Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Once you make a decision,
the universe conspires to make it happen.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, please, Universe: Let it be so.

I guess I'm assuming you all made some kind of decision about a month ago regarding your weight, health or fitness level. If not, bear with me while I plead with unseen powers to make my January dream come true.

Emerson was wrong, of course. You can't just make a decision and then sit on your ass eating cupcakes and expect to lose five pounds in a month. Decisions need to have some effort behind them, sometimes a lot of effort.

If Emerson is saying that the Universe gives you the energy to lift weights and take walks, and the good sense to take seconds on vegetables and pass up dessert, then he's right. Too bad he's not around so we can ask him what he meant.

In my case (because it's all about me), the Universe put me in Florida for a few days this month, which was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I got to walk outside a lot. More than I wanted to, actually (just ask my husband!). But I think hope all that activity helped to counteract the peanut-butter filled pretzels my dad is addicted to, and the fresh-from-the-oven cookies his wife thought we all needed 24/7 while we were visiting them.

After our return home, the universe allowed me to walk outside a couple of days, but mostly it's been bitterly cold, forcing me to incorporate some light weightlifting into my routine. Because the Universe has also done something wacky to the treadmill. (If you're new here, my treadmill stops spontaneously after about 24 minutes when I walk on it. My husband can walk six miles without stopping. You do the math.)

Will I reach my goal of losing five pounds in January? Honestly? I don't think so. I feel like I should do a Biggest Loser-type last-chance workout, starting now and continuing for the next 48 hours. It's not in my emotional makeup to do such a silly thing, though, so I'll just keep on doing what I've been doing all month, minus the pretzels and cookies, and hope for the best.

Could you pass the green beans, please?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The universe is trying to tell me something

Yesterday I hit the "Publish Post" button and then went to check my e-mail. I subscribe to the New York Times feed for their "Well" blog, and one of the posts was about – you guessed it – weight training!

There's actually a link within the story to get to the meat of the matter, which suggests that weight-training increases brain function in older women.

Am I an "older woman?" How can I be? Most of the time I don't feel any older than I did when I graduated from high school, but I'll be … gulp … 59 in May.

I suppose we all experience some mental decline as we age. Sometimes I actually look forward to it! How cool would it be to not have to pay the bills or balance the checkbook? Then again, who's going to do it for me?

So in addition to boosting metabolism, those little dumbbells can boost cognition. One more reason to pick 'em up!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not much to say today

We saw the sun for a little bit yesterday. It kept popping in and out of the clouds, the same clouds that brought rain and, later, snow. But it was sunny almost the entire time I was out walking. I didn't even have to bundle up – a light zip-front hoodie was all I needed to be comfortable.

Strength training: I think the reason I dislike it is – and this is being brutally honest – I'd rather be thin than strong. I need to get over it already. As someone who has studied and worked on personal fitness for more than a decade (you wouldn't know it by looking at me, but I used to be a gym rat), I know the benefits of strength training and one of them is being thin. I'm fine with the little routine I've been doing. I usually watch something on HGTV while I'm lifting those dumbbells, and I have a heavier set waiting for when this gets to be too easy. I did some walking lunges on my walk yesterday, as well. Adding a few of those when I'm outside can't hurt.

I got a lot done yesterday – washed, dried and folded five loads of laundry, turned a gallon of milk into a pound of cottage cheese and fixed a great dinner (including a salad, which I've been craving lately). I dreamed about making yogurt. I haven't had much luck making yogurt so far, so I might try again this morning.

For someone who hasn't much to say, I managed to churn out at least a couple of paragraphs, didn't I? Heh.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rain, rain, go away

I need to slap myself upside the head and get over it already. Get over what? This dreary weather. My kids like to say, "It is what it is," and I suppose they're right. If you are of a certain age, or if you like music from the late '60s, you might be familiar with the "No Rain" chant from Woodstock. That's how I feel today. Except without all that energy.

At least I'm not sleeping in a tent city. I have to keep reminding myself that life could be a lot, lot worse, and that it is a lot, lot worse for hundreds of thousands of Haitians. Also? I don't have to milk a cow twice a day. Heh.

So it's the Colts vs. the Saints in the Big Game. I was hoping Brett would pull one more victory out of his you-know-what. I would have been fine with the outcome of a Colts/Vikings Super Bowl no matter who won. As I drifted off to sleep last night, I felt a familiar pang of sadness that football season ends in two weeks. Baseball season doesn't start for two months. At least the WVU Mountaineers are doing fairly well in college hoops.

My name is Debbi, and I'm a sports nut.

You long-time readers will be familiar with my angst about lifting weights. I know it's a good thing to do and I know it increases one's metabolism and I know Strong Women Stay Young. But I've had an awfully hard time over the years putting all that knowledge into practice.

Well, something (maybe, hopefully) clicked last week and I've done my piddly little weight-training routine (three sets, 10 reps, six moves with fairly light dumbbells) every other day for an entire week! Yeah, me! I've also walked on the treadmill a couple of times (until it spontaneously quits) and took an hour-long walk outside yesterday morning. Before it started raining. And raining. And raining.

I know this thing for sure: I can't lose weight without doing some kind of physical activity. And did I mention it's raining? If I can't walk inside and I can't walk outside, I must be desperate enough to hoist a couple of dumbbells in order to burn a couple more calories.

It is what it is.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Quote Day

There will never be a day
when we won't need dedication,
discipline, energy, and the feeling
that we can change things for the better.
~ George Sheehan

Okay, kiddies, here it is, the fourth and final week of the first month of the new year. Are you still on track with your plan? Is your goal in sight? (If you're just joining us, my goal was to lose five pounds a month for 10 months.) Are you finding a new normal, or are you still fighting for control over temptation, cravings, sloth and inertia?


I gotta say it's easier to exercise when exercise can be done outdoors in warm weather. It has rained and been cold every day since our return from the sunny south, and while the rain is good for future gardens, it kind of puts a damper on a nice, long walk. My mileage for this week was all done in Florida.

And the forecast? Here's my weather widget:

Saturday might work. Sunday will if it's not raining. My Google homepage weather forecast is both colder and wetter than the widget.

But what's today's quote really about? It's about what happened yesterday in the Supreme Court. SCOTUS screwed We The People in its ruling allowing corporations to directly donate to political causes and candidates. The brakes are off. Just as corporations have taken over college sports – Verizon Play of the Game, anyone? – so, too, will our future political leaders be sponsored by Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Oil, Big Money. Your puny little contribution to your Senator or Congressman in his/her next election won't mean squat.

If we progressives ever needed dedication, discipline, energy, and the feeling that we can change things for the better, it is NOW. Barney Frank says there are ways to rein in companies who want to buy politicians, as does Sherrod Brown. I hope they're right, but they're politicians, too – are they already looking for their own sources with deep pockets?

I'm disheartened and disillusioned with politics in general. The Obama campaign was the first time I truly was engaged in the process, and it's been so sad to see all those hopes and dreams shattered by a nation more divided than ever. The common good is all but gone, it's every man, woman and child for him or herself. And those who have the most money will win. SCOTUS has ensured that.

Me? I feel kind of helpless. Kind of like I feel when I look outside and see rain and more rain and so I get on the treadmill and it quits after 24 minutes and I wonder if I'll ever be thin again.

P.S. For a peppier, brighter outlook on the weather and life in general, I hope you'll read my friend's new blog. This post of hers could not be more different from mine, and it does me so much good to study her perspective. Especially on long, rainy, cold days like this.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gloom and doom

My husband and I moped around all day yesterday. It's nothing but grey and brown here in the Middle of Nowhere, and it rained all day to boot. We called my dad twice and he called us once – I think we all miss each other!

There certainly is such a thing as a post-vacation letdown, but the letdown after this one beats all previous letdowns I've ever experienced. Since my husband feels the same way, I've no one to really to talk to about it, so you're it! Heh.

I vaguely recall being excited last spring when I first saw daffodils blooming. And yet it seems soooo far away, both long ago and a long time until it happens again. T.S. Eliot said April is the cruelest month. I vote for January.

The one bright spot of the day happened when the mail came: My Seed Savers order arrived! Even though they won't be going into the ground for another three months or so, having seeds in hand is a promise of brighter (and longer) days to come.

My foot is much, much better. I was able to walk comfortably on the treadmill until it started emitting that electrical burning odor and then spontaneously quit. I also lifted some very light dumbbells – three sets, 10 reps, six different moves. It's a start. I hope to walk outside today. In between the raindrops.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On the third day, …

she walked barefoot. On the beach. For eight miles.

Boy, was that ever stupid.

My husband's plan for our Florida trip was to take a three-hour walk on the beach every day. First day was great, since it was only a two-hour walk. Heh. Walking on the sand was harder than we thought it would be.

Second day was way harder. You see, there's this thing called the tide. It comes in and goes out on a regular basis. When it's low tide, the beach is like a sidewalk, almost, only with seashells. On our first day, we happened to walk at low tide.

We thought we'd get the walking out of the way early on the second day, what a bad idea that was. When the tide comes in, the sand is soft and you can't help but get your shoes wet because there's no way you can walk comfortably in soft sand.

So we learned about the tides, since we must have skipped that day in elementary-school science class. My shoes were still wet the third day and I'd seen dozens of people walking barefoot on the beach, so I decided that was my only option.

What a bad idea that was. I was done, done, done after two hours. Unfortunately we walked for two hours and forty-eight minutes. The skin on my right heel was gone, leaving – well, you don't want to know what it looked like. I still have a blood blister on my right big toe.

At least I'm no longer limping.

Other than that, Florida was beautiful and warm and sunny and full of palm trees and orange groves and we had a wonderful time visiting my dad and his wife. We didn't want to leave at all. The contrast between blue seas and skies and brownish-grey hills is stark and dramatic. And depressing.

Know what else is depressing? After walking a total of 24 miles I haven't lost a single additional pound.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Surprise! Wednesday Quote Day!

Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – 
is the key to unlocking our potential.
~ Winston Churchill

If Winston lived in the 21st century, he could have said it in four words: Keep on keepin' on!

I'm too tired to write anything more today, and too busy as well. I need to find our largest duffel bags and begin packing for our trip. I don't think I've ever wanted to see palm trees and green grass and sand and the ocean more than I do this winter. I'm so tired of snow! Our yard looks like the endless sea of snow in Dr. Zhivago, and I've had enough, enough, enough.

Hope your next few days is as good to you as mine will be to me. I just know this will be a great trip.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pepsi Throwbackup

If you weren't in the kitchen or the bathroom during the timeouts of the NFL Wild Card playoff games this past weekend, you saw that Pepsi is advertising a "throwback" version of the choice of a new generation.

Yes, Pepsi is – for a limited time only! – rolling out a soft drink made with Real Sugar instead of Real High Fructose Corn Syrup.

They don't mention the HFCS in the commercial. I just threw that in there.

I'm not sure I get it. Are they implying that real sugar is any better for your teeth or energy or insulin levels than HFCS? Because if you talk to the HFCS people, they'll tell you it works in our bodies just like sugar does.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this rant. I just feel like ranting about it. Until we start treating soft drinks like treats* instead of beverages, we're going to be dealing with childhood obesity and tooth decay no matter how the damned stuff is sweetened. So there.

*When I was a child, the only time we were allowed to have soda (we called it "pop") was:

Monday, January 11, 2010

An unintended blog break ...

right before an intended one – our little getaway begins later this week, and I normally don't post when I'm out of town, so y'all will just have to miss me again!


The antibiotic I've been taking kicked in the second day and I've felt pretty well all weekend, after spending the first part of last week wanting to cut my head off. Antibiotics are Good Things indeed, especially the old-fashioned ones that don't cost an arm and a leg.

The good thing about being sick is you get a lot of time to knit. If you're a knitter, that is. I have just one sleeve left to do on the cardigan for me-me-me. The Big Bad Baby Blanket is finished and waiting for the baby to be born (sometime this month). I rarely beat the due date when I knit for a new baby. I'm going to break an arm patting myself on the back if I'm not careful.

The bad thing about being sick is you don't get to run at all. Also? If there's snow on the ground and the temperatures haven't been above 25 in two weeks, outdoor running is not an option (at least it isn't for me). Hell, let's be honest: I haven't run in so long it's ridiculous, so outdoor walking isn't even on my radar. And my treadmill doesn't like me any more. My husband can walk for four or five or 10 miles on the treadmill and it works fine. When I use it (at 3% incline, 3.5mph), it spontaneously stops at around the 26-minute mark, emitting a scary burning electrical smell and convincing me that humans weren't meant to walk on treadmills.

To compensate for the decided lack of physical activity, I've consciously been eating smaller and smaller portions of better and better (meaning more healthful) foods. I've been quite satisfied with less food, amazingly, leading me to believe that my appetite is all in my head.

And while I'm not going to post a weekly pounds-lost total (my goal is to lose five pounds a month, and I plan to wait until February for a progress report), I'll tease you by saying it's looking good so far.

How about you? It's January 11 – are you sticking with your plan, or are you planning to fall off the wagon?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cold? Sinus infection? You make the call.

Whatever I have, it has laid me low. I'm parked in front of the computer for just enough time to unclog my e-mail inbox and then it's back to curling up with hot tea and my knitting and trash TV.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Friday Quote Day

Good morning, campers, and welcome to a new year and a new decade. 2009 is done, done, done. Onward!

I'm not one of those look-back-and-reminisce bloggers, nor do I have a long list of resolutions for the new year. Or decade, for that matter. One of the many wonderful things participation in Alcoholics Anonymous has taught me is to live one day at a time.

New Year's Eve wasn't much different than most Thursday nights, except we watched college football instead of the NFL. I couldn't make it past halftime, and hope the ball dropped without hurting itself or others.

Today will be lots different from most Fridays – who watches football all day on a weekday? – but the biggest problem I have when the calendar flips from one year to the next is remembering to put the correct date on my checks.

Yes, I still write checks.

My treadmill is still being cranky (stops/starts/stops/starts/ad nauseum), my rowing machine still isn't fixed and we're going to get oodles more snow, so outdoor workouts will be limited to snow shoveling. (Did you know the muscles you use shoveling snow are there only for that purpose? If you lived in Hawaii you'd never need them!) I cleared the walks at my mother-in-law's yesterday and am more than a bit sore this morning.

Proving (not that I needed proof) that I'm a squishy, out-of-shape mess.

But miracles don't happen in a weekend, or even a week. I started eating cleanly last weekend and have done pretty well so far.

If you over-celebrated last night, I hope you feel better soon. If you went to bed early, as I did, have some oatmeal and a cup of coffee and settle in for hours and hours and hours of football and knitting and Hoppin' John, oh my!

Or, if you don't knit, loathe sports and hate black-eyed peas (the legume, not the band), what will you be doing with yourself today?