Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31 - Yourself

My early morning self.

And this is a little disturbing

Considering how much weight-loss advice is out there, and has been out there, the fact that "researchers" are "debunking" several weight-loss "myths" is no big surprise. Nothing new. Weight-loss advice is tossed about like a Frisbee in spring. We try it, it works or it doesn't, we try something else. Eventually we find (or, sometimes, we don't) a manageable plan that fits with our lifestyle and helps us achieve our goals.

I'm still looking. Heh.

I don't watch the news, but my husband mentioned that NBC has been airing some little weight-loss tidbits this week. So I went looking for some snippets and here's one I found, from the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine.

The problem with articles like this is that they tell you what doesn't work, without suggesting what does. This one is different. Dr. David Allison of the University of Alabama at Birmingham led the study and concluded:
So what does work? Drugs do, to an extent, says Allison, a biostatician. “For people who are very obese, pharmaceuticals work a little bit,” he said. So does surgery to make the stomach smaller. The companies that make the devices used for the surgery, and the surgical centers, are doing the randomized, controlled clinical trials that can prove whether something works, Allison says. “Clearly, these are things we should be investing in,” he said.
I'm no weight-loss expert (I would call myself knowledgeable, having been studying and practicing for 50 years now), but any journal article that suggests we need to be "investing" in drugs and surgical techniques smacks of some kind of self-serving agenda.

I will certainly acknowledge that bariatric surgery can make a miraculous difference in the lives of the severely obese. I'm not so sure about drugs. Weight-loss pills are constantly tested, some are approved and are then summarily withdrawn due to side effects like, oh, heart damage or death.

There was no real advice dispensed in the journal article. It was simply a study saying that while such-and-such has been touted as a way to drop pounds, it's never been proven. UAB-Birmingham has vowed to do a clinical trial on the breakfast myth. Does eating breakfast help you lose weight? Does skipping it make you fatter? Or does it make a difference at all?

For what it's worth, my husband rarely eats breakfast. And has a BMI of 23.6. I rarely skip breakfast and my BMI is mumble-mumble-mumble. So there's that. HOWEVER, skipping breakfast is not an option for me. I've adopted the idea that, while I may lose weight more slowly or not at all, I'm a nicer person if my blood sugar levels stay somewhat steady throughout the day.

It's not all about the pounds. For me, anyway, it has to be about something I can manage.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

So there were five – count 'em – FIVE ! weather warnings on my phone when I woke up this morning. Bob Dylan famously sang, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." And he was right: All you had to do was listen.

The sound of the wind is what woke me up. I perhaps have a little post-traumatic stress disorder after going through a derecho last summer. I didn't even know it was called a derecho when I wrote that post. And we're not having another one now, just strong winds from the west, with gusts up to 55 mph. But listening to it is … unsettling.

The weather throughout the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern states has been and continues to be dangerous. Tornadoes wreaked havoc in Georgia yesterday – are my Georgia friends okay?

In addition to the Wind Advisory, we are under three four Flood Warnings (another one just popped up) and a Winter Weather Advisory. The lovely Greenbrier River, the one I walked and jogged along yesterday afternoon, is expected to hit flood stage in Alderson, WV, this morning. (Alderson is where I volunteer on Tuesdays.) Smaller creeks have already flooded and we're supposed to have two to three inches of snow on the ground by tonight.

Poor little daffodils. I also noticed snowdrops and hostas beginning to show their leaves yesterday when I was outside enjoying the 60-degree temperature. In JANUARY!

In addition to the warm temperature, it rained All. Day. Long. Nearly an inch altogether, and steady, so that you couldn't even get out and run between the raindrops. I hopped on the elliptical for an hour and watched Monday's recording of The Biggest Loser. I started watching it sitting on my ass while knitting a mitten, but thinking about Jen's exercise commitment while watching the contestants sweat it out spurred me to actually produce some sweat of my own. So thanks, Jen.

If any of you happen to be in the path of a storm today … seek shelter. Stay safe, y'all!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30 - Down

Had some trouble figuring out how to interpret today's prompt. I ended up
holding the phone at arm's length above my head and shooting DOWN.

See that second word up there?


My husband was walking on our road and didn't need the car – being a one-car family takes a little strategizing sometimes – so I drove it to a two-mile stretch of flat road along a river for my walk yesterday afternoon. And then something CRA-ZEE got into me and I decided to run.

Well, jog. I don't know what tips the scale between jogging and running, but I know I wasn't going as fast as I would have if, say, a bear were chasing me.

This view of a reflected river birch made 
me pause my walking app for a few seconds.
After about five minutes of walking, I began alternating 30-second jogs with 90-seconds of fast walking. Then I lengthened the jogs and reduced the walks to 60 seconds each. Then I got tired of checking how many seconds I'd done on my phone, and just winged it.

At the turnaround, I decided to run jog until I needed to rest, at which time I would walk as fast as I could until I felt I could run again. I was able to keep the faster pace up for about five minutes at one point.

My customary four-mile time lately as been about 90 minutes. I'd like it to be 80, but it just hasn't happened. Yesterday I did 4.28 miles in 66 minutes – a 15:25 pace.

A starting point. And maybe it's not something I'll do every time I venture out, but it felt good – very good – to know that I can still pick up the pace. Even a little bit.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29 - Grow

Another shot of the too-early-to-sprout daffodils.

In the interest of driveability ...

I am unable to find the original use for this image 
 If it's yours, please let me know for proper credit! 
I managed to avoid another deer strike yesterday on my way to town. I thought it best not to wreck our remaining mode of transportation. There were three of them this time and they were CRAZY! First they darted onto the road, then back onto the grassy slope from whence they came, then they did some weird deer dance before they retreated.

I watched the dance from the rear-view mirror, having safely made it past them.

The state of West Virginia increased the hunting limit last deer season, but they could certainly raise the antlerless limit again, if the number of deer still roaming the landscape is any indication.

(And you thought I was one of those "ban all the guns" types. Not at all … BUT! You don't need a war machine to kill a deer. Do you? DO YOU?)

You are more likely to hit a deer with a vehicle in West Virginia – your chances are 1 in 40 – than in any other of these United States. Best place to avoid them? Hawaii. Deer migrate from October through December, increasing the chance of a collision, but I'm beginning to wonder if climate change might be extending the migration period. I'm sure a lot more freezers could be filled if the season were extended to January.

Remember that recent shell casing photo I posted? I didn't go into detail about what was beside it, but since it fits with today's topic, well, it was … get ready … a dead doe. My husband, who was walking with me that day, figured the animal had been injured and someone had put it out of it misery. I mentioned it to my dentist yesterday, who is an avid sportsman (that's a polite way of saying he likes to shoot deer). The casing was stamped '.45 AUTO,' which Dr. Denture said were used ONLY by the game warden.

(I have my doubts about that, but I'm no sportsman. At any rate, the good doctor thought our mercy-killing theory was probably correct. He also probably thought, "What a waste of good venison!")

We'll find out today whether my car will be repaired or declared a total loss. I'm hoping for repair. Diandra commented yesterday that the deer fur stuck to the hood would be a good thing for insurance purposes in Germany. Turns out that's true here in West Virginia, as well.

Because of the "nature of the accident," we don't have to pay a deductible. If they fix it, our only cost is wear and tear on our collective psyches. That would be great, and that's what I'm hoping for. I'd hate to lose all my cool Obama bumper stickers. If the insurance adjustor says it's totaled, well, a 2007 Ford Escape with 120,000 miles doesn't have much book value.

Just sayin'.

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28 - Through

This was a tough concept for me. I ended up shooting my morning coffee
through the door of the microwave. Which kind of looks like fishnet tights.

Be careful what you wish for

Today's post has absolutely nothing to do with fitness or weight loss or counting calories. Well, at least starting out it doesn't, who knows where I'm going to end up?

I'm electing to begin receiving my Social Security benefits in May, when I will turn 62 and before the GOP does anything to destroy them. Heh. I mentioned to my husband on Saturday that we might want to think about replacing my car at some point, since we'll have a little extra income.

You guys are SO SMART. You know exactly where this is going, don't you? He decided to take my car – the one in the garage with the all-wheel drive and no snow on the windshield – to church yesterday morning, since there were snowy and ice patches on the roads. Less than five miles from home, he hit a deer. Head-on.

He's fine, not a scratch, THANK YOU GOD. The airbags didn't even deploy. The deer is quite dead, however, and so, we think, is the car. We'll find out today if it can be repaired, but it has 120,000 miles on it and might not be worth fixing.

The front end is quite smashed. Radiator, left headlight, bumper – all are crumpled and broken. With little tufts of deer fur here and there. Ick.

I elected not to go to church yesterday and  – amazingly! – was within earshot of my phone when he called. Driving his truck, I delivered a warm coat and gloves to him while we waited for the authorities. NOTE TO SELF: When the weather is bad, always toss some warm outerwear in the car. You never know.

So we'll be spending the day at the repair shop, hoping for the good news that the damage isn't as bad as we think it is, but preparing for the possibility that we might have to go car shopping.

I'm just grateful he's not in a hospital bed. We can take care of the car, one way or another. And I'd rather take care of it together than on my own.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 27 - Sun

So happy to see the sun this morning. And so happy it will be warm-ish today!

In the still of the morning

The wolf moon has just slipped behind the mountain to the west. The sun is slowly creeping up behind the mountain to the east. The sky looks soft, dewy, impressionistic, all the colors blurred and blended. Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days.

The heat pump is humming and the coffeemaker is gurgling. It's a lovely, quiet beginning to the day. I'm grateful for electricity on cold mornings like this.

A warming trend is on the way, however. Today's expected high temperature will be double that of yesterday's, in the low 40s. Finally, an opportunity to walk outdoors again. I've missed it a lot, which indicates that I am enjoying moving more, despite the disappointment of Friday's scale result. Tomorrow and Tuesday will also be warm – unseasonably so for southern West Virginia – and I plan to take advantage of them outside, either along the creek or on my mountain.

The elliptical is a fine machine and provides an efficient workout. But I'd much rather have blue herons and mountain deer accompany me during a workout than a recording of Bill Maher or John Stewart.

I won't say I'm an athlete, but the fact that I will work out indoors when I can't walk outside is a pretty big change for me. So let's talk about food for a bit.

As both of you know, I'll be 62 this year, and with age comes a balky metabolism. I've also been dieting since I was a child – I first remember trying to lose weight on a liquid diet at the age of 11. With my mother's blessing. My metabolism doesn't know what the hell to do to keep me upright and breathing. I think I killed it 20 years ago, during the low-fat phase.

When I was much younger, all the women's magazines published weight-loss menu plans that topped out at 1200 calories per day. The calorie deficit I created over the past four weeks had me eating a little less than that, on average. So if the starvation mode theory is true, that could account for only losing two pounds in four weeks. But in my mind, I was doing the right thing.

I wasn't hungry. I wasn't thinking about food or wishing I could have more. I didn't feel deprived. My meals go like this: I enjoy a serving of whatever and then I don't eat again until the next meal. I don't snack, except for a couple little pieces of dark chocolate sometime during the day.

The past two days, I've increased my food consumption significantly. Friday I was 13 calories shy of the target and yesterday it was just 2. I'm going to keep doing this for a week and weigh myself again on Friday, February 1.

I hope to see at least one pound gone. That's a reasonable amount of weight for an older adult female to lose in a week. One whose metabolism isn't dead. So we'll see if feeding myself a little more will make a difference.

My husband doesn't believe in this eat more/lose more theory, so we won't tell him, okay? He's older than I am and eats one meal a day and is in fine, fine shape. (And sometimes, maybe, thinks he knows it all. Sometimes.)

Your comments the past couple days have meant more to me than you'll ever know. I go back and read them again and again. I appreciate your support so much.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26 - Together

Bacon and eggs, gin and tonic, peas and carrots, coffee and cream ...

There's got to be a morning after (how's THAT for drama?)

The Ledge © IFC Films
Wow. Thanks for talking me down from the ledge, y'all. I was madly, truly, deeply discouraged yesterday, I don't think that was any big secret. I spent the day alternately moping and cursing (but not overeating!). I didn't leave the house (and if you're a regular around here, you know I have to leave the house to work out), but I'm okay with an extra rest day this week.

Not that I deserved it or anything.

And I had no trouble eating all my calories yesterday. In fact, I had 13 to spare! My name is Debbi, and I'm an emotional eater.

Okay, enough of that. Well, maybe not. Here's what I learned:
Despite my lofty words about hitting the daily calorie target and meeting my exercise goals, it appears I've been holding my breath since Christmas, waiting for this first weigh-in, hoping for success. And, yes, it's true that two pounds is better than no pounds, but man was I ever devastated.

In the whole scheme of things, though, it's pretty silly for me to get all worked up about it, isn't it? Climate change and filibuster rules and gun deaths: THOSE are problems.

I simply need to keep on keepin' on.

Again. Or always. Because …

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25 - Landscape

Looking for the positive spin

Two pounds.

In the past four weeks I've created a 15,685 calorie deficit, by eating 7786 fewer calories than my target goal and accumulating 7899 exercise calories. If you divide 15,685 by 3500 (the number of calories you need to burn to lose a pound), I should have lost 4.48 pounds. My scale only weighs whole numbers; I would have been happy with four.

I got two.

My calculations are probably wrong, since I was in art class when I should have been in math. LoseIt! tells me I should have lost a pound a week eating 1598 calories a day, with no deficit. So maybe with my additional effort I should have lost eight pounds? All I know is …

I got two.

Two's better than zero, right? I could still reach my weight-loss goal before New Year's Eve. Barely. And the greater goal was the one where I stuck to the plan and exercised regularly, right? I did that. But I gotta tell you, at the end of the day, even though I felt good about following through and DWISIWD*, I've been waiting for the prize on the 25th of the month. You know, the big one, the four or the six or the eight, even.

I got two.

Because I actually recorded a loss, LoseIt! has reduced the daily target by a miniscule amount. Thirteen calories, no biggie. I feel like I need to change something between now and February 25 in order to see a greater loss make a difference. You know, shake things up a bit. Russ and Jeff would say I need to eat more. You can imagine how uncomfortable I am with that idea. But what if I didn't create the calorie deficit? What if I ate all the calories I was supposed to eat, every day? Would that give me a better result? Because I gotta tell you, four sounds better than …


*Do What I Said I Would Do

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Another January 24 - Stripes

Saw these stripes when we were out and about today. Couldn't resist.

January 24 - Stripes

Since I knit this striped coat several years ago, does that make me
ahead of my time, since I was wearing stripes before stripes were cool?

Lightening the load

First, I guess I'm a little more OCD than I thought I was if I could use the word "fail" and "100 calories over the target" in the same post. That's not a fail (thank you, Jen), and it was made even more clear to me when I looked at each week's stats and saw that I was well under the target goal for each of the previous weeks. Let's just say I REALLY confused my metabolism by having two consecutive rest days AND a couple extra calories. (I'm referring to calorie cycling here.)

I haven't mentioned the ongoing declutterification project lately. The inspiration for today's post goes to Pinterest, where I found and pinned the image you see on the left. A little bit of thinking about what I've done so far assures me that there is much more to do. But I'm making progress.

I have emptied and organized six of the seven dresser drawers. The untouched seventh drawer contains non-clothing items – mostly costume jewelry – and I don't feel compelled to clean it out at this point. The others resulted in a huge bag for the trash and an equally huge bag to donate. Everything I kept fits neatly and is now folded and organized. I have a lifetime supply of handknit wool socks (and yet I continue to buy sock yarn!).

I have also organized my closet. I have one of those extra closet rods that hooks onto the upper rod, doubling hanging space for shirts. Most of the warm-weather stuff is now on the lower rod. I still have too many clothes I don't wear, but I managed to create a little bit of breathing room, especially on the floor. The shoe rack didn't hold all the shoes, and so – feeling quite ruthless – I tossed half a dozen pairs into either the pitch or give bag.

The heaviest load was from the bookshelves. I donated a very large box of old scrapbooking magazines to Goodwill. Someone else – perhaps someone without internet access – will be inspired by them. I read them when they were delivered and tucked them away "for future reference." And then never looked at them again. I don't scrapbook any more, and if I want to start up again I can find plenty of ideas online.

I've unsubscribed from A LOT of free e-mail newsletters. (A tip I saw yesterday which would have been helpful a couple weeks ago is to filter your e-mails by the word "unsubscribe.") I did it the old-fashioned way. Heh. Every day I went through the new e-mails and unsubbed from the ones I was no longer interested in, or the ones that were a duplication of effort.

By that I mean this: Do I already receive this information on Facebook? If yes, unsub. If no, decide whether to subscribe to a Facebook page or keep the e-mail version. If the e-mail in question was political, I opted to stay up to date on Facebook.

I have always used FB mostly for political stuff. When I post something, it usually goes to a custom list which excludes most of my family, who already know I'm a Democrat and who were getting pretty annoyed by my FB shares. This keeps everyone happy. Or happier, maybe. (If you're a FB friend and would like to be added to my restricted list, speak now. You won't hurt my feelings.)

If my post is appropriate for general consumption, I can easily go in and change the setting for that particular message. There are some things that are JUST TOO GOOD not to share with everyone. Heh.

I'm down to about 40 new e-mails daily, instead of more than a hundred, saving me lots of screen time.

Next project is the secretary, a lovely piece of furniture with a door that folds up, hiding a tangled mess of bits and bobs of paper that I think I need to save. (You saw a corner of the secretary a couple days ago.) Once I go through everything in there, I plan to move the laptop into it. I use the computer at the dining room table. The dining room chairs are somewhat more comfortable than the little chair in front of the secretary. I think I'll be able to trim my screen time even more when I park myself there instead of here. (Maybe when I lose 50 pounds my ass will match the little chair. But that's a problem I'm happy to deal with.)

So there you have it. You're as caught up on my tidying-up projects as I am. I can't believe you've read this far. THANK YOU!

There was no outdoor walking in the Middle of Nowhere yesterday because it was too damned cold and windy. Instead, I watched all of Monday night's DVR'd Biggest Loser from the elliptical. (A two-hour program = 80 minutes when you fast-forward through the commercials.) EIGHTY ELLIPTICAL MINUTES! Today will probably be a repeat performance (with different video entertainment), as the high temperature is predicted to be 23 and the wind chill will make it feel like – wait for it – ZERO.

Oh, Winter, go away. I'm tired of you already.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23 - Electric

I found a box of old switchplates in the rafters of the garden shed. It looks
better on the wall than it did in the shed, don't you think? 

First fail came on 28th day

I've been doing really well with my health-and-fitness plans. In case you're new here (welcome!), I weighed myself on Christmas Day, saw a shocking number, decided that was IT and pretended December 26 was January 1.

I'm using the LoseIt! app on my phone and computer to track all my food and exercise. In setting up my goals, the program suggests I need to eat approximately 1600 calories daily to lose a pound a week.

I'm using Daily Mile to keep track of my mileage, beginning January 1 (not December 26).

I'm weighing myself on the 25th of every month.

The larger goal is to stay within the calorie limits and follow my exercise plan (six days of cardio, two days of yoga, two days of weight training each week). The incidental and hoped-for goal is to lose 50 pounds by December of this year.

Mondays are "free" days – a day I can indulge a little with food, rest from workouts and am not required to keep track of either (although I do).

Yesterday – just three days before the first weigh-in – I skipped the workout completely and exceeded my calories by about a hundred. No biggie, but I woke up this morning wondering if I'm trying to sabotage myself. Monday was a no-workout day and there were those amazing fudgy chocolate cookies for our inauguration lunch (and I didn't exceed the calorie limit).

I'm the kind of person who, if 99 people like me and one doesn't, will spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out the one instead of enjoying the company of the 99. (I used to be much worse about this. Sometimes now I can say "their loss." Heh.)

Similarly, I can let one "off" day set the tone for this week, instead of looking back and noting the previous 27 good, healthy, active days.

Can you already see the value of journaling? I can! It's especially great to check the reports tab in LoseIt! and see the over/under numbers and the number of exercise hours logged.

Backing up a bit to my incidental goal … I'm very nervous about weighing myself Friday. My history has been that nothing I do results in weight loss. The only real, tangible sign that I maybe, might have lost a little is that my wedding ring is loose. (I can't tell from clothes, since yoga pants are my wardrobe staple.)

It's been good to not be concerned about the number on the scale, and instead pat myself on the back for completing my daily goals. Yesterday was just a screwed-up day, in more ways than I'm comfortable sharing here. The only sensible thing to do is get back on the horse.

Or, probably, the elliptical.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22 - Corner

The corner of the guest room, where I store the gift wrap stash.

The corner of the faux bamboo molding on the secretary, the contents
of which is going to be the next major reorganization project around here.

We. The People.

I loved how he said it, repeated it, emphasized it.

WE – pause – the people.

Working together, we can make the American dream come true. Playing party politics won't – can't – accomplish that. The 112th Congress accomplished less than any previous Congress in our history. This outgoing body passed fewer laws than any in our history. Which is probably a good thing, since the legislation introduced by its members restricted freedoms for women, minorities, voters.

Those crying for freedom to carry guns sure don't care that they also want to restrict any and/or all of the remaining ones. I'm just sayin'.

Ah, but yesterday was a good day, a hopeful day. A day to put all that aside and feel buoyed up by pomp and circumstance and music and speeches and toasts and little girls and prayers and an amazing First Lady. And an equally amazing President.

I'm sappy and sentimental about my President. Especially on Inauguration Day. Four more years.

Bring it on.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21 - What You Do

Y'all know what I do: knit, run walk, reap and eat. Today I'm baking these.

Abraham, Martin, John … and Barack!

A President's second inauguration seems less exciting, none more than today's. The thrill of seeing America's first African-American President take the oath was immense, amazing, historic. And while all inaugurations are historic, the one four years ago was truly one for the ages.

Today is a little more low-key. We had a big party last year. My dad had a pacemaker put in on Inauguration Day in 2009. And now he's gone more than two years. He would have loved this election cycle and this inauguration. He loved politics, all his life. And he loved the Obamas, especially Michelle.

This year we've invited just one other couple to watch the festivities (and share lunch!) with us. Because you know I'm not having any kind of celebration, large or small, without food. Quiche and fruit salad, with banana-nut bread and these chocolate-crinkle cookies.

Enjoy your day. Own it. Seize it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20 - Something You Saw

Accidentally kicked this shell casing while I was walking today.

What do you get when the snow melts?

Well, if the temperatures are low enough and/or the snowmelt is in the shade, you get ice, of course. Black ice. The kind you don't notice, especially on a blacktopped surface.

You know where this is going, don't you?

My husband and I set off for a walk yesterday and didn't even make it to the end of the driveway before I slipped and fell. I'm not badly hurt, just sore and stiff. And I continued the walk, cutting what I'd hoped would be a three-miler into two. I found a good, long, sturdy tree branch to use as a walking stick, and that helped quite a bit.

Sucks to get old, people.

My arthritic right hip bothers me quite a bit anyway, so of course I fell on my right side. Hip, hand, elbow and shoulder all hit hard. And OF COURSE one of our neighbors happened to be driving by as my husband was helping me up. Nothing worse than having witnesses when you fall on your ass.

We'd planned to go see Lincoln yesterday afternoon, and I felt good enough to not change those plans. I'm so glad I went. I don't know what they're teaching in history classes these days, but I've learned more about Constitutional amendments (specifically the 19th and the 13th) from commercially made films than I ever did in a classroom. The movie was very well done. Oh, and politics never changes. That was a good lesson for me, as I tend to get rather crazed sometimes. (Who, ME? Heh.)

Our little one-screen theatre will be showing Academy Award-nominated films for the next month. Better late than never, I say. It's an all-day event for us to go to the city to see a current film. And I'd much rather keep my movie dollars local and reduce the amount of fuel and auto wear-and-tear by driving just 12 miles.

You thought I was kidding about being in the Middle of Nowhere, didn't you? I texted to a friend yesterday that not only does the nearest town not have a traffic light, there's no traffic light in the entire county in which I live.

Now THAT, my friends, is the Middle of Nowhere.

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18 - Shadow

Lovely day to walk, after all that snow. The sun was bright and even warm!

Feedback. And feeding.

Thank you all, ever so much, for your comments yesterday. I began writing a response this morning and I just couldn't do it. I appreciate all of you taking the time to share your feelings. I think the liability insurance idea is a very good one, and law-abiding gun owners shouldn't flinch at acquiring it.

Wouldn't it be awesome if we implemented a single-payer health care system here in the U.S. and morphed all the health insurance products into firearm insurance products? Wow, there's a pipe dream if I ever had one.

I'm just so disheartened about this topic, and the crazy way Republicans and the NRA are defending their precious Second Amendment rights. If you want an automatic weapon or a high-capacity clip, then join the fucking army. Isn't that what a well-regulated militia is? It certainly isn't the guy that sets his target up across the road I walk on, and then fires away.

But enough about that.

The lemon squares were … not quite awesome. Cooking Light shaved about 175 calories and 5 grams of fat from a typical serving by completely eliminating the butter and drastically reducing the amount of sugar. The final product is plenty sweet enough, but honestly? I think I'll just save room for The Real Deal next time I want lemon bars. A shortbread crust needs butter. And, sometimes, so do I! Heh.

We eventually hit 10 inches.
In other news, it snowed here yesterday afternoon and evening. A lot. We filled the bird feeder as the rain began changing to snow, and I'm so glad we did. Our feathered friends would find precious little to eat if they had to dig through 10 inches of snow! We didn't expect that much, certainly.

As it had rained for a good 24 hours prior to snowing, the ground is saturated and there's truly no place for all this snow to go once it melts. I think we will experience some pretty bad flooding. I'm in no danger, as the rivers are far away from my house. But a couple years ago the nursery where I work was devastated by flood and several years ago the town of Alderson was nearly wiped out.

Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself. The next few days will be sunny but cold. Maybe there will be more evaporation than melt.

And maybe Congress will do something right and good and worthy of our trust.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17 - Ready, Part 2

Second "ready" opportunity of the day. There will be more, but I'll spare you.

January 17 - Ready

Ready to begin the day. This break in the clouds completely
disappeared about 10 minutes after I got the shot. Grey skies,
rain, snow and ice are in the forecast.

The gun thing. Again.

I haven't seen the NRA's ad regarding the President's daughters' Secret Service protection. I won't see it. I think the NRA stinks to high heaven, and I'm not the only one. The commentary about the NRA's ad is enough for me, and I don't think I'm burying my head in the sand about it by not listening to or watching it. Maybe I am, but I don't think so.

The following sentences sum it up for me, and I felt this way prior to the launch of their commercial:
"The NRA doesn’t give a shit about your kids. They don’t care about keeping Americans safe and despite what they say, they don’t really care about protecting the rights of gun owners. They care about protecting gun manufacturers. End of fucking file."
That paragraph came from Isobel at What a Witch. Isobel is radical and outspoken. She rants more than writes, and sometimes I can't make it through an entire post. She's wordy. She's also intelligent and thought-provoking. I'm a middle-class white woman. She's not. I read her blog to get her perspective and she's happy to throw it out there.

She goes on to accuse the NRA of being racist, and she presents a good argument for it. I've often wondered, had Hillary won the primary and election in 2008, would we – the 'United' States of America – be where we are now? We are not united, not by any stretch of anyone's imagination. It's a pretty word and a nice concept, but it's not who we are as a country.

Had Hillary won, would the Tea Party have evolved from an initial movement of sending tea bags to the White House to protest TARP to the well-funded political organization it now appears to be? Would Americans be wearing silly hats and flying flags with snakes on them and brandishing weapons at political rallies?

Would we have Sarah Palin? (Thankfully, it appears she may have run her course.)

It's a moot point, of course, because the Democratic Party powers-that-be figured a black man was more electable in 2008 than a white woman.

To be sure, the Republicans/conservatives/Tea Party have been attacking women as much as they've been attacking the President, so perhaps a Hillary presidency would have resulted in the same schism we have now.

One thing the Republicans/conservatives/Tea Party hasn't done is bring the President's children into the discussion. Presidential offspring have traditionally been off-limits, out of the picture, not up for discussion. The NRA crossed a line when they produced their vile ad suggesting the President cares more about his children than you do about yours.

The NRA is absolutely NOT interested in gun safety. It appears only to be interested in putting more guns into more Americans' hands, and insisting those Americans have the right to carry those guns wherever and whenever they like. That would make gun manufacturers very happy, indeed.

But I wonder how it makes the rank-and-file members feel, knowing the organization they've given their money to for the purpose of safety and education is now using it to question the right to protect THE PRESIDENT'S CHILDREN. I would love to see large numbers of NRA members burn their membership cards, as the Vietnam War protesters burned draft cards back in the 1960s. Hell, I'd just like to hear one or two of them say they disagree with LaPierre and his agenda.

Perhaps they are disagreeing. It might help if I watched the news.

I can't, though. I can't watch my country disintegrate. I can only do what I think is right. I can express my opinion, here, where both of you see it, and to my Congressman and my Senators, which I've done. They, of course, support gun owners and their "rights." They're Democrats in a state that is more purple than blue nowadays, and they want to keep those gun-totin' votes.

The reply I received from one of my Senators yesterday included this: "My words in recent days have not been an endorsement of an assault weapons ban …"

How could he NOT endorse an assault weapons ban? HOW COULD HE NOT? how could he not …

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16 - Two things

I had trouble finding a good subject for today's prompt. Until I worked out.

Just for the H of it …

a quote:
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” 
~ Dale Carnegie

Weather and TBL and lemons, oh my

Wow. Southern West Virginia is now under a flood watch and a winter storm watch. I couldn't stand the idea of an indoor workout yesterday and opted to walk three miles in the rain. To be fair, it was j-u-s-t b-a-r-e-l-y sprinkling when I started out, but it was a full-on rain after the first mile or so.

No biggie. All I got was wetter, the longer I walked. Popped my jacket in the clothes dryer at the end, and got on with the rest of my day.

The dentist appointment was okay. My "appliance" needs a tune-up, already, and I will therefore have to go without it for a week, beginning next week. I promised I would be at church this Sunday. I'm not able to hide my mouth behind my hand at church, especially when the guest minister that day will be the chaplain who also officiated at the blessing ceremony my husband and I had after our Vegas wedding.

My husband says I look fitter, three weeks into this food-and-activity makeover. He's absolutely positive I've lost some weight, and I had to gently remind him that


He was quick to agree. Because he knows what's good for him. Heh.

One thing about the nutritional part of this plan (if you're new here, it's not any official "plan." I'm not restricting anything but simply trying to keep my daily calories below a certain number.) is I find myself unwilling to waste calories on junk. Even on Anything-Goes Mondays, I've been reining it in, limiting my wild and wicked ways to a shot or two of liquid coffee creamer.

This would have made a nice "yellow"
photo a couple days ago, yes?
The lemons are ripening, and we love us some lemon bars, so I poked around on the internets for a recipe that wouldn't send me over the edge, either calorie-wise or desire-wise. This one from Cooking Light is reasonable enough in calories – just 124 per teeny-tiny bar – but since I haven't made them yet, I'll have to report back on whether I can limit myself to one or two.

I've been watching The Biggest Loser this season. Hard to believe it's the 14th year. I passed it up for several years, a combination of it being broadcast on Tuesdays, when I was at the prison, and not knowing how to make the DVR do what I want it to do. Now that we've upgraded to a DVR that's integrated with the satellite dish, I can program the show easily and watch it at my leisure.

Yoga Bob is now, apparently, Crossfit Bob, and I am in awe of anyone who can do even one burpee, let alone the numbers Team Blue was racking up. Made me tired just watching it. I finished my blue-and-white scarf yesterday afternoon in front of the television, and wrapped it around my neck while the contestants worked out. 

If you'd rather just get a recap of the program, be sure to tune in weekly to Jen's blog. She breaks it down quite nicely, and has been doing so for a long, long time. I appreciate her insight.

And I appreciate your stopping by to see what I'm up to. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15 - Ordinary moment

One of many daily ordinary moments with Hershey.

The antepenultimate day

When I get home from a trip I'm all revved up and peppy the day after, glad to be home, excited about getting back to normal, doing laundry and fixing dinner and – well, you get what I mean, don't you?

It's the day after the day after I get home when I crash and burn.

That would be today.

Yoga is on the agenda this morning and I hope to walk this afternoon, after the rain-rain-rain has moved out. I remember my dad asking, during a long stretch of back-to-back-to-back rain, "Think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?" I forgot to look at the rhubarb yesterday when I was out checking on the daffodils. I did notice some bright green cilantro in the herb garden, though, perhaps I should make chili for dinner.

Two other things on today's schedule: a dentist's appointment this morning. The denture adventure continues, heavy sigh. I believe a relining is in my future. I hate the damned thing, it's so uncomfortable. So there's that to not look forward to.

And the prison AA meeting tonight. Which really is something to look forward to.

Right now, I'm off to salute the sun, or at least the direction of the sun. Apologies for a kind of blah post. And before I forget it, here's a cause we can all get behind. Thanks for the awareness check, Audrey.

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14 - Something yellow

Mmmmmm, butter. Fun fact: Homemade butter ranges in color from white
to nearly orange, depending on the cow's diet. (This is not homemade.)


Look closely at those little green shoots poking up from that patch of dirt. This photo was taken at a rest stop in east Tennessee, near Bristol, late yesterday afternoon as I made my way back home from Nashville.

Those are daffodils. January 13, 2013. Mine are popping up, as well. See?

But you know what? I went back in my photo files and found a similar shot taken on January 20 of last year. And they bloomed when they were supposed to. Well, maybe a little earlier than expected, but the early growth spurt didn't results in a lack of flowers.

I'm not sure what to think of this. Winter isn't even a month old and I'm seeing robins and daffodils, two sure-fire signs of spring, at least in my mind.

It was 70° in Nashville Friday and Saturday. A cold front has now moved through – if I were still there, I'd be appropriately dressed. As it was, I was too warm in my long-sleeved shirts. I didn't even take my jacket out of the car. And it was a good thing I packed two dress-up ensembles, as the one with the quilted jacket would have been far too warm to wear to the performance I went to Saturday evening.

Which was lovely, by the way. My granddaughter is so talented and so graceful, a natural at dance. Watching her move delights me.

And I am beyond grateful she inherited the lithe, lean genes of her mother, who got them from her father, rather than the vertically challenged and horizontally enhanced ones from my side of the family.

LoseIt!'s week begins on Monday, while mine begins on Wednesday. (You perpetual dieters will know what that means.) LoseIt! sends a report every Monday letting you know how you've done. As I'm only weighing myself once a month, I have no loss to report, but I've stayed below the calorie limit every day since I began 20 days ago (-5519 calories), and have managed to rack up 18 hours and 10 minutes of intentional activity (nearly an hour a day!).

Not bad for an old lady.

The cold front that moved through Nashville is heading toward southern West Virginia. There's a lull in the rain right now, and the temperature is manageable, in the low 40s. If I'm going to walk outdoors today, this would be the time to do it. (My designated Monday rest day got switched to yesterday again. Two consecutive weeks! Perhaps I should re-think the rest day plan. Or perhaps I should continue to remain flexible.)

One more cup of coffee 'fore I go …

January 13 - Circle

I was ready to throw caution to the wind and eat WHATEVER road food
I wanted as I was traveling yesterday. This healthy alternative showed up
at my first fuel stop: steel-cut oats with a tiny bit of stewed apples mixed in.
(I went crazy at lunch and counted Sunday as my eat-whatever-I-want and
rest-from-intentional-activity day instead of Monday.)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12 - Surprise

My grandson surprised me by fixing crepes for breakfast.
I didn't know he could cook! They were delicious!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 10 - One o'clock

I had just finished an excellent panang curry for lunch, and was heading
back onto I-40W when my phone reminded me it was 1 p.m. – today's prompt!
(I used the Nashville Instagram filter for this one, OF COURSE!)

Six years and 2,643 posts later

That's how long I've been blogging. It started here. I added a photo blog beginning in January 2008, but then decided to just post the photos here. It's much easier on me to only be managing one blog.

It's fun to go back and look at all those pictures, though.

My very first Project 365 photo: homemade apple pie.
That tells you everything you need to know about me
and my priorities, doesn't it? Heh.
My favorite post of all time, the one that comes to mind when I ask myself, "Self, what's your favorite post of all time?," is this one.

Is anyone reading this blog who started out reading Shrinking Knitter from the get-go? My first commenter  – January 30, 2006 – suggested I was being too hard on myself and encouraged me not to give up.

I guess you could say I took her advice. FINALLY.

The second comment came on the first post in February, from my friend Nancy, who I met online in 2005, and who died four years ago. She was my first internet girlfriend, and we were great friends. We had knitting, dieting and sobriety in common. You don't often find that soul-sister combination. Wow, do I ever miss her.

Anyway … thanks for reading all these posts for all these years, months, weeks and days. I love blogging. I've occasionally taken some time away from it, but I've always come back.

I'm getting ready to pack the car for a little weekend getaway. I'll be taking the daily photos, but may or may not post them while I'm gone. I definitely won't be writing a daily post. (Yay! You get a break!) Writing, for me, is a solitary exercise. Spending time with people I love and don't often see trumps writing a few paragraphs daily.

I'll be back next week, all full of myself, relaxed, refreshed and ready to rock. Thanks for reading.

No. Really. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 9 - Paper

Yet another new shredder. This is the third. Those are the inaugural shreds.

Lest you think I've nothing political to write about …

well, there's a pretty outrageous event coming up, but this blogger's outrage is more eloquent than mine could ever be.

The two hardest things

Lest you think I'm perfect, with two weeks of walking and eating well and working out under my belt, I'm here this morning to talk about two of the other goals from my year-end list. One has been met (so far), while one remains woefully unmet.

Drinking water has not been one of my healthy new lifestyle successes. My husband pointed out (rightly or wrongly) that simply drinking lots of water isn't going to create weight loss. I pointed out that, ahem, WEIGHT LOSS IS NOT THE GOAL. Hydrating one's system has a multitude of benefits, including improving skin texture, reducing fluid retention and supporting digestive health.

When I'm thirsty, I drink water. But I'm not often thirsty, and I don't know what's up with that. My regular fluid consumption is water, but it's been heated and passed through some delicious freshly ground hazelnut coffee beans. I average two to three large mugs of coffee every morning. (On Treat Day Mondays I add sugar-free, chemical-laden liquid creamer to it.)

HOWEVER, according to this source, my morning beverage does count toward the daily fluid goal. Good to know, especially for someone like me who has a line item in the budget for coffee beans.

The other habit I wanted to break – and so far, so good – is weighing myself. I've written previously that the number I see on the scale can make or break me emotionally for that hour day. I weighed myself on Christmas Day (which is why I began my plan THE VERY NEXT DAY) and promised myself that a once-monthly check-in would be sufficient.

I CAN'T WAIT FOR JANUARY 25! (But it's not about weight loss, it's not about weight loss, it's not about weight loss.)

I'm so tempted, y'all. If I were single I'd put the scale away, but my husband uses it hourly daily, and I really do need to have a modicum of self-discipline about this issue. I'm probably losing some weight, in that my wedding ring is once again slipping around on my finger (I love when it does that). It's too soon to try on jeans, and WHY WOULD I when I have perfectly good yoga pants that are much more comfortable to wear? Heh.

Also, if they don't fit it would set me back just like seeing the wrong number on the scale. So we just won't go there. Good physical health is half of the goal.

Good mental health is the rest.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Well, thanks!

I'm a little late with my holiday thank-you cards this year, but I finally just buckled down and did them this afternoon.

Just to be different, I printed them four-up on post-card stock and wrote on the back, then stuck them in envelopes to mail. Instead of a folded card, it's simply a post card. That seems to be a trend with photo Christmas cards these days, so I'm stealing the idea both for simplicity and economy.

(You could, of course, set the image up to print on foldable card stock. Final size is 4.25" wide by 5.5" deep, and fits in an invitation-sized envelope.)

Clicking this link will take you to the download vault, where you can snag a Photoshop version of the card for yourself. You're welcome!

January 8 - Beginning with 'T'

One of the many coal trains that run through Hinton, WV, every day.

Changes in attitude

I guess it's my attitude that's making this year's health-and-fitness project (perhaps that should be Health and Fitness Project, to add some, um, weight to it?) less stressful than in years past. I'm trying to be matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Daily workout activities are on my laptop's calendar and pop up every morning to nag remind me. I'm keeping meals fairly simple, and am learning to use LoseIt! more effectively than I did last time.

Take yesterday, for example.

  • I had a 10 a.m. appointment to have new tires put on my car. 
  • I needed to get a check cashed at the bank. 
  • My husband also was in town with his truck. 
  • I had a 2 p.m. walking date.
  • The pork roast for dinner was thawing, but I would have to cook following the afternoon walk.

Keeping all that in mind, here's how it went down.
Just Google-mapped it.
A to B = 2.0 miles.

  • I dropped off the car, where I learned their compressor was broken (again!), but they would make arrangements to replace the tires at another local garage. No extra charge, but it would take extra time.
  • I thought about asking my husband to run me to the bank, but decided since I had extra time to kill anyway, I'd just go ahead and walk. It ended up being four miles, round-trip, from the service station to the bank and back again.
  • I got back to the garage at 11:30-ish, picked up my car, drove back to town to take care of a couple of errands that couldn't be done on foot, and drove home.
  • Had lunch at home (even though it was Monday and I could have eaten – gasp! – fast food if I'd wanted) – crackers, cheese and avocado supplemented with a slice of bread topped with peanut butter and orange marmalade. I was very hungry.
  • Got a call from my husband that he was bringing pizza home for dinner – he thought I'd enjoy that since it was take-a-break Monday. (He obviously didn't know about the 800-calorie lunch.)
  • Met my friend for our walking date, where we walked four miles along a beautiful creek and talked the whole time.

It seemed like the most logical thing in the world to walk around town in the morning, knowing I would also be walking in the country in the afternoon. The nicest part of the morning walk was being able to snag yesterday's photo, which I like very much. (The prompt was 'street,' which I think of as a town noun. Streets in the country are called 'roads.' Heh.) The idea of sitting in the service station for an hour – even with my knitting, which I'd brought along – was less appealing than taking two long walks in one day.

And although I'm supposed to be eating whatever I want on Mondays and not logging, I can't help myself, because I'm geeky like that. I came in at 16 calories under the daily goal. I'm getting plenty to eat, including treats. I feel no need to eat more just because I can. Food is fuel, walking is good for my heart, yoga and weights are improving flexibility and strength. A = B. Or at least A leads to B. Eventually.

I love feeling like this. It hasn't taken very long, either, for the daily walk to evolve from something I have to do to something I look forward to doing.

The yoga and weight-training sessions aren't quite in that category. YET!

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 7 - Street

This street is closed to vehicles now. It was less expensive to build a
new road and bridge than to repair this beautiful old one in Hinton, WV.

And on the seventh day …

she crashed.

I don't know what happened yesterday around here. It was a grey and chilly day, but that hasn't stopped me before. I simply could not put one foot in front of the other to do any kind of walk or elliptical workout. I was fatigued beyond belief. I managed to throw together a pot of vegetable beef soup before I took a nap, and right after we ate it (well a couple hours later) I went to sleep. In the past 24 hours I've been asleep for 15 of them.

Good thing I'm flexible. Today's my rest day, but I'll get out and walk anyway and count yesterday as the day off. (I'm feeling quite normal, as if I've had a good night's sleep. WHICH I HAVE!)

Calories were well below normal all last week. See? (Pay no attention to Tuesday! I forgot to eat lunch and it was New Year's Day and I thought I'd be eating enough football-watching snacks to make up for it. But I didn't.)

Flexibility will definitely pay off this week, as I will be traveling beginning on Thursday. Being away from home always, always, always screws up my food-and-exercise plan. Not the exercise so much as the food. I just think when I'm not at home I can go crazy, and you know what? I CAN'T!

It will be easy to get the daily walking done. I'll probably skip the yoga and weight-training sessions on Friday and Saturday. Most of all, I'm going to enjoy visiting with my daughter and her family, who I didn't get to see during the holidays.

As I look back over what I've written, it appears that this 'diet' or 'plan' or 'whatever you want to call it' could be construed as a roadblock to having a good time. I prefer to look at it as a bridge. And I will be dancing across that bridge all the way, to the end of my days. Eating reasonable portions of healthful food and moving my aging body will never be a reason to sit in a corner and wish life were different.

The reason I'm back in the saddle again is me. Just as the reason I need to be back in the saddle again is me. I'm trying not to think about all the times I've been back in the saddle and not seen results. I'm sticking my fingers in my ears and babbling "lalalalalala." I'm seeing the miles add up and the calories stay within limits and counting those as results.

But I saved a couple pairs of too-small jeans when I cleaned out the closet. Just in case.