Sunday, December 31, 2006

Out with the old!

For some reason that title makes me want to scream: "Off with her head!"

Remember adorable little Ray in Jerry Maguire?
"D'you know that the human head weighs 8 pounds?"

That'd be one way to lose a little weight, eh? Talk about your weight-loss surgery!

I'm not against WLS, by the way. I feel very fortunate that I've never had to consider it as an option. Alcoholics frequently choose the 'easier, softer way,' which is what I'm doing now, in my opinion. Working out and eating healthfully seems easier to me than submitting to a surgeon's knife. And I've seen enough WLS programs on Discovery Health to know that I'd be scared to death to take that route. Those who do are brave beyond measure.

So. Out with old habits, old behaviors and old attitudes.

Even though I'm not at my goal weight, which I'd hoped to be a year ago, I have to say this year has been a success. I've learned what it takes, what it will take and what I can comfortably do. More important, I've learned that I don't need to be comfortable. A little discomfort is a Good Thing – pushing myself to jog instead of walk, tacking an extra mile onto the walk, just being hungry and waiting out the hunger a little bit longer.

Although true hunger is something I've probably not experienced since I was an infant. And, knowing my mother, probably not then, either.

This year has been tremendously successful in discarding old attitudes. I wanted magical weight loss. I wanted a treatable disease. I wanted instant results.

I've learned there is no magic, I'm healthier than most 55-year-old women and patience is at least as Good a Thing as discomfort.

I've mentioned previously here that blogging is the secret to my success. If you've stumbled onto the Shrinking Knitter in your own quest for a new you in 2007, welcome! Blogging is just another word for journaling, which you'll often see suggested in the list of helpful weight-loss strategies. I use Blogger, which is easy as, ahem, pie to set up. So jump in! Start your own blog! You don't have to tell all.

If the idea of blogging makes you uncomfortable, then write in a book, or start a diary file using your word processing program.

However, keeping your thoughts to yourself can be dangerous. Those who regularly read my blog have been supportive, confrontive, helpful, and did I mention supportive? I live in the Middle of Nowhere, socialize very little, and pretty much keep to myself. I've found that I need the network which has developed among the bloggers I read. I'm sure I'm missing some good ones … one can only spend so much time on one's ass in front a computer, after all. Limits, people, limits!

I've replaced poor
habits and unhealthy behaviors with healthy alternatives. No more sneaking snack-sized candy bars into the garage and hiding them in the freezer to have one-at-a-time for just 60 calories each, only to polish off the whole package before the day is done. No more whipping up a batch – albeit a small batch – of pseudo cookie dough when an overwhelming craving takes over. [This vice goes waaaaaay back. I can remember mixing sugar, flour, shortening, vanilla and a little bit of milk in a bowl and eating it with a spoon when I was in high school.] While a tray of crudites isn't quite as sexy as chocolate, it's handy, nearly calorie-free and I don't have a sugar hangover when I'm done plundering it.

No more sitting on my ass all day. No more driving the 1.6 miles to the post office [if it's not raining, I walk. And sometimes I walk when it is raining.]. No putting off until tomorrow what I don't want to do today. [This was hard, because – since I don't work – there's always tomorrow to get something done.]

One of my big lessons learned is to Do It Now. [Except for lifting weights. Heh.] If the floor needs cleaned, I get out the dust mop. Our laundry basket is never overfull. Dishes don't pile up in the sink and the coffeemaker is loaded and ready to go every night.

Now don't you go thinking I'm perfect. Just because the main part of the house looks nice doesn't mean I want you snooping around in the guest room, which is the clutter-catcher. But last year I didn't want you dropping by. I was uncomfortable with every part of my life – how my house looked and how I looked. And what's happened is that as I've improved, so have my surroundings.

Next year … the lawn!

Kidding. I kind of went off on a Flylady tangent there, didn't I? Sorry about that. But the underlying point remains the same: I've improved. Simple as that. Every one of us has room for improvement.

My strategy for 2007 is not much different than for 2006. I've switched my eDiet menu plan from Glycemic Impact to Low Sugar. I've sworn off sugar, once and for all, which seems to attack my body like poison. I've learned that daily exercise is as vital to weight loss as eating healthfully is, and that it's more vital to my emotional well-being. The better I feel, the more I want to keep doing what works.

It's taken a long time to figure this out. But, God willing, I'll have a long time left to keep on keepin' on.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pick your poison

According to this report, from five to 30 percent of obesity surgery patients switch their addiction from food to some other substance or behavior – drinking, gambling, drugs or shopping.

I remember loving shopping when I shrank to a size 6 or 8, oh-so-many years ago. [Ten. It's been 10 years since I was a size 8.] I don't know if I'd have called it a problem, though.

This story caught my eye because I'm also a recovering alcoholic. I'm one of many recovering women who switched from booze to food. It doesn't matter what one uses, until one figures out what's going on emotionally, it'll probably always be something.

I hope my next addiction is knitting. Some would say it already is!

The penultimate project of 2006 is finished. May I present [drumroll, please]
my grandson's Pop-up Paws!

All that remains on the dad-sized pair are the flaps, one of which has been started. That was a lot of knitting in one day … a testament to two pretty good football games and a night of insomnia.

I attribute the insomnia to a great workout yesterday. I had no intention of running at all, but ended up doing a vigorous walk/jog of four miles in slightly less than an hour. Blame it on the music. There are just some songs you can't walk to – you either skip to the next song or pick up the pace. Once I started jogging, I started skipping the slow songs.

But with the exercise came a few aches and pains that woke me up very early. I'll have to remember to take an Aleve before bed if I should happen to repeat my performance today. I'm planning to ... but we all know about plans, don't we?

Your comments yesterday were soooo kind and uplifting! Thank you, one and all. If I reported that I was shooting woodpeckers out of trees would you be as supportive? They can be rather noisy pests, you know. Heh.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Quote Day

The road to hell
is paved with good intentions.

The trouble with blogging is that when you announce you're going to do something, and it doesn't work out, you've not only let yourself down but you've also prompted all seven of those who read your blog to wonder if you're reliable, trustworthy and honest.

I am, really I am. Yesterday just didn't work out on so many levels. Some days are like that … yeah, they are!

In AA we sometimes say we need to plan the plans, but not the results. I need to keep that in mind on days where I don't meet my goals.

I had errands to run in the morning, which is when I usually walk. I deliberately switched my morning and afternoon around because the outside temperature promised to get warmer as the day went on, and I'd rather walk outside when it's 50 than when it's 35.

I had a voice message from the exterminator who, for one reason or another, hasn't been able to service the house since early October. He could be here in the afternoon. Since I've seen evidence of a mouse, I called and he said he'd be here in 45 minutes. That turned into more than an hour, and he was here for an hour, and I finally started walking at 4:30. The sun was already setting over the mountain! But I got two miles in, and called it good.

Also, when I said I was going to use a lightweight grey tweed for my grandson's gloves, well, that didn't work out. He and his dad are going to truly match.

Not that that makes much difference.

I'm kind of hesitant to announce my intentions any more!

One year ago today I joined eDiets, with the intention of reaching my goal weight by this coming Monday. Guess what? That didn't and won't happen. But I'm halfway there, and smarter than ever about what I need to eat and how much I need to move. Maybe it won't take another year to get there, and maybe it will. I'm grateful that I gave eDiets another chance [I'd tried it once before, but just couldn't stick with it].

I'm more motivated than ever, and I'm not getting any younger. I've proven to myself what works, and I have the ability to do it. Putting it down in writing like that makes it all look so sensible and manageable.

Which it is … I'm the unmanageable factor!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Back to black

Well, that didn't take long, did it? It's mind over matter, I always say.

Actually I don't know if I've ever said that, but anyway. By the time I had my mid-afternoon cup of leftover coffee I was drinking it black again. Nasty old sugar-free, non-dairy, fabulous, flavored creamer be gone!

That's my favorite coffee vessel in the photo. I asked my friend and neighbor, who is a potter, to make a mug without a handle for my morning brew and it's perfect. Yes, it gets hot, but not for long.

Vickie recently listed some of the processed foods she eats. I guess I never considered that things like fat-free yogurt, skim milk and canned tuna are processed, but they are, and I eat those, too. When I think of "processed food," I think of power bars and breakfast cereals [I do eat Shredded Wheat occasionally; the only ingredient is whole grain wheat], frozen dinners and packaged snacks. I pretty much follow the safe grocery-shopping routine of sticking to the perimeter of the store and shunning the aisles. I'm happy to buy sugar-free bread-and-butter pickles, though. Definitely processed.

The great Greta mentioned in a recent comment that her dogs would scare away any intruder who came their way, and also said:
"If you liked dogs, a good watch dog would help."

I don't want anyone thinking I don't like dogs. I love dogs. I have two, who have been very good over the years at scaring away the deer so that I can actually grow tomatoes in the summer. They bark and bark and bark when the UPS truck comes up the driveway, but by the time the driver's feet hit the driveway the dogs are falling all over themselves and each other to greet him. Watchdogs they're not.
But wonderful, warm, fuzzy companions they are, and they sure do make life more pleasant. That's our old dog, Molly, on the left, resting on her special fleece-covered egg-crate dog bed. And that's Hershey on the right, covered with one of my t-shirts and resting on my pillow. But I don't spoil them, nosiree!

I don't walk outside with them, as Greta does with hers. Molly and Hershey have the run of our property and they know their limits; I'd hate to teach them that they can extend their boundaries into the road and beyond.

I've taken the last three days off from heavy exercise, opting instead for a short post office-and-back walk or – gasp! – nothing at all. But this morning I woke up feeling like it's a Rocky kinda day. I'll be doing a long run and shaking hands with a dumbbell or two. The weird thing is, I can't wait!

Thanks so much for all the recent comments. We love comments! I've been using Google Reader to track my favorite blogs, and I try to click and comment, but I must admit it's easier not to.

Must. Start. Doing. That. More. Often.

After all, why should I expect you to talk to me if I don't carry on a conversation with you?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Emily Post would be so proud

I mailed my thank-you notes yesterday. And nearly broke my arm from patting myself on the back when I was finished! Heh.

And then I wrote one more, but since I don't have all your addresses – or even all your names! – I hope you won't mind reading it here.

Of course I still haven't responded to a couple of the personal notes that came in Christmas cards. But hey, we're not perfect ... just working on it!

Vickie asked me yesterday in the comments if I shun processed foods, and I responded that I do. One thing I've never read the label on, though [until this morning], is my sugar-free non-dairy flavored fabulous creamer – about as processed a food as you can find. The second ingredient is corn syrup.

I never knew.

There's a disclaimer printed on the label that the corn syrup adds a "miniscule" amount of sugar to the total product, and the amount of sugar listed on the nutrition label says "0g."

But still. I feel like I've been duped. But just think how much better I'll feel now that I'm not using that crap any more! I used to drink my coffee black, so I'll start moving back in that direction, and use skim milk as a weaning aid.

I started feeling ill yesterday afternoon, with a sore throat and fever, and went to sleep at 7 p.m. Woke up at 5 a.m. feeling pretty good – just a headache, really, and an Aleve usually takes care of that quickly. But I think I'll take it easy today.

I'm almost finished with one of the Pop-up Paws ... such a great pattern – very clearly written, with separate instructions for the left and right hand. None of that pesky "repeat as for right hand, reversing shaping" crap.

I'm doing this pair in worsted weight for my son-in-law, and then will do another pair for my grandson in a lighter weight yarn but the same color [grey tweed]. Six-year-old boys like matching, especially when they can match with their dads.

The next knitting project, and one I forgot to include in a recent mental list, is a sweater for my daughter's former pastor, whose adopted son will arrive from China in February. He's a year old, I think, so it won't be baby-sized, but from the photo I saw of him he's very small for his age.

Thanks for all the attagirls yesterday. I love mehitabel's idea of a family "Biggest Loser" competition. That sounds like a great way to start the next Year of Living Healthfully!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Weighing in on the weekly weigh-in

First, I hope each of you who celebrates Christmas had a good one, end enjoyed your day. I certainly did! This was, as my husband likes to say, our first married Christmas … to each other. Heh. He thought the CD with songs about mental illness was very creative. Others who received CD mixes – my daughter, her husband and my son-in-law – also were very appreciative.

My daughter gave me, among other things, a nearly knitting-related gift – a t-shirt from The Panopticon Shop. How did she know that Franklin's Itchy Lamb was my favorite design?

So. I've been weighing myself weekly, and seeing the same number, week after week after week, ever since September. Good for me for maintaining, but when will it start to move again? Two weeks ago I switched from eDiets' GI plan to the Low Sugar one, trying to shake things up a bit.

Last week I sneaked a mid-week scale check in there, and was thrilled – thrilled, I tell you! – to see that I'd lost a pound. But yesterday for the official weigh-in I was back to the same old boring number I've seen since fall started.

For Christmas dinner yesterday the only sugar-laden food I served was dessert, and I didn't eat any of it. I baked bread, though, and by day's end had eaten far too much. I think I was feeling a little deprived at not partaking of pecan pie. I'd like to toss the remaining pie, but Mr. Shrinking Knitter requested that I not do that. I think I'll put it in the dorm-sized refrigerator in the garage.

I really, really, really – no, REALLY! – feel great with 12 sugar-free days under my belt. But I also really wanted to taste the pie. As an alcoholic, I've also been tempted by the smell of booze but would never dream of sipping it. Sugar and booze are the same thing to me, so please don't offer me any suggestions or excuses. That's just the way it is for me, and I'm oh-so-sorry it's taken me so long to figure it out. I'll take all the "attagirls" for resisting temptation that you'd like to throw at me, though!

I'm ready for another good week. Lots of healthy leftover turkey, a huge tub of mixed salad greens, fresh fruit and cut-up vegetables aplenty … I've no excuses. The bowl games begin in earnest this week, and I have lots of knitting planned to keep my fingers busy and out of the pie.

Armed and dangerous? That would be me!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I hope by the time you're reading this you've enjoyed some good coffee and great gifts, both given and received. It's a little early around here to start opening presents – we're just two adults, one of whom likes to sleep late – so I still don't know what's in those beautiful packages under our girly-girl tree.

Thanks for all your thoughts yesterday about kids playing outdoors. I understand the issue; what I don't understand is how our society has come to this. Is it, as Greta suggested, that we are victims of the media covering every incident? Are we less safe now than when I was growing up in the '50s and '60s?

How could this happen?

And I'm not even talking about childhood obesity any more.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I have been living behind locked doors for the past couple of weeks. Someone – and we think he/they may have been caught – has been randomly and brazenly burglarizing homes in broad daylight all over our county. Three homes on our road were recently targeted, and we've heard of many, many more. Sometimes the homes have been occupied, sometimes empty.

I used to leave the house and garage unlocked when I took my morning walk – no longer! We now deadbolt the garage and arm the security system whenever we leave the house. So, Mr. Burglar, if you're reading the Shrinking Knitter you can just move on down the road.

Or, better yet, go play video games. You probably have a stolen PlayStation in your loot.

How's that for a warm-fuzzy-holiday post? Heh.

Seriously, have a great day and eat some pecan pie for me. I'm still sugar-free! Probably the best gift I've given myself in years.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A child obesity puzzle

I don't say too much about childhood obesity; there's plenty to read out there, and my opinion isn't much different from yours, probably. Kids eat too many snacks and play too many video games, watch too much television and drink too much soda. But this article caught my eye.

At the same time children have gotten fatter, participation in youth sports has also increased. An interesting twist of fate, yes? Your kids are jazzed to play soccer but it doesn't seem to help move the pudge. And, truly, that's not a good reason to sign up for a team. You play team sports because you want to be part of the game, not to get rid of baby fat.

Like the author of one of the books cited in the article, when I was a kid we didn't really play on teams. We just played. My brother and I walked to and from school every day from late elementary school through high school. As soon as we banged through the front door we changed from "school" clothes to "play" clothes and headed back outside.

After we did our homework, of course.

Each season brought different outdoor types of outdoor fun, but we probably liked winter best. Bundling up against the cold, dragging sleds to the best hill in town – another long walk – and joining all the other kids from school trudging up and sliding down, over and over and over. Sometimes a few parents would build a fire in an old 50-gallon steel drum and bring a thermos of hot chocolate, but it was hard getting us away from the hill for even a little warmth and rest.

Ice skating, too, was something we looked forward to. I had tights and a little short skating skirt and wore a couple of heavy sweaters and loved the feeling of gliding around the ice, just like the skaters I watched on Wide World of Sports.

Well, maybe not just like them, but in my mind that's how I looked.

I don't want to sound like Grumpy Old Man from Saturday Night Live, shouting about his rough childhood and then exclaiming, "And we liked it!" So I'll stop right now. With just a final observation that I rarely find children playing in a neighborhood. They're probably all at the park. Or watching television.

Most of blogland seems to be taking time off for the holidays. But I'm home and this is how I've spent every morning of my life for almost a year now, so why not? This helps me more than it helps you. Heh. I'll be taking a short blog break next month, but in the meantime, I'll carry on as usual. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I will be socializing later this evening, and I think I'll just relax and enjoy myself, while continuing to avoid sugar.

I hope Santa brings you everything you want and a special surprise, too.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

'Twas the night before the night before

This Christmas season has been very different for me, compared to previous ones. I find myself more able to just go with the flow than I have been in the past.

I mail most of my gifts, and used to worry-worry-worry until I'd confirmed their delivery. That worry, this year, just wasn't present. No telling how I'd be if they hadn't shown up, but they did. And I knew they would.

Sometimes I make gifts, sometimes I don't. This year I made a couple of grandchild-sized sweaters, and then at practically the last minute agreed to make one more, for my neighbor's granddaughter. I finished it last night, tossed it in the washer and dryer, clipped all the final loose ends and just now tucked it in a box. After I took a picture, of course! Details on a dark blue sweater just don't show up, but there aren't many anyway. It's a modified Wonderful Wallaby, no pouch and a collar instead of a hood.

I started shopping and ordering gifts in October, I think, and am still waiting for one to be delivered. First delivery date was December 13, then December 16. Now it's supposed to be here today, and then I have to wrap and mail it. But it'll come eventually, and I had other gifts for that person, so I'll just be extending Christmas a little bit longer. I also had to wait a bit on a gift for his wife; it's here, but she won't mind if I ship them at the same time … will you, H? Heh.

I started a pair of Pop-up Paws last night after I finished the Wallaby. One of these days I'm going to make some for myself, but these also are a gift. He asked for them rather late in the season, so he's going to get them late. Instead of feeling bad about it, I'm relaxed and happy to have another project started so soon.

We have just one holiday party to attend, an open house tomorrow night. I'm taking Cinnamon Nuts, which are easy-peasy to make. That's on this morning's agenda, when my resolve is at its highest. I'm at nine days sugar-free, and I'm not going to blow it on pecans cooked in pure white poison sugar.

I've exercised every single one of those nine days, usually for an hour or more. I had to go back and look at my journal to see how many days I'd walked; I thought it had been every day, but I wasn't sure. It's becoming as normal as brushing my teeth and taking a shower. I don't even think of taking a rest day.

This is aMAZing!

Your comments yesterday, and always, are most welcome. I've so enjoyed the entire blogging experience this year. I love reading about your ups and downs, triumphs and setbacks. I'm not alone; it's not just me. What a relief to know that my struggle isn't terminally unique.

In a rather odd way, blogging has made me feel more social, stuck out here in the Middle of Nowhere, than I did when I lived in the city. I'm so glad you are all a part of this small world.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Quote Day

Merry Christmas
from the Shrinking Knitter!

How about a non-motivational quote today? We don't always have to be about inspiration and hard work and KOKO-ing, do we?

In case you don't have anything better to do in this busy-busy time of year, you can click on the image and save it, print it on card stock and cut it out. You could even embellish it with glitter or sequins or a tassle! Punch a hole at the top and string a piece of ribbon or yarn through it and hang it on your tree.

The color scheme goes perfectly with my girly-girl, pink-and-silver tree.

In my continuing obsession with the pedometer, I got wild and crazy yesterday and wore both of them. I was quite the little fashion plate, clacking around the Middle of Nowhere with pedometers clipped to both shoes. [The new shoes, by the way, felt good on my walk. Perhaps I'm destined to buy cheap shoes frequently, rather than expensive shoes three or four times a year.]

The Great Pedometer Experiment was prompted by two things. First, I'm not sure if a step is one foot stepping forward, or a right-left stride. I've burned many a calorie Googling for this information, but I'm stumped for the correct terminology, as I'm not getting a definitive answer. And second, I wanted to know which of the two pedometers is accurate ends up with the higher number of steps.

Here are the results:
The one on the left is kind of hard to see, but it says 7333. The one on the right, which is the one I bought last weekend and the one I've tested as more accurate, says 11,164. Now that seems like too many steps for the amount of activity I actually did yesterday – a 3.6-mile walk outside, cut short by rain, and not much else in the way of "normal" activity. [I'm ready to start the neck ribbing on the modified Wallaby – that's an indication of how much time I spent on my ass yesterday.]

I think I'll continue wearing the smaller one, partly because of its size, but also because I don't have to flip up a cover to see the tally and it's much quieter than the older, larger model. But maybe I should be shooting for 15,000 steps. You know … to cover my ass. Heh.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A bit of Thursday potpourri

First, the Rocky movie was good. Not great, not fantastic, not I-can't-wait-to-see-it-again. But also not definitely-wait-for-the-DVD.

The plot – 60-year-old former champ meets the current heavyweight champ in an exhibition match – is implausible, so you have to get past that. Some of the dialogue is brilliant, while some is so lame you wonder if Sly had a little help. He must have, right? [Not according to IMDb.]

I love boxing, so the fight itself was the best part of the film. I had hoped for more of the training regimen, as in the first Rocky, but all of that was kind of glossed over. I guess they figure if you've seen it once, you don't need to see it again in quite so much detail. Or you can rent/buy the first one. [I think I will.]

Eggs, anyone?

Am I inspired? You bet. It'll take whatever it takes, but I'm getting in shape. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
I want to add a possible candidate to Lori's list of inspirational songs. My son and daughter-in-law are big Buffett fans, and introduced me to Jimmy Buffett's "Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On," from his "Take the Weather With You" CD. It's not a song to work out to – it has that lazy island beat going on. But the words are lovely and uplifting.

He wrote the song after Hurricane Katrina; one line in the second verse reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger." You can read all the lyrics here.
I had a fun day yesterday, taking myself to the movies with nothing else on the agenda. I stopped to browse at a bookstore and found a copy of Sugar Blues, by William Dufty, a book I've been wanting to re-read and which Mr. Shrinking Knitter admitted he'd tossed in one of our recent Great Book Purges. This is the book I read when I went sugar-free many years ago.

I'm one week sugar-free today. I haven't been indulging on a daily [or hourly] basis, as I had been all those years ago, so the withdrawal isn't so dramatic. Or maybe I'm just in a better emotional place than I was then. I remember three weeks of crazy mood swings, mostly, while this time I've been on a pretty even keel. Of course, I'm not around too many people, so there's really no one to fight with.
I bought a pair of Reeboks that were on sale for $25. When I tried them on, they felt like they were custom-made for me. I probably should have bought two or three pairs, but I do want to road-test them before I make that kind of commitment. My old shoes were Reeboks; the toe box seems to fit me better than the Nikes. Maybe when I lose more weight the Nikes will fit better. Do your toes get thinner, as well as your neck, arms and thighs?
Did you read Greta's comment yesterday? [Every time I type "Greta" I type "Great" the first time and have to go back and correct it. Yes, I'm that compulsive.] Go read it again! Setting a realistic, achievable, maintainable goal – what a concept! My son has done this, as well. He knows where the weight charts say he should be, and he's been there, but it was far too much work for him to stay there.
Only five more days until the college bowl games begin in earnest! Who cares about Christmas? Are you ready for some football?


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Good advice

I think I might just turn the reins of the Shrinking Knitter over to foggyjpinsf, who has been a welcome and frequent commenter lately. Yesterday s/he wrote:
But my rule of thumb is this: Don't do anything to lose weight that you're not willing to do to keep it off.
How I wish I'd had that advice 10 years ago, 'cause I sure wasn't willing to continue killing myself in the gym in order to maintain 128 pounds.

The trainers at the gym actually did suggest that any workout longer than 45 minutes was essentially wasted effort. I didn't believe them and, in my own mind, proved them wrong. I did, after all, lose almost 50 pounds in five months.

But they had the last laugh, because I couldn't maintain it.

[They didn't really have the last laugh. They have no idea to this day that I gained back all my weight because shortly after I reached my all-time adult low of 128 I moved to the Middle of Nowhere. Where there is no gym.]

And that's also not completely true. We've had a home gym right from the start, which at first was a Stairmaster, a rowing machine and a weight bench. We later added a treadmill. And, of course, we've always had the outside hills.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter has frequently noted that I seem to do better in a gym environment. Something about being around others with the same goal and intensity seems to spur me on. It's taken a long time to adjust, obviously, and I even tried going to a gym for a while. But three months of driving 40 minutes one-way to sweat for an hour seemed not quite worth it to me.

And, frankly, the gym I used 10 years ago was soooo nice, compared to the one I eventually found here. Spoiled? Who, me? Maybe just a little bit.

And obsessed with the pedometer? Maybe just a lot! I find myself checking the tally before and after a deliberate 20-step march across the living room, just to make sure it works right. Honestly? Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. So yesterday's total of 10,501 might be a little low. I walked four miles outside and expected an 8000 reading after that, but it was only 6000-something. I guess as long as it reads at least 10,000, I'll have done what I'm "supposed" to do.

I'm going to really have to work to get that number today, since I'll be sitting on my butt in the car for a couple hours, sandwiched around sitting on my butt at the movies for a couple more. Rocky Balboa opens today at a theatre not-so-near me, and I'm taking myself to a matinee. I can't remember the last time I did that.

I'm prepared to be inspired, as I was when the first Rocky movie was released. I just hope I'm not disappointed.

Film at eleven. Heh.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


11,506, to be exact. That's how many steps I recorded on my pedometer yesterday.

The model I'm now using [I bought a new one over the weekend] seems to be more sensitive than the one I found in the junk drawer last week, although it still doesn't count accurately when I clip it on my waistband. It's quieter, though, so when it's clipped to my shoe it doesn't clank around like the other one did.

I only deliberately walked 3.6 miles outside, so the rest of that activity was just normal, daily moving. I don't want to get obsessed with this, but I will admit that wearing it encourages me to be more active. Instead of waiting to take several things upstairs, for instance, I take things up as I think of them.

To "J" in San Fran: No apologies necessary! I'm glad you shared your opinion of TBL! You should read some of the opinions from others who watch the show. Heh. I appreciate all comments [hint, hint!], especially the ones that make me think. I feel like I should get some kind of prize for not going off the deep end this fall. I've gained eight pounds in three months; it could be so much worse! But if I were on the show, I'd have been booted off long ago.

I have to say that spending hours in the gym certainly makes the difference in rapid weight loss, and I can say that from personal experience, as well as seeing the results with the TBL contestants. When I lost weight 10 years ago I spent at least two hours in the gym every day. I wouldn't leave until I'd burned 1000 calories, according to the monitors on the various machines [Stairmaster, cross-trainer, rowing machine, treadmill]. I did a 30- to 45-minute free weight routine three times weekly and I ran the mile or so from my apartment to the gym and home again.

On weekends, when I wasn't working, I did all that and also did a long run – about six miles – outside as well.

But that was insane. All I thought about was working out and counting fat grams. I breathed, ate, slept and discussed losing weight incessantly. I couldn't have been much fun to be around, although my friends were kind enough not to point it out. I can only imagine what they said about me when I wasn't around!

While I feel like losing weight is always on my mind, I hope that I'm getting the talking about it out of my system here, on the blog, and am more rational and balanced when I'm around other people. Admittedly, I'm not around other people very much. The inmates at Alderson on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Mr. Shrinking Knitter, pretty much make up my social circle.

Last night was the last session of this six-week drawing class, and I'm taking the next four Mondays off. My students were so grateful and as they left, each one of them said they'd learned a lot. The first week, with no training or discussion of technique at all, they draw their hands, and then the fifth week they draw them again. The comparison is amazing. I love being able to help them feel proud of their talent and ability; they get so little of that from the prison staff.

We all need to be encouraged by others. No [wo]man is an island, and all that. I hope you have a kick-ass day today!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The countdown continues

Only one more day until the college bowl season begins! The schedule kicks off with the prestigious and much-anticipated contest between Northern Illinois and Texas Christian University at the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. Don't miss all the action – tomorrow night, 8 p.m., ESPN2.


Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I were fortunate to get a little college football action in over the weekend, unexpectedly,
when my son and his wife discovered that a sneak preview of the soon-to-be-released We Are Marshall was showing Saturday night.

We had hoped we'd get to see the movie sometime during the holidays, but theatres – like everything else in the Middle of Nowhere – are few and far. We're rather hermit-like when we're home together, and might have talked ourselves out of going. But to be able to hop in the car, drive less than a mile and get to see it before everyone else does? A no-brainer.

If you like sports movies, you'll want to be sure to see this one. Even if you don't particularly like sports movies, it's a well-told story, full of drama and courage and heart.

I tried to find out about Cory Helms, who wrote the story. IMDB didn't have anything; here's what Entertainment Weekly has on their site.

We exchanged gifts with my son and his wife, and I wanted to show you the handmade vase my daughter-in-law found for me. It's unusual and clever and I really like it.

Food over the weekend was perfect. My son made vegetarian chili [I meant to get the recipe] Friday night, and we ate out the rest of the time, but I was able to make good choices for each meal. I didn't expect to lose any weight this week, and am happy to report that I didn't gain any either.

Staying the same is getting kind of boring. But at least I know it's possible, over several weeks, to maintain one weight without being hungry and without killing myself working out.

Not killing oneself is a Good Thing.

Thanks for all the comments Friday. That was a nice treat to come home to. "J" from San Fran also commented about The Biggest Loser last week, and I've been thinking about that a lot. Here's part of the comment:
What they seem to be promoting is the idea that the MOST DRAMATIC changes are the ones worth applauding. In other words, its laudable to lose 100+ pounds. (And the more pounds per week/day the better).

Anyone losing just 10% of their bodyweight might not "show" any such dramatic changes in their external experience. But if they did that in a healthy (i.e. slow and manageable way) without an audience of millions, it would probably be harder, and therefore a greater accomplishment.
I absolutely agree with everything you say. But you have to admit, it wouldn't make great television.

I guess what inspires me about the program is those final before-and-after transformations. The fact that they accomplished such dramatic losses in a relatively short amount of time really goes against the conventional 'slow-and-steady' wisdom. I had previously lost nearly 50 pounds in five months – not an especially fast rate of loss, actually – but wasn't able to maintain it for more than a couple of months. I gained back about seven pounds and kept that off for about two years, I think. And by the end of last year was nearly at my all-time highest weight again.

The fact that it can be done is what pushes me to KOKO. I've done it before. The Biggest Loser contestants do it every week and every season. And, of course, all you other weight-loss bloggers continue to inspire and motivate me. I sure do thank you for that.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Quote Day

That old Confidence. Along with his buddy, Motivation, these seem to be the two things I miss most often.

Even though I've lost weight before. Even though I've lost 36 pounds this year. Even then I sometimes have doubts.

Not today, though. Heh. I didn't touch the dumbbells until 8:30 last night, but I finally did check them off my list, in addition to:
• No sugar.
• Correct number of calories.
• Walking outside.
I was busy-busy-busy yesterday. The guest room is almost back to guestworthiness, and I got a storage closet that Mr. Shrinking Knitter wants to use for something-or-other completely cleared of Mrs. Shrinking Knitter's old clothes.

That was rather painful, actually, because some of those clothes are from when I moved here to the Middle of Nowhere in 1997. When I was thin!

I've been saving them, thinking maybe, someday, I'd be able to wear them again. To tell the truth, I probably wouldn't wear them again even if they did fit, as they aren't exactly very stylish any more. So there's a large bag that will be donated, another bag of more classic dresses and dressy shorts put away in a different closet [let's hope Mr. SK doesn't want to repurpose that one, too!] and four wool blazers and a sweater that my daughter is taking custody of until I can wear them again. Next fall.

The sweater is the Oat Couture Seville Jacket that I had soooo hoped would fit. Once I sewed the edging on, though, it seemed to draw in all the way around. And I did a very good job with the finishing and sewing on, so I'm not taking it off to try to adjust it. She loves the design but is maybe not-so-crazy about pink as I am. We shall see. At least it'll be retrievable if when I reach my goal.

I also spent some quality time in the lower part of the garage, sorting a huge amount of donated yarn for the Yarn Project at Alderson. That's all bagged or boxed by color and ready to deliver Monday night.

Motivated by M@rla and her Pedro experiment, I dug around in the junk drawer for my pedometer. It's not a terribly sophisticated model and, in fact, might be the one McDonald's was giving away a few years ago when they were promoting their healthy salads. You know, 'cause McDonald's is all about promoting health and fitness. It didn't register any steps if I clipped it on my waistband, so I tried it on my shoe and it's quite accurate. Wednesday started out at about 3600; yesterday was almost 6000. Once I start walking longer distances I'll have no trouble reaching the magic 10,000 number.

But I'm in no hurry. I'm not going to push myself back into another injury. That was my derailment this fall. Being unable to exercise contributed to a very black mood which created a very large appetite. I'm back in training and, for today anyway, determined to do the next right thing, every time I have a choice.

Blog break alert: I'm taking a couple of days off. Holiday activities will prevent me from parking my ass in front of the computer this weekend. I'll be back Monday.

Today's quote can be adjusted to fit on a business card. Right-click to save it and print out a whole sheet of them. Put one in the window of your wallet in front of your horrible driver's license photo. Print your own business-card information on the other side. Make a statement!

Are you tough enough?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

One day down

Well, I can't say I was supremely satisfied with the day yesterday, but I did pretty well.

A friend and I decided Tuesday that once and for all we simply had to be sugar-free. I'm not talking about natural sugar found in fruit, but about refined white poison sugar. I'll keep the details of our conversation to myself, but suffice it to say that sugar sets me up for more and more and more, and more has always been my drug of choice.

I've been sugar-free before for a period of five years, at the suggestion of a therapist, a chiropractor and an M.D., all of whom agreed that I was hypoglycemic, back when hypoglycemia was the disease du jour. I don't know what the current thinking about hypoglycemia is, but at that time a sugar-free, white flour-free diet was recommended as the only way to manage the mood swings. Well, lithium was offered, but I didn'twant to take pills every day for the rest of my life.

Reading back over the last couple months of blog posts, one might conclude that I'm a candidate for nutritional therapy, eh?

I try to avoid sugar, but once in a while – and lately, more often than not – I fall into some kind of trance where I have to have it. It's inexplicable, unexplainable, depressing and demoralizing.

So yesterday was sugar-free, 100 percent. That's a start. My total calories were just slightly more than ideal at 1367, but I also walked a mile and a half outside and did three sets of 15 reps of four dumbbell exercises.

Ahem. I lifted weights yesterday!

According to CalorieKing, if I did that every day – that is, ate what I ate and exercised the same amount – I would lose 6.2 pounds in a month. But we all know I'm a slow loser.

Speaking of losers, New York Erik won the competition on The Biggest Loser last night. Unfortunately I am still not able to receive any of the big-four networks' programming [ABC, CBS, NBC or FOX], so I didn't get to watch. I was sooo bummed. This is the first season I've watched every episode, and then had to miss the finale. That's his before-and-after, and he just doesn't look like the same guy at all. Go to the NBC website for full-body shots.

We had an over-air antenna installed Monday, but it only picks up CBS and FOX on one of our televisions. Now when I say I live in the Middle of Nowhere, do you believe me?

Oh, well. If that's my biggest problem, I'm in pretty good shape.

I finished wrapping the rest of the gifts yesterday, so today I will whip the guest room, which has been Present Central, back into shape. Among other things. The weather is supposed to be unseasonably warm for the next few days, so an outdoor walk also is on the agenda.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The first time I saw the KOKO acronym, I had to puzzle it out for a minute before I realized what it meant. I'm the type of e-mail user who would rather write 'granddaughter' than DGD. I don't text-message at all, or I might see the advantage of electronic shorthand. Basically, though, I like to be clear.

Oh, and I love to type.

So. KOKO means keep on keepin' on. Looking at the letters reminds me of that old cereal commercial where the animated character declares he's "cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!" [What a sorry-ass excuse for a breakfast food Cocoa Puffs are, eh?]

But I digress.

I haven't been KOKO-ing very well lately. In spite of my determination to get back on the horse many times this past year – most recently just 16 days ago – I'm still standing in the barn with a saddle blanket in my hands, wondering which direction the posse went.

On November 27, I vowed to do a light weight-training routine every day. I think I did it twice, and I haven't touched a dumbbell since. I have promised myself – and you – I would follow the eDiets menu precisely. The truth is, I start off with a bang and end with a whimper.

Every morning is the morning.

I wouldn't blame you a bit if you didn't believe me this time, either. But ohmygoodness, how I hope that this morning really is The One that gets me back on track, right down the beam, on the straight and narrow.

Saddled up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I decided yesterday was the The Day to finish Christmas shopping. I wasn't going to stop until I was done, or until 3:30 p.m., whichever came first. Fortunately for those on my list, those moments coincided and I made it home to pick up the mail before the post office closed at 4:30.

I left the house at 9, and spent an hour and a half driving to and from the nearest semi-city. So I was on my feet for … you do the math.

My kitchen looks like an exploded gift shop, because the only things I removed from the bags were sugar-free coffee creamer and break-and-bake cookies. [No, those aren't gifts; those are necessities! Creamer for me; cookies for Mr. Shrinking Knitter.]

I don't count all that walking-around-looking-for-the-perfect-gift time as intentional activity. I wasn't panting or sweating and the only thing that hurts this morning is my feet, because – sad to say – the expensive Nike athletic trainers I bought in October Just. Don't. Do. It. For me, anyway. Too narrow of a toe box, I think.

The contrast between the kitchen, with shopping bags littering every surface, and the uncluttered living room with the girly-girl tree is amazing. Both say 'Christmas' in their own special ways.

I was home for only an hour and a half before I had to leave again for the art-class gig at the prison. Last night was the fifth of the six-week class. They draw their hands, on a nice background, with shadows and highlights, and they amaze themselves. It's one of my favorite classes of each session.

It should be warm enough here in the Middle of Nowhere to walk outside this afternoon. I could use a good, long walk. Someone is supposed to come between 8 a.m. and noon to install an over-the-air television antenna, so while that's being done I can wrap and package gifts for shipping.

It's December 12. My shopping is done! My cards are mailed! All gifts will be shipped tomorrow! I'm so efficient I scare myself.

Monday, December 11, 2006


Done, done, done, done, done!

From a distance, all those intricate little cables don't show up very well. But up close and personal it looks great. [Clicking on the photo for a larger view doesn't add much; blame the photographer! Heh.]

Also, thanks to the great NFL line-up here in the Middle of Nowhere, I shortened the Batman Sweater sleeves and knit a Ferrari.

Just kidding about the Ferrari.

On deck is the Wallaby for my neighbor's granddaughter; the sleeves are done already and if I'd been smart enough to cast on last night during the third quarter of the Cowboys game [I felt bad for Romo] I could be working on it while I read e-mail this morning. Oh, well, hindsight and all that.

I had a great day with the food yesterday, meaning I ate healthfully and not so much. But I couldn't get going on the treadmill. Only two miles and 30 minutes. According to Mr. Shrinking Knitter I looked like I'd done much more, with my sweaty shirt and red face. Looks don't count, though.

So I weighed in this morning and those extra eight pounds are still here. Not even one was gracious enough to leave in the past two weeks. Harumph! Strangely, I'm not too concerned. I feel confident that when I get back in my workout groove all will be well. Not if – WHEN! I've a feeling I'll be joining the hundreds of thousands of other people who get jazzed about getting in shape on January 1. I'm jazzed, mind you, just not jazzed!

Welcome Soy Sister to the Links sidebar line-up! A friend of my daughter, Kia recently started sharing her well-written thoughts with the world at large. Or at least with four of us. In addition to being a clever, witty woman, she knits.
I'll let her tell you more about herself.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Yesterday's knitting? Not so much.

Okay, maybe tomorrow I'll have a photo of my version of the Climbing Jacket. I have a few rounds left to do on the second sleeve cuff – literally only six or seven and the bulk of the knitting will be done. What's left is the trim around the collar and the buttonband.

The pattern is written for a zipper, which would be great and I wouldn't mind doing one, but that would mean driving to a City to find a Fabric Store with Separating Zippers in the Correct Length. Believe me, at this point, with Christmas just mumble-mumble days away and with this gift needing to be mailed to another state … it's getting buttons.

She probably won't button [or zip] it anyway. Heck, she might not even wear it!

That's the thing about gifts: You give them with no expectations. The knitting lists are chock-full of people wailing about how poorly received their handknit gifts are. One woman was insulted when someone told her how much she loved the bedsocks she received last year. Apparently they weren't supposed to be bedsocks.

I have loved making this sweater, and that's pleasure enough for me. It's an interesting, well-written pattern and it's very attractive. [Want a copy? You'll need to subscribe to the designer's newsletter.] Maybe a nine-year-old won't think so. I'm just glad she thinks for herself and doesn't mind telling me when something doesn't suit her. And my daughter has been told that if a handknit no longer fits or doesn't get worn it is to be passed along to someone else, either another family member or a thrift store, where someone with meager resources can benefit from it.

Were I truly altruistic, I would skip the gift-for-my-granddaughter part and just knit for charity all the time. There's just so much knitting time available, though, and my charitable fiber contributions are of the type where I give yarn to women who have no resources but love to knit and crochet for others. [The Alderson Hospitality House collects worsted-weight acrylic yarn for female inmates who participate in Alderson Federal Prison Camp's Yarn Project.] I clean out my yarn closet, or otherwise collect and solicit donations; they learn a new hobby and give something to the community, and disadvantaged Appalachian schoolchildren get something new and warm to wear every winter. Win-win-win!

I was talking with my daughter on the phone recently, and she mentioned that her husband and son have each been wearing some fingerless gloves with mitten flip-tops that I'd made for her. My son-in-law apparently asked if it was too late to ask for a pair of his own, to which she replied: "It's December! You don't ask a knitter for a handknit gift in December!"

She's a knitter, too. Heh.

Yesterday's exercise was two miles walking on the treadmill. I haven't gotten my mojo back yet, but I'm doing what I can and dreaming of half-marathons. Food was good, even including a buffet dinner at a restaurant, where I skipped the swimming-in-butter mashed potatoes and dessert. Green beans, steamed carrots, chicken and a thin slice of roast beast beef.

Updated to add: I just found Jennie's comment from yesterday, where she said she's inspired to begin her half-marathon training on January 8. You go, girl! I'll be right there with you. And you're right: walking or running, it just doesn't matter.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Found it!

I ran across the novice half-marathon training schedule I had printed out in September. And then, because I can't let well enough alone and because Google is my friend, I found another, longer training schedule and printed it out as well.

The second version, once you click on the "print this schedule out" link, gives you a lovely, formatted schedule where you can check off each item once you've done it. That appeals to my compulsive side.

There are some major differences in each program, however, and I'm going to have to evaluate and play around with them to get something that works for me.

The first one, which we'll call Hal's [because that's whose it is], has a rest day, a 'stretch and strengthen' day and another day with strength training and a run. The second plan, which we'll call Oprah's [because it's on her website], has no rest days – it's Oprah's, go figure, does she ever rest? – and no strength- or flexibility-training, but has you doing 45 crunches every day. Hal's plan is 12 weeks; Oprah's is 18.

The Shrinking Knitter's will be a combination of both. I like 18 weeks instead of 12. The half-marathon I'm considering running is 20 weeks from today, so I could start the 18-week plan in early January and end it on race day. I like having a built-in rest day, but Hal rests on Friday, which is usually [not yesterday] one of my better exercise days.

I like that Hal has strength and stretch days, but I also like the consistency of running every day. I'll have to think more about all this and come up with something reasonable, effective and motivating.

I'm not even sure I'm going to do the race. Mr. Shrinking Knitter is not keen on the idea, having had both a friend and a patient suffer heart attacks the day after running marathons. Telling him this is only a half doesn't do much good; he's more aware of my age and limitations than I am. Telling him the oldest woman in the New York City marathon was 78 doesn't do much good, either. I think he's afraid if something happened to me he'd have to learn how to make coffee. Heh.

My IBS has been an 'issue' this week, so exercise has been almost nil. Yesterday I felt pretty good and got on the treadmill, ready to run three miles. After only one, I was wiped out! I gave myself credit for doing something and quit. Usually I would force myself to keep on keepin' on, simply because I'd changed into running clothes and worked up a sweat and why settle for only 15 minutes? [I sometimes can't quite believe that I used to run a nine-minute mile.] But after four slow laps I was done.

Food was almost perfect yesterday. Slightly under my calorie target, no sugar, only 15% fat. But only 20% protein. It was a carb-heavy day, but the carbs were clementines, black beans and a whole-wheat bagel.

At the end of the day, like yesterday's quote, I was supremely satisfied. I hope you were, too.

Haven't updated the knitting progress in a while. I think maybe tomorrow there will be a photo of a finished cardigan! That would truly be supremely satisfying.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Quote Day

If you tuned in yesterday, you'll remember that I was whining about how I woke up every morning full of spit and vinegar, ready to tackle the day, determined to succeed, blahblahblah. It occurred to me that maybe I ought to focus more on the end of the day. I've got the morning licked!

It's not like I start every day off with a big plate of bacon and waffles and then say, "Damn! I coulda had steel-cut oatmeal!" No, no, no. I start fine, and fizzle at the finish.

So I started looking around for inspiration. Margaret Thatcher to the rescue!

You can click on the image and it will appear full-sized for you to print out on cardstock, cut out, laminate [or not], punch a hole over there where that white circle is, insert a piece of ribbon or yarn [anyone around here have a snippet of yarn?] and use as a bookmark. Maybe in a cookbook, maybe? Kidding!

I like what Margaret said a lot. And it's so true. Getting through a normal day isn't such a big deal; we do that most of the time, don't we? But getting through a challenging day … that's when you feel like you've really accomplished something.

Probably Margaret was thinking more about leading countries and bi-partisan cooperation [do they have that 'issue' in Great Britain?] and the welfare of her people. But for some reason that quote spoke to me.

I just hope I'm listening. Heh.
One of the commenters yesterday asked how my Patons SWS felting project turned out. I posted photos here. I've carried the bag once, but it's too small to hold my big old honkin' wallet. I had no idea that yarn shrank as much and as quickly as it did, or I would have made the whole thing much larger to start with.

I hope you have some lovely weekend plans. During this busy-busy season, be sure to take some time for yourself. And at the end of the day, when you've done all you set out to do – and then some! – pat yourself on the back for a job well done and a day well spent.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

That morning resolve

You know how good and strong and capable you feel in the morning? How you have your plan in place, your exercise is scheduled, all the food you need for your menu is in stock? You tell yourself that if you really feel like eating something, you'll have water, tea, coffee or a diet soda first. You feel like today is the day to finally get a handle on this, and if you get one good day under your belt, that's the foundation for two, and then three, and then a week.

Breakfast goes well – how hard is it to screw up an egg-white omelette, or oatmeal? Besides, you're at your strongest first thing in the morning. You make it through the next couple of hours just fine, busy at work or around the house. Maybe that's when you work out, and it's utterly ridiculous to think of eating forbidden fruit while you're diligently burning calories.

Only an hour or so until lunch. How could you have forgotten that promise to drink something first? Why are crackers or peanuts or fill-in-the-blank so tempting, when you're not really hungry?

What is it that gets you off track so quickly, so soon after that strong start?

You all know that's the "editorial" you, don't you, and that I really should have written "I" instead?

I have no answers, but I do have a couple of observations after this Year of Living [Mostly] Healthfully.

Real-egg omelettes last longer than egg-substitute omelettes.
A two-egg om
elette made with cooking spray, real eggs, a quarter-cup of low-fat cheese, onions, mushrooms and salsa is the most satisfying breakfast I can eat. Using an egg substitute saves 90 calories at breakfast, but usually costs more by mid-morning.

Real, whole-grain bread is more satisfying than fiber-filled, low-calorie crap bread.
a big calorie saving – up to 200 calories for a two-slice sandwich – in using diet bread for a sandwich. But I've learned that if I look I can find lower-calorie real bread at about 100 calories per slice that tastes great and doesn't leave me feeling like I haven't had a proper lunch. Just about any filling will do; bread makes the sandwich.

Low-fat cheese is an acceptable substitute for the real thing.
I don't
feel at all deprived eating cheese made from 2% milk. Whether topping a salad, an omelette or a piece of good bread, I get the same mouth satisfaction from lower-fat 'cheddar' that I do from the full-fat variety. Since I don't eat cheese unless it's topping something else, I can't speak as a cheese connoisseur.

Crackers might as well be crack around Chez Shrinking Knitter.
I try
to stick with Triscuits or wheat saltines, but when I'm feeling bored, lonely, tired, frustrated or at loose ends, I can't just eat seven or five or whatever the hell a serving is. My name is Debbi and I'm a cracker addict.

Abstinence from booze is waaaaay easier than abstinence from sugar.
And it probably always will be.

It's usually not stomach hunger that derails me. It's something else, something that feeling good and wearing smaller clothes and moving easily and looking better than I have in a long time just doesn't satisfy.

Maybe it's just bad habits. That would be better than having some deep-rooted psychological 'issue,' wouldn't it? One thing we learn in AA is that if you bring the body the mind will follow. Maybe that's how I should approach the saltines. Just visualize a bottle instead of a box. Heh.

So. Right now, before 7 a.m. Eastern time, I'm feeling good and strong and capable – full of that morning resolve. I haven't done very well the past couple of days.
Let's hope it lasts all day today. Tomorrow? I'll think about that … tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Is it possible to be fit and fat?

I read a story in the LA Times a couple days ago that just won't let go. It's an opinion piece, and you know what "they" say about opinions, don't you? I thought so.

At any rate, the writer, an associate nutritionist at UC Davis, writes:
But what if we learned that our fears around that dreaded fat were misplaced? That "overweight" may confer some protection that actually results in increased longevity? That when factors such as activity, nutrition and history of dieting and weight cycling are considered, the relationship between weight and disease disappears? That biologic safeguards prevent most people from maintaining weight loss, despite vigilant dieting and exercise? That the body has a built-in regulatory system to maintain a healthful weight, if only we'd trust it?

Remarkably, there is substantial evidence to support all of these contentions in the scientific literature. It's remarkable not because they are illogical, but because the scientific peer review process tends to filter out anything that challenges the status quo.

Although it is true that we're moderately fatter than we used to be, life expectancy has also increased dramatically during the same time period in which our weight has risen (from 71 years in 1970 to 77 years in 2003). Meanwhile, heart disease rates have plummeted, and many common diseases emerge at older ages and are less severe. We are simply not seeing the catastrophic consequences predicted to result from the "obesity epidemic."
Her assertion that the collective "we" is healthier in spite of being fatter just doesn't ring true for me. Perhaps I'm brainwashed by the countless dire headlines I read almost daily. [I've pretty much stopped reading the articles, which are strikingly similar in content and degree of alarm. Which is probably why I did read this one … at least it's a different approach.]

If healthier is defined as being medication-dependent, then she could be right. The "plummeting" heart disease rate is surely related to the many medicines which treat or prevent heart disease which weren't previously available.

My personal opinion is that pills may be protecting us when we choose not to protect ourselves with good nutrition and regular exercise, thus accounting for increased girth and decreased heart disease.

Ultimately, while many of us say we want to lose weight for our health, we also want to look good. Perhaps I should speak for myself. I want to be happy with my image when I look in a mirror. I want to choose clothes that flatter, not just fit. I want that little jolt of surprise when I see my reflection in a store window – is that really me?

Until society sees extra weight as attractive, I'm going to keep working at it. At my age, I think I'm going to be working at it for quite a while. People who maintain their weight losses don't quit when they get to goal.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bead porn

Wonder what kind of hits I'm going to get with that title?

Does it or does it not look like this bead is covered in wee little breasts? For the right kind of breast-cancer survivor – like, for instance, my neighbor – it will be the perfect focal point for a necklace.

Running Report: 3.5 miles in 50 minutes. I did a quarter-mile walk to warm up and cool down, and ran the middle three miles. It's a wonder I didn't short the treadmill out; I was quite a little puddle of sweat at the end of the workout. Jonathan suggested yesterday I not throw in the towel, but rather use it on these treadmill runs – an excellent suggestion.

[It's really hard to write with that photo staring me in the face as I type. I suppose this must be what it feels like to be a bouncer in a strip joint.]

The run was harder yesterday, but I was determined not to quit before I'd well and truly run three miles. The reason I did the cooldown was because one of the new Dylan tunes ["Thunder on the Mountain"] popped up on the Shuffle. At a little more than five minutes long, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

In other workout news, I'm still not doing any kind of meaningful weightlifting on any kind of meaningful schedule. I guess it will happen when it happens. Every once in a while I pick up the dumbbells and do a few moves, but it's lackluster and, most likely, ineffective. I'd rather concentrate on aerobic fat-busting right now.

I'm planning to use the rowing machine today, for at least 30 minutes and perhaps longer. Then do a 20-minute walk on the treadmill. It would be pushing my luck as far as my foot – or knees! – goes to run for three consecutive days.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cold enough for ya?

From's forecast for today in the Middle of Nowhere:
The current temperature is 30F, but it "feels like" 17, so this is pretty much it as far as how balmy it gets today.

As much as I love walking outside, you'll find me on the treadmill today.

That's where I was yesterday morning, as well, Running. Three. Miles. Straight. Without. Stopping. One of the prerequisites for the half-marathon training is the ability to run three miles two or three times a week. [At least that's how I remember it; I can't find the information I printed out right now. Do y'all find that during the holidays your house just kind of attracts clutter and piles of paper show up out of nowhere and Important Things take a hike? But I digress …] I'll try a three-mile treadmill run again today, but I don't expect to be able to do it two days in a row.

I should probably be more positive with the self-talk. But I'm fifty-freaking-five years old and overweight and not in the best athletic shape of my life, so I think being realistic is prudent. Realistically, based on previous experience, longish runs on two consecutive days just don't happen for me. But we'll see.

[Tangent: When your mother said, "We'll see," did she almost always mean "No?"]

I'm still not ready to 'officially' get on the scale. I've weighed myself a couple of times in the last month or so; since I quit doing my long walks [because of the plantar fasciitis] I've gained eight pounds. SOB! My clothes fit fine – I would have expected the jeans to be a little snug, but they're not.

I was surprised-but-not-shocked to have gained that much in two months. Now that I can walk and run again, I expect to see some downward trend, and I will start official weigh-ins again in January. I haven't thrown the eating plan out the window, but the past couple of months have really proven to me, in LED green-and-black, that I need to exercise vigorously to lose poundage.

I knew it all along.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

We're #2! We're #2!

Like the Avis Car Rental company, West Virginia University came in last night as the "we try harder" team of the Big East. Mr. Shrinking Knitter said it was a thrilling ending – we won by two points in a triple-overtime game where we had to convert a two-point conversion. [I was asleep. A hard day of knitting, you know. Completely wore me out.]

That win means that instead of playing a bowl game in December, we'll be slugging it out on New Year's Day, a mark of distinction in college football. I recently heard a radio sports commentator predict that soon there will be 120 major college sports teams and 60 bowl games, so no one gets left out. Heh.

[I had this really cool graphic of the Avis "We Try Harder" button superimposed over a WVU football helmet, but Blogger is not playing nice about the uploading of the images this morning.]
Yesterday's image of the knitted, felted footwarmer has been a topic of discussion and, frankly, derision, on several knitting lists. My favorite observation was that something might make a home in there ... and not something you'd want to touch with your toes!

Which reminds me of last week when I went to pay my for my haircut. The bottom of my knitted, felted handbag was filled with dog kibble! I know our dogs would never hide their food, and I also know that mice will. It was a bit, um, disconcerting, to say the least, to be fishing for a pen and find chunks of Beneful! The exterminator comes tomorrow. Not soon enough!
Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I walked together yesterday for about two miles, and also went to an open house at my neighbor's pottery and gift shop. She had a guest artist there selling handmade glass beads. I wish I could show you one of the ones I bought, but since I can't upload images, I guess it'll have to wait. It's a rosy-colored flattened ball with little protrusions all over it than can only be described as, um, nipples. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to buy it to make something for another neighbor who had a partial mastectomy about five years ago. She'll love it!
Food was good yesterday, including a healthy and delicious homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner. When I eat well and at regular times, I don't even think about snacking in between meals. My menu plan from eDiets "prescribes" an afternoon and an evening snack, but I skipped the afternoon one. I'd had a lean ham sandwich with lettuce, pickles and low-fat mayo on good whole-grain bread for lunch, and that lasted all afternoon.

I'll have to try that strategy again. Like every day. Heh.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Weird or wonderful? You make the call.

The yarn company Berroco offers free knitting patterns on their website, and announces new additions via their e-mailed newsletter, the latest version of which landed in my inbox yesterday. They must be running out of good ideas, because here's what the featured pattern looks like:

Yes, it's a pillow into which you insert your feet. According to the newsletter, the designer was inspired by a similar item she saw for sale.

Aren't felted clogs, or even just wool socks, a little more practical? Just hope you don't have to make an emergency trip to the loo!
It's a bit anticlimactic, after losing a week's worth of stats, but I still thought this looked pretty cool yesterday morning:

We've nothing exciting planned for the weekend. Football, of course. We'll find out tonight whether WVU is #2 or #4 in the Big East. Fortunately for WVU their best players will be coming back next year. Unfortunately, the college football season is much less exciting than it was a couple weeks ago.

Yesterday the wind and rain conspired against me as far as walking outside goes. I tried, but only got a couple hundred yards down the road before I came back. I hopped on the treadmill for 35 minutes – a little more than two miles – and lifted weights. Then later I mopped the floors while the Roomba took care of the bedroom carpeting.

Thanks once again for your encouragement in the comments. J made the distinction between taking the rest of my life and giving me the rest of my life. Awesome!

I actually did print out and laminate yesterday's quote – four copies! It's now nagging inspiring me from the refrigerator, my office bulletin board, and mirrors in both the bedroom and bathroom. Winston Churchill is also remembered for saying, "
Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in." [He's often misquoted as saying, "Never, never, never, never give up."] You can listen to the speech from which the quote is taken here. Inspiring words, no matter what the situation.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Quote Day

Here's one you can print out and laminate:

Tuck one in your wallet, stick one on the refrigerator, hang one in the pantry. How about the dashboard of your car? The bathroom mirror? Maybe even the bathroom scales?

Like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, the courage we need to keep on keeping on is right there inside us. We have to channel it, use it, depend on its presence in the face of a bad day or two.

Wednesday and Thursday here in the Middle of Nowhere were only fair. Minimal exercise both days – a short, 1.6-mile walk to the post office and back on Wednesday and a stroll around the grocery store yesterday. Hmmmm, I guess that probably doesn't count at all.

I'm always reluctant to work out when someone is here working on the water. First, I need to be here in case they have questions and second, if they don't get it fixed I have to spend the rest of the day shower-less. Yuck.

Food was fine Wednesday, right on plan. Yesterday? Not so much. I chalk it up to bad timing in scheduling a dentist's appointment. You can't run errands all morning and then grab a bite to eat and then go get your teeth cleaned. Or at least I can't. I have to leave my house all brushed and flossed and then not eat again until after the hygenist has worked her magic. So I went from 10 a.m. until almost 2:30 p.m. with very little sustenance.

And by the time I left the office I was sorely in need of a reward. Sorely ... get it?

But, one day of poor choices – actually, one afternoon – does not a failure make.

The part of the quote that is important to me is the first line: Success is not final.

Oh, how I know that. I thought when I got to goal 10 years ago that I had it made. My story is no different from anyone else's who has lost, gained, lost, gained, lost and gained again. If I'm not vigilant about this I'll be back where I was in no time. And I wasn't vigilant then. I started eating sugar, I cut my workouts down and then out, I ignored the tighter waistbands until I eventually had to replace my wardrobe with ever-larger sizes. I'd like to think it just happened, but my behavior had everything to do with it.

One month to go in my Year of Self-Improvement. Since I look no better nor worse than I did October 1, I'm not posting a then-and-now photo today. But I will next month, no matter what happens.

On January 21, 2006, I wrote:
"I'm going to be living and breathing, God willing, for the next year anyway. If it takes that long to reach this long-sought-after goal, then it takes that long. What else have I got to do with that time? Slow and steady wins the race."
When I go back and read those posts from nearly a year ago, I'm struck by how discouraged I was. I'm also struck by how much I've learned about myself, how much persistence I have, how much courage is there, deep down inside me, just waiting to be put to good use.

It's going to take more than a year to reach my goal. I didn't think it was possible that it would take this long, but there you go. And so what.

It's really going to take the rest of my life.