Saturday, June 30, 2007

Oh, dear

Lori tagged me and, to tell you the truth, I just don't have time to respond. It's too much. When I first looked at her post, I thought, "Oh, I can do that," because I thought it was just one question: "What were you doing 10 years ago?" But it's a lot of questions and I guess I'm going to break the chain.

I will tell you that 10 years ago I had just moved to West Virginia from Ohio. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I met in Ohio in 1993. He moved back to his home town in 1995 and we did the long-distance dating thing for two years. And then I quit my job, sold my house, left my friends – and my gym! – and moved to the Middle of Nowhere.

Quitting my job wasn't a big deal. I knew I would find things to keep me busy, and I have.

Selling my house wasn't a big deal. I went from a small townhouse in a large city with a postage-stamp-sized yard to a lovely home in the country with lots of grass, flowers, trees, a pond and mountain views.

Leaving my friends wasn't even a big deal. We have e-mail and a flat-fee long-distance plan; going out to lunch with someone once in a while would be nice, but it isn't necessary for nurturing a friendship.

The worst thing about moving here was losing the gym. I give exercise most of the credit for my original 50-pound weight loss, and I blame lack of exercise for my subsequent 70-pound weight gain. Blaming the lack of exercise on not having a gym, however, is simply making excuses for not wanting to do whatever it takes.

I've been mostly back on track for a year and a half, and this active and healthy lifestyle is definitely my new normal. I'm getting ready for a houseful of company over the Fourth of July, including three teen-agers who eat non-stop. I've been stocking up and preparing snacky type foods which are never on my menu. I'll certainly be sampling, and don't expect a weight loss, but I'm looking at it as an annual event, not an everyday thing.

In other words, I won't be falling off the wagon. Heh.

The most significant thing that happened 10 years ago is that my dear little granddaughter was born in March, 1997. And now we're all anxiously awaiting the birth of the newest one, who is due in about three weeks.

Lori, I'm sorry I'm such a slacker about this, but right now I can't even remember my own name, let alone the lyrics to five songs! But thanks for thinking of me!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Every picture tells a story, don't it

"The photograph itself doesn't interest me.
I want only to capture a minute part of reality."

~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

"Photography deals exquisitely
with appearances,
but nothing is what it appears to be."

~ Duane Michals

First, kudos to Lady Rose, who actually follows the advice of so many weight-loss-and-fitness articles/websites and fits exercise in when and where she can, in addition to her regular routine. Push-ups waiting for the microwave to beep? Of course we've all heard that advice. But who among us thinks it's worth doing? I'm still doing pliés when I brush my teeth, but I can do a lot more. Thanks, LR, for the encouragement and for setting such a good example.

MPA commented yesterday that can't bring herself to take before-and-after pictures of herself. Her profile photo is pretty cute if you ask me. But I absolutely understand the apprehension inherent in the process of capturing for all eternity the dreaded "before."

The reason I want to start including monthly progress pictures [I call them then-and-nows] is that it was helpful, for me, to have a visual record that what I was doing was really working. I was a little disappointed the first three or four months, but you encouraged me by pointing out where I looked fitter and smaller and eventually, well, the proof was in the pudding, so to speak!

My new "before" photo will look very much like this one's "after." I weigh approximately the same as I did a year ago. I'm delighted that I can actually maintain a 35-pound loss for a year, but I'd like to lose that much more. I'm fitter now than I was then. Last July I hadn't yet started running, and you know I wasn't interested in weight training. [Yes, I did the weight routine yesterday. Yeah, me!]

The monthly progress photo is just information, much like the number on the scale. [Can you tell I'm trying to talk myself into that attitude?] It's not a judgement or criticism, it's just the facts. I'm very happy I took those once-a-month pictures in 2006. I just hope that strategy will work as well for the remainder of 2007!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

How do you guys work and work out and, well, you know …

Yesterday my day started at 5:20 a.m., when the alarm started yelling at me to get my ass out of bed and into the shower so I would have time to make it to an all-day conference I'd been invited to attend. I didn't actually make it into the shower until 5:45 a.m. ws was already out running. [Person-to-person to ws: I hate those phantom aches and pains! I'm sure mine are all in my head, no matter where they manifest themselves in my body.]

I left the house at 6:30 a.m., giving myself a little extra time to get lost because I'd never been to the Beckley Federal Correctional Institution before. It's tucked away at the end of an industrial park, in a beautiful wooded setting. During one break I looked outside and saw a grazing deer.

The conference topic was prisoner re-entry, a Bureau of Prisons
initiative designed to prepare newly released inmates for success as they transition back into society. Most of the audience was BOP staff; to say I felt like a fish out of water is quite the understatement.

But I made the best of it, learned a lot and even contributed to the discussion – a big step for me. Speaking up in front of a room full of prison case managers and probation officers is not easy. At least for me.

I most often see prison staff in non-supportive, punitive roles, so I hope this initiative eventually takes hold among the uniformed guards. But I'm not holding my breath.

At any rate, I left the conference in the late afternoon, drove another hour to get home and immediately began prepping dinner for a couple friends who are here working on settling their late father's estate. No time for an afternoon run, and, truly, no desire either, since the temperature was in the mid-90s with humidity to match.

Back in the old days, when I used to do Real Work, I was in the office at 6 a.m. and in the gym by 5 p.m. Regularly. Routinely. I was, as Mary Christine recently reminded me, much younger then. It would take a lot of effort now to get back in that groove.

So yesterday was a day off and I'll get back on track today.

MPA wanted to know how the job jar idea works. I want it to help me overcome two bad habits. I intend to pull a slip every time I find myself mesmerized by computer solitaire or the contents of the refrigerator/pantry. I can keep up with the day-to-day maintenance of my home – cleaning floors and bathrooms, emptying and loading the dishwaser, laundry – but closets and dresser drawers and once-in-a-while projects tend to go by the wayside. No one but me sees the results, and no one but me is bothered by them. My laissez-faire attitude does not lead to organized closets or neat garages.

The fun, hobby-type projects I listed – paper crafts, beading, etc. – are activities that make me completely lose track of time. The idea behind the job jar is to do something – anything! – that will keep me busy, productive, engaged and not wolfing down the kitchen.

I posted a couple weeks ago about starting over, with my current weight as my beginning number instead of the 35 pounds heavier one I started with 18 months ago. I haven't quite made that fresh start yet. What worked for me then was eliminating sugar, following a low glycemic plan, logging my food and exercise, calculating weekly calories in/calories out and taking a photo on the first day of the month. I realize I'll start race training again in a couple of weeks, and I might end up staying the same, but I want that focus back again.

I hope I'm preparing myself for success.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The job jar experiment

I think I'm ready to start doing this job jar thing I talked about last week. I listed several distracting tasks or projects on paper yesterday, cut them out and stuck them in a container in my office. Some of them are chores and some are fun stuff, because I don't want the job jar to be a punishment. The fun stuff things are activities I really enjoy; they also tend to make me lose track of time.
I'll more than likely add and subtract activities as time goes on. This looks like an interesting hobby, for instance, but it didn't make the cut. Yet.

I must make sure the first slip I pull is the one that says "Office worktable," don't you think?

Weight-training happened yesterday! Woo hoo! A good, solid half hour of bench work and the dumbbell pyramid. I know some of you put a lot more time into weight training, and I'm happy for you. But I'm even happier for me that I managed to get a decent session in to start off my new week.

Today is a running day, four flat miles. Tomorrow is supposed to be a running day but I have to go to an all-day conference out of town. I have serious doubts about running at 5:30 a.m. [although I can and do run very early in the morning when I'm visiting my daughter. Hmmmm.] Five-thirty in the afternoon might happen. At any rate, tomorrow is a mini blog break. "See" you Thursday.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Pride goeth before the fall

So yesterday morning I drove down to the four-mile long, flat road, planning to make my turn at the three-mile mark. I'll be darned if the guy who lives there wasn't on his porch, watching the world – including me – go by. And I'll also be darned if I'm going to turn around in front of someone. As if he cared!

So I kept trotting to the end of the road and logged eight very slow, very torturous miles. I probably walked a total of two; I definitely walked the entire last mile. I was completely out of gas.

At least I didn't fall. Heh.

I want to clarify something about eating one meal daily: That only happens when I'm just too darned busy to stop and eat. With any luck, this week will be like that, as we count down the days – and tasks – until our mini family reunion. Yesterday? Not so much.

Also, almost immediately after I published yesterday's post, I noticed I have an all-day conference on Wednesday, so my weight-training schedule will be Monday, Thursday, Saturday instead of M-W-F. I might try to run when I get home Wednesday evening.

Today is still my rest-from-running day. I kind of wish it could be a rest-from-everything day. Eight miles, even with some walking thrown in, is a long way when you haven't done it since April! It will do me good, physically and mentally, to hit the weights today, though.

About the only thing I got done yesterday was some knitting.

Nice segue, Debbi!

I started a Big Bad Baby Blanket [from the first Stitch 'n' Bitch book] a few days ago. I'm using two strands of fingering-weight acrylic [for washability] held together with a size 6 needle. I'm doing the center section first and will then pick up stitches and add a border in a different color later. The original pattern is all one color.

My new granddaughter is due in less than a month!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hungry like the wolf

Frankly, I don't know how hungry wolves get, having never been one, nor even met one up close and personal. But this morning I woke up hungry, something I rarely do.

We had guests for dinner last night, so today's breakfast was a leftover biscuit and half a dozen of the yummy little appetizers I whipped up. Mix pesto with cream cheese, spread on a soft-flour tortilla, roll up tightly and cut into half-inch pinwheels. Mmmmm. Mmmmm. Good.

I realized when I went to bed last night that dinner was the first meal I'd eaten all day; the same thing happened on Friday. I'm doing a quick weight-check every morning – information only – and my weight is going down again. One meal a day just might be how I need to eat.

I guess I've blown it for today already. Heh.

Everything we've read or heard about revving up one's metabolism includes the suggestion to eat something every three or four hours. But you know, I was busy-busy the whole day Friday and Saturday. I didn't even think about food. I was grateful to sit down for dinner, but I didn't wolf down what was in front of me and I didn't overeat.

Something to think about. Mr. Shrinking Knitter has maintained a 60-pound weight loss for 20 years or more [much longer than I've known him] by pretty much eating one meal a day. He usually has a nocturnal spoonful of peanut butter, but dinner is and has been his one and only meal for as long as we've been together, vacations excepted. He loves big breakfasts when we're on the road or when we have overnight guests.

I logged just
14 running miles last week, and only two weight-training sessions. Today is the first day of a new week. I'm planning to do a longish run – six miles at least. Weight-lifting is scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week; Monday will be my rest-from-running day. I feel like I'm getting my ducks in a row, in preparation for race training.

It feels good.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Looking on the bright side

There's at least one good thing about a daytime power outage: You don't have to light candles or kerosene lamps in order to get anything done. In other words, reading by candlelight while sitting on your ass is not an option. My pre-Fourth of July to-do list gets shorter and shorter.

I'm not praying for another one, mind you, but having the power go out means the time-sucker computer is off for hours at a time. No sneaky little breaks "just to check my e-mail." And no computer solitaire.

It sounds like we're all in agreement that both cardio and strength-training are necessary for optimal weight loss. [Even Lux's link-comment quibbled only with numbers, not with benefits.] I know one reason I resist [resisted? I'm not quite ready to say that yet.] lifting is that I've read over and over again that walking – good, old, plain-vanilla walking – is a weight-bearing exercise, enough to protect and strengthen your bones.

Preventing osteoporosis is as much a motivation for me as weight loss. I watched my grandmother lose several inches in height as she aged. Also? She could – and did! – break a bone by simply walking across a room or getting out of bed.

But to get what I really want, adding consistent, challenging weight-training should make a difference. And if it doesn't? I guess I'll cross that bridge when/if I come to it.

My busy-busy Thursday went quite well. Taking time to lift and run first thing energized me for the entire afternoon. I saw something while I was running I've never seen before, on any of my three usual routes. Are you ready? I saw another runner, complete with gear pack and compression t-shirt. He looked as surprised as I was. He was just starting a 10-mile loop; I was finishing my four-mile one.

[Note: I purposely used a positive, optimistic title for this post and have gone back and edited out all the parts that were what therapists call "negative self-talk." It's amazing how many there were!]

May your day be sunny and bright. And may all your Christmases be white. Heh.

Friday, June 22, 2007

If a tree falls on a power line …

at 4 a.m., does Debbi get any sleep?

You can bet she doesn't. And since power wasn't restored until 10:45 a.m., I'm well into my routine du jour, and not really in a blogging mood.

If only I'd kept up with my Mother Earth News subscription I'd be off the grid by now.

I'll try to catch up tomorrow. Your comments were thought-provoking, as always, and I don't want to ignore them.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The other thing about strength training …

is that it's worked for me before. When I lost weight a long, long time ago, my strategy was to eat fewer than 20 grams of fat daily and work out like a maniac. I lost about 20 pounds in the first two or three months and then stayed the same. I was going to a lovely, fancy gym with all kinds of equipment and trainers and saunas, oh my!, so I talked with one of the staff and ended up working with a trainer to learn how to use the free weights properly.

Oh, my, indeed. I was so intimidated the first time I walked into that area of the gym. But learning to lift [instead of using the Nautilus machines] was all it took to start shedding pounds again. I lost 47 pounds in five months, lost five dress sizes and could wear anything I wanted. [One caveat: Eating a very low-fat diet makes you feel pretty crappy. But you'll look great!]

The difference between then and now, as I alluded to in the previous post, is consistency. When you're sauntering into a gym where all the staff knows you and your goals, you're not going to pussyfoot around on the treadmill at 2.5mph. You're going to grunt and groan and sweat and, um, show off every time you're in there. I alternated upper and lower body work, so I was in the weight room every day. Like I said, a maniac.

But it worked.

Maybe I should get a life-sized cardboard cutout of my old trainer and prop him up in the garage.

Why strength training is key to weight loss

Yesterday, Denise commented:

I find it interesting that you do the cardio and think that strength-training is the key. I do the strength-training and totally believe that cardio is the key to weight loss! I'm beginning to think that between us we've discovered the true secret - ya just gotta do BOTH! (Man, no wonder they kept that a secret - it sucks!)

This article goes into the whys and wherefores, which I'm sure Denise already knows. [The article also points to something to buy; ignore that!] Also, you can use Google to search "strength training for weight loss" to find more information. I like the friendly tone of this article, and it also specifically talks about what strength training can do for women. But it's quite long.

Basically, the higher your resting metabolic rate [RMR], the more efficiently your body uses the calories you consume. And the way to raise your RMR is to add more muscle. Also, five pounds of fat takes up more room than five pounds of muscle, as M@rla eloquently explains and illustrates here. So weighing the same, but having that weight be muscle instead of fat, makes you look hotter. Heh.

I've never had a scale that calculates my body fat percentage, but I'm tempted to get one. Perhaps seeing that number go down as a result of weight training would motivate me to do more, or at least to be consistent with it. Anyone want to weigh in on that idea?

But really, what could be more motivating than having Mich give me an attagirl?

I'll be on the bench and then doing my pyramid before 8 a.m., after which I will run four flat miles, after which I will get my teeth cleaned, after which I will shop 'til I drop.

After which I will [tomorrow morning] probably tell you how tired I am!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gimme a T! Gimme an H!

Gimme an A-N-K-S!!!

Those comments you left yesterday were sooo supportive and encouraging. It's great having cheerleaders! Thanks bunches. And Jeannie, you can butt in any time to tell me to stop thinking negatively. I like to think I'm being realistic, but negative thinking produces negative results.

Maybe I need to start referring to myself as a weightlifter. Heh.

Hell might have frozen over yesterday, as I actually did spend some time in the garage lifting weights! Not too heavy and not too many reps, since I felt like I was back at Square One. [Surprisingly I wasn't; the only part of the pyramid I couldn't manage was the 12-pounders. Fifteen reps at eight pounds was hard enough.]

Some of those treacherous storms came through here last night, leaving us windswept, soaked and without power for several hours. If we can figure out how to live in outer space for months at a time, you'd think we could figure out how to keep the electricity on during a thunderstorm.

Wendy, if you're serious about throwing some free-lance work my way, e-mail me: shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT com. If you were kidding: Hey, that was funny! Comments sometimes don't get across the real intent of the message.

Changing gears here a little bit: Sicko will be in sneak previews this Friday night in several U.S. cities [San Fran, LA, Boston and Philly were mentioned.] I talked about the film a little bit here. Will the Middle of Nowhere be one of those sneak-preview cities? Not on your life. But if you get to see it before its national release June 29, I hope you'll let us know what you thought of it.

I'll be whittling away at my to-do list today and making yet another list, this time a shopping one as I'll be in town tomorrow to begin shopping for our annual Fourth of July mini-reunion. The menus are planned; just need to make sure I have everything I need to execute them. Mr. Shrinking Knitter's cousins's family eats a lot and frequently – seems like every activity involves or ends with a meal or a snack. I'm not stressed about it for myself, but want to make sure we have enough food on hand to handle the demand. I've got a "hostess-with-the-mostest" reputation to uphold. Heh.

Finally, the Shapely Tank is done. Let me just say I'd be happier with the fit if I was happier with my body, especially my mid-section. The tank has some waist shaping, and I do have a waist, but I also have a gut.

Crunches, anyone?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Have I ever mentioned …

how much I love to run?

Yes, I suck at it, and yes, I sometimes feel the aches and pains you'd expect a 56-year-old fat lady to feel.

But I do love to run.

Yesterday morning I did four miles in 50:52. That's 40 seconds per mile slower than my – ahem – race pace at the half-marathon.

I'm cracking myself up! I am slower than slow, and yet I call myself a runner.

The shoes I bought in Nashville are the best so far. It's hard to rotate with the other recently bought pair; that's how much difference there is. I feel like stocking up before they discontinue this particular style.

My quest to lose a few pounds before I start training for the next half hasn't been very successful. When I started losing weight and blogging about it, I searched other blogs for success. I found it in lots of places. I was inspired and motivated and rewarded with pounds dropped and fitness gained. I know I inspired and motivated others during that first year, but I'm surprised at how many of you are still here through all these months of staying-the-same. Thanks for hanging in there.

I'm still hanging in there, as well. There's no quitting! As always, the missing link is probably weight training, something I simply cannot or will not put into the regular rotation. You weightlifters – you and you, especially – are my heroes. But unless you come to my house and stand over me with a whip, I'm probably always going to find an excuse not to hoist the dumbbells.

I'm pathetic.

Despite being pathetic, I'm in a good mood and am Getting Things Done.

I dreamed last night that I was offered a job creating advertising for a power company in Columbus, Ohio, where I used to live. I've been out of the job loop for so long now that I'm pretty sure no one would hire me, let alone a major utility. I have a couple little volunteer graphic design gigs on the horizon, and that's as much as I want right now. I wonder why my dreams want me to get a job?

Monday, June 18, 2007


I couldn't sleep last night and was up for almost two hours, reading blogs and playing solitaire. So of course I slept later than normal and now Mr. Shrinking Knitter wants to play our usual wake-up game of Super Scrabble this minute, before I've had a chance to post anything. I wheedled 10 minutes out of him so I could throw a post up here.

'Cause I'm compulsive like that.

So I've made a dent in the guest room and in one of the crafty projects that's on my list. I'll have to add "make a job jar list" to the Google list or I'll forget about all the things I want to do to stave off boredom and create more stress. Heh.

I did a lot of knitting this weekend while watching the U.S. Open. [Interesting to see the short, chubby smoker win, while the incredibly fit Tiger came in second-best, wasn't it?] The Shapely Tank has a neckband and has one side seamed. One more side seam and the finishing around the armholes [unless I decide to do short sleeves] and it'll be done. I keep thinking it's going to be too big, but since it's cotton I might be able to attack it with hot water and get it to shrink. I've not tried it on, though, so it just might be okay.

I'll be running or walking today, probably four miles. Didn't do anything yesterday, mostly because it was foggy – pea-soup thick – until 11 or so and I had to be at a meeting at 12:30. Yes, I could have used the treadmill or the rower, but I didn't. So there.

So y'all have a great Monday. It took eight minutes to write all this drivel, probably took you less than a minute to read it and now everybody's happy. Or at least well-read.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sooooo close!

You long-time readers know just how much I detest the dial-up internet service I'm stuck with here in the Middle of Nowhere. I'm not willing to shell out the big bucks for the satellite internet service I've seen advertised on cable TV. The equipment alone costs hundreds of dollars.

There were lots of cool links to cool things in some of your blogs this weekend. Wendy's dress at Anthropologie, M@rla linked to a very creative paintjam artist and that My Heritage celebrity look-alike thing is going around again. [The only celeb they matched me with was Gwyneth. I soooo don't look like Gwyneth!] Each foray into flash-based websites or YouTube tests my patience. It had better be damned worth it.

These were.

Anyway, Verizon was out here yesterday scouting a bit of our property to put up a tower. In our yard! Well, practically in our yard, which is why Mr. Shrinking Knitter nixed the idea. Property values and all that. I was so close to buying Airport for my Mac I could taste it. I could visualize myself uploading photos and downloading music in the blink of an eye.

Patience, Grasshopper. Surely someone out here in the Middle of Nowhere will have the perfect piece of property for a tower. At least they're looking.

It's so great to have Greta commenting again! When Blogger switched from old to new, many readers couldn't log in or comment any more [or maybe they got tired of my blather and moved on]. Greta, you certainly know me well enough to know that boredom can be an issue. I'd love to be able to play inside my own head like Crazy Aunt Purl talks about in this post. Then again, I've lost 20 years' worth of brain cells by virture of being older, and who knows how many more by virtue of being a recovering drunk? Those were the days ...

Maybe I need a job jar. You know, just write down a bunch of activities on a slip of paper, throw them all in a container and pull one out when I'm feeling like I'm at loose ends. Yet another interactive to-do list!

Well, I ran yesterday. For a long time. First long run – six miles – in ages and ages. I'd like to be able to honestly say I run 20 miles a week when I fill in the Smart Coach plan for the next race. Last week, counting yesterday, I logged 21, but about half were walking.

Race training starts mid-July for me. I've registered for the Army Ten-Miler and the City of Oaks Half-Marathon. The 10-miler will be a long training run leading up to the half, and also will be a fun weekend with Mr. Shrinking Knitter to celebrate his birthday [which is actually the following weekend, but I couldn't get the Army to change their race date].

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Today only! A Saturday quote!

I do believe the rain did what I'd hoped it would do. The sneezing? Gone. I'm glad it wasn't a summer cold and, truthfully, I didn't even think it was. So here's what we'll think about this week:
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.
~ Amelia Earhart
I've got the decision down pat. In fact, I've made the decision [to lose weight] at least a hundred times in the last 56 years. And I've actually lost weight several times, so "acting to change and control my life" is not out of the realm of possibility.

I experienced that "the process is its own reward" while training for the half-marathon. I loved the training. I felt like I really was working toward an achievable goal, step by step, making discernible progress week after week. I trusted the process [Runner's World's Smart Coach] because it seemed to be based on good science and lots of experience.

I haven't thought about the paper tigers as they relates to busting lard. I'd like to think I have no fears about having a normal BMI, but perhaps I do; perhaps that's what's holding me back.

The tenacity is definitely missing in action. I can read an article or a blog post and think to myself, "YES! That's what I want!" But by the end of the day, the thrill is gone. I need to learn to be tenacious 24/7, not just the first six hours each morning, when I'm blogging, busy and not especially thinking about food.

The sad thing is, I don't do anything – work outside my home, take care of children, support elderly parents – that needs rewarding. You know what I mean, don't you? I can't use my stressful life as an excuse for making poor food choices. The rigors of daily living aren't making me so tired I have to spend my spare time on the couch. I don't have any stress! If you listen to the news, you might think I'm the only person in the U.S. who doesn't.

Tenacity. I wish someone would bottle and sell it. I'd be first in line.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Quote Day – not so much

I can't seem to sit up for any length of time without blowing my nose, which greatly interferes with quote research and typing. I'm pretty sure it's just allergies and hope the wind and rain that blew through here yesterday also blew away all those nasty little pollen thingies.

Until tomorrow …

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I almost broke my arm …

yesterday patting myself on the back for my accomplishments. Heh. Here's what I did:
  • Ran four miles.
  • Watered all the plants.
  • Mowed the lawn.
  • Purged my closet.
  • Purged my dresser.
  • Unpacked the suitcase.
  • Washed, dried, folded and put away three loads of laundry.
  • Washed dishes by hand.
  • Emptied the dishwasher.
I am woman. Hear me roar. Heh. Looking at that list would make you think I'd taken a hit of speed in the morning instead of an Aleve.

The run went pretty well, considering I haven't run four continuous miles in a long, long time. To be honest, these miles weren't continuous, but the walk breaks were infrequent and short – about a minute each. Still, though, it took almost an hour. But I felt good and my quad felt good and obviously starting my day off like that did wonders for my energy level.

Today will be more of a routine-maintenance day, which means cleaning the floors and sprucing up the bathrooms and kitchen. I might do a little work on the guest room. The Roomba is already working on the bedroom floor.

The other good thing about yesterday is that I started journaling my food again. Total calories for the day? 1374. A little higher than I like, but I think the run made up for it. And it was all good food. I could have brought it in at 1200 if I hadn't had an evening snack of a little bit of peanut butter smeared on a 60-calorie slice of whole wheat bread. I could have brought it in at 1300 if I'd mixed up some PB2 instead of using the Smucker's Natural.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

At any rate, it's time to get this party started. I hesitate to declare my specific to-do list intentions two days in a row – that's a fail-safe, perfect way to screw it all up. Let's just end with this: I
hope your today – and mine – is as productive as my yesterday was!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Change of course

First, ws just left a comment wondering if I'd been affected by severe weather in my part of the Middle of Nowhere West Virginia.

Not only was I not affected, I didn't even know about it. Guess I should read some local news once in a while. Thanks for your concern, ws!

I was going to write a post about my volunteer gig at the prison last night, but it had nothing to do with fitness or eating well or losing weight or running or knitting [although I did deliver some donated yarn for the inmates' Yarn Project], so I deleted it all and am forced to change my train of thought.

If you have a Google home page, you know you can add many little units to it, some informative, some useful, some just for fun. One of them is a To-Do list, which I've had for a long time but which I've never used. There's just something cool about physically crossing an item off a list that is sooooo satisfying.

However, I spend more time in front of my monitor than I do in front of the list attached to the refrigerator. Hey! There's a victory! So I filled it up and am now working on deleting each and every task on it.

My list-making tends to be of the Big Project or Getting Ready to Go Somewhere variety. I don't need a list of daily chores; the laundry gets done, the floors get swept, the dishwasher gets unloaded and reloaded without a reminder. Usually. But closets and dresser drawers just seem to get more crowded unless I write down that it's time to purge.

Today's the day. I can't Clean the Guest Room until I Unpack the Suitcase, wihch I'm storing in the guest room. And I can't Unpack the Suitcase until I Purge the Closet and Dresser. I refuse to put all those clothes back when I'm not wearing half of what's already in there. Fourth of July is three weeks from today and we're having company, so Cleaning the Guest Room is pretty high on the priority list.

Because we don't have a tent.

I've read a couple blogs lately where the writers want to only wear things they love that fit. I'm willing to settle for things that fit. I still have too many too-big things taking up too much space. I'll keep some of the too-small things, but if I don't love it, it's going to our local food-and-clothing bank. [It's called Loaves and Fishes, but a friend calls it Fishes and Chips, which delights me every time I hear it.]

My hip and quad are feeling good this morning, and the doctor says it's fine to take an Aleve every morning and night for arthritis pain. [With the caveat that it's best to take it with food.] I'm going to run four flat miles, then come home and tackle the closet. Until I'm finished:
  • I will not read e-mail.
  • I will not read your blog post.
  • I will not play computer solitaire.
So there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


So I was a mile and a half into my morning walk/run yesterday, descending the first steep hill at a pretty fast clip when I felt a severe pain in my upper left quad. Searing. Pain. And did I say, "Ouch?" You betcha. I limped back home and took it easy the rest of the day.

It's always something.

Interestingly enough, I feel much better this morning. If I press on the searing-pain spot, it feels like a healing bruise. But I'm not limping and, in fact, I don't feel any pain whatsoever. I'm not sure if I should take a walk or give it another day.

I have arthritis in my left hip, and forgot to take an Aleve yesterday morning. Perhaps I was unconsciously favoring my left side – one pain leads to another. See what you young chicas have to look forward to? Heh.

The problem I have with taking an Aleve every day is that it makes me feel so good, so normal, that I think I can do anything. Am I risking further injury by masking pain, or am I treating pain so I can keep on keepin' on? Not really a chicken-egg question, but close.

Okay, the Thinking Blogger award has led me to this:
Drop Dead Gorgeous by way of Perfuncto who was nominated by Grumpy. Interesting, somewhat disturbing, challenging and thought-provoking photos, and the accompanying interview is equally thought-provoking. Thanks, Grumpy, Perfuncto and especially the photographer Daniela Edburg. And thanks, TMN, for making the photos dial-up friendly.

Your comments yesterday also fall into the thought-provoking category. My little quibble with my insurance company pales in comparison, but I did call the doctor's office when they opened to see if any progress had been made. The billing clerk said I'm one of a dozen in the same boat. She insisted they are a provider and that the company who actually submits the claims is using the wrong tax ID number. She has patients who were seen in January who still haven't been billed.

Universal health care would solve those those problems. And Mel would get to choose her own provider. Mel, I wish you well, and I hope you read H4H's comment yesterday. Good advice from someone who knows.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Thank you, Anne, for including me in your list of Thinking Bloggers. Thinking – and especially writing to make others think – doesn't feel like my strong suit, so the fact that I've landed on such a list is high praise.

What this means is that I get to pick five blogs that make me think, and they get to pick five and they get to pick five and before you know it we've all read every blog on the internets. Hmmmm. I think that means we spend too much time on our asses in front of the computer.

At any rate, there are rules associated with this honor:

  • If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
  • Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

I'm reluctant to choose more food-or-fitness related blogs. Since I'm a knitter, I'll head out in that direction and see where I end up. My 5 tagged thinking blogs are:

Okay, Hungry for Hunger is sort of about food. But he's such a great writer. And the last one's not a blog. But it should make you think about the sad, sorry state of health care in this country.

I don't talk politics much here. Knitting and lard-busting seem to take up all of my available blogging time. But if you've ever checked out my links over there on the right, you'll have noticed Physicians for a National Health Program and Mountain State PNHP [West Virginia's chapter of the national organization].

Mr. Shrinking Knitter was out walking yesterday and stopped to visit with our 93-year-old neighbor. His daughter and her husband were there. The husband has become disabled, so our neighbor's daughter has gone to work in order to provide health insurance for both of them. Her wages cover the premiums; they pay for the rest of their needs with the husband's disability income.

She needs gallbladder surgery, but the insurance company is refusing to pay, citing a "pre-existing condition." Who's providing the health care here, the doctor or the insurance company?

Here's what's worse, though. Our neighbor, who is a WWII veteran and retired from the Army Corps of Engineers, is not eligible for Medicare. Retired government workers do not receive one of this country's "guaranteed" forms of universal health care; they have a different and more expensive form of coverage.

There's just something so wrong about that. I would bet that you all have a horror story or two. I currently have a set of forms from my insurance company, appealing their refusal to pay for my recent annual visit to my gynecologist. According to them, he's not a provider. According to him, he is. And I'm the one who has to spend the time and energy to make the calls and fill out the forms to try to get them to pay. Also? If it turns out he isn't a provider, I have to find a new doctor and cancel the appointments I've made for my mammogram and bone density test. The new doctor will need to see me – that's two gyno appointments in one year, and who knows if insurance will pay for that – to order a new mammogram and bone density test.

The best way to manage one's health in the United States is to never get sick.

Okay, off the soapbox.

Speaking of sick, that's what I was yesterday morning. So I didn't run at all. If you've been here for a while, you know I have IBS. I had a bit of a flare-up yesterday. My IBS is usually the constipation variety, but I've been see-sawing lately and there are no public bathrooms on any of my running routes. I thought it best to stick close to home.

A good rule of thumb, I think, is whether I would have run a race for which I'd already registered. There's no way I could have done that yesterday morning. I'll try a four-miler today.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Just in time for summer

I have a tiny little spot next to my garage where I plant a "salsa" garden – tomatoes, hot peppers and cilantro – every spring. I almost gave up on it this year. I just haven't taken the time to go buy plants and soil and, frankly, I could do without the whole tomato worm experience.

But yesterday I stopped on my way to the grocery to see if the little garden place had anything left. It is June, after all, and most good gardeners are eating the results of their labors by now. I was surprised and pleased to find that not only are there lots of healthy plants left to buy, you can buy them cheap! Tomatoes and jalapenos were four for a buck! I got three of each.

They didn't have any of the kind of cilantro I like. What they had looked like a fern and didn't smell very strong. Cilantro is one of those love-it-or-hate-it herbs, and I love it. Wimpy cilantro need not apply. So I'll be buying it; tiny Kroger stocks it in warm weather.

The best find, though, was a little "patio garden" – a large pot already planted with oregano, globe basil and a tomato plant. Looks like spaghetti sauce to me! I also planted a separate pot of another basil variety, the kind that makes good pesto. [My son-in-law sent me home with a grocery bag full of basil, which was quickly transformed into two cups of pesto.]

So after walking in the morning, I spent an hour or so puttering around with a shovel and hoe and worked up quite a grimy good sweat. Two workouts in one day. What's the world coming to?

I haven't had a good, long, solid run in a long time now. I wonder if I can still do it. I'll probably have to take a lot of walk breaks, but I'm going to do eight miles this morning. Walking or running, it'll be a good workout.

Still eating well. Still not journaling. Still feeling energetic. Thanks for your comments yesterday. It really is "just" food, isn't it?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Snakes on a plane porch

I started to leave the house yesterday afternoon and this rather large fella was gliding past the front door:
All together now: Ewwwwwwww!

Thank goodness for cell phones. Mr. Shrinking Knitter was in the garage/office so I grabbed my cell and called him there. Minutes later he was rescuing me from the big, bad black snake. [Please don't ask for details. It was messy. 'Nuff said.]

I don't mind them as long as they don't cross the boundary of my domicile. That was too close for comfort. My toes are still curled up just thinking about it.

We now return to our regular programming.

Jonathan got tons of comments from his Thursday night post in which he was dithering between eating or dumping a piece of cake. One person remarked, "It's JUST food!", and I've been thinking about that off and on ever since I read it. I maybe need to tattoo it on the back of my hand.

It's just food is exactly the attitude which has mysteriously overcome me the last few days. I've no doubt the feeling will leave as suddenly as it came – that's why I need the tattoo – but in the meantime, I've had three days of calm, peaceful meals. Yesterday afternoon I was getting a little antsy and had a handful of chopped walnuts, which is what the YOAD doctors recommend as a before-dinner snack. I didn't drag the whole bag o' nuts with me, but had just what would fit in my cupped hand, which turned out to be a couple tablespoons.

My, my, my.

I'm trying not to think about it too much, as I don't want to break the spell.

What's really remarkable is I'm not really planning anything ahead of time, nor have I been journaling. This is kinda crazy if you're a Professional Dieter like I am. I keep telling myself I'm going to start tracking my food again soon, soon, but I haven't started since I returned from my trip and I kind of like it. How hard is it, anyway, to figure out breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Three squares day. A long walk/run in the morning. Plenty of water. Stay busy.

So far, so good

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Quote Day

Though no one can go back
and make a brand new start,
anyone can start from now
and make a brand new ending.

~ Carl Bard

That's what I feel like I need to do: Start from now, at this weight, not looking back at the last 20 months of success and stagnation. I want to trick my body into releasing at least 10 percent by the end of the summer, whether I'm in training for November's half-marathon or not. If I can do that, I only have 10 more percent to go to reach my ultimate goal.

Y'all know what fun – hah – it is to start fresh, right? That old oomph of motivation you get on Monday or the first of the month or when you've just decided enough is enough and This is The Day?

Well, I've been slowly working toward this all week, in a good way. No last-gasp binges or trips to the Dairy Queen. I've been staying busy, eating three small squares and taking long walks. I've been planning and pep-talking and determining what works best for me.

YOAD isn't really the answer I wanted it to be – too many calories for this old, slow metabolism – but I can adapt it because it's just so darned healthy it's silly not to use it as a framework. I like choosing from one or two breakfasts and lunches every day. I like the way I feel when I "eat clean." I'll cut back on the starchy carbs and increase the vegetables. That means vegetable omelettes instead of cereal, smaller pasta portions, snacking on crudités instead of pretzels.

My workout calendar is posted on my wall, along with a sheet of little star stickers. This week has been rather haphazard as far as distance and intensity, but all in all I feel like I've been active in ways other than prescribed intentional activity.

I know that when I'm busy with a project – the DVD I've been working on is a great example – I don't even think about food. So one of my challenges will be to "create" projects. It's great getting paid to do a slideshow, but not every project I undertake will result in a bank deposit. So the "work" I'll be doing has to be its own reward.

Unfortunately, knitting doesn't really fall into that category. As much as I love to knit, I'd rather be watching television when I pick up needles and yarn. But making cards, working on scrapbook pages and playing with my camera are absorbing hobbies that kind of take me out of myself. My daughter loaned me a self-study photography course, along with a couple of books she found most helpful when she was starting out. They're still in my unpacked suitcase, but not for long.

I also have some household projects on my list: closets and dressers and cupboards, oh my!

I wish Blogger would let us post little midi files the way they do photos. That way you could click on a button and hear the music from John Lennon's (Just Like) Starting Over. The words don't really fit, but that's the earworm that's been in my head all week.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

May I just say …

how very much I dislike dial-up internet service?

I'm a graphic designer, or at least I used to be, and I subscribe to Before & After magazine for inspiration and ideas. They offer a choice of printed-and-mailed or .pdf, and I've been getting the .pdf to save paper and space. Oh, and also money. But a simple little 16-page issue takes for-freaking-ever [more than an hour] to download – it's 3.6 mb – and I know they could reduce the size of it if they tried. I'm assuming they're creating a .pdf file from the same files they use for the print edition. It would take very little effort to reduce the photo files before they create the .pdf.

So there. Harumph.

Marilyn recently stumbled over here and left a comment yesterday wondering about the mind-body effect on weight loss. Do you suppose that if we all went around chanting, "I think I can, I think I can," that it would make a positive difference? It hasn't seemed to help me as far as actual numbers on the scale or tape measure go, but I know when I think of myself as fit and healthy, I do feel a teensy bit more confident.

Maybe the answer is to limit weighing and measuring to food quantities, and chuck that bathroom scale and tape measure after all.

I wish.

Let's talk about knitting for a change. I'm nearly finished with the back of the Shapely Tank I started before I left for Tennessee. When I got back, the new issue of Knitter's was waiting for me. [Beware of their website: It's a tangled skein of broken links and also is very flashy.] I'm not usually a fan of the spring and summer issues of knitting magazines, and I definitely haven't been a Knitter's fan for a long, long time. But this issue is a winner. And if I could actually find the links to the designs I particularly liked, I'd give them to you. I'm trying, but it's taking for-freaking-ever. See above rant about dial-up internet service. And screwy website.

I especially like the Chevron Waistcoat, the Fitted Tank, a short-sleeved cardigan called Diamond Mesh and an off-the-shoulder top called Drifting Sand, although I wouldn't wear it off the shoulder. That's an unprecedented number of must-knit designs for a summer issue.

I've already made the Shapely Tank once; I kind of wish I weren't so far along with it, as I'd definitely be using the yarn for one of those four tops instead.

I'm sure you've already read Meg's post about the recently published Perfect Girls, Starving Bodies. You've probably already read the book. I'm not sure I'll order it, as it seems to be written for younger women. But I'll look for it at the library and read it just because Meg said to.

Weed-whacking is done. Mowing is done. DVD project is in progress. House is a shambles. I've got my work cut out for me today.

And you?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thoughts on weed-whacking

Well, half the yard got mowed yesterday, and more than half the weed-whacking. The mowing doesn't count as activity, since all I'm doing is riding around on a mini-tractor. But the weedeating? Another story altogether.

I have two tools to accomplish the task of chopping down weeds. One is a teeny little lightweight cordless rechargeable Black & Decker model that I love. The cord is pre-wrapped in a little cartridge and all you have to do is drop it in and you're good to go. The downside of this model is that it only works for about 20 minutes and then you need to pop it back on the charger. Also, it wasn't meant for the big stuff – thick bramble-type things that grow spontaneously on the slope at the edge of our road.

The mofo weed-whacker is certainly a professional model, and why Mr. Shrinking Knitter thought we needed it I'll never know. It's a Shindawa with a blade attachment that can actually cut down small trees. I think maybe he's never used it. The blade attachment, that is.

At any rate, I'd asked him to use this tool while I was gone, but he didn't, and when I got home the tall grass in the ditch was unsightly, to say the least. So yesterday I bit the bullet and got it and its manual out of the garage. You have to mix some kind of additive with gasoline or the motor falls apart. It's heavy, too long for comfort for someone my height and the damned cord needs to be manually wound onto its little spool and then inserted just right or you have to take the whole thing apart and start over. Which I did. Several times.

Did I mentiion how heavy this thing is? It's heavy. It has a strap thingy that goes over your shoulder to support it. I remember the salesman showing us just how easy it was to maneuver. He was several inches taller than I. Those inches make a big difference in comfort and ease of use.

Anyway, I fought with the weeds for an hour and a half. There were a lot of them. Some of that time was cord-related, so it wasn't all sweating and lifting and whacking. My back and shoulders are sore this morning and between the mowing and weeding I kicked up a lot of allergens. I woke up at 2 a.m. and had to take a Benadryl to get back to sleep. And then instead of forcing myself to get up when the dogs did at 6:30, I just drifted back off to sleep. It was quite blissful, and also quite unlike me. Early to bed, early to rise – me and Ben Franklin, doncha know.

I'm still trying to get back to my normal routine around here. I feel like I'm trying to accomplish my weight-loss goals using the lightweight rechargeable weedeater, when I probably should haul out the big guns. Instead of the four-mile walk/run I'm used to doing, I need to go back down to that long road and put in some serious miles. I still can't commit to weight training on anything like a regular basis. I know it would help; the weight won't move doing what I've been doing, so obviously I need to do something else.

Hellooooo! The definition of insanity, as I'm sure you know, is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Thanks for your supportive comments about post-trip letdowns and about continuing this quest for fitness and health. I'm still figuring it out, as are many of you. It helps to know we're all whacking the same weeds, but in different parts of the world.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Stormy weather

I drove home from the prison last night in a howling thunderstorm. There were times when I couldn't see the car in front of me. Note to self: Pull over and wait it out next time!

Okay, so no yardwork got done yesterday, and certainly won't today, from the look of the sky, which promises more rain. Yeah! I'm not one of those who loves to do yardwork, although the results are always worth the effort.

Unlike losing weight.

For you youngsters who read this blog, here's a tip: Take care of yourselves while your metabolisms are healthy and in good working order. The older you get, the harder it is to remove lard from your body. I'd say by the time you're 40 – maybe 45 – you can kiss the two-pound-a-week rule good-bye.

We say in AA that "acceptance is the answer." Is it time to accept that this is as good as it gets? "This" is only halfway to my desired goal, leaving me to deal with – or accept – 30 to 35 unwanted, uncomfortable, unsightly pounds that I thought would be long gone by now.

Certainly I know how to maintain, having stayed within a five-pound range for more than six months. There's no quitting in weight management. I'll have to keep doing what I've been doing. I'm not hungry eating 1400 calories per day, and I enjoy running enough to keep it up four or five days per week.

I'm in that post-vacation letdown mode right now; I've no fight in me, nothing that says, "No! Keep trying!"

So, sorry for a bit of a downer post. I'm not whining – just thinking out loud.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Breaktime's over

It's always good to get away for a little while. And then it's good to get home, too!

I had a wonderful time at my daughter's, including three parties [with fabulous food], Shrek the Third [very funny and very sweet], my granddaughter's dance recital, listening to my grandson read to me [it's always a thrill learning that a child loves to read], long walks every morning and a trip to Nashville's oldest running store, the Athlete's House. [I was professionally fitted and bought a pair of New Balance 857s, two pairs of shorts, a very lightweight t-shirt and a pair of socks. And I still haven't found any Sockguy socks. I could order online, but I loathe paying five bucks to ship a pair of socks!]

My daughter is a good four inches taller than I and I think all four inches are in her legs. In addition, she has a lengthy stride and sets a determined pace. My jog pace was only slightly faster than her walk, and I learned just what vigorous walking is supposed to feel like.

It's not at all the same as ambling. Or strolling. Vigorous walking is every bit as calorie-burning as jogging.

The trip home seemed very long and was definitely very tiring. It rained the last two hours and I actually had to stop for a short catnap at one point. I didn't think I could stay awake.

Obviously, I did, and made it all the way back to the Middle of Nowhere. I miss living in a city whenever I visit one. I miss being able to pop out to a Starbuck's or browse through the sale racks at Target. I miss bookstores and nice restaurants. Mr. Shrinking Knitter asked where I wanted to go later this summer to celebrate our anniversary and I said Columbus, Ohio, sounded good to me.

Now, most people wouldn't pick "Cowtown, USA" for a celebration destination, but we met there and have friends and family there and will most certainly enjoy ourselves there.

I have much to do after being gone for a week. Today it's all-laundry, all-the-time, with probably some yardwork thrown in. And while the first load's in the wash, I think I'll take a walk.

A vigorous one.