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December 31 - Celebrate

Much to celebrate in 2013

This year has been a great one for me. I've found a way to eat that has resulted – finally – in a close-to-normal weight. My joints don't ache, I move freely and often, I'm not hungry or grumpy, I've dropped several clothing sizes (even shoes!) and I can wear costume jewelry again, after a metal allergy cleared up.

It hasn't been all sunshine and lollipops. Some things have been going on that I could never share here. I've used food to soothe my emotions a couple of times, but while that was formerly a go-to strategy and a coping mechanism I could count on, I'm more likely to walk it off now.

Or lose myself in a game (or 10) of Dots.

I look forward to my almost-daily walks. I feel as though something's missing when, for one reason or another, I have to skip a day.

I look forward to bacon-and-egg breakfasts, too. Who knew eating half your daily calories in fat could create such great weight-loss results? I'm totally sold on the primal way of eating. …

December 30 - You

Since Christmas …

I haven't logged a single bite of food (actually the last time I recorded an entire days' worth of meals in LoseIt was December 2).I've walked a total of 3.6 miles.I've eaten pretty much whatever I wanted, including pasta, rice, cheesecake, cookies and candy (apologies for the foodporn).
AND I'VE MAINTAINED MY 53-POUND LOSS FOR THE YEAR!

How is that possible? I TOTALLY didn't expect to maintain after the lack of exercise and excess (and off-plan) meals and treats I've eaten while I've been away.

I'd decided ahead of time not to make a big deal out of either. I had little control over the food and none over the scheduled activities. I've taken very few breaks during this year of reclaiming my health and I've kept in mind the Russ-and-Jeff mantra:

What you eat between New Year's and Christmas  matters more than what you eat  between Christmas and New Year's.
My switch to a paleo eating plan was not just about weight loss, however, and I&#…

December 28 - This is awesome

December 27 - What you're doing now

December 26 - Where you slept

Looking back. And ahead.

A year ago this morning, I wrote:
Will I turn the blog back into a weight-loss effort? Not likely, although I predict a bit more emphasis on food-and-exercise reporting. And when does this NEW WORLD begin? I'm thinking … today. Well, it looks as though I have turned the blog back into a weight-loss effort after all. I've been committed to (some would say obsessed with) improving my fitness levels and reducing my lardage for a full year now.

I ended up not doing what I said I would do last December 26. I ended up doing something completely out of my comfort zone. It took a couple months of not succeeding with my original plan to take a leap of faith and try this new-to-me thing that has worked so well for so many.

And it's been exactly what I needed.

I said, a year ago, I would be adding strength training and yoga to my daily walk or elliptical session. That didn't happen. I've dabbled in yoga but the scheduled classes don't mesh well with mine. I always feel goo…

December 25 - Best bit of your day

Wishing both of you …

a very merry Christmas.

My husband and dog are still sleeping. Christmas with part of my family starts tomorrow and will include seeing a performance of The Nutracker! I'm very excited about that.

Today will be a quiet one: taking my mother-in-law out for dinner, walking with my husband later today (when it warms up a bit), setting up the Kindle that Santa Debbi brought for him.

We'll see how that goes. Santa Debbi may have bought herself a new Kindle. Heh.

A year ago this morning I weighed 53 pounds more than I do today. Yes, I've added a couple MORE pounds this week. But wow.

Fifty-three pounds.

I think maybe that's the best gift ever.

December 24 - Wrapped

The benefits of SABLE

SABLE, among knitters, stands for Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.

Guilty.

Even though earlier this year I unloaded about 30 trash bags of yarn I'll never use, I still have, um, a lot of fiber waiting to be knitted into something.

My theory about stuff is that it will eventually take over the space you have available for it. You can prove it by clearing off a countertop. That pristine space will have something parked on it before you can turn around and click your heels.

Prior to the yarn purge I had trouble finding what I needed when I wanted to make something new. But while I was looking for yarn to make YET ANOTHER PAIR OF CLOGS, guess what I found?

My old pattern for them.

As I knit along following the revised instructions I downloaded a couple days ago, I knew something was different. I've made so many pairs of these clogs over the years … this new pattern had changed, and when the clogs came out of the washer they didn't fit the way the old ones had.

So I we…

December 23 - Tradition

Could have been worse

Up one pound for this morning's weekly weigh-in, which isn't really so awful considering my deviation from plan for a couple days last week.

I want to assure both of you that I knew what I was doing. Desperate times call for desperate measures fudge. And toast. I had paleo food on hand. But you know what? Even opening a can of tuna and mixing it with homemade mayonnaise, which I'd made a couple days ago, needs to be cleaned up with running water.

My choice of sustenance was based on two things:

How much mess would I create that then couldn't be properly cleaned, and Would it comfort me?
I rarely reach for canned anything when I need to feed my emotions. In fact, I think it's safe to say I never do. And believe me, I needed to feed those emotions.

As of this morning I am 98 percent of the way to my deadline and 85 percent of the way to my goal. Although I've already surpassed, by five pounds, my original goal of losing 50 pounds by Christmas. I couldn't be ha…

Changed the plan. Again. Because I can.

December 22 - Sparkly

Pushing the reset button

Woke up at 6-ish this morning, after sleeping for 11 hours, and WE STILL HAVE WATER!

For the first couple days after any kind of basic-necessity disaster (no electricity, no water, no bacon) it's an adventure to flip a switch or turn a faucet. So far, so good.

My plan for today has already changed. Last night when I checked the weather it wasn't supposed to start raining until mid-morning. I'd planned to take a long, long walk beginning at around 8 a.m. I haven't walked in a couple of days (one doesn't want to exert oneself when one can't shower. ahem.) and was really looking forward to getting outside. The temperature is unseasonably warm.

It would have been great.

However. The winds from the west pushed the storms here earlier than predicted, and it's been raining and blowing for half an hour already. The chance of rain all day today is from 80 to 100 percent.

[I'm very glad the lineman came yesterday to hook the power back up to the water pump. That …

Yes, Debbi, there IS a Santa Claus

And he brought me WATER for an early Christmas present!

I'm running the dishwasher and gathering up laundry, and to celebrate the return of a basic necessity, we're going out for dinner.

Even though I could cook.

I have had a couple reallyawfulbad days of emotional eating. I did fine Wednesday and Thursday, but as the situation stretched into Friday I'm afraid I fell back into old patterns/habits. Sugar is very comforting in a crisis.

Now that the crisis is over and all's right with the world, I shall climb back on the wagon. Gladly!

December 21 - On the door

Still. No. Water.

I'm so angry.

We were told yesterday, after an inspection of the repair work to the water pump power system had been completed (or nearly so, there's a bit more to do this morning), that no one from Mon Power (our electric company, owned by FirstEnergy Corp.) was available to come turn the power back on.

They were all on vacation. Because, you know, IT'S THE HOLIDAYS!

Yes, as a matter of fact, I DO know it's the holidays. And I have no water. I can't cook or do dishes. I can't clean. I can't do laundry. I can't shower or flush my toilets.

AND I CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE!

I took the radical step of reporting an outage this morning and someone actually called me back. I explained the situation to him and learned that, because our outage was a scheduled one and not an emergency, it goes through a different system, and I can't even talk to anyone who has the authority to send someone out until Monday morning.

He gave me another number to call and I tal…

December 20 - I'm listening to …

Wrapping up the work week

Today's my last day to transport the little Amish girls to and from their school. It's been a lot of fun for me and yesterday they told me I'm more interesting than their regular driver, who "doesn't talk much." Heehee.

Each afternoon I ask what the best part of their day was. They're preparing for a Christmas program, and each day they've said, "Practicing for the program!" Each child in the school will sing one or more songs and recite a poem and a Bible verse. The entire Amish community attends the presentation, which is held the day before Christmas.

The children get Christmas Day off from school, but go back the very next day. No extended winter break for these kids. But their school year is shorter, ending in April, than the public school schedule  around here.

Thanks to those of you who weighed in on my minimum-wage post. I appreciate your thoughts. I also meant to add that many, many, MANY minimum-wage (or less) workers I see are def…

What have I done to piss off the Universe?

The hits just keep on comin'.

My husband called me last Friday while I was out shopping to let me know we had a huge problem with the power supplying our water pump. I cut my trip short and came home to be of whatever support I could.

Everything came together somewhat magically and we had running water again by the end of the day. It took a lot of coordination and effort and manpower, but we now have a telephone pole holding up the electrical box and meter, and it all worked well.

Until Tuesday night, when we noticed the water pressure was weak. In the light of yesterday we went to the site and – eventually – discovered a burnt-out wire. It was most likely damaged when the original, inadequate pole fell on Friday. But it took a few days to actually fail, giving us quite the false sense of security.

So no water yesterday while we figured out what was wrong and what we needed to do to fix it. And no water today while we gather the materials and coordinate the manpower. And maybe – M…

December 19 - Tis the season to

December 18 - Big

December 17 - Tree

Wanna make more than minimum wage?

Work for the Amish.

As both of you know, I'm really happy we have Amish neighbors. They are kind, thoughtful, industrious, generous and more than fair. Whenever we've had them work for us, they frequently work out a trade – I'll cut your fallen tree if you'll let me have the wood, for instance. When we pay them money, it's always a reasonable amount for their excellent craftsmanship, and we frequently give them more than they ask for.

The community is split into two locations. The families who live on our road are only a couple miles away. There's another set of families who live a bit further out, and on the other side of the main highway.

I got a call from one of my neighbors asking if I could fill in for their regular driver this week to transport three little girls to and from their school. Total mileage each day is about 30. Total time is about an hour and a half.

They pay $20 a day.

Which, at about $13 an hour, seems like way too much to me.

And leads, na…

December 16 - Makes me merry

The value of journaling

You know how, just a few days ago, I wrote about my Thursday morning weigh-ins being the lowest of the week, but not lasting until the official one on Monday morning?

At least for this week, I was WRONG! Not only was Thursday's number good, today's was one pound lower. I'm down TWO pounds this week. Two pounds in one week hasn't happened in a long, long time. That's three for the month, with two weeks to go.

I've fallen off the food journaling wagon and have no idea if what I've been eating is a factor in these results. LoseIt keeps lowering my daily calorie intake; it's now down to 1048 calories. I'm quite sure I'm eating more than that. I eat from a list of foods which have turned out to be pretty darned perfect for me, and simply haven't felt the need (or just couldn't be bothered) to record it all.

These foods help me feel better physically (no joint pain, relief from an allergy) AND, as a bonus, have resulted in – as of this morning…

December 15 - Lights

Heading out

We're heading out to visit grandchildren (and their parents) and heading back home again, all in the same day. It will be approximately twice as much driving as visiting, but worth every second behind the wheel to see them all again.

We missed seeing the littlest one this fall, as she and her mother were traveling when her dad and big brothers came here. I saw a recent picture of her yesterday, and she's grown so much since the last time we saw her, in the spring.

My husband and I like to think we're much better grandparents than we were parents. Of course, grandparenting is easier: You can give them back at the end of the day! Heh. Speaking only for myself, though, I was way too young to be a mom when that happened, and went strictly on instinct.

My children turned out well – mostly thanks to their dad and stepmother – but the fact that we have good relationships with each other now speaks well of my grabbing the chance to turn my life around. Too late for their childhood…

No words

December 14 - Drink

December 13 - Tradition

It is done

After three application attempts, numerous phone calls, several on-line chat sessions and tripping my way through a muddy website that leaves one asking more questions than is necessary, I finally – finally! – have a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act.

Did I save any money? One dollar per month. I could have saved more, but I chose not to use all of the subsidy I qualified for because the way it was calculated was a bit murky. I reported our income, but can't report what we might withdraw from our retirement account. To be on the safe side, I stuck with a premium I know we can handle (the current amount).

Did I get better coverage than what my current policy offers? VASTLY better. A slightly lower deductible, much lower out-of-pocket costs, no limit on benefits and reasonable co-pays.

My old policy was limited to $1,000,000 in benefits and I still had to pay full price for office visits and diagnostic tests.

Of course, since I'm one of the healthiest women I k…

December 12 - Joy is ...

When will my head catch up?

I'm really beginning to love Thursday morning weigh-ins. Today is the third consecutive Thursday the scale has told me I have 10 pounds or less to lose to reach my goal. As I've mentioned previously, it doesn't last until Mondays – my "official" weigh-in day. But Thursdays are pretty sweet.

If you'll recall, my original goal of losing 50 pounds this year has been met. I've been three or four pounds below that for several weeks now, and that feels great. I wore a pair of size 8 jeans last night.

EIGHT! I never thought I'd fit into a pair of size 8 jeans again. (In my closet now are various brands of jeans in sizes 8, 10 and 12*, all of which fit well. So it's the label, not the size. BUT STILL! EIGHT!)

Here's the thing, though. My head still thinks I'm an XL. When I put those jeans on yesterday, I wondered if they'd be comfortable enough to wear or if I'd have to put them back in the closet for another, thinner, day.

Most of the tim…

December 11 - Green

Oh what a relief it is, Part Two

I feel badly for Denise, who commented on my second post yesterday that she'd given up on healthcare.gov. And I empathize with her and with the Kitten, who also commented about his frustrations with his system in California. I, too, am a bit intimidated by the choices and by having to make a decision. Which plan is going to work best? WHO KNOWS? You only know if you have to use it. You can study each one and try to figure it out, but until you actually have an accident or become ill or contract a horrible disease, all you're going on is faith that the insurance company has your best interests at heart.

Hahahahaha.

So why is this post Part Two? Because even though I still haven't gone into my account to choose my plan, I'm relieved – oh, so relieved – to have gotten through the process and been deemed qualified.

I still think the U.S. Congress is sillygreedy shortsighted for insisting commercial insurance is a better alternative than a single-payer, Medicare-for-all pla…

R is for …

Signing up for health insurance

Finally.

I've been trying to navigate the Healthcare Marketplace since October 1. We all know there've been many problems. I got through the process a month or so ago, with the result that I was not eligible for coverage through the Marketplace. No reason given. It was suggested I apply for Medicaid.

So I did, knowing I would be disqualified and thinking all I would need to do is go back to the Marketplace, denial in hand, and get this thing done.

Not exactly.

What I had to do was download, print and complete a multi-page form appealing the decision that I don't qualify to purchase a plan. The basis of my appeal was, simply, that I didn't know why I wasn't eligible.

So I completed the form and decided to give the government one last shot, hopefully to save some time.

I called. And spoke with Karen, who said I could either send in that appeal or she would delete my current application and help me fill out a new one.

I WAS SO FRUSTRATED I NEARLY CRIED. Right there on…

Oh, what a relief it is …

to wake up and hear the furnace running. To see that little red digital beacon, beaming out the time. To punch a button and hear water dripping through the coffeemaker.

I'm tempted to disable those weather alerts that clutter up my phone. When they show up, I'm immediately paralyzed by indecision. Should I fill the bathtub with water, to facilitate commode flushing? Do we need two carafes of brewed coffee, or will one full one do? Are the oil lamps full (one needs a new wick, grrr)?

Pretty high up on the list lately has been this Major Question: When will we get a workout in?

It was late afternoon yesterday when the electricity came back on, the ice melted and we actually felt like venturing forth, two-legged moles blinking in the light of day. I only did a couple miles, but a couple is better than none. It was grey and dreary and foggy. I tried to get pictures, but none of them really captured the mysterious mist in the woods I passed by.

It's raining lightly now, but the…

December 9 - This is the weather today

I hate when that happens

Woke up at o'dark o'clock, glanced over at the digital clock and … nothing. All I saw was black. And that can mean only one thing: No electricity.

I grabbed my phone (to use as a flashlight) and got up, stepped on the scale – lost a pound, yay me! – and then went back to bed until dawn broke. Lit one of the oil lamps and sat in the den, knitting peacefully until it was fully light outside.

I've no idea when we lost power, only that it was sometime between midnight and 5:00-ish, when I first woke up. All the electronic devices began beeping and blinking about an hour ago.

I was reminded again of how much more comfortably I can endure an outage during cold weather as opposed to hot, as it was during the derecho. As the house got colder, I added more layers and was able to stay almost comfortable. I didn't for one minute worry about losing food from the freezer. The biggest hardship was that we hadn't stashed enough coffee in the Thermos before we went to bed.

We thou…

December 8 - I shop here

Why I don't knit (very many) toys

I'm making toys for my husband's grandchildren, at their request. I don't know if they'll remember asking for them or not, but ask they did, and they chose the yarn, and on the off chance that they're waiting breathlessly for Grandma Debbi to produce the goods, I'm making good on my promise. Kids need to know that adults take them seriously.

Especially when they ask for specific toys.

I rarely knit toys. Most toys are knit in several pieces – little pieces – each of which then needs to be sewn and stuffed and attached to other pieces which have been sewn and stuffed.

I spent my Saturday (after preparing for the yet-to-arrive storm) sewing and stuffing.
And watching football. (I couldn't stay awake for the end of the Ohio State game – tough end to their season, but I'm kind of glad Auburn will be playing in the national championship game.)

It took much, much longer to knit all the pieces for these critters than it did to finish them. And yet … I'd so …

December 7 - 6:00

It's the little things

Little things like actually being able to face a bacon-and-eggs breakfast again, after a couple days with an icky tummy.

My husband and I went shopping yesterday and I could barely touch lunch while we were out. But whatever I had, it's gone now and I'm glad of it. I just took a very short walk outside and am ready to hunker down to watch football and wait for the storm.

Yes, the ice storm cometh. And it's cometh-ing from the west, as our weather usually does. If you've already experienced it, I hope your power stayed on. That's my biggest concern, especially in winter. I plan to make a big pot of beef stew and a meat loaf this afternoon, either of which could be eaten cold if necessary.

It's also the little things like fixing something that's been annoying the CRAP out of me for far, far too
long. The photo shows an antique storage cabinet we rescued from my mother-in-law's basement, a piece that used to hold first-aid supplies and equipment in her hus…

December 6 - Shadow

Life is difficult

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
~ M. Scott Peck The world lost a great man yesterday. His death wasn't unexpected. He'd been ill for some time, we all knew this was coming and, frankly, we all die.

What makes Nelson Mandela's death so bittersweet for me is how very few men and women are living now as he had lived his life.

He was a man of peace.
We are a world at war.

He was a man of conviction.
We sell our souls to the highest bidder.

He was a man of courage.
We avoid conflict.

Who is left to inspire us? Personally, I look to the Dalai Lama, to Pope Francis, to Cory Booker even.

It strikes me that all these figures, dead and alive, are men. So who are the women in…

December 5 - In the cupboard

You know that line …

in The Devil Wears Prada? This line?

Emily: Andrea, my God! You look so chic. Andy Sachs: Oh, thanks. You look so thin. Emily: Really? It's for Paris, I'm on this new diet. Well, I don't eat anything and when I feel like I'm about to faint I eat a cube of cheese. I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight.
Yeah, that line. That's kind of how I felt yesterday, which is why there were NO WORDS in this space.
I woke up early, as I usually do, but felt pretty wonky. The elders in my family often spoke of having a "sour stomach," and I knew exactly what they meant. My husband insisted on taking my temperature, and it was slightly elevated – normal for me is 97.4, it was 99.4.
I suppose if I'd had a job to go to I could have made it, but since I don't I just went back to bed.
At some point in the early afternoon I started feeling like Emily. I'd had nothing to eat since dinner on Tuesday, and only a couple sips of coffee when I first woke up yes…

December 3 - Silver

About last night

I continue to be amazed and somewhat puzzled by the effect this paleo way of eating has had on my appetite.

And I'm not just talking about hunger.

I don't know about you, but my appetite begins in my head. Used to be that the weather or my mood or being with people or being alone or being mad/sad/glad alwaysalwaysalways triggered a desire to eateateat. Anything would do, but the sweeter and carbier the better.

One of my deep, dark secrets is that I used to mix up shortening, flour and sugar into a cookie dough-like glob and eat it with a spoon. That habit began when my oldest child, who is now 42, was just tiny. It had something to do with having my own kitchen, instead of playing in my mother's. But it had something to do with being a very lonely, very young mother.

Now, though – and believe me, I never expected this – as long as I stick with protein, vegetables, fat and fruit, I have NO desire for starchy carbs or sweets. I've been sticking with protein, vegetables, …

December 2 - Where I stood

Monday. Again.

I woke up SO EARLY this morning. I've been drinking coffee and cruising my favorite web pages (which would be craftgawker, Pinterest and Facebook) since 4:30 a.m. Oh, and I also cyber-shopped for one more Christmas gift.

So it's Monday, and you both know what that means. One daily weigh-in this week was spectacular, giving me lots o'hope. That loss (last Wednesday) was gone – poof! – by Friday morning (thank you, Thanksgiving dinner!), but I did manage to shed one pound this week, for a total this year of 54.

To recap: I lost 5 in September, ZERO in October and 2.5 in November. Eleven to go. LoseIt! now predicts I'll make my goal January 23, but that's based on losing 1.5 pounds a week.

Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

And I'm not being negative, just realistic. It's December, and while the weather outside is not especially frightful this week … well, it's December, and frightful weather will most likely be happening at some point. Indoor workouts may theoreti…

December 1 - Red

Black Friday, the 2013 Edition

But first! Winnie commented that she enjoyed (she actually said she 'cracked up,' which might not be the same thing as 'enjoyed') listening to Bob Dylan's rendition of "Must Be Santa." That's one Dylan collection I don't have, but I do have that particular song. The music video is hysterical. And kind of weird. Without further ado or comment, I give you:


Okay, so about Black Friday. This was the second time in recent memory that I've ventured out for Black Friday deals. I frequently shop online on Black Friday, but because I was in a metropolitan area that had STORES I thought I'd try going to Kohl's for another pair of their Sonoma jeans, a brand that fits me pretty perfectly. (I'm so lame … I wasn't even doing Christmas shopping, it was me-me-me shopping.)

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

It wasn't this bad the last time. Seriously. (Could be that I was shopping in household goods that time, instead of clothing.) The line to c…