Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Quote Day

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I love it when the last day of the year falls on a Friday. It feels like we get the weekend off before we really have to begin working on those resolutions.

Heh. Kidding!

Does a resolution "stick" better if you call it a goal? I hope so, because I'm setting a few goals for the coming days, months and year that I hope will be achievable.

First, though, everyone pop over to Elora's place and wish her a happy birthday! She was the inspiration for my bookmark today. The design of it is very "happy birthday"-ish, and the quote – especially the first part – describes my friend perfectly. She effortlessly finds the best in everyone around her. Elora, I hope your special day is the best one yet, and may the coming year bring you many blessings.

Okay, back to the goals.

Our tax dollars have paid for this project, and I'm going to begin my year by taking advantage of the research that's been put into it. All of us in the U.S. learned about the four food groups and/or the food pyramid when we were schoolchildren, but I daresay we've only used that information to pass a test in health class. Applying this knowledge should lead to slow, steady weight loss that I can maintain. I've done weight loss before. I'm not so good at maintaining.

So the first daily goal is to eat from the pyramid, using the personalized plan available here.

The second is to get at least 60 minutes of intentional activity, which means a walk – either outdoors or on the new elliptical (it should be here in five more days!) – or strength training or yoga or the rowing machine (if I ever get it fixed) or something that isn't housework, yard work or gardening. It will be much more challenging to accomplish this goal in April than it is now in January, as the outdoor chores take up a lot of time and energy. My hope is that by starting now, when I have no other tasks pulling me away from it, the daily hour of exercise will become sacred.

Theoretically, if I eat the number of calories prescribed at mypyramid.gov and do an hour of physical activity every day, weight loss – the ultimate goal – will happen. But is weight loss really the ultimate goal? Well, yes and no.

I will turn 60 in May (the 25th, don't you forget it!). I've run three half-marathons and a 10-mile race, but never a marathon. So the ultimate goal for 2011 is to run a full marathon before the end of the year. In order to do that, I need to lose some – okay, a lot of – weight. I think if I keep the marathon goal out there, the weight loss will happen. It's a given that I can't run 26.2 miles at my current level of, ahem, fitness.

So there are two ultimate goals, and they work hand-in-hand.

What about the interim? It feels like I should set monthly or quarterly goals, but that's never worked for me. I set what I think are reasonable weight-loss goals for a month, I don't make it and I give up. Instead, I think I'll set monthly mileage goals, to be updated on the first day of each month.

Therefore, my goal for January is to walk/run 120 miles. That's a reasonable number, considering the disaster December's been. I can't control the weather, but with the addition of the elliptical to my arsenal I should be able to control the mileage. My preference will always be to work out outdoors, but sometimes it's just not possible.

The other fitness goal for January is to strength train twice a week – just two days of lifting tiny dumbbells or doing squats or lunges or a couple sets of girly-girl push-ups. I'm hoping that by making this goal on the light side, I will gradually learn to like it. Or at least tolerate it.

And lest you think I'm all about food and fitness and calories, oh my, I have one other non-health-related goal for the coming year. Unless you count art as health. Yes, it's time to resurrect Project 365. I probably won't upload the photos every day, but I plan to take a photo with the good camera every day. I use the BlackBerry camera to post a photo to FaceBook every day I walk, and I've just about abandoned the Rebel. So it's time to get creative again. No theme or plan for the project this year, just a picture a day from my world.

Maybe this year I'll make it all the way to next New Year's Eve.

Thank you for sticking with me this year. I hope 2011 is your best year ever. I hope it's my best year ever, as well.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sock it to me, part two

Thank for your comments about my husband's sock. I've already started the heel on the second one. Worsted-weight socks go quickly!

The yarn is an ancient one that's been in my yarn closet for a very long time. It's by Neveda and is a blend of 70% wool, 20% acrylic and 10% alpaca, with 90 yards per 50 grams. With a 12" size 6 (US) circular needle, I cast on 48 stitches and worked 8 rounds of 1x1 ribbing. I switched to a size 7 needle and knit 49 rounds (about 7 inches). Then I switched to a size 4 for the heel and foot. The larger needle for the leg portion means that part goes a little more quickly. The smaller needle for the heel and foot makes the fabric sturdier where it's needed.

I should finish the second sock today and then it's on to the rest of my list.

Some knitters don't care to knit with the short 12" circulars, but my hands are small and my fingers are short and they fit me very comfortably. I'd much rather use a circular than double-pointed needles although, of course, you have to switch to double-points when you get down to the toe. You can also use two longer circulars to work in the round. A Google search should turn up lots of sites with instructions.

I haven't been involved in online knitting groups in a while, so I really don't know if someone has come up with yet another way to knit socks. When I was involved, there were several methods: double-points, short circulars, two circulars and the Magic Loop. There was even a pattern floating around for knitting a sock within a sock, to eliminate the problem of second-sock syndrome (that's when you finish the first and can't bear to do another one just like it). I figure it's all knitting, and I love to knit, so what the heck. But I do think it's wise to cast on for the second sock (glove, slipper, mitten) immediately.

I walked outside yesterday for FIVE miles. I haven't done five since December 11, and my legs and calves were feeling it last night. I hope to repeat that walk today. We're having a bit of mist/freezing rain right now, but that's supposed to be gone by 9 a.m. We'll see if the weatherman is right.

Are you planning anything special for New Year's Eve? I'm from Ohio and it was our family's tradition to eat ribs and sauerkraut for luck in the new year. Now that I'm a southerner (well, southern West Virginia, anyway), I've discovered Hoppin' John, and this year I grew my own black-eyed peas to make it. I happen to love Hoppin' John, while my husband only tolerates it because I make him eat it. This link will take you to an interesting op-ed about black-eyed peas published in today's New York Times.

Another New Year's food tradition is that a serving of carrot "coins" will bring prosperity. Since the economy still sucks I think I'll put some of those on our plates as well. Other than that, we'll be watching football and more football. And I'll be knitting and knitting. And knitting. Heh.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oops!

No rain forecast for today after all, and while it's gloomy right now, the forecast is calling for sunny skies this afternoon. Guess where I'll be?


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Sock it to me

That's what NC State did to WVU in last night's bowl game. So sad.

And here's what I finished during the game. My husband has resisted wool socks (who knows why) for years, but this year decided they were the only thing that would keep his feet warm. This thick boot sock is the first half of the first pair.

And, lest second-sock syndrome set in, I've already completed the ribbing on sock #2.

Have a good Wednesday. It's supposed to be a bit warmer and might rain today here. I guess that makes shiny days like yesterday even more special.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas to me!

My husband is smart enough to not give me a piece of exercise equipment as a gift. This year he tucked an envelope from the bank in my card and said I could buy something for myself.

He then further demonstrated that he does, indeed, listen to me - occasionally - by suggesting a mini-laptop OR an elliptical machine.

Both of you longtime readers are aware that our treadmill doesn't like me. It spontaneously quits after about 20 minutes, emitting a burning smell at the same time. It doesn't do this for my husband, who weighs less than I do. (At one time I thought that would be the worst thing in the world to admit. Clearly I've evolved. Heh.)

The recent inclement weather tipped the scales, so to speak, in favor of getting the elliptical, so we got out yesterday to look for one.

The only place around here to purchase reasonably good quality fitness equipment is Sears. Lemme tell you, Sears ain't what it used to be.

We bought the treadmill there, which was delivered and assembled for a nominal fee. They now contract delivery and installation, and the "nominal" fee was more than $100 bucks!

I will learn by doing, which is, after all, the best way to learn.

And, of course, they didn't have any in stock. Mine will be available for pick-up January 5. There will be more bad weather keeping me indoors this winter, I'm sure of that, so waiting a few more days isn't a big deal. It'll give me time to choose the perfect location for it.

I'm happy with my choice. Unlike a treadmill, an elliptical has no motor, so your body is doing the work. AND the model I chose has a little fan that points toward your face, and an iPod plug-in.

Sweet!

Also? The Fat2Fit guys say ellipticals burn more calories in the same time as other major pieces of fitness equipment. Sold!


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Monday, December 27, 2010

'Tis a bit windy

The lid from the recycling trash can we keep on the porch is nestled in a two-foot snowdrift, and my favorite harvesting basket is gone with the wind.

I paid scant attention to the weather advisories I kept getting over the weekend. I'm signed up for Weather Channel alerts, and I bet they've sent at least half a dozen daily since last Thursday. It's kind of like the little boy who cried wolf.

Well, the wolf showed up early this morning, waking me at 2:30-ish with its whistling and howling. I *thought* I heard the snow shovel skittering down the driveway, but it must have been my half-bushel basket.

It's an excellent day to stay indoors. We'll play Scrabble, I'll knit and cook, my husband is rereading _Truman_ and, eventually, winter will be over.

One day at a time.


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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mmm, mmm good!

The snow is blowing sideways (not in huge amounts, thank goodness) and it's a great day for soup. Four kinds of beans (including cranberry beans from this year's garden), a meaty ham bone, onions, carrots, herbs ... Hope you're having something warm and delicious for dinner tonight!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry, merry AND a Friday Quote

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Wow, a double-dose of wonderfulness, right?

It occurred to me yesterday, after I published my post, that I could have been hilariously funny. Not just ha-ha funny, but side-stitch inducing! How, you may ask? Well, remember I said I was two pounds lighter this year than last? That means by the time I'm 85, I'll be at my goal weight!

Awesome, don't you think?

So, today's bookmark is a vertical, just to shake things up. Hope you like it, I had fun with the collection of digital scrapbook files taking up space on my hard drive.

Before I leave you to your holiday madness, I have a tiny confession. I wasn't sure if my friend Elora would be reading the blog or not, so I couldn't talk about my real knitting project for the month of December. You saw the Red Riding Hood poncho but I was teasing you about mittens. Now that it's been delivered, you get to see what I've been working on.

Knit in KnitPicks Palette.
The pattern is in the Fall 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting. Waaaaay back when it was still warm outside, I sent a picture of it to a few people who I thought might like it, and Elora was the only one who said she would love to wear it. I was itching to knit it, but thought it best to stick to the original colors (or close to them) for the first one. Now that I've made one, I might (that's a mighty big 'might') make one for myself in grey/black/cream with pops of red and purple.

Then again, I might not.

Anyhoo, Elora loved it, and called me later to say how much she loved the inside as well. I couldn't agree more. The magic of Fair Isle is that the private side is just as fascinating as the public one.

I should have taken a picture of that!

Have a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I'm being a kitchen slave today and tomorrow, but it's a role I … get ready … relish!

Heh.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tempus is fugiting

I don't feel a lot of holiday pressure this year, thanks mostly, I guess, to the need to mail most of my presents. When you have to ship packages, the pressure – such as it is – happens earlier in December and mostly involves the dread of lost shipments. Fortunately everything has been delivered and only a few mitten-shaped cookies broke in transit.

The decision to not make a lot of handknit gifts this year eliminated most of my usual tension-filled evenings. I don't often sit-and-knit during the day, because I like to watch television when I knit, and there's only so much HGTV I can stand. (I do like Color Splash, but it comes on about the time I'm usually starting dinner.) Evening television viewing around here is mostly MSNBC, which I like in much smaller doses than He Who Controls The Remote.

Sigh.

Thank goodness for college football bowl games! (Live sporting events are my programming of choice, my own personal reality TV.) While I have trouble staying awake until the final minute, I can get a lot of knitting done between kickoff and halftime.

See what I mean? It's a cuff! The first one in the first pair of three Pop-up Paws mittens on my to-do list.

The yarn is a blend of wool, cotton, acrylic and nylon, certainly not as warm as pure wool would be, but I like the texture and the little halo of red fibers, and it's machine-washable. Since this pair is going to my daughter-in-law – the mother of four children, all younger than three – I think machine-washable trumps pure wool. (And yes, I know about superwash wool, but it stretches out after a few launderings, so I prefer using it for blankets and throws and pillows, oh my.)

Moving on. I'm two whole pounds lighter this year than I was a year ago. I'm okay with that, because I didn't have a very good relationship with food in 2010. The coming year promises already to be one in which I'm not fighting myself about food. I got a good start this year, took a short and very educational detour a couple months ago and feel like I'm on track. Losing all the weight I need to lose probably won't happen in 2011. But the months are going to roll by anyway, just as they have this year, and I have a much better attitude about the possibilities before me.

The Big Carrot dangling in front of me is running a marathon next fall. I know for sure I couldn't complete one at my current weight. And I know for sure I want to complete one in 2011, the year I turn 60. As long as my desire to run a marathon remains Priority One, I should be okay.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's a Christmas miracle!

Today is weigh-in day, and – drumroll, please – I stayed the same again!

You have no idea how miraculous this is, actually. A weekend of restaurant eating, followed by a cookie-making/dinner party Monday night and homemade persimmon pudding (Oh. My. God! How delicious!) last night – sorry for the food porn, but this week of eating followed by a maintenance weigh-in illustrates so perfectly what the Fat2Fit guys talk about on their podcasts: Eating the number of calories you need – even if it looks like an outrageously high number – doesn't lead to weight gain.

I'm astonished.

I'm glad I had a couple months of closely tracking my food intake, because I now have a pretty good idea of what that number is without being obsessive about it. I think I'll try to journal a couple days a week for a while, just to keep myself honest.

In the meantime, I'm not restricting but not overindulging. I'm sampling, tasting and even (in the case of the persimmon pudding) digging in with abandon.

I'm enjoying – something I haven't done with holiday food in a very long time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pop-up Paws Update

I decided, after all, that I wouldn't have time to make a pair of Pop-up Paws for my daughter-in-law. Instead, I wore mine and made sure she saw them, to get an idea of whether she would appreciate a pair or not.

Turns out she would – she immediately said how handy they would be when buckling children into car seats. So I'll add them to the to-do list. While I was in Ohio, two other friends said they'd love a pair, as well, and I also promised two pairs of felted clogs. That should reduce the yarn stash a bit!

It's been more than two weeks since I've walked outdoors, but guess what? Today's the day! Temperatures will be above freezing (it's almost there now) all day for the first time in who knows how long? I got a Christmas card from one of my cousins yesterday and she wrote about how inspiring my walking program has been for her. (She's been following my progress on Facebook; you can, too! Just click that FB link on the left side of the page to add me as your friend.) She has to have both knees replaced next month, and is hoping to begin her own walking regimen in the spring. Not only do I feel I've let myself down by not getting out to walk, perhaps I've let her down, too! Hope not.

I ordered some devices to strap onto my shoes to add traction in snow and ice. The snow will probably be gone before they get here, but I've a feeling there will be more before winter's end. Don't know why I didn't think of these earlier in the season. Maybe I was subconsciously looking for a reason to take a break. My subconscious can be pretty persuasive. Heh.

No lunar eclipse for us last night. I woke spontaneously at 2:11 a.m., just in time to watch it, but we were under a solid cloud cover. At 8 p.m. last night the full moon was beautiful, as was the starry, starry night. It didn't last long enough for us to catch a glimpse, though. Did you see it? Tell!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did you read Part 2?

CAP followed up on the great post I referenced last week. One of the lines that stands out and is so relevant is this:
Each new year I resolved to be less of myself.
To me, that is brilliant! In resolving to be "less of myself," I inevitably became less genuine, less mindful, less … fill in the blank, while at the same time becoming physically bigger, fatter, more!

In this second post, she responds to some comments from the previous one, with depth, thought, detail, heart and soul. 

She is blazing the trail I'd like to be on. I'm still hung up on calories in/calories out, I still think sugar is "bad" and whole grains are "good." I have a long way to go, but I feel like the insanity in my life with regard to food is somehow fading away.

We had to eat out quite a bit this weekend, as we were traveling. My husband and I have completely different food philosophies, and that makes things difficult. He has managed his weight by eating one meal (dinner) a day and having something else (yogurt, usually) before he goes to bed. I, on the other hand, believe in eating three squares and a snack or two. I think science backs me up – keeping your blood sugar levels steady would, I think, be a good thing.

He, however, sees that his weight is normal and mine is, well, let's just say above average, and therefore his plan must be the one to follow.

I insisted that we eat more frequently than just dinner. At each meal, I ate according to my hunger level. I had dessert once, but mostly – and I think this is a result of eating home-grown, home-cooked food for most of this year – I ate simply and nutritiously. I picked an Indian restaurant for dinner Saturday night and savored my meal – Chicken Tika Masala that was superb.

Perhaps recounting all this weekend food stuff proves that my food issues aren't fading away, now that I think about it. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. But I do feel that I'm inching closer to ordered eating, instead of disordered.

One thing I didn't get any of this weekend was intentional activity. Sidewalks were snow-covered, temperatures were frigid and time for myself was limited. I saw a few hardy runners out there getting their miles in, though, and felt the tiniest pang of regret that I'm not that dedicated.

Very tiny. Heh.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Required reading - the navel-gazing part

http://www.google.com/gwt/x?source=reader&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.crazyauntpurl.com%2Farchives%2F2010%2F12%2Fi_shred_therefo_1.php

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Friday Quote Day

A bookmark designed especially for the runners out there.

Click and save, print on cardstock, punch a hole and add some yarn. Enjoy!

I'm so anxious to start really running again. The quote says it all. I almost always feel better after I run – accomplished, strong, confident, kick-ass, strong, capable and did I mention strong?

And if you think you're too old to run, think again. (I've never thought I was too old to do anything. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Forgot to show you ...

our mixed veggies from dinner last night. Carrots, green beans, corn, edamame and peas, all plucked from the freezer *after* they'd been plucked from the garden. I lost the peas for a while, so glad I found them again! Heh.

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Suh-lammed!

Well, not really, but it seems like winter just won't go away. And it hasn't even started yet!

I've gotten multiple advisories and warnings over the past week, each one more dire than the last, letting me know that I'm going to freeze my extremities off and I'd better not drive.

Great time to plan a trip to visit grandchildren, eh?

I was talking with a BlackBerry techie yesterday who happened to be in Halifax. That's in Canada. And it was 40 degrees! They hadn't seen the first snowflake yet!

I do believe in climate change, I do believe in climate change, I do believe in climate change, I do, I do, I do!

Anyhoo, it looks like I'll get a workout in today – shoveling the driveway! We're going to have to get out, come hell or high water wintry mix. If we do leave tomorrow, it will be very early, so we need to get to the bank today.

Yes, we're dinosaurs. We've never had ATM cards. Hey, we just started paying bills online, so maybe there's hope. Heh.

If you live in one of the many wintry mix areas, I hope you stay safe and warm!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not much from me this morning ...

I didn't sleep well last night and think I am either coming down with a cold or have a massive sinus infection. I hate not being able to breathe. Breathing? Good. Not breathing? Painful.

So anyway, how cool is this? Think I'll go do some right now. Or maybe right after breakfast. And laundry. And mopping the salty/snowy footprints off the floors. Again.

Today's weigh-in was not what I wanted to see. Up a couple pounds this week. I'm not worried about it, though. I've been playing with these two pounds since early fall. Like I said yesterday, I need to give the metabolism a break and I feel certain that next year I will be able to report slow-but-steady losses on a regular basis.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finished ...

In the last week I've finished knitting three hats, none of which were for me. I may still have time to whip out a pair of Pop-up Paws for the daughter-in-law we're going to be visiting this weekend.

All of the goodie packages have been mailed, and all of the to-be-shipped gifts are on their way. What a huge load that is to have off my shoulders! The remaining gifts will go with us to be delivered in person.

It feels good to have all of this done. The only thing left on the holiday to-do list is finish making and mailing the Christmas cards. Should be able to knock that out in a couple hours.

Looks like I've finished exercising outdoors for a while, as well. With wind chills down to ZERO and below, it's not even safe to spend any significant time outside. Food is good – I'm tracking what I eat and feeling like I'm maintaining.

I've done so much damage to my metabolism over the last mumble-mumble years of yo-yo dieting and calorie restriction that I think this is a good time to just give it a rest. Maybe a couple weeks of "normal" eating and activity will convince my body that I can be trusted not to overwork and underfeed it.

Nice theory, anyway. Who ever would have thought I'd be a mad scientist in my 50s, experimenting on myself? Heh.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Welcome to the 21st century, Debbi

This past June our wireless phone contract with AT&T expired and we got to switch carriers. AT&T is fine for some folks, but we couldn't get a signal at the end of our driveway. Not that we made many calls from the end of the driveway, but still.

I asked local friends for recommendations and most people around here use U.S. Cellular. So I went to their store, listened to their pitch and when they dangled a BlackBerry in front of my nose, and said I could tether it to my computer for faster-than-dial-up internet service, I signed up.

The salesperson also casually mentioned this little USB plug-in thingy that would offer true 3G service. As long as my phone works here, he said, the USB thing would, as well.

Fast-forward to yesterday: Merry Christmas, Debbi.

I knew this was coming from the moment I left that store in June. Now I'm wondering what took me so long! Baby steps, I suppose.

For the past week or two I've been downloading the Fat2FitRadio podcasts from iTunes, each of which takes about an hour. I also have been using SpeedDownload to snag the first year, which the F2F guys are selling for $15 (well worth it). SpeedDownload lets me know the speed at which things are moving. Before the USB thingy? About 15K. After? 101K! Woo hoo!

The next step into the 21st century will be giving up our landline. I've really had to take baby steps on this one. Were I a single lady, it (and satellite television) would be gone, gone, gone. But my husband is not one for modern technology, and I have to respect that. (And he loves his MSNBC.)

(Case in point: While we were at the mall yesterday he decided he wanted a new music player. He's been using a portable boombox-type stereo when he works out, and now wants something with headphones. He decided the best thing for him would be a portable CD player and a set of bulky headphones. I tried to steer him to an iPod Shuffle – approximately the same price – but he wouldn't hear of it. Merry Christmas to my husband. Heh.)

So here I am, zipping along the internets, pulling up websites which were previously unbearably slow to load, downloading an audiobook (Jonathan Franzen's Freedom) from audible.com for the first time evah, and wondering what I'm going to do with all this extra time I'm going to have since I won't be sitting on my ass in front of a monitor for hours every day.

Aha! More time for sitting on my ass knitting every day… at least until it's time to start sowing and growing the garden again.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Quote Day

You know the drill: Click and save, print on cardstock, punch a hole, add a yarn tassle and stick it in a book!

Merry second Friday in December!

Sacrifice … something our indulgent selves have trouble with sometimes. I would sacrifice anything and everything for my children or my husband, but what am I willing to do for myself?

That's what I'm thinking about today, but I'm not really coming up with much to write about in this season of excess. More. Thinking. Required.

I might be finished with the baking and making. I still need to decorate the mitten cookies, but when I finished the Snickerdoodles yesterday and took an inventory of all the food gifts I've made, I think I'm done. There are lots more sticky notes popping out of my cookbooks, and printed recipes piled up on the counter, but … well, see the previous paragraph, particularly the phrase "season of excess."

I was able to get outside for a walk yesterday – the temperature was only 25 and I went five miles (looooong, slooooow miles), but I did it. And felt like crap when I got home. I was plumb worn out! Took a nap before dinner and went to bed earlier than usual. Which is saying something, because I go to bed pretty early anyway, as a rule. It will be a much nicer day today, and I'm planning to try it again.

I think it would do me a lot of good to get all the gifts wrapped and shipped, and to turn the guest room back into a guest room, rather than Christmas Central. I'll have a little time to work on that today, and a lot more time over the weekend.

Hope your weekend is as restful or productive as you want or need it to be.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Every picture tells a story

Okay, first things first: I'm nearly healed. It's hard to imagine that a fall like mine can send some folks to the Emergency Department – or worse – and here I am with only a teensy bit of residual soreness in my neck and a scrape on my elbow. I must come from sturdy stock. Really, I wish I could milk this injury a little bit longer. I haven't had to lift anything heavier than the coffeepot all week! Heh. But, alas, there are Things To Be Done and I'm the one to do them.

So some of you don't know what buckeyes are? Mmmmm, I wish I could send you some. You'll have to be satisfied with a virtual batch. They're as easy as pie to make, but they do take a little time. You combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar, roll it into little balls, dip the balls partway into melted chocolate and they look like the useless nut Ohio (the Buckeye State) was named for.

Next, I've been working on a very cool project for my teen-aged granddaughter. I saw a photo of a CD calendar last year and have been saving the idea all year long. She is a huge fan of Ellen DeGeneres, so each page of the calendar has an Ellen quote. I played with Photoshop brushes to do the backgrounds for each page. I love this! If you're a fan of Ellen and would like a .pdf of the project to print and assemble for your very own, let me know. I can upload it the same way I did the Wee Santa Hat. Here's a website that explains how to manipulate a CD case to hold the pages.

Last photo for today: Dinner! So healthy – meat loaf made from grass-fed beef, mixed greens sprinkled with vinegar and baked squash (which looks much better in person than it does in a BlackBerry photo – it's a bright orange, full of beta carotene, I'm sure!). So yummy. After a couple days of crap eating, it felt great to have a healthy meal.

If it warms up enough today, I'm heading out for a walk. "Enough" means the ice has to be melted off the driveway. Tomorrow might be more likely. It's 9° right now (7:15 a.m.), but supposed to hit the 40s tomorrow! Hope you have a great day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Progress report

Or, rather, the "stayed-the-same-and-I'm-grateful" report.

When I slipped on the ice on Monday and subsequently couldn't run, walk or lift anything, I took that as a license to comfort myself (with Aleve, a heating pad and food), stop journaling and generally slide back into my old, familiar ways.

My new healthy lifestyle isn't my go-to position. Yet. Add to that the mountain of cookies and candy I'm making for Christmas and I'm sure I don't have to spell it out for you.

Today is a new day, though, and I feel renewed. Also too busy to worry about it. We're getting flu shots this morning and replacing the hand mixer (a cheap one I've had for years) I broke making the peanut butter part of Buckeyes. (In Ohio we called them Buckeyes. Here in West Virginia they call them peanut-butter balls. I think.) I still have gifts and treats to finish making and the oranges I ordered last month came yesterday, which means … marmalade! I love marmalade, and so does my husband, so I'm looking forward to making many jars.

Never a dull moment around here. Hope you're staying busy. And warm. The temperature is supposed to climb back above freezing tomorrow, and I'm going to take that as a sign that I need to try another outdoor walk. Also, the next time we're in the city we're going to look at a new piece of exercise equipment. The treadmill is 15 years old and on its last legs.

Kind of like me. Heh.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Well, since I can't exercise ...

I'll need to be a little more careful with food. So I woke up early and made ... are you ready? ...

Knitter's Sugar Cookies! Can't wait to decorate them. And then mail them to my grandchildren. 'Cause they're NOT staying in my house.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crap, crap, crap!

Okay, so I hopped on the treadmill this morning and did 1.5 miles at 4.5 mph, which is a pretty good clip for me. And the treadmill only spontaneously stopped once during that period of time. I wasn't interested in fighting with it, I'd done my 1.5-mile run and I got ready to do the remaining three miles outside. Walking.

Two minutes and seven seconds after I hit the "start" button on the Garmin, I was flat on my ass in the middle of the driveway, having slipped on the sheet of ice hidden beneath the snow.

I broke my fall with my right elbow. Thank goodness I didn't break my elbow. As it is, it's quite tender and very badly bruised. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), I didn't walk any further.

I will not be compulsive about this.

I will not be compulsive about this.
I will not be compulsive about this.
I will not be compulsive about this.
I will not be compulsive about this.

My husband and I did some errands in town after I settled down a little bit. I came home, had a light lunch, worked on a graphic design project and as soon as this is published I'm going to do some things in the house that need to be done. Oh, and I'm going to knit, too. Because landing on your elbow doesn't mean you can't knit. Thank goodness!

And now for the real Monday morning post

I'm afraid my December goals may have to be downsized. I'm not saying they will for sure, as I may – depending on the weather – be able to make up my lost mileage later in the month. But so far it's not looking good.


Well, actually, it is looking good outside. Very pretty, see what I mean? But very difficult to walk in, impossible to run in and geez Louise is it ever COLD!

I'm going to try doing some running on the treadmill today. It still stops suddenly after 20 minutes or so, meaning I can do one mile and part of a second. I'm not quite up to a 10-minute mile yet, although that's not as hard to do on the treadmill as it is outside.

What I need to do is quit worrying about it. As the young folks say, "It is what it is." As long as I do something every day, other than sit on my ass, I should be okay.

We're under a Winter Weather Advisory until tomorrow evening. I don't think we'll get much more snow, but it's supposed to stay windy and cold. The wind drove me back yesterday; I'd planned to do five miles but had to turn around at the 1.5-mile mark. I just couldn't fight it any more.

Last week's total was 27-plus. Total running was 4.5. I'm still on track for the 135 total miles if I can manage 4.5 miles/day. I guess I'm actually still on track for 35 running miles, too, if I can do 1.5/day on the treadmill. Calculators are wonderful things. One and a half indoor miles plus three outdoor miles will allow me to just make it. Of course, there's no wiggle room, and we'll be traveling the weekend before Christmas.

Okay, back to "it is what it is." Heh.

The cookie-baking has begun. I'm giving most of them away but have run out of storage containers already. Will remedy that today, if I can get out of the driveway and down the hill. What I don't put in the freezer I leave on the counter for my husband to nibble on. Yesterday's spritz? Gone!

(By the way, whoever came up with the idea of dipping half a cookie in white chocolate and adding sprinkles was a genius! So easy. And so pretty, don't you think?)

Two pretty amazing things are happening as I'm baking:
  • If I nibble, either the dough or a baked cookie, I write it down.
  • I'm not nibbling nearly as much as I have in previous years.
Awesome.

I'm also not baking the quantity I have in previous years, so maybe since I know it's all going to be distributed, I want to have as much as possible to give away. So generous of me! Heh.

I'd offer to send some to you, but since this is a weight-loss blog, I'm thinking you probably don't need them any more than I do! The fun is in the baking and decorating, not the eating. Right?

Testing, testing

I had a knitting pattern on my old blog that dozens of people were able to click-and-save with no problem. I uploaded it as a .jpg, just as I did with the bookmark, and I can even view it on the tiny BlackBerry screen. One person is having problems, so I'm testing Google Docs to see if it works.

Blogger doesn't let you upload .pdf files, so this is a workaround. By hosting the file on Docs, you can point people to the file and they can download from there. Does this work for you?

Wee Santa Hat

Shoot me a comment if it does or doesn't. Thanks!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Quote Day

So where's the quote? I just know both of you out there reading are thinking I've really lost it. It's Friday,  and there's supposed to be a quote at the top of the page.

I put it at the end today, and will do so for all of December, because I think this month's presentation looks good at the bottom of the post. Call me crazy. Oh. You already have.

I need to answer Jane, who wanted to know what sorghum is. Here's the Wikipedia article about it. The first time I saw it growing at the Amish settlement, I thought it was corn. It looks like corn when it's young, but the tassles have little beads on them. I asked my dad if he knew what it might be and he immediately said they were growing sorghum, to make syrup.

When Dad was a boy, it was part of the community entertainment to gather and press the cane, releasing a sweet liquid which was then boiled into a molasses-type syrup. It's a multi-day process for the Amish, who sell both the syrup and the stalks which are left behind, which can be used for animal fodder or for decorative purposes.

As I said earlier, a spoonful in a glass of warm milk with a little vanilla added is a delicious, soothing treat at the end of the day, and a nutritious way to add some calories if you're having trouble eating enough (which I never thought would be a problem!).

The other thing I've meant to do is give you a link to the flip-top mitten pattern, which are called Pop-up Paws. The only place I could find in a quick search sells the pattern along with yarn as a kit, for $24. You might check with your local yarn shop before you invest in a kit. If you're anything like me, you have enough yarn to make enough pairs of mittens for your entire neighborhood.

I began Round 2, Day 1 of the December plan yesterday. I finished five miles in 76 minutes, and estimate that I walked half and ran half. I may have run slightly more than half, but I'm going to be conservative with my estimate. It felt good to be running again; maybe I needed that rest day.

And now, because it's the gift-giving season, here's your quote. All the quotes this month will be in the form of printable bookmarks. Simply click on the image, save it to your hard drive, print it on cardstock, punch a hole where the black circle is and loop some yarn through to make a little tassle.

You do have some yarn, right?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On the 62nd day, she rested

If you're a Facebook friend, you already know that I didn't run or walk outdoors yesterday any longer than it took to get from the car to a store. Three stores and a mall were involved, as well as three hours of purposeful shopping (after I left the dentist's office). I don't count yesterday as a bust, but I also am not counting it toward my December mileage goal.

Sure wish I'd thought to grab the Garmin on the way out the door! Heh.

I can already see that not having a daily mileage goal, as I did in October and November, has managed to trip me up. I know the average number of miles/day I must complete to meet the monthly goal, but I didn't set a daily goal. And now that average number is a little higher. Two-tenths of a mile, to be exact. Compulsive? Who, me?

On the other hand, I wasn't ambling from aisle to aisle. I was striding. And forgetting things. So there was a lot of backtracking. It was blowing snow, 27 degrees (with a wind chill of 15) and I was tired when I got home, and so I decided to take a day off.

I'm not sure how realistic December's goals are, given the weather. We'll just have to see. One day at a time, as they say.

Jane, who is a new reader here, has tagged me with four questions. I haven't been blog-tagged in years! Here goes:

1. Who has had the most influence in your life? In what way has the person (or people) influenced you?
It's difficult to choose, but I think my mother's mother, the only grandmother I ever knew, probably shaped my life more positively than anyone else. She was my best example of true unconditional love, and she certainly taught me what it takes to be a good grandmother.

2. What is your favorite quality about yourself? Similarly, what characteristic would you like to change, lose or modify?
I like to think I'm generous and willing to help when someone is in need. I'd like to be a better listener and to stop interrupting when I think I have something better to say.

3. When was the last time you cried?
I cry a lot lately, every day as a matter of fact, including yesterday. (And, as I completed this paragraph, now.) My father died September 10. Not a day goes by that I don't remember something sweet or silly that moves me to tears. I sure miss him.

4. What was your very best vacation ever and why?
Does a wedding trip count as a vacation? I haven't been on many vacations in my life, so the best one would have to be in August of 2006 when my now-husband and I flew to Las Vegas to be married. We had so much fun. We still do.
If you'd like to ponder these questions on your blog, please consider yourself tagged!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New month, new goal

First, though, Leslie wanted before-and-after photos of the clogs. Here you go!
On the left, the knitting is done but they look like clown shoes, and measure 15” from heel to toe. On the right, after three trips through the washer, they measure 11” and should fit my sister perfectly. I hope!
I spoke with my fitness-oriented son-in-law yesterday. He called to tell me his plantar fascia tear has healed and he's out of the walking boot. He's been sidelined for a couple months and has been very anxious to get active again.

He helped me work out a reasonable (I hope) goal for December. I told him I wasn't as interested in increasing distance as I was in increasing intensity. (By the way, mileage for November was 132 and a fraction.) So the new challenge is to do a total of 135 miles, which is an average of 4.5 miles per day, but make 35 of those miles running. This seems both practical and possible if the weather isn't totally crappy this month. I can always do the running miles on the treadmill if I have to. I have no problem walking on icy or snowy roads, but running – because of the hills and uneven terrain – wouldn't be safe.

Thanks for the input on wearing mittens in North Carolina. I love mine, and think a busy mom would find them very useful, since the flip-top mitten part folds back to leave your fingers free to do whatever. I can never remember the name of the pattern, but I'll look at it again tonight and try to find a link to post tomorrow. It's not a free pattern, but it's worth every penny.

I have to run, I have a dentist's appointment this morning and will do some errands while I'm out. The real run/walk will happen later this afternoon.

You might be wondering how the Great Calorie Increase Experiment worked this week. Quite nicely, actually. I lost two pounds! Again! I'm astonished, and very motivated to keep it up. Denise's suggestion to drink some calories is something I've been doing. I love mixing a little vanilla and a spoonful of sorghum in a glass of warm milk in the evening. (Got that idea from my Amish neighbors.)

Okay, off to get my teeth cleaned!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

127.27

There's something about the symmetry of that number that I just love. And what, you may ask, does that number represent? That's the number of miles I walked/ran (mostly walked) during the second 30 days of my fitness odyssey.

My goal for November was to walk at least four miles per day and 125 miles for the month, and I totally nailed it. I will walk four more miles today (or maybe five, just for the helluvit), to complete the daily goal. I've been debating with myself (a dangerous exercise) about what goal to set for December. I'll report back tomorrow.

I've lost a total of three whole pounds in 60 days, or slightly more than a third of a pound per week. Pretty dismal, but at least I'm heading in the right direction. And I'm very hopeful that adding calories will, paradoxically, lead to weight loss, not weight maintenance or weight gain. If nothing else, at least I'm not suffering massive headaches, lack of energy and general crabbiness, as I did for one week when I kept the calories below 1000. That was brutal!

I've been knitting. I finished Little Red's hooded poncho (I didn't use a published pattern or I would leave a link), wove in all the stray ends and then "killed" it yesterday. Killing, if you haven't heard that term before, is another word for blocking but used more specifically when talking about acrylic yarn. I chose an acrylic blend for the poncho because it's for a child and because it was red and in my yarn closet. The lower edge, which was done in seed stitch, curled up, and so had to be blocked into submission.

I placed a wet towel over the garment and pressed it with a hot iron. The result is lovely – very drapey and the lower edge now lies flat. The first time I killed an acrylic item I was scared to death, as I didn't have a swatch to practice on. The results have always been surprisingly beautiful, and it's especially effective for baby blankets.

I also finished a pair of Fiber Trend's Felted Clogs. They should be dry enough to mail today.

Not sure what to do next. I had thought I might make a pair of flip-top mittens for my daughter-in-law, but they're moving to North Carolina and I'm not sure how useful they would be in a warmer climate. It's a given that I'll have to find a new project soon, though, as I can't seem to sit and watch television without working on something.

We had a delicious peanut soup with dinner last night. The peanut flavor was not overpowering, just a hint of it, and the rest of the spices gave it a complex flavor unlike anything we've eaten before. I used squash instead of sweet potatoes, and will definitely be making it again.

Finally, I ordered some photo puzzles on Friday from Mpix and they arrived yesterday! Talk about great service! I'm so impressed with these gifts, and I hope the three grandchildren who will be receiving them will enjoy them. I think this is a great gift idea for the person who has everything. The photos I chose were ones I took of each of the kids during the past year. I might make this an annual tradition, depending on how well-received they are.

Does anyone, other than toddlers, do jigsaw puzzles any more? Hmmm. I probably should have asked that question before I ordered!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Have you been tempted?

No, not by all the Thanksgiving leftovers (I have none! since we went out for dinner), but by all the sales, sales, SALES! Advertising bombs are going off everywhere you look, if you are even remotely "plugged in."

I'll admit I've clicked through to check prices on laptops, bedspreads and chairs, three things I'm looking for to add to my collection of stuff. Actually, the bedspread and chairs will be replacements for sadly worn-out stuff. We keep putting off replacing them because, well, just because.

The laptop, on the other hand, would be quite a luxury for me. I have a mini-mini-teeny-weeny laptop (the BlackBerry), and have decided that sometimes it's just too hard to do what I want to do on that two-inch screen. And I usually decide that instead of trudging over to the second-floor office in the garage, I'll just wait until later. And then I never do that thing I was going to do on the BlackBerry.

I'll be talking myself out of the laptop pretty soon. Who wants to bet?

Thanksgiving was the perfect day to begin the Great Calorie Experiment. According to this calculator (and thank you again, Shauna, for pointing me to their podcasts) here's the range of how much I should eat at different activity levels. I walk for more than an hour every day, but it's not what I would call 'hard exercise,' so I've put myself in the Moderately Active category.
I haven't even come close to eating that many calories on a daily basis. Thursday, Friday and Saturday I managed to eat around 1650 per day. Yesterday I didn't even make it to 1400. I had no idea it would be so hard to eat! That's never been my problem. Heh.

I'm going to keep at it, though, mostly because I have so much more energy! Yesterday, for example, was another hands-and-knees floor scrubbing, this time the hallways and kitchen. I moved furniture in the main living area and mopped all of that floor, as well. It took four hours from start to finish, no breaks, and then I walked four miles outdoors when I was done.

I can't do that eating 1200 calories or less per day. I'll admit I was pretty beat last night, but I'm almost 60 and that much activity probably should wear me out. I'm grateful I can even get down on my hands and knees; I know too many people younger than I who can't.

Weigh in is Wednesday, and I'm anxious to see what happens after the first week. My husband is very skeptical and only marginally supportive. Sometimes I feel like I have to sneak-eat, so he won't see me chowing down on that apple with peanut butter, for example, a couple hours before dinner.

That's another thing: I'm not eating crap to get those extra calories in. It's not difficult to eat healthful food in my house, because I don't buy crap. But I do have some baking supplies and it would be very easy to dig into that bag of Hershey's Kisses I bought to make Peanut Butter Blossoms, for example (nine Kisses are 200 calories). That doesn't seem like a good way to spend calories.

Hey! Who kidnapped the real Debbi, and when are you bringing her back? Heh.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Inaction breeds doubt and fear.
Action breeds confidence and courage.
If you want to conquer fear,
do not sit home and think about it.
Go out and get busy.
~ Dale Carnegie

Well, Thanksgiving is over, hurrah, hurrah. I'm going to post what I ate for dinner yesterday. As I approached the buffet, I was mindful of the idea of filling two-thirds of my plate with vegetables, limiting starchy carbs and having a reasonable portion of protein (which wasn't difficult, there was no dark turkey meat and I'm not fond of white meat). Here goes …

1 cup lightly dressed Caesar salad
1 deviled egg
1/4 cup Waldorf salad
2 oz. lean ham
1 oz. white meat turkey
1/2 c. stuffing
1/4 c. mashed potatoes
1 c. steamed green beans with garlic
1 c. sauteed summer squash with red peppers
1/2 piece pumpkin pie
2 Tbsp. chocolate frosting (from my husband's cake)

When it's all written down like that, it looks like a ton of food. And the calories added up to a half ton. Heh. But I didn't go back for seconds and, as my husband said, it was Thanksgiving, after all.

The hell of it was, I was hungry before the second football game was over. Grrr. So I ate an apple. I've heard if you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, you're not really hungry.

Today's quote is perfect for me. As both of you know, I've been toying with the idea of eating the number of calories I need to maintain my goal weight, and yet I'm scared s*#!less to try it. Someone like me – approaching 60, lifetime yo-yo dieter, screwed-up metabolism, yada, yada, yada – couldn't possibly lose weight eating that much, right?

My goal maintenance calorie total is 1700, which sounds like a mountain of food. But you know what? My total yesterday was less than that. It seems like a good time to begin. Sitting around thinking about it increases my fear of doing it. Time to take the plunge. You will, of course, be coming along for the ride, and I'll thank you in advance for putting up with my wailing and gnashing and bitching and moaning.

Who knows? Maybe we'll all be surprised and we can celebrate together. I know this much for sure: It will be more difficult to eat 1700 calories per day than it has been to eat 1200 or less.

A quick note to brag. I ran (love those new shoes!) most of four miles Wednesday, and the fourth mile was the fastest: 12:37. That's one second faster than my best half-marathon pace. Now all I need to do is build up the stamina to add another 25 miles to it, and I'll be ready for my marathon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving. I think.

Because I lost my father so recently, I haven't had much holiday spirit this Thanksgiving season. He visited me in September and we had Thanksgiving when he was here. I'm more grateful for that dinner than I can ever express.

Anyway, my mother-in-law took us out for dinner today, which would not usually be my preference, but it was fine this year.

I made careful choices at the buffet (no menu option was offered today), and just finished adding up the total for the mid-afternoon meal: 1067!

I don't *feel* like I just ate that much. In fact, I'll probably feel hungry later. I was careful to record everything as accurately as I could, but seriously, I can't get over how many calories I just ate.

I kind of wish I felt uncomfortably full. Maybe it would have been worth it.

At least I took time to walk this morning. Five miles, 90 minutes, no running today ... yesterday's good run (I did the last of my four miles in 12:37!) took its toll!

Hope your turkey was juicy and your whipped cream didn't separate. If the potatoes were lumpy, I'm sure you meant them to turn out that way. Heh. And if you're heading out for Black Friday tomorrow, be careful: It's a jungle out there!


Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some progress

Well, I've been weighing myself on Wednesdays and finally, finally, I've seen a tiny downward tick of the scale. Actually, for me, it's HUGE – two pounds – but considering I started this project October 1, and have so far lost a grand total of 3.5 pounds, I'd say I'm a bit behind schedule. Heh.

I basically starved myself to do it, averaging around 1000 calories per day. Not smart, I know, and not what I'd intended to do. I've been studying all these BMR and RMR and eat-at-your-goal-weight websites and am terrified that if I eat that much I'll be twice as big as I am now by my 60th birthday.

And, of course, I'd like to be considerably lighter than I am now by then (May 25, and don't you forget it!).

I expected to lose more than two pounds eating so little and exercising as much as I did. But I'll take it.

I felt like crap all week. Painful headaches every day, lightheadedness, irritable and crabby … this is stupid, stupid, stupid. And what I've done is set myself up to gain weight if I don't continue this regimen. Grrr. Like I said, stupid, stupid, stupid.

Okay, moving on. The new shoes are great! Very light, very cushiony, I can't wait to go out in them again. It was raining yesterday when I was ready to head out, so I hopped on the treadmill. You might remember the last time I ran on the treadmill it spontaneously quit after 17 minutes, emitting a burning smell and scaring me to death. It lasted 22 minutes yesterday, which was long enough for the rain to stop. The warm-up allowed me to begin the outdoor walk at a trot and I ended up running most of the route (not up the hills, though). Total combined effort (it's sooooo easy to run on the treadmill, and sooooo boring) was 4.17 miles in 60 minutes. Much better than I've been doing.

It's the shoes. Heh.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Next time you think you're too busy …

I got a note from my aunt yesterday. She's 87, I think, and we have such a good time talking about how things were done back in the old days. My dad was the only boy and the youngest of six. They grew up during the Depression and lived both richly and frugally. She included this poem in the envelope she sent:

The Perfect Day
Mama's mama, on a winter's day
milked the cows and fed them hay.
Slopped the hogs, saddled the mule,
and got the children off to school.
 Did the washing, mopped the floors,
washed the windows and did some chores.
Cooked a dish of home-dried fruit,
pressed her husband's Sunday suit.
 Swept the parlor, made the bed,
baked a dozen loaves of bread.
Split some wood and lugged it in,
enough to fill the kitchen bin.
 Cleaned the lamps and put in oil,
stewed some apples she thought might spoil.
Churned the butter, baked a cake,
then exclaimed, "For goodness sake,
the calves have got out of the pen!"
Went out and chased them in again.
Gathered the eggs and cleaned the stable,
returned to the house and set the table.
Cooked a supper that was delicious,
and after that she washed the dishes.
Fed the cat, sprinkled the clothes,
mended a basket full of hose.
Then opened the organ and began to play
"When we come to the end of a perfect day."

Whew! I don't even think our Amish neighbors work that hard! But I guess if Mama's mama's family wanted to eat, stay warm, wear clean clothes and live in a clean house, Mama's mama had to do it!

I love, love, love new running shoes!
Yesterday was pretty perfect around here. I had intended to walk four miles, as I'd done five on Sunday, but I ended up walking to the post office first, and then continuing on my customary four-mile route. Total mileage was 5.8. When I got home, my new kicks had been delivered!

I've never had red shoes before, do you think they'll make me start running? And running faster? These are Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11s, recommended in Runner's World for stability (in other words, they're good for Clydesdales) despite their very light weight. They're said to have a roomy toe box, which I need.

I'm looking forward to taking them out for a spin today. Will limit it to four miles, though. I'm not ready for five miles a day.

YET!

Monday, November 22, 2010

I lost 10 pounds this weekend!

Of knitting needles, that is.

Actually I don't even know if it was 10 pounds or not, I should have weighed them before I sent them to their new home. As it is, I feel like I've lightened my clutter, if not my waistline.

Still walking. Still mulling over what to do about food (eat more? less? the same? give up altogether?)  Blah. Blah. Blah.

Hope your week goes better than my weekend. Hope my week does, too! Heh.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Quote Day

I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step.
If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another.
In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult.
I know that small attempts, repeated,
will complete any undertaking.
~ Og Mandino

Kind of a long quote this morning, your reward for offering suggestions and encouragement yesterday. Heh. Thanks to those of you who commented and e-mailed privately.

It's an appropriate quote, as I do like the daily walk for more reasons than just weight loss. Am I disappointed that my experience hasn't matched that of my husband? Certainly. He's equally baffled and urging me to get another TSH.

"Always I will take another step." I've mentioned previously that some kind of strength training probably is in order. I could easily add a 20-minute weightlifting session three days a week. Lord knows I have a few extra hours to spare. As I said yesterday, I have more time than money.

I've been researching (again, I've been there, done that, many times) BMR and RMR and calorie requirements and blah, blah, blah, which all seem to indicate I'm not eating enough. Frankly, I'm afraid to add more. If I can't lose weight with the current calorie deficit, how can adding calories help? It makes no sense to me, but I'm not rejecting it out of hand.

There are many websites on the internets that can tell you how many calories you need to maintain your weight, and it seems to make sense that eating the number of calories you need to maintain your ideal weight would, eventually, lead to achieving that goal. These online calculators take into account activity level, age and gender.

Maybe I just need to dive into the deep end of the pool, trusting the information and experience of thousands of others, instead of thinking I have all the answers.

'Cause clearly, I don't. Or I'd be skinny.

Anyway … after seven weeks, I'm a daily walker and will continue to be one, for the mental and physical rewards, if not for the reward of reducing my girth. That will come if it's supposed to.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Would Fill-In-The-Blank Do?

Today's walk, when it's completed (notice I said when, not if), will mark the end of seven weeks of taking a long (at least three miles) walk every day. From October 1 to October 27, I lost a total of 1.5 pounds. Since then?

Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing!

The goal, when I began this project (and isn't losing weight always a project?), was, in October, to walk three miles a day and to walk a total of 100 miles for the month. For this month, the goal is to walk four miles a day and to increase the monthly total to 125 miles.

I'm eating moderate portions of healthful, made-from-scratch food. Lots of vegetables. Grass-fed beef. Nothing Almost nothing packaged or processed. No fast food. The "bad" foods I consume are a shot of non-dairy sugar-free hazelnut creamer (15 calories) in my coffee once in a while and a Tootsie Pop (45 calories) every other day or so.

I track my calories a couple days a week, but not every day. I would estimate my daily caloric intake at 1200 to 1400.

Some of you would say that's too many, while others would say that's not enough. Like Goldilocks, I'd like to think it's just right: I'm hungry at mealtime, satisfied when I've eaten my single-serving meals and I'm not thinking about food All. The. Time.

According to this website (there are many others out there, I picked this one randomly from Google's list of suggested sites), I need to eat 2250 calories per day to maintain my current weight. To maintain my goal weight, I need to drop it to 1950. Since I'm eating far fewer calories than that generous number, clearly I should be losing more than two-tenths of a pound a week.

Which brings me back to the goals. Walking all those miles, just for the sake of walking, is a worthy goal, but the secondary goal – of course! – is to lose weight. I chose walking (and I've added some running) for a number of reasons.
  • I like being outdoors.
  • It's not expensive.
  • It's not difficult, just time-consuming.
  • I have more time than money.
  • My husband lost 40 pounds in about six months taking a walk every day.
  • Walking is good for my post-menopausal bones.
  • Ditto my heart.
  • I want to run a marathon next year, and I have to be in much better shape than I am now in order to complete it.
  • It's the one exercise I enjoy doing.
  • Blah, blah, blah.
It seems that I'm pretty good at accomplishing the primary goal – mileage – but not so great at the secondary goal – weight loss.

Decision time. Keep it up? Add something? Replace it with something else? What would the deity of your choice do?

Usually I don't ask for advice, and as you can tell I'm very reluctant to change anything. I keep thinking, 'This will work. Someday.' I'm just not sure how much longer to wait for Someday. If you do offer advice in the comments, please realize I've been on some kind of a diet since I was 11 years old. I know what to do, and I feel I'm doing a pretty good job of it with this plan.

The last resort would be to just accept that I'm going to be fit and fat the rest of my life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Did she or didn't she?

If you follow me on Facebook (and if you don't, I hope you will), you already know that:

THE STREAK IS ALIVE!

Film at 11. Or, more accurately, details manana.

Later, dudes and dudettes - I'm getting wet!


Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

This might be the day ...

the streak gets broken.

It's raining, and supposed to rain all day. I will have to coordinate my walking time with a let-up in the steady rain, if there is one, because I just don't feel like squishing my way through four miles.

You see, I've worn out my shoes, and my new ones won't be here for a few days since I just ordered them yesterday. How do I know my shoes are worn out? I have blisters on both big toes. I can ignore the pain once I start walking, but wet shoes and socks aren't going to help. I think I have some kind of cushioning bandage I can put on the blisters, if the rain lets up enough that I can get out the door.

This will be a true test of my determination.

We had the best dinner last night. I've made this soup many times, and we never tire of it.

After we ate what we wanted of Sunday's roast chicken, I put the leftovers and the carcass back in the crockpot, covered it with water and let it cook on low overnight. After it cooled yesterday morning, I separated the meat from the bones, strained the broth and put the soup together. I used cooked dried white beans instead of canned cannelini, and I added some dried shitakes, just because.

The recipe says it cooks in 18 minutes, and I've no doubt it would if you did it their way. My version took all day. Heh.

My neighbor offered me all the turnip, kale and mustard greens I wanted from his garden. All I had to do was pick them. So after yesterday's four-miler, I walked to his farm with a half-bushel basket, filled it to overflowing and walked back. That was a very satisfying way to add another half-mile to yesterday's total.

What else, what else? Oh, knitting! I had to rip out the red poncho and start over, because I hate to swatch. After a couple of inches I realized it was going to be waaaaay too big around for a three-year-old. I'm almost back to where I was when I ripped it out, but since it's on fewer stitches, it's quite a bit longer. So far, so good. I hope she's not so over Little Red Riding Hood by Christmas. Heh.

Monday, November 15, 2010

KOKO

That stand for "keep on keepin' on," and that's what I've been doing.

Despite the lack of weight loss, I've continued to walk daily since October 1. I'm up to four miles a day, and I've added a mile on a few of those days. Total mileage last week was 30.78 miles.

Not bad for an old broad. Heh.

Other than walking, I didn't get a lot done yesterday. Visited a friend for too short a time in the morning.  Helped my husband take some equipment to our pond, so he could clear out some brush. Dinner was crockpot rotisserie chicken (this recipe is fabulous!), along with spicy baked sweet potato fries and kale – all of which practically cooked itself.

Thanks for your comments on Friday's post. Twenty years is a long time to live in reality. Sometimes the pain of reality can be almost too much to bear. But the pain of blackouts, hangovers and other dire consequences is worse. As long as I remember that, I can manage. I also need to remember that I'm not in charge!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Quote Day

I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. 
~ Douglas Adams

This quote from Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a book I've never read, says everything I want to say on this very special day.

Twenty years ago today I made the decision to stop drinking. I have been a grateful recovering member of Alchoholics Anonymous ever since. I have a sponsor. I have a home group. I have a program.

I have a life.
I have serenity.
I have peace.

I may not have the perfect body, but I'm doing all I can to take care of it – quite a turnaround from my years of eating dinner at happy hour, blacking out for entire weekends and neglecting not just my health, but also my family, my job, my friends and my God.

He didn't neglect me, however. He brought me back from the edge of darkness. For the past 20 years I have lived in a world where I can reach out instead of push away, give instead of take and appreciate instead of complain. I don't always remember that, and I guess anniversaries pop up every year in order to sit us down and make us remember.

Thank you, God – and AA – for showing me the way to live a great life.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful

The astute among you will recognize the subject of today's post as a song title. Of course, I meant to say the weather is beautiful, and it has been for several days now.

Too bad I'm on this walking mission and haven't gotten much done besides mileage.

I know I said earlier this week that if there's something else big to do, I should do it first. That's not how it's worked out so far this week. I walk mid-morning and then I … don't get much more accomplished.

My low energy level is beginning to concern me. I'm giving it another week and then I think I'll call my doctor. My husband tries to be encouraging, telling me that most women my age don't walk four or five  miles a day, and that I shouldn't expect to be Mrs. Clean and Mrs. Gardener and Mrs. Lawn Service every day.

Anyhoo … that's about all I have to say about that.

The red poncho is coming along. I love any in-the-round pattern that starts with a whole bunch of stitches and decreases steadily until you have just a few. I started with 200 and will eventually get to 80 or so. I haven't figured that part out yet.

Here are pix of the two latest projects, fulled and almost ready to deliver. The bag needs a tag, which I will have to print, and the stocking needs the wee one's initial sewn on the cuff. I'm using green buttons and pink thread for that. Doesn't it look sweet enough to eat?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wait! Wait! It's not the weight … :-(

It being Wednesday morning, I dutifully stepped on the bathroom scale and expected to see a pretty good loss. I haven't lost any weight for a couple of weeks, so I'm due at least a pound or three, right?

Apparently not right, as I weigh the same today as I did two days ago, five days ago and two weeks ago.

Forty days of walking has produced some results, just not the one I was hoping for.
  • I'm getting very good at taking my own picture with my cell phone and posting it to Facebook while I'm trudging along.
  • I'm discovering that even though I'm heavier than I want to be, my legs can still surprise me by breaking into a run (well, a jog anyway) every once in a while.
  • I've actually run one continuous mile out of the four-mile route a couple times since the first of this month.
Walking three or four miles a day is not something most 59-year-old women do. I try to keep an attitude of gratitude in mind that not only can I do this, I want to. Perhaps that's the biggest surprise result: I can't imagine a day without walking.

At the same time, I can't imagine anyone else on the planet walking 40 days in a row and not losing more than 1.5 pounds. Except you. Heh.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hooked on slow cooking

I've been using my new slow cooker a lot this fall, and enjoying it very much. I was going to spring for the fancy-schmancy VersaWare model but instead found a suitable substitute at Sears, where I used a handy-dandy gift card.

I'm using recipes from a couple of cookbooks in my collection, and from the Better Homes and Gardens website, which has an amazing recipe collection. Whether you're looking for elegant or simple, healthful or decadent, easy or complicated, you'll find something for dinner browsing through their online slideshows.

The beauty of gardening is that when you find a recipe calling for butternut squash, say, you don't have to run to the grocery to buy a squash. It's right there in your, er, my garage, along with the cushaws and spaghetti squashes. (How about that … reaping and eating in the first three paragraphs!)

The downside of the BH&G website is that they also have an amazing collection of dessert recipes. The holidays are approaching, and there's nothing I like better than baking cookie gifts. I've been studying and printing cookies recipes for a couple of days, preparing for this once-a-year recreational activity. To me, baking is relaxing, creative and rewarding. As long as I remember to give most of it away, it's not even too hard on my waistline.

Knitting: I cast on for Little Red Riding Hood's poncho, using a double-strand of an ancient red-and-white tweed cotton/wool/acrylic blend I've had in my stash. This will be a good use for it. I've already tweaked the pattern to knit it in the round (because I'd rather knit than sew) instead of pieces which have to be connected to each other in the finishing stage. When it comes to the hood, I'll use instructions from the fabulous Wonderful Wallaby pattern, which I've made countless times. So, really, I'm not using the Paton's pattern much at all, except for a general idea of how many stitches to cast on.

I tweak recipes like that, too. Heh.

Running? I mixed in a little bit yesterday on the four-mile walk. The weather was perfect, and promises to be so all this week. I didn't need to wear a jacket and was plenty warm by the time I trotted up the driveway 64 minutes later. Four 16-minute miles doesn't sound very impressive, but at the risk of repeating myself, I'm short and my route is very hilly. So even if you're not impressed, I am.

Nothing like tooting your own horn!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mish mash of stuff

It's kind of hard to come up with stuff to talk about when the garden is not producing and all I'm doing is walking/running every day. The streak is alive, 38 days strong. I took it easy yesterday, no running and limited it to four miles, after a couple days with some running thrown in and a couple of five-milers.

I think I've mentioned previously that if I want to both walk and accomplish anything else, I have to schedule things carefully. If I have a major shopping trip, the walk has to happen first. If there's major housework to be done, the walk has to happen later.

Yesterday was a major housework day. You've probably had days where you've woken up and decided it can't wait another minute. I started working on the guest bathroom and decided while I was cleaning one, I might as well clean the other. I hands-and-knees scrubbed the floors, wiped down all the surfaces and then decided to run the sweeper over the rest of the house. After that, it was all I could do to walk; my knees wouldn't take anything more than that.

Lessee, what else has happened. Oh, I made a lime meringue pie Friday with limes from my tree. There are limes of all sizes on the branches, and blossoms, too, so it looks like it might be everbearing. I've given six away and used six in the pie and there are still half a dozen ripe ones ready for squeezing. Will have to figure out something to do with them, because I will not waste limes! Not a very good picture, because by the time I thought about taking one my husband had eaten half of it! I think pie pictures look best with just one piece withdrawn from the whole pie.

And, since the first word of the title of this blog is "Knit," I've finished another project, a tote bag, and will felt it and the Christmas stocking today. Not sure what's next. I'm looking for a pattern (will probably use this one) for a hooded poncho, which I want to make for our middle granddaughter.  She's three and asks to hear Little Red Riding Hood over and over and over again. She needs a red hooded poncho!

I leave you with this odd little photo. When I was in Florida last month for my dad's second memorial service, I found a tiny three-bladed propeller on the floor of his van. It used to be a clip-on air freshener – you slide it onto one of the slats of the air vent. The air-freshening part of the device is long gone, but seeing the prop spin reminds me so much of my dad. He loved to fly, he encouraged me to get my pilot's license and he enjoyed little things like propellers that spin in your car. That was Dad – all about fun!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Things start as hopes
and end up as habits.
~ Lillian Hellman

Yesterday was Day 35 of The Walk-Every-Day-Even-If-It-Kills-Me Plan. I did four miles, added some jogging into the mix (about three-quarters of a mile out of the first three, and I jogged the entire fourth mile without stopping), and it rained the entire time.

If I were going to take a day off, yesterday would have been it. So I think I've created a habit, and a good one for a change.

Then again, there's today. It's raining again (and believe me, I'm not complaining, we really need it), it's a wee bit colder and today's precipitation is supposed to be a "wintry mix." I gotta tell you though, when I was running (okay, jogging) that last mile yesterday, I knew nothing was going to prevent me from completing it. I haven't run that mile in a long, long time. It's the easiest one on my route, but it's also the last one and I'm usually ready to slow down by then. I felt like I could have run another one.

Thank goodness my driveway showed up. Heh.

Elora, a rainsuit would be counterproductive to my goals, but it's a great option for working outside. I'm not nearly as self-sufficient as you are, though, and I can easily postpone an outdoor chore until the weather is a bit friendlier. Your Marigold won't wait! I think a rainsuit would become very hot and cumbersome after a while. Even a hoodie is too hot after a couple miles.

I hope you've had some success building a new habit or breaking an old one. Tell me about it!