Saturday, July 28, 2007

Last chance

How do you Florida runners do it?

My intention yesterday was to run six easy miles in the morning. But I forgot that Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I had plans in the morning, meaning I would have to do the run in the afternoon. When it's hot. And humid. And maybe raining. Sounds a lot like the American southeast, doesn't it?

Well, it wasn't raining at 1:30, so I headed out with absolutely no intention of doing six miles. I was going to walk a half mile, run three at a very slow pace and walk the last half mile.

Let's just say I walked a lot and jogged a little. I was out there huffing, puffing and sweating for almost an hour – 59:45, to be precise. I left the stopwatch at the car, so total distance was probably 4.2. Sweat was dripping into my eyes the last mile, although I was wearing a sweatband.

I don't mind the slow pace so much – I always figure the longer I'm out there, the more calories I'm burning. Whether that's true or not I don't know, but I comfort myself by thinking it is. Heh.

So, Florida runners, I salute you! You do this every freaking day for months on end. Our hazy, hot, humid days of summer really only last two months. Winter? Also only two months. The rest of the year is wonderful for outdoor running.

Today is my last chance to pick up those three lost miles. Will she or won't she? She probably will.

Food has been good since the debacle that was this past Wednesday. Good enough to have lost another pound since I started counting again. Two down, a million to go. But who's counting? I'm debating about changing my eventual goal to make it five pounds more than I was able to maintain 10 years ago – that would be 140. Unfortunately 140 on 5'2" means my BMI is still in the overweight category. A goal of 135 just barely squeaks me into normal.

Considering that I've been at my current weight for several months now, thinking about being at a normal BMI is probably unrealistic. But I'm an optimist, and also tenacious and somewhat stubborn. Just ask my husband.

Stop by and wish Jonathan good luck in his first half-marathon, won't you? He's running the San Fran Half tomorrow, which will take him across the Golden Gate Bridge. How cool is that? Actually, considering it's San Francisco, it'll probably be pretty cool, indeed. And maybe foggy, too.

I'd love to send some of this rain out west ... here's what we're looking forward to for today and tomorrow. Tomorrow is the weekly long run, another seven miles. I pray those little lightning bolts will wait until later in the day, because I plan to be up and out of here early in the morning.

After tomorrow's run, I'll be heading out to visit my son, his wife and my new granddaughter for a few days. So this is advance warning of yet another blog break. I predict more of these breaks this year than last, since they live fairly close to me. It comes down to a decision between getting to know a new baby or stringing together X number of consecutive blog posts. Guess who wins?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Quote Day

To know the road ahead,
ask those coming back.

~ Chinese Proverb

In other words: Do What Works.

And how do we know what works? Based on our own or others' experiences, I think we all have a pretty good idea of what we need to do to get to the other side of the weight-loss/fitness mountain. It's not like we haven't ever had some success at it, at some time.

Layin' 'round the shanty probably won't get us there. Speaking for myself, of course. Heh.

The frustrating thing [one of them, anyway] is that what works now might – and probably won't – work in six months. Our bodies are incredibly adaptable. Damn it. They get better and better at efficiently using the fuel we provide, and they become accustomed to the amount and intensity of activity in which we engage.

The last time I lost a significant amount of weight I was 10 years younger than I am now. Maybe even 11. My late-middle-aged body isn't going to perform the way my younger one did, nor is it going to respond to food restriction and increased activity the way it did a decade ago.

I think, perhaps, I need to work on acceptance. I need to quit fighting so hard and I need to quit feeling like a failure.

That's not to say I need to give up lean protein and vegetables. There are too many positives associated with a healthy, active lifestyle to chuck it all and watch my ass spread like syrup on a waffle.

At 56, the only medication I take is a mild diuretic. My cholesterol is perfect, as is my blood pressure, resting heart rate and blood sugar. I can do just about any physical thing that needs to be done – lifting, moving, bending, stretching, reaching … running – without pain or discomfort.

Maybe I just need to redefine success. While I'd love to – and still hope to – see a normal BMI before I die, I must, must, must learn to be grateful for the progress I've made.


Yesterday turned out to be a pretty nice day after all. The thunderstorms didn't roll in until I was fast asleep, and it only sprinkled a couple of times during the day. I decided to do my speedwork outside, beginning with the warm-up mile, at the end of which I knew I wouldn't be able to run because I had to pee. Had to come back home – no public restrooms on country lanes – and decided to do the run/recovery work on the treadmill. That lasted less than a mile. Went back to the road and finished the drill outdoors. I wouldn't call it speedy – all in all I did 5.75 miles in 76 minutes – but I did it.

I think the reason I did it was because I promised myself I would report it here. I'm supposed to do three easy miles today and guess what? It's raining! Accompanied by thunder and lightning! I don't think it'll last all day, though. I'll find some time later to do three, and possibly six, miles. That'll bring my weekly mileage back to where it's supposed to be.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Too much

Too much rain, too much sloth, too much food, too much sleep, too much apathy. That pretty much describes my little world this morning. I amaze myself with my ups and downs, physical and emotional. The emotional this time is pretty dramatic, even for me.

So that study I mentioned yesterday has hit the blog-o-sphere bigtime! My favorite comment was one I found over at BFD, wondering how anorexic friends could be better than obese ones. Calista? … Calista? … Calista?

I guess everyone who has a weight-loss blog ought to give it up; all our virtual friends have elevated BMIs and look where it gets us.

I wasn't surprised to see the story covered on the national news last night, complete with headless, portly body shots. The photographer who gets that assignment must think it's a piece of cake. Heh. C'mon! Where's the challenge? How about a perp walk once in a while?

Okay, back to my too-lazy day yesterday. It was raining when I left the house, raining when I got to the barn, raining when I fed the horses, raining when I refilled the water trough, raining when I picked fresh green beans from the owner's garden [with her permission], raining when I got my oil changed and raining when I got back home. It rained almost all day, while I either napped, ate, knit, read or watched television.

I'm sure you've noticed that I didn't report it was raining while I ran. That's because I didn't run. I napped, ate, knit, ate, read, ate and watched television. And ate some more. It truly was a bingey day here in the Middle of Nowhere, and when I woke up at the-darkest-before-the-dawn o'clock, I was sick about it.

Not running for two days has probably killed the last dozen endorphins I had left. Do they regenerate, like the liver?

The one positive note du jour was that I lifted weights, a complete pyramid routine, and actually worked up a sweat doing it.

It's always good to remember the positives.

Today's forecast? Um, rain.

Today's workout schedule? Speedwork. 2x1600s at 11:04 with 800 recovery jogs, plus warm-up and cool-down miles.

I think I have a date with the treadmill.

Thank goodness I have that option.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ack! It's catching!

How could I resist this headline:
According to Yet Another Study, obesity can be contagious.

Obese friends, apparently, are a … ahem … big factor in your own ever-growing waistline. Family members? Not so much.

And according to the researchers, if your friends get thin, it's likely you will, as well. But since most of the people in this 30-year study got bigger, this particular indicator gets lumped in with the other thousand or so Reasons for the Obesity Epidemic.

What's interesting to me is that the numbers hold true even if your friend lives hundreds of miles away. So it isn't just a matter of hitting the Dairy Queen together after work, or winding up a shopping trip with your best bud over pizza and beer.

Now what? Do we all have to go get new, thin friends? Do you s'pose Calista and Courtney have room in their iPhones for me?


Edited to add: The complete story from the New England Journal of Medicine is available here, no subscription necessary.

Thunder on the mountain

Thunder on the Mountain is a great song from Bob Dylan's latest album, but it's not much fun to run to when it's accompanied by lightning and torrential rain. And there was plenty o' thunder, lightning and rain yesterday morning when I left the house. [Disclaimer: I did not take this picture, but that's exactly what it looked like out my front door!] I'd hoped to feed the horses and then do my three miles, but instead I came back home and made a necklace. I haven't pulled the beading stuff out in a long time, other than to entertain our three teen-aged girl guests over the Fourth of July.

It's still raining this morning, but I'm hoping it will clear up later. Today is a scheduled rest day, so I'll trade yesterday for today and be back on schedule.

The meeting I went to was interesting. Our mayor is trying to revitalize the area and has some wonderful, forward-thinking ideas. She gets diverse groups of creative people together for brainstorming sessions that inevitably lead to improvements and economic growth. I'm still not sure why she invited me, but I'm glad she did. Maybe she thinks I have too much time on my hands. Heh.

I don't have too much time this morning. I need to scoot, actually. The horses need their breakfast and my car goes in the shop at 8:15.

Before I go, though, I thank you all for your ideas about what that crazy dream might have meant. GC, especially, went above and beyond in searching for the meaning behind all those weird elements. Thanks so much! There's a lot to think about there.

If I only had time.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I am sooo glad it's morning!

What a horrible, restless night I've just had! Sometimes I wish I was hooked on Lunesta just so I wouldn't dream.


So in this long, rambling, neverending-until-I-woke-up dream, I'm either in high school or college, training with a track team. Hah! As if that ever happened. I watched track meets, but never participated. Fat girls weren't athletes. We were always in the art room.

But I digress.

The coach was a sociopath, but I, being the newest member of the team, didn't know. His disarming charm hid his true nature, which was to be cruel and unusual. Much like some of the prison guard staff I've met at Alderson.

There I go, digressing again.

And for some reason, this dream took place in a City. I went to high school and took a few college courses in a small town in southwestern Ohio, known for being the hog capital of the Buckeye State.

Okay. Fat girl, big city, track team, crazy coach. We're boarding a bus to go to an invitational meet in another town and I can't find my shoes. Or my camera. I spend what seems like days searching for these two items: The shoes are necessary for a good performance and the camera was a gift and is dear to my heart. [To make things even weirder, it's the Canon Digital Rebel my husband gave me for Christmas. Trust me: In the late '60s/early '70s, digital cameras would have been as sci-fi as personal jet propulsion modules.]

Finally someone clues me in that the coach has been known to 'borrow' team members' personal possessions in the past. I'm digging through a secret closet, looking for my treasures, when he shows up and demands to know what I'm doing. I surprise myself by confronting him. He confesses that he did, indeed, steal my shoes and camera and give them to the star of the boys' track team in exchange for a ride home.


And then I woke up. My shoes are still on the floor of the bedroom and my camera is right here beside me.

I hate dreams like that. I don't feel like I've slept at all; instead, I'm as tired and worn out as if I'd been searching for a pair of shoes all night.

I'm not even going to Google for an interpretation of this dream. Mostly because I don't have time. [But you can offer an opinion, if you like!] My horse-feeding gig is still going on this week and then I'm going to an all-day workshop on the topic of creativity and culture in West Virginia. Our mayor has a wonderful vision for this little corner of the Middle of Nowhere, and I'm happy to be involved.

I just wish I hadn't been up all night. Heh.

Lifted weights yesterday but didn't do any other cross-training or walking. I'm supposed to run three miles today. If I leave within 30 minutes, I think I can feed, run, shower and be at the conference before it starts at 10 a.m.

Film at eleven.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The long run

Yesterday was the first long run – seven miles – of this training session. I was reminded with nearly every footfall of that time last January I ran seven miles on the treadmill. Quelle boring! But outside, on a little-traveled road, in the country, along a river? It was lovely!

I might have gone faster if a bear had been on my tail. Or if someone had dangled a donut on a stick just out of my reach. Seven 12-minute miles were sandwiched between 16-minute warm-up and cool-down miles. So nine total in less than two hours.

If my last – and only! – experience with race training holds true, I'll continue to get faster and take fewer walking breaks as my endurance improves. I had to stop and walk four or five times yesterday morning.

The other thing I remember from last January's treadmill run is that I didn't do anything the rest of the day except read and nap. Not so this time. I did a couple loads of laundry, emptied the dishwasher, fixed lunch and dinner – in other words, I continued with my normal routine.

I'm glad today's a rest-from-exercise day, though.

Because we were on the road, I didn't weigh myself last Friday. I hopped on the scale this morning and am down one pound. I hope to make another dent in it this week.

My new favorite breakfast is a smoothie made with Activia Light Vanilla Yogurt, half a cup of skim milk and a scoop of chocolate-flavored protein powder. Thirty-two grams of rib-sticking protein and only two grams of fat, and about 250 calories. I wasn't hungry for hours afterward.

Rereading this post, I can't imagine that anyone is still awake, if you've even made it this far. It sounds like a second-grader's "what I did on my summer vacation" theme. Running seven miles has apparently sapped my ability to write. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Hope you have a great Monday!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Where've I been?

You can read about where I was Friday and yesterday here. And here. Here are some photos from the event. And even some international coverage here and here. And you can listen to a story about it here.

I've been peripherally involved, kind of as a research assistant, with the issue of OxyContin abuse since sometime in late 2000. I think. The abuse of this prescription drug has devastated our little corner of Appalachia, and also has hit southern and northeastern United States hard. The sentencing hearing yesterday in a Federal courtroom in Abingdon, VA, provided a measure of closure after literally years of wondering if the drug's manufacturer would ever be held accountable.

The hearing was to decide whether to accept or reject a previously agreed-upon plea deal between the U.S. Attorney and Purdue Frederick, which is an affiliated company of Purdue Pharma, the drug's manufacturer. I wasn't aware that the judge had as much discretion as he did, or that he would be listening to testimony from victims' families and witnesses for the accused.
I was prepared to be somewhat bored by what I thought was a done deal.

It was better than any Law and Order I've ever seen. Fascinating, heartbreaking, dramatic, riveting … I could roll out the clich├ęs for another paragraph, but I think you get the idea.

The upshot is that while the three executives named in the case didn't get jail time, as the families wanted, they did get three years' supervised probation and 400 hours of community service in the area of prescription drug abuse, along with multi-million-dollar fines. The company also is on supervised probation, for five years, and is to pay an unprecedented fine which, unfortunately, will go mostly to law enforcement, per the plea deal.

The judge was very moved by the victims' families statements, as were those of us in the packed courtroom. [They also had an overflow courtroom with a video feed.] In his decision, he stated he would have preferred that the agreement include a provision for some of the money to be directed toward treatment. We who have been involved in this issue agree wholeheartedly.

No jail time, though. Each week when I do my volunteer work at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, I meet women who are there because they were peripherally involved in a different side of the OxyContin issue. Our federal drug laws do not provide for treatment in lieu of incarceration. Those executives will never see the real damage they've caused: the children raised in foster care, the careers ruined, the lives wasted, the grieving families, the funerals. They'll pay their fines and get on with their lives. Being branded as criminals won't hurt them the way it does the thousands of men and women who are serving time because they sold this drug to an addict on the street, instead of to a doctor in an office.

There are many doctors in prison because of OxyContin, as well. Some were what we call "pill mill" doctors – they saw that freely prescribing OxyContin would be good business and they cashed in. But others prescribed it according to Purdue's package insert, and their patients died after taking it as prescribed. Lawsuits, trials and convictions followed.

At any rate, this chapter of this book is done, a bittersweet ending to a long fight for justice. I'm glad I was there. And after meeting the families, I'm acutely aware that there's more work to be done.

Tomorrow we'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Surprise! A Thursday quote day!

We have been taught to believe
that negative equals realistic
and positive equals unrealistic.
Susan Jeffers

I'll be away from the computer for the next couple of days. So Thursday is the new Friday this week.

I think today's quote pretty much sums up where my head has been at lately.

Remember when I started training for the Country Music Half? And I learned that it's not likely you'll lose any weight while you're race-training? And how I was totally okay with that? Well, it's starting again, but this time I'm not okay AT ALL with it.

Since January I've gained nine pounds (14 since last fall). This is not acceptable! It's also not helpful when you're lumbering down a road at 12mph.

My intake has been fairly steady, between 1200 and 1400 calories per day. I'm exercising six days a week from 45 to 60 minutes each day.

The sodium count the last couple days was a real eye-opener, and I was able to slash that number in half yesterday.

The way I interpret today's quote is that not losing weight during training [negative] is something I should accept. Losing weight during training [positive] ain't gonna happen.

Just knowing that's the way it was before is making it easier for me to accept it now. And I'm not even one week into training! This is the lightest week of the schedule, fewer miles than what I've been doing on my own. There's no reason I have to accept the reality of not being able to shed pounds preparing for another half.

What I do have to do is be much more vigilant about food. My nutritional analysis says I'm not getting enough protein [only about 80gm/day] and I'm getting too much fat [slightly less than 60gm/day, which is more than I'd like]. Carbs have gone through the roof, but they're good carbs. Heh.

I want to break free of the commonly held theory that losing weight during training is not just hard, but impossible. This may be the beginning of Bloody Head Syndrome, and if you think it is I hope you'll keep your thoughts to yourself. I need cheerleaders! Bands! Pep squads!

And you do, too. Isn't that why we're all here, tap-tap-tapping away, sending these messages out into the world with the hope that someone on the other end will see it, read it, get it?

What negative belief have you accepted for your life? More importantly, what unrealistic expectation are you willing to turn upside down? Let's make it happen!

One more quote this morning:

I'm not worthy!
Mike Myers as Wayne in Wayne's World

Grumpy Chair left a comment for Wendy yesterday in which she said when she doesn't feel like working out she thinks of three people: Wendy, Laura and me.

I sooooooo don't deserve that, especially after yesterday. I did my pyramid weight routine, and also did some bench moves, but when I got on the rowing machine I only lasted six pathetic minutes. SIX! I think my arms were just so plumb tuckered out [that's Southern-speak] from the lifting that I couldn't pull that rope any longer. I even tried reducing the resistance to make it a little less challenging. No go.

Next rest day I'll have to break up my workout sessions – maybe do the weights early and the rowing later in the day. At any rate, thanks to GC for putting me in such good company, but I really don't qualify.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Salt 'n' Pepa

The title of today's post is an allusion to my sodium, um, issues, but it's really a hair post.

First, I discovered I could track lots of nutritional elements – way more than just protein, carbs and fats – with my CalorieKing software. My sodium levels the past two days have approached 5000mg. No wonder the scale is being cranky! I'm not sure why I stuffed my face with more salty stuff yesterday. I'm not really following menu plans, but trying to eat what I want [still sugar-free!] only when I'm hungry. So why do I want salt? I really need to get a handle on this one because I don't like feeling like this and I don't like the scale feedback.

The other day Mr. Shrinking Knitter pointed out that my hair was definitely getting grey. Imagine that! I'm 56 and a grandmother of three and I have a few grey hairs! But I got a haircut yesterday and even I noticed the glints of silver reflected from the mirror. And I wasn't even wearing my glasses. My hairdresser said I definitely had some salt in my pepper, and offered to do a "stain," which would blend it all together. [Is that what "Just for Men" does?]

I declined. It's enough of a chore to get a trim every five weeks; I don't care to spend any more time or money on hair maintenance. She was cool with that, and said not everyone wants or needs to be "chemically dependent." Heh.

I'm not doing very well transitioning from one topic to another lately. [How's that for a segue?] At our little wellness center, you can track your walking mileage and when you log 90 miles you get a
t-shirt that says "I walked to Charleston" on the front. Ninety more and they add "And back" on the back of it. So I guess that's where I got the idea to find two cities that are approximately 348 miles apart. The back of the atlas is a good resource.

I did four miles yesterday, as Wendy predicted, but split one into a walking warm-up and cooldown. The schedule said to do three at 13:24; I did my three at a 12-minute pace.

When I printed out my training schedule [from Runner's World], I said I wanted the intensity to be hard. But you also have to put in a race pace, and my race paces are pretty slow. The combination of slow pace/hard intensity appears to be 4.5 mph "easy" runs and 5.5 mph tempo runs. IF I want to improve my times, I think I'll have to work in some speed drills on my own. The most likely way I'll do that is the old bounding-up-a-hill trick, to lenghten my stride.

I won't be doing that soon, though. Still. Too. Hot. And. Humid.

Today is another rest day. Already! I'm getting ready to feed the horses, and will come back to lift weights and try for half an hour on the rowing machine. About the longest I've been able to go lately is 20 minutes. It's more a boredom factor than fatigue, though.

Hold on tight cuz tonight Salt and Pepa's gettin' swift."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Changing my weigh-in day

So. Nobody wants to take a tapeworm pill with their breakfast, eh?

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a Weight Watcher leader. ["Hi, I'm Debbi and I've lost 32 pounds on the Weight Watcher program and I've kept it off for two years!" ::Wild applause::] Tapeworm stories were tossed like lettuce at training meetings, but I never met anyone who had met one up close and personal.

I weigh myself every time I walk past the bathroom scale – kidding! – but record my "official" weight on Tuesdays. I do scale hop a lot, though, and all week long I've shown a two-pound loss from last Tuesday. Until this morning. Which shows no loss. I'm feeling so good about not eating sugar and drinking lots o' water and exercising regularly [six days out of the last seven!] right now that it would be Just. Plain. Demoralizing. to record yet another "stayed the same." So I'm going to make Friday my official weigh day from now until the next time something demoralizing happens, when you can be sure I will shift things around again.

The only reason I can think of for today's news is that yesterday was a pretty salty day. In fact, I felt so bloated and uncomfortable leaving my drawing class at the prison last night that I could barely walk. Lovely mind picture, isn't it? I don't think I've ever experienced a salt reaction like that before.

I usually don't eat canned foods, but canned beans [unrinsed – never again will I neglect that step!] were on the menu last night and I believe I've paid more than enough for that transgression.

I have another horse-feeding gig this week and next. Mornings only, which is good. It gets me off the computer in a timely manner and the horses live near one of my running routes, so I can hit the road as soon as I finish feeding, before it gets too hot and humid to make excuses.

Yesterday was the first day of 16 training weeks; I lifted weights and did a rowing machine session, since Mondays are rest-from-running days. I will run 348 miles in the next four months. If I headed west from Cleveland, I'd end up in Chicago.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A couple of blasts from the past

First, thanks for your nice comments about Saturday's run. I think Mary Christine has the right idea: Go for the big races. The larger venues truly do have runners of every shape, size and speed. I hated being the fattest person on the course, and I hated knowing everyone was waiting for me and Mr. Geezer to cross the finish line so they could get on with announcing the results. It's not their fault that I was so slow, and I really was pleased with my time. I doubt I could have gone any faster.

I did my Sunday run on the hilly road I live on in about 52 minutes. At one point going up a hill I passed three Amish horse-and-buggies. I felt like Rocky at the Philly Art Museum. Of course, they smoked me going downhill!

A friend sent me some images of old ads, two of which are relevant for those of us who are busting lard. This first one, especially, falls into that category:

And the second is just appalling! I guess the FDA wasn't around when this product was being marketed:

Today is the first day of 16 weeks of training for the City of Oaks Half-Marathon. Mondays are rest days … woo hoo! Heh. I'm going to lift weights and do 30 minutes on the rowing machine, because rest days also can be cross-training days and I'm motivated to start this session off on a positive note.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Somebody has to be last

About yesterday's race: I wasn't dead last. I was dead last for the women. One old geezer shuffled in a couple minutes after I did. I think he got first place in his age division.

However. I did four miles in 46:19, an 11:35 pace, which is pretty awesome for me! The overall winner was Speedy Gonzalez, who did his four miles in slightly less than 22 minutes. We had to wait for him to pick up his trophy because he was coming back in from his second run of the course. Not counting the warm-up run he did prior to the start.

Most of the forty-two – yes, only 42! – entrants were from the Southern West Virginia Road Runners club, and most of them are young, fit, lean, fast men. I learned something about "low-key" fun runs: These guys take it seriously! I had lots more fun at the mega Country Music Half-Marathon than I did yesterday morning.

The female winner in my age group was friendly, but mostly I felt quite out of place.
[I was second in my age group, woo hoo! But there were only two of us. Heh.] Maybe if my body fat was 12 percent I'd have been more at ease.

Considering that I got a cramp in my right calf about three-quarters of a mile into the run, I feel good about even finishing. I willed myself to keep going, despite intense pain and the eventual numbness of my right foot. I kept looking down to see if it was still attached to my ankle. And I had to take several walk breaks. I doubt if my time would have been better, but I'm sure I would have had more fun.

There was a table loaded with granola bars sugar, donuts sugar and snack cakes sugar at the finish. The early finishers ate all the bananas. I was tempted to reward myself with food, but instead
I grabbed a bottle of water. Two, actually.

The leg cramp worked itself out sometime yesterday afternoon, so I'll go run this morning, and I plan to enjoy myself. If you're racing today, may your feet be swifter than mine. And not numb. And may you have bananas at the finish.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Look at me: Sugar-free!

Two days down.

The first time I went sugar-free, back in the early '90s, it was suggested [by a psychologist, a chiropractor and an Overeaters Anonymous sponsor] that I might feel overwhelmed and emotional, that I would probably cry for no reason and that these feelings would last about three weeks.

Sure enough, they did.

I'm not buying into that this time. I haven't been eating sugar on a regular basis – I'm not scarfing down Snickers bars on a daily basis, or whipping up gooey desserts for weeknight dinners – but I haven't been diligent about eliminating it when I can. And the Fourth of July was a complete carb-and-sugar fest. With a pork tenderloin thrown in.

No, I feel like I'm just getting back to what is normal and right and healthy for me.

My food yesterday was similar to Thursday's: tuna salad and a tomato for lunch; no afternoon snack [not hungry, too busy], and one of my favorite concoctions for dinner – pesto pasta with chicken sausage and vegetables.

I realized after dinner that I'd "carb-loaded" for this morning's four-mile race. Heh. Thanks, Wendy, for remembering it was today. It should be fun and low-key, and since I've never registered for and run a four-mile it'll be a PR no matter what my time is. The best part of being a novice runner is that every time I run a race, it's my best time for that distance.

Since registration starts at 7 and it's now 6:50 and I'm still in my jammies, I'd better scoot.

I realized after I posted yesterday that I had again forgotten it was Friday, when I usually put up a motivational quote. I'll get back to that next week, as it's been one of those helpful things I've been doing consistently for quite some time now. [Foolish] consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but it's also a key element of living a healthy lifestyle. And not so foolish.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful

One of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs, and slightly appropriate to today's report.

We've seen a dramatic cooling in temperatures this week, meaning I don't feel like I have to leave the house at 6 a.m. [not that I ever have, mind you] to get a good run in. It also means I don't feel like a wadded-up washcloth when I'm done.

Yesterday I walked a brisk half-mile warm-up, ran three miles and walked slightly less briskly for a half mile. The total time was 55 minutes. The three-mile time was 33:15. Adam was moaning about how much his 11-minute pace sucked and I was giving myself a high-five because I thought I was so awesome!

It's all relative.

Here's what the temperatures looked like at the start and finish. I'm not sure the starting humidity was accurate; it didn't feel that close or damp. Coming to the finish was great, though. One of my most satisfying runs all summer.

And no sugar yesterday! One day down, the rest of my life to go.

I ran on an empty stomach in the morning and had a scoop of tuna salad [made with light mayo] with a fresh tomato when I finished. Mid-afternoon I had some cheese and whole-wheat crackers. Last night was a Greek salad topped with grilled salmon. A pretty high-protein day, all in all, and I didn't have any cravings for sweets. Well, maybe a little, but I talked myself out of it because I knew y'all would be wondering.

Training for the City of Oaks Half-Marathon starts Monday. Like Mary Christine, I love training. I love the discipline, I love crossing off each day when I'm done, I love knowing I will be doing whatever that little schedule says to do, no matter what. There's no "will I or won't I" once the schedule kicks in. I should live every day in training.

For the two or three people who find my blog every day [seriously!] by Googling for "Sicko in WV," the wait is over. The Great Escape theatre in Nitro, WV is now showing it. Nitro is north of Charleston and east of Huntington. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

We're chic!

We knitters, we're chic. The New York Times says so. But then we knew it all along. Heh.


Thank you for your thoughts yesterday on food's addictive properties. In addition to everyone who weighed in here [pardon the pun], I also had an e-mail conversation with a very dear friend, during which I sent her this link, a wrap-up of the conference. Here's part of it:

"Dr. Mark Gold, chief of addiction medicine at the University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute, said one possible bit of evidence is the dramatic decline in the risk of substance abuse as the pounds increase. The obese, in general, do not smoke, drink to excess, or do drugs, he said.

Conversely, those with eating disorders such as anorexia have remarkably high rates of addiction, and people who give up drugs, cigarettes and alcohol invariably gain weight, he said.

'It turns out that food and drugs compete for the same reward system in the brain,' Gold said."

At the end of the story, it says maybe we should feed kids boring meals.

Sounds like YOAD to me!

At any rate, during our e-mail conversation, my friend reminded me of the KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid [although I'm sure she meant Sweetie] – theory. We've known each other for nearly 10 years; we met on-line in an Atkins forum so she knows well my struggles with my weight.

Since sugar seems to trigger binge eating in me, it makes sense to abstain from sugar. That would truly be KISSing it.
My friend wrote: "When you're off sugar you're happier and seem to feel better about yourself and happier about your nutrition." Well, duh.

I've been able to abstain from alcohol for more than 16 years. The consequences of continuing to drink were dire; the consequences of continuing to eat just don't seem to be so life-or-death. But they are!

And even if they weren't [but they are!] the rewards of abstaining from sugar are many: running comfortably, playing with my grandchildren, wearing smaller sized clothes, less moodiness [Mr. Shrinking Knitter would welcome that!], more energy, normal blood levels.

I've gained 14 pounds, as of Tuesday, since last fall when I squeezed into a size 12 dress for our wedding reception. I'm sure I couldn't get that dress zipped this morning, and I'm certainly not going to try. I don't need to use myself as a whipping post.

I do need to feed myself healthy, fresh food in reasonable portions. I need to move my body, slowly at first and then with confidence and vigor. I need to get back on track, and I know I'm not the only one out here in fat-blog land who's thinking the same thing.

I need to Keep It Simple, Stupid. Er, Sweetie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Addicted to food

An article in yesterday's USA Today described a conference focused on determining if food has addictive qualities. Could food addiction be yet another cause of the obesity epidemic?

Overeaters Anonymous has long held this view; I attended OA meetings many years ago, and while we didn't say we were food addicts, as some narcotics addicts do, we identified ourselves as "compulsive overeaters."

[For the record, OA was helpful in many ways, but I didn't see much in the way of true recovery, if recovery was defined as weight loss. I no longer attend meetings.]

One of the researchers defines food addiction as:

"Eating too much despite consequences, even dire consequences to health; being preoccupied with food, food preparation and meals; trying and failing to cut back on food intake; feeling guilty about eating and overeating."

Um ... that would be me. And probably some of you, too.

Andrea quoted yesterday from Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now:

"Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to -- alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, a person -- you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain. That is why, after the initial euphoria has passed, there is so much unhappiness, so much pain in intimate relationships. They do not cause pain and unhappiness. The bring out the pain and unhappiness that is already in you. Every addiction does that. Every addiction reaches a point where it does not work for you anymore, and then you feel the pain more intensely than ever."

So Tolle thinks food can be addictive. That paragraph really resonated with me.

What is it that keeps pushing me into the pantry? I don't think I have a lot of pain and unhappiness inside me. In fact, I think I'm pretty happy.

And why didn't I get addicted to running, instead of booze or food?

What do you think: Is food addiction real or not? Discuss.

Our phone lines are acting up, after very heavy storms last night, and I may not get back online until tomorrow morning. I hope you'll share your thoughts about this theory. I'm truly at a point where I think it has to be more than calories in/calories out.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A milestone, of sorts

Yesterday was my 500th post. For someone who used to register with various and sundry blog services and abandon them in less than a week, I think 500 semi-regular posts is pretty cool.

It is raining, raining, raining this morning, and looks like it'll be one of those steady, all-day soakers. We can use one. I've already turned the AC on in our second-floor office, where the rowing machine and treadmill are located. I haven't done a treadmill run since February. Maybe March. I'm trying to tell myself it won't suck – mind over matter!

It's been too many days since I've had a proper workout. Last run was July 4. I lifted weights last Friday morning. Since then the heaviest thing I've lifted is a six-pound, 14-ounce baby girl, and the farthest I've ambulated was from a parking garage to a hospital.

Thanks so much for all your congratulatory messages. It's great to have all of you out there to share this exciting news with.

What would also be exciting [but not nearly so]? Hmmmm ... maybe getting to goal? Time to get back to work on that.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I have travel plans one weekend out of each of the next four months. How that will work with race training remains to be seen.

I'm going to unofficially begin training this Saturday, with a little local four-mile race. Maybe I'll meet someone else doing the Army Ten-Miler – a training partner! Those long training runs would be much less grueling with company.

It occurs to me that when I started this get-healthy plan in January of 2006, I never dreamed I'd be running in organized races. Another milestone!

Monday, July 09, 2007

I'm smitten

There's just something about a newborn …

I'd love to share her photo with you, but that's something I haven't done [with the other two grandchildren] and won't do with her. If my children want to plaster baby photos all over the internet, that's one thing, but I think it's their privilege, not mine.

That said, she's adorable! I bet you knew I'd say that. Heh. I was at the hospital six hours Saturday and five hours Sunday and she slept in my arms the whole time, unless she was feeding. Or pooping. That's how newborns roll: They sleep, eat and poop.

I was able to pick up some things my son and his wife needed while I was there. The baby was two weeks early and while they were ready, there were still a couple things to do. So I was somewhat useful, when I wasn't lounging around the hospital room watching her sleep.

I didn't knit a stitch, nor did I break a sweat. But I also didn't have much time to eat. Lack of food plus lack of exercise means I should be holding my own.

Not nearly as soul-satisfying as holding my granddaughter.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

She's here!

Much to everyone's surprise, the newest addition to our family arrived last night. My new granddaughter was born at 10:30-ish, a full two weeks early. She weighs 6 lbs. 14 oz. and is 19 inches long and I'm leaving in a couple of hours to go meet her.

Guess who won't be blogging tomorrow?

I'm only staying one night. The new little family will be coming home tomorrow and they want to spend their first few days on their own. I'm the closest grandparental unit – a four-hour drive – so I'm taking advantage of close proximity to see them while they're still in the hospital.

And damn dial-up internet connections anyway! I've been waiting and waiting for her picture to download into my e-mail inbox and it keeps timing out. Grrrrrrrr. Oh, well. I'll be seeing her this afternoon! Today! Heh.

I thought I had two more weeks to finish her "welcome-to-the-world" gift, which is about two-thirds of the way done. Oh, well ... she surely doesn't need a blanket in July in North Carolina. I'm pretty sure she has everything she needs for a comfortable start.

So ... blog break tomorrow!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Catch. Up.

Didja miss me? Heh. I sure missed you!

Another Fourth of July has come and gone, in which I spent the majority of my time preparing food. That's totally my choice – Mr. Shrinking Knitter's family would be happy eating in restaurants or eating meals that started from packages, rather than scratch. But I love entertaining and don't get the opportunity very often so I tend to wallow in it when I can. And they're very appreciative and complimentary, and who doesn't like to be complimented and appreciated? A win-win, I say!

The wife of the family has been doing C25K and was happy to go out and run with me in the mornings. Her normal running time is early evening, so it was quite different for her, and a little more challenging, just being out of her routine. Having another person along was good for me. I liked the sociability of having a running partner, but she was fine with our having different paces. She's much taller than I, but I was a little faster than she was, much to my surprise.

So, lots of fishing, target shooting, running, eating and fireworks around here this week, but not much computering.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter was feeling a letdown after everyone left yesterday morning. On a whim, I went to Fandango to see if Sicko might have opened nearby. Success! Two hours later we were at the Grandin Theatre, where we finally got to see the film.

Let me add my voice to the long list of those urging you to see it. Please don't wait for the DVD. Because my husband and I have been working with PNHP for several years, we knew many of the facts of the health care issue. But seeing the facts up close and personal and learning the backstory behind the creation of our health care system was shocking. How could we have let this happen?

Since it's Friday Quote Day [but I'm all out of whack because of the holiday], I'm going to leave you today with my favorite Sicko quote:

If you can find money to kill people,
you can find money to help people.
~ Tony Benn

Monday, July 02, 2007

The new before

I'll definitely find a better place to take next month's picture. I just didn't have time to screw around with lighting and angles and lenses, oh my!

And I think I definitely looked better a year ago than I do now. The camera doesn't lie. Or maybe the camera I was using then did. The new one? Not so much.

Lots. Of. Work. To. Do.

Even though I no longer belong to eDiets, I still get some of their newsletters. In this morning's missal is this article highlighting the basics most fit people follow. Good advice and nothing we haven't heard before. But hearing and doing are two different things.

In a nutshell, here are the 10 tips [the ones most challenging for me are in purple]:
  • Sleep well and wake up naturally.
  • Get prepared.
  • Exercise in the morning.
  • Plan meals.
  • Rebound from setbacks.
  • Make lasting lifestyle and behavioral changes.
  • Separate the psychology of success from self-help snake oil.
  • Lose weight and keep it off.
  • Use positive self-talk.
  • Set and accomplish goals.
I'm still looking for the easy way out, but I'm doing a lot of things right. Keep. Moving. Forward.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Michael Moore's Sicko

Lynette got to see it last night; read her review here.

Not a single theatre in West Virginia is screening it. Not even the state capital. The closest place for me is Raleigh, NC – four hours, one way.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I watched Larry King's interview with Moore Friday night. While we didn't need convincing that something needs to be done about health care in America, it was affirming to know that we're working for something that really, truly could and should happen. Visit Physicians for a National Health Program to see how you can help, too.

One thing Moore said that really struck me is that we don't have to wholly adopt another country's plan. We can pick the two good things from Canada's plan and the two good things from France's, etc., and come up with a way to make it work, learning from others' experiences.

The other thing I gleaned from the program – it wasn't emphasized, although it was mentioned – is that we must do something meaningful about campaign finance reform. As long as the health-care industry is padding politicians' pockets, we won't see any change. Period.

In the past three or four years I've gotten bolder about contacting my elected representatives and letting them know how I feel. I don't always agree with their views, but I think their views should reflect those of their constituents, and since I am one, I call, write, e-mail and speak to them in person whenever I can. I also watch their votes and have learned that my voice really does make a difference.

So can yours. Speak up!

I may not be posting much until the end of the week ... I'm going to try to find some time today to take a first-of-the-month "before" photo, but even that may need to wait until our guests leave on Thursday. I could have planned to really get on this bandwagon the first of August, but I'd be wasting three good weeks – and this first, potentially good week, of July – all in the name of starting fresh on the first. Starting fresh can happen any day.