Saturday, September 27, 2014

2500 problems but this blog ain't one

A milestone: This is my 2500th post here at KRRE, which came alive in mid-May of 2008.

I had abandoned the Shrinking Knitter a couple weeks earlier, for personal reasons, after not quite 700 posts. I started blogging January 10, 2006. Anyone still here who remembers those days?

Y'all have been through a lot with me, there and here. After a very long courtship, my husband and I were married, and we've had five grandchildren since I began SK. I don't share much about the little ones, because I think it's important to protect their privacy.

And the blog is not, after all, about them.

Most of my posts are weight-loss-, fitness- or health-related. When I began gardening in earnest, a friend suggested changing the name from Knit Run Repeat to Knit Run Reap Eat, a great improvement and one that covered all the bases.

The new base, the one that isn't covered, is liberal politics, but I've learned that no one really minds if I head off on a tangent. I'm not forcing you to read anything here, after all. You've invited yourself, and I'm happy to have you, but you're always free to move on. I don't even know, not being one to check stats or care much about traffic.

For all these bloggy years, I've been writing for me. To hold myself accountable. To remember and mark important occasions. The blog is a diary, a calendar, a sounding board, a record-keeper, a photo album.

And no matter how long you've been reading – eight years or eight days or eight hours – I'm glad you're here. I love your comments, though there are far fewer these days than there've been in the past. I'm guilty of not leaving many comments on others' blogs, too. We all get busy. Heck, I've got 400-plus unread posts in Feedly right now.

That's what being a busy Democrat during an election cycle will do to your free time.

I don't knit as much as I used to. I've switched from running to walking. This year's garden was dismal (except for the squash, I have PLENTY O'SQUASH!), and the eating has morphed into a paleo template.

I've finally lost a lot of weight and have kept most of it off for more than a year now. I'd like to be thinner and more fit, and that will definitely continue to be a focus going forward.

Because 2500 posts isn't the end. I thought about it. I'm super busy and blogging sometimes feels like a job. But when I need to remember something that happened that's just out of reach in my brain, all I have to do is search the blog[s] and invariably I find what I'm looking for.

As long as blogging is rewarding and useful, I'll keep writing.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. I added a new tab at the top – click to see some of what's been keeping me so busy this summer!

Friday, September 26, 2014

What I need vs what I have time for

I need to keep writing. Here. It helps me vent, rant, share and stay on track.

With fewer than 40 days to the election, and with the commitments I've made, I have very little time for writing, here or anywhere else.

Maybe for the near future I just need to pop in here and write a sentence or two, for me … a "good job" or "could have done better" or "you go, girl" post. Because I really miss writing and I really need it.

So I'm here today to reply to a comment – and to ask for forgiveness for taking so long to do so – asking how to make homemade Larabars. A Google search provides many options, but I don't remember which one I used to get started.

What I do now is soak an 8-oz. package of Sun-Maid Pitted Dates in hot water for 15 to 20 to 30 minutes – the time isn't critical, but it is helpful and kinder to your food processor if they've been soaked.

While the dates are softening up, whirl a couple cups of almonds or cashews or walnuts or pecans (or combine whatever you happen to have on hand) in the bowl of a food processor. I like to add about a quarter cup of cinnamon to the nuts. Watch carefully. You're not making nut butter or flour, but you definitely want the pieces to be tiny.

Pour the nuts into a bowl. Drain the dates well and add to the food processor with a tablespoon of vanilla. Process until it looks like date paste. Slowly add the nuts through the feed tube. Scrape down the sides as needed.

Dump the mixture into a shallow pan – an 8-inch square cake pan works fine for this – which has been coated with coconut oil spray. Press down evenly and chill several hours. Cut into squares and chow down!

Homemade Larabars are very forgiving. If I don't have a full package of dates, I add some raisins or prunes. Cashews are my favorite nut to use, but any of the ones I mentioned will do, and if you're not strictly paleo I imagine peanuts would be yummy, as well.

I usually process way more nuts than I need and when I've finished making the snack bars, I use the remaining mixture for nut butter. Just throw them back in the food processor and whirl away. It will take several more minutes for the oils to be released and the butter to congeal. Cheaper and fresher than store-bought, and I love that it's cinnamon-y, too.

So. What do I need? Homemade Larabars! And I think I'll take time to whip up a batch RIGHT NOW.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Conference weekend

And another weekend where I'll be eating every meal at someone else's mercy.

Fortunately the hotel rooms have mini-fridges. I'm taking homemade Larabars and hard-cooked eggs, as I'm not sure what kind of breakfast options will be available. I think tomorrow's lunch will be on our own (not part of the conference). Finding a suitable salad shouldn't be an issue.

I requested gluten-free options for remaining meals. I think I've done all I can do to prepare for food.

The hotel has a fitness center, but the weather forecast is for GORGEOUS, so I'll try to get outside early each morning to walk somewhere. Google Earth should be helpful in determining if I can stay near the hotel or if I'll have to drive somewhere.

Last year at this conference I fell while I was running and split my knee wide open. I still have a scar. I was in a bit better shape a year ago, as I'd been running fairly regularly. And I weighed about 10 pounds less.

It's discouraging how quickly weight can be regained compared to how slowly it is released. And the effort to gain vs the effort to lose – NO comparison! AM I RIGHT? =)

At any rate, I have a lot to do this morning before I head out. But I feel more accountable checking in prior to take-off. Hope your next few days will be as fun and fulfilling and rewarding as mine will be!

Monday, September 15, 2014

A fine, fine weekend

My life is so different now than it was just a few years ago. When I moved here to West Virginia, I didn't know anyone except my husband. He worked in various places throughout the state, and for several years was gone three or four days a week. I spent a lot of time here in the Middle of Nowhere by myself, honing my online skills and knitting. A lot.

He worked in Huntington for a couple of years. For one of those years we rented a house and I moved there. I never really got to know my way around Cabell County, but I knew where the mall was (heh), and we met lots of people. Those connections led to our going to Greenbo Lake every fall for a relaxing, rewarding and refreshing conference, one we've been going to since 2000. We've only missed one year. We were on our way to Kentucky in 2010 when we learned my father had died.

This past weekend was the conference, and it was – again – a reunion with old friends, an opportunity to make new ones and a time to refresh, renew and relax.

For the past six years I've been involved with another group, one I learned of when I began volunteering to elect President Obama. The West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women annual meeting is next weekend. I have a lot to do to get ready for it in the next three days, since I have to be there Thursday. The past three days would have been helpful, time wise, for getting things organized, but I've found that the tasks in front of me usually take up the available hours anyway.

Everything will be ready, on time. And if I forget something? Oh, well. That's not to say I'm not going to do my best to have everything I need done and packed and ready on time. It is to say that I'm pretty sure no one is going to scold me if something gets left behind.

In fact, I'm quite sure that – at my age, especially – I'm beyond worrying about others' opinions. I learned that through the folks at this weekend's conference, over the past couple decades. I don't know if anyone else is born knowing that what other people think of them is none of their business, but it took me a while.

One of the biggest lessons I've learned in my life is that not everyone is going to like me. And the way I learned that is by conceding that I don't like everyone I meet. It's one of those "if A = B and B = C, then A = C" things.

I think.

Anyhoo, time's a wasting. I didn't have much computer time over the weekend and need to go through emails, prepare a report, and work on a candidate's project. I also need to put dinner in the slow cooker, do laundry, mow the grass (AGAIN!), and begin making piles of Things I Need To Take With Me.

Because I wouldn't want to forget anything and have someone think less of me for it, now, would I?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Workin' for the weekend

Hah!

I don't have a "real" job, but my volunteer jobs sure take a lot of time and energy. So it's nice to have a little downtime in the schedule.

Hershey and the dog sitter will be holding down the fort as my husband and I travel to her birthplace. We rescued her from a filthy barn on a Kentucky hillside 11 years ago as we attended the same event we're going to today.

She's a lucky dog.

And we're lucky owners, because Hershey is a super dog. Obedient (most of the time), healthy (unless she eats deer bones), playful (although she's slowing down a bit in her dotage), affectionate (ALWAYS). She probably won't eat much while we're gone, but she'll be ecstatic when we pull in the driveway again Sunday afternoon.

I won't be completely unplugging, but more than likely I'll take a blog break. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

So, yeah, about yesterday

While I hadn't made a public commitment to return to posting daily, I'd hoped to. Yesterday kind of got away from me. I even had to reschedule a haircut because life got, um, rather complicated.

As I got ready to run some errands and go to a meeting in town yesterday morning, I remembered there was no gas for the mower. Our rainfall totals have been impressive the last three or four weeks, following a July in which I cut the grass just one time. One more fill-up should do for this season.

So I headed out to the garden shed to get the gas can. The combination of wet grass and a hole in the yard (hidden by – um – grass), had me flat on my face before I knew what was happening.

Because I was in a hurry, I simply got up, grabbed the gas container, went back to change my now grass-stained shirt and went on my not-so-merry way.

When an older person (I'm 63, you be the judge) falls, alarm bells go off. Where does it hurt, are there any broken bones, what about scrapes and cuts … I didn't think of any of that. I just needed to GET GOING, so that's what I did.

It didn't take any time at all to know I didn't break anything. Hours later, though, I noticed a scraped knee and began to feel some discomfort in my hip and lower back. I've prescribed myself two Aleve daily.

Because you know what? I don't feel like an older person and I don't fall like an older person. All that walking – which is weight-bearing exercise – is good for not just my internal organs, but for my bones as well. My last bone density test showed the bones of a woman decades younger than I am – a 20-year-old, instead of 60-something.

I didn't walk yesterday. I'm not sure about today. Might be a good idea to give it a rest. I'm going away for the weekend and will have some lovely and safe walking routes where we're going.

One thing is for sure: I will pick myself up again and again. And I'll keep on walking.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

One foot in front of the other

Success breeds success.

Who's heard that one before?

But who remembers it when faced with a bowl of free chocolate candy?
THAT WOULD BE ME!
Went to a fairly long meeting last night, and there's always a bowl of Hershey's Miniatures near the center of the table. I happened to sit down almost right in front of the bowl, and the person across from me moved it to make sure it was DIRECTLY in front of me.

You know. Just to make sure the test was hard enough. Heh.

Three things combined to keep me from sampling the goods:

  1. It was a busy meeting; I was taking a lot of notes.
  2. I was aware that, perhaps, someone there might be reading my blog.
  3. Why mess with what works?

Seriously. I feel pretty good. I do believe the toxins which I introduced into my system are still on the way out, as I've experienced some unusual and best-left-unsaid symptoms the last couple of days. All in all, though, my energy levels are increasing and I'm truly feeling back on the track that works for me.

Yesterday was a get-it-done kinda day. I walked in the morning, took a short rest break, dismantled the garden fence, harvested about half the squash (the rest are still maturing), mowed the front yard, did two loads of laundry, did a bunch of computer work, and went to an evening meeting.
I couldn't have done all that in one day last week. I know I couldn't have. A few days without sugar and grains … quell difference!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A great perspective

And one I needed. So thank you, Debi.

In case you missed it, a reader left a comment on Saturday's post. Part of her comment was this:
None of this "back on track" business, because that feels like dietspeak to me. You are resuming the eating habits that really changed your life this last year and a half. 
And she's absolutely right.

My little break wasn't going "off the diet." It was an experiment, of sorts, a test. And I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that, just as a diabetic needs to shun sugar, for me to enjoy my best possible life I need to avoid grains, dairy, sugar and legumes.

(Although I've not actually tested the legumes. I think I've had a couple small tastes of hummus in the last 17 months, but have not tucked into a bowl of bean soup or a peanut butter sandwich.)

It would be great if I could have used the paleo plan to restore my health and then been able to eat like a "normal" person, whoever that is. The truth is, the Standard American Diet (it's known as SAD for a reason!) made me sick, tired and fat. The paleo plan helped me regain my energy, got rid of allergies and helped me lose 40 pounds.

Also in case you missed it – and believe me, my Facebook friends made sure I didn't – is this article, supporting the reversal of the low-fat trend and disproving the theory that dietary fat causes heart disease.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I frequently say I'm going to #StickwithNick, my incumbent Congressman who is running for re-election. Well I'm going to #StickwithPaleo, as well.

As we say in AA, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The dawn breaks

I am an early, early riser. Definitely a morning person. It's always pitch black outside when I wake up. A glance at the digital clock tells me if it's toooooo early to actually begin my day.

If the first number is a "3," it's too early. Usually. If I just can't get back to sleep, though, I go ahead and start getting all the things swirling in my head done. And believe me, there's always something swirling around in there.

I've been designing a lot of ads lately, many for a program book which has gone to the printer and since then some newspaper ads to try to convince West Virginians that Democrats really are a better choice than the Koch Brothers-funded candidates.

If you know me in real life, you've heard me say this before: West Virginia is following in North Carolina's footsteps. In 2010, NC was taken over by the GOP, and the Koch Brothers can take a lot of credit. A disorganized and underfunded state Democratic party also is responsible. Ultimately, though, it was the Citizens United decision allowing corporations to buy elections that made the difference.

[A shout-out to North Carolinians who are polite when they answer a political canvassing call. I volunteered during the 2010 campaign when I was visiting there, and was so impressed with your manners and courtesy – so very different from some of my neighbors here in the Mountain State.]

Southern West Virginia has been turning red inch by inch. The negative assault this year –TV commercials and glossy direct-mail pieces – are aimed at defeating my Congressman, who has represented us well since 1977. He's brought a lot of improvements to West Virginia's 3rd District. While I understand those who argue for term limits and think it's time to wipe the slate clean, his opponent is no political newcomer and most definitely would vote against seniors, women, education and health care at every opportunity.

I've been trying to keep my ads positive, because I think it needs to be done and because it makes me feel like a better person when I go in that direction. I can be snarky when I want to, but it's not my nature. I have to work harder at the low blow than I do highlighting the good stuff.

I find that I respond more warmly to a positive ad than I do to a negative one. And while polls and numbers might say differently, I'm going with my gut on this. I'll continue to urge voters to register and show up on Election Day to vote for the party which has always worked to improve the lives of  the middle class.

Vote for Democrats.

P.S. Food and exercise update: Good and good. But I woke up today with itchy, watery eyes and lots o'sneezing. With all the rain we had yesterday I can't blame it on pollen. I just want it to go away SOON. Ah-choo!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Staying on track is better than getting back on track

Yes, it is.

I was tempted by a tiny little piece of [insert food porn here] yesterday, but I resisted. I wasn't hungry. I just wanted the taste of it. And I felt better after I brushed my teeth and found something else to do than I would have had I had that tiny little piece of [insert food porn here].

One thing I forgot to write about yesterday was a bit of mental gymnastics I went through on Wednesday and Thursday.

I had been way off plan, eating whatever I felt like, whatever sounded good, whatever was handy. I felt like an unruly child, turning my nose up at good-for-me options and going instead for, basically, anything with sugar and flour in it.

If I ever had any doubts about the addictive qualities of sugar and flour for me, I'm over them. I cannot be trusted to leave them alone.

Because I also wasn't food journaling during that period of, um, indiscretion, I can't say what set me off. I remember making rice one night, a couple weeks ago, which was delicious. I hadn't had rice in more than a year. It was an experiment – some folks following a paleo/primal plan can handle an occasional serving of rice.

I'm not saying my otherwise-paleo stir-fry with rice was the tipping point. But I'm not saying it wasn't, either.

ANYHOO. On Wednesday, when I finally decided enough was enough and I had to get back to what worked for me, I toyed with the idea of fasting on Thursday. I even said it aloud to my husband, who said he would support anything I felt I needed to do.

When I woke up Thursday morning, I was hungry. Hunger pangs are a sign of health, and I nearly always wake up hungry. I usually delay breakfast for a couple hours, because I wake up insanely early. So I decided to wait it out, to see if I could get through the hunger and stick with the fast.

After obsessing about it for far too long, I made a paleo pumpkin mug muffin (this new recipe is easier than the one I'd been using and tastes terrific) and the fast was over. And it was over because fasting felt like punishing myself for going off the rails. When, in fact, going off the rails was the punishment. I decided the best thing I could do for my physical and mental health as I began anew on Thursday, September 4, is nourish myself.

If and when I'm hungry, I'll eat. If and when I'm restless, I'll distract myself with a book, a walk, a knitting session. I've been doing a lot of graphic design work lately, and I find that hours can go by without any thought of food. That can be both good and bad. Eating paleo means I have to plan ahead and have suitable food ready. Working for hours and then suddenly feeling hungry means I. Want. Food. NOW.

As in most things, it's a balancing act, but one worth working on. I love being busy and creative.

But I love slipping into those size 10 jeans, too.

(And there's a pair of size 8s waiting in the wings.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

One day down … done and DUSTED!

Yesterday was perfect!

Four-mile walk? Check.
Three clean meals? Check.
No snacking? Check.
LIFTING TINY DUMBBELLS? CHECK!

I hadn't even planned to lift my little (3-pound) dumbbells yesterday, but they were right there in plain sight as I was tying my shoes to go walk and I thought, "Why not?"

I'm so awesome.

It's really amazing how much better I feel this morning, not just physically, but emotionally. I'm not a loser! I can and DID do what I said I would do.

And I will do it again today.

I made my all-time favorite paleo meal for dinner last night. I didn't have chicken tenders, so I cut four chicken breasts into three long pieces each (which is probably how Tyson creates chicken tenders, eh?). I then dusted the pieces with chili and garlic powder, wrapped each one in a strip of bacon and baked them in a 350° oven.

An hour later we were eating half of them, along with sautéed zucchini/peppers/onions/carrots. The remaining pieces will be sliced to top a big salad for tonight's dinner.

Planning is KEY when you're following a paleo diet. Making twice as much last night as I needed was easy, although my husband would have eaten all of them if I'd let him.

Yes, he likes them that much.

Having those dumbbells in plain sight was good planning.
Walking earlier, rather than later, was good planning.
Eating when I was hungry, not just because it was "time to eat," was good planning.

And good planning led to a very good day.

(An aside: It feels kind of weird to have started over on a Thursday, and the 4th of the month. Okay, it feels really weird. But, as the young folk say, it is what it is and IT WORKED!)

Now it's time to do it all over again.

How was your Thursday?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Climbing out of the abyss

Not only have I not been writing and posting here, I've not been reading or commenting on others' blogs, unless I've chosen to subscribe to your blog via e-mail. Hi, Gingerzingi!

For that, I apologize. I have excuses, plenty of excuses, but the main one, obviously, is that when obligations and responsibilities pile up, something's gotta go.

One something has gone for good: I'm no longer following any kind of photo-a-day list. I still take photos when I walk, but I haven't been walking every day, either. Walking has not gone for good, but daily walking has.

I'd like to change that. Yesterday was a "rest" day, but the last week of August I managed five consecutive days. I only logged 52 miles last month, the lowest monthly total since I started tracking mileage, I do believe.

I suppose I'm one of those all-or-nothing types, as well. When the daily walks turned into every-other daily walks, it became easier for me to eat poorly. It's a vicious cycle, as both of you know. When you I eat crap, you I feel like crap. When you I feel like crap, you I don't want to move. When you I don't want to move, you'll I'll do whatever to feel better and if off-plan food is handy – as it is when one lives with someone not following one's plan – well, eating feels good.

Damn it.

I've definitely fallen into the abyss of making poor choices and not taking care of myself. Many of the symptoms which had cleared up when I stopped eating sugar, dairy and grains have returned. The most telling one is lack of energy. I want my energy back.

Eating crap does not help my productivity, my mood, my motivation, my enthusiasm, my life. PERIOD.

Tomorrow marks the 60th day until Election Day 2014. The pre-election busy-ness will turn into pre-holiday busy-ness, followed by winter doldrums. If I'm to get through to spring with my head on straight, I need to do what works and quit wishing for a metabolism and body I clearly wasn't born with.

And so, I'm back on the horse. I'll walk this morning and I'll eat cleanly today and I'll take it a day at a time. Because really? How else can you take it?

What's not gone for good is my desire to get to a normal BMI. I still think that can happen. I know how to make it happen. I need to Just Do It.

Beginning today.