Friday, September 29, 2006

The Friday quote

"The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you."
William Jennings Bryan
I love what Jen wrote yesterday about self-talk, and will quote a tiny bit of it here. But I recommend you go read the whole post and think about it. Hard.
If we think about it, every day most of us do dozens of "I'm a fat girl" affirmations. And that makes us incredibly invested in our identity as a fat girl. … it's worth repeating: the spirit believes what it hears. Why do we constantly remind ourselves and others that we're fat? Are we afraid of forgetting and accidentally doing what a thin person might do? Are we afraid our friends and family will start to treat us too well?
That's difficult for me to read; it hits very close to home. I'm definitely out of my comfort zone when I'm being complimented, supported or … gulp … admired. Even though deep-deep-down I want compliments, support and admiration, when I get it I don't know what to do with it. Can you imagine how I felt at our wedding reception? Happy? Sure. But, at times, extremely uncomfortable with all the attention.

Do younger overweight women feel the way many of my generation do? [I know not every middle-aged fat woman feels uncomfortable when someone says she looks nice, but I know enough who do that I feel it's accurate to generalize just a teensy bit.] When you see an obviously overweight high-school-aged girl in a belly shirt and low-slung capris, do you see someone who is confident with her self-image? Or do you think, as I do, that she might benefit from a session with a personal shopper?

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for them feeling confident. I'm even a little envious. When I was at my lowest adult weight, and wore a size 6 [which would now be a 4, probably], I never had that sense of self-worth. I was as emotionally uncomfortable 10 years ago, at 130 pounds, as I was when I started this weight-loss trip in January, 2006.

I might have to resolve these feelings before I can push through the apparent plateau I'm on. When I lost weight before [almost 50 pounds in five months], I didn't have time to think about how I felt. I was all about how I looked. But my inside definitely didn't match my outside.

I think that's going to be the secret to my eventual success.

I'm leaving the house early tomorrow morning to go to NoSo, so unless I wake up at 5 a.m. with an urge to say something brilliant, I won't be posting. See you Sunday!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My new best friend

Blog readers, meet Aleve, my new best friend.

I was … um … overly ambitious with my workout plan yesterday. In AA we sort of have a rule that suggests one "plan the plans, but not the results." Good thing that's part of my philosophy or I'd be beating myself up for not doing what I said I was going to do.

After all I've been up to lately, and a steady run Tuesday, I managed to walk 8.2 miles, but NO rowing [until later in the day], NO weight training and NO mowing – all of which I'd intended to do. [What was I thinking?!?] And it took me for-freaking-ever to finish the walk. Like more than two hours, which is pretty darned slow, even for me.

I nearly stepped on a black snake during the last half-mile of the route. He was taking a sunbath along the side of the road. If he hadn't parked himself at the top of the hill – and if I hadn't been so tired – I'd have gone back with the camera. Even for the sake of creepy blog fodder, I'm not that energetic.

Have you seen this free pattern from Berroco? Or have I been so busy the last couple weeks that I'm the last knitter in the world to find it? Looks like the Ultra™ Alpaca called for in the pattern is a little lighter than worsted weight, but I could probably substitute with Lamb's Pride to make a slightly bigger bag. I love the second colorway [see the website], although I know it would show dirt pretty quickly. But seriously, what a cute design this is! I think I just added it to my list of projects.

The baby boy twin's sweater is finished except for sewing on buttons, and I'm doing Elizabeth Zimmermann's baby sweater [from
Knitter's Almanac] for the girl twin. Started it last night and actually got all of the yoke done while watching The Biggest Loser. The sweater is constructed from the top down; each little sleeve is done separately, then the body, then you sew the side/underarm seams and you're done.

I was inspired by last night's TBL. Renée, I'm sure, will offer a complete play-by-play later today; she does such a great analysis. I'm amazed at the number of pounds they can drop and realize that daily, consistent, hard workouts probably contribute most to their success. I was a little annoyed at Bob's commercial for One-a-Day multivitamins stuck in the middle of the show. There are enough commercials already! Enough, I say!

Anyway, I was so inspired after the final weigh-in that I hopped on the rowing machine during the elimination and did 20 minutes.

Then I took an Aleve.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Back to normal, whatever that is

I'm feeling a teeny bit of a letdown after all the planning and preparation for the party. Mostly, though, I'm happy everyone had a good time and nothing horrible happened. Now it's time to get back into a more normal groove, although I must confess that I really enjoyed being as busy as I was the last month or so.

Yesterday when I was starting out for my walk, I noticed this guy hanging out in the sedum growing along the driveway. He's about three inches long from tip to stern. Pretty creepy, and just in time for Halloween. Good thing the driveway is a looooong way from the front door!

My intention as I started out yesterday was to see if I really could run – well, jog – for three straight miles. When I blithely announced yesterday that I routinely do that anyway, I forgot about the hills.

If you've been following the Shrinking Knitter play-by-play, you'll recall that the hills on my road are, um, challenging, and that I've managed to scale only a couple of them. For the last three miles of my four-mile loop, there are two of them, pretty close together. I'd never managed to make it up both of them before.

Until yesterday! Woo hoo! Yeah for me!

I'm going to lift weights, do 20 minutes on the rowing machine and walk today, probably eight miles. And mow. Usually we only have to mow every other week this time of year, but it's been a pretty wet fall here in the Middle of Nowhere, and things are looking a little shaggy. All the leftover party food got tossed yesterday and I think I'll be approaching normal today for the first time since July.

I still have a few CDs left. Check yesterday's post for details on how you can snag a copy.

And if you're a knitter, be sure to send a photo of your favorite knitting spot to Laurie. Details here. I'm sure my kids are glad she didn't ask for stash photos. When my daughter saw my yarn closet Saturday, she declared:
"You have a problem."
No, honey, I have yarn.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Let her eat cake!

First, is this not the most beautiful cake you've ever seen? The icing is pale, pale pink. The top two layers were chocolate with a peanut butter mousse filling and the bottom layer was white filled with hazelnut mousse.


As my daughter was snapping away, she said we needed a really good shot for the blog. Here's my favorite [I'm having trouble formatting this properly; apologies if it doesn't show up where it's supposed to!]:

Now it's back to business. In thirteen weeks it will be 2007. Realistically, I won't make my goal of losing all the weight I want to lose by January 1. That's no reason not to keep on keeping on, though.

The wedding and reception were not "event" goals. [The 'I need to lose 10 pounds before the class reunion' kind of goal.] Mr. Shrinking Knitter proposed in May, while I started my plan last January. But just because the party's over doesn't mean I can relax. Looking at the full-body shots shows me I have some … issues … that still need to be addressed.

But I didn't once feel self-conscious or shy about having my picture taken. That's a significant shift in attitude for this formerly fat lady.

My husband's son runs marathons, and currently is in training for the upcoming Columbus and New York races. While I was running 6.6 miles on party day, he was doing a long run which ended up being more than 15 miles. He's in fantastic shape, and is a big inspiration for me.

I found a novice training program for a half-marathon, which suggests that before you begin you need to be able to run three miles three or four times a week. I can probably do that, although I don't think I ever have. The first mile of my walk is up a long, steep hill, so three miles of continuous running would have to start at the end of the first mile. I've done it before, many times, but probably not three times in one week. So I'll start by running those three miles three times this week: today, Thursday and Sunday.

I'm assuming you can run or walk more than three miles, and I'll certainly do that. A training program isn't necessarily a weight-loss program; looking at the schedule I can definitely see I'll have to do more to continue shedding pounds. And whether I actually ever run a real half-marathon or not, it'll be motivating to have something to work toward. I'm already walking/running 5 and 10K distances regularly, so training for that distance doesn't offer quite the same challenge as a half does.

A note to Vickie, who asked in a comment yesterday about my 'sticking points.' I have purposely not mentioned any weight numbers, Vickie, and I'm really uncomfortable doing that now. Maybe when I reach my goal I'll be able to go back and analyze and actually share the details. I'm just not ready to do that yet.

Finally, don't be shy about requesting a CD! Just send your name and address to shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net with a subject line of 'blessing music.' I'd hate to toss all these CDs, and I promise I won't stalk you.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The party's over …

and what a fun one it was!

I didn't take my camera – I thought it would look a little funny for the bridal unit to be snapping pictures all afternoon – so you'll have to wait for the evidence until my daughter sends the ones she took. Since she's a pro, and knows all about lighting and lenses and such, I'm sure hers will be better than any I could have taken anyway.

The Alderson FPC chaplain, who we asked to perform our blessing ceremony, was late. Many of our guests were also attending a wedding which started as our party was supposed to end, so there were some anxious moments. Two other members of the clergy were among our guests, both of whom offered to stand in should the chaplain not make it. But she finally came, and the ceremony was lovely and meaningful. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I both agree we finally feel really married, even though legally we've been so since August 5. Somehow Pastor Chip and his Las Vegas Chapel of Love didn't seem real to either one of us.

We both feel really tired, too, after all the excitement and preparations.

Having our married children meet each other was the highlight of my day. In our more than a dozen years as a couple, there's never been an occasion where we've all been together. I hope it doesn't take a funeral for it to happen again. Turns out that Mr. Shrinking Knitter's daughter-in-law and my son-in-law went to the same high school, although at different times. Another 'small world' tidbit is that my daughter-in-law grew up less than 30 miles from another of our guests, in two tiny northern Ohio towns of which few have ever heard. Who knew?

All week long I've been aware that sticking to a food plan just wasn't going to happen, and it certainly didn't. We went out for dinner three nights in a row, and I just didn't feel like trying to make the party food diet-friendly. To compensate for less-than-perfect meals, I made sure to walk or run every single day – including party day – and to lift weights or row a couple times during the preceding week. It paid off: I once again stayed the same [this makes the fifth consecutive week of no loss-no gain], but I consider that a great victory, considering how very undisciplined I've been at meals lately.

I wonder if I'd been as matter-of-fact about healthy meals as I've been about working out if it might have made a difference. Mind over matter, or maybe matter over mind? It doesn't matter at all at this point – I'm very happy to report another stay-the-same.

And the cake? The cake was as delicious as it was gorgeous, and I can't wait to show you pictures of it. It was truly beautiful – pale pink with roses, ribbons and silver dragées. We were very careful to save the top layer, transporting it in a box, carrying it instead of letting it ride in the back of the car. When we finally opened the box at home to put it in the freezer, it had completely collapsed! We think the weight of the roses might have been too much for it. So we saved a couple slices from one of the larger layers and ate the remnants of the top for a Saturday night bedtime snack.

The favor we gave was a CD of our background music, and I don't think some of our guests realized the basket of CDs at the entrance were for them to take home. I have about 15 remaining. If you'd like an eclectic collection of Mr. and Mrs. Shrinking Knitter's favorite music – we have decidedly different musical tastes – just send an e-mail with "blessing music" as the subject line and your name and address to shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net. [You do know how to turn that into a real e-mail address, don't you?] I'll be happy to send one to you.

Now it's back to normal. The houseguests all left yesterday, and Mr. Shrinking Knitter has left for work. No events coming up in the near future. Today will be laundry and more laundry, along with thank-you notes and more thank-you notes. I especially want to thank those of you who stop by here regularly for sharing my happiness with me. I wish you could have been there in person.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blog Break, Part III

Ahhh, you knew it was coming, didn't you? My stats are really suffering with all these breaks I'm taking.

My office is next to our guest room, which will be occupied the next three mornings, so it'll be Sunday afternoon – or, more likely, Monday morning – before I can get back here to post a wedding party wrap-up. I just don't think it's polite to be tap-tap-tapping away when people are sleeping right next door.

I know y'all can't wait for the gory details.

I'm not sure how I feel about last night's season premiere of The Biggest Loser. I wasn't able to pay very close attention to it, as I was assembling party favors for the entire two hours. The new female trainer didn't have quite the same caché Jillian did, but oh how she tried. And what was up with that peachy-pink coat Caroline Rhea was wearing for the final weigh-in? [At least I think it was the final one.] Who picks her clothes, anyway? You'd think, since this show is all about people trying to look good, they'd find more flattering clothes for the host[ess].

[Yeah, yeah, I know it's all about eating healthfully and protecting your heart and strengthening your core. But they – and we – all wanna look good, too.]

Okay, enough snark. Like I said, I didn't pay very close attention to the actual loser-wannabes. I might go to the show's website to check up on the West Virginia player's progress, but if it's photo-heavy it won't happen very often.

Living in Dial-Up Hell has very few advantages. Usually when your internet service depends on a telephone line, you also, as I've heard said out here, "live on a well." As we do. We've had water problems off and on over the years, and have thrown quite a bit of money at the man who installs and repairs pumps and water lines. Lately the problem has been too much air or, possibly, too much water pressure in the lines. I periodically have to shut the water off and turn all the faucets on to drain the lines.

While this procedure does fix the problem, it seems to need fixing more frequently lately, and it needed fixing this morning! When my schedule says 'begin food prep.' Water is necessary for food prep, wouldn't you say?

Which is why you're getting this nice, long, chatty post that has nothing to do with losing weight.

[I've been doing really well this week with food and intentional exercise, by the way – maybe I should get a job. I tend to eat when I'm bored, which I haven't been at all, and I tend to think I can always go for a walk later. This week I've been up and out of here second thing every morning. You guys are first thing.]

I hope you have as much fun this weekend as I'm going to!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Three days until cake …

but who's counting?

PastaQueen asked yesterday:
When you knit, how much do you have to look at your hands? When I crochet and watch TV I like to watch shows that are ok but not so great that I feel the need to watch every second because I need to look at what I'm doing and check the pattern a lot. Law & Order was great for this when I had cable because it's always on some channel somewhere.
I've been knitting since I was nine, and have learned to knit without looking at my hands for all but the most complex cable or lace pattern. The baby sweater I'm making is all seed stitch, all the time, so I have to pay a little bit of attention to the first stitch of each row, or I can [and have!] messed up the stitch. I can't, however, crochet unless my eyes are glued to my hands.

I used to be a Law & Order addict; now I'm a House addict. Bonus points if you know the original wording and film from which that sentence was lifted.

Last night's episode of Nip/Tuck could have been called Nip/Tuck/Cliché. I won't be a spoiler by spilling any details, but let's just say the writers had read a headline or two about the obesity epidemic. And Sean, who I thought was a decent-enough guy, turns out to be oh-so-low.

Greta, the reason I have to clean my house is because some of our out-of-town guests will be staying with us. Believe me, I'm not so compulsive that I'd stick to a cleaning schedule this week if I didn't have to! Thanks for offering to help … one couple will be here Thursday evening, and I won't be shy about putting them to work.

I finished all the knitting on the baby sweater. All that remains is sewing the side and sleeve seams, tidying up the loose ends and sewing on buttons. Now I have to find a suitable little-girl pattern to start.

Diet-Blog has discovered a new camera from HP that features a "slimming" effect. I guess they think it will make up for that 10 pounds the camera typically adds, eh?

Please forgive the disjointedness of today's post … at least it matches the rest of my week!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Nightmare in the Middle of Nowhere

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are having an afternoon reception at his mother's large, elegant home on Saturday to celebrate our recent nuptials, but since he works and I lounge around the house eating bon-bons all day don't, most of the planning for said party has been left up to me. I woke up around 2:30 this morning, panicked at the thought that today was Friday and I hadn't done anything and how was I going to manage?

Thank God it's Tuesday.

My schedule this week looks like this [starting with Sunday, so I can cross some things off]:
  • Sunday: Mow, trim weeds, sweep garage
  • Monday: Vacuum, dust, mop, clean sliding glass doors, change linens, take out trash
  • Tuesday: Haircut, manicure, last-minute shopping
  • Wednesday: Decorate mother-in-law's house, finish making party favors
  • Thursday: Begin food prep, damp-mop floors, transport plates/cups/utensils
  • Friday: Continue food prep, pick up flowers and fruit
  • Saturday: Transport food, enjoy party, go out for dinner
  • Sunday: Collapse in a heap of gratitude that everything went well
At least that's how I hope it all works out!

You'll note that not everything got done yesterday. I recently started following the Flylady plan again. Sort of. She does her 'house blessing' every Monday in 70 minutes, 10 minutes for each task. [I left out 'purge magazines,' because I do that regularly anyway.] It takes me an hour just to dust mop and damp-mop my floors, and I live in a three-bedroom, two-bath, ranch-style home. She must live in a dollhouse! And she certainly doesn't have dogs.

Does she?

Anyway, it's raining this morning here, meaning the workout will be inside. [Oh, yes, I'm also working out every morning this week.] Today will be weight-training, the rowing machine and the treadmill, for a total of 80 minutes. At least that's what I'm shooting for. I've also tried to keep the evenings relatively free of tasks, because I need to relax, wind down and recharge to get ready for the next day. Oh, and I need to knit, too, which I will do tonight while watching House and Nip/Tuck, and tomorrow while watching the season premiere of The Biggest Loser. [The baby-boy sweater is almost finished – just one and a half sleeves and the sewing up to go.]

I'd never watched TBL until last January, when I started this year-long weight-loss program. I thought it might provide some extra motivation, and I have to say it delivered. I hope this season will do so, as well. It comes at the perfect Debbi-needs-motivation time. Anxiety-producing last-minute stuff is a given when you throw a party, unless you're Martha Stewart and have a staff to take care of the details. I've been known to make poor food choices when I'm teetering on the edge of emotional.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Plateau, schmateau

Before we get to the meat of today's post, check out this E. coli outbreak map. [In case you've been building a space station this past week, bagged spinach has been pulled from every grocery shelf in the country, due to E. coli contamination.] Over there toward the east, you'll notice the state of West Virginia, an island of white surrounded by Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Either no one in West Virginia eats spinach, or we're immune to the E. coli bacteria.

I am going to miss spinach, and that's a fact. Now for the real post.

I used to follow the Weight Watcher program; for reasons I've previously discussed here and here, I decided it wasn't for me. I recall from reading some of their online information, however, that a plateau was defined as six weeks of staying the same, despite continued healthful eating and intentional activity. I'm two-thirds of the way there! Yeah, me!


The Shrinking Knitter is a no-whine zone; I've been edging into that nasty territory for the past couple of days, so we're putting an end to it right now.

Googling the search term 'weight loss plateau' doesn't give you a definition, but does offer plenty of solutions, most of which involve – you guessed it – strength training.

[I did find one definition:
Weight Loss Plateau: A demon in disguise that may torture the dieter into diving into the sea of Diet Failure.
Other terms are
cleverly defined here.]

The only way I can safely swim is with a life jacket, so I doubt you'll see me diving anywhere any time soon. Especially into the sea of diet failure. I've lost 43 pounds so far this year! Does that sound like failure to you?

Vickie suggested visiting Jonathan's blog post of June 7, 2006. Well, lo and behold, I did that this morning, and found that I'd also left a comment when I read it the first time! My, my, my, I certainly was in a better place then than I am now.

I said then that it was easier for me to increase activity than to decrease calories. Three months ago that was true. The trick is to make it true again today. And tomorrow. And the rest of this year. Because I think that's going to be my life jacket.

Anticipating yet another week of staying the same, I started stepping it up yesterday. Twenty solid minutes with the weights. Thirty – 30! – minutes on the rower, at 36 strokes per minute. An hour and 15 minutes walking outside. After which I employed a lawn mower, a weed whacker and a broom for about three hours, in an attempt to beautify the lawn field we live in, as well as the sidewalk and garage.

Today – and tomorrow, and next month and the rest of the year – must be more of the same. No excuses for traveling, restaurant eating, parties or holidays. What Jonathan said on June 7 – that our desire to stay the same is equal to our desire to change – may have been true for me last month [although I wouldn't have acknowledged it], but it's not true today.

Who's with me?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Commenting on the comments

Marilyn may be right in her comment yesterday about hitting a plateau. But I will admit to becoming complacent about food lately, and all the exercise in the world won't make you lose weight if you eat too many of this or too much of that – the right food in the wrong quantity isn't really the right food, is it?

And Jen said "any diet plan … works, but you might as well be comfortable on the way." Ahhh, comfort is my ultimate racket. It may sound weird to pair the word "comfort" with "diet," but Jen is absolutely right: Finding what works, what helps, what supports is key. Trying to follow the Atkins approach just wasn't a good fit for me.

Jen also recommended Thin for Life, which I have and read eons ago [obviously I didn't get the gist of it at the time!]. I should pull it out for another look. Right now I'm reading the third Harry Potter book, loaned to me by my nine-year-old granddaughter. I can certainly see how her generation is enthralled with Harry and his adventures. I know there are rumors that he's killed in the seventh and final book of Rowlings' series, and I'll add my voice to the chorus pleading for his survival.

Greta mentioned books by Rick Gallop; thanks for the recommendation, as well as your other suggestions and continued support. I hope you can get back to running someday. I still surprise myself with how much I enjoy running as opposed to walking. I feel like such an athlete when I run. Every middle-aged woman ought to feel like a jock every once in a while, right?

Speaking of jocks, Denise passed along some good information about weight training. I just wish I liked it more. As you know, if you're a regular reader here, 20 minutes three times a week is excellent performance for me. I can't imagine upping that by 10 minutes per session. If I were working out in a gym it might be easier, but I only have dumbbells, a barbell and a bench. I can't think of too much more I could be doing, other than lunges and squats, to take up more time. I hope the amount of hill-walking I do makes up for the fact that I don't do lunges or squats.

I. Hate. Lunges. And. Squats.

I'd better be careful saying that, though. At one time I hated running. Heh.

The most important reason for women to lift weights, though, is not for weight loss, it's for preventing osteoporosis. If you're in your 20s and 30s, you're probably lifting children. Once you hit your 50s you need to find a substitute.

My grandmother was about 5'6" when I was a little girl. By the time I had children she'd already started losing height, and when she died at 90 I was looking down on her from my towering height of 5'2".

Sometimes getting old sucks, doesn't it? But as the old cliché goes, it's better than the alternative!

I finally set up my new music system yesterday, which consists of a 30GB iPod and a Logitech speaker system that's about as big as a loaf of party rye. Great sound, and I just love storing all my music on a gadget smaller than a deck of cards. Then this morning I opened an e-mail from my good friends at Apple to find that for only $100 more I could have had their new 80GB iPod that holds 20,000 songs instead of a measly 7,500. And you can now download full-length feature films from iTunes to watch in the palm of your hand.

Somehow that just doesn't appeal, even to a techno-geek like me. Except that Johnny Depp's icky pirate teeth wouldn't be quite so up-close-and-personal.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

That'll teach me ...

I brag yesterday about having 10,000 visits to the blog, and Blogger goes down. Major crash. No one can blog or visit blogs. For hours.The most recent status report says the "maintenance has been completed successfully."

That attitude is typical of the type of alcoholic thinking that thinks everything that goes wrong is all their fault. Which is, I suppose, better than blaming everything except oneself, but in this case, it's just coincidental.

Greta, you're one of my best cheerleaders, and I thank you. Rethinking my goals instead of abandoning them is of course what I should be doing. All-or-nothing thinking also is typical among some alcoholics. For the record, I don't run every day. My knees just can't take it. Maybe two or three times a week I'll go for a long, slow, steady jog; the other days I'm doing the brisk-walking thing.

Thanks, too, to Teresa for her thoughts on yoga. I fall into the all-or-nothing trap there, as well. To me, practicing yoga means pulling out the mat, changing to comfortable clothes, choosing which DVD I want to use and devoting 40 to 60 minutes to a Session. I've been known to do a downward-facing dog pose while brushing my teeth [not a photo I'll be posting here] – does that count? To me, it doesn't, because it doesn't involve the mindfulness I associate with the practice. So a little yoga rethinking may be in order.

Mehitabel commented that she counts her active job as her exercise. If you're just starting a health/fitness plan, that's probably okay. But from what I've read, your body will get used to doing the normal stuff – even five hours of climbing and shelving heavy books will one day be normal. And then you'll have to step it up. I've added weight training to walking – well, most weeks, anyway – and have found I need to raise the bar with both activities to continue to lose.

Right now I think I know how to maintain. I'll be taking these long walks six days a week in order to not gain weight; I've seen the same number three Monday mornings in a row now. That sounds like maintaining to me. I've not been as consistent with food, however, especially since I switched to eDiets' Atkins approach.

I'm going to end my little flirtation with Dr. Atkins. In fact, essentially I already have. The low-glycemic plan I've been using this entire year works when I work it. I'm sure all of eDiets' plans work if you follow them to the letter, but as I'm sensitive to sodium, I think the Atkins approach, with low-fat lunch meat on the menu – y'all know how I can't resist that – isn't a good choice for me. Yes, I abuse Healthy Choice Turkey Breast.

The thing is, I knew that when I switched. I thought it would be helpful, since I was going to be away from my kitchen and could concentrate on meat and salads eating at restaurants. I'll tell you what, though, after eight months of eating fruit, whole grains and yogurt, one grilled chicken salad looks and tastes just like the last one. I was only kidding myself; thank goodness I've learned from this and can move on, instead of whining about how this-or-that doesn't work and clinging to it, hoping it will.

I guess I can't be bored. Back when I was drinking, my motto was "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." At the age of 55, I'm not the risk-taker I was in my 20s and 30s, but I guess I still want and need some variety in at least one part of my life.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A milestone of a different sort

If your ISP is at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and you were blog-surfing instead of studying yesterday morning at about 10:05, you were the Shrinking Knitter's – drumroll, please –

10,000th VISITOR!
I'd serve cake if I knew who you were. Heh.

I know it's the same 12 people who come back repeatedly, three of whom are related to me, but still. Ten. Thousand. Visits. Look out, Dooce.

My 6.6-mile run yesterday was awesome. I was accompanied by one of DJ Steveboy's 155 beats-per-minute mixes and was able to continuously jog almost the entire course. I ran up three of the hills and halfway up two others. Of course I paid for it later, with muscle aches and quite a bit of heel pain, but hey … no pain, no gain, right?


Actually, I really do need to keep in mind that I'm not as young as I used to be.

I totally didn't meet this week's goals, dudes and dudettes. No yoga. No rowing. Only one weight training session. Far fewer minutes of activity than I've been getting. I don't know whether to keep those goals in the sidebar or yank 'em down. I'm not especially motivated by having them there; I'm trying, instead, to make these activities part of a normal routine. And I have to admit to being discouraged when I don't accomplish them.

On the other hand … if they're not written down there, if I didn't look at them every day, would I try as hard to meet them? More thinking needed here, but no time for it right now.

Finally, it's Friday Quote Day, and since I missed posting a quote last week, I'm giving you two today, both from American author Napoleon Hill, and both most appropriate for where my thinking is these days.
"Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success."
"Don't wait. The time will never be just right."
Now aren't you as inspired as I am?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Whirling Debbi

We sometimes use the term 'whirling dervish' to describe someone who is frantically busy or energetic. The dictionary says a whirling dervish is:
A mystical dancer who stands between the material and cosmic worlds. His dance is part of a sacred ceremony in which the dervish rotates in a precise rhythm. He represents the earth revolving on its axis while orbiting the sun. The purpose of the ritual whirling is for the dervish to empty himself of all distracting thoughts, placing him in trance; released from his body he conquers dizziness.
I have a little countdown widget that tells me how many days until whatever event is programmed in there next. Right now, 'next' is September 23, when Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are having a small party to celebrate our recent marriage. It might as well say '9 days until Debbi implodes.'

I've learned during the planning of this party that I have a decidedly one-track mind. The past two weekends have included short trips away from home. September 30 is the annual Roanoke NoSo Knit, for which I volunteered to provide some items. Until those items were done and mailed, which I did Tuesday, I found myself rather scattered about the party.

Yesterday I was in full-steam-ahead mode. Most of the non-perishable food has already been bought, along with paper products, but I hadn't yet ordered flowers [done!] or bought candles [done!] or even thought very much about details [doing!]. That one-track mind only lets me do one thing at a time, remember?

It's a good personality trait in many ways. The past two weekends were even more fun because I wasn't distracted by party planning.

And even though there is much left undone, my workouts and food choices are so much a part of my routine that it's not really an issue. I'm grateful that I give myself a rest day from exercise once a week. Yesterday was it; between a slightly sore left knee and many errands/much shopping in two different towns, it was both smart and necessary to take a day off. As for food, I can find healthful menu options anywhere; it's almost second nature to choose them at this point.

I say 'almost' because I still sometimes long for a fill-in-your-own-special-treat-blank instead of a grilled chicken salad. But I've learned to tell myself that I don't need to have it today. Maybe tomorrow. Or next month. Or, more likely, next year. [I am having cake at the party. A treat on the horizon! I should program that into the countdown widget. Nine days until cake!]

Today I'm going to actually list the remaining tasks on a piece of paper – double-spaced, so I can add the ones I forget first time around. My organized daughter would have made her list a month ago; she obviously didn't get her party-planning skills from me.

My calm moments are in the evenings, when I pick up my current knitting project. [I've finished the long border that goes around the Seville Jacket, and abandoned the white baby sweater for one of the twins. I replaced it with something a little lighter in weight.] It's good to have that knitting waiting for me. While I could be doing something party-related in the evenings, the sensible part of my brain and personality takes over, reminding me that all work and no play makes the Shrinking Knitter a whirling dervish.

That's soooo not a good look for me.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Coupla things ...

The link I gave for Jane Brody's New York Times article appears to be dead. Thanks for the heads-up, PastaQueen. I'm having trouble getting a direct link to work, as well. Grrrrr. Doncha just love this high-tech stuff sometimes?

Anyway. Go to Click the "Health" button on the left side of the page. Look for the link to Jane Brody's "Personal Health" column. The title of the piece is "Exercise = Weight Loss, Except When It Doesn't." Here's a direct link to copy and paste if you need it:

I couldn't get it to work in Mozilla, Firefox G5 or Safari, though.

And to DietGirl: I used to row for an hour, when I was much younger and much fitter. I can do 20 to 30 minutes now, but doubt if I'll ever go back to those marathon rowing sessions.

On one hand … we have four fingers and a thumb

The title of this post refers to an old friend who, whenever one started a sentence with the words "on one hand," would interject the four-fingers-and-a-thumb remark, often leaving one speechless for a moment or two.

The Shrinking Knitter is all about amusing blog post titles. [NOT!]

Greta pointed to an interesting – and more than a little confusing – article in yesterday's New York Times. On one hand, it definitively answers my treadmill vs. outside calorie-burning question. On the other hand … well, there are lots of other hands in the article, and if you were just starting out with an exercise/healthy eating program, you might get discouraged.

So, if you're well into your routine, go read it. Information equals knowledge equals power, and this article is packed with information.

But if you're looking for inspiration? Ummm, not so much.

Jane Brody, the Times health columnist, discusses Ralph LaForge's analysis of factors that 'influence the effects of exercise on weight loss.' LaForge is the managing director of the Duke Lipid and Disease Management Preceptorship Program at Duke University Medical Center.

His contention is that the number of calories we think we burn, based on exercise machine readouts and commonly held beliefs, don't always add up. For inefficient metabolisers like me, the information in the article is somewhat comforting.

I've always known that I don't burn a thousand calories an hour on the rowing machine, although that's what the little computer screen tells me when I wipe the sweat off it. For one thing, the rower doesn't take body weight into account when it calculates. Neither does my treadmill.

When I was in top form 10 years ago, and working out at a gym, I would burn 1000 calories per day, according to the machine readouts. In fact, I wouldn't leave the gym until I'd done my 1000 calories. I frequently ran to and from the facility, but those calories were icing on the cake, so to speak, and I didn't count them toward my daily goal.

Ignorance is bliss. I was probably burning half that. And now that I'm solidly in the middle-aged demographic, and more careful to protect myself from injury, I feel like I'm working twice as hard to burn half as many calories. No wonder it's taking me so long to lose weight this time around.

At any rate, I'm glad Greta let us know about the article. Eight months of this year have gone by, and one thing I know is true for me is that exercise matters. A lot. The smaller I get, the more it will matter. [Wo]man does not live by whole-grain bread alone.

S/he also has to work [out] for it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I hope that not writing about the 9/11 attacks doesn't make you think I'm uncaring or, worse, unaware of the anniversary. This blog is about two things only, and I've tried very hard to stay away from other issues. Sometimes I stray, but mostly I want to stick to shrinking and knitting. [Stick to my knitting ... heh.]

I was catching up on my regular blogs yesterday and read this from Anne:
"The scale isn’t going to judge, it will just reflect reality. And I need to face it with a willingness to change. It will take however long it takes …"
I love that! If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next right thing, taking it a day at a time and maintain an open mind and attitude, I'll reach my goal. Simple as that. Along the way, I'm becoming a stronger person – in body and in mind/attitude/heart.

Congratulations to Jonathan! He managed to maintain his weight [he's been at goal for quite a while now] during a two-week vacation in a foreign country. I could beat myself up for not managing to lose a pound over a weekend in the next state, but I won't. Hey, I maintained, too! Woo hoo for me!

I hope Marla is enjoying the beach, especially knowing what she's facing when she returns home. Water problems are no fun. I usually have plenty of half-liter bottles of water in stock, but need to get some gallon jugs to keep on hand, as well. You'd think after all the water trouble we've had here in the Middle of Nowhere that I wouldn't have to think twice about that, but I appreciate the reminder, Marla.

I wish I could comment on everyone's blogs, but I'm kind of pressed for time this morning. My faves are over there in the sidebar, and I hope that some of them are becoming yours as well. If you want to read an eloquent piece about that awful day in U.S. history, I recommend Laura's, and I thank her for writing it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It's [almost] always good to get away

My husband and I have gone to a recovery-oriented conference each September for the past seven years. It's a wonderful reunion with friends we don't otherwise see during the year, full of fun and fellowship in a beautiful, peaceful, wooded setting.

When you lose 40-plus pounds from one year to the next, you get a lot of attention. And scrutiny. But only one question, over and over and over.

"How'd you do it?"

Those of you who have lost weight will immediately recognize that glazed-over look in the questioner's eyes when you start reciting the familiar 'eat less-move more' mantra.
I mentioned how helpful blogging has been, and that journaling of any kind is highly motivating. I usually lost them when I said I'd worked up to an average of 90 minutes of daily intentional activity.

A man about my age also had lost a good deal of weight this year, and we spent some time talking about our respective routines, favorite concoctions [both yogurt-based!] and challenges. The most important thing each of us has in common is that we recognize we're doing this 'one day at a time.'

Each and every day I wake up and thank God for my sobriety. I would have nothing – nothing – today, were it not for my continued abstinence from alcohol, and I cannot maintain my abstinence without His help. Thus endeth the spiritual references.

In a similar, but not so life-or-death way, I've been working my weight-loss program a day at a time. It's as simple as making a daily decision to work out, avoid sugar, eat healthful foods, limit portion sizes, drink enough water, keep a food and exercise log. And blog. Can't forget the blog! Heh.

The down side of an event like this is the natural letdown when you pull back into your own driveway, leaving all those friends and all that fun behind for another year. And, of course, the inevitable weigh-in, where I once again stayed the same. I had slight hopes when I left of actually losing a pound or two. But in addition to restaurant meals there were many snacking opportunities. I know that just because food is there doesn't mean I have to eat it. I didn't go overboard. [There were, after all, dozens of people watching every bite I ate!] And I did run or walk each morning I was gone. But I did eat things not on my plan.

After years of looking for simple solutions, blaming external circumstances and making excuses, I've learned – finally – that the only thing I can truly blame for a not-so-great weigh-in is myself. And I am not the number on the scale!

Where will you find me today? Back on the horse!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Blog Break, the Sequel

While I know you all meant well with the fiber advice, I want to reassure you that my doctor and I are handling my digestion problems just fine. And the Atkins approach offered by eDiets provides plenty of fiber from vegetables. I need to be more careful with my writing! I truly didn't mean to sound like I was asking for advice.

I'll be computer-less for the next two or three days ... but that's sometimes a Good Thing. Maybe I'll have to write a couple journal entries by hand, with a pen, and paper!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Yogurt: It's what's for dinner

I get daily informative and motivational e-mails from SparkPeople. This morning I read more about probiotic yogurt here.

Dairy products with added 'good' bacteria aid digestion. As I've aged, my digestive system has become quite a bit less, um, efficient. so I'm looking for every available advantage. Unfortunately, the widely advertised probiotic yogurt – Dannon Activia – is laced with sugar. Fructose is the fourth ingredient, and sugar is the fifth. If and when I do eat sugar, it had better be in something that tastes better than grocery-store yogurt.

I've weaned myself off flavored yogurt entirely, and now prefer the plain variety, which I mix with wheat germ and sliced almonds as a sanck. The non-fat kind available at the supermarket is okay, but there's something about the texture that's a little off-putting to me. Especially since I've had the pleasure of eating good yogurt at a Middle Eastern restaurant.

My daughter-in-law gave me a two-pound tub of good, Greek-style, Byblos-brand yogurt last weekend. I'm in yogurt heaven. While it has more calories, because it's full-fat, it tastes so good and is so filling that I've had it for dinner twice this week. And since I'll be gone over the weekend, and the expiration date on the package is tomorrow, I'll be enjoying it today, as well.

It's not a low-carb food, at 20 grams per 8-ounce serving. I recently switched my eDiet plan from a low glycemic-index one to their so-called 'Atkins Nutritional Approach,' and yogurt is not on the menu. You know what? I don't care! Now, if I were eating brownies instead of plain yogurt, I'd surely get in trouble, but somehow I can justify having yogurt instead of yet another grilled chicken salad.

All in all, I'm enjoying this new-to-me plan. The higher protein content really does fill me up. I have a couple scrambled eggs with either Canadian bacon or low-fat cheese in the morning, and I don't think about lunch until well after noon – sometimes 1 or 2 o'clock! That's when I eat a salad, topped with either grilled chicken, chicken salad or tuna salad. I haven't missed fruit so far, and am supplementing my diet with both a multivitamin and extra vitamin C.

It seems to be working, as my daily weigh-in shows a two-pound loss this week already. I'll be eating in restaurants all weekend, though, so we'll see if I can hold onto it for my official Monday-morning weigh-in.

I started one of the baby sweaters last night. [No, I'm not finished with the cable border for the Seville Jacket. Yes, I'm mightily bored with it. I'm guessing I have about a yard more to do.] The sweater is a simple cream-colored cardigan with some rose-and-green Fair-Isle patterning at the lower edge. I'm doing the back and both fronts all at once, and will separate them at the underarm, then join the shoulders and side seams and pick up stitches around the armsceye and work the sleeves down from the shoulder. I found a nice jade green for the accent
color on the boy twin's version. I'm not using a published pattern, but I might write this up as a freebie when I'm finished. It's going quickly on size 6 needles.

I also am going to make one of these Bunny Blanket Buddies, to see if I like it well enough to make more. I don't have any of the yarn called for, but I found something soft and cushy in the yarn closet that will substitute well.

I wonder if Beth will ever be back? There's quite a big void in the weight-loss blog world since she quit posting.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I shoulda been a farmer

Wilford Brimley, as Pop Fisher in The Natural, watches his New York Knights lose another one and laments, "I shoulda been a farmer."

The film takes place in 1939, when many – probably most – folks grew their own food. Agribusinesses developed in the mid-20th century, along with subdivisions, and fast-food restaurants.


The 10th International Congress on Obesity is meeting in Sydney, Australia, this week. Philip James, International Obesity Taskforce chairman, said in his remarks that "existing farm policies, particularly agricultural subsidies in the European Union and U.S., had been damaging people's health for decades." You can read more here.

Who, other than agriculture lobbyists, would argue with this? Supply-and-demand governs economics. If the supply of high-fructose corn syrup-laced products diminished, or if the price was so high as to make those products an occasional treat instead of an everyday staple, wouldn't demand go down?

But of course the market feeds the demand. As long as consumers can buy a box of chewy apple-cinnamon bars for $1.29, they're not going to be waltzing down the produce aisle to pick up a bag of apples that cost more than three bucks.

Well, except for you and me.

The sun is peeking over the mountains to the east, and I think I'll be able to quit bitching about the treadmill. Me and my ass will be taking it outside again. Booyah! Yesterday I lifted weights, did 20 minutes on the rowing machine and did about a 40-minute yoga-based PushTV session. [I guess my rest days are not really rest days; they're just rest-from-running days.]

At the beginning of the summer, I won three months of Push DVDs from Renée, and finally took a look at the first one yesterday. As you regular readers know, I'm not much of a DVD-workout kinda girl, but it's good to have options for inclement weather, and I'm feeling the burn this morning. So I'd have to give it a thumbs-up for effective training. If you like classes or need guidance in proper technique – and who doesn't? – you might want to do a three-month trial.

Okay, I got a late start today, after staying up until midnight watching season-premieres of House and Nip/Tuck. Deliciously dark prime-time television ... better than chocolate!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Which burns more calories?

Which form of running is more efficient: treadmill or running outside?

I put that question in Google's search bar and was surprised to find the first hit, an article from Shape magazine, showed no discernible difference in calorie burn until you start running a 10-mile-an-hour pace. Some sources confirmed this finding, while others touted one or the other.

One article championed the treadmill because it's there. If you've invested your hard-earned cashmoneybucks in the equipment, and you don't have to drive someplace to use it, and you can use it in all weather conditions, then it's the most efficient way to blast away fat.

I didn't create a spreadsheet listing the pros and cons from each author's research, but the general impression I get is that outdoor running probably burns more calories. The running surface is uneven and sometimes hilly, and your body does have to work harder to overcome wind resistance and dodge potholes.

Sometimes, though, it's the treadmill or nothing at all. Raising the incline will increase the intensity and provide a more challenging workout if you're running indoors.

My preference is to take it outside. I've used the treadmill a couple times recently, though, due to weather, and am surprised at how much harder it seems to be on my knees. However – I'm running constantly at 5 to 5.2 mph at a 2 to 3 percent incline on the treadmill. When I'm outside, I mostly walk or jog at a 4 mph pace.

I could do neither without the music on the Shuffle. [Well, of course I could, but it would be excruciatingly boring, in my not-so-humble opinion.]

Yesterday I did six miles on the treadmill in 71 minutes. One cannot get more bored.

Moving on to knitting … I've finished the sleeves of the Oat Couture Seville Jacket, and have about a third of the cabled edge completed. I'll block the sleeves today, and sew them into the body tomorrow. I made my jacket a bit longer – it's supposed to be cropped, but that's not a good look for me – and I also made wrist-length sleeves instead of three-quarter, as the pattern instructs. Since the body is longer, I'll need more length on the edging, which goes all the way around the fronts, back neck and lower edge of the piece.

What I'm planning to do is knit about 90 inches – talk about boring! – and then block it. That will make sewing it onto the sweater a little easier. I think 90 inches will be too much, but in this case I'd rather rip some out to get the right amount, since I want it all blocked before I start sewing. [You non-knitters can uncross your eyes now.]

I thought my next project would be Knitty's Tilt, but my daughter-in-law has two friends who are having three babies this fall, and I'd much rather work on quick-to-knit baby things for a while. The expected twins are a boy and a girl, so I think I'll make a couple of lightweight cream-colored cardigans with some colorful Fair Isle patterning. Maybe a dark rose for the girl and dark green for the boy. No namby-pamby pinks and blues here! The other baby's gender will be a surprise, but I've made a cream-colored, Wonderful Wallaby, to which I add some Aran patterning, for other babies in the past, and it works for either sex. So the Tilt will be on deck.

If you have an opinion, some personal experience or a definitive source that answers the 'which is better at burning calories: treadmill or outdoor running' question, I'd love to hear it!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Shaking things up

First things first: Thanks for the many, many comments you left Friday. What fun it is to read, especially on a not-so-great weigh-in day.

I weigh myself every day, but only record my official progress on Mondays, and today – as I expected – I stayed the same.

Analyzing the data, my daily calorie consumption has been creeping up lately and, frankly, I'm getting kind of bored with the low glycemic index plan I've been working with for the past eight months. eDiets allows you to switch plans and change preferences at will, so I'm going to try their Atkins Nutritional Approach for a couple of months.

This week's average daily stats, for anyone else who's keeping score:
  • Calories consumed: 1379
  • Minutes of activity: 70
  • Calories burned: 519
I should have – and could have – made better choices while I was gone. Certainly the options were available to me. Road trips are difficult for me. My mind and good sense go on vacation when I do, and I end up eating things – mostly in the car – that I would never choose if I were home. I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not blaming my hosts for my lack of progress this week!

I worked out before I left Friday morning, walked 80 minutes Saturday morning and ran almost an hour yesterday. Damage control? I'd like to think I was able to prevent a gain by moving my ass on a daily basis.

I failed to try on the dress I took with me before I packed – a simple linen/cotton sleeveless shift, size medium. I bought it when I was on my way back up the scale the last time. It was, um, roomy, and I was glad I'd taken a short-sleeved cardigan to put over it so it didn't look quite so baggy.

It was cool enough here when I left Friday that I wore jeans, and the ones I originally put on also are too big. So I stopped at an outlet mall on the way home and picked up a couple pair of khakis, both size 12s. I refuse to pay anything even close to full price for transitional clothes; I got two pairs of pants for less than ten bucks!

Next weekend will be another one of travel, and this time every meal will be eaten in restaurants. [Warning: Blog Break, The Sequel, coming up!] I'm going to spend this week mentally preparing myself for the trip.

At any rate, I'm glad to be back home again for a few days, anyway. According to eDiets I can still accomplish my goal before the end of the year. The only way that will happen is if I quit slacking! Their prediction will only come to fruition if I do my part.

Friday, September 01, 2006

It had to happen

Sooner or later, Friday Quote Day had to intersect with Then-and-Now Photo Day. Photo first; again, I don't see much difference from this month to last, but from this month to January? Who was that fat woman, and why didn't she wear better clothes?

In the "now" photo, I'm wearing the size 12 skirt I wrote about a week or so ago. When I exchanged the 14 for the 12, I also picked up a 10 – they were so reasonably priced, and I like the skirt so much that I know I'll want one later this fall when the size 10 will fit perfectly! [How's that for confidence?] Right now I can get it buttoned and zipped, but I definitely look like I've eaten too many hot dogs. Heh.

That Buddha really knew his stuff, didn't he? The Buddha said:

“All that we are
is the result
of what we have thought.”

Think about that.

When I was fat, I thought about how fat I was pretty much all the time. I couldn't move comfortably, to the point where I had trouble tying my shoes. I hated seeing my multiple chins in the mirror, and rarely did much with my hair or make-up. My clothes were chosen because they didn't bind or chafe, and because they fit. Did I care if they were stylish or not? Of course I cared. It's just that at my size, stylish was out of the question.

My psychic shift in thinking happened late in 2005, when I really just couldn't stand myself any more. I wasn't having much fun in any area of my life. Climbing stairs left me breathless; playing with my grandchildren was limited to doing craft projects, watching movies and reading books together. I volunteer at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, and the two volunteers with whom I work are both small, fit, healthy women. I constantly compared myself – unfavorably, of course – with them, cheating myself out of the full experience of interacting with the inmates.

And then there's Mr. Shrinking Knitter, who helped me get fit 10 years ago and has stuck with me – and my ups and downs – all this time. I really felt like I'd let both of us down, although I had a long list of excuses ready every time the subject came up. Which it did.

On January 10, 2006, in my first Shrinking Knitter post, I wrote:
Today, I feel unfit, weak and horrible. My weight is a constant – I am never not thinking about it.
I'm so happy to report that on September 1, 2006, feeling unfit, weak and horrible are the furthest things from my mind. I still think about my weight a lot of the time, but it's not the negative obsession it used to be.

I may have mentioned one of my favorite recovery sayings here a time or two before: "If you keep on doing what you always did, you'll keep on getting what you always got." 'Thinking' falls under the category of 'doing.'

Don't you think?

P.S. Ernesto and I will be meeting this weekend, I think. I hope you can avoid him! Don't look for another post until Monday, and
if you're in the U.S., I hope you have a great long Labor Day weekend.