Thursday, August 31, 2006

Almost heaven heaviest, West Virginia

Because you all are astute, informed and well-read, I'm sure you've the seen recent reports about America's obesity problem from the Trust for America's Health. There's a nifty little feature on the website where you can get information about your state, so of course I clicked on West Virginia.

Mountaineers are the third fattest state in the country, measuring obesity as well as obesity and overweight combined. I don't doubt these findings at all. West Virginians looooove their buffet restaurants, fast-food restaurants, Mom-and-Pop diner restaurants. They especially love their hot dogs. The legislature should adopt the hot dog as the state food. You can buy hot dogs just about everywhere around here. [I'm originally from Ohio, where you mostly have to cook them yourselves. I guess boiling a pot of water or throwing a couple franks on the grill is too much effort here.]

The report was funded by the Robert C. Atkins Foundation, the Bauman Foundation and the Benjamin Spencer Fund. Benjamin Spencer founded Trust for America's Health, which is, according to their website, both non-profit and non-partisan. Each of the sponsoring organizations seem to focus on wellness and disease prevention, which I heartily applaud. From the TFAH Mission Statement:

As a nation, we are stuck in a “disease du jour” mentality, which means we lose sight of the bigger picture: building a public health defense that is strong enough to cover us from all points of attack – whether the threats are from a bioterrorist or Mother Nature.

By focusing on PREVENTION, PROTECTION, and COMMUNITIES, TFAH is leading the fight to make disease prevention a national priority, from Capitol Hill to Main Street.

It seems to me – and a caveat here: I didn't read the entire report, only the summary findings for West Virginia – that TFAH's focus is on getting all levels of government to adopt policies that will improve the health of its citizens.

That works so well with alcohol and tobacco, doesn't it?

I'm not saying I have a solution, but I know a thing or two about eating and a thing or three about being fat and a thing or four about being told what I should and shouldn't do. I can't disagree with the report in general, but I wonder, for instance, what government's role should be in helping America go down another notch on its collective belt.

TFAH laments that "most statewide initiatives aimed at the general public are often limited to public information campaigns." Well, really, what else can states do? I suppose we could have a big horn blast us out of bed for a march around the block at 6 a.m., but unless they have the personnel to police us, how many of us would just stick our heads under the pillow until the horn quit blowing?

Okay, that's extreme. Yes, neighborhoods should be designed so traffic doesn't interfere with the ability to get outside and walk or play. My daughter's home is a wonderful example of this, and many people take advantage of it. But it's not compulsory. Schools should offer healthful lunches and should require physical education.

TFAH recommends that the government should "leverage its clout as a major food purchaser to require a greater emphasis on nutritional value as a priority in the bidding process for food contracts, such as in contracting for cafeterias, public-assistance programs, and military meals."

It's hard to argue with that, unless you're a major food lobbyist, who has skills, leverage, clout and money to influence even the most well-intentioned food buyer in Washington, D.C.

As in most things bureaucratic, you have to follow the money. If agricultural subsidies were handed out to tomato and lettuce farmers instead of corn farmers, salads would be a lot more affordable.

This is getting too long. It comes down to this: All I can do is take care of myself. And maybe that's all any of us can do. Until each of us is ready, we'll continue to plop down on the couch after dinner with a bag of chips and a beer, wondering why we don't have the energy to play basketball with the kids.

Except they're playing with the X-Box.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Amazon should have a look at my bookshelf

First, I would be completely remiss if I didn't thank everyone for their supportive comments yesterday. There is so much about blogging that rewards me, not the least of which is that it seems to reward you, as well. Thank you very much.

Now I want to share with you what sent me while I was sleeping:
Debbi [I just love how they get all chummy and use my first name, don't you?], has new recommendations for you based on items you purchased or told us you own.
  • The Knitting Experience: Book 3: Color (Knitting Experience series, The)
  • Bob Dylan - No Direction Home
  • The Knitting Answer Book: Solutions to Every Problem You'll Ever Face; Answers to Every Question You'll Ever Ask
  • Weekend Knitting: 50 Unique Projects and Ideas
  • The Art of Fair Isle Knitting: History, Technique, Color & Patterns
  • Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker
Along with each recommendation came a list of previously purchased books, their rationale for why they think I should plunk down more money to acquire the items on this list.

Ahem. The only item I don't already have and don't want is the last one. I know enough about crocheting to do what's necessary to support my knitting, i.e., I can crochet a chain for a provisional cast-on and I can crochet an edge around a neckline or armhole. I don't need another fiber hobby. [Besides, spinning is the next "I want to learn to …" item on my list.] I don't need another hobby of any kind, actually!

The Bob Dylan No Direction Home is a DVD, and was a gift from a dear friend who makes fun of Dylan's voice but not of me for being a fan. [My daughter shares this wonderful quality; a couple years ago she surprised me with concert tickets for just the two of us, although she doesn't own a single CD of his music.]

The other books on the recommendation list were ordered from – you guessed it – Amazon! They should keep better records. I'm not going to spend even one precious moment letting them know they're preaching to the choir, though. Their little computers worked overtime to generate that list, I'm sure. They can probably use the extra pay.

Okay, back to fitness: Today will be challenging. It's raining, and we desperately need the rain, but that means I'll be working out on the treadmill. This will be my first treadmill run since April, I think. I love being outside, but I know there will be times when it's not possible, especially when winter hits.

I walked outside yesterday for about 30 minutes in the rain, and it wasn't much fun. Also did 20 minutes on the rower, which was enough for the first time in for-freaking-ever. I'll try for 60 on the treadmill and 20 on the rower today, with a weight-training session, as well.

As with most exercise, it's mind over matter. I have this idea that treadmill-walking is extremely boring, but I've been saving a new Podrunner mix just for this occasion. At least I'll have something new to listen to.

There was a time when I thought walking two miles outside was beyond my reach, too. Now I'm running. Up. Hills. For six, seven and sometimes eight miles a day. [For the record, since May 1, when I started tracking my mileage, I've walked or run more than 500 miles – about 30 miles a week.]

Sixty minutes on the treadmill should be a piece of cake fruit!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

So how did you lose all that weight, anyway?

Next time someone asks me how I've lost 43 pounds [so far; I'm not done!], I'm going to say one word:


That's right, girls and boys, my big weight-loss secret is that I wrote about it almost every freaking day.

The benefits of journaling are well-documented, not just for losing weight, but for anger management, smoking cessation ... all kinds of unhealthy habits, actually. Keeping a diary or journal is something many people do on a regular basis, and many diarists credit that daily time spent reflecting and writing with much of their emotional stability and serenity.

Most dieters look at journaling as simply recording their daily food consumption. Some add the "who, when, where and why" to the what for even more insight. Me? I'd rather type than write by hand, I've embraced technology rather than fought it and I started reading – and drawing inspiration from – other weight-loss bloggers long before I started improving my health last January.

From a practical standpoint, for the hour or so that I think about and write each post, I'm not eating anything. You can't eat when you're typing. Or keyboarding. Whatever it's called these days.

This kind of writing might be helpful if I was the only one reading it, but my previous attempts at journaling-while-dieting didn't yield the results I've gotten from blogging to the world. At least the little part of the world that stops by to check up on me every day.

Of course, blogging about weight loss makes the blogger accountable, to some degree. I could drop off the face of the blogging world and in no time at all I'd be replaced and forgotten. But every day I put myself out here, I'm aware that you who read are keeping a careful watch on my progress. Only a few of you comment, but sitemeter tells me that many more of you are reading, watching and, I hope, cheering. [Hah! You thought you were anonymous, didn't you? Well, you really are ... sitemeter gives very little away other than location, ISP and referring URLs. You're safe with me!]

So there it is in the proverbial nutshell: Blogging! The new miracle weight-loss secret! While it's not easy or quick, at least it's free.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday morning, going down!

To my great surprise and delight, I lost another pound this week, for a total of 43 for the year. I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Of course, once I get to goal – and I will get there – it won't be the end, but will be the beginning of maintaining a healthy, fitness-oriented lifestyle. The only way I can do that is to stay within a normal weight range. The only way I can stay within a normal weight range is to eat healthfully and remain active.

I like that kind of Catch-22.

This week's stats:
  • Average daily calories were up a bit, at 1319.
  • Average daily minutes of activity: 90
  • Average daily calories burned: 510
After the carb-fest I ate for dinner Saturday, I truly didn't expect a loss this week. What a great incentive to keep on keepin' on. There are 18 weeks remaining this year, and you long-time readers know that my intention is to get to goal by January 1, 2007. I don't know if that's possible or not. eDiets says I'll make it by Thanksgiving, but they predict losses of two pounds per week. I'm averaging considerably less than that – about 1.25 pounds per week.

I only did two weight-training sessions this week, but I did do yoga one day. My next thing to add is 30 minutes on the rowing machine two or three times per week, for toning, mostly. When I lost weight 10 years ago, I rowed between 45 and 60 minutes every day – the most boring exercise in the world. But my rower is set up in front of a big-screen television, so it's not quite so odious an activity as it was at my former gym.

I mentioned last Friday that I had bid on a cocktail dress to wear next month for our wedding celebration with our families. It's mine! And has already been shipped. Very simple, as you can see. There is a bit of beaded silk at the neckline and shoulders, and a V-shaped panel of beaded silk inserted at the hem. Now to find shoes and some kind of chiffon-y wrap. I wish I had time to make a knitted lace wrap, but I'm not going to even try. I'll be out of town the next two weekends, leaving us just one weekend for party preparations. No sense in adding more stress to my life at this point.

The pink sweater has been fixed; I ended up ripping back a couple inches from each front and an inch from the back while I watched the Emmys. [Sob! Neither Hugh Laurie or House were winners!] The pieces have been joined back together and I need to reblock the shoulder area. I've started the underarm decreases and shaping at the top of the sleeves. The end is in sight for this sweater, but I haven't decided what to work on next.

For you non-obsessed knitters out there: There's always a 'next.'

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The devil made me do it? Not so much

Here's a recent Google news item: Obesity facing the faithful, wherein the writer cites a Purdue University researcher who has found that church socials and Sunday morning coffee hours [not to mention "religious media resources"] are making people fat.

Wonder what would Church Lady would say about that?

These 'news' stories are simply looking for excuses or pointing fingers. Nearly all of the ones I read – and believe me, I don't read all of them – end up suggesting that fat people need to move more and eat less.

Duh. Nothing new about that.

I would add that learning what to eat is pretty important. If you now eat six energy bars a day, in addition to three squares, reducing that number to three will only help if you're creating a calorie deficit. The important thing about learning what to eat is that the right foods – for me these are fiber-rich, good-quality carbs, like vegetables and fruit, and limited amounts of low-fat protein
– will delay hunger and provide sufficient energy.

Yesterday was a not-so-good day for the Shrinking Knitter. She will probably not be shrinking much this week. [Note to self: Next time you want to eat an off-program meal, do it on the day after you weigh-in, not the day before.]

I fell into the food-as-reward trap after a long, hot day in the sun. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are active in a particular political cause, and went to a rally which I thought was going to last from 2 to 4 p.m. It ended up lasting twice that long, in 90-degree heat with no shade. Not even much of a breeze. Add to that the four-hour round-trip drive [made very enjoyable by the new Bob Dylan CD], and by the time we stopped for dinner, my will to eat wisely was completely gone.

The menu included healthful choices – doesn't every restaurant offer a grilled chicken salad these days? – but I went straight to the breakfast-for-dinner items and had an omelette. Real eggs. With real cheese. And hash browns. And biscuits! Carb heaven, I tell you.

I haven't fallen off the wagon, of course. One poorly chosen meal does not break one's resolve, or at least it doesn't break mine. Mr. Shrinking Knitter was trying to encourage me by saying at least I was standing all day, instead of sitting in front of the computer. And we marched, too, about two miles altogether. [I can't believe I was in a protest march ... me! At my age!]

I downloaded a new dj steveboy Podrunner mix while I was gone yesterday, so at least there will be something interesting to listen to while I walk this morning.

Back on track? Amen!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Just what I always wanted – a beer gut

Denise's comment yesterday about where we carry our weight makes such good sense, doesn't it? Her doctor told her:
" … in our younger days, women tend to carry more weight on their hips and thighs – the whole preparing for childbirth thing. While men tend to develop the classic 'beer guts.'

As we go into the menopause years, we experience higher levels of male hormones – particularly in proportion to the declining production of female hormones.

This often results in women then developing their own 'beer gut'-like stomachs – in other words, we start to put on more girth around the waist."
It explains a lot of the "why" for some people, including me. Do you suppose progesterone cream would help? [Oh, there I go again, searching for an easier, softer way.]

Seriously, I'm going to quit worrying about it. [I've heard that stress causes weight gain. hehehe] I'm confident that as I continue to eat healthfully and exercise regularly, I'll see results all over. Some places are more stubborn than others. And if the inches don't fall the way I want them to ... well, I can always take up sewing again.

Lots to do today, and not much more to say. I hope you fill your weekend with fun company, healthful food and lots of water. That's what I'm going to do!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday quote

“He knows not his own strength
who hath not met adversity.”
Samuel Johnson

No one enjoys trouble. [Although there was a time in my life when I was more comfortable with chaos than calm, I still wouldn't say I enjoyed it.] But without a hill to climb or a hurdle to leap, how would we learn our capabilities? Our creative solutions to the roadblocks of life make us stronger and more confident. The success we experience overcoming a difficult situation makes it easier for us to face the next one.

And there will be a next one.

Take knitting, for example. [Hah! You thought I was going to get all serious on you, didn't you?] To the right are the fronts and back of the Seville Jacket, wet-blocking on a handy plaid sheet in our spare bedroom. I was able to block it to the correct width; the addition of a braided edge all the way around the neckline and lower edge will fill in the gap at the fronts.

You can't really see where the shoulder seam is, so here's an extreme close-up of the adversity with which I am faced today.

The brackets illustrate the amount – two and a half inches – of ripping back I will need to do on both fronts. Which, of course, means I will have to take the semi-completed jacket apart at the shoulders. I used a three-needle bindoff for those seams, so it won't be all that hard, but still! No knitter I've ever met enjoys ripping perfectly good knitting. However, I would never wear it if it weren't right, and it's going to be a lovely, classic piece to add to my wardrobe, so I might as well make it right before I put the sleeves in.

Helpful hint: The plaid sheet helped me see the error of my ways as soon as I started pinning the pieces into shape. So if your sheets are basic white or feminine floral or anything other than plaid, I suggest you run right over to Bed, Bath and Beyond to stock up on sheets that go above and beyond their intended purpose.

The sleeves are more than a third finished. It's hard to say, exactly, as the rows get longer as I move my way up from the cuff to the shoulder. I have about seven inches to go before I can begin the underarm decreases.

I had intended to find something classy and dressy to wear with
this jacket for a family party Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are having in less than a month – yikes! – to celebrate our marriage. But I got sidetracked on eBay yesterday, and bid on a beautiful cocktail dress which would look kind of silly with a handknit sweater, no matter how lovely it is. The auction ends tomorrow, so I still don't know what I'm wearing for the party.

Nothing like livin' on the edge.

[By the way, if you're one of those who thinks you win things on eBay, I offer this, from Jenna:]
"You don’t win yarn on eBay. If you “won” yarn, you wouldn’t have to pay for it, would you? What you did win was the legal obligation to give someone money in exchange for goods. Congratulations."
So. What does all this have to do with fitness and weight loss and crap? Well, a lot of our struggles in this area are of the two-steps-forward, one-step-back variety. Adversity? You betcha. I hope you're learning what works for you, as I am, and you'll continue to do those things. I hope that if you've lost weight in the past, as I have, you'll draw on that success to bolster your energy and motivation during the almost-inevitable one-step-back times.

I hope you've armed yourself with knowledge, wisdom, experience and fresh fruits and vegetables to get to your own personal finish line, strong and fit and healthy.

And maybe wearing pink!

P.S. Do take a look at the New York Times article Greta mentioned in yesterday's comments. And to Donna, you're welcome! DJ Steveboy gets me through two or three of my daily walks every week. As for Pilates ... I've tried it, felt it was too difficult for me at this stage, and hope to try it again at some point. Thanks for the DVD recommendation.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm lovin' it

The weather here in the Middle of Nowhere, that is.

It's been sunny lately, with temperatures in the low 80s and low humidity. Perfect for outdoor exercising. If it could stay like this all year round, I would be one happy Shrinking Knitter. We could use a little rain, which isn't in the forecast, but this great hint-of-fall weather is the best for my walking/jogging routine.

To respond to a couple of comments, elizabethd asked if I use yoga DVDs or follow a routine of my own. I use Susanne Deason's DVD called "Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss." I have several yoga DVDs, but this is the one I like best. I can follow one of four modifications, it lasts a reasonable amount of time and I feel like I've really stretched my muscles when I'm finished.

Greta talked about genetic fat distribution, and I won't dispute her. I will say, though, that the pants I've been trying on which are too big in the hips, but too small in the waist, are pants I was able to wear three years ago when I weighed 10 pounds more than I do now. I am apparently carrying my weight differently now than I did then. I still have quite a few pounds to lose to get to my goal, though, so eventually I think it will disappear. Certainly 10 years ago, after I'd lost more than 50 pounds, I didn't have any trouble wearing a size 8. Which would probably be a 6 now.

Which sounds impossible.

I was at Sam's Club yesterday and picked up a denim skirt. There are no fitting rooms at Sam's, so I held it up to me and picked the size [14] that looked like it would fit, keeping in mind that my waist is the problem area. It's too big! Back it goes ... I'm at a point where if I can wear a smaller size, I'll plunk down the money for it, rather than try to shrink or alter something that doesn't fit.

Six months ago, a size 12 sounded impossible.

I'm lovin' it!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Researchers questioning BMI

Well, duh. Bloggers have been questioning it all along. [I could soooo get lost in that Medrant blog!]

BMI was never intended to be used as a diagnostic tool, but that is what it has evolved into in recent years. According to Wikipedia [which can be unreliable, but this seems to be accurate],
"it is meant to be used as a simple means of classifying sedentary (physically inactive) individuals with an average (mesomorphic) body composition."

It looks like some researchers are coming around. Here's a link, and another.

My BMI recently slipped from obese to merely overweight. I'd certainly have to agree that a BMI of 30-and-over falls into the obese category, based on my weight and pants size. However. I haven't had bloodwork done in almost a year, and I bet even when my BMI was greater than 30 my cholesterol levels were normal. My blood pressure certainly isn't a problem. I'm able to work out steadily for more than an hour on a daily basis. I eat a high-fiber, low-fat, healthful diet, and I avoid sugar. Do I think I'm going to develop heart disease? Nope. Diabetes? Uh-uh. Was I headed there last year?

You bet.

I'm happy that I've reversed that trend. There are no guarantees in life, of course, but if I want to see my grandchildren grow up – and especially if I want to play with them along the way – it's up to me to be in the best physical, emotional and spiritual condition I can muster. Probably not in that order.

Moving on ... I managed to do a 70-minute workout yesterday made up of THIRTY minutes of weight training – the most I've done in one session this year – and 40 minutes of yoga. The weight training consisted of two sets of 12 repetitions of eight different moves, done slowly, deliberately and correctly, instead of letting gravity and momentum do all the work. I am feeling it this morning. It's hard to tell, though, if the lovely ache I feel in my shoulders and back is from the weight training or triangle pose. No matter; it's all good.

I'm not feeling any lovely little aches in my midsection. One of the commenters yesterday suggested that yoga wouldn't do much for my waist, but weight training and aerobic activity would. I don't disagree. All I can say is that the other time in my life that I practiced it regularly, I walked taller, straighter and leaner, even though I weighed more than I do now. I've seen others' bodies change remarkably after a few months of regular practice.

My own body surprised me greatly when I lost a lot of weight 10 years ago. I've had three abdominal surgeries, and thought I'd never have a flat stomach again. I was wrong. I wore a two-piece swimsuit for the first time in my adult life 10 years ago. [At my age, that ain't happening again. Especially after seeing some, ahem, mature sunbathers by the hotel pool in Las Vegas. But it was fun while it lasted!]

For Deborah, who wondered what team he plays for [referring to the almost-naked pitcher from yesterday's post], that's Tim Robbins as Nuke LaLoosh in my favorite baseball movie, Bull Durham. The movie really is a family favorite; my daughter's family named their new puppies Crash and Annie. I watch the DVD every April, as baseball season begins. As October draws near, it's a good time to watch it again. Or for the first time, if you've never seen it. It's not just about baseball.

Do you read Jonny Bowden's blog? I just discovered him a month or so ago. Yesterday he offered a great little motivational paragraph from a book by Esther and Jerry Hicks about getting from here to there that just makes so much sense. It's so simple and logical.

I've been trying to figure out a way to tell a funny little incident without mentioning the commercial you skip past at the top of the page. My daughter didn't skip it a couple days ago, and was led here. Considering a recent conversation here, we thought it was pretty funny. Proving that, while Blogger is great for blogging, it's probably not so great for commerce.

Think I've put enough links in this post? Hehehe.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Grey is the new ... grey

It appears that Martha Stewart got some decorating inspiration during her stay in Alderson [that's the prison where I volunteer]. The latest issue of the magazine arrived here in the Middle of Nowhere yesterday; last night as I made my way to the classroom where I teach a drawing class, a couple of inmates were touching up the new grey paint [which is, of course, covering the old grey paint] in the stairwell.

I happen to love grey; the interior walls of my house are a very pale, pale grey and most of the rooms have dark grey woodwork. In a mostly warm climate, grey is cooling and soothing. I also wear a lot of grey, although I'm now in a pink rut. Which goes well with … grey!

Greta commented yesterday:
I am wondering if you have passed the weight at which you quit dieting the last time around. I know you mentioned a while back that you were getting close to that number and a bit concerned about it. Did you sail right through the old sticking point?
I can't say I actually sailed through, but 10 weeks after I hit it, I'm 10 pounds below it. I had a two-pound gain one of those weeks, and a couple weeks of staying the same.

I had some disturbing math dreams last night. Some people dream of falling, or flying, or playing baseball naked – I dream numbers. If I have X number of pounds left to lose, and there are 19 weeks left in the year, I'll need to lose X pounds per week. I mentioned this yesterday. My dreams were filled with crazy ideas on how to up the ante, the operative word being crazy.

The sticking point was part of the dreamy equation, as well. Is this the next one? Or will it happen when I'm 10 pounds from goal? You know what all the magazines say about those last stubborn 10 pounds.

I may have jinxed my dreams by playing my trying-on-clothes game before I went to bed. I could be wearing some of my otherwise too-small clothes if it weren't for my waistline, which is way out of proportion to my bust and hips. Another reason to start practicing yoga again?

I just love how thinking and writing here on an almost-daily basis lead me to solutions. Whether yoga works to whittle my waistline or not, the idea that I need to pick it up again has been nagging me for quite a while. So today's the day, along with some more-intense-than-normal weight training. For some reason I think walking/running is better exercise than yoga, when they really do complement each other.

And after the long, hard walk I took yesterday [7.2 miles], my feet and knees could use a rest day. Yes, DG, setting things in electronic stone does seem to work. At least for today!

Monday, August 21, 2006

I am such a creature of habit

I have a pretty set morning routine here in the Middle of Nowhere, which includes writing an almost-daily Shrinking Knitter post. Sometimes, though, things go awry [I love that word!], like, for instance, when the power goes out, due to storms or ice or a house fire burning through the main line that supplies power to all 100 households in the Middle of Nowhere.

No one was injured, as far as I know, and since the Shrinking Knitter is a no-whine zone, I'll just get going with this morning's routine, just like nothing ever happened. Which, yesterday, is exactly what did happen! By the time the power was successfully restored, around noon, I was out of the mood to park my ass in front of the computer.

You'll be very proud of me for choosing to take it outside for an hour-long walk, something I also usually do in the morning. I wasn't sure when the power would come back on, and so wasn't sure when I would be able to take a shower. [No power means no water when you have a well.] I didn't particularly feel like sitting around in my own sweat all day.

Sometime in the late afternoon, after working out, showering and preparing a light, cold supper, I parked my ass in front of the Tiger Woods golf highlight show with my knitting, and finished both fronts of the Seville jacket. They have been joined to the back and are waiting for the sleeves, one of which has been started. This is going amazingly fast, especially considering it's on size 4 needles with sportweight yarn.

Thanks to those of you who commented about Dateline. Yes, that Stone Phillips really can throw a good softball, can't he? I, too, was snorting when the McDonald's nutritionist claimed that the high-fructose corn syrup caramel dipping sauce offered "food energy." Then again, most of television [in my not-so-humble opinion] plays to the lowest common denominator – certainly not the bright, intelligent readers of the Shrinking Knitter! And, seriously, it was Friday night – I'll leave it up to you to figure out where most McDonald's customers were. Only old married folks stay home on Friday watching television "news" magazines.

Greta, your mom must have been an amazing woman. My mother did all the things yours did except work full-time. And it took all her time to do all those chores. Did she teach you to iron by starting with handkerchiefs and pillowcases? If you did, I'm going to swear we are twin daughters of different mothers!

Welcome to Chris, whose profile photo makes him look like a high-school boy, even though he claims on his blog to be happily married. How young do they let you marry in Missouri, Chris? Thanks for your comment.

So it's Monday, which is weigh-in day for me. I'm amazed and surprised to report I've lost two pounds this week, for a total of 42. I haven't figured out the calories in/calories out/miles walked stats yet, which you probably don't care about anyway. Any little trip anywhere tends to throw a wrench into my weight-loss works. I finally feel like I've recovered from Vegas.

I'm also considering the possibility that I won't manage to make my goal by January 1, 2007. According to FitDay, I need to lose 1.37 pounds per week to make it happen. I'm only averaging losses of 1.27 pounds per week. I can hear someone out there shouting, "Eat less! Move more!" To you I say: Read the archives.

I can think of two areas which need more work. I wish I could love weight training like Mar!a does. And I already do love yoga, but haven't incorporated it into the weekly routine. Now that it's written down, I'll have to follow through.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Food fight fizzle

Well, I don't know what I was expecting from Dateline last night, but I came away somewhat unsatisfied.

And a little bit hungry for a big order of fries. Fortunately for my waistline, inertia – the nearest McDonald's is 12 miles away – overcame my hunger.

A good deal of the program focused on a Big Bad Lawyer who is trying to get fast food companies to change their evil ways. I think it's a Good Thing to provide nutrition information at the point of sale, rather than on the packaging after the sale. It was interesting to me, though, that the Ruby Tuesday restaurants have removed the calorie and fat content from their menus because sales declined after testing that concept. I rarely eat there, but do remember one time studying that informative menu, trying to make a good choice and feeling pretty deprived. I thought it was great that they included the information, but there weren't many appealing choices for less than 500 calories – which is more than I eat at almost any meal except Thanksgiving dinner.

They only had an hour, so many issues that come into play in the 'obesity epidemic' remained unexamined. For instance – and this is only my personal opinion, and not an attack – do working mothers have a harder time saying "no" to less healthful snacks because they're too tired to fight the nag factor? Is it easier to offer a package of fruit snacks than to cut up an apple? Are busy parents too preoccupied with work, finances, relationships, you-name-it to be good role models for an active lifestyle?

And speaking of apples, were you as shocked as I was to learn that McDonald's is the nation's largest provider of apples to children? And what does that mean, anyway? Are they the largest purchaser? How many apples get tossed? Providing doesn't necessarily mean eating.

I'm just sayin', is all.

The whole segment comparing brain scans of food and cocaine addicts was interesting, particularly since I know a thing or two about addiction. Yes, I know, we have to eat, while we don't have to abuse alcohol or drugs. But we can choose our food carefully and support our health, or we can use food as an excuse to avoid living fully. When I was drinking, I never had a problem refusing rum, which I can't stand. I also never had any trouble finding gin in the summer or scotch in the winter. When I decided the pain of being an alcoholic was greater than the pain of dealing with life on life's terms, I was able, finally, to refuse alcohol completely – one day at a time. Similarly, the pain of being fat, hating how I felt and looked and related to others finally tipped the scales, if you'll pardon the pun, and was worse than the "pain" of eating sensibly, avoiding sugar and exercising.

Pain is a great motivator.

I wish they had talked more about the costs of junk food vs. nutritious food. I'm glad that McDonald's [and other fast-food chains] are providing meal-sized salads, and I buy them on the rare occasions I eat there. The only way they'll remain on the menu is if they sell. These companies are, first and foremost, responsible to their shareholders. Too many Asian Chicken Salads thrown away at the end of the day reduce profits, and if an item costs more to sell than it rakes in, well ... simple economics dictates they'll have to 86 it.

Have you ever seen so many headless fat people on one program? No? Here's one more, in case you didn't get enough. [This was me, in April of 2005.]

I'm left with more questions than conclusions, as is usually the case when I watch programs like Dateline's "Food Fight." I suppose their job is to present the facts. I couldn't help feeling they were going out of their way not to slam Kraft and McDonald's too much, though. After all, those two companies represent a huge chunk of advertising dollars for NBC.

And speaking of advertising, I had decided before watching that I was going to pay special attention to the commercials for this episode. Thirty-six commercials aired during that hour. Half a dozen or so were for other NBC programs. Food commercials? Only two: Slim-Fast [is that a food?] and Wishbone Salad Spritzers. If I had the stomach for it, I'd watch the next Dateline to see if the food advertisers are back on board.

P.S. The baby named Hope survived her very serious surgery on Thursday. She still has a rough road ahead, but she's out of immediate danger and recovering well. Thank you.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Today's quote courtesy of Mar!a

A couple of days ago, I rather flippantly asked Mar!a for tips on sustaining a happy marriage, as she and her husband celebrate 23 years of wedded bliss. Here's what she said. Go read it; I'll wait.

The core truth that jumped out for me was this line:
A good marriage is not about finding the right person, it's about being the right person.
–Mar!a, Someday is Now
I couldn't be the right person until I got sober. All my relationships have improved since that day more than 15 years ago; I think everyone who knew me then and knows me now would agree.

Thanks, Mar!a, for taking the time to share your thoughts about what makes a good marriage. I think your essay deserves to be printed in a magazine.

I mentioned here yesterday that Dateline will be airing a program tonight called "Food Fight" – a debate over personal responsibility vs. corporate responsibility as the food industry is increasingly being targeted as a root cause of obesity. I love Jen's comment: "As if it's just one or the other." Hey, they only have an hour, and that's how television works – wrap it all up in a tidy little package before the credits roll. Hasn't Oprah been having a food-fight debate for the last decade?

I wonder if Dateline interviewed successful weight-loss bloggers for the program. They could learn more from Jonathan, Skinny Daily and PastaQueen – and many others! [see the sidebar] – than from McDonald's or Kraft Food executives.

I don't have live-blogging capability [or skills!], but I'll be taking notes.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bonus post!

I meant to say something about this when I posted this morning. Dateline is scheduled to air a program on obesity. Here's the blurb from their website:
Friday, Aug. 18, 8 p.m.: Food fight
With obesity on the rise, Stone Phillips asks who is to blame for your waistline - you or those who make and market your food? Pitting personal responsibility against corporate responsibility, Phillips explores the subject from the courtroom, the supermarket, the drive-thru, and even the lab: looking at the latest developments in brain imaging science suggesting some of us may actually be addicted to fattening food. Also included in the hour-long report, "Food Fight," are rare television interviews with one of McDonald's top leaders, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of McDonald's USA, Don Thompson, and Kraft's Senior Vice President in charge of Health and Wellness, Lance Friedmann.
Call me crazy, but does it sound to you as if the major advertisers food companies might be planning to defend themselves?

Okay, I really need to get out more

So it sounds as though the radio commercial I referred to yesterday is, after all, an appropriate set-up for today's kids with weight problems. I still can't remember who the advertiser was …

I was never reluctant to pose for pictures when I was a kid, no matter how little or big I was. It's a shame that today's children are saddled with body image 'issues.'

My grandpa was the family photographer; it was a hugely satisfying hobby for him. He hand-tinted photographs of my mother in the 1930s and '40s; took piles of pictures of my siblings and me when we came along in the '50s, and was probably first on the block to get a movie camera and one of those new-fangled Polaroids. I'm fairly certain he would have totally embraced computers and digital photography, as well, had he lived this long. He loved new gadgets.

The astute among you will notice there is now an archive of this blog for August 1990.


I doubt if anyone was blogging in 1990, and so I therefore claim the world's oldest blog archive as my own. It's some kind of glitch; I had trouble publishing yesterday's post and ended up having to cut-and-paste a new entry. The old one, however, did get published, as it's there in the list. I edit the time when I hit the publish button, but not the date, so blame it on Blogger. I am. And their Help group? Not much help at all.

My walk/run yesterday was 6.6 miles, about half of which was running, so I'm making progress. I came home and mowed our three acres, trimmed with the weed-whacker and then collapsed with my knitting for the rest of the day. I've made it past the armhole decreases on the back of the Seville, so I should be able to finish the back by tonight. Figuring out how to knit while sitting on the exercise ball at the computer has greatly aided my knitting progress.

If you pray, please remember a little girl named Hope, and her doctors, today, as she faces open heart surgery. Thank you.

Finally, Lucia has posted her nominations for "The Addicts Choice Knitting Blog Awards." The Shrinking Knitter would love it if you would vote for her! I just wish you could come to the Middle of Nowhere and vote for DSL. And city water.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

False advertising

Coming home from my volunteer gig at the prison last night, I heard a commercial on the radio that I promised myself I wouldn't forget about because I wanted to write about it this morning. Perhaps my mental faculties are suffering; I prefer to think it's the ad agency at fault, because I can't remember the advertiser.

[First, an aside: Last week when I was off getting married and unable to attend my Tuesday night AA meeting at the prison, the other volunteers passed a card around the meeting for the women to sign. They gave it to me last night and of course I got a little verklempt when I read it. They're all so happy for Mr. Shrinking Knitter and me.]

Okay, back to "bidness."

I do remember the premise of the commercial. A young girl is describing how she used to hate seeing photos of herself because she was so big, bigger than all the other kids. Thanks to whatever the advertiser was pushing, she looks great in her latest team picture.

What struck me is that when I was a fat child, it never occurred to me to wail about how bad I looked in photos. That seems to be more of an adult concern.

I started gaining weight when I was 10 or 11, and our family moved to a house across the street from a little grocery store. I spent all my allowance on candy, and I was bigger than all my friends. I developed an insatiable sweet tooth, fed by my friend Gretchen's mother's after-school brownies, my own mother's cake-mix creations and whatever confections I could buy with my very own money.

I hated that I couldn't keep up in gym class. I hated that we had to buy clothes from the "chubby" department. I hated being teased and I hated being ignored by boys. [Except the ones who wanted to know if my best friend liked them.]

So the radio ad hit me the wrong way. And it was on a sports talk station; I doubt their target audience is going to care about or act on the dilemma presented in the commercial. But maybe that was the only market the advertiser could afford.

The "childhood obesity epidemic" is certainly a big news story, and it's interesting that commercials are now aiming at the problem. A Scottish newspaper headline offers this sage advice:
Hmmm. Where have we heard that before?

Anyway, my point is that the commercial felt off-kilter to me. Did you hate looking at photos of yourself as a child? Or did you start hiding in the back row or avoiding the camera altogether only as you got older?

Another news story [not specifically about childhood obesity], this one from the United Kingdom, claims that overweight people now outnumber hungry people. The author uses the term "undernutrition" – "The reality is that far more obesity than undernutrition exists …" – and I wonder if that term is replacing malnutrition. I don't believe that every obese person is properly nourished. Particularly if their idea of a vegetable is a large order of fries or a bag of potato chips. Is 'undernutrition' a new politically correct term?

Two words for DJ Steveboy: I surrender. The workout I chose, at 180 beats per minute, was far more than I could handle. I'm so glad he offers, as Lynette recommended in the comments, some less-intense options, and I'll be downloading one or two of those tonight. Sheesh! Talk about biting off more than you can chew! What was I thinking?

And to Kate, who suggested perhaps walking and knitting could be done at the same time, I have done that in the past. One particular treadmill session comes to mind. I can highly recommend the old Paton's Kroy sock yarn as sturdy, durable and able to withstand the internal roller bars of the machine. I can't say as much for the 12-inch Addi Turbo needle, but I'm sure it wasn't meant to be tortured in treadmill innards.

When I knit and walk outside, I tend to do both more slowly than I do when I concentrate on one or the other. And since I'm trying to run more than I walk, I think I'll leave the knitting on the couch. I've gotten more than six inches of the back done since I cast on Monday morning, so it's coming along much faster than I thought it would.

Maybe because it's not as wide as it would have been a year ago?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Got DSL? Download this!

Workout music, all free, from DJ Steveboy.

You can download from the site or subscribe to the podcast. If you're on dial-up, set the download up before you go to bed.

I chose one at random last night called Groundpounder, which is an electronic collection at 180 beats per minute. Maybe I can get my groove going with something new for the Shuffle.

Thanks to Belle for mentioning DJ Steveboy on her blog, which I just discovered yesterday.

I started the back of the Seville Jacket yesterday; all-stockinette, all-the-time for the next, oh, six months, probably, followed by an endless cabled edge to be sewn on later. Doesn't that sound like fun? If I want to wear a couple of new vests this fall I'm going to have to add them to the rotation, because the Seville is sportweight yarn on size 4 needles.

I'd intended to pick up groceries yesterday after the meeting/dentist/errands, but the dentist was, um, painful and I didn't feel like eating, let alone grocery-shopping. So today, maybe. And there were no pink t-shirts at Tar-jay to replace the one I destroyed last week. I bought boring black and grey, on sale. Can you have too many black t-shirts? I may have to make a trip to the Old Navy that's two hours away. By the time I spend the money on gas to get there, whether it's on sale or not won't make a bit of difference, will it?

[Edited to add: Clickety-click! Just ordered exactly what I need from the Apparel shop. Duh – how easy was that?]

Vickie left a comment about her bloodwork comparisons – she's certainly doing something right! I usually have an annual screening done in the fall. My cholesterol had been creeping up, so it'll be interesting to see what happens this year.

The dental hygienist took my blood pressure yesterday [perhaps to determine if she needed to dispense Valium before commencing to scrape?], and pronounced it that of a 16-year-old: 106/60. I guess if any part of me needs to be a teen-ager again, blood pressure is good.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Gettin' better all the time

Yesterday I headed out at about 11 a.m. for the daily walk, hoping for a bit of running, and I did really well, considering my recent lack of progress. I did the 6.6-mile loop in 95 minutes, with some running – probably a third altogether. And the weight training went even better. Two sets of 12 for every move, and two sets of 15 for one!

Today is a rest day, but a busy day, nonetheless. A meeting this morning, dentist appointment this afternoon and then I have to look for a couple shirts to replace two that were ruined in the rusty-water drama from last Thursday. The good thing about that, though, is that I can buy a size smaller.

I didn't check in with a progress report last week, since I was computer-less and scale-less, and the total for this week isn't all that impressive, but I'm still going in the right direction. I've lost two more pounds over the past two weeks, bringing the total to an even 40 for the year.

Forty pounds!

Vickie, thanks for your thoughts yesterday on journaling. It's really working for you, and you helped me see that blogging is certainly an additional way I journal. It's an almost-daily thing, and I bet if I went back six months I could see some progress in mood and motivation. No time to pursue that this morning, but that would be a good thing for me to follow up on.

And Mariah, the notebook idea is a good one. Obviously the online option isn't meeting your needs, and what did we do before computers, anyway? Weight Watchers used to provide weekly food logs, with all the requirements listed for checking off [no more than four eggs, liver once a week, #4 vegetables, water!]. Maybe you could create a form for yourself, as well. The most important nutrient to track is calories consumed, after all.

Also, I'm so glad you're in a good knitting place.

I finished the first Jaywalker sock yesterday, and also finished the Shapely Tank that I've been working on all summer. Good thing we have a little warm weather left.

My next project will be the Oat Couture Seville Jacket. I'm going to use pale pink Naturespun Sportweight. I've had this pattern for 10 years, probably, and never even tried to start one. About time, right? I also want to do a couple of vests before I restart the FLAK.

Thank you, Jonathan, for your "beautiful bride" comment. Jonathan focuses on maintenance at his blog, but even if you're not ready for that phase, put him on your list of daily reads. He offers great insight and ideas for those of us still losing, as well.

If I'm going to get everything done today, I need to get off my ass and get going! As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Write it down to weigh down

Do you remember that scene in Bull Durham where Crash [Kevin Costner] offers interviewing tips to Nuke [Tim Robbins]? Each time Nuke questioned Crash's advice, Crash responded with three words: "Write it down." It must have worked; Nuke made it to The Show, and eventually used Crash's advice on-camera.

According to studies conducted by the National Weight Control Registry, one of the key factors for weight loss is keeping a food journal. Journaling can be as low- or high-tech as you're comfortable with, and can include the basics or be much more detailed.

The advantages of writing down every morsel you eat are well-documented. You'll see at a glance how much you've eaten as the day goes by. For those of us who must eat at the low end of the recommended calories per day, it's vital to keep track to prevent out-of-control eating. For those just starting a weight-loss plan, writing down what you normally eat can be educational and revealing.

Longtime readers know that I use a piece of standalone software called Don's Calorie Tracker, which was written for the Macintosh operating system. Since my computer is always on, the program is at my fingertips as long as I'm at home. It includes some food value information, and you then add new items as you use them, building up a core list of foods you eat on a regular basis. You also can record exercise activity accomplished each day.

I don't use it as intended – the purpose of the calculations is to provide you with a daily calorie total which, if you stay at or below it, should result in weight loss. That number depends on a daily record of your current weight, though, and I prefer to record my weight once a week. But I get accurate information on the number of calories eaten and burned each day.

For a little more than twice the Calorie Tracker price, CalorieKing offers a similar product, which I haven't tried.

Free products are out there, too, but they're online. I live in the land of dial-up internet service, and prefer to be able to add to my daily foods eaten without logging on, but if I had DSL, I'd probably be using FitDay on a regular basis. The food database is huge, the charts and reports are useful and my Inner Geek likes the amount of information provided each time I update my weight. I use it to keep track of my BMI [I've just slipped over the line from obese to merrely overweight – not really something to celebrate, but certainly something to note!].

SparkPeople's program, including their Nutrition Tracker, is free to use; the program I use is affordable and offers a more diverse menu planning feature. Again, though, these food journals are online only.

Most articles about journaling suggest that recording the when, where and why you eat are as important as the what. If you go to those lengths in your journaling efforts, could you tell me how it helps you? I've not gone quite that in-depth with my food records, and the Calorie Tracker program doesn't have a place for notes, as other programs do. I'm aware that writing down what I eat does help limit it. [I was especially aware of it when I was gone last week, and the computer didn't come with me. I tried to jot everything down the old-fashioned paper-and-pencil way, but I'll admit I'm spoiled by technology.] I'm not sure tracking when, where and why would be worth the time and trouble.

Speaking for myself, when I was at my heaviest, I didn't want anyone to be aware of me, and so was not very self-aware, either. This weight-loss process is not only making others notice me, but I'm paying better attention to myself. If there's more I can do, I want to know about it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Getting back to normal

Well, the water seems to be clear and, um, water-colored again [as opposed to caramel-colored], the dogs have readjusted to being home from doggie camp, the laundry is all caught up and life is somewhat normal again.

Whatever that is.

I heard in an AA meeting once that normal is a setting on the washing machine that one rarely uses. Who wants to be normal?

Right now, I wouldn't mind a little bit of it.

First, for Marilyn, the full-length wedding outfit shot, in which Shrinking Knitter is sporting her best deer-in-the-headlights look:

Getting back in the groove after a trip – even a short one, and especially a momentous one – is proving to be difficult. I'm having trouble running. It was so-so-so easy to run in Las Vegas, with those long flat sidewalks and no humidity! Yes, it was hot, but here at home I feel like I'm walking in water. Out there I could start right out trotting and never even had to stop to catch my breath.

Here in the Middle of Nowhere? Not so much.

I was out for an hour Thursday and almost two yesterday, and I just can't seem to pick up the pace again.

As for weight training, I had increased the weights a couple weeks before I left, and was able to do two sets of 12 for each movement I do. Yesterday? One of 10 on two moves, and only two of 10 on the others.

So while I'm not starting over, thank goodness, I've sure taken a couple steps backward. It shouldn't take more than a week or two to reach my previous level, but I'm somewhat impatient about this. I like feeling strong, I enjoy running steadily. Even walking briskly feels like plodding along to me now.

Progress, not perfection. Right?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Marriage has done wonders for my social life

So yes, PastaQueen, I did get picked up running in Las Vegas. There was absolutely no doubt about the guy's intent, and it was completely hilarious.

Each morning we were there [Saturday, Sunday and Monday] I was up and out of the hotel at or before 6 a.m., which was probably the lowest temperature [Eighty. Degrees. Fahrenheit.] of the day. I ran about 2.5 miles down the Strip one way, crossed the street and came back up the other direction. [In an hour! No hills, unless you count the staircases that take you up and over the intersections.]

Since Las Vegas never sleeps, there actually are quite a few people out at that hour of the day. Some are still partying, some are going to work, some are coming home from work. Some are working [if you get my drift]. How do they walk in those shoes?

And then there are the runners. You notice each other, smile and nod and keep moving.

Saturday morning [my wedding day; could I be any more virtuous getting out and running the morning I get married?] I passed the same guy twice. Next day we saw each other again and high-fived. Monday morning he saw me first, stopped and asked me if I wanted to go have a cocktail. [Snort!]

I should have taken a picture of myself at the end of a run, just so you guys could see how absolutely attractive I must have been. Sweaty t-shirt, baggy running shorts, hair every which way, bright-red face – I'm a real looker when I work out! Anyway, it was funny and fun, and Mr. Shrinking Knitter got a kick out of the story, too.

For Greta, [I almost typed "Great" again!] who asked for more details about the chapel wedding: Our original plan was to have a civil ceremony at the Marriage Bureau. But there were these people outside the license bureau, offering a limo ride to their chapel and back to our hotel, an immediate ceremony with a witness, photos and a rose. We got sucked into the tacky fun of it. I'm just glad they were somewhat honest. Ahem.

The first thing that happened when we got to the chapel were the photos, six very fast poses and we both look kind of dazed. [Greta, if you go into the Vegas wedding chapel photo business, give your subjects just a bit more time to compose themselves.] The minister [Pastor Chip] talked us through the ritual, then flung open the doors and introduced Mr. and Mrs. Shrinking Knitter [he, of course, used our real names] to the various perfect-stranger couples waiting in the lobby. I was laughing so hard I didn't have time to even notice their reactions.

So today, I leave you with the tackiest pose of the six. I actually think we look better – more natural and like we're having a good time – in this photo, but I've never seen a shot like this in anyone else's wedding photos.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thank you so, so, SO much!

Your comments yesterday made my day – and since our water is acting goofy [we have a well that supplies us with plenty of water, but it's sometimes not a color you would want to drink], I really needed your good wishes and happy thoughts.

I hope you lurkers will come out again ... it's so helpful to me to know you're out there. Wonder how many of you will speak up when I tell you about the baby?

Yes, I made the Diamond Patch specifically for the wedding, and wore it with white gauzey wide-legged pants and white leather sandals. One woman who shared an elevator with us was very complimentary about my outfit, and couldn't believe she was actuallly meeting a couple who got married in Vegas. She was pretty funny.

Also in the 'knitting' category, I took one of those skeins of Socks That Rock that a very kind reader sent me a while ago, and got quite a bit of airport/airplane knitting done on a Jaywalker sock, as you can see here. The color is called "Sherbet," but I think it looks like neon lights – perfect for Las Vegas!

Back to the wedding: None of our family was with us, so we'll follow up our little private ceremony with a reception next month here in the Middle of Nowhere. The whole thing, from getting the license to being delivered back to our hotel, took about half an hour, and was completely fun.

We'd intended to have our wedding supper at Spago's Saturday night, but it was so hot, and we were so tired that we just kept putting it off, and decided we'll get there next time we go to Vegas. The buffet at the Mirage was fabulous, and we went there twice.

Food in Vegas was manageable. Every hotel has a buffet, and every buffet offers a salad bar, healthy entree selections, fresh fruit and sugar-free [although not calorie-free] desserts. I didn't go out there with the idea that I had to stick to a strict plan, and I enjoyed myself without going overboard. Food is fuel, not fun, or a reward. Breakfasts were difficult; if you don't load up with eggs and breakfast meat, you somehow feel you're not getting your money's worth. But Mr. Shrinking Knitter is the most supportive diet partner I could ever hope for, and we didn't go out there to save money on food. Or anything else, as the slot machines will attest!

Exercise in Vegas? I'll save that for tomorrow. I have a great running story, one that PastaQueen, especially, will appreciate. Until then ... thank you again for all your wonderful comments.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I promised you a surprise ...

What a nice weekend ... it's always good to get away for a few days.

The Spousal Equivalent and I hopped a jet Friday morning and headed west, to the city of hopes and dreams, the city that never sleeps, the city that takes all your money and leaves you scrounging around in your pockets at the airport for just one more quarter to throw in a slot machine as the agent announces final boarding for your flight home.

That's right, we went to Vegas, baby! It's the only city I know of where you can hang out in Venice, Rome, Paris and New York all in a single afternoon. That's Paris, Vegas-style, on the left – trust me, you won't find desert palms outside the real Tour d'Eiffel.

I managed to add more money than I'd planned to the local economy, but I came home with something much more special than mere cashmoneybucks. May I introduce ...

Mr. Shrinking Knitter!

Yep, the Spousal Equivalent is now the Spouse.

He propsed on Mother's Day, completely out of the blue. We've lived together for more than nine years, and the marriage conversation has come up now and then, but we both were of the opinion that if it ain't broke, you don't fix it.

Not that anything was broken when he brought up the M-word this time. He just thought it was time, and hoped I did, too.

All together now: Awwwww.

So anyway. My internal clock is completely messed up, even though I tried to stay on Middle-of-Nowhere time while I was out there. Details? Later.
It's the middle of the night and I should go get some sleep.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The first harvest

Well, the first tomato harvest, anyway; we've been enjoying the basil and a few peppers already.

These are the first ripe Romas from my garden [6.6 ounces, about 40 calories' worth], along with some of the banana peppers which are more than abundant right now. I added chopped tomato, pepper and onion to my egg-white omelette yesterday morning, along with some fresh cilantro [purchased at the grocery – my garden cilantro is now completely baked]. Very tasty, and a nice way to start the day.

Corn has been off my menu for a long time. I may have thrown a can of corn into a batch of black bean salsa last summer when we had company, but it never shows up in the eDiet Glycemic Impact weekly menu plan. And it almost goes without saying [but I'm saying it anyway] that I don't eat anything with high-fructose corn syrup in it.

But there are other ways I might be "consuming" corn in the future. Clara at Knitter's Review took some Cornucopia for a test-knit; her results are encouraging. The yarn is 100 percent corn, with amazing yardage. Southwest Trading Company has a corn yarn, as well, called Amaizing. I love that Antique Lace color in the Cornucopia line. If using corn for yarn would catch on, I wouldn't mind government subsidies for corn farmers!

My son thought I should post a photo of the faun who came for a picnic at my place yesterday, just to prove that I really do live in the Middle of Nowhere. How many of you have deer checking out your picnic table? Apologies for the quality of the photo; it was taken through the glass of the front door and I had to zoom in from about 50 yards. But 50 yards! That's pretty close to the house, probably as close as any other deer I've ever seen here. As you can see, she was pretty tiny. I didn't see her mother anywhere, and when my dogs saw her and started barking, she bolted.

As I mentioned yesterday, the list of tasks to be done before leaving for a few days grows and grows and grows as the time diminishes. I'm heading out tomorrow morning, too early to post, and will be back late Tuesday. No computer access between now and then, but do come back on the 9th for photos of my cosmetic surgery a big surprise!

Au revoir!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Deep Random Thoughts

by the Shrinking Knitter:
  • Ticks just show up. You don't even have to be looking for them. For instance, how many times do you look at the cuff of your sock while you're running up a hill?

  • And speaking of running up hills, it's easier if you don't look up at the horizon or down at your shoes. But try running up a hill knowing you can't look up or down.

  • A live snake crossing the road in front of you is scarier than someone pulling out in front of you in a car.

  • Dead possums smell. Dead deer stink.

  • A cotton bandana can hold a finite amount of sweat.

  • Running in thick fog feels like swimming in air. Except you don't get cooled off.

  • The number of things left to do before you leave on a trip increases in proportion to the time you have left before you get on the plane. And several things will go wrong.
Thanks again, everyone, for your e-mails and comments. You keep me running!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thirty-nine and [hopefully not] holding

Mondays are my official weigh-in days, but today wraps up the month of July, so I weighed myself this morning to see if I made my July goal of losing a total of 40 pounds. I was down one pound from yesterday – totally a fluke, I'm sure – which puts me at a grand total of 39 for the year. For you non-math wizards, that's 5.57 pounds per month.

What? You came here for a comparison photo? Well, here you go. Not much different from last month, but I've started this monthly deal and I feel like I have to keep it up. PastaQueen does her amazing photos at every 20-pound loss – a better idea and more dramatic images, but I didn't think about that.

I'm a little reluctant to post any kind of total weight-loss goal for August. This is the first month since I started setting monthly goals that I've missed it. I realize that setting small goals along the way is recommended as a Good Thing to Do, but I'm not sure how helpful it's been.

It just soooo stresses me out. [Snort!] [If you don't catch the sarcasm in that, reread Sunday's post, which should have had more sarcasm in it, but hey, I was too busy to be cutting-edge!]

Setting a small "number" goal doesn't make me stay on course with my food plan, or work out consistently. For the most part, I do that anyway. Surprisingly, I'm more faithful to regular exercise than I am to sticking to the food plan. And the way I miss the mark with food is mostly with portion control. The new food scale has been a big help there.

I'll be gone for a few days this month [Warning! Blog Break coming up!], and will be eating every meal in restaurants, which is another reason not to set a small goal for this month. I have no idea how working out will happen, or how healthy the food choices will be. I don't want the emotional struggle, but it sounds like I have it anyway.

Before I wrap it up, I have to point to Diet-Blog again today. [They sure do give me a lot of blog fodder, don't they?] In a world where private individuals have set up foundations in order to vaccinate Third World countries, the fact that someone is trying to create a fat vaccine is, to me, ludicrous.

In the first place, vaccines don't make any money. What pharmaceutical company is going to get on board for something that eliminates the problem – if it ever will – rather than treats it? There's a lot more profit in providing a lifetime supply of daily treatment than there is in a one-time cure.

And in the second place, blocking the appetite doesn't necessarily make you eat less. Take an honest moment with yourself and think about how many times you've rummaged around for the next thing to eat, even though you've just gone through the refrigerated leftovers and what remains in the kids' lunchbox. [Do kids still take their lunches to school?] Were you hungry? Probably not. I've said before I probably haven't been hungry since I was 11 years old. Or maybe 12.

I could say a lot more about this, but I don't have time this morning. Moving on!

I get many comments and private e-mails from people who tell me I've inspired them. I thank you very much. I'm glad 5.57 pounds a month is inspiring somebody besides me. If nothing else, I'm learning to stick with something.

For a love-'em-and-leave-'em kind of gal like me, that's a very Good Thing.