the overpackaged, overpriced box. A low-calorie frozen meal does not a good lunch make, which is why one finds oneself standing in front of a vending machine (or a pantry door) at 3 p.m.

I had a good day yesterday. I did 30 minutes of interval training on the treadmill. I ate three meals of real food, had a few almonds in the afternoon (I didn't count, but it was definitely less than 22, which is an almond "serving"), and didn't snack last night.

Unless you count Jon Stewart as a snack.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Local channels

If you're a satellite dish customer, and you live in the Middle of Nowhere, you know all about the local-channel brouhaha. Our television set-up is this: We have a small TV in the house and a big-screen in our second-floor garage/office. The cable from the satellite dish had to be buried along the patio from one end of the house to the other, in order to reach the garage.

We used to get the four networks – ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, plus PBS – through satellite feeds from New York. Local stations didn't like that, of course, because we were watching New York advertisements. (We weren't listening to them, though: We mute commercials.) So the satellite companies had to discontinue our network feeds. If we wanted to watch any network television, we had to have a rooftop antenna.

Our antenna could only pick up CBS and Fox. ABC and PBS granted waivers so we could continue receiving the New York feed. But NBC wouldn't waiver us, and we have been unable to watch any NBC programming for more than a year. No Sunday Night Football. No Nightly News with Brian Williams.

No Biggest Loser.

You were wondering where this post was going, weren't you? I could hear your wheels spinning: How in the heck does satellite reception have anything to do with healthful eating, working out, losing weight? C'mon, you know that's what you were thinking.

Last week I learned that our satellite provider now offers local channels, no antenna required. I signed us up (saving $4.50/month!), and we couldn't be happier.

My husband really missed Brian's news-reading. Me? I came home from a meeting last night and promptly sat my ass down to watch a two-hour Biggest Loser at a "special time." I don't even know what the regular time is – probably while I'm at my meeting – but last night I was inspired and moved (and inspired to move) by the stories of the final four contestants of this season's program running a marathon.

Just in time: The season finale is next week. And the Country Music Marathon is 143 days from today.

My husband used to work out of town and I watched TBL every week, without fail. No matter what you think of their boot-camp techniques and product placement, watching someone lose a boatload of weight in a matter of a few weeks is amazing. I know it's not realistic for people with homes, families, jobs and responsibilities, nor is it realistic for people without cooks and trainers.

But if it gets someone me to pick up a dumbbell – or finally fix the rowing machine cable – then it's done its job.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A long, boring day

Yesterday absolutely dragged around the Middle of Nowhere. I would look at the clock and be so surprised that it wasn't two hours later. We even ate dinner (such as it was) early, hoping to speed up the evening hours.

Usually I think time is flying by, and this year certainly falls into that category. But every once in a while I get tripped up by a day that doesn't seem to want to end.

Today will, I hope, be a little more, um, interesting.

Dinner was interesting. I used the last of the Thanksgiving turkey to make white chili, one of our favorite cold-weather meals. The recipe calls for two 4-oz. cans of chopped green chiles, which I didn't have. I did, however, have some sliced homegrown hot peppers (they might be poblanos, I can't remember now) in the freezer. I made the mistake of using an equivalent amount.

Sheesh! I couldn't eat it, but my husband had four servings. He was sweating like it was the Fourth of July, though. I quickly made some peanut butter for my own meager feast. Homemade bread and homemade peanut butter were waaaaay more satisfying than five-alarm white chili.

Since it's December 1, and since the Middle of Nowhere has already had some snow, it's time to haul out my favorite time-suck: the Snowflake Generator! If you do a Google search for "snowflake generator," you'll get many, many hits but this has always been my favorite one. They've added a disclaimer this year: They want you to report an offensive snowflake if you see one. Hmmm.


I finished the third of the three hats I'm going to put in the triplets' stockings. Want the pattern? It's super-simple and super-fast to knit (I can make one watching a good football game) and it's free! Get it here. Instead of following the pattern exactly, I cast on 56 stitches using two strands of Mission Falls 1824 superwash wool and a size 9 needle. I knit a little more depth, and then decreased four stitches every round, to make a slightly flatter crown. This will fit a toddler; increase the number of stitches the length of the cap to make it larger.

I have a computer project to do today and I'm going to force myself to park my ass in front of the monitor and get it done, done, done. Film at eleven.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Break's over

Well, the past few days have convinced me that rest is what my poor sick foot needs. I was alternately on and off my feet, and the days I was on (or took a long walk) meant some uncomfortable nights. The anti-inflammatory I'm taking is helping some – the burning pain isn't quite as intense, nor do the episodes last as long. But I'm not fixed yet by any means.

I didn't weigh myself this morning. We'll get back to more healthful meals this week now that the leftovers are almost gone, and I'll continue The Plan of weighing and reporting on Mondays sometime this month. Maybe even next week, although we'll be out of town over the weekend. It's always something.

(By the way, what do you get when you make turkey-rice soup out of leftover turkey? Leftover turkey-rice soup! Arghhh!)

I wanted to show you my Thanksgiving centerpiece. I stole the idea from Martha, but she used pale blue candles and Epsom salts, for a Hanukkah decoration. My candles are creamy vanilla and I used turbinado sugar.



I'm trying to find some burgundy ornaments to put in place of the baby pumpkins and some tiny gold ornaments to put in place of the nuts. No luck so far, but I've only looked in two places. My husband wonders why I'm bothering.

Boys.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Camo is the new black

You city-dwellers have no idea what it's like to wake up to the sound of gunshots echoing across the hills. Perhaps you've heard the sound of handguns pinging back and forth in a back alley, something we don't get much of here in the Middle of Nowhere.

There's no comparison.

If I heard a volley of shots, I'd take that as a sure sign to Get Out Of The Way. What we hear from the mountains are booms of thunder, distant and ominous. We wear bright colors when we walk, and we keep a close eye on the dogs when they are out. One neighbor dresses her dogs' collars in bright orange ribbons. Not a bad idea.

Buck hunting season began Monday morning, bright and early. I heard the first shot just prior to 7 a.m. I've been in town both days this week – Monday was personal maintenance, yesterday was car maintenance – and the number of folks I've seen dressed in camouflage is astonishing. I felt rather out of place at the service station dressed in solid black slacks and a beige tunic.

I've seen more eight-point bucks loaded on the beds of pickup trucks in the past two days than I've seen all year roaming the woods near our house. Where do they hang out when it's not hunting season?

I understand the necessity of culling the herd, really I do. Both my husband and I have had the unfortunate experience of meeting a deer up close and personal on a highway. Peoples' gardens are at risk all summer. And deer can do incredible damage to expensive and beautiful landscape plants.

I'd just as soon not see it, though. Maybe next year we should plan a vacation around hunting season. Instead of bringing our money into West Virginia (hunters contribute a huge amount of income to our state), we would be taking it into, Las Vegas, maybe. I can't think of any city more unlike rural West Virginia!

I'm taking a few days off. We're hosting dinner tomorrow, so I'll be cooking up a storm today and tomorrow, and getting creative with leftovers Friday and throughout the weekend. Lots of football on tap – it's rivalry weekend for college games. And I could use a little electronic break. Have a wonderful Turkey Day, if you celebrate it, and I'll "see" you next week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dr. Google was wrong!

No big surprise there. Unless, of course, Dr. C. is wrong. But I doubt that. Nothing is more valuable in medicine than being able to have a face-to-face – or, in my case, face-to-ankle – consultation in order to make a diagnosis.

I have a superficial vein thrombosis, which causes almost exactly the symptoms I have. I'm on a prescription anti-inflammatory and I'm to rest as much as possible, but I can still take a daily walk. Just don't push it, he said. And don't run for a while. The Merck Manual also says hot compresses are beneficial.

The symptom that can't really be accounted for is the numbness, but he told me that the vein might be pressing on a nerve, and that can cause my foot to tingle and then go numb. I feel certain it will go away with time; after all, the other one did.

Our hospital cuts their fees in half (I had to have a blood test) if you pay cash on the spot, which I did. I figured I'm not going to make it to my $3000 deductible before January 1, 2010, and if I let them turn it in to Aetna, I'd end up paying twice as much out of pocket. Isn't it lovely to send the insurance company an obscene amount of money every month and then still pay for your own office visit and lab work?

We had a little excitement when the phone rang in the early afternoon. Dr. C. himself was calling to report the result of the blood test. This test (a D-Dimer) would, if the number were normal, rule out a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Normal is 550. Mine was 657. If I had a DVT, the number would have been 3000 or more. Dr. C. wanted me to have an ultrasound just to be sure; I declined. Eventually he said if it were his wife, he would take the wait-and-see approach as well.

I understand that he was covering his ass in urging me to come back for another test. He's being prudent and practicing good medicine. If I do end up with a DVT, I can't sue him for negligence, nor would I. I made the decision.

So there you have it. A couple weeks (I hope it's not longer!) of lying around the shanty and I should be good to go again.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My weight is like the stock market

Up. Down. Up. Down.

Today? Up, of course.

We had company Friday and Saturday, which means four days of eating too much and exercising too little. I can hear you saying, "That does not compute. Two days of company does not equal four days of no exercise." Ah, but it does, because the day before they arrive is a day of major floor-cleaning (almost my entire house is a laminate canvas for dog footprints), and the day after they leave is a day of major resting. And we all know that cleaning floors is not the same as a five-mile walk. Nor is resting. Heh.

There's another problem, though. Something I alluded to a couple of months ago has returned to throw a wrench in my plans. I had a doctor's appointment in September to check out an odd growth on my right ankle. The growth disappeared, so I canceled the appointment. In the last couple of weeks, though, I've experienced numbness on the top of my foot most of the time, accompanied by searing, burning pain in the middle of the night.

The pain is present whenever I'm sitting or lying down. If I'm walking or otherwise upright, I notice the numbness, but it doesn't hurt. So I'm not sure if I should be resting it more, or never resting at all.

Dr. Google says it's either a stress fracture or, more likely, a pinched nerve. And I really can't put off going to the doctor about this. I'm not sleeping well, I'm not exercising and I'm not making any progress with My Plan. And, frankly, I don't like not being able to feel one of my extremities. I suppose I would eventually get used to it, but do I really want to? I don't think so. This is what Health Savings Accounts were meant to pay for, I suppose. (My insurance policy doesn't cover office visits.)

Benjamin Franklin said,

You may delay, but time will not.

To me, that means that I can postpone something I know I need to take care of – losing weight, training for a race or going to the doctor – but time marches on, oblivious of my schedule, motivation or injury. I'd better get to gettin'.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Puh-lease

From the New York Times today, regarding the Senate health insurance reform bill, announced last night:

"Many provisions of Mr. Reid’s bill, including the creation of insurance markets, or exchanges, would take effect in 2014, a year later than similar provisions of the House bill. The delay is intended primarily to reduce the cost of the legislation."

Five years. Um, I mean, FIVE YEARS!

Get a calculator and figure out what your insurance premium is going to cost if you increase it, oh, 15% each year for five years. (And if you have employer-based insurance, you're not out of this mix, because your employer is going to raise your contribution and reduce your benefits as time goes by. And keep in mind that my insurer raised their premiums twice this year, for an effective increase of 33%.)

Then figure out how you're going to pay for it.

I don't know anyone who has gotten a 15% increase in salary lately. In fact, of the people I'm closest to, two lost their jobs within the past year. One has returned to work part-time, the other is still looking. One who hadn't worked in 12 years is now working full-time in order to provide insurance benefits. One has taken two pay cuts in order to keep a job.

And I'm sorry, but that bullshit about the delay being a way to "reduce the cost of legislation?" Sounds like a way for insurance companies to stick it to their customers for half a decade more.

Disappointed? Who, me? You betcha. Bitterly. I hope there's something in the more than 2000 pages that puts the brakes on rising premiums beginning on Day One. So far I haven't found it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bag it

Okay, back to normal. Thanks for putting up with my little rant yesterday. The problem is not solved, not by any means, but I'm taking steps.

I promised two knitted bags to put in a gift shop for a holiday open house and I'm on the handle of the second one. Yeah! Once I start the handle I'm in the home stretch. I then need to felt them, create and attach some kind of tag to them and they are outta here!

Lots going on the next couple of weeks. Company coming this weekend, then Thanksgiving, followed by a short trip to Ohio to visit the triplet grandsons (and their parents!). I should probably make a list of Things I Need To Do, but somehow, whether there's a list or not, everything eventually gets done.

Food wasn't so great yesterday. Stress and anger do that to me. Some women clean when they get emotional. I bake. But I also walked, both Monday and yesterday, and plan to get out there again today before it rains. One good thing about rain in West Virginia – we rarely have all-day soakers. A motivated outdoor walker can almost always find a break in the clouds to get out and get 'er done.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rant. Rave. Repeat.

This post has nothing to do with my personal health, running, knitting, losing weight or fitness. It has everything to do with the health of our country and our economy.

I don't care what political stripe you wear, we can certainly agree that the U.S. economy, while showing signs of a comeback, is in dire straits. One of the major reasons companies are struggling is trying to keep up with increasing health insurance rates.

The simplest solution for everyone except Big Insurance and Big Pharma is to enact Medicare for All legislation.

I've been a single-payer advocate for years, but kind of backed off when healthcare reform seemed like it was really going to happen. Something is better than nothing, I thought. I'm rethinking that stance, particularly in light of the letter I received yesterday from Aetna, who provides my private health insurance.

My premium (and yours, too, if you're an Aetna member) will be increased in January 2010. Since I became a member 18 months ago, my premium will have risen 33 percent. This is the second rate increase within a year. They have provided exactly one benefit service to me, an annual visit to my OB-GYN.

Is it just me, or is it a coincidence that less than two weeks after major legislation is passed in Congress, Aetna needs to raise their rates across the board to all "current and new customers"?

I've written to my state insurance commissioner and to Aetna, and I've sent faxes to my legislators and to the President.

I've scanned the somewhat local classifieds and written to one company about a job opportunity, which might pay enough to cover my monthly premium and travel expenses to and from the job but, being part-time, most certainly won't offer benefits.

I've cried. I've ranted. I've raved.

I'm sick about this, I truly am. Unfortunately, my policy doesn't cover office visits.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Week Four: Stats and Results

Setting goals is helpful, but it depends – of course – on the goal.

A pie-in-the-sky goal of losing X pounds in a week is (for me, anyway) doomed to fail. If I have a goal like that in the back of my mind, I almost always will do something to sabotage my bad self and then blame my lack of progress on overserving.

Heh.

But setting a goal of not using artificially sweetened coffee creamer? Now that one worked. I also didn't buy any sugar-free ice cream. Here are this week's stats:

Stats for Week Four:
Average daily calories burned: 346
Average daily calories consumed: 1082

The result? I lost two pounds. Which means after a month of tracking calories in/out, I've gained half a pound.

That should be discouraging, but for some reason it isn't. I feel like I've been back on track for two consecutive weeks, and clearly I can never do Halloween again. Ever!

Last Friday I did something I never thought I'd do. Lately I'm all about eating not only less food, but also better food. Very little of the food I buy has an attached label. Michael Pollan isn't the first to suggest shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and, truly, most of the perimeter products have labels these days. But if you buy more produce than packages, you generally will be eating more healthful meals.

So what did I do Friday? I learned to make butter, mozzarella and cottage cheese. And Saturday I made yogurt. The food processor did most of the work on the butter, but I was surprised that it was actually pale yellow when it was finished. For some reason I thought home-churned butter ended up being the color of the cream from which it was made.

The cottage cheese and mozzarella were amazing. I was astonished at the mozzarella, especially. And it tasted great on our Friday night pizzas.

My yogurt turned out a little thin and not quite tangy enough for my taste. I strained some of it and it's definitely thick enough now, but I think I'll let the next batch incubate longer. I followed this recipe and one of the last things they tell you is to follow it exactly the first time, and then make adjustments for your taste after that. I used Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt for my starter, but the recipe called for Dannon. In another recipe I read yesterday, which also called for Dannon plain as a starter, it was suggested that organic yogurts (such as Oikos) might be less fresh, which could account for my thin results.

My daughter and mother-in-law are less than impressed. Each of them said, "Isn't it easier just to go to Kroger?" Well, yes, it probably is easier, if you don't have to get in the car and drive 12 miles (to Tiny Kroger) and hand them some cashmoneybucks and drive home and open a package in order to get to the product. Which they don't. Me? I'm fine with spending the day at home, watching milk turn into cheese.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Quote Day

Luck is what happens when
preparation meets opportunity.
~ Seneca, Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD

In other words, you can't credit your good fortune to whichever way the wind blows.

It's hunting season here in the Middle of Nowhere. You will occasionally hear someone say, "What a lucky shot!" But really? Is there such a thing? I'm not a hunter, so I wouldn't know. (Remember, I'm the one who invites all the neighborhood deer to live in my woods during hunting season.) But I can hazard a guess that the lucky shot goes to the man or woman who peers deep into the leaves and branches, understands deer behavior, becomes one with the woods and happens to be toting a loaded gun.

Or consider a pilot landing a small aircraft. He or she may think that just-executed smooth landing has everything to do with luck. I'm a private pilot who has walked away from any number of landings thanking my lucky stars. But really? I was trained well, I practiced regularly and I was prepared for whatever might happen as the wheels hit the ground. Did the wind change direction suddenly? I can correct for that. Did I misjudge how far it was until the runway came up to meet the tires? I prepared for a bit harder landing.

It's easy to blame poor results on bad luck, as well. We in the weight loss and fitness game know better than that. Poor results – as in a weight gain, since that's what we're talking about here – mean we burned fewer calories than we consumed. Plain and simple, no luck about it. Burning fewer calories can mean we didn't exercise enough or we ate more than we'd planned or, perhaps, there's a medical problem which prevents us from burning those calories.

I'd love to think that's the box into which I fit, but my annual check-ups tell me I'm still within normal ranges. Darn it.

One thing's certain: Bad luck has nothing to do with the day of the week.

I'm going to watch out for black cats, though.

Note to Marla: Yes, there is such a word as "overdrinking." And I've also heard and used the word "overserved." It wasn't that I continued to order drinks beyond my capacity, it was the bartender's fault! Heh.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One day at a time


The backstory is here, if you're unfamiliar with my Other Life. It's been 19 years today since I've had a drink of alcohol or another mind-altering substance. I'm grateful on a daily basis, but I'm especially grateful on anniversaries.

No matter what else happens in my life, getting and staying sober is both my biggest job and greatest reward. Without a clear head, I'm useless to myself or others. I'm certainly not perfect and I don't have all the answers, but at least I have a fighting chance, as long as I don't drink.

In AA we say the farther away we are from our last drink, the closer we are to our next one. I don't want to forget that last drink, ever. In the whole scheme of things, it wasn't particularly exciting. I didn't get arrested or have a wreck or wind up in bed with a stranger. It was just one more foggy night punctuating years of murk and gloom. I'm rather glad I didn't end my drinking with an exclamation point, or I might still be trying to chase the buzz. (There were plenty of exclamation points during my drinking years. Enough, actually.)

I'm especially grateful that my children allow me to be part of their lives. I think that's why my volunteer service taking an AA meeting to a women's prison is so meaningful to me. Those women, most of them mothers, are aching – just as I was – for a way to repair the relationships with their sons and daughters. I'll never be finished making those amends.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ahem.

I'm not terribly worried about my results last week. Weight fluctuates from day to day; Sunday morning it looked like I was going to be able to report a loss, but I officially weigh in on Monday, so that's what I had to go with.

I've taken a few breaks over time, but for the past, oh, 10 years or so I've been trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss. And seriously? I've been on some kind of diet or another since I was 11. ELEVEN! I used to work for Weight Watchers. I know what to do. I know what should work. If it doesn't, so be it. I'm fit enough to walk five miles a day; how many 58-year-old women can do that?

Also? Reporting results is not the same as asking for advice. Perhaps I'm being a big defensive here, but let's just all assume that I know how to weigh, measure, count, etc., and that I'm using data that a program or a device has calculated for me.

Seriously, if I write in a post the words "moving on," as I did yesterday, that means I'm okay with this week and I'm, well, moving on to the next.

So. Moving on.

I've nearly finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, and I don't want it to end. Michael Pollan follows the food chain for four meals, from source to table, and his skill at making this subject both interesting and enlightening is amazing. As a non-hunter myself, I'm riveted by his description of his emotions during his quest to kill a wild pig.

(On my walk yesterday, I asked a local bow hunter to please not kill the little twin deer who live in my woods. He smiled and said he was heading "up yonder." I noted that he didn't promise not to kill the twins if he saw them.)

There is one good thing about reaching the end of this book: I have his next one in the queue.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week Three: Stats and Results

Grrr.

I stayed the same this week, meaning those 2.5 pounds from my week away from home have decided to visit a bit longer. My workouts were spotty this week, and I'm taking sugar-free ice cream off the menu for a while.

I also haven't done so well with going back to black coffee. This week's goal is to not use creamer. I might use some cream, but I'll be sure to measure it and count the calories.

Stats for Week Three:

Average daily calories burned: 383
Average daily calories consumed: 1130

You'd think anyone could lose a pound or two with those numbers, wouldn't you?

Mary's interpretation of Friday's quote is spot-on; that's how I looked at it, too. I've been buoyed up all weekend thinking about wanting what I have, instead of longing for something out of my reach. Of course I draw the line at my weight. I'll probably have a weight-loss goal until my children throw me into the ground. Which is kind of sad, isn't it?

What would happen if I were satisfied with my weight right where it is?

I'm sooo not there.

Moving on: I finished the triplets' Christmas stockings Saturday. Yeah! I have a couple little treats to put in them, and we're delivering them early next month.

In gardening news, it appears that flat-leaf parsley is impervious to frost. The basil curled up and died a couple weeks ago, while the parsley is amazingly healthy. And, apparently, hardy. I dried some in the microwave and got a small spice jar's worth out of it. But there's loads of it left. I'll probably chop it and freeze it. And I probably won't need to plant any for a couple of years.

This is one of two plants still thriving.

The dried result.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Quote Day

Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more;
whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more;
love more and all good things will be yours.

~ Swedish Proverb

Today's quote tells me to move toward the light of good living and away from the darkness of negativity. This proverb doesn't forbid anything: There are no musts here. Just encouragement to be a little more positive, a little less defeatist.

Good stuff for someone like me who enjoys beating myself up about missing (another) walk this week.

Yesterday got away from me, plain and simple. I tried to make up for the lack of a serious walk with some leaf-raking, but we all know that's not a fair comparison.

I need to reorder the words so that "whine less" is the first directive in the quote.

"Eat less" is always good advice, unless you're anorexic. (Have any of you ever, as I have, prayed for anorexia?) "Chew more" tells me to enjoy what I have, and it doesn't matter if it's reading material, yarn or food. The key to happiness is wanting what you already have.

I have plenty of hope (else why would I keep on keepin' on, lo these many years?), so the first part of the quote doesn't really apply to me. I wouldn't say I'm fearless, but I just don't let fear rule my world. I see too many people doing that, and the result is a lot of unhappy, bitter, negative people. I don't want that for myself. How did I let go of fear? I wish I knew the secret; if I did, I'd give it away. Maybe then we'd get a single-payer health care system!

I certainly can, however, use the "talk less, say more" advice. My husband's two biggest complaints about me are that I'm impulsive and that I interrupt him. I just can't wait to add my two cents to our conversations. I've been working on this one, but it's certainly not automatic for me to keep my mouth shut. Perhaps that's why this particular quote from my collection struck me as something I need to think about this week.

It's easy to love when the object of your affection loves you back. Two-year-olds, puppies, good friends and, of course, husbands, are both lovable and worthy of loving. There are some, though, who (whom?) you love out of duty, and it feels awkward and false. I think praying for their happiness and good fortune may be what I need to do to jump the hurdle from obligatory love to something more genuine.

What does this week's quote say to you?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gooooooooooo, Yankees!

I haven't mentioned it much, but I'm a Yankees fan. And if I hadn't taken two Motrin yesterday afternoon, I'm sure I would have loved watching them win Game 6 of the World Series. As it was, I ended up in bed, moaning with a stomach ache, before the sixth inning. My husband kept me informed, though, walking from the den to the bedroom to announce each additional Yankee run until I fell asleep.

I have two Yankee t-shirts; last night I wore the Derek Jeter one, since the team shirt didn't work Monday night. I've hearted Jeter for years.

I grew up in Ohio and my dad had season tickets to the Cincinnati Reds, so I was a Big Red Machine fan all through my school years. That was when Johnny Bench and Pete Rose and Joe Morgan were part of the machine – good times!

My husband had the great good fortune to actually attend the Yankees World Series game in 1956 when Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history. It didn't take much for me to switch allegiances when I moved to West Virginia. That Jeter's such a hunk.

Got a five-miler in yesterday, after I vacuumed and mopped all my floors. I was so tired, but I knew if I walked first I'd find some excuse not to clean. I'm doing great with food this week. We finished up the Moroccan Stew last night. Tonight I'm making black bean soup. If, that is, I remember to quick-soak the beans before the day gets away from me.

I love how nice my floors look after they've been cleaned and mopped. I think the only way to keep them that way would be to
  • not have any pets and
  • not wear shoes in the house
Those are two things I'm not willing to do in order to have pretty floors.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oh, deer, oh, deer, oh deer

Look who joined us for dinner last night!

It took me half a minute to realize that this little deer family is the same one I've been seeing on my walks since mid-summer. The two little ladies used to have spots and were tiny-tiny. Now they're nearly grown! I usually see them about a mile from my house on a densely wooded hillside. I guess they learned of my invitation to all the neighborhood deer to hang out at our place during hunting season. Heh.

Yesterday was, as predicted, a very busy day. The bad thing is: No walk. In fact, no exercise of any kind unless you count primping in the mirror looking at my sassy new glasses and haircut. The good thing is: No overeating, because who has time to eat when you're driving, shopping and primping?

We're going to have another beautiful day today – this will be three in a row – and I'll definitely be out for a walk when it warms up a bit. This morning I'm going to work on the damage my house incurred while it was in my husband's solo care – he doesn't notice coffee spills and dog hair and dust bunnies, oh my – and also finish the freelance job I was working on when I ran out of ink. I just hope I bought enough yesterday to finish it.

We're having Moroccan Stew reruns for dinner; I might bake a loaf of bread to go with it – before I clean the kitchen floor. Not only am I a messy baker, I notice the mess!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just visiting

My friend Anne commented that those extra pounds from last week's debacle are "just visiting." I love that! It's just too bad that when I go visiting, a couple extra pounds decide to come home with me, along with all the dirty laundry.

I got right back on my plan yesterday. Took a 10K walk that started mid-morning and ended at noon and, while I didn't really plan it this way, yesterday was a completely vegetarian day. As a rule, meatless meals tend to be higher in fiber and good carbs and lower in calories, a very good thing to kick off the week.

We had a wonderful dinner last night. This recipe was the starting point, but I didn't have an eggplant, a zucchini or a sweet potato. Did I let that stop me? Uh-uh, no, sir, not on your life. The great thing about most stew-type recipes is that anything goes. I added three small russet potatoes, a small butternut squash, some celery and a can of mushrooms to the onions, tomatoes (I used canned), garlic, spices and chickpeas, and it was delish!

I didn't use canned chickpeas, either. Dried beans of any variety are tastier than canned and you get the bonus of less sodium. They're cheap, easy, filling, nutritious and they keep just as well as canned ones do.

Today will be very busy … I ran out of one color of ink during a printing job for a freelance client, so have to pick more up this morning. Then I need to pick up my new glasses – I'm so excited, I've been wearing the same outdated pair for two or three years now and I'm oh-so-ready for trendy new specs. I need to do three loads of laundry before I go get the ink. Add a haircut in the afternoon and my volunteer gig at the prison tonight and I think my day will be done. If nothing else pops up on the schedule. Good thing someone else will be combing my hair, 'cause I sure won't have time to do it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday: A great day ...

for starting. And for starting over!

I'm only a little bummed, actually, because I had so much fun this past week. But I guess I'm not such a good dieter/exerciser when I'm traveling. Or maybe it depends on the traveling. I can imagine myself being able to keep up the exercise at the beach or, as I did in September, at a lodge. But even then I didn't rein in the food.

I gained back the two pounds I lost the first week, plus another half. I can't even begin to estimate the average number of calories I consumed or burned each day I was gone. So here we go, Day One all over again.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Off we go ...

There was no walking in the Middle of Nowhere yesterday due to rain, rain and more rain. My brand-new rain gauge said we got three-quarters of an inch! I'm going to head out as soon as I move a load of clothes from the washer to the dryer.

When I get back, I'll be packing my little bag and heading south for a few days. In addition to clothing, toiletries, phone and iPod chargers and my knitting bag, I'm taking:
  • the Garmin
  • my running shoes
  • running shorts/shirts
  • the food count book
  • my paper food journal
Now whether I use any or all of these things remains to be seen. We will be very busy, so running/walking will have to be squeezed in among other activities. But food? I can measure and count food, and journaling works very well to rein in consumption. It's astonishing how quickly one can get to 1200 calories when one is not doing the cooking, however.

Thanks for your comments about the coffee creamer. I had some lovely herb tea last night (my friend makes it and as soon as her website is up I'm going to be her biggest cheerleader) and am sipping lukewarm black coffee as I type. It was a whole lot easier to get used to coffee with creamer than it is to go back to black.

Have a good rest-of-the-week. Me? Gotta run walk!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Anticipation. And Coffee Creamer.

I leave tomorrow to spend a few days with the younger granddaughter again, this time, of course, for Halloween festivities. Won't be back until Sunday … meaning too many days of not being able to control my own food and probably just one day of being able to walk any meaningful distance. I guess that depends on the weather, but our schedule is pretty packed.

Analyzing yesterday's numbers, it looks like I could lose weight if I ate 800 calories on non-exercise days, doesn't it? But who wants to go there? I knew this trip would interfere with The Plan; I'm just hoping to keep the damage to a minimum.

Now for the coffee creamer. I've been experimenting with going back to drinking black coffee. I was a black coffee drinker for years. I don't know when I slipped over to the creamy side. If I had a milk cow I'd be using real cream (mmmmm), but I don't, and I wasn't quite the food snob I am today when I started buying the plastic liquid known as sugar-free Coffee-Mate. Hazelnut flavor.

What I've noticed is that when I take my coffee straight I seem to feel lighter. My gut doesn't feel so heavy or puffy or something. Like both of you, I've read articles suggesting artificial sweeteners act similarly to sugar on some individuals' insulin systems, and I'm wondering if I'm one of them.

The trouble is, I really, really, really like the taste of the flavored artifically-sweetened liquid plastic in my coffee. It's a dilemma. Have either of you made the switch from creamer-polluted coffee back to black? Any suggestions?

Perhaps I should switch to tea.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Week One: Stats and Results

One week down, six months to go. (It's 180 days until marathon day. Yikes!)

Using the numbers from my CalorieKing journal entries, here's what the first week looked like:

Average daily calories consumed: 1222
Average daily calories burned: 442

Ironically, after that inspirational quote on Friday and five days of nearly perfect performance, I had a "bad" day Saturday. Got right back on track yesterday, though, and the result was a two-pound loss. Yeah for me!

Of course, that's the same two pounds that's been coming and going all summer. But I must say it's been helpful keeping track of the calories I've been shoveling in. And I haven't felt at all deprived. I found a recipe for a yummy treat I knew my husband would like (Apple-Cheddar Turnovers), made them and enjoyed one Friday and half of one yesterday.

I guess it helps that I've been heading down this path for the past few weeks anyway. I just needed to rein in the eating and continue the consistency with the walking.

It's time to really get serious about adding in some running, though. I'll be in training from January to race day, so I have only two months to get back to running several miles without stopping. I remember how great it felt the first time I went three miles without a break. What a feeling!

One big thing occurred to me this week, and that is if I can make myself do something to keep my hands busy – knitting is perfect – then I a) don't eat out of boredom and b) don't even get hungry. I've experienced this at various times throughout my life and it keeps coming back to me. If I could only make it a habit. Or a job. Heh. What kept me out of the pantry yesterday for three hours was this:

Between my husband and me, we have six grandchildren, so I made two of each design and got all their Halloween cards in the mail today, well ahead of the holiday. Amazing!

My younger granddaughter is learning opposites. When you ask her what a big ghost says, she says, "BOO!!!" Then when you ask what a little ghost says, she scrunches up her face and in a high-pitched, teeny little whisper she says, "boo!"

Too cute. Oh, and guess which card she got. Heh.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Quote Day

Have a dream, make a plan, go for it.
You'll get there, I promise.

~ Zoe Koplowitz


This quote works pretty well to wrap up this week, don't you think? The good thing is not only have I worked on my plan, I've actually been doing it, too. I've managed to walk or run every day so far. I decided digging a trench around the garlic/onion bed was a decent trade-off for weight training. It certainly was a good upper-body workout, whether you agree the trade-off was a good one or not. I've been on track limiting daily calorie consumption to 1200 and I've been journaling everything in CalorieKing.

In AA we say, "Plan the plan, not the results." I must admit I'm hoping for a good result when I weigh myself Monday, but based on my previous history, I probably shouldn't be disappointed with whatever number shows up.

In order to "get there," I maybe need to redefine my goals. One goal is to complete a marathon before I'm 60. It may very well be the Country Music Marathon next April. The only way I'd switch from the full to the half is if my granddaughter and daughter decide to do the half. It's complicated. (Not really, but it's complicated to explain.)

I probably don't need to change that goal, but I may need to not put a time limit on finishing. Extra pounds equals additional minutes/mile when I run, there's no getting around that.

In the next 26 weeks (that's how long until the race), I hope to lose 26 pounds. That will put me one pound lighter than when I got married in August, 2006. That's a goal I can live with, although the number of calories I'm burning/eating should result in a larger loss. Again, all I have to do is look at my previous history in order to be realistic about weight loss as a goal.

The ultimate goal is to maintain my health. I'm one of those fit fat people right now. I don't want to lose the fit part.

Just the fat.

Here are some pictures of the garden. The straw-covered mound is 3 feet wide and 20 feet long, so I hand-dug a 46-foot trench yesterday. That probably took an hour, after which I planted garlic cloves and onion sets, and seeded the remaining garden plot with rye grass.

Looking straight on; it looks rather like a grave, doesn't it?

A view looking east; that's my dog, Molly, although she looks rather bearlike here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A time to plant

Looks like today's the day to plant the garlic. According to a Department of Natural Resources gardening calendar my neighbor gave me last spring, I should do it Monday. But with today's temperature expected to hit the mid-70s and then, beginning tomorrow, all-rain, all-the-time, for two days, and then colder weather moving in … well, today's the day.

I'm excited, can you tell?

My mother never used fresh garlic when she cooked. Our food was seasoned with powdered garlic salt or powdered onion salt, although she did use fresh onions. My grandmother said she never used fresh garlic, either, which is kind of astonishing, as she ate chickens she'd raised and named herself. You'd think they'd have planted garlic, if for nothing else than to ward off cold germs.

I, on the other hand, love the flavor and bite of fresh garlic. I use it in just about every savory dish I prepare: soups, stews, roasts, stir-fries, bean dishes – you get the picture. So the idea of being able to pluck my cloves of garlic from a braid I've created of bulbs harvested from my own back yard is extremely appealing.

I'm also going to plant some onion sets. I don't know nothin' bout birthin' no onions, but the bin at the produce market said "Winter Onion Sets," so I'm going to treat them just like the garlic cloves. If they don't grow, I'll have wasted only 85¢.

Can you believe that? I bought a lunch bag of baby onions for less than a buck.

Thanks for weighing in (heh), Greta, with your plan and I wish you continued success. My husband and I are one-seventh vegetarian, meaning we enjoy one meatless day each week. We've agreed that's about as vegetarian as we want to be.

Yesterday was a very busy day; we were gone from noon until 8 p.m., visiting someone in the hospital in Charleston, WV, which is a couple hours away from us. That meant eating dinner in a restaurant (I didn't get sick), and it also meant skipping lunch. I wasn't hungry before we left and I was determined not to eat just because I knew I would be hungry before dinner time. I've been trying to pound into my brain this fact:

It's okay to be hungry.
It's okay to be hungry.
It's okay to be hungry.

One of my best friends from high school, post-graduation, was trying to lose the Freshman 15 and she imagined that every time her stomach growled it was pounds slipping away.

I'm not quite there yet. But it's okay to be hungry!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How about some knitting?

My knitting mojo has returned, alive and well, and there's always something on my needles these days. I finished the second Doddy Sunday night and immediately started a Christmas stocking, one of three for – naturally – the triplets.

Once the stockings are finished (I'm using my own pattern for these), I need to make a few little doll items for my younger granddaughter's Bitty Baby and then six hat/mitten sets for each of the grandchildren. Then in January I can get back to the periwinkle blue cardigan I started a couple months ago for myself.

Lots going on today; no more time to write. Hope you both have a great day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So far, so good. Heh.

Yeah, Day One went well. But doesn't Day One almost always go well?

I finished reading The End of Overeating last night and was surprised that Dr. Kessler didn't have a long list of don'ts. His philosophy and mine seem to mesh: Don't eat in restaurants. Don't eat processed foods.

The Big Deal in EoO is that food manufacturers create treats that are layered with sugar, fat and salt, and that the sugar-fat-salt combination creates the desire in some people for more sugar, fat and salt.

I do use sugar, fat and salt when I cook meals at home, but I haven't made anything yet, with the possible exception of apple pie, which has very little salt, that depends on the layering of these substances in order to taste good. Maybe my tastes have changed? I can count on both hands the times I've eaten in restaurants this summer, and I can count on one hand the times I've gotten sick afterward. Kind of makes you want to not eat in restaurants.

Anyway, back to Day One. We woke up to the first frost of the season. Yeah! No more bugs! I waited until noonish to do the five-mile walk/run, and was pleased that I got it done in 76 minutes. Since there weren't any leftovers from Sunday night's meal, I had cheese, whole-grain crackers and carrots for lunch, which wasn't much, so dinner (corn chowder) was early. I had no desire to eat again after dinner.

I'm going to post daily averages (calories in/calories out, because in the end that's what matters) on Mondays and will also post pounds gained/lost. One big challenge for me will be to stay off the scale until Monday.

Thanks for your comments. I hadn't thought of this 'plan' as an especially positive one, but it's good to get that perspective about it. It seems do-able – and since I've been mostly doing it for about a month, I know it really is a good way for me to eat and exercise. The biggest change is that I'm measuring portions and limiting calories to 1200/day. If the result is no weight loss, or even a weight gain, then I'll have to surrender to being fat and fit, because I really don't think there's anything else I'm willing to do.

Yet.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Make a new plan, Stan

I promise I'm not going to throw earworms at you every day from here to eternity, but it was just too appropriate.

Before I dig into the details, though, I need to comment on the comments. Marla, I'm thisclose to finished The End of Overeating. I made the mistake of starting The Botany of Desire before I finished and, frankly, the end of EoO was kinda scaring me. Sounded like a bunch of "don'ts" coming up, so I bailed. I can set up my own don'ts, but it's not the setting up that works, it's the doing, er, the don't-ing.

Greta, how wonderful to hear from you! And congratulations on sticking with your plan since spring. Care to share the details?

Okay, back to the plan.

I have, in a previous life (heh), been sugar-free for more than five years. I attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings in the late '80s/early '90s, and a requirement (then) for abstinence was No Sugar, No White Flour and No Red Meat. I might be making up the red meat part, but I don't think so. It's been a while.

As Greta commented, the first week of No Sugar is the hardest. The first week lasted three weeks for me: I was unusually emotional, and would cry if you looked at me cross-eyed. That gradually went away and by the end of the first month sans sucre I was fine. (In AA we say FINE is Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. I might have been that, too.)

Five months later I'd lost 30 pounds. No exercise, no "diet," no frozen dinners – just No Sugar, No White Flour and No Red Meat. I gradually added exercise (insane amounts of it), decided to add No Fat (this was the '90s, remember) to my list of restrictions and eventually lost another 25 pounds. I stayed at my ideal weight of 128 for about five minutes, and I was on my way back up again.

What happened was that I moved away from my gym and to another state with my now-husband, who thought I was being too restrictive and one day offered me a piece of pie at a restaurant. I'm not saying it's his fault, not at all. But my whole life changed when I moved, and my old friend Food came with me on the trip. I no longer worked – working takes up a lot of time one could otherwise spend eating and not exercising. I was alone during the day and for a couple of years when he worked out of town, I was alone for several days and nights each week.

Long story short: I know how to restrict myself and I know what happens when I stop. And I don't think I want to go there again.

This past year I've discovered the joys of local, whole food. My new eating plan includes as few packaged and processed foods as possible. One of the customs I've adopted in my dining room this year is having pizza on Friday night. It takes all the guesswork out of "what's for dinner" and the pizza is homemade, from scratch, with a healthful whole-wheat crust and reasonably healthful toppings. (I use whole-milk mozzarella. So sue me.)

Since Friday nights have worked so well (the amazing thing about homemade pizza is I have no desire to eat all of it, or even half of it – two slices [an eighth of a pie] is plenty), I'm applying that principle to every night and every meal.

No, not all-pizza all-the-time, but for breakfast I'm having yogurt with either fruit or granola. Each night of the week is a different dinner, but the same each week – stir-fry on Tuesday, beans on Thursday, breakfast food on Sunday, for example. Lunch will be leftovers from the previous night's dinner.

I'm measuring my portions and writing everything down. The past few days I've hit the 1200-calorie mark at the end of dinner. There's very little wiggle room here. One of the things I thought about as I was figuring this out is that when I was growing up we ate three meals a day and no snacks. I thought I was an overweight child, but really I wasn't – I had a couple of very tiny friends in junior high and high school, and so I felt like a cow during those years. But I weighed between 125 and 135 until I got pregnant for my first child.

My plan includes a daily five-mile walk, and I intend to add some running at least two days a week, with the idea of increasing the running and decreasing the walking. I've done this before; I can do it again. I'm going to do a light weight-training routine on Wednesdays. Once a week, no more, for the first month.

One of my problems is my all-or-nothing attitude. I need to figure out what works and what doesn't (I've been doing this for the past month or so), start slowly and work up to previous levels of fitness. I can't jump right in where I was three years and 30 pounds ago.

The Country Music Marathon is April 24, 2010. That's 187 days. Countdown starts today.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time keeps on slippin'

Those of you of a certain age will recognize the subject line as the beginning of a song by the Steve Miller Band from, oh, (can it possibly be?) 30 years ago.

My, my, my, how time does fly.

Was I thinking about the passage of time as I listened to those lyrics half my life ago? I guarantee you I was not. Because when you're in your 20s and 30s, time is immaterial. If I don't get it done today, there's always tomorrow or next week or next month or next year. Or the year after that.

But when you're in your 50s and staring down 60, you begin to realize that, well, time keeps on slippin'.

I suppose these thoughts are spinning through my brain because my husband had a birthday yesterday. Last year was the big 6-5, and that was something to celebrate: Medicare! Hurrah! Now he can get sick and we don't have to worry about how to pay for it. For the record, he's actually gotten healthier, maintaining his 35-pound drop in weight when he retired (the first time) almost two years ago.

This year? Ho, hum, 66, no big deal. I fixed him a nice dinner (including his favorite soup) and gave him a blaze-orange hat to wear when he walks. It's hunting season here in the Middle of Nowhere and unless deer suddenly start sporting blaze-orange hats, I think he'll be safe walking outdoors. He requested an apple pie instead of a cake, so he got that, too.

None of us gets any younger, and time is limited. And fleeting. And precious. If I'm ever going to wear the too-small clothes in the spare-bedroom closet or run a marathon, I'd better get busy. Well, busiER, because I feel like I've been trying for-freaking-EVER!

I want my healthful meals and almost-daily walks to produce some weight-loss results. Apparently my healthful meals need to be more healthful and my almost-daily walks aren't enough. I'm taking this week to figure out yet another plan (I apologize to both of you whom I know are oh-so-tired of reading about yet another of Debbi's plans). I'll be traveling and won't be doing my own cooking, so this is a good week for planning rather than doing.

I need a big goal and some interim goals. I already have the deadline, which I'll write about later. I just need for time to stop slippin'.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The perfect pumpkins …

because they have no squishy guts! Heh.

Finished the pumpkin trick-or-treat bags over the weekend. These were knit with wool and then felted (fulled is the technically correct term) in the washing machine to shrink them into submission.

BEFORE
floppy, sloppy, wimpy

AFTER
sturdy, look like pumpkins


The "before" versions would probably hold more loot, but the "after" versions are cuter, doncha think?

To recap, the pattern is called 12:01, was developed by Nathania Apple and is available on Ravelry. If you're a knitter and you're not a Ravelry member, sign up now! It's free and fun and inspirational and a real time-suck. I'm not making that up. Heh.

P.S. My Ravelry ID is shrinkingknitter.