Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blog break alert

Since Dooce didn't allow comments on her October 24 post, I'm adding one here, in the form of a quote I found years ago [1994, to be exact]:
"When you run a picture of a nice, clean-cut All-American girl like this, get her tits above the fold."
Al Neuharth
Founder of USA Today
You'll have to go read Dooce's post to figure out the connection. And none of this has anything to do with weight loss or knitting, obviously, but it's my blog and I'll go off on a tangent if I want to. Besides, tomorrow is quote day and I won't be here. Didn't want you to miss anything.

In case you're wondering why that quote showed up in my little universe 12 years ago, I used to work for a newspaper [as a graphic designer] and my son is a journalist. I made him a T-shirt with journalism quotes all over the front and back. It would undoubtedly be much easier to find interesting quotes now, with the internets and all, than it was then. It is, in fact, easier to make a T-shirt now than it was then, what with ink-jet printers and T-shirt transfers and all.

And if you're getting all huffy about the substance of that quote, remember that the Shrinking Knitter didn't say it … I'm just bringing it to the attention of the world. Or at least the 17 of you who read this blog. If you feel like protesting, quit buying USA Today.

The large swatch skirt for Tilt has been machine-washed and -dried and looks much better than it did right off the needles. I think I'll finish it. The charcoal grey sock has a heel, but don't even expect a photo of it. Nothing could be more boring. The heel I used is here, which Wendy pointed to a couple days ago. I'll decide later if I use it again. As Wendy notes, it's a little bumpier on the inside than the usual wrapped short-row heel, so it might not be as comfortable to wear.

Three pairs of pants got hemmed yesterday. Two pairs did not [one is a lined pair of wool slacks, and I think I need help pinning them up]. Nor did the skirt, which is stretchy-jersey-slippery, and needs serging rather than sewing. But I crossed the job off the list with great satisfaction, along with the "clean" item which is perpetually there. My house is now vacuumed, mopped, dusted and somewhat de-cluttered and I have new clothes to take on my getaway. I felt like a machine at the end of the day! Only a couple more little things to do today and I can leave with a clean conscience. And a clean house.

Food has been great this week. Exercise? Not so much. I'll be walking outside today to test my heel. The weather should be lovely and I'm looking forward to it.

As I am to my little trip. I plan to be back next Friday.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

If you're a Mac OS X 10.4 user …

and if you work out with music, Tangerine is a nifty free program that analyzes your music collection and spits out each song's beats per minute. This will, of course, allow you to create a playlist that starts with a reasonable tempo, builds to a last-gasp intensity and then slows back down so you can catch your breath in the last five minutes.


Now if I could just use my feet again, I'd be all set for the kind of workout I've been wishing for, lo these many months.

Actually, I'm very happy with dj steveboy, but his mixes start and stay at one level. The only Tangerine drawback is that it does not recognize songs purchased through iTunes. As I recall, iTunes music is delivered in some kind of propriety format; there might be a program out there that will convert an iTunes purchase [Audio Hijack, maybe?]. I'll have to try it one of these days.

The days this week have been busy, busy, just like I like them. My list of to-dos is getting shorter.

In order to hem all those pairs of pants, I had to clean off the surface in the guest room where I park the sewing machine. On that surface was a box of white candles that we burned at our party last month. My intention has been to replace the old, burned, dusty candles in our non-working fireplace with these newer ones – a yukky job that I kept postponing. But since we put the trash out on Tuesday, Tuesday was the day to ditch all the old candles.

Kind of like rebuilding the rock wall, cleaning out the fireplace wasn't as awful and didn't take as long as I thought it would. When will I learn?

At any rate, the sewing machine is set up. Five pairs of pants and/or jeans and a skirt are waiting for attention. What do you want to bet that that job won't take all afternoon, either? Heh.

The best thing about all this busy-ness is I'm not indulging in boredom snacking, which is probably my biggest downfall when it comes to food. When I'm in the midst of A Project, I can sail right through mealtime without a single hunger pang – not that it takes a hunger pang to get me to eat, you understand.

I don't even need to create a list of projects. I have yarn, patterns and needles. I have scrapbooking supplies and photos. I have fabric and a sewing machine. I have walls that need to be painted, baseboards that need to be washed, windows that … well, I always have at least one sliding glass door that could use a spritz of Windex.

Each of these options has one thing in common: They need to be started. I've long ago identified that the first step is the one I trip over. When I take a minute to talk myself into starting something, I can just as easily talk myself out of it.

Maybe I need to just shut up and do it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

All or nothing

I'm having trouble with my internet connection this morning, but this is important. Thanks to Peg in Austin for tipping me to that one. I think.

And while we're at it, don't forget about this. A great way to kill some time as winter approaches! And you'll be having so much fun at your computer you won't even think about snacking! But you also won't want to tear your ass away; exercising may be out of the question unless you can hook your recumbent bike up to your monitor.

I used to knit simple things while I walked, either outside or on the treadmill. Treadmill knitting resulted in a disaster once, when the tail of the yarn got caught in the roller bar. I sacrificed a 12-inch Addi Turbo in that incident, but I must say the yarn held up remarkably well. I still wear that pair of socks.

After a while, though, it seemed like I wasn't giving my all to either the knitting or the exercise. [You notice which activity comes first in the equation there, don't you?] So now when I walk I walk. I save the simple round-and-round knitting for e-mail reading, television watching and waiting in lines. Giving whatever I'm doing all my attention seems to produce better results. [Note to self: This works with the eating plan, too!]

I'm a little disappointed in the Seville, now that it's finished and blocked. It will look better when I lose another size, or even two. I won't be taking an on-the-body picture anytime soon, since losing another size has been rather, um, elusive this fall. The sewn-on edging kind of drew in the width of the sweater.

I wish sewing an edging on my body would draw in a little more girth. I'd be first in line!

I crossed several things off my list yesterday, and should be able to get a lot done today. Maybe having a wonky internet connection is a Good Thing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Living by the numbers … not!

When I woke up this morning, [okay, 'fess up – how many of you added 'you were on my mi-i-i-i-ind' to that phrase?] I decided not to weigh in. I'm thrilled with the lab results I got Thursday. I've felt great ever since then. I walked outside yesterday, and the sun and exertion added a great deal to my sense of well-being.

[Although I must confess my heel does hurt a bit. Marie, thanks for asking in the comments yesterday. I'll continue to do the stretching exercises Dr. C recommended, and get back on the rowing machine this week. I'll be out of town next week – blog break alert! – and I really want to be able to walk outside by then.]

The outdoor walk was a necessity. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I live 'on a well,' as I frequently hear country people describe their water source. We have perpetual water/well problems, the latest of which is an abundance of air in the line, causing the water to explode from the tap and make very rude noises when the commodes are flushed. The man who installed and maintains our system insists we have a leak, so we walked the line to see if we could find any evidence.

For normal well installations, that wouldn't be much of a walk. But our well is located in a cow pasture at the bottom of a long and very steep hill. We have a powerful water pump to send our water the opposite way it wants to travel, gravity being what it is, and we've had numerous leaks over the years.

A normal leak means a loss of water pressure and muddy water, as well as the addition of air. We only have the air, so we're all at a loss to figure out what's going on.

At any rate, it was a lovely day and we were glad to get outside and enjoy it. It took 50 minutes to get from our house to the well and back again, criss-crossing the hill, avoiding cows [and their used food] and admiring the autumn hillsides. I've had a request for a photo of our fall colors, but I haven't had the camera with me any time I've been out this year.

In addition to the emotional uplift, I was busy all weekend, finishing the Seville [check!] and fixing the plum sweater sleeves [check!]. I put the slow cooker to work in the kitchen making curried chicken, 13-bean soup, black-bean turkey chili and steel-cut oats. It feels good to have had a weekend of good, healthful meals with enough leftovers that I won't need to cook all week.

So with all these endorphins floating around in my body chemistry, why would I f*ck it up by getting on the scale? After I read this SparkPeople message in this morning's e-mail, I'm even more convinced I've made the right decision. I do need to update the Big Three measurements, but even that can wait until later.

I just don't want to be ruled by a number today.

So here's a big 'duh.' The article reports that restaurant chefs aren't counting your calories for you when you dine out. And also mentions that Americans purchase nearly 20 percent of their meals in restaurants or as take-out.

Another reason to be grateful for living in the Middle of Nowhere.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sock it to me

Amidst all that rending and sewing yesterday, I had to start a pair of socks. My eyes were crossing after I sewed the sleeves and side seams of the Seville jacket. Knitting a simple sock, round-and-round on a 12-inch circular needle, is a comfort and a relief.

Now that the weather has turned cooler [and, by the way, we have had a most gloriously colorful autumn], I'm digging into my sock drawer every day. Except for the cotton athletic socks, every pair there is handmade and all but two are wool. This is a luxury right up there with fresh flowers every week, in my opinion.

I have two pair that are black-and-cream, but no solid black, or even dark grey. There's a reason for that. While I am a mostly neutral kind of girl when it comes to color, it's kind of boring to knit neutrals and the older you get, the harder it usually is to knit dark colors. However, black and grey are what I want to wear most, so I searched in the yarn closet yesterday for a hank of Briggs & Little Sport in a deep charcoal color.

Using a size 2 Addi Turbo, I cast on 52 stitches and knit two inches of 2x2 ribbing. I then switched to a size 3 needle and will knit the rest of the leg in straight, no-nonsense stockinette stitch. For the heel and foot, I'll go back to the smaller size – or maybe even drop down to a size 1, to make the fabric dense and less resistant to wear and tear.

I thought about using my Pretty Comfy pattern for these, but they take some counting and concentration, and I really need simple, both the socks and the knitting. Besides – they're dark grey. Who's going to notice a stitch pattern on dark grey socks hidden under my jeans?

As for the Seville, I tried it on sans edging and I'm going to love it. LOVE IT! It's so elegant. [And you know out here in the Middle of Nowhere how many times we need elegant.] I'm glad I made it in sportweight, rather than worsted. I'm glad I made it a little longer than the pattern called for. And I'll be damned glad when I get the edging completely sewn on.

I started twice on the lower edge; neither attempt worked. So I started at one of the shoulder seams and am working my way down one front. That's working better, but I had to undo [there's that rending again] about six inches last night because it was kind of wavy-looking, instead of stretched and smooth, as it's supposed to be.

I bought this pattern several years ago, because I loved its sophistication – quite different from most of the handknitting patterns I'd tried at that time. I also knew that it wouldn't be flattering on a short fat person. So if I want to keep wearing it, I'd better stick with my program. I just hope I can get the edging on properly or I'll never wear it at all!

An exercise update: I'm doing great on the rowing machine, but only every other day. On the good days I've managed 40 strokes per minute for 30 to 35 minutes. CalorieKing says that's about 500 calories burned. The next day, after 20 minutes, I'm completely whipped. So I'm not getting many minutes in, but it's a good, hard, sweaty workout half the time, and a half-hearted effort the other half. I'm doing my foot exercises and feel no pain at all in my heel at this point. I'll try a short outdoor walk Monday or Tuesday to see where I am with that.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A time to rend and a time to sew

First, I've been remiss in thanking all of you who have commented recently. I really appreciate it when you take the time to add your thoughts and be my cheerleader. You're the best!

Now, let's talk about knitting – that's what the title is all about.

I finished the 'skirt' portion of Tilt last night, but didn't measure to see if it was in ballpark-range of fitting me. As the fiber is a cotton/wool blend, I believe I can shrink it if it's roomy, thus avoiding any rending. However I'm not sure I like how, um, colorful it is. Since one of the colors in the mix is black, I can at least wear it with black slacks or a black skirt, but I know I would never buy something that includes black, grey, magenta, hunter green and four shades of brown. So Tilt, at this stage of the game, is iffy for finishing.

I've finished and worn t
he plum-colored V-neck pullover I was working on in April, and there's no avoiding the fact that the sleeves will need to be shortened. That's another word for rended. Heh. Fortunately I had picked up stitches at the shoulder and worked my down to the cuff, so all I need to do is rip back from the lower edge until the length is right and reknit a cuff. I am loathe to rip it, but it shall be done.

The sewing project is, of course, the Oat Couture Seville Jacket, which still rests in pieces in the guest room. I'm putting that on today's agenda. And then I'm praying it fits. I usually wear slightly oversized – well, okay, sloppy – tops, the kind that hide all possible flaws. This jacket is more fitted than any other I've worn in the last 10 years. So the jury's out on whether I will wear it, or pass it on to someone else. Since it's pink, and pink is no longer the new black, I'm not sure anyone else would even want it.

I also need to shorten four pairs of purchased pants and a skirt, which means dragging out the sewing machine, ironing board and iron. Do any of you other short people find that petite sizes aren't as petite as they used to be? I've never had to shorten already-short slacks before. Could I possibly be shrinking in height as well as girth? [Of course I can, but I certainly don't wish to!]

And I would like to accomplish all this rending and sewing in the next four days, as I'll be traveling next weekend and it would be good to have some Clothes That Fit to take with me. And these would qualify, if I would just get to work on them.

When I was planning and preparing for the party, I had a to-do list that kept me on task. I will occasionally jot down three or four projects that I'd like to get done, and I – like many of you, I'm sure – get great satisfaction from crossing off each item as it's finished. [The only thing remaining undone on the current list is 'Sew Seville Jacket.']

I also like crossing off each meal from my pre-planned eDiets menus. I usually don't eat the prescribed breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack on the day it's prescribed, but I do eat most of them by the end of the week. I mix them up to suit what's in the refrigerator or pantry, or to suit my mood du jour. The crossing off, though, gives me that sense of staying on plan.

I hope your plans for the weekend include something fun. All rending and sewing make the Shrinking Knitter a cranky woman.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Quote Day

The point of living and of being an optimist,
is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come.

– Peter Ustinov
I think most overweight, out-of-shape folks who start an exercise program, take a healthy cooking class or declare "this is the year I'm going to lose weight," must be optimists of the most hopeful kind.

We set off with the confidence of those who have succeeded before us, inspired by magazine articles and makeover programs. Or we're disgusted with ourselves, using anger as our primary motivator. We know that all we need to do is eat less and move more. After all, isn't that what our doctors and friends all tell us?

We may be tempted along the way, either by a quick-fix solution [Lose 10 pounds in one week! Guaranteed!] or by food [crunchy, salty, creamy, sweet – pick your poison]. We may be the victim of sabotage [when your mother-in-law makes her fabulous lasagna just for you] or we may sabotage ourselves [you know those peanut-butter kisses aren't for the kids, now, don't you?]

There may be a period of time where everything stalls – weight loss, motivation and inspiration all take off for Aruba, leaving us freezing in the Middle of Nowhere and wondering what the hell happened.

Whether we need to lose 15 pounds or 50 or more, as the weeks roll by that initial oomph factor dissipates and we're left with the day-to-day drudgery and work of it all.

And then something happens that makes you all hopeful and giddy and excited again. Check this out:

Those are the results of Wednesday's stick-in-the-arm. [Sorry for the crappy table formatting … it's a weak spot in my Adobe InDesign training.] Those are also the results of 11 months of eating healthful meals, for the most part, and working out a lot. Excuse me. I mean A LOT! The 2005 numbers were from November. If you've been here for a while, you know I started my great quest for health, fitness and a smaller ass in January, 2006.

Honestly, though? My quest was only for a smaller ass. I wasn't thinking about my health. I vaguely remembered being fit enough to move furniture or run six miles, but when I started this plan in January all I really wanted was to buy normal-sized clothes that both fit and flattered.

Seeing those numbers improve is like passing some kind of really, really hard exam, the one that determines if you'll have a future in high finance or flip burgers the rest of your life. I almost danced out of the doctor's office.

And how do I feel this morning?

The best is yet to come!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Yet another reason to lose weight

Be sure you're at a healthy weight the next time you end up on death row, now, ya hear?

You know I rarely post twice in one day, but this simply boggles my mind.

I heart Dr. C, the sequel

He noticed! The first thing my doctor said yesterday when he walked into the examination room was that I'd lost more weight.

If you'll recall from previous posts, I'm not a big health-care consumer, and I'm always surprised when my doctor knows who I am. But when I mentioned to Mr. Shrinking Knitter [who is a physician – should I call him Dr. Shrinking Knitter? – nah, I don't think so] that Dr. C commented on the additional weight loss, he [Mr. SK] said that doctors are trained to notice things like that.

So even if it was careful training, I was delighted.

[An aside: I ran into an acquaintance in the grocery later yesterday who clearly did not know who I was for the first couple of minutes of our conversation. When she figured it out, she then said, "You've cut your hair … very flattering!"

I get that a lot.]

Dr. C agreed with my diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, and recommended some stretching exercises which are illustrated in this article. He said another week to 10 days of rest, along with careful stretching, and I should be good to go again. He was quite matter-of-fact about it, which was most reassuring. He emphasized that stretching after a good long walk is more important than before – something I've read, but never done. How's that for crazy?

He also ordered bloodwork, which I haven't had done in a year. I'm anxious to see if the past nine months of careful eating and exercise have improved my cholesterol numbers, which had been creeping into not-so-good territory.

Okay! Enough with the organ recital! I'm starting to sound like one of those old people who can't wait to tell you about their last trip to the doctor.

Which, come to think of it, is exactly what I am! But that's the beauty of a blog: I get to talk about whatever I want, and if you've read this far, you have to read it. Heh.

I got an e-mail from someone at Women's Health magazine, suggesting that a recent article they did rating healthful, tasty menu items from some leading chain restaurants might be of some interest to you. I'm never sure whether I should pimp at someone else's request, but in this case the information is something I'll use, so I figure you might use it, as well. I happen to have gift cards for two of the 10 surveyed restaurants in my wallet. Now I know what to eat at Applebee's and Outback next time I get to a City.

'Cause you know the only place to eat here in the Middle of Nowhere is my dining room.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's all in the attitude

As you know, I'm a fan of SparkPeople, even though I'm using eDiets for my menu plan. [eDiets offers more individualized choices, for a price, while SparkPeople's program is free. Be sure to check it out, if you haven't already!] I signed up for several of SP's e-mailed motivational and fitness newsletters when I first learned of the site. While not everything 'speaks' to me, this article did.

I spend a lot of time by myself here in the Middle of Nowhere, and therefore end up talking to myself a lot, as well. I guess we all do a lot of self-talking, actually, and we're learning that positive self-talk can lead to positive results, just as negative equals negative.

I've learned for me that the most helpful attitude I can adopt is one that is simply matter-of-fact. If I try to be my own cheerleader, I'll inevitably disappoint myself. Conversely, when my inner voice scolds and berates, I'm likely to get defiant and act out.

The writer of the article suggests that dealing with diet rage is more fun if you've asked someone else to come along for the ride.

When I started busting my ass last January, I read a variety of weight-loss blogs for inspiration and motivation. They were my passengers, although they didn't know it. I commented occasionally, but mostly I just listened and learned. It was helpful to me to know I wasn't really alone, although it often felt like it.

Some of my blogger friends are taking little detours lately. I miss Beth very much. Renée is taking a break, as is Mar!a. I'm as hungry for their company as I am for breakfast this morning. [No breakfast for me, though; I have a doctor's appointment and am anticipating being sent to the lab to have my arm stuck.]

Staying on course can, at times, be tough, no doubt about it. I'm learning to enjoy the ride, and not just look forward to the destination. The miles – and pounds – are slipping away, as long as I follow the map. Until everyone else gets back on board, I'll just crank up the iPod and move on down the road.

I hope we can all get together for virtual coffee at the end of the trip.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I am not a geek

[I want that title to evoke the sound of John Merrick in The Elephant Man: "I am not an animal!"]

I don't understand how to configure the television/sound system/DVD player. I don't carry mechanical pencils in a pocket protector. The manual for my digital camera is definitely not falling apart from overuse. When I hit the wrong button on the remote control – as I did last night – I end up missing the first quarter of the football game trying to figure out what I did. [Sorry for this mixed metaphor, but Matt Leinart really stepped up to the plate last night, didn't he? Too bad their kicker didn't follow through there at the end.]

But I covet new techno gadgetry, especially if Apple makes them, and this reincarnation of the Shuffle is just too cute for words. I'd show you a photo, but you really do need to go check out the link. Go ahead; I'll wait.

Is that so sweet?

My current Shuffle is just fine, thankyouverymuch. The lanyard is a bit, um, scruffy looking, with about 18 months' worth of sweat soaked into it, but I love that it has a lanyard. It's just the kind of jewelry I like to wear. So, while I don't need a new Shuffle, I'm certainly taken with its x-treme cuteness.

[Note to my children: This is not a holiday hint! I'd really rather have that brushed aluminum Cuisinart coffee grinder. Heh.]

The Shuffle has been so-so helpful as I get back into a rowing-machine groove. The 140 bpm mixes from djsteveboy set a good rowing pace. I tried a 151 bpm selection yesterday and ended up having to pull every other beat, which was much too slow.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter used to row for exercise at his gym, and said one time he managed to do 40 strokes per minute for 60 minutes straight. Now that is a performance to aspire to! Competitive? Nah, not us! [Um, Scrabble, anyone?] My best so far is 1,750 strokes in 45 minutes [38.888889 strokes per minute]. I was a puddle of sweat when I was finished.

And the next day I could barely manage 20 minutes. Just as in outdoor fitness walking, I need to learn to pace myself on the rowing machine. Thirty minutes a day while I'm getting used to it again should be manageable. While a 45-minute day is good, the following 20-minute one makes me feel like a slacker.

No segue here, just changing the topic.

I would bet that not one of you readers is unaware of FlyLady. With more than 348,000 subsribers to her Yahoo group, and certainly many more who follow her plan, she is quite the clutter-busting phenom these days. I've mentioned previously that she suggests taking 70 minutes one day a week to 'bless your house' – that's what she calls it.

Well, FlyLady, I surrender. I cannot manage to clean my floor in 70 minutes, let alone take out the trash, polish the doors and mirrors, change the linens and all the other stuff you do. I think I'll do a big thing a day, combine the less time-consuming things for a couple of other days, and call it good. I'd have no time to knit if I did everything on her list on the same day. Heh. And that gives me a couple of free days for doctor's appointments and haircuts and crap.

Today is not Floor Day. It's raining, and I have dogs; need I say more?

Actually, after this rambling post,
you're probably wishing that I'd said a lot less!

Monday, October 16, 2006

How do you spell relief?

I almost didn't get on the scale this morning. I've been most apprehensive all weekend about the Monday morning weigh-in, to the point of wanting to skip it altogether, or maybe just put it off a few more days. When I used to read some of the Weight Watcher message boards, changing a weigh-in day was a common strategy to shake things up, and I considered that, as well.

In the end, though, I'm a creature of habit and I got on the scale and I lost a freaking pound.

Did you hear that?
I lost a freaking pound!

The difference in my mental attitude from seeing a different, lower number for the first time in two months is huge! It's only a pound, but you'd think it was five if you could see how relieved I am.

And that truly is how I feel. Oh, and also motivated and determined and resolved. I wasn't going to give up and go back to where I'd been in January, but I was almost – almost – ready to accept that maybe I would be this weight and this size for the rest of my life.

For people who haven't seen me in a long time, I look normal. Good, even. When I go shopping, I don't have to buy plus-sizes [which never fit well anyway]. I can move easily and comfortably; I can run up a flight of stairs without running out of breath, and I can and do accomplish more plain old daily tasks than I used to, simply because I have more energy.

But I still have a mind picture of myself from 10 years and 25 fewer pounds ago, and that's what I want. I know I won't be satisfied until I get there. I'm very happy with the effort I've put into this so far, but the results aren't good enough.


Oh, yeah, did I happen to mention …
I lost a freaking pound!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Food tips

No, not beef tips in wine sauce. C'mon – this is a weight-loss blog!

Let me start off by saying I really like the eDiets program. I give them a lot of credit for helping me lose 43 pounds this year. In addition to all the help one gets from the paid services, they offer a variety of free e-mailed newsletters, one of which includes daily tips for eating and fitness. Today's healthy eating tip is, to me, a big 'duh':
Shop smarter. When you return home from the supermarket with a fresh stash of goodies, are you tempted to rip open every bag and have a taste? Keep just one or two snack options, say, fat-free cookies and pretzel twists, in the pantry and you won’t rack up calories from sampling each one. If there are snacks you have a hard time resisting, leave them in the store.
I may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but even I know not to bring 'goodies' home from the store. [What a stupid and inappropriate word 'goodies' is. We need to come up with a more accurate description of those processed, packaged, self-destructive aids to poorer health than 'goodies.']

There are, however, exceptions to every rule, and Mr. Shrinking Knitter's recent birthday was one of them.

A little background here: I've always loved cooking, and have always kind of prided myself on cooking from scratch. My mother took advantage of all the convenient new products that came her way in the mid-20th century [don't I sound old?], things like cake mix, boxed lasagna and even those TV dinners in divided foil trays. But I kind of steered away from that when I became chief cook and bottle-washer.

My first job, other than mowing lawns or baby-sitting, was working for a caterer. I was 15, and learned so much from her about preparing, presenting and serving delicious and beautiful food. Healthy? Not so much, but no one hired a caterer to serve healthy food.

Fast-forward to last week, when I was thinking about what to do about the birthday dinner. His mother wanted to take us out Friday night. He picked Chinese, and I did very well: a cup of egg drop soup, stir-fried chicken and vegetables and a spoonful of rice. We ate at a buffet, and I only went through the line once! Well, twice, if you count the soup as one trip and the plate as a second.

Dessert at a Chinese restaurant isn't so great, as a rule, so I had bought a cake for us to share when we took my mother-in-law home. It was a single layer of chocolate cake with peanut-butter icing – my husband's two favorite food groups. I ate a polite, sociable sliver of it and we left the remains with her.

All in all, this was a great strategy. I wouldn't routinely buy a cake at the grocery to display on our kitchen counter. But purchasing a cake for An Event worked out well. My husband isn't a gourmand, and he thought it was delicious. I, on the other hand, find store-bought cake isn't so great to eat, and is easier to leave behind – or even throw away – than the Martha Stewart recipe I might have spent all afternoon creating from scratch.

So there you have it. The Shrinking Knitter's healthy eating tip of the day is to give up making special-occasion 'goodies' and be content with the fact that even though you do know how to make a flourless chocolate torte or Derby pie, why should you? No one will think less of you. And if they do? Well, in AA we sometimes say:
'what you think of me is none of my business.'
Which should have been my Friday quote, eh?

Saturday, October 14, 2006


This blog has slowly been turning into something I don't want it to be. I'm not inspired; I'm discouraged, and my discouragement is showing. From now on, if I don't have something upbeat and positive to say, I'm not saying anything.

When I first started reading weight-loss blogs I found a few that were truly motivating, and I read them voraciously. I went through their archives, printed out pieces that really spoke to me and checked for new posts every day.

If I had come across the Shrinking Knitter in the last month or so [wedding and wedding party posts excepted], I wouldn't give it a second glance.

No more! From now on it's Positive Mental Attitude. That goes for you, too. Heh.

So what if I can't walk, let alone run, outside? I'm so fortunate to have an alternative that allows me to burn tons o' calories in far less time. Forty-five minutes of vigorous rowing – which I can do, continuously – burns 648 calories, according to CalorieKing. It would take 67 minutes of jogging at 5mph or
135 minutes of brisk walking to yield the same results. – neither of which are possible right now.

I'm no dummy. More time to knit!

[Think I could get a job on a cable news program? I may not be able to spin fiber, but I can sure spin an idea if it suits me!]

So. New rules. NO whining, NO belly-aching, NO grousing. I know I'm not clinically depressed; I'm simply feeling sorry for myself and this is one case where pulling me up by my Dr. Scholl inserts can and will bring about positive change.

I like the strong, capable feeling I get after a rowing session, particularly the morning after. My back and shoulders feel lean and mean, just like my attitude.

I am woman; hear me roar!

Moving on …

LME's getting married tomorrow. Wish her well!

Also, be sure to stop by and give Chris a high five. He's doing his first 5K today. His post yesterday about being the biggest guy in a line of skinny little runners will make you think. He seemed to take it in stride. I hope he does well and has lots of fun doing it. And whatever your weekend plans, I hope the same for you.

Friday, October 13, 2006

No more walking for you, young lady!

I tried fitness walking again yesterday. I'd originally intended to do a four-mile loop, but ended up doing 3.6 miles. That's tacking a trip to the post office onto the end of a two-mile loop. I also walked later in the day, about a mile, waiting for an oil change. I'm soooo paying for it!

By late afternoon I was limping. No more gory details, but I'm definitely going to have to substitute some other form of exercise for outdoor walking. No. Matter. How. Pretty. It. Is. Outside.

I couldn't be more bummed. Whine, whine, whine. Are you as tired of my bitching as I am?

I've made an appointment with my family doctor. I need a new prescription for the only daily medication I take, and it's time I had some bloodwork done, so I'll take the opportunity to talk with him about the foot pain while I'm there.

The last time I was in his office was June 12, getting a tetanus shot for the dog bite. Even though I'm not a big health-care consumer, he remembered my struggles with my weight, and he commented on how much I'd lost since the last time I was in. I've lost 12 more pounds since then … think he'll notice?

Okay, enough with the organ recital. [That's what Mr. Shrinking Knitter calls people who go on and on and on about their health problems when all you did was innocently ask 'how are you?'. And you didn't even ask!]

Note to Greta [and anyone else having trouble with Blogger-hosted blogs]: I recently switched to the new beta blogger, and there are some browser issues, most notably with Safari. Perhaps that was causing the trouble with comments? They're working on it, so they say.

I've started making Tilt, using Noro Cotton Kureyon, a space-dyed cotton/wool blend similar to their all-wool Kureyon. You start by knitting the 'skirt' of the jacket sideways, two pieces from center front to center back, which are then joined. The color stripes run vertically – always a flattering look. The skirt part is straight back-and-forth stockinette, but the bodice is knitted diagonally, and I like the look of it very much. It'll be a good jacket option for cool weather, and it's going quickly on size 8 needles, so I'll actually get to wear it this fall.

Two years ago in October I'd just finished this poncho, and I loved wearing it. I felt like an old hippie – very Bohemian. I even felt tall when I wore it. [I'm only 5' 2", so anything that makes me feel tall is a Good Thing.] I wore it instead of a coat all winter. Mostly because I didn't have a coat that fit, and I didn't want to buy one. You know. Because I was going to Lose Weight.

Well, I recently tried it on; the fringe drags the floor and the neckline is huge. I guess I didn't realize 40 pounds of extra girth would make it fit so differently. You wouldn't think you'd have fitting issues with a poncho, would you?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We don't need no Chief Happiness Officer

Several weeks ago, many blogs were buzzing about that lean, mean Ronald McDonald and his Go Active! program. I didn't – ahem – weigh in, because I had no reason to.

But now I do. Sort of.

My daughter took a stand when Ronald, whose official title is Chief Happiness Officer, was invited to present his bullshit message to my grandson's school. Her objection was to the blatant advertising injected into the hallowed halls of learning, and she was permitted to spend the commercial time playing with her son in his classroom.

The bigger challenge was explaining to her five-year-old why he would be the only one in his class – probably the only one from Pre-K to second grade – not attending.

[I'm sure the content of the CHO's program is too immature for the older students to sit through. Surely they wouldn't pick the youngest children in the school because their little psyches are so, um, malleable? Impressionable? Easily influenced? Oh, no, surely not.]

After their conversation, my daughter tells me that my grandson came away thinking it was rather silly for Ronald McDonald to tell children to be healthy while at the same time selling them junk food. [And Ronald calls himself the Ambassador of Balanced Lifestyles. Harumph! Even a kindergartener can see through that!]

After that, our little guy didn't mind at all that he and his mother got to play by themselves while the other kids were being indoctrinated.

Can you tell how proud I am of my daughter?

Okay, for those of you still watching The Biggest Loser, how many wanted to throw up watching the teams compete in last night's challenge? Count me in! Was that time-elapsed counter in hours?!?!? After that long a time – more than 10 hours, if I saw the screen correctly – that escalator looked like a stairway to heaven, 'cause I thought they were gonna die.

This is the first season of TBL I've watched from the beginning. I'd previously only seen episodes that pitted, say, Marine wives against Navy wives, for instance. I'm appalled at the challenges so far, and wonder if this year's are worse than those of previous seasons. So tell me: Are they upping the ante for each new season?

And when did they pee? I couldn't go two hours on an escalator without, um, powdering my nose, let alone 10!

Finally, and not related to anything else I've talked about this morning, I had A Moment yesterday. Mr. Shrinking Knitter's birthday is today, and I got to choose a card not for "my sweetheart," not for "the one I love," but for …
My Husband
Two 'awwwwwws' in one week. How much better can it get?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A rambling, disjointed, but hopeful message

This article mentions a book I might add to my Christmas list, although I might be better off borrowing it from the library. [I moved many volumes yesterday to make room for a flat-screen television in our floor-to-ceiling book shelves, all the while thinking, 'now just why did I buy this book, and when will I ever need it again?']

The book is called Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, and is based on Dr. Brian Wansink's research on the "psychology of overindulgence." He's put into a book what we professional dieters have read in bits and pieces all our lives. You can read some of the suggestions in the article; I know you've heard them before.

I'm certainly guilty of mindless eating now and again, especially when peanuts are involved. One way mindless eating is accomplished is when we eat from the original, full-sized package, which is why many eDiets meals and snacks specify '8 dry-roasted peanuts' or '16 whole almonds.' It's also why I've started buying large boxes of small bags of peanuts from Sam's Club. I keep the box in the freezer, which is in our unattached garage. Lots of time to think about whether I really need peanuts getting from here to there.

And sometimes I do.

So it looks like the pep squad is, ahem, shaping up. Knowing I'm not alone in my current state of mind and body is helpful. There's strength in numbers. The more of us there are, watching our individual numbers get smaller, the more successful we'll be. One of these days we'll all be writing maintenance blogs, just like Jonathan. Yes! We will!

I started reading weight-loss blogs before I started the Shrinking Knitter. One I found particularly appealing, initially, was called The Bloggest Loser. It turned out to be an example of what I didn't want my blog to be. After only a very few weeks, the posts were filled with excuses and rationalizations, no one was losing weight and eventually they all stopped competing. Or at least I assume they did; the last message is from July, 2006.

I went to my AA meeting at the prison last night, and one of the other volunteers looked at me and declared I could 'stop losing weight now.' I thanked her, but thought to myself that her statement really wasn't all that helpful. She was being kind – this woman would never say an unkind thing to anyone – but she's also never had a weight problem and doesn't know that when you still have more than a few pounds to lose, the suggestion to 'stop now' is the last thing you need to hear.

So to all you cheerleaders out there, here's my message du jour: We know what works. We've come this far and, while the road looks steeper than it has up to now, we can and will make it to the end.

In this case, the end is really the beginning.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

All together now: Awwwww!

Isn't this sweet?

This will go to an as-yet-unborn baby who is due this month. It ended up being about 20 inches in circumference, and should fit well for the holidays. It's quite tiny.

I used a couple of charts from Beth Brown-Reinsel's excellent Knitting Ganseys for the patterning at the top and sleeves. Ganseys, of course, were never cardigans, but I just felt like making one.

The yarn is Lion Brand's Microspun, the splittiest yarn ever produced, but so-so soft and very practical for the new mom. Just toss it in the washer and dryer and put it back on the child. I used size 4 needles. I think it only took three days to knit this from start to finish, including ripping out the top of one of the fronts when I was finished – finished! – because I forgot to do the V-neck decreases. I blame that little lapse on college football.

In more knitting news, the sleeves of the Seville Jacket have been reknit and are blocking. Maybe I'll get it sewn together before next spring. Heh. Sewing together is not my most favorite part of knitting. If I wanted to sew, I have a machine that does a fine job. Sewing knitting pieces to each other involves hands, and if I'm using my hands to manipulate yarn, I'd rather be knitting.

So there.

I walked two miles yesterday, and perhaps should have waited a little longer before testing the shoes. My heel was quite sore last night walking to my drawing class at the prison. Feels fine this morning, but I think I'll use the rowing machine today, just to be safe. I like the heel support in the new shoes very much.

PastaQueen said yesterday:
"Lately the blogosphere has been more like the blah-gosphere."
She's going to try some new recipes to spice up her routine. If PQ is getting the blahs, what hope is there for the rest of us? She's been at this for far longer than I have. I agree, though, and am guilty, as well. I've hit a snag with the weight loss and hurt my heel.

And then the Yankees lost to Detroit in the first round.

There's not much to cheer about here in the Middle of Nowhere. Oh, how I wish I had that first-of-the-year excitement back.

When people start noticing a significant loss, and when I can fit into smaller sizes, and when I move comfortably and don't run out of breath going up a flight of stairs and … well, you know … the energy to keep on keeping on just wanes.

So gimme a W! Gimme an I! Gimme an N! What's that spell? WIN! Let's make the last three months of this year as much fun and full of motivation as the first three months were. For me, that means back to basics. Yesterday I checked off the meals from my printed meal plan as I ate them, something I did back in January when I was starting out. I have everything I need for healthy, nutritious, satisfying meals and I have equipment to help me sweat.

Now I'll take three months of enthusiasm, please.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Seventh verse, same as the first

I'm so sick of seeing the same number on the scale yet again! I'm trying, rather unsuccessfully, to feel grateful to see that number for the seventh week in a row. Had I been able to exercise at my usual level and intensity, I most certainly would have posted a loss.

Wouldn't I?

I only managed to get 215 minutes of intentional activity this week, and I had been posting 450 to 550 minutes per week. I just can't manage to chalk up the same amount of time on the rowing machine as I can walking outside.

I bet you couldn't either.

The Shuffle and I have a date this morning: I'm going to try out the new athletic shoes on a Real Walk today. The only 'pain' I feel is when I intentionally press my heel hard into the floor, and it feels like a slight bruise fading away. Rest, ice, stretching, elevation and Aleve have done the trick, much to my relief.

Anne is asking readers to post their reasons for losing weight, after attending her weight-loss group meeting where that was the topic. I added a couple of my reasons to her list.

It's worth thinking about what motivates us to go through this struggle. At least, it seems most of us struggle; I know I can't look at this as … ahem … a walk in the park. One of my neighbors was at the breast cancer walk, and said she'd recently dropped eight pounds just by cutting potato chips from her diet.

Do you read those suggestions for cutting fill-in-the-blank from your daily diet and wonder what else you can do? Because you already don't eat fill-in-the-blank? My current vice is Coffee-Mate Sugar-Free Hazelnut Creamer. At 15 calories per tablespoon, and about six tablespoons daily, I guess I could cut it out and gain a small advantage. But is it worth it?

I substitute light margarine for real butter, whole-wheat for white, sugar-free soda for regular … you get the idea. When I read those "cut out this" and "substitute that" suggestions, I usually just snort. The last time I ate a candy bar daily [cut out 250 calories by eliminating your afternoon candy bar!] was in middle school. [We called it junior high, back in the old days.]

Maybe I will go back to using the fake creamer only on weekends. Like chicken soup in a car wreck – it can't hurt!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Rain, rain go away

I mowed the grass last week [Monday, I think] for what I'd hoped was the last time this season. It's been rain-rain-raining practically ever since, and the coming week will bring sun and warm temperatures again. Which sounds like the perfect set-up for more grass-growing nonsense. Harumph.

It was pouring rain when I left the house yesterday for the Walk for Her Lifetime event. I went early to help set things up, and no one was fretting about the weather. Oh, sure, people would say things like, "Here we go again!" or "Another cold day for the walk!" But everyone was smiling and busy and they all just seemed to know that a crowd would show up and money would be raised and women would leave knowing that this part of the Middle of Nowhere cared about them and had resources to help them.

Ya gotta love that.

Last year was the first I even knew about the walk, and I went not knowing who organized it or what it was all about. I thought it would be a Walk. This year I was forearmed, able to help spread tablecloths at the park shelter, sell raffle tickets, tote boxes of bottled water – in other words, be involved.

We raised more than $13,000 this year, money that will provide mammograms, transportation, meals and other services for many women who will, unfortunately, need them.

Speeches were made, door prizes awarded, raffle winners announced and songs were sung. A short memorial honored four women who'd lost their battle this year, and then a dozen survivors wearing pink banners led the very large crowd of walkers through a quiet neighborhood near the city park. [My new shoes felt great.]

And it didn't rain a drop while we were walking.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

How to increase your blog hits

That title should get some Google referrals, shouldn't it?

Yesterday was a record day for the Shrinking Knitter, thanks to everyone seeing spots – knitting spots, that is – at Crazy Aunt Purl's. If you want to get a ton of traffic at your blog, figure out a way to get linked from hers. Thanks, Laurie!

That's my tech tip du jour.

The shopping trip went well. We now have a flat-screen television which will fit on a bookshelf in the bedroom, so we can at least see the news without having to traipse over to the second floor of the unattached garage. We're such wimps here in the Middle of Nowhere. We were willing – nay, eager! – to spend hundreds of dollars so we wouldn't have to bundle up in a coat and slog through potential snow to watch Keith Olbermann.

Actually, the purchase has been in the budget for quite some time; we just haven't had time to go shopping. There was this wedding celebration that kind of took up all our time the last couple of months.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter suggested looking for new running shoes without even so much as a peep from me. I think I'll keep him. I tried on several pairs, and almost had a heart attack when I saw the prices of top-of-the-line Nikes these days. The ones I eventually chose weren't the cheapest, nor were they the most expensive. They are just right. I hope, anyway. I wore them around the mall, then to lunch, then to Sam's Club and they feel good. Great arch support and very lightweight.

Boy, running shoes come in weird and ugly colors these days. In my opinion, that is. You might love wearing neon green or hot pink on your feet, but I don't. I had a hard time finding plain old white shoes, and I have to tell you that's a major reason I bought these. [They're Nike Air Max 95 Zens, in case you're curious.]

They're getting another short workout this morning, when I go to our nearest town's Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. I had volunteered to help organize it this year, but wasn't able to make a single meeting. That
wedding celebration again. So the least I can do is show up and walk with them and give them some money. Every little bit helps.

If you clicked on the FatBlogger and DietGirl links yesterday, you already know that!

Friday, October 06, 2006

A jug of whine

Sorry, Omar.

And sorry, readers, for continuing the whining around here.

I'm sinking into a real funk because I can't walk outside. There it is, nothing I can do about it, my foot still hurts – although it is much improved from last week. I'm stretching and resting and Aleve-ing regularly, but I know if I start walking again outside it'll hurt worse.

When I'm on the rowing machine – which I've been doing regularly and which doesn't stress my foot at all – I can't wait for the little chirpy noise it makes signalling time's up. I keep the lights off so I'm not constantly monitoring the monitor, and just slog through to the end of whatever time I set it for when I start out. Sometimes that's 45 minutes, sometimes it's 20, and usually it's 30.

I would soooooo much rather be outside. Maybe this whole experience is the universe's way of slapping me upside the head [that's redneck-speak] to make me appreciate my Middle-of-Nowhere hills. You know, the ones I used to bitch about.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are going television shopping today, at a mall where there also is a sporting goods store. He doesn't know it yet, but we're also going athletic-shoe shopping. And heel-cup shopping, too, just for good measure.

I'm going to leave you with a bunch of links. I know it's the beginning of the weekend, and you have Other Important Things to do, but try to stop by these places sometime over the next couple of days. Each has left an impression on me in one way or another. I'm not even going to comment on them, but I hope you will!

Crazt Aunt Purl's Knitting Spot Gallery [mine's in there somewhere!]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The business of busy-ness

I commented to Jonathan the other day that I like being too busy to eat. When I hit the ground running first thing in the morning, and find myself hours later wondering what happened to lunch, I feel like a normal person. Most of the time I'm … um … not busy, and if I'm not thinking about the next meal I'm rummaging in the pantry for a snack.

Normal people don't do that, do they?

Yesterday Jonathan left a comment for me that included these encouraging words:
"… these wretched stretches of purgatory when there's no progress in the weight loss phase can sometimes be the one thing that we need most. Because when (amen, hallelujah) you get to goal, you want to know that you can make it through bad news, rough sailing, lean times and forbidden fruits."
He knows whereof he speaks, having maintained his 50-pound weight loss for several years now. And notice he said "when" you get to goal, not "if." Positive Mental Attitude! Another trait of most normal people!

I really am not discouraged with this long stretch of staying the same, although I must sound like it sometimes. I've read enough of others' weight-loss experiences to know that, while it might not be inevitable, it certainly is common. I'm not so special or unique [thank you, AA, for teaching me that!] that I'm immune to this part of the process.

Did you watch The Biggest Loser, Love Boat Edition last night? The Red Team's third-week losses were not nearly as impressive as last week's results. They won the challenge – which, in my not-so-humble opinion, was a pretty cruel one – and got to spend some downtime with their families. The Blue Team had to go run around the ship with Bob after they bid their loved ones a fond and tearful farewell. Who do you think won the weigh-in?

It's all about moving, people!

I was not inspired to hop on the rower during the program last night, but I'd worked out earlier in the day and also spent three hours on yard work. [I hope and pray that's the last time I have to mow this year.] Yesterday was one of those busy days. I made a list of Things I Needed To Do, and I actually did most of them. As partial evidence, I offer the baby sweaters:

On the left is Elizabeth Zimmermann's baby sweater from her Knitter's Almanac. The yoke is all garter stitch and the sleeves and body are in a lacy 'gull' stitch. The manly little jacket is a Debbie Bliss pattern – all seed stitch, all the time – from her book Baby Style. Both sweaters are made from Lion Brand Wool-Ease Sportweight, in the gender-neutral Wheat color.

[Tangent Alert! One of the other patterns in the Debbie Bliss book is for a cabled cashmere bathrobe … for a toddler! I don't think so. She must have a staff who does her children's laundry; I don't know any mom these days who would want to
  1. put a bathrobe on a toddler or
  2. handwash it.
The robe, that is, not the child.]

I ripped back the Seville Jacket sleeves during the Mets' game and almost completed reknitting the sleeve caps in the evening. I also packaged up several things that needed to be mailed, made a couple of cards, and met with the man who maintains and repairs our well. All in all, a busy day.

Today will be more of the same. I need to get a workout in this morning, as well as work on a website for a group I belong to, and then go to the prison this afternoon for a drug program graduation ceremony.

Nearly all of the graduates come through the AA meeting I help facilitate, and they appreciate it when the volunteers come see their shining moment. They leave Alderson full of hope, in high spirits, anxious to go home – I don't think anyone appreciates home as much as these women do. Unfortunately, some of them violate their parole and end up returning to finish their sentences. Just as in AA on the outside, we don't all get it. And just as in AA on the outside, we welcome them back with open arms.

Well, the volunteers do, anyway. I can't speak for the staff. Anyway, it's time for me to hit the ground running. I hope you do the same!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Curry, anyone?

Thanks for your sweet and kind comments yesterday. The more we hear about the incident at the Amish school, the worse it gets, doesn't it? I'm not sure why this is affecting me the way it is. I can't get the picture of all those innocent little girls out of my mind.

Not taking care of myself won't help them or me, though, and I did better yesterday with both exercise and food. I even cooked dinner for one. My husband was out of town; I rarely fix a Real Recipe just for me when he's gone.

On my Google homepage, one of the 'segments' is a Recipe of the Day. I ignored the tempting title of
this one for quite a while, thinking it would be too high-calorie to fit into my plan. If you're a fan of curried dishes, do try it.

I modified it to bring it in at less than 350 calories – including the rice! – and made a generous single serving of it very easily. Since I'm a pinch-here and dash-there kind of cook, I don't dare try to write down the changes I made. Basically I reduced the amount of chicken to four ounces, substituted cooking spray for the olive oil and slashed all the other ingredients by three-fourths or more. I probably could have had just as tasty a dish with only one tablespoon of peanut butter. I also added a handful of snow peas for extra crunch and color.

I've switched my calories in/calories out software program from Don's Calorie Tracker to the more expensive but far more comprehensive Calorie King. If you're running Macintosh OS X and have been looking for a standalone product similar to FitDay, this is it. They offer a seven-day free trial download, just to get you hooked. So far it has everything I've been looking for.

I both lifted weights and rowed yesterday. I quit my morning rowing after 20 minutes, but didn't shower right away, thinking I'd do more later. And I did do 20 more minutes in the early afternoon. Twenty minutes at a time is easier to take at this stage than doing 40 or 60 all at once.

The twin sweaters are both finished and blocked. I've found suitable buttons and will be sewing them on this morning and mailing the package today. [Photos here tomorrow.] I then found all the pieces of the Seville Jacket that I'd stashed in a drawer when we had houseguests, so putting it together will be my next project. The sleeves need to be ripped back a couple inches at the top, as there's too much fabric to fit neatly into the armsceye. How do I know? I've sewn one in, and am in the process of taking out that seam now.

In knitting and in weight loss, it's two steps forward and one step back.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Yesterday could have been a much better day. It wouldn't have taken a whole lot more effort to row a little longer or eat a little better. I fell off the wagon … hard.

Many dieters take their weigh-in day as a "free" day, relaxing the usual mealtime rules and indulging in forbidden fruit. The theory is that they have the rest of the week to be 'good,' making up for one day's lapse in judgement. I've never consciously followed this rule, but that's what happened yesterday.

If I'd lost any weight this week, you would have – of course – read about it yesterday. You probably would have heard the shouting all the way from the Middle of Nowhere. But I stayed the same again, and simply caved in to a sense of hopelessness.

I'm doing much better this morning; mornings frequently are full of resolve and determination, and I hope this feeling lasts all week. Writing about it helps so much!

Here's what happened: I was rowing yesterday morning and decided to see what was going on in the world. Would I have been better off if I'd just listened to music, instead of watching the news? I don't know. Learning about the deaths of the little Amish girls in Pennsylvania shocked me in a way that's difficult to describe.

How could anyone do that? I read the Times story this morning [I hope that link works]. This man's wife describes him as "
a devoted father who had always taken the time to play with his three children, ferry them to soccer practice and birthday parties, and had 'never once refused to help change a diaper.' " That just doesn't reconcile with the vile demon who executed and injured all those little girls.

I took the news to the two Amish families who have moved here this summer. One came from Pennsylvania, but not from the Lancaster area. They appreciated someone coming to let them know, and I left feeling helpless, and sad.

And then I ate my house, which didn't change or help the situation even one iota. This morning I still feel helpless, sadder than sad, and I've taken a giant step backward in taking care of myself. Today I'm starting over.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I hate coming up with clever titles …

so today I'm not even going to bother trying.

My former husband's sister and her husband had a lovely, careful, effective way of arguing that was actually very funny if you happened to witness them. At some point during a disagreement, one of them would turn to the other and say [or sometimes snarl], "Thank you for sharing."

So, thank you all for sharing your opinions about how to manage my heel pain.

I had no idea going barefoot would exacerbate the problem; I've been going barefoot as much as possible all summer! I thought that was a Good Thing, and actually thought my Birks were contributing to the problem. Thank you, Marilyn, for your sensible advice. I wear Clark's clogs in cool weather, and it's definitely turning into Clark's season. I think that will help. [My husband had plantar fasciitis a couple years ago, and a shoe salesman recommended Clark's for him.]

My son-in-law has had it as well, and uses/used heel cups, with much relief. He still runs regularly.

Greta, I am going to cancel the podiatrist appointment, but not because you urged me to.

My first thought after reading your comment was, "Thank you for sharing."

My second was that it seems ludicrous to me to dismiss all podiatrists because of your bad experience. Thank you, Mehitabel, for respectfully disagreeing. I knew someone would!

I'm not a big health-care consumer. I'm conservative about treatment for any health problem, as is my family doctor, and think I have enough common sense to question something that sounds expensive and unhelpful. I'm also married to a physician, and while foot problems are obviously not his specialty, he also takes a common-sense, conservative approach to treatment and would certainly not let me hurt myself further.

The real reason I'm cancelling the appointment is because after another day of not running or walking, there is even more improvement. My conservative nature tells me that maybe my body can heal itself, given enough rest, ice, stretching and Aleve, all of which I'm doing.

Cindy, I would love-love-love to ride a bicycle for exercise, and I've come thisclose to buying a bike. I even stopped a guy on my road one time to talk about biking, and it turned out that he owned a bike shop in the northern part of West Virginia, and was full of good advice.

He was only the second bike rider I've ever seen here in the Middle of Nowhere – this is my 10th year of living here. The main road is not safe for a novice rider [that would be me], and the road on which I live is one long, steep hill after another, for miles and miles and miles. The thought of investing in a bike and then having to cart it someplace to ride it is less appealing to me than jumping on the rowing machine any old time I please.

I'm keeping my options open about it, though, because reading descriptions on your blog of how much your husband loves riding is what got me thinking about biking for exercise.

I also have to remember that I didn't love walking on my road when I started doing it earlier this year. It was hard, just like rowing is now. But I learned yesterday that my dj steveboy mixes work just as well in helping me keep a steady rowing pace as they do in running. I did 45 minutes at a vigorous, 37.5 strokes-per-minute pace, and lifted weights, too. Rowing really is a full-body workout; I wasn't kidding when I said that yesterday.

Living in the Middle of Nowhere frequently forces me to be self-sufficient, with my health, with my entertainment and especially with my fitness program. My foxy ankles [thanks, DG!] and I thank you all for your suggestions. I know you say what you do because you care.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Plan B, and picture day

The Shrinking Knitter is a no-whine zone, but today is a day in which I have to be honest, and in order to be honest, it's going to sound like whining.

First, let's get the first-of-the-month, then-and-now photo out of the way. Obviously I don't have one of those new HP cameras with a "slim" setting, nor did I Photoshop away any of the lumps and bumps. I just thought you might want to see The Dress. Moving on!

If you've been reading carefully, you've learned how much I enjoy walking and jogging outside for exercise. Last week I found a novice half-marathon training schedule, and this week have been trying to determine if I was fit enough to begin – meaning, could I run three continuous miles, three or four days per week.

I've done so twice – today would have been my third attempt. But when I came back from the Friday run I knew I was in trouble.

I've been ignoring some heel pain the last month [maybe more], hoping it would fix itself, or go away. Funny how the body doesn't work that way if you continue abusing it. The morning run went pretty well, but by Friday afternoon I could barely walk. And you know how when one part of you hurts, the rest of you just kind of breaks down as well? I was a mess by Friday night. The reason Thursday's eight-mile walk was so hard was because of the heel pain from Tuesday and Wednesday's workouts.

A little research – I love Google – leads me to believe I have plantar fasciitis. Treatment? Among other things, rest. [I'm seeing a podiatrist Wednesday; being able to continue running is too important to me to self-diagnose or self-treat.]

Which leads me to Plan B. In order to continue burning calories through exercise, I'm going to have to step up the weight training and start using the rowing machine. I know I need to rest my heel. The reason I know is that this morning, after sitting on my ass in the car and at NoSo all day yesterday, I feel like I could go running.

Danger, danger, Shrinking Knitter! Bad idea! As lovely and cool as it is this morning, I need to be prudent.

I also need to change my attitude about the rower. It's not boring; it's a full-body workout!