Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Progress photo

Just a quick post to update the photo, and to say how very much I don't like this one, but I'm in a hurry and didn't have time to futz around with a retake. It is what it is. I am what I am. A little smaller than I was in January, but not much by the look of this photo!
Those jeans slip right on, which is why I'm wearing them even though it's 90 degrees in the shade. Maybe next month I'll be brave enough to wear shorts.

I'll be back next Monday. Have a great week/weekend!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Oops, I did it again

Ran up that hill, that is.

I knew when I started out yesterday that I was going to do the 6.6-mile loop. I didn't know if I'd feel like walking or jogging. But after the warm-up hill, which I've always walked, I broke into a jog. I couldn't do all the hills, but I did the same long, curved one I did the other day. I estimate that I jogged about four of the total miles, and my time was 93 minutes – about 4.25 mph.

After that I unloaded a pickup truckload of mulch and spread a good bit of it on one of the flower beds. And then I mowed the lawn.

After which, I died.

Not really, obviously, or I wouldn't be here typing away, would I? But I sure felt like I should have taken about a three-day nap when I got done. I spent the rest of the day on the exercise ball [you regulars know that means I was in front of the computer] working on a DVD project.

Today will be more of the same [minus the lawn], with some laundry and housecleaning thrown in as I get ready to leave for a few more days. I'm hoping to get a first-of-the-month progress picture taken today for a quick post in the morning. But that might not happen until next week. I know you're all on the edges of your exercise balls, waiting to see what five months like. Heh.

Monday, May 29, 2006

If it's Monday …

it must be weigh-in day, right?

Two more pounds gone, for a total of 29. I had hoped to lose a total of 28 by now, so I'm on target with that. After 21 weeks following eDiets' Glycemic Impact plan, I've reduced my BMI by 5 points and developed some healthy new habits. I've also gotten rid of clothing that no longer fits, as I don't intend for it to ever fit again.

This is new behavior; I used to pack everything away in labeled boxes, waiting for the day when my weight would climb again.

Average daily calories were again a little low this week, at 1078. I averaged 80 minutes per day of intentional exercise and burned 515 calories per day while working out.

The Spousal Equivalent and I visited my son and his wife this weekend, and my son [Hi, A!] suggested that I include here what I typically eat. The theory behind the Glycemic Impact plan is to combine low-fat protein with good-quality carbs, so a typical breakfast would be an omelet made with egg substitute, Canadian bacon, fresh salsa and mushrooms and some low-fat cheese, along with whole wheat toast and an orange. Grilled chicken salad is a good lunch choice, with Triscuits and fruit, and I often have a whole wheat tortilla filled with grilled vegetables and chicken for dinner. My afternoon snack is almost always six ounces of plain, non-fat yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of wheat germ and a tablespoon of sliced almonds. I rarely eat in the evening, except for my Tuesday treat of having popcorn for dinner later in the evening.

We enjoyed our little getaway and I felt less anxious about food and exercise this time than I did the last time I traveled. I'm an early riser and was able to get out and walk/jog in the neighborhood both mornings without disturbing anyone else. They cooked for us the night we got there – grilled tuna and salad, which were perfect. Saturday night we ate at a baseball game; I could have chosen something more healthful than a footlong hot dog, but I also could have chosen something less healthful!

I only have a couple days at home to catch up on the lawn, the house, the laundry and the DVD job I'm doing, and then I'm off to see my daughter and her family for a few days.

As always, I'm grateful for all of you virtual supporters out there. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Brought to you by the color grey

First: Thanks again for the many birthday wishes, in the comments, in e-mails and in phone calls. I had one of the best birthdays I can remember. Fifty-five? Not me! I feel like a kid with all the attention I got. And I'm still a little high from making it up that hill.

My closet and dresser drawers are filled with clothes that would be called 'neutrals.' Much denim, khaki, black and grey. Much, much, much grey. I even wear grey pajama bottoms with a navy t-shirt. You can ask my knitting friends and they'll all tell you: "Yeah, that Debbi. She's a neutral, all right." But I'm really a 'spring.' When I wear pastels, especially pink, I get compliments from everyone. Even the dogs tell me how good I look in pink.

The past couple of winters I've made more colorful sweaters. A purple one with green and cream patterning on the yoke, the red one I'm wearing in my profile photo and my favorite, a beautiful mohair-blend pink cabled pullover that I just loved. [I sent it to someone else yesterday, as I couldn't rip it out and it no longer fits.] But I made and wore more that were brown or grey.

The current project is cream-colored, but the last one I finished was the plum V-neck pullover that will fit perfectly very soon, at the rate I'm going. And I'm trying not to buy too many neutrals when I go shopping any more. Which is, to be sure, seldom.

Wednesday I had to renew my driver's license and get my teeth cleaned, and I went to the mall as a reward for both. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but took my time and tried things on and came away with three shirts – icy lime, deep avocado and a plum/black/white plaid [didja notice how all those colors are foods?] – as well as a pair of creamy tone-on-tone capris and a pair of white linen slacks.

All of these clothes, except the capris, fall into the 'business-casual' category. Now I don't work, unless you count mowing and housecleaning and taking care of dogs and laundry, but I guess I was just overcome with the fact that these nice clothes actually fit! So I bought them … a birthday splurge.

Nicole had a similar epiphany a couple days ago. What used to be an agonizing chore – will it fit and flatter, or will I have to settle for just for fit? – has become something kind of fun!

Yesterday afternoon a delivery truck showed up with a basket of flowers and a gift bag. In the bag were a pink cotton hoodie with a lime-green zipper and a coordinating lime-green polo shirt, all gifts from the Spousal Equivalent's mother. They fit, too! And I can't wait to wear them.

I have some good opportunities coming up, a couple little mini-getaways involving more than just hanging out. Which means two things: that large, colorful woman you see at a ball game or dance recital might be me, and there will be a couple of blog breaks in the next couple weeks.

If you're in the U.S., have a safe Memorial Day weekend. If you're not, have a safe weekend. I'll be back Monday.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Birthday bonus!

I just got back from the first part of my morning walk, which was the four-mile loop. [I still have to do the 1.2-mile post office loop, but I have to wait until they open again after lunch.] Anyway, toward the end of the second mile is the killer hill that I've been trying to run all the way up. Here's what I wrote about it just one week ago today:
I have to scale one long, steep, curving hill just before my two-mile turnaround. When I first moved here [and was in terrific condition], I could run up that hill and still be able to breathe normally. When I'm in a running mood [not yesterday!], I challenge myself by adding a few more running steps each time. Eventually, I'll be able to get to the crest without stopping.

Yesterday as I was trudging up it, reserving my energy because I did, after all, have about six more miles to go, I realized I won't be able to run up that hill until I lose a lot more weight. I'm simply asking my body to do too much.
Well, I did it! In fact, I ran [okay, jogged] three out of the four miles. Guess how long it took? Go ahead … guess. I'll wait.

Fifty-five minutes.

I went back [in the car] and took pictures; here's what it looks like to me. Each of the three parts is a separate curve:

The song that started playing as I started up the hill was "Whip It," by Devo. I pity the fool who doesn't have this song on his or her playlist. And if you don't have it, then go here and grab it, with my compliments.

"WHIP IT"
Devo
Crack that whip
Give the past the slip
Step on a crack
Break your mommas back
When a problem comes along
You must whip it
Before the cream sits out too long
You must whip it
When somethings going wrong
You must whip it

Now whip it
Into shape
Shape it up
Get straight
Go forward
Move ahead
Try to detect it
Its not too late
To whip it
Whip it good

Now is that not The Most Perfect song to hear when you're trying really, really hard to accomplish something? I used to play it every morning when I was first divorced and had two young children and we were all trying to get ready to leave the house and get where we needed to on time. And since we didn't have a car, we all had to build walking-to-our-destination time into our morning routine.

Next up was this one. I've only put a few of the beginning lines here, because they're the most relevant. But it's such an upbeat, bouncy tune, perfect for a little hill-jogging celebration.

"Hand In My Pocket"
Alanis Morissette
I'm broke but I'm happy
I'm poor but I'm kind
I'm short but I'm healthy, yeah
I'm high but I'm grounded
I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed
I'm lost but I'm hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be fine fine fine
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five
I feel drunk but I'm sober
I'm young and I'm underpaid …

The only reason I left that last line is because of my last name. I'm not underpaid, not by any means. That's mostly because I'm not working. [Although Young at Heart Design Services is expecting a Big Job today. It was due May 1, so I'll definitely be overworked to make it by the client's deadline!]

Finally, I heard this one, which doesn't pop up on the Shuffle very often, but it felt good to listen to such a cheesy song when I was feeling so good about the hill.

"MAKIN' IT"
David Naughton
Makin' it, oo makin' it

I'm solid gold
I've got the goods
They stand when I walk
Through the neighborhoods

I'm makin' it
I've got the chance, I'm takin' it
No more, no more, Fakin' it
This time in life, I'm makin' it (ooo)

Makin' it

Hello uptown, Goodbye poverty
The top of the ladder is waiting for me

I'm makin' it,
I've got the chance, I'm takin' it
No more, no more fakin' it
This time in life, I'm makin' it (ooo)
Makin' it, makin' it

Listen everyone here
This coming year's gonna be my year
I'm as bad as they come
Number two to no one
I've got looks, I've got brains
And I'm breakin' these chains
Make some room now
dig what you see
Success is mine
'Cause I've got the key
I'm makin' it
(repeat chorus)

Okay. No more posts today. Two's plenty and I've other things on the agenda besides playing with the blog all day. Thank you for all your wonderful birthday wishes! You've made my day!

Double nickels


Today is one of those 'big' birthdays – you know, the ones ending in zero or five. Fifty-five marks me as a Baby Boomer, and probably qualifies me for a senior discount at some restaurants. I joined AARP at 50, but resigned when they endorsed Medicare Part D. They keep trying to get me back. Believe me, they don't want old folks like me as members of their group!

I don't think I've ever talked about this here [I checked the archives], but when I started my quest for good health and fitness, one of the motivating factors was that I was turning 55 this year. For some weird, indefinable reason, I just didn't want the rest of my life to continue on the declining path I'd been on since I turned 50.

My health is good; I have only a couple of minor and manageable little issues, but all in all my systems are Go, and my doctors agree. I see some 55-year-olds who look and act more like 70 … or, as I get older, 90! I keep pushing what I think of as 'old' farther and farther away from whatever age I am.

So this, to me, was the year to get back on the horse, so to speak, to knuckle down and git 'er done. I realize now that to get and stay healthy I will probably always have to:
  • Carefully watch what I eat
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid sugar
  • Keep a food/exercise journal
  • Take vitamins
These are not hard things for me to do. They are, in fact, becoming quite routine, and are good habits to develop.

In addition, to have a good life, a nice life, a fulfilled life, I want:
  • A spiritual foundation
  • Sobriety
  • Love
  • Good family relationships
  • A positive attitude
Well, happy birthday to me! I have these – all of them. For someone who has, at times, struggled with each of these things, I'm delighted. But not complacent. I can't keep any of these without effort and intention.

The rewards are worth the work it takes. Maybe I'm finally moving out of that mindset that wants what I want when I want it. Good things come to those who wait, and all that.

Remind me of this post when I start whining, will you? And thanks for being here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Too busy to be tired

I had a less-than-restful night's sleep last night, for two reasons.

First, I bought a pair of those gel insoles to put in my old running shoes, until the new ones get broken in. The insoles are supposed to be 'shock-absorbing' and since my shoes have now completely lost that quality, I thought it would be a Good Thing. The trouble is in how the insoles are shaped, and how the soles of my feet rubbed against the little ridges at the edges. I developed some nasty and painful blisters after a walk/run that is fairly routine for me at this point.

[I did 5.6 miles in 80 minutes – best time this year. My course is asphalt and very hilly, and I'm short, so while that's not a particularly impressive time, well … yeah, me!]

So I kept waking up because my feet hurt. And each time I woke up, the song "Baby Got Back" was playing on my internal iPod. It really is on the Shuffle and was the last song I listened to on my way back up the driveway.

But I really blame Laurie's 'juicybooty' post for it. Who wouldn't be thinking of big butts after reading that? [Here's the perfect juicy booty ... a booty to aspire to! And a very cool website, too. Here's a parody, which is just too funny for words. Be sure to read the instructions for both sites, and get creative! Needless to say, this works better-faster on broadband or DSL than on dial-up. But I said it anyway.]

Today will be a rest day from walking; I'll do the weight training and then I have to head to town to get my driver's license renewed. I also have a dentist's appointment and various other little errands to take care of. Those of you who live in your own Middle of Nowheres know that you don't go all the way to town just to get your teeth cleaned.

Finally, I'm shouting out a big Happy Birthday to my favorite songwriter, poet, singer and fellow Gemini, Bob Dylan, who turns 65 today. Think he'll remember me tomorrow?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Spring has sprung

We are having the loveliest spring here in the Middle of Nowhere. Sometimes spring skips us, and we go from winter to summer in one swell foop. But this May has been everything spring is supposed to be: low humidity, cool mornings and light breezes.

It feels good to get outside and walk when the weather is so cooperative. I hope by the time the humidity hits us – and it always does – the walking will be so routine that I won't even think about it. Maybe walking outside every day will gradually acclimate my body and lungs, and the rising temperatures won't affect my performance. I know that's a load of crap, but I can wish, can't I?

I'm breaking in a new pair of walking shoes. When I see good shoes on sale I go ahead and stash a spare pair in the closet. When I absolutely can't walk another mile in the old ones, I don't have to go shopping for new ones. Shopping opportunities being kinda rare here, you know?

I wore the new ones to the prison last night and they're very comfortable, surprisingly so. I could hardly tell I was wearing new shoes, which makes me think I should go back and get more!

Here's an excellent article from Cool Running on choosing a shoe that fits both your foot and your budget. Shoes should be replaced after you've logged 500 miles. I've only been logging my miles since the first of the month, and am averaging about 30 per week, so these new ones should last through the summer.

I just hope I do!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Making steady progress

Two more pounds gone! That's a total of 27 since January 1, an average of 1.35 pounds per week. I've also lost another 3.5 inches, for a total of 9.5 since February 27, when I started taking measurements. This week's stats:
  • Minutes of intentional exercise per day = 105
  • Calories burned per day = 628
  • Calorie intake per day = 1278
The activity level is nearly identical to last week's, but the calories are up by a couple hundred, and are more in line with the eDiet recommendations for my current weight and activity level. [Actually, my eDiets profile needs updated; I don't think my activity level qualifies as "light" any more.]

When I checked my weight this morning, the scale told me three different numbers. I took the highest one, only because it should be easier to actually lose another pound this week if I'm teetering on the edge. I'll be gone this weekend [blog break alert!], but will be able to stick pretty close to the plan while I'm away. Only one more pound to reach my goal of losing 28 by the end of May. Think I'll make it?

My biggest challenge continues to be lifting weights three times a week. This week I managed it twice. Knowing the benefits doesn't necessarily equal doing the work, and I'm not sure what I need to do to make it happen. Yesterday I did the weight routine before I walked, and I'm going to try that again this week. Since I don't like weight training, I think waiting until after the walk makes it seem more like a punishment. Getting it over with first thing might work.

I need to Just Do It, without analyzing or thinking or dithering about it. It just needs to go into the routine in a matter-of-fact way.

A knitting update: I finished the back and started the front of the Krista Tee. No additional progress has been made on the felted fish, and I need to get that done and make another one before I see the grandchildren again. The fish and turtles are two- or three-color projects. I think I'm more of a one-color project person, although I have a wonderful collection of Fair Isle books and patterns for temptation.

This is the newest addition to my list of one-color projects for next winter.

The nicest-looking Fair Isles, in my opinion, are those done on small needles – size 2 or 3 US – with fine-gauge wool. That's a daunting task when you're looking at making an extra-large sized sweater. A medium, though? Not so much. This might be the winter for a Fair Isle pour moi.

I have hope ...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dinner and a gospel sing

I've mentioned here previously that I volunteer at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, which is a minimum-security female facility. Had anyone told me 15 years ago, when I was newly sober, that I would be taking an AA meeting into a prison, I would have been convinced they'd fallen off the wagon.

Like so many things we think we can't, won't, or won't want to do, however, the Alderson gig has been the best thing I've done for my sobriety.

Last night was Alderson's annual Volunteer Recogniton Dinner. I'm not sure how many volunteers serve at Alderson, but about 60 came for the dinner and refresher training. Dinner was nothing special this year; one year we had grilled steaks! But the federal budget being what it is these days, we were served a decidedly lackluster and carb-filled meal. I scraped as much sugary sauce off a slice of ham as I could, accompanied by green beans and salad. I skipped the rolls, mashed potatoes, pasta salad and pie.

But it's not about the food. [I want that to be my mantra for the rest of my life. I will know I've succeeded when I'm not thinking about what to eat next. Or when.]

Alderson has several vocal choirs, and we were entertained
– no, we were lifted – before and after the training program by the Praise and Worship Choir, a group of about 20 talented gospel singers. We had no idea we were at a prison, listening to inmates. They were wonderful, inspiring, bold and free, and we who listened were touched beyond words.

Most of the volunteers who work at Alderson serve in the area of Religious Services. [The AA meeting that I take in falls under the Psychology department, and I also teach a beginning drawing class which is part of the Recreation department.] It's sort of traditional at these dinners to have a little gospel sing, and I'm one of the few who fumbles for words to the hymns. But it takes nothing away from my pleasure in the experience.

This is a bit of a ramble this morning, with little to do about weight loss and nothing to do about knitting. It's everything to do with being inspired, though – inspired to be a better person, to give instead of take, to walk with grace through the toughest of times, to learn lessons and a better way of living life. To be grateful.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

You gimme fever

If you felt tired, warm but chilly, achy, and your head and throat hurt, and you took your temperature and it was 99.5, would you say you had a fever?

Since my normal daytime temperature is 97.3, I'll say I did. It started yesterday afternoon. I could not get warm, even though my skin was hot to the touch. I finally took a long, hot shower, which helped some. I took my temperature and was surprised that it was 98.3, but didn't think too much about it. As the afternoon wore on, though, I felt worse and worse. By the time the dinner dishes were loaded in the dirty-dish storage compartment [aka dishwasher], my temperature was 99, and by the time Jeopardy was over it was 99.5.

I slept for three hours and woke up in a cold sweat. My temperature was down to 96.7. When I get sick, I don't mess around. I feel bad for a few hours and get over it. May it always be so.

It was several years ago when I first learned that low body temperature might be an indicator of thyroid disease which, as every fat person knows, makes one resistant to losing weight. I'm not going to link to any information about it, because I don't believe the information is credible. Suffice it to say that I pursued that angle for far too long, spending too much time and money on labwork, doctors' visits and dreams of easy weight loss through chemistry. Not, mind you, the chemistry of weight-loss drugs – that would come later. But the chemistry of thyroid medication.

Fortunately, I didn't hurt myself. [Taking thyroid medication unnecessarily can lead to serious problems.] I wasted a few years looking for the easy way out of Fat Hell. The fact is, my normal body temperature is on the low side of normal. [I think that would be a good title for a book.] That might mean that my metabolism works at a slower pace than yours does.

I think I've proven, since January 1, 2006, that I can do something about my weight that doesn't involve drugs and isn't dependent on having the classic 98.6 'normal' body temperature. I can lose weight at a slow, steady pace when I eat reasonable amounts of high-quality carbs with low-fat protein, hoist a few dumbbells and work up a sweat on a regular basis.

Simple, huh? But not easy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Living in the now

While I follow eDiets' Glycemic Impact menu plan, I take advantage of any and all of the other get-healthy motivational messages out there, including the excellent advice from SparkPeople, who send me daily e-mails on various topics. eDiets does this, too, and so does Discovery Health. There probably are others; they all run together after a while.

The SparkPeople messages are short and to the point, especially their "Healthy Reflection." Yesterday's message was:
Stop living life for what's around the corner and start enjoying the walk down the street.
– Grant L. Miller, motivational guru

Enjoying the road to accomplishment
It's possible to be a little too focused. With blinders on, it becomes easy to completely live in our vision of where we will be in the future, while ignoring the improvements that we have made in the present. The road to a healthy lifestyle is a long trip. While it's very important to realize what we are shooting for, we also need to make sure that we keep our heads in the present to enjoy the progress we've made. If your goal is to lose weight, instead of waiting to celebrate until you lose it all, enjoy today's small victories and take advantage of your improved health now. This approach serves as motivation for any aspiration in life. Set ambitious goals and enjoy the road to accomplishing those goals. Because life might pass you by if you are always planning for tomorrow without ever seeing today.
I needed to read that, and I need even more to live it.

As someone who has been in a recovery program for more than 15 years, you'd think I'd have learned by now to live in the present. And as someone who reads a good deal – if not all! – of the weight-loss advice out there, you'd think I'd have picked up the idea that little non-food rewards along the way are a good way to stay on the path.

But I do find myself thinking of That Day, instead of this one. You know, the day the scale displays the right number. That's all I'm working for, but ultimately that's not enough.

So last night I mentally checked off some of the positive changes I've noticed so far.
  • I can mow the grass and weeds on the slope at the edge of our front yard with the push mower. [Last year I wouldn't even try it; when I had enough energy, I used the weedeater. When I was too tired, which was most of the time, I just let it grow.]

  • I sit, stand and walk with better posture than I used to. [Thank you, Exercise Ball! And thank you, H, for the suggestion!]

  • The ring I wear, which had been my grandmother's, is so loose that the diamonds frequently slide around my finger to the palm side of my hand. [It used to leave a mark on my finger when I took it off.]

  • I can wear jeans that button and zip. I can wear jeans that button and zip!!! [The last pair of denim pants I bought last year, sometime in last fall, had an elastic waist, and that was the beginning of the end of my complacency. I only wore them twice.]

  • My average daily intentional exercise time has gone from barely half an hour to more than an hour and a half since the first of the year. [Thank you, Shuffle!]
I need to keep adding to this list. I think these fall into the NSV [non-scale victory] category, a term I first read on a Weight Watcher message board. I'm not going to lie to you: When I finally do see the right number on the scale, that will be a momentous day. But I need to focus more on enjoying life while I get there.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Crime and punishment and reward

The crime?
Sugar ingestion, in the car: two misdemeanors.

The punishment?
An 8.2-mile walk instead of the usual weekday 4- or 5.5-mile loop. (I do the really long walk on Saturday, as a rule.)

The real punishment?
Being too wiped out to do anything the rest of the day.

The big question is why I think I need to punish myself for the sugar slip. I've been trying to be pretty matter-of-fact about this obsession process, but for some reason I'm blowing this all out of proportion.

I have to scale
one long, steep, curving hill just before my two-mile turnaround. When I first moved here [and was in terrific condition], I could run up that hill and still be able to breathe normally. When I'm in a running mood [not yesterday!], I challenge myself by adding a few more running steps each time. Eventually, I'll be able to get to the crest without stopping.

Yesterday as I was trudging up it, reserving my energy because I did, after all, have about six more miles to go, I realized I won't be able to run up that hill until I lose a lot more weight. I'm simply asking my body to do too much.

So there's one little almost-daily self-beating I can eliminate from my routine.

I guess walking eight miles and then expecting to be able to mop the floor or mow the lawn or weed the perennial beds was probably asking for too much, too.

So the reward?
I took a shower, sat in my new chair and knit all afternoon.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bad night in the Middle of Nowhere

Ouch!

That was me, falling off the sugar-free wagon last night.

I had an errand to run before I went to my Tuesday-night volunteer duty at the prison, and ended up with a little time on my hands, so I went to find the June issue of O, which Beth recommended.

This is the 'body' issue, with cover blurbs like "Body Bliss: Feel great in your own skin" and "How not to look fat in a bathing suit" and "Oprah's Aha Moment: Fighting the mashed potato wars."

Why I thought adding a small package of caramel creams to that particular purchase was a good idea, I'll never know.

To my credit, I didn't finish them. In fact, I wrapped the remaining ones in the grocery bag and buried the offensive little parcel in the garbage at the end of the driveway, awaiting this morning's pick-up. So they didn't even make it onto the property. [Somehow that makes me feel better.]

The bad parts, though, are:
  • They were sugar.
  • I ate them in the car.
  • I really let myself down.
The good part is they're gone! Well, except for whatever remnants are clinging to my hips. Because you know that's where every bit of sugar and fat stays, don't you? Might as well just hot-glue it to the outside of my body.

To end on a good note, the new furniture came yesterday and our living room suddenly looks so grown-up! It's a little overcrowded at the moment; we intend to get rid of the television in that room. Until we do there's the new black coffee table and the old wooden one with the television/DVD player/satellite box on it. But we'll take care of that soon enough. As you know, I sometimes have a hard time thinking of myself as a middle-aged woman. But when you have burgundy leather grown-up furniture, you just can't help yourself.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I think Nike's onto something

Of course they are: Their ubiquitous "Just Do It" slogan has been around for ages, and is still working for them, whether they use it as a tag line or not. When you hear those words, who do you think of? [Or, rather, of whom do you think?]

I tried to research their advertising success story at the Nike site, but their flashy splash page just loaded and loaded and loaded until I gave up. Dial-up sucks. Wikipedia came through, though, with a timeline stating the "Just Do It" campaign was introduced in 1988.

Yesterday was kind of a let-down day, after a great weekend and then the visit from my dad. Here in the Middle of Nowhere, company is a wonderful distraction. I spent the morning being cold – we're having an unusally cool spring here in the mountains – cold enough to wear layers. I even took a shower to warm up. Then my throat started hurting and then I alternated between feeling cold and hot. I developed a slight fever [my body temperature is normally in the 96.7 to 97.5 range, so 99.6 is a fever] later in the afternoon.

Because my morning routine was off, I kept putting off the daily walk. I read e-mail, surfed the web, updated the blog, cleaned the kitchen, knitted while I watched Sunday night's West Wing finale and Desperate Housewives, both of which I'd taped. [No, I don't have TiVo®.] I was a master [mistress?] of avoidance.

At about 3:30, after I'd exhausted all the distractions at hand, I Just Did It. Put on my walking shoes and Shuffle and took off. I did four miles at a decidedly leisurely 18-minute-per-mile pace, but it was done. Done! I felt better about myself afterward – as I always do – even though physically I still felt kinda crappy. I decided to stay home from the volunteer gig at the prison last night, and turned in early. I ended up getting 10 hours of sleep, which I must have needed, and am feeling fine this morning.

Just doing it – whether it's just eating what's on the menu plan, or putting one foot in front of the other, or not giving in to an emotional temptation – works. For some of us, it works more slowly than others, and for some us there might be a true physiological reason that weight loss doesn't happen. But I wasted years – years! – trying to convince myself that there was something wrong with me, whether it be thyroid problems or menopause or whatever.

I'd been trying, again for years, to lose weight and eat sugar at the same time. Not a lot of sugar, not even daily. But I've convinced myself that this body and this metabolism just can't handle sugar. The first time I went sugar-free was after I read a book called Sugar Blues. It was an eye-opener. I still have it, and should probably read it again.

What else was wrong with me is that I wasn't moving my body. It was uncomfortable and hard, and I didn't like to sweat. Sometimes it's still uncomfortable and hard, and I still don't like to sweat. [Being a knitter, I almost typed 'sweater' there.] But if sweat is what it takes, then sweat is what I'll do. The rewards are too great.

Thanks, Nike.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Twenty-five!

Even though I have many more pounds to go to reach my goal, it seems like such a milestone to say I've lost 25 pounds. I think I'll say it again:

I've lost 25 pounds!

This week I lost two.

My average daily caloric intake was way down this week – only 1077 per day, which I realize is too low. I found myself a couple of days just not even wanting to eat, either because I was busy or because I just wasn't hungry. This is quite a milestone for me – who ever heard of not wanting to eat just because you're not hungry? [You emotional eaters will know what I'm talking about!]

I averaged 105 minutes of intentional activity each day this week, including a rest day, and burned an average of 659 calories per day.

My dad and his wife just left to continue their journey south. It was such a treat to see them. They haven't been here in four years, I think. However, seeing my dad's poor health and limited mobility was difficult, and that increases my motivation to follow my 'get-healthy' plan. [Especially the weight training.]

I gave them a week's worth of menu plans and explained how to combine low-fat protein with good-quality carbs, but they're both of an era where bread is made of white flour, green beans are cooked in bacon fat and meat is fried. Dad's wife is a tiny little thing; her metabolism must be on fast-forward all the time. Dad? Not so much. And while I can do little more than sympathize and try to make things comfortable for him when he's here, I can certainly do much more to prevent the same challenges from limiting my golden years.

Thanks to all of you who read, e-mail and leave comments. You're keeping me on track, and I appreciate it so very much.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Road trip, the sequel

Okay, eDiets must be reading the blog. Here's their Health and Diet Tip of the Day for today:
Controlling food choices when you're on the road is difficult, but not impossible if you plan ahead. Bring non-perishable nutritious snacks with you. Fresh veggies, peanut butter, pretzels, nuts, cereal and dried or fresh fruit all travel well! Pack a cooler with sandwiches and yogurt. And, don't forget to bring along plenty of water!
To which I say, "Duh!" Do they think we don't know that?"

For me, it's more of a 'Hey, what the heck, I'm on vacation!' mentality than one of trying to figure out what the heck to eat while traveling.

I still think my new rule of not eating in the car will work best for me. I'll let you know next month, when the trips are done.

My dad and his wife are coming to visit today, traveling from Ohio back to their home in Florida. I haven't seen him since last April, when we celebrated his 75th birthday with a surprise party. I'll spend some time today with the floor, as usual. The guest room is ready. I think they'll be here in time for dinner. I'd hoped to grill some chicken, but since it's supposed to storm, I'll be doing a pasta-vegetable-chicken sausage combo that tastes different every time I make it.

The Spousal Equivalent and I went furniture shopping yesterday. We bought a couch, chair and cocktail table, all of which will be delivered Tuesday, and all within our budget. I'm still stunned that we both liked one of the first couches we saw, that it was available for immediate delivery and that we didn't go into debt. Here's the couch; the chair matches it:

The table is black and has kind of a Mission look to it. Now we have to teach the dogs not to bury their rawhide treats in the couch cushions. [Note to self: Search old couch for rawhide treats before sending it away with the delivery truck!]

On the way home from the shopping trip, we were talking about losing weight [what can I say? It's an obsession!], and he said:
The human body counts calories better than anything else, and is one of the few honest things in the world today.
Or something like that.

I wasn't going to take issue with him, because I think he's mostly right. I will say, however, that the quality of the calories has made all the difference for me this time around. Combining low-fat protein with high-quality carbs is working better for me than eating fat-free pretzels. Eliminating sugar – not especially high in calories – also has been key.

More than likely he's completely right, because maybe ... maybe ... if I'd been walking 30 miles a week instead of only six or seven, and hoisting a dumbbell occasionally, I might have been more successful at releasing weight. My philosophy now, though, is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

If you're a mom, have a happy mother's day!

Edited to add:

Fercryin'outloud! SparkPeople reads the Shrinking Knitter, too! They're offering exercise tips during cross-country vacation drives:
How Drive Tme can Be Relaxing
On marathon, cross-country vacation drives, excitement can quickly turn to boredom, and finally degenerate into a feeling of being cramped and cooped up in a stiff, uncomfortable position. Here are a some quick, relaxing moves that will create a muscle-loosening diversion on your next car trip. (*These exercises should be done by passengers only, not drivers.)

Step 1: Neck Roll
Bring your left ear down towards your left shoulder and hold. Roll your head down towards the ground and bring your chin to your chest. Hold and finally, roll your head to the right and bring that ear to your right shoulder.

Step 2: Concentration Curl
Hold something about the weight of a small dumbbell with an underhand grip, resting that elbow on the inner side of your thigh. Curl the dumbbell to your shoulder, keeping upper body still. Lower the weight back down.

Step 3: Lower Shoulder Stretch
Bring one arm directly across your body and hold it tight with the opposite arm. Pull the opposite arm to your body, hold for approximately 12 to 15 seconds and relax.

They got one thing absolutely right: Driving is boring! Sorry this was such a long post.

Hope you weren't bored!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Road trips

Do you eat in the car?

One of my friends who also is working hard to lose weight recently returned home from a three-week road trip. She says she would have done better had she not snacked so much while she was driving. Even choosing healthy snacks, she says she ate too much, and got too little exercise.

I have the same issue while driving. It's like all the normal, healthy eating rules get thrown out the window. Not so much for a trip to the mall [which, as you'll recall is an hour trip, one-way], but it's happened then, too.

Is it as simple as a vacation mentality? But that wouldn't explain falling off the wagon on the way to the mall. I don't recall trips from my childhood being food fests. In fact, I don't recall eating in the car at all when I was young. Er. I'll have to ask my dad if we had rules about it, or if it just wasn't the custom back in the old days. hehehe

I usually pack a cooler with crudit├ęs, grapes and bottled water – easy-to-eat and healthful. But I also have stopped and bought a bag of pretzels or popcorn, or, if I'm feeling particularly weak, something sweet. It almost feels like I'm getting away with something, since I rarely have sweets in the house and since I rarely eat anything with sugar in it.

Of course, I'm not getting away with anything – I'm setting myself back a step or two.

The truth is, on a trip of four hours or less I don't need to snack at all if I've eaten before I left the house. And on a longer trip, I should stop for a decent meal and a short rest anyway.

So. New rule! No food in the car. [Coffee and water aren't food, they're necessities!] I have two road trips coming up in which to test this new rule. And I think I'm going to have to reward myself if I actually stick with it. I'll be taking the first trip with the Spousal Equivalent, and we all know how much easier it is to stick with a rule when someone's watching.

The second trip, a solo effort, takes me past a lovely little yarn shop in Knoxville. Hmmmm.

Thanks to PastaQueen for her encouraging words about how weight loss can get slower than 1.25 pounds per week. Something to look forward to!

And thanks to PQ and Mariah for the comments on the tee shirt. My gauge swatch shrank a lot, which would mean major pattern redrafting. I'd rather find a different yarn. Mariah has seen my yarn stash. Think I'll have any trouble finding something else?

Friday, May 12, 2006

I keep coming back to . . .

what happens when? Or if?

What happens when I can't keep up the activity pace I've set for myself?

What happens if I hurt an ankle or knee? [My knees have been ... um ... vulnerable in the past.]

What happens if and/or when my enthusiasm begins to lag?

I can't really say 'what happens when the weight loss slows down?' because it can't get much slower than 1.25 pounds per week.

Can it?

I read somewhere recently that 50 is the new 'middle-aged.' If it is, then I'm solidly there, as I left 50 several years ago. When I was a little girl, and even when I was in high school, 50 was – no two ways about it – old. One writer describes it as
that point in your life when you shift from seeing the future in terms of your potential and begin to see it in terms of your limitations.
So maybe I'm getting there, since I'm wondering what if and what when. But I'm still seeing a bright future, filled with meaningful relationships, activities and successes.

My dad has frequently said he's the youngest person in the family, because he's been Young [our last name] longer than any of us. I think I'll keep thinking Young.

I've been knitting! Finished a couple to-be-felted turtles and started a fish. The turtle pattern also includes instructions for starfish, so I might do a couple of those and then one more fish. That will make an aquarium full of swimmy creatures for each grandchild. [You're old when you have grandchildren, aren't you? But my mother was only 39 when her first grandchild was born. So I guess you don't have to be.]

I also started the lovely Krista Cap-Sleeve Tee from White Lies Designs.

I'm not using the same yarn that's called for in the pattern, but instead found in the yarn closet an unlabeled cream-colored ribbon that knits to 4.75 stitches per inch. [The pattern gauge is 4 stitches per inch.] I think I'll like it better at a finer gauge, especially for warm weather.

I did a sleeve first, and will send it through the washer and dryer today to see if the row gauge tightens up. If not, I'll have to do more calculations when it's time to shape the armscyes and sleeves. The sleeve I finished looks too long and narrow to me, but I haven't taken the time to actually figure out what the measurements should be from the original suggested gauge.

At any rate, it's a very pretty design, and quite unlike anything I've ever made for myself in the past. I just hope I don't feel like I'm dressing up in someone else's clothes when I wear it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Do a Google news search for 'obesity'

Here: I did one for you.

What's interesting to me about the obesity 'epidemic' among children is that the stories are coming from all over the world. Headlines about the topic are in Canadian, Chinese, British, Indian and Australian papers, as well as many in the United States. They all say pretty much the same thing: Kids are getting fatter because they eat too much junk food and don't get enough exercise.

I doubt if this problem gets solved before my grandchildren have children. This is just my opinion, of course, but as long as we would rather drive or sit rather than walk or bike, and as long as we prefer our meals in boxes or bags, rather than prepared from fresh ingredients, we're going to have a worldwide weight problem.

I set up a Google news alert to send me links to news stories about obesity. Frequently these 'news' stories are opinions, but since they've been published in a newspaper they are included in the alert. The biggest obesity news lately has been the ... ahem ... growing problem of fat kids.

I actually joined the New York Times' Times Select to read their Talking Points column from the May 10 issue. Eleanor Randolph sounds off in a piece called "The Big, Fat American Kid Crisis ... And 10 Things We Should Do About It."

I believe she may have read J. Eric Oliver's Fat Politics. [Thanks again to Beth for mentioning that book.] Randolph and Oliver both suggest stopping the subsidization of junk food. According to Randolph, the government hands out nearly $40 billion to corn farmers each year, encouraging the production of high-fructose corn syrup – a major ingredient in sweet snacks. Oliver discusses this issue extensively in his book.

Oliver contends that being fat does not necessarily mean one is unhealthy, and I agree with him. His one concession is that excess weight stresses the joints, especially of the hips and knees. But being fat doesn't automatically sentence you to a lifetime of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. And I guess, so far, I'm proof of that. Last fall was the first time in the last five years my bloodwork had ever shown an eleveted cholesterol level. My blood pressure is always on the low side of normal, my heart rate is steady, my lungs are clear and my blood sugar levels are well within the normal range. I've also been overweight or obese [according to the BMI standards] for the last five years.

Will putting nutrition information on fast food encourage kids [or adults] to choose a salad over the burger and fries? Will taking sugary sodas out of school vending machines prevent youngsters from bringing sugary snacks and drinks from home? Will any food-related suggestion, if implemented, reduce our taste for sugary, salty, crunchy snacks and have us choosing grapes or strawberries instead? [If agricultural subsidies are necessary, why not subsidize fruit farmers?]

Our modern lives are designed to accommodate cars, not feet. Isn't it ironic that we drive to a gym to walk on a treadmill, or drive to a mall to walk its perimeter, all in the name of exercise?

I don't know where I'm going with this. I just needed to say it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Everyone needs a rest day ...

Right?

According to my geeky little food and exercise log, I haven't taken a day off from exercising for two straight weeks. Today's the day! I will, however, be mopping the floor [Hi, H!] and if it doesn't rain I'll be mowing, too. It's not like I'll be sitting on my ass knitting, watching cable news and eating sugar-free bread-and-butter pickles all day.

Some of the people I see every week are starting to notice I've shed a few pounds. It's nice to be acknowledged for all this hard work. I've been trying for a long, long time to lose, but my body just wouldn't cooperate. I've left perimenopause behind, with all its hormonal swings, and have entered the perfect storm [for me] of being able to achieve some modest success: eating low-glycemic foods, in the right combinations, at the right times, along with intentional activity that has truly become something I look forward to. Well, not the weight-training so much, but I'm loving my long, long walks.

Each little success creates an atmosphere and mindset for more. I can move more easily since I've lost a little bit of weight, and so I move more often, making it easier to lose more. Eliminating sugar and white flour completely is difficult, but each day without it finds me calmer, saner, happier. And if I'm calm-sane-happy, I don't find myself in those low mood swings trying to cure myself with something sweet. Which, of course, never worked.

Or maybe it's just sitting on an exercise ball instead of a chair. Or taking vitamins or flaxseed oil. Who knows? I'm unwilling to eliminate anything at this point, and perfectly willing to give every small change I've made all the credit.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

How I handle staying the same

Mostly I whoop for joy, since it means I haven't lost any ground!

I also take a minute to look over my progress, realizing that a week or two of little progress usually follows one where I've had a big loss, and that's what's happened this week.

And I get back on the horse, so to speak. I walked yesterday morning, as usual, and even added a mile to my usual route. That extra bit of terrain includes another steep hill and a couple of barking beagles, so it's not an easy thing for me to do psychologically. Physically it's not a problem, though.

I've sampled quite a few weight-loss/fitness blogs since the beginning of the year. One thing I don't want to do here is become negative. I also don't want to make excuses or whine. At the same time, I don't want to be a Pollyanna about this, all sweetness and light. Rather, I just want to be matter-of-fact and practical and sensible. You know ... grown up! When I started this project I knew it would probably take a year to get where I want to be. It takes daily vigilance – no slacking!

Speaking of projects, do you remember the one I couldn't tell you about until the gift had been delivered? It arrived; now I can talk about it.

My son is a newspaper reporter and had mentioned a few months ago that he'd like a CD of newspaper songs. There is no handy-dandy list out there, so Google, iTunes and I found enough to fill two CDs. I had such fun putting it all together, deciding how to arrange them on their respective discs [one disc is blues/jazz, the other is rock/alternative], and especially designing the graphics.

He seemed pretty impressed. I've been thinking of other categories to create one-of-a-kind gifts. The Spousal Equivalent's son is in finance, so a collection of money songs would be appropriate. And the SE is a psychiatrist. Here's what Wikipedia had to offer on that subject!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Crops!

Saturday was a very productive day. I transplanted three baby blue spruce trees and planted all the crops in my tiny little garden spot by the garage. It rained all day Sunday, so I didn't have to drag the hose out to water. Here's what I call my salsa garden.

The basil, of course, isn't part of the salsa; I only grow enough to make a couple batches of pesto. And technically, I guess, what I make is pico de gallo, not salsa. Finely diced tomatoes, hot peppers, onions, green or red peppers and cilantro, which I serve with grilled just-about-anything. Throw some in an omelet, add it to chili, serve it with chips. It's a multi-purpose concoction. Fat-free and nearly calorie-free and so, so delicious.

Time for a little knitting update. I've started knitting toy turtles after ripping out the FLAK. I'd been frustrated by a miscrossed cable and worked for two days trying to ladder back and fix it properly. At one point I had it off the needle and could slip it over my head. It. Was. Huge. By the time I reach my weight-loss goal I would have been swimming in it. This photo shows what used to be the sleeves and about half of the body, with the front and back bodices intact – a good gauge swatch for the next version, which I'll probably start in January.

I think I took good measurements when I started out, but I also tend to overestimate, thinking bigger will be more comfortable. I've been doing that with clothes lately, too. I bought a nice tee the other day – you know, the kind that doesn't have any image or writing on the front – to wear with capris. I didn't try it on in the store, assuming that even if it was a little big it would still be okay. Well, it's less than okay, but not worth driving an hour to exchange it. It'll be fine for yard work. You know, mowing or ... watering crops.

If you came here today for a Shrinking Knitter Progress Report, then you're in luck! This week I ate 1175 calories per day, did 103 minutes of intentional exercise per day and burned 659 calories during each exercise session. [Those are all averages.] I also kept track of how many miles I walked/jogged this week: 31.5. The result? I stayed the same. What does a girl have to do to lose a pound around here?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Short and sweet

That would be me! hehehe

Actually, that would be this post. Since my office is in the guest-wing side of the house, and the guest wing is occupied, my computer time is limited.

I screwed up this week with my exercise. I usually give myself one day of rest, but this week I've walked or walked/run every day, and just got back from the four-mile loop a little bit ago. Since I weigh in on Monday morning, I don't dare take a rest day on Sunday, do I? That would seem like shooting myself in the foot.

Busy day today ... tomorrow, too. I think I'll take tomorrow off. See you Monday, bright and early!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Motivated, inspired, informed

Shauna says [in her usual witty and entertaining way]: How dull would life be without the internet?

I don't know about you, but I can't imagine how life would be here at Chez Middle of Nowhere.

When I left the Big City [Columbus, Ohio] almost nine years ago, I left coffee shops, bookstores, malls, gyms ... dare I say it? I left civilization. I now live in a beautiful place with mountain views and sunrises and rainbows and wildlife, but none of the trappings of city life. The nearest mediocre grocery store is 12 miles away; the nearest one with cilantro is more than 30 miles away.

Note to self: Pick up cilantro and basil plants at the nursery today.

[Actually the nearest grocery has started stocking organic cilantro in those little-bitty plastic containers for $1.99. Which is, of course, less than the amount I have to spend on gas to get to the Super Wal-Mart, which sells chemically laden cilantro in the same bin as the parsley for $.79.]

I spend two or three hours a day online reading blogs, ordering stuff, checking e-mail and generally entertaining myself. I can do this because I don't work outside my home and I spend a lot of time alone. Children are grown, Spousal Equivalent is gone all week, dogs can't talk. I figure as long as the house isn't walking away [my mother used to say the house was so dirty it was 'ready to walk'], the lawn gets mowed and the dogs aren't starving that my time is my own.

I am hugely entertained on the internet.

More than that, I am motivated [see the 'Weight Management Links' in the sidebar], inspired [ditto 'Yarn Management Links] and informed.

Yes, I get to replace toilet guts today. That should keep me off my feed, so to speak, for quite a while.

This weekend will be a bit different from the normal dullness around here: Spousal Equivalent's son is coming for a visit. They're going golfing, so all I have to do is make sure there's plenty o' food. And if I can't get the toilet guts replaced properly, I'll ask said son to pitch in. He's very handy.

Thanks for your weight-training tips. I do appreciate everyone who took the time to write and comment. I have just one session remaining this week, and three days to do it That's quite a load off my mind after last week, when I ended up doing only two sessions on consecutive days. It's good to know that some of you are as bored and unmotivated as I am with regard to weightlifting. I don't feel quite so isolated out here in the MofN.

What would I do without the internet?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Two things

Before I get started, happy birthday, H! At this time mumble-mumble years ago I was in labor and on my way to the hospital. My mother used to tell horror stories of being in labor with me. I wouldn't do that to my daughter, 'cause I'm such a great mother.

Now for the first thing, a question for those of you who lift weights: Do you like that part of your workout routine, or do you just do it because you know it's good for you?

I'd love to love it, I really would. I know how beneficial it is, especially for those of us who are ... ahem ... aging. My grandmother was crippled with osteoporosis as she aged, and I don't want that to happen to me. But even that motivation isn't enough to make me look forward to weight training the way I do to my morning walks.

[I can barely believe I said that! I look forward to morning walks!]

So, c'mon ... if you have any motivational weight-training tricks, tips and tidbits, send 'em my way. I'm all ears, but not much muscle.

Second, I spent all yesterday afternoon absorbed with a project that completely took me out of myself, my concerns, my vanity, my worries. I was so not bored or restless. And so not hungry, either physically or emotionally.

In my former life [before I moved to the Middle of Nowhere] I was a graphic designer for a newspaper. Yesterday I worked on a design project that is to be a gift. I'll post a photo after it's been delivered, in case the recipient remembers this URL.

I enjoyed being absorbed by the process of making type and photos work together, and of creating the product and packaging. While I don't need a job, I'd love to find some kind of design work that I could do from home on a contract or part-time basis.

The point of the second thing is that working on that absorbing project is something I need to do more of. [Should that be 'of which I need to do more'? And should that single quote mark be outside the question mark or inside? Where's Strunk when I need him?] I've gotten myself lost in scrapbooking and/or cardmaking projects in the past, but it seems that the sessions that really take me away are when I'm making or doing something for someone else. Hmmmm. Wonder what's up with that?

P.S. We must be having an awfully windy spring. A week or so ago I found a robin's nest blown out of a tree. Today I found another one. I only took a photo of one; while one nest doesn't always look like the next, they're close enough.

P.P.S. I'll be updating my FLAK progress on the other website [click on the FLAK button] shortly. It's not pretty.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My guilty little secret

I don't eat dinner on Tuesday nights.

Yes, I know I've told you how wonderful the eDiets menu plan is and how easy it is to follow and how I don't have to think about food because it's all there in black and white.

I do a volunteer gig at Alderson Federal Prison Camp on Tuesdays, and I have to leave the house between 5:30 and 6 to get there on time. That's a little early for me to eat dinner, although I tried doing so when I first started eating according to plan. One night, though, I left the house without eating and came home and made ... popcorn! Not the microwave stuff, either. I mean real Orville Reddenbacher White Popcorn made in a heavy pan on top of the stove.

I love, love, love popcorn, but it's so not a low-glycemic-index food. But I measured the oil [canola] and measured the popcorn kernels [who does that?] and truly enjoyed eating a reasonable serving while watching House, just like a normal person.

And I've been doing that every Tuesday for a couple of months now.

Every other moment of every other day I'm on this mission, you know? Have I eaten enough, or too much? How much exercise did I do, and how much do I have left to do this week? Did I miss anything? What about the water – did I drink all four bottles I put out on the counter this morning? There's usually some daily scale drama, as well. I try not to weigh myself more than once a week, but sometimes I stand there waffling [hah! Waffles! Wonder if I'll ever eat those again ... ] about whether to check or not.

So I look forward to Tuesday nights, when a bowl of popcorn and some interesting television can make me feel less like a person working on a project, and more like just a person.

And finally, what do you get when you mix a rain shower with sunshine? This:



Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I am so darned lucky

I watched Oprah yesterday, because Beth told me to. And I realized as I was watching how very lucky I am that my children are grown and on their own, and I don't have to work outside my home. [Cleaning my floor is a full-time job ... that's for you, H!]

Because if those things weren't true, I'd have a much harder time taking care of my food and exercise needs. The grocery store bombards you with packaged convenience foods; fast-food restaurants abound. Busy working moms don't have time to cook often, and when they do they want it to be something they can whip up quickly, before the family scatters to their various extracurricular activities. The food industry, and particularly the snack-food industry, stand ready to make sure you're never hungry by placing their products at your fingertips, whether you're buying groceries, gasoline or books, among many other things.

[Think about the last time you were hungry. I mean really hungry. I probably haven't been ready-to-gnaw-my-arm-off hungry since I was 10. If ever!]

Dr. Oz is a whole-food proponent, as am I, although I don't really think of myself like that. But it is how I eat. The absolute worst thing in my refrigerator is deli-style turkey breast and ham, pre-packaged with nutrition information at my fingertips. [The reason it's 'bad' – in my opinion – is the high sodium content, but I don't recall him mentioning the dangers of salt.] I haven't switched to organic food, but I also don't recall him suggesting that, either.

The Big Five No-Nos were:
  • Sugar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Enriched Flour
  • Saturated Fat [Four-Legged Animal Fat]
  • Hydrogenated Oil
I rarely eat foods with these things in them. The interesting thing I learned from watching the show, however, is that eating these foods [I would assume regularly, not occasionally], prevents your body from functioning the way it's supposed to.

My weight-loss struggles have led me to think long and hard about why I've been unsuccessful in the past five years, but have recently experienced some encouraging successes. The only 'plan' I've tried – several times – until this year was Weight Watchers, which allows limitless food choices as long as you stay within your allotted Points total. For many, many people, WW works well. I participated in the message boards there for a long time, and saw that many members were losing weight. But not me. I'd lose some, and then stop, and then start packing it back on again. Over and over.

I was so frustrated I allowed my doctor to prescribe Topamax [a side effect for some people is weight loss] and Xenical. Not at the same time, of course. Neither drug resulted in reduced poundage. We also tried thyroid medication, because I do have some symptoms of thyroid disorder, even though my lab results are normal. [The last one I took caused heart palpitations; that was the end of that. We had hoped the medication would relieve some of my symptoms, thus helping my body metabolise food more efficiently. Didn't work.]

The last time I was successful at losing weight, I stopped eating sugar, white flour and fat. Hel-LO! Read that no-no food list again, and what do you see? Since I've been eating the low-glycemic plan recommended by eDiets, I've stopped eating sugar, white flour and unhealthy fats.

Dr. Oz's five top foods are:
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Tomatoes
  • Leafy Greens
  • Nuts
These are dietary staples around Chez Middle of Nowhere.

The end result is that losing a few pounds has given me more energy to actually move my fat ass, instead of sitting on it most of the day. I'm not breathless when I walk up the stairs or up the last big hill coming back from the post office. If I decide it's time to, say, weed a flower bed, I don't put it off until the spirit moves me. I feel like moving.

Now. [Actually, not rightthisverysecond, because I have to go eat some Shredded Wheat with skim milk and strawberries. But my neighbor will be calling, and I do enjoy walking with her.]

So, soon.

Monday, May 01, 2006

S-l-o-o-o-w-l-y

When my grandson was about three, he and I pretended a long piece of yarn was a jumprope. We'd each take an end and twirl it around in the living room. He would determine the velocity of the twirl by shouting "Fast!" and then suddenly switching to "S-l-o-w-l-y" in a deep, slow-motion voice.

That's how weight loss works for me. Slowly and surely. This week I'm one pound down. I've lost a total of seven inches since March 1, which is when I first took measurements. [I only do the Big Three, by the way – that's enough to let me know I'm making s - l - o - w progress even when the scale doesn't show it.]

On the left, the Before picture, taken January 3. On the right, four months later and 23 pounds lighter. Even I can see a difference this month.

Time to get rid of that ratty old sweatshirt, doncha think? Although I might just wad it up and throw it in the back of a closet and wear it one more time, for the After shot on January 1, 2007.

I missed one weight training workout this week, but otherwise met my exercise goals this month. Intentional exercise is getting easier to do and more fun, now that I can be outside for long walks in the morning. I've added some running intervals during the walk, and yesterday even sprinted on one of the flat spots. My weight bench is in the garage, so I usually open the big door; it almost feels like I'm outside.

This week I averaged 1066 calories per day – a little low, but one day I wasn't feeling well and couldn't eat too much. I averaged 80 minutes of intentional activity per day and burned 521 calories per day working out.

I'm still enthusiastic about the eDiets program. I could probably quit paying them and use the menu plans I've saved, as they do rotate the same meals in and out of each week's menu. But I think psychologically it's good for me to continue, and it's so reasonably priced and has worked so well. You know my motto: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!