Monday, July 31, 2006

Bet you've never heard this advice before

Greta commented yesterday, regarding the impact of obesity on women and men, that another difference between genders is physical strength and bone structure. She makes a good point, leading me to believe that hormonal issues may also come into play. I discount the stress theory somewhat, as well; mostly because I'd like to think a news story about obesity wouldn't be enough to send the fair sex straight to the pantry.

My weight stayed the same again this week. Two things are apparent to me, after looking over the spreadsheets I've been keeping all year which calculate average calories eaten per day, average calories burned per day and average minutes of activity per day.

But first, a caveat: I'm only writing this down for me. I'm not asking for advice, because what I need to do is evident.
  • I lose weight when I eat between 1000 and 1100 calories per day. I stay the same when I eat 1100 to 1200 calories per day. I gain weight when I eat 1300 calories per day or more.

  • My activity numbers have been steadily dropping, little by little. I need to increase the amount of time I spend doing intentional exercise, and I also need to be more active when I'm not engaged in deliberate physical activity.
The answer?

Move more and eat less. Duh.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Yet another obesity news item

Woke up late [for me] this morning. The next several days will be unusually busy; knowing there's a lot on my plate, so to speak, sometimes interferes with my sleep. Last night? Not so much. Slept from 10 to 7.

I get a daily news alert from Google on stories concerning obesity. I don't read them very often, but did take a look at this one this morning, titled "Obesity: Tougher on Women's Health."

There's not much detail in the article, which ends up being rather inconclusive. According to Columbia University's Dr. Peter Muennig,
"… women suffer a disproportionate burden of disease attributable to overweight and obesity, mostly because of differences in health-related quality of life."
But the WebMD article concludes: "The study doesn't suggest all overweight women are headed for health problems. Not everyone who's overweight is unhealthy. And being lean doesn't guarantee good health."

So I went searching for the article. Here's the abstract. [You have to be a subscriber to get the full text.] It didn't tell me much more. But CNN offers a more detailed interpretation of the study, including this from Dr. Muennig:
"To me what makes more sense is that there's just a lot more social stigma associated with being overweight amongst females, and that that causes a lot more stress and distress," Muennig said. "There's evidence showing that high levels of stress can increase your risk of morbidity and mortality."

"The findings provide evidence, he added, that "the message that women are getting in the mass media about their weight is actually more harmful than we previously thought."
Here's a thought: Maybe the mass media should quit offering so much information about obesity. Better yet, maybe women should quit listening to mass media. [I think this means I might have to quit watching The Biggest Loser.]

We women traditionally are nurturers, but we usually are nurturing others. If we could somehow teach our daughters and granddaughters that it's okay to care for ourselves first, that physical play is fun for life, and that fresh food tastes better than fast food, obesity levels in the next generation or two would drop while self-esteem would rise.

And if we could teach those things without mentioning body size, how much better would that be?

But the best? Let's lead by example. My mother didn't do a very good job, nor have I. My daughter seems to be breaking that chain. And I'm not done yet.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Unfinished business … and an FO!

First, the FO [that's Finished Object to you non-knitters]. Sorry about the horrible photo. These little caps are going to my daughter-in-law's friend's new triplet boys. They're a month old, and still in the hospital.

Two of them weigh more than four pounds now, and the third weighs less than two pounds. That's why one of the caps is so much smaller. I used Saucy, a nice soft cotton, in cream, sage and brown. Very manly, don't you think?

And the unfinished business? A thought-provoking post called "How to Stop Quitting" is over at diet-blog … at least it's making me think.

I started gaining weight when I was about 10 or 11, according to childhood photographs. At that time, my family moved, I had to start a new school, I started getting an allowance and we lived across the street from a "mom-and-pop" grocery store. A perfect storm for a new dieter to join the fold, right?

I was old enough to cross the busy street on my own, and mom and pop became my new best friends. I spent every spare nickel on candy bars. [Yes, I'm so old that candy bars only cost a nickel. Hard to believe, right? Right?!?!?]

My mother was a perpetual dieter, starting and stopping for who knows what reason. She used to drive to a doctor an hour away every month to pick up a tiny hinged box filled with colorful pills and capsules. They were known as 'rainbow' pills; we now call them amphetamines. I loved the boxes, which I got when she finished the pills.

My dad had to maintain a healthy weight to remain on flight status with the Air National Guard, and Mom made sure they both dieted for the couple of months before his annual physical. They did the Drinking Man's Diet, the Atkins Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Grapefruit-and-Egg Diet [also called the Mayo Clinic Diet] – is it any wonder I'm fat? They didn't make us follow their plan, but The Diet was an ever-present member of the family, hovering in the background all the time.

When she wasn't dieting, Mom was eating chips and dip and drinking Pepsi. But I never knew what made her stop, either the binging or the dieting.

When I look at this family history of disordered eating, I have an inkling of why my relationship with food is so dysfunctional. When I look at my own history of relationships, I'm a leave-'em-when-it-gets-too-hard kind of friend, wife, partner, co-worker. [Sobriety has helped me overcome this character defect.] It should be no surprise that when the dieting gets tough, Debbi gives up.

But not this time. First, to be honest, it hasn't been tough. I've had my moments, but all in all moving my body vigorously on a regular basis and eating fresh, healthy food
is a great way to live.

Several years ago I was able to lose 15 or 20 pounds. Obviously it didn't last. Why did I quit then? Well, mostly because I stopped losing weight. I suppose my body went into a plateau, and after three months of working out hard, eating what I was supposed to eat and not losing any more weight, I gave up. Jonathan's comment to me yesterday is important to remember here: The number on the scale should not be "what we want most."

I had to work hard mentally to accept that I wasn't going to lose two or three pounds a week. I'm averaging fewer than six pounds a month. But I'd rather lose six pounds a month than keep it. Like Jonathan, what I really want most is to move easily and enjoy a vital, healthy life. I need to be at a normal weight for that to happen. And I'm not giving up.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Read the quote first, dummy

I'd already decided earlier this week what quote I was going to use today, it being Friday Quote Day and all.
The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want now. – Zig Ziglar
I was gone all yesterday afternoon. I had lunch before I left the house, and was famished when I walked in the door at about 5 p.m. And even though dinner was planned and wouldn't take long to fix, all I wanted to eat was popcorn.

That probably sounds weird, especially considering it was about 90 degrees at 5 o'clock here in the Middle of Nowhere. I used to have popcorn for dinner every Tuesday; that was my weekly treat. I saved the calories for it and really enjoyed it, popped in oil and drizzled with butter. No plain old air-popped "crunchy air" for me.

But as spring turned into summer, popcorn kind of lost its appeal.

Until yesterday.

I'm sure it won't hurt me in the long run, but it did put me over my target calorie limit by almost 200. It was good. And it was what I wanted now.

Anyway, back to the quote. What I want most is to meet my weight-loss goal by January 1, 2007. And while what I wanted at 5 p.m. yesterday afternoon probably wasn't the worst choice, it also won't help me get what I want most.

Now I ate popcorn once a week for the first three or four months of the year, and continued to lose steadily. The difference is that I was kind of blindsided yesterday by How Much I Wanted To Eat Popcorn. So there was some emotion involved that was never there when I was enjoying my Tuesday treat. Or, if it was there, I wasn't aware of it.

I can't believe how I'm overanalyzing a bowl of popcorn. What I need to do is fuhgeddaboudit already, have a liter [or 10] of water and get on with my day!

Beth has checked in and it's so good to see an update from her, and PastaQueen is designing Missing Blogger flyers and has a great post about how weight-loss bloggers need to keep posting through thin and thick.

I wouldn't dream of leaving my house for a week without asking my neighbor to keep an eye on things, but several bloggers who are part of my daily morning routine have gone missing without a peep. Sometimes they come back with tales of an exotic vacation. Sometimes you just get a "Page Not Found" error when you click that link day after day.

And now, since it really is about 2:30 a.m. here in the Middle of Nowhere, and I haven't been able to sleep since midnight, and I'm having trouble tying all this together into one nice, neat, coherent, profound and meaningful message, I'm going to go tuck myself back into bed.

See you in the morning.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Summertime, and the livin' is ... hot

We had a teaser of a day last Sunday, the promise of fall, when the temperature was in the upper 70s or low 80s and the humidity was something like 50 percent. A day like that is a gift in late July here in the Middle of Nowhere. One day of relief, and it's back to hot, hazy and humid again. Yesterday I started my 6.6-mile loop at about 9:15 a.m. I was soaked with sweat I was glowing when I got back home at about quarter 'til eleven. So today I'm going to try to get on the road around 8 a.m.

We're definitely not in a drought situation this year, and my little garden is doing well. I have far too many banana peppers, and probably hundreds of Roma tomatoes. Of course the tomatoes are green and the peppers are ripe. Last week I also had far too many tomato worms, but I dusted the plants, sucked up my squeamishness when it comes to bugs and picked off all that I could find. [Of course I was wearing gloves!] The day after I put the dust on the remaining worms had turned black. They're very easy to find now. A few tomatoes look like they might have some blossom rot, which was the other thing that wiped out last year's crop. I'm hoping for the best.

Is that not the weirdest looking creature you've ever seen? True confession: That photo was taken last summer. I wasn't messing around this year doing a photo shoot when I had to go raid the garden department for something to destroy the destroyers.

So here's a good thing about losing weight in the summer, for me anyway. I usually don't feel like eating much when it's hot. Yesterday I had a salad for lunch and a stir-fry of chicken, mushrooms, garlic and spinach for dinner, which was supposed to have been served over whole-wheat pasta. It was easy to skip the pasta. I didn't feel like boiling water or eating a heavy carb like pasta late in the day.

Two of the baby hats are done, and I've started the cuff of the third. I found out that two of the triplets weigh slightly more than four pounds, while the third weighs less than two. So one of the hats is very small. They're turning out nicely – much better than the bibs did. Next up will be finishing the Shapely Tank I started mumble-mumble weeks ago, before I got sidetracked with the Diamond Patch.

And then, with any luck, I can break out the wool and start making things for cold weather again. It can't come too soon.

P.S. Did you read Bo's good news?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Well, I could have called it Potpourri, the Sequel, but I didn't.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your comments and e-mails about my finished Diamond Patch [link takes you to site where you can buy the pattern]. I'm so glad it fits well and even more glad it was finished before I need to wear it. Not much time to shop for anything suitable at this point.

Deciding to knit something instead of spending the time shopping for something was a real leap of faith. It helped that I had already made one and love the look of it. But still.

For Annie, here's a close-up. This image is a scan, but even putting the fabric on a scanner doesn't show how beautifully shiny and dressy this ribbon is.

When are we going to hear from Beth? The last thing she wrote, on June 29, was a short, rather cryptic post called "On Happiness" with a quotation and a link to a thread at MetaFilter. Beth, are you out there? Are you okay?

Yesterday was a rest-from-walking day for me. I lifted weights and did yoga for the first time in for-freaking-ever.

Yoda would say, "Sore I am." Debbi would agree. But in a good way!

Am I the last person who listens to music to know what a mash-up is? I found a site that has tons of links where you can download these interesting songs which are mixes of two or more other songs. I uploaded an especially fun one called Whistler's Delight to SendSpace. Scroll down past the ads to find the download link. I'm not sure how good it is to dance – or walk, run or jog – to, but it's certainly creative!

I've written before about how helpful blogging about my attempt to lose weight has been. What I haven't done, though, is post my starting, current or goal weights. I'm just not ready to get that naked, if you know what I mean. Washington Post columnist Sally Squires talked about Sharing Your Loss last week; of course, I'm just now getting around to reading it and thinking about it. She discusses celebrities [Kirstie Alley, Oprah, Fergie], reality television shows [Biggest Loser, Fat Man Walking] and regular folks who announce to the world that they're dieting.

She didn't mention bloggers in her column, and I haven't read all of her pieces to see if she may have in the past. We certainly are a prolific group of folks willing to share our weight-loss struggles and successes with the world. While we don't know everyone who reads our blogs, we – well, at least I – know some of you. But for the most part there are several dozen anonymous people who stop by every day to check up on me.

I'm glad you do; it helps keep me honest and accountable. I hope I don't get in the position of the backsliding woman mentioned in Squires' column whose co-workers had posted a progress chart on the wall of the office, though. A once-a-week 'tale from the scale' is enough for me, thankyouverymuch.

In Squires' weekly Lean Plate Club e-mail, she pointed to another great-sounding pesto recipe. Instead of pine nuts, it calls for toasted walnuts. Best of all, the calorie count is a bit lower than the one from Great Good Food I mentioned recently.

Finally, in more weird marathon news, this tidbit is printed on a wrapper of Frigo Light String Cheese:
You like to skip? The fastest marathon (26.2 miles) ever "skipped" was 5 hours.
Oh. My. Aching. Thighs.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Here's what six grams …

of Katia Sevilla pink ribbon looks like:

And here's what 444 grams – give or take – looks like:

Next up are the baby hats. I think I'll do a helix stripe in three colors with solid-colored cuffs – three different colors of cuffs, though. This definitely needs a visual to explain!

The first helix knitting I ever encountered was this pattern by Joan Hamer. I'm going to start my caps with a wide garter-stitch cuff knit sideways, like this:
You can snag the pattern for this cap here. That site is the very outdated and long-neglected site for the knitting guild in Blacksburg to which I used to belong. Guess who the webmaster was/is?

I thought I had jury duty this morning but it turns out that being called for duty doesn't necessarily mean you have to actually do anything. I'm supposed to call every Friday morning from now until mid-November to see if my services will be needed. No court today [one of the advantages of small-town living] – I feel like I got a day off!

My four-mile walk/run yesterday [thank you, Mar!a – it's 'running' from now on] was surprisingly tough after Sunday's performance. I felt a little hypoglycemic at one point – shaky, sweaty, lightheaded – and ended up walking almost all of the last half. I walked for about 70 minutes altogether; not nearly the efficient pace as the previous day. I think that's the way it goes, though. A couple of so-so days seems to always follow a particularly good one.

Thank goodness it's not like that with eating. I sure do like having my menus pre-planned for me.

Thanks once again for all your recent comments. You keep me motivated and inspired!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Status quo

Staying the same can be a Good Thing, if you look at it the right way. Let's call it "practicing maintenance" instead of "not losing even one damned pound in spite of working out an average of 93 minutes daily and eating 1300 calories daily."

Seriously, though, I lost four pounds last week. I didn't expect a loss this week. To continue playing mind games with myself, I've lost an average of two pounds a week for the last two weeks.

So there.

I did my long, 6.6-mile loop yesterday in 92 minutes. That's only four minutes slower than my best time for that distance, which was on a fairly flat route at my daughter's. I wasn't even trying to run fast, but I ran steadily [except for the uphill parts] almost the whole time. I felt strong and healthy while I was running, and
I'm not even very sore this morning. [You understand that when I say 'run' it's really a 'jog,' don't you? I thought you did.]

I finished knitting the Diamond Patch a couple days ago. I still need to press the hem, and then I'll post a photo of it. I have six grams of ribbon left, after crocheting around the lower edge. Heck I could have done another half diamond! What was I worried about? Seriously, six grams of this stuff is about a quarter of a cup in volume. It was pretty touch-and-go there toward the end. Will she have enough? Should she order more? Is there enough time?

Deadline knitting sucks.

I promised my daughter-in-law
[Hi, N!] three bibs for her co-worker's new triplet sons, but that hasn't worked out so well. I did one yesterday but it didn't look gift-worthy at all. I think some little beanie-type caps might work out better.

In rereading what I wrote yesterday, it almost sounds like I want to relax and rest on my laurels, such as they are. My year's not up; I'm committed to at least a year of hard work, vigilance and discipline regarding diet and exercise. As Greta commented, after six months I've replaced some bad habit with better ones, and I'm not going to return to my evil ways at this point.

At dinner last night, the Spousal Equivalent and I agreed to continue eating the way we have been since January. This is a manageable lifestyle, perfectly doable for the long haul. He's my biggest cheerleader and understands that achieving this goal is my number-one priority. He also understands that achieving it doesn't mean it's over; it means figuring out how to stay there!

One of the [many] things that stopped me from succeeding over the past several years of trying and failing was telling myself I didn't want to work out as hard as I did the last time I lost a lot of weight. I'm so over that. I don't know what it looks like to work out when you're 70 or 80, but I think I'm going to find out.

At least I hope so.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Comfort is my racket

Have I ever mentioned to you how very much I dislike dial-up internet service? I have? Then I won't bore you by telling you how hard it was for me to get online yesterday, and in order to preserve what little of my sanity remains, I gave up.

The connection seems to be fine this morning. Perhaps it needed a blog rest.

I've been known to say that 'comfort is my racket,' meaning I'll do anything to stay in a place – physically or emotionally – that feels comfortable to me. As long as I don't have to struggle, I'm fine with the way things are. Only when the cons of a situation outweigh the pros do I feel the urge to change. I've operated like this all my life, and I don't think I'm much different from most of the rest of you.

Several things happened around the end of last year to create my own little perfect storm of discomfort, which led me to commit to a more healthy, fit lifestyle. It's not that I haven't been trying for the past several years – I just wasn't uncomfortable enough to explore all the options and do all the necessary work. I wanted to be thin, but I wanted more to be comfortable.

It's tempting to look for an easy way to lose weight. Watching television doesn't help. If commercials aren't suggesting you ask your doctor about the latest pill du jour, they're proclaiming that their product makes weight loss 'easy, fast, simple!' [Okay there are some beer and car commercials, too.]

Three commercials yesterday, for Hydroxycut, Nutrisystem and Bowflex, really set me off. All had great-looking spokespeople praising the products and claiming their weight loss was fast and easy.

In order to lure you in, even the plan I use claims you'll 'lose 10 pounds in five weeks!' That's a steady, reasonable expectation, not unrealistic at all if one's metabolism is cooperative. [Do you think exclamation marks help weight loss?]

eDiets' Glycemic Impact plan is pretty easy to follow. You print out the week's menu plan, make sure you have the right foods on hand, prepare some simple recipes and eat what they tell you. My losses haven't been as dramatic as two pounds a week – I'm averaging less than six pounds a month – but I'm losing steadily as long as I eat what I'm supposed to and do oh, about 10 times as much exercise as my body naturally wants to do.

There it is: Move more, eat less. [To which I would add: Eat the right combination of foods!] Why is it that I really want to move less and eat more, when it clearly doesn't support my final goal?

I'm a little more than halfway to that magic number, and here's what's happening. I'm starting to feel normal. I can wear shorts and capris that stay on with a button and zipper, instead of an elastic waistband. I don't huff and puff going up a flight of stairs, and the dumbbells aren't so heavy that I grunt and groan when I lift them. I noticed yesterday that I was breathing normally – not panting – after a spurt of jogging during my long morning walk.

Normal, for me, and especially at this point in my weight-loss effort, probably isn't such a good thing. It's too comfortable. I have to be vigilant and prudent and disciplined, qualities which aren't quite normal for me yet. Normal people have second helpings. And dessert. Those aren't on my plan, no matter how normal zipping up a pair of shorts feels.

In a recent comment to Lainey, Mrs. More wrote:

"… the bottom line is, sometimes we have to be a bit hungry."

Thanks for the reminder, Mrs. More. I needed that.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Going nowhere

The difference between a jogger
and a runner is an entry blank.

~George Sheehan

Running for fitness is something I do occasionally; mostly I walk. I like the feeling of running – well, okay, jogging – but my body rebels for a couple days afterward.

I wonder how Eric Blake felt when he got off his treadmill? Go read it; I'll wait.

It never ever occurred to me that people run marathons on treadmills. Yesterday I wrote that I needed the distraction of music to get through a four-mile walk outside. I'd be ready for an I-love-me jacket if I ran 26 miles on a treadmill.

Actually, I'd probably be ready for Intensive Care, if not the morgue.

While I was walking yesterday a doe saw me from a distant field. She watched me for a little while, decided I might be a threat to her twin fawns, and shepherded them to safety in the woods. A flock of shy wild turkeys heard me coming and skittered off down a hillside, away from that dangerous human. I found a key on a keyring and the remote control from a car stereo system. And I was listening to music.

I need distractions, people! Distractions! When it's too cold, rainy or snowy to walk or run outside, then I'll use the treadmill. But only if I'm watching television and then only for about 45 minutes max.

Twenty-six miles? Two hours twenty-four [okay 23 plus 58 seconds] minutes? On a treadmill?

The Spousal Equivalent's marathon-running son is visiting us tonight. I can't wait to ask him when he's going to try to break the treadmill marathon record.

As for Eric, according to his bio, his favorite quote is:
Enjoy the daily grind.
I'll have mine with sugar-free creamer, please.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

My Shuffle has a sense of humor

I would find it very difficult – and very boring – to walk as much as I do without portable music, and the Shuffle my children gave me for my birthday in 2005 is perfect. I have about 95 songs on it that range in tempo from warm-up walking to determined marching to flat-out running.

Of course they don't pop up in that order when I use the shuffle setting, which makes my walks pretty interesting. Maybe somdeay I'll put the songs in some kind of logical list and use the "play in order" setting. So far, though, I've enjoyed the random selections.

It's been hazy, hot and humid here in the Middle of Nowhere, and yesterday I thought I might just walk to the post office and back, which is the shortest distance [1.6 miles] of the various loops I do. When I got back to my driveway, I wasn't too hot or tired, so I continued on, thinking I would add the two-mile loop. But at that turnaround point I just kept going. Yesterday's total walk ended up being 5.6 miles.

As I was trudging up the last hill before home, the best hill-climbing song ever written popped up to help me make it. Followed immediately by Eminem's "Shake That." Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous!

Later in the day I had to go to a nearby city that has a yarn shop and a scrapbooking store. I don't like driving to that city, but my needs are immediate and I can't wait for delivery. [I'm the Queen of Internet Shopping.]

There was road construction, and while I was sitting in a long – no, endless – line of traffic, the car overheated. I turned the air conditioner off, lowered the windows and grabbed the owner's manual to see what to do.
Turn heat and fan to highest setting and direct air flow to the floor until the indicator moves out of the red area.
Great. It worked, anyway, and my feet are now well-done.

Well, the yarn store did indeed carry the brand, but not the color I need. One more insurance ball for the Diamond Patch would give me some peace of mind. All the diamonds are done. All that remains are the neckline and two very short sleeves. And maybe a quick crochet around the lower edge. According to my new scale I have 45 grams of yarn left.

That should be enough. Right?

Anyway, the scrapbook store was closed, with a For Sale sign on the building. Sigh. And I couldn't find exactly what I needed/wanted at the dinky, messy, disorganized JoAnn's. Sometimes it's, um, challenging living in the Middle of Nowhere. I'd love to have a Target and a Michael's in the neighborhood. Even a Target or a Michael's!

[Oh, Debbi, for crying out loud! You have a home and a car and fuel and you're looking for craft supplies! Get over yourself!]

There. I feel much better now.

Since the whole trip ended up taking longer than I'd anticipated, I picked up a McDonald's Grilled Asian Chicken Salad for dinner: 380 delicious and satisfying calories with the sesame-ginger dressing. It felt like a reward.

Can you believe I just said a chicken salad was a reward? Sweeeeeet!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

With an eye on the future

First, thanks for all your comments yesterday. I love having my own little pep squad. Stretchy, what you said has made me think more about how I can support staying at goal when I get there. Jonathan seems to have figured it out, but I know, as he does, that it's an ongoing process. And I also am thinking that it can't be limited to the physical goal of a number on the scale. My goal needs to be all-inclusive: not just how I look or what size I am, but how I feel and how I relate to others.

I've been recovering in and following the principles of a 12-step program for more than 15 years. A phrase from one of our books says:
"We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it."
To me, that means what's done is done. Let's learn from our mistakes – and successes – and move on. I've tried to be mindful of that this year, because I've spent so much of the past several years feeling frustrated about my inability to release excess weight.

Another important recovery concept is that of living one day at a time. I know it's trite, but I really only have this day, and I really should make the best of it, because I'll never have it again.

Sometimes it's challenging to always do the next right thing. I've had some good examples to follow, though, and my Inner Bitch doesn't come out quite as often as she used to. I'm more comfortable staying calm, thinking things through, making a plan and following through with it, than I am pitching a fit [is that a Southern expression, or do people all over the country/world use it?] and creating chaos.

My motto used to be "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." Now? Not so much.

I'm not very comfortable looking ahead, not knowing what will happen. I can "plan the plan, not the result." But past experience can show me what might be likely to happen.

For the next six months – and beyond – I can pretty much count on a fit, healthy body and mind if I continue to nourish it properly and exercise it regularly. I don't want my future to look anything like those of my parents and grandparents.
My mother died at 59, of cancer. She wasn't particularly active, fought a lifelong battle with her weight and probably suffered from depression.

Her mother died at 90, of pancreatitis, COPD and emphysema. The last 10 years of her life she sat in a chair, watching television and her birdfeeder, tethered to an oxygen tank. She had severe osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, and could break a bone walking from the living room to the bedroom.

My grandfather died in his late 60s of heart failure and cirrhosis. What I remember most about him was his impressive temper.

My father is 76, has had two knee replacements which didn't help his pain or mobility and takes a handful of prescription medications two or three times a day. He has to control his blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes with pharmaceuticals. He's too heavy and in too much pain to even walk one block. [Fortunately, he has a wonderful outlook on life, in spite of his physical limitations.]
No, I don't want my future to look like theirs. I want no – or at least few – limitations on what I can do, how comfortably I can do it, how far I can go. There are no guarantees in life; I don't know what's going to happen today or tomorrow or next week or 10 years from now. But if you keep on doing what you always did, you'll keep on getting what you always got.

If I keep doing what's good, what's true, what's right, I can pretty much count on more of the same.

So can you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Looking backward

I had wanted to share some thoughts at the halfway point of this year, but we had company then and it seems I've been playing catch-up ever since. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep, so I guess this is as good a time as any to reflect a bit on what I've learned about myself the past six months.

You regular readers know that I started eDiets on or about January 1, 2006, with the intention of sticking with it for a year. I'd long thought I was insulin-resistant, so I chose their Glycemic Impact plan.

I don't know if I was right about being insulin-resistant, but I do know that combining good-quality carbs [fruits, vegetables, whole grains] with low-fat protein is working for me. Most people who follow this plan eat three regular meals and two snacks daily. I rarely eat the evening snack, and sometimes don't eat breakfast, and it hasn't hurt me, as far as I can tell.

My sense of thirst is stronger than I ever remember it. I've tried to drink four half-liter bottles of water every day since I started. Sometimes I miss one, but more often than not I end up drinking more.

I can distract myself from wanting to eat something if I drink something first. How many times have you read that advice in a magazine or on the internet? Well, it really works. Doesn't matter what you drink, either. I'm partial to iced coffee in the middle of the afternoon lately.

I love to run. That doesn't mean I do it every day; my 55-year-old body, not-quite-fit body rebels when I try to add some running every single day. But some days when I wake up I just know I'm going to run, and I love that feeling.

I'm not much of a touchy-feely kinda gal, but I must be liking and appreciating myself lately. I love shopping these days. It's fun to buy something that both fits and looks decent, rather than just buying what fits. Because seriously, folks, nothing looked good on me in January.

Most of the time, I'm not waiting for the other shoe to drop. In other words, I'm beginning to trust the process. I spent many of the past several years fighting a losing battle. Or, rather, fighting a gaining battle. No matter what I did, I couldn't release any excess weight. I've learned it's not just a matter of "move more, eat less." It's a matter of move more on a regular basis, eat less but make it count, and be patient.

My average weight loss this year has been about 1.3 pounds per week. I'd love it if I could lose more, um, efficiently, but at my age and with a sluggish metabolism, maybe this is as good as it gets. Weight training helps, but I haven't seen my rate of weight loss increasing as I've increased muscle mass, like all the articles you read suggest will happen. I have seen some pretty remarkable muscle definition, though, so I'll keep doing it. Even though I don't much like it.

I love reading others' weight-loss blogs, and I learn something from all of them. I learned in AA [you might have learned it elsewhere] that everyone can be an example for you – good or bad. Some of the bloggers are inspirational and motivating; they make me want to work harder just because they're so enthusiastic about their progress. They give me hope. Some offer up excuses instead of success. I learn just as much, if not more, from them.

I've had a few months to learn what works and what doesn't. I made a commitment to myself to do this for a year, and I've tackled the first six months with slow, steady progress. If I stopped now, I'd be cheating myself out of true success, and I have no intention of stopping. In fact, I'm even more committed to following through.

One of the thoughts I had when I started was that I would be a year older next January anyway, so I might as well just take this year to work on this project. It's been the number-one priority in my life. I expect it always will be. I don't think I have the kind of personality – or metabolism – that will allow for much slacking.

I know this, after six months of hard work: I never want to lose this weight again.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Short and sweet

I have a smashogram scheduled for 8:30 this morning and have to drive an hour to get to the hospital, so this'll be short and sweet … just like me. Heheheh.

Loss this week: 4 [FOUR] pounds! Whoopee! I'm so glad to be lower than I was before the Fourth of July. That's a grand total of 38 since the first of this year, about a 1.3 pound-per-week average.

Was it worth that gain a couple weeks ago from eating half a pound of low-fat lunch meat, [as well as other assorted not-on-plan food], while our guests were here? What do you think?
Intentional activity this week averaged 74 minutes per day. One day was very light, and I wasn't feeling well at all Saturday [lightheaded, weak, chills, dizzy – and it was completely gone by Sunday morning] and did nothing. I'm okay with not walking when I'm ill, but I want to try to do more this week. Today has to be my rest day, since I'm headed out early and have an evening commitment as well.

I ate an average of 1192 calories per day. A couple days were very low, and one was pretty high. The new food scale is going to give me a more accurate indication of exactly what I'm taking in each day, which is a Good Thing.

That's it ... gotta go get smashed.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Don't invite me to a barnraising

Well, I feel like the neighborhood slug after reading Greta's comment yesterday. [Insert rueful smile here.] I will confess right here and right now that it never even occurred to me to offer to help those girls dig the garden. That's how focused I was on completing my 6.6-mile loop.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

I leave analysis up to the Spousal Equivalent; that's what he gets paid for. But I've been thinking
all day and all night about why I didn't pitch in and start digging. Well, not all day and night, but it's been much on my mind. Because normally I'm considered a pretty helpful kind of person. Anything you need, just ask Debbi.

So if they'd asked for help, I would definitely have picked up a hoe. [I didn't see a spare one; maybe I needed a visual clue to spur my generous nature.]

More than anything else, I think my modern brain is wired to do things the most efficient way. My neighbor could have had that plot dug in an hour, by himself, with his rototiller. Then he would have smoothed it all out with that thingamjig he attaches to the back of his tractor. Leaving the girls more time to, oh, I don't know, bake bread or something.

But the point, really, is that they have the time, and their brains are wired to use their bodies, not machines.

Greta [by the way, whenever I type your name I type "Great" first, and have to correct it], I'm grateful for your comment, for it's made me think. Not about my ungenerous nature, because I truly am a giving, helpful person. I'm thinking more and more about stuff I've talked about before: How can I work more unintentional physical activity into my normal routine? I agree with you absolutely that after a hard workout I don't have the energy to do what needs to be done.

Maybe we need more vitamins?

And then this morning I read Jonathan's comment and wonderful quote from Wanderlust. So I guess when I came home to knit, I was 'woolgathering.'

Except I'm knitting with nylon ribbon. So I was 'nylongathering.' But purposefully!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A close encounter of the embarrassing kind

Imagine you're two miles into your morning fitness walk, striding purposefully along a hilly, country road. The Shuffle is cranking some kick-ass music, your new Reeboks fit great, you're loving the muscle definition you're starting to see on your outer thigh and the bandana wrapped around your forehead is soaked with sweat. So is your t-shirt.

You've startled one deer, rescued one turtle [by moving it to the edge of the road] and seen one dead snake. You decide to press on, and do the long [6.6 miles] loop instead of the four-mile one.

A quarter-mile further along, at the top of a steep hill, you see a man pounding nails into a fence. You've heard that a new family is moving into the area, from Kentucky, and that they're Amish. This man certainly qualifies, so you introduce yourself and welcome him and his family to the neighborhood.

He says to be sure and say hello to his daughter and her friend, who are on the other side of the house. Digging a garden.


Diet-Blog mentioned 'incidental exercise' a couple days ago. Magazine articles push us to park our cars farther away from the door or, better yet, walk or bike to our destinations. [Jonathan is the King of Biking.] Websites offer a variety of exercise routines, while gyms abound, enticing us with free training sessions and extended memberships and the latest and greatest new fitness equipment. And the news stories, online and in print, overwhelm us with reasons for the 'obesity epidemic,' topmost of which is our modern, convenient, effortless lifestyle.

I walked on down the road and saw the girls. They were wearing the plain, long skirts of the Amish, with scarves covering their hair. One was barefoot, as Amish children frequently are; the other was wearing black stockings and sturdy shoes. And they were, indeed, digging a garden. With hoes. In what used to be a lawn. And they hadn't put Round-up down to kill the grass first.

They were very friendly, probably 15 or 16 years old, polite and industrious. And of course we had a little conversation about how I was walking for fitness, while they were, um, digging a garden … from scratch!

I had more than four more miles to walk, thinking about intentional activity and incidental exercise and modern conveniences. One of the Diet-Blog commenters opined that engineers, who create all our labor-saving devices, must be among the most unfit of all professions. [I didn't say that; someone else did, and not exactly like I just said it.]

So did I come back home and find something useful to do?

Only if you count sitting on my ass knitting.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Two reasons ...

why I won't be picking any of the gazillions of wild blackberries growing along the roadside here in the Middle of Nowhere.
  1. They're sour.
  2. Ticks love berry-pickers!
I was walking home from the post office yesterday and stopped to see if the berries were anywhere close to being good enough to eat. They're black, shiny and plump, but the only thing that would make them palatable is sugar. So I'll be sticking with the supermarket variety.

I started my weight training workout just a few minutes later, and felt something crawling on my ankle. Sure enough. A tick was making himself at home, but no longer: He's history.

The last time I picked wild blackberries I found several ticks. Should have learned my lesson then!

My garden is a mess, but I was able to discern the basil from the weeds and made a lovely big batch of pesto this morning. My favorite basic basil pesto recipe is from Great Good Food by Julee Rosso, and uses less oil and Parmesan than more traditional concoctions. Tip: Whenever you use nuts [I mixed pine nuts and walnuts], be sure to toast them for extra flavor. Yeah, I know it's one more step – two if you count washing the pan – but it really does add tons of flavor. You can actually use a smaller quantity of nuts if you toast them first.

You probably knew that
already, though.

I'm freezing the pesto in two-tablespoon portions, which is just the right size for the two of us. I usually just smear it around in a bowl of hot pasta and vegetables, and top the whole mess with grilled chicken. Yum!

[Be sure to use's "Look Inside" feature if you don't have this cookbook. The recipe is on page 48.]

The banana peppers are abundant, while the tomatoes are just starting to set fruit. This happens every year: I only want to plant once, so everything goes in the ground at the same time. But peppers mature much more quickly than tomatoes do, and so the fresh pico de gallo we love ends up being made with either store-bought tomatoes or store-bought peppers. And every year I say to myself, "Next year I'm going to plant the peppers later."

But of course I never do.

And now, since I just made pesto, I'm completely out of garlic.

It's always something.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Tuesday, Franklin said:
Zen teaches us to appreciate the beauty of what is there, where we are.
Oh, if I could only believe that about my body, no matter what size it is. I know some people
are there. I'm just soooo not one of them. The last time I felt good about my body lasted about five minutes, three years ago. Okay, maybe a month or so, but it didn't take long before I started neglecting it, by reducing the exercise, and abusing it, by feeding it more than it needed.


Here's an interesting little flash-y doodad: Obesity Map. And West Virginia is one of the winners! That is, if you define 'winner' as one of the states that made it to the 25 percent obesity mark the fastest.

Here's what I gave myself for staying the healthy-eating-and-fitness course for six full months:
It's very cool, and makes me think maybe I
have been eating more than 1200 calories all along. My calorie tracking program says an orange is 60 calories. But the peeled orange I put on the scale this morning was actually 91.2 calories. Big orange. So I counted it as 1.5 oranges in the program. I can already see where this will be very helpful. And very honest.

Another cool thing about it is I also can weigh yarn on it! Doesn't have nutritional information for merino, though. [Oh, yeah, I also bought some yarn for a six-month present.] I've been taking yarn to the post office or pharmacy when I need to know how much a certain amount weighs. Why would you need to know that? Glad you asked.

As you regular readers know, I'm making a Diamond Patch sweater, which consists of about a zillion diamond-shaped pieces of knitting, all connected together. If I weigh one diamond, I can get an idea of how much yarn, by weight, I will need to complete the item. It's infinitely preferable to me to weigh the knitted diamond than to rip it out and measure the amount of yarn I used. I'm going to come thisclose to finishing it with the yarn I have on hand. But I know where I can get another ball if I have to. Since I'm on a deadline for this top, I'm knitting fast.

Do you use less yarn if you knit more quickly?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Where is ...


I e-mailed her a week or so ago and haven't heard a thing. You can see from her blog that she hasn't posted in a while.

She was one of my inspirations when I started shrinking in January. Would love to hear from her, or from anyone who knows what she's up to.

Disordered eating

Warning: This one's kind of long!

I like lists. I like making them, checking things off of them, being organized by them. I like polls and quizzes, too. So when SparkPeople sent an e-mail linking to this article the other day, I was curious to see how my eating stacked up with that of a 'normal' person's. The eating behaviors with which I strongly identify are in red.
  1. Eating (or restricting) food provides immediate relief from unpleasant negative feelings.
  2. Your eating behaviors frequently make you very unhappy.
  3. You weigh (or are afraid to weigh) yourself very frequently, and become significantly distressed when you don’t see the results you hope for.
  4. You frequently avoid eating because you are afraid that you may not be able to stop once you start.
  5. You believe there are “bad” or “forbidden” foods that you shouldn’t eat, and eating them makes you feel guilty or ashamed.
  6. You very strictly count calories and track of everything you eat, and feel that going over your limit means you have failed, at least for that day.
  7. When you eat a "forbidden" food or go over your calorie limit, you often decide to continue overeating, since you have blown it.
  8. You frequently think that people are talking (or thinking) poorly about you because of your weight, even when nothing is said.
  9. You are trying to lose weight because you think it will influence how other people think or feel about you and treat you.
  10. Being at your current weight makes it very hard for you to feel good about yourself and you believe that will change when you lose the weight.
  11. The main reason you exercise is to burn calories, and/or offset the calories you have eaten or plan to eat.
  12. You feel like you have to avoid certain foods entirely because you can’t control how much you'll eat once you start.
  13. You frequently think about food and eating, much more than necessary.
  14. You eat secretly (to avoid embarrassment if others found out about it) or keep hidden food stashes that you eat only when you're alone.
  15. You believe that many of the problems in your life (work, relationships, etc) are due to your weight, and will improve once you reach a normal weight.
  16. You frequently eat when you aren’t hungry or feel like you can’t stop yourself, but don't understand why.
  17. Even though your weight is considered healthy or normal, you are not satisfied, and want to keep losing.
  18. You have many rules about what, when, and how much to eat, and breaking these rules causes you to feel anxious, guilty, or negative about yourself.
  19. You tend to follow your eating and exercise plan for days or weeks at a time, but then seem to go on strike, rebelling against your own plans.
  20. The closer you get to an intermediate or long term weight goal, the more you seem to engage in self-sabotage.
  21. You sometimes use overeating, food deprivation, or excessive exercise to “punish” yourself.
  22. You spend a great deal of time and energy tracking your nutrition, and feel very uncomfortable eating food when you don’t know what’s in it.
  23. You sometimes go to extreme measures like using laxatives, diuretics, diet pills or supplements, enemas, or other measures to achieve weight loss or offset calories you’ve eaten.
  24. You find yourself doing things you know aren’t healthy or advisable (skipping meals, over-exercising, eating very few calories) in order to make up for going over your calorie limit, or to speed up your weight loss.
  25. You base your food choices primarily on calorie content, rather than nutritional concerns or personal taste.
The article goes on to state:
The more of them apply to you, and the more frequent or severe they are, the more at risk you may be for developing a clinical eating disorder. And, of course, they are all potential obstacles to safely losing weight and developing a healthy lifestyle that will enable you to maintain that loss permanently.
So. I'm decidedly not normal when it comes to eating, and I already knew that. It's somewhat satisfying, in a sick kind of way, to see it all in a list, though. I'm in complete denial about how some of these behaviors – the keeping track of nutrition and frequent weighing, especially – are hurting me.

The items that bother me are 8, 9, 10 and 20. I'd like very much to feel like I'm okay as I am, no matter what the number on the scale is. My personal history is one in which people got praised for what they did and how they looked instead of who they were. I also grew up with parents who battled their weight endlessly. My dad needed to stay at or below a certain weight for his job, and in the two or three months prior to his annual physical he would give up bread, alcohol and sweets [unless he was doing the "Drinking Man's Diet"]. My mother yo-yo dieted her whole life, using diet pills [both prescribed and over-the-counter] and structured weight-loss programs to try to control her weight.

She was obese when she died.

As for number 20, while I'm not sure exactly how my mind works to sabotage my efforts, I'm absolutely certain that it happens. And I'm at that stage right now. I may have said this on the blog before; I know I've said it privately to a couple of people. I'm slightly below a weight now that seems to be a stopping point for me. Three years ago this is where I plateaued and then started gaining again. My July goal of losing a total of 40 pounds will put me eight pounds below that former plateau weight. I'm hoping to dodge the bullet this time.

I know it would be easier if I could just come right out and say what I weigh. Who am I kidding? I'm reporting how much I've lost, and I'll certainly state my weight when I get to goal. Anyone who can add and subtract will be able to figure out the starting number. But I'm just not there yet. I sure do admire every weight-loss blogger who does, though. That really helped me when I was starting this plan.

Maybe someday.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Comments on comments

Thanks for your comments yesterday. I've privately e-mailed a couple people, but thought someone else might also be wondering so I'll say a couple things here, as well.

Loretta wondered why I switched from Weight Watchers to eDiets. Here's what I wrote her:
There are two reasons I switched from WW to eDiets. The first is that WW just wasn't working for me. I was counting points, but eating junk, and I can't afford junk calories, since I'm learning that I have so few to play with. I also didn't go to meetings, as there is only one out here in the Middle of Nowhere, and it wasn't at a convenient time for me.

The other reason is that over the past few years I've learned more about insulin resistance, and have come to realize that's a big part of my inability to lose. eDiets offers a specific plan geared toward the Glycemic Index that has worked great for me. I bought a book – The Insulin Resistance Diet, I think it was called – but didn't find it very user friendly. I'm much happier having my menus worked out for me.
Mariah suggested this little bump in the road sounded like it might be a Good Thing, and she's right. I learned a lot by straying from the path. I absolutely know what works and, unfortunately, now I know what doesn't. Pffffft! I already knew eating lunch meat and salty snacks weren't going to support me nutritionally. I wanted to cut loose and have some fun with food. I still need to figure out ways to have fun without food, which is hard to do with a houseful of food-loving relatives.

For Greta, who thought I should have lost weight averaging about 1300 calories and 70 minutes of activity daily, I direct you to the link Mar!a provided. When I plug in the numbers, I should be eating slightly more than 1200 calories daily to lose weight. That calculator is, as Mar!a said, painfully honest. I think Dr. Hussman should rename it "John's No-Bullshit BMR Calculator."

Right, Stretchy?

You and so many others are such great cheerleaders; it's great to know you can tell it like it is, as well. I feel like I'm getting better support from this little virtual meeting than I ever did from a structured group, whether it was Weight Watchers or therapy.

In other news, Alton Brown, host of a couple of programs on the Food Network [y'all don't watch any of those shows, do you?], spoke to the IFT recently. Here's a short article. As part of his keynote speech, Mr. Brown said:
“I care about the big picture. While facts may be the ‘proof of evidence', they don't point to what we're doing,” he said. And what Americans are doing today is overeating.
That's telling it like it is, don't you think?

Monday, July 10, 2006

I hate when that happens

You know the weight-loss advice that tells you to "move more and eat less?" I got that totally mixed up last week, and ended up eating more and moving less. [Insert rueful smiley face here.] It's not as bad as I'd feared, because my mid-week scale checks showed a four-pound gain. It ended up being officially two pounds. Bah.

Average calories eaten: 1304
Average minutes activity: 68

That's 200 to 300 more calories eaten daily than what I've been averaging, and 30 fewer minutes of exercise per day.

Part of those extra calories were holiday food, and part of them were "what-the-hell" food. You know what that is, right? You know you've gained anyway, so you just completely blow it.

I'm glad I've been logging calories and minutes all this time. If nothing else, it proves what I know to be true for me: I don't need as much food as they say I do. [There are other how-many-calories-do-I-need calculators out there; I just picked that one as a likely prospect from my Google search.]

It recommends 2204 calories to maintain my current weight; to lose, I need to subtract 750 calories per day. It also says I'll need to eat 1974 calories daily to maintain my goal weight. Hah! That will so not work for me.

The person/company who/that develops tasty, satisfying food with no calories will make a fortune. I guess the drug companies are working it from the other angle: Create a pill that makes you not want to eat at all.

A little good news. It's been four weeks since I took my measurements, and I've lost 2.5 more inches.

Finally, thanks to everyone who went to Bo's blog. I know your positive, healing thoughts and prayers will help him. Greta, you're right about our weight-loss efforts being about health as well as looks. I've always thought my mother's poor eating habits and yo-yo dieting contributed to her relatively early death at 59. She would have been 75 this past Saturday.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Now it's time to get serious

Okay, we've had our fun – Greta, I haven't been to a county fair in years. The last fair I went to was the Ohio State Fair [or is that THE Ohio State Fair?] probably 30 years ago. I used to love going to the local county fair when I was a kid. And Loretta, I'm so grateful for your further analysis of my drivel yesterday. You're right on: I love the project part of any endeavor, but then the excitement wears off and it's just another job to do.

Those of you who pay attention to such things will notice that I've added another link to the general links in the sidebar. My daughter-in-law mentioned it to me a month or so ago, and I've been reading about this nice young man who lives in North Carolina ever since.

He's about the age of my two grown children, is married and has a little girl. Oh, and cancer. He has cancer. Some kind of unpronounceable lung cancer that apparently attacks non-smokers. I've never met him, but I know his college roommate, who lives down the street from my son and daughter-in-law.

His story is really getting to me. My little weight-loss issue seems vain and petty compared to battling cancer, but I think Bo would be just as much a cheerleader for me as I am for him.

He seems centered, focused, determined and optimistic as he tells his story. He's doing everything he can, all the right things: changing his diet, increasng his activity, appreciating life, asking for help.

Everything we should all be doing anyway, right?

So I'm putting his link there, and hope you'll get to know him. If you pray, I hope you'll add him and his doctors to your list, as I have to mine. I know he'd appreciate it.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

We have a winner!

If you have a Bellsouth account, your ISP is based in Jackson, Mississippi, and you visited here yesterday at about 1:50 p.m. Central Time, congratulations!

What do you win? My heartfelt gratitude, because you are the 5000th visitor to the Shrinking Knitter, and she thanks you very much. Heh.

I'm slowly getting back on the food track, doing what works for me. The scale hasn't budged, which is more than discouraging, but I have to remember how sluggish my metabolism is at this stage of my life. [I'm in my dotage, you know.] Salt Bloat: It's a Bad Thing. Mar!a can retain water with the best of us, but also sheds it at an impressive rate. I'm so not there yet.

Some of the fun things I did yesterday: Played two games of Super Scrabble, read a knitting magazine, took a non-fitness walk with the Spousal Equivalent [SE] and created a new website*, which isn't ready for prime time yet. I did not mow the lawn or dust-mop the floor. I know some of you are probably wondering when hell is going to freeze over. Did you hear? The Shrinking Knitter didn't clean her floor last Friday!

Today, though, the lawn gets mowed, or I'll have to hire my neighbor to cut and bale it. The SE has some typing for me to do, the laundry is again piling up, and I need to work on the pink ribbon knitting project. None of these jobs are hard, and they do offer a sense of satisfaction upon completion. Not exactly fun, but gratifying.

So. What did you do for fun yesterday?

*Creating a website is lots of fun, in my opinion. Maintaining it is the work part. Kind of like maintaining a weight loss. Hmmmm.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Let's have some fun!

Those angryfatgirlz are at it again, with an intriguing post about a therapeutic technique called treasure mapping.

I did one more than 15 years ago [sorry for the bad scan], at the beginning of my sobriety, which coincided with the last time I got divorced. [There are three former Mr. Shrinking Knitters. Those of you in recovery will recognize multiple marriages as one of the more common qualifications for membership in a 12-step program.]

I was all about being independent, trying to discover why I'd always felt the need to be connected to An Other, searching for the strength to carry on without either of my crutches – a husband or alcohol. It's the only time I've ever done one – and I didn't know I was "treasure mapping," by the way. I was just playing. It killed some time, kept me absorbed and cleaned out the magazines.

Just playing.

I don't play much any more. Playing, for me, needs to have a purpose. Knitting produces something to wear or give as a gift. I do a little [very little, lately] scrapbooking and cardmaking; the former preserves memories, the latter end up in a gift shop for sale. I don't send cards, I make them. Heh.

Last week when the Spousal Equivalent and I were getting the house ready for our company, he turned on some oldies music and I started dancing. I had so much fun, but even that was combined with the work of running the sweeper, dusting and decluttering.

This losing weight deal is hard work. Exercising, food shopping, cooking, logging, record-keeping ['cause I'm geeky – you don't have to chart statistics, but I do] … they all take time and effort and, well, work.

If you're on SparkPeople's "Healthy Reflections" mailing list, here's what you got in this morning's message:
The importance of not being too grown up
Children are so convinced of their ways and implicitly trust in their own instincts. Clearly if it tastes good, it must be good for you! Delight in the experiences of your youth today. Reflect upon the simple pleasures of carefree living. What can you do to indulge yourself in a healthy way? Put down the bills and laundry and have a tea party or puppet show. Take a spin on the swing set or jump on the bed. Not only will you burn off some energy, but you'll also be taken back to an innocent, worry-free time in your life. A time when you wore pajamas with feet and weren't such a big girl. Remember the importance of an occasional childlike moment.
So on this Friday Quote Day, with just a weekend to go until the All-Star game, let's all think about what Crash said in my all-time favorite baseball movie:
"So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Committed to change

Yesterday's post elicited some interesting comments. Greta's thoughts echo mine: Does depression precede obesity, or is it a result? She also brought up the idea that overweight people most likely don't exercise as frequently as those of normal weight, and perhaps aren't releasing endorphins, those "feel-good" brain chemicals. I think what I need to learn is that when I'm feeling down, food is not – and never has been – good medicine!

I'm so glad the holiday is over. The leftovers are gone, either tossed or eaten, and I didn't do as well as I'd hoped or planned. I suddenly – from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning – have four additional pounds to deal with. I know it's not four pounds of fat, but it's not fun to see a number on the scale that I thought I'd left far behind.

While I did plan healthful menus for the weekend, I also had snack-type foods in the house that I rarely buy. Those kinds of crunchy, salty treats are very tempting for me, as are cold cuts, which we had for lunch one day. I don't "do" salt very well. And it seemed like every time I turned around someone was eating something. Each occasion – going for a drive, playing soccer in the front yard, a little fishing in the pond – ended with sandwiches, snacks and sweets.

What I did do well was exercise. I got up early each day our guests were here and did my 6.6-mile loop. It was a good way to start the day, releasing the inevitable anxiety and tension I feel when we have company. I guess I flip into people-pleasing mode when I'm the hostess.

Diet-Blog has an inspiring post here
, a great essay about being committed to changing one's life, part of which says [italics are mine]:
The modern attitude to life is all about minimal input and yet expecting maximum gratification. This mindset is apparent in our relationships with others and in our relationship with ourselves. We expect an easy road - but life wouldn't be so difficult if we didn't expect it to be so easy.
I must say, in retrospect, that I put minimal effort into taking care of my food needs over the weekend, while going to great lengths to make sure there was something for everyone else. I didn't expect to be so ... um ... challenged by all the fun food at my fingertips.

I also realize now that no matter what they say, my daily caloric requirements must remain at or below 1200 no matter how much I exercise. I know I gave myself permission to exceed that limit over the weekend. In the back of my mind, I could hear the "experts" suggesting that you need to eat more if you're exercising vigorously. The difference, probably, is that I didn't exercise a great deal more than I usually do – maybe an extra 30 minutes a day. Not enough to burn off an additional 200 to 400 calories per day.

Ah, well. I had hoped to write some kind of inspiring, philosophical message today, which is the first day I've had to really sit down and think hard about what I want to say since the holiday. I'm halfway through my year of losing, and halfway to my goal. Well, not quite halfway today. But close. Maybe this little setback is a good lesson for me.

I'm not a normal eater. I never have been, and I never will be. I will always have to be vigilant, and it's never going to be easy for me to maintain a loss. But the benefits of all that work are far greater than the fleeting pleasure of overindulging in foods that just don't work for me.

As Beverly Sills so wisely said,
there are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Which came first?

An article in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry this month has concluded that mood and anxiety disorders, including depression, are about 25 percent more common in the obese than in those of normal weight. The abstract is here [if you are a member of the AMA, you can access the full text]; news stories about the study are here and here.

This, of course, completely busts the myth of the jolly fat person.

And it also, of course, makes you wonder if obesity precedes depression, or if mood disorders cause some people to eat more.

It's both, of course, and it's also neither. The conclusion, according to the abstract, states [in part]:
"Variation across demographic groups suggests that social or cultural factors may moderate or mediate the association between obesity and mood disorder."
Well, duh.

One of the news stories suggested that doctors should be more aware of the incidence of depression in their obese patients, and quotes Dr. Susan McElroy, a psychiatry professor at the University of Cincinnati, as saying:

“This is a state-of-the-art psychiatric epidemiology study that really confirms that there is, in fact, a relationship [between obesity and mental disorders]."
I don't know about you, but they could have asked a dozen fat people on a street corner and probably learned the same thing. Or maybe I'm the only one whose eyes glaze over at the sight of a plate of fudge – or bag of chips, platter of ribs, insert-your-crazy-food-here.

Interestingly, the study showed that the incidence of substance abuse in the obese is 25 percent less than in the normal-weight population. My own experience is that the consequences of alcohol abuse were much worse than those of food abuse. When I stopped drinking, I started eating. One takes one's comfort where one can. I've been both fat and thin during my sobriety, and it's been far easier to stay fat.

Which means I'd better continue to work on all the angles of this weight-loss odyssey, doesn't it? For me, it's not just a problem of too much food and too little activity. Crawling into the bottle or hiding in a fat shell takes me out of myself, out of the world, out of reality. I've been in a bit of denial about this, and I initially scoffed at the study. [I've already deleted a couple sarcastic paragraphs from this post.] While I don't feel the need to enter therapy [or throwuppy, as one of the angryfatgirlz called it] at this time, I'd better pay closer attention to the whys, and not just the whats, of my food consumption.

Monday, July 03, 2006

More than halfway there

I weighed myself on July 1 and recorded a one-pound loss; today's weight is the same (Monday is my usual weigh-in day). So one more pound this week is gone, and I'm more than halfway to goal. At the halfway point of the year, I'm very happy with my progress so far.

No time to write more – we still have guests, the computer is in the guest-wing side of the house and I'm trying to prepare a feast for later today. Hope you U.S. readers are enjoying a beautiful long weekend!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Or maybe we could just eat spinach

Odd little scientific discovery here.

Thanks for all your great comments yesterday, everyone. I know where to turn if I have trouble with maintenance – you all are such a wealth of knowledge and experience. I appreciate your thoughts, concerns and cheers! [Insert Smiley-Face Here!]

Saturday, July 01, 2006

She's got legs

Comparing January to July:
And she's got arms and cheekbones, too. And possibly one less chin. And thirty-six fewer pounds!

She's also really, really motivated to keep on keepin' on.

This is one of those times – and believe me, there've been many – when I just have to ask myself how I ever could have gotten in the shape I was in … if you could call that a shape. I should post this photo on the fridge, in the pantry, in the freezer in the garage … maybe I should post it in the grocery, so I can have a look at it before I fill my cart!

Greta commented that my statement a couple days ago that I was 'doing this for a year' will probably mean I'll gain everything back. She suggests I need to do this for life. I guess I didn't make myself very clear. I'm giving myself a year to create new habits and learn to live with this new way of eating.

As we know, 'diets' are limited in scope and duration. You won't find me wolfing down the leftover Christmas cookies on January 1, 2007. More than likely I'll be eating Hoppin' John [made with Canadian bacon – let me know if you want the recipe], and toasting the New Year with sparkling water. After a good night's sleep I'll work out and then watch college football. And knit.

After 15 years in a 12-step recovery program, I've learned for me not to say I'll do something – or give something up – for the rest of my life. I'm kind of pushing my limit saying 'I'll do this for a year.' Successful people in recovery take it a day at a time. My one-year end date is the day I hope to be at my goal weight. It doesn't mean the trip is over, though. Thanks for giving me the chance to think this out and clarify it a bit, Greta!

Marilyn suggested a ribbon yarn management tool yesterday. I found a little meat mallet-type thing, very heavy for its size, that turns nicely to feed the ribbon from the outside of the ball. But knitting it is still a pain. I'd switch to bamboo or wooden needles but I'm afraid it would snag the ribbon. So I continue slip-slidin' away.

Company arrives today, so I have to scoot. No telling when the next post will be. I hope I'm having too much fun to worry about sitting at the computer.

Hope you are, too!