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.


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.

floppy, sloppy, wimpy

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.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Quote Day

"My hopes are not always realized, but I always hope."
~ Ovid

Once again, no formatting, as I have to send this post via e-mail due
to the CRAP internet connection here at Chez Dial-Up.

Before I say anything else, though, have you heard the news? President
Obama has been awarded the Noble Peace Prize! Quelle surprise!

The President staked his political future on hope during the campaign.
Hope and Change walked hand-in-hand throughout the primaries and right
up to election night.

Hope and Change moved in with me a long time ago, cheering me on to
fitness and good health. Despite my lack of weight-loss, they're still
hanging around, urging me to keep trying and to not give up. That's
their job, I guess. I'm tired of trying, but that doesn't mean I'll be
quitting any time soon.

You see, here's the thing: When I eat moderate portions of healthy,
home-cooked food, I feel good. It's not just a feel-good-physically
thing, either. I'm all about eating locally and cooking from scratch.
The local-ness of my pantry is a recent phenomenon, but I've been an
enthusiastic cook nearly all my life. So I feel good emotionally and
mentally and creatively and altruistically. When I cook food I've
grown myself or something I've bought from the farmer's market, I'm
not only saving money, I'm helping the earth, the farmer and myself.

The times when I've eaten the most processed and pre-packaged foods
were, unfortunately, when I was at my lowest weight. I say
"unfortunately" because if frozen low-cal dinners equal weight loss, I
might be tempted. Seriously, though, I wouldn't go back to those for
anything. Whatever they have to put in there to make them last as long
as they do *can't* be good for you.

Yesterday was a hard workout day, what with all the shoveling and
unloading and spreading of horse crap. Next week, after the final
tilling and smoothing, I can plant garlic and winter onions. My
mileage is way down this week, but that's kind of the way it's been
lately. A week of few miles follows a fantastic one. It all evens out,
I guess. If I could string a few high-mileage weeks together, I would
*hope* to see some *change.*

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Down the home stretch

I'm nearly done with the fourth pumpkin trick-or-treat bag. Having four small grandchildren, three of whom are triplets, makes knitting just a bit more challenging. I'm guessing most of you knitters have experienced SSS* at some time or another during your knitting career. I'm having FSS with this project.

But I'm almost finished and then I can start something new. It really does feel like my knitting mojo is back; maybe the cooler weather had something to do with it.

Cool weather is a good thing this week. I've completely replanted (with lots of help) the flower bed at the entrance to our driveway. That was a hot and dirty job. Yesterday I had to water it and even two lengths of garden hose didn't reach all the way down the driveway, so I had to fill a bucket many times – I lost count – and dump water on each new plant. Not sure if that's better or worse than just standing there sprinkling from the hose, but it surely was better for my exercise plan du jour.

I ran/walked yesterday morning, on my hilly road, and averaged 15-minute miles. The first mile is uphill all the way and usually takes between 18 and 19 minutes; the third mile is nearly as gruesome. Of course, that means the last mile (since I go out and back 2.5 miles) is pretty easy. I did it in 12 minutes yesterday, and that included a little walking at the end.

No running this morning, though. I have a date with a neighbor at 9 a.m. to shovel horse manure into the back of his truck and deposit it on my garden. After I spread that around, I have to spread about 100 pounds of organic fertilizer on it and then my other neighbor will be coming with his tiller to work it all in and smooth it all out.

That's about it for today. Hope yours is a good one!

*SSS = Second Sock (Sleeve) Syndrome

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Extreme Edamame
Last week I spent about an hour picking the pods
from the edamame plants in my garden. Then I spent
about three hours shelling and blanching and
freezing, oh my. It's actually quite astonishing
how very small the harvest was, when compared
to the lushness of the plants in the ground.

Extreme Garden
The upper picture was taken at about 10:30 a.m. yesterday.
That's my neighbor on his little combination tiller/frontloader.
The lower picture was taken at 1 p.m.
The garden is now slightly wider and twice as long.
I'm a farmer! Heh.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall has fallen

Check out this week's forecast:

What a great week it should be for outdoor activities, starting with putting the garden to bed, which is supposed to happen this morning.

There are three pepper plants left, and the peppers are immature, so I think I'll have to sacrifice them to the deer. Something – I'm not sure what – chomped into one (not the biggest, which I immediately plucked from the plant and am hoping will eventually turn red), and perhaps that same something stripped all the leaves from one of the plants. I guess my little twine fence was doing some good after all. (I took it down last week.)

Last week was pretty busy. My Mac G5 has been cranky and slow, so I've been spending the time I would have been surfing the internet (heh) on purging stuff from my hard drive. So far I have recovered more than 10GB of space. Ran a couple system utilities until I was able to connect to the internet smoothly, then downloaded and ran a few more.

One of my biggest issues has been the inability to send an attachment with an e-mail message. While it still takes a long time (a 40MB message took seven minutes to send yesterday), at least I can now accomplish that task. Most of the time.

And speaking of sending, I took the bold move of deleting the entire "Sent" folder in my mail application. More than 3000 messages (including one called "If Spiderman were gay," which was hilarious in 2003) gone! Whoosh!

I walked a total of 36.6 miles last week, burned more than 3600 calories, ate moderate amounts of healthful, home-cooked food and gained 1.5 pounds. Oh, well. I would feel so much better running if I weighed less, and I'd probably weigh less if I could start running again. It's a problem I've been trying to solve for a couple of years now. I guess one of my virtues is patience, although it's beginning to wear thin. Heh.

I'm nearly done knitting the third of four pumpkin trick-or-treat bags. One is for my younger granddaughter and the other three are for the triplet grandsons. I have a short list of projects that should take me through fall: a Doddy, three Christmas stockings and a Big Bad Baby Blanket. Maybe then I can finish my periwinkle blue cardigan.

Did you imagine you'd get away from here without a bit of politics? I don't think so. The health care debate goes on and on and on, when the simplest solution is still HR676. There's too much money in politics, and that's the truth.

And speaking of money, my husband and I went to see Capitalism: A Love Story yesterday. This may be Michael Moore's best film yet. The trouble is he's preaching to the choir. The theatre was packed, and no one was disagreeing with anything they saw or heard. And the applause at the end was spontaneous and robust. Moore might change the minds and hearts of some right-wing conservatives if they would only listen to what he has to say.

Maybe when it goes to DVD, he should package it in a Chuck Norris box.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Missing in Action

You know how you get into the habit of doing something one way, and
any other way of doing that thing feels uncomfortable? Well that's the
way it is with blogging for me.

I usually log into my blogger account, choose "Create Post" and say
what I want to say.

My computer has been having temper tantrums all week long. I've been
cleaning, tossing, purging and generally spiffing it up (by making it
leaner and meaner) but I STILL can't get my Blogger account to load.

It might be the computer but it more likely is the phone line I use to
connect to the internet.

I still can't send e-mails with attachments, either.

It's all very frustrating and I wish it would all just fix itself,
kind of like that cyst on my ankle did. Not likely to happen.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in and I hope I can get someone from
the phone company to come out next week to see if there's a problem
with the line. The bigger problem is they don't guarantee service for
data transfer. The biggest problem is there's no high-speed option
here in the Middle of Nowhere.