Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The skinny on YOAD

I received several e-mails and comments yesterday about my experience with YOU: On a Diet. Did the sudden whoosh of three pounds gone make some of you think this is The One True Plan? Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. It seems to be working for me, right now. And it seems to be something I can live with for the long haul.

It might even work for you, or you, or you. It's certainly worth a shot, and you don't have to buy the book to get started.

Almost every time I've mentioned YOAD, I've linked to the website. That site is stuffed with information and resources – more than I can ever offer. The book supplements that information with solid science on how the digestive system works, why we need to include certain foods and avoid others, why moving the body is important … all presented in a writing style that is stuffed with analogies. I found that slightly distracting, but I'm not holding it against the YOU doctors.

My first and most coherent thoughts about the book are here and here.

If you know you won't follow a menu plan, you can still get a good idea of the recommended foods by creating a plan on the website. [You might have to register to get to the menu planner.]

If sugary, fatty, take-out or processed foods are a large part of your current diet, you'll probably feel deprived following the YOU plan, which is based on whole grains, lean protein, avoiding sugar, blah, blah, blah. You know all this stuff. It's packaged in a way that makes the why easy to understand and adopt, if you're ready.

I was more than halfway there when I dug into the website. The book was the icing on the cake, if you'll forgive the pun.

Let me know how you do after your first two weeks!

Okay, enough about that.

Yesterday was a glorious day, from start to finish. The sun was out all day, the temperature was in the upper 40s to low 50s and the wind was gentle. The training schedule said "Rest/X-train," so I took a walk. A long walk, one in which I broke into a slight jog only twice. It was kind of nostalgic, actually. I've taken this walk more than 500 times since I've lived here: from my house to the post office and back [1.6 miles], drop off the mail and then from my house to a big white farmhouse and back [4 miles]. It took more than an hour and a half and I felt great when I got back.

Afterward, I ran the sweeper and straightened up the kitchen, took a shower and got ready for my regular Tuesday gig at the prison and then sat down to knit for a while.

The meeting was one of the best I can remember. One of the inmates shared her story with us. She'll be leaving soon, and is both apprehensive about going but confident that she has what she needs to never return. The new assistant warden attended, at my invitation. She said to the group that she was happy to be there, but that if anyone felt uncomfortable or inhibited about expressing themselves, she would leave. I'm very impressed with her. She's one of the few staff I've met who believes inmates are people first, felons second. It's good to know there still are corrections workers who think like that.

All in all, a great day.

Fifty-nine days until race day.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The perfect PB&J

In my continuing quest to find One Thing I Like to eat for lunch every day, which the YOAD doctors recommend, I've been experimenting with peanut butter. I may have hit on it yesterday.

YOAD also suggests eating a teaspoon of cinnamon daily, so I mixed cinnamon into my natural peanut butter and slapped a tablespoon of it on one piece of Nature's Own Sugar-Free Whole Wheat Bread. On another piece I slapped a tablespoon of natural apple butter – apples, apple juice, cinnamon and cloves are the listed ingredients.

May I just say … yum?

And coming soon to the Middle of Nowhere will be more than eight pounds of steel-cut oats. In other words, breakfast for the rest of my natural life. My local Kroger stopped carrying them, and even stopped stocking McCann's quick-cooking oats, which Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I like better than Quaker Oats. I couldn't find them at the larger, better-stocked Kroger I went to over the weekend, either. So I hopped online and found a place to order large tins of steel-cut oats with a reasonable flat rate for shipping. [The first place I found had a great price for the oats, but charged nearly $15 to ship them!]

In the two weeks I've been loosely following the YOAD plan, I've lost three pounds and 1.5 inches from my waist. The three-pound loss is from last week to this week, and there's no rhyme nor reason for the big drop. I feel like I've exercised less and eaten more, but the stats are pretty much the same as they've been for weeks on end. Maybe it was just my turn. Heh.

PQ commented yesterday that I must be in pretty good shape to describe three miles as an easy run. I should have said that the training schedule called it an :airquote: easy :airquote: run. There's nothing easy about running three miles unless you're An Athlete. Which I am most definitely not.

[I turned comment moderation off, by the way. Until I start getting spammed. Again.]

But the run went well. I actually did four miles instead of three, again at a 5mph pace. The training runs will be getting longer as the next few weeks go by, and I need to find some longer stretches of flat road – not easy here in the mountains of Middle of Nowhere, WV. Today is a cross-training day and tomorrow's speed drill is a seven-mile run, which will be the longest mid-week distance since I started training. My first long run, five weeks ago, was seven miles. Progress!

Sixty days until race day.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Eat a sandwich!

I love watching the Academy Awards. I always have, although I rarely see any of the nominated films. I love the glitz and glamour, the clips and speeches, the finery – I love the dresses. With all the doom-and-gloom that pervades the world and national news, day in and day out, we have so few total-escape events to revel in, and Oscar Night is the best.

But … you knew there was a but coming, didn't you? After a solid year of trying hard, hard, hard to lose enough weight to be on the high side of a normal BMI, I found myself wanting to make Cameron, Nicole and Reese [my favorite gown, by the way] sit down and eat a sandwich, for cryin' out loud! I don't read entertainment magazines, nor do I haunt the E! website, so the only time I see these women is in a role [rarely and usually on Pay-Per-View] or at the Academy Awards.

Three words: Painfully. Thin. Painfully.

And then there was Cinderella Jennifer. Move over, J-Lo, there's a new Jennifer in town. So poised, so beautiful, so real. Take that, Simon Cowell! I caught a little bit of her post-acceptance news conference, and she is one got-it-together girl, that's for sure.

I'd take her BMI any day.

I totally caved on exercising yesterday. I had every intention, just no energy. I worked on two knitting projects – the pink sweater I wrote about the other day and, since it did turn cold again, a felted bag. Felted things are cold-weather projects, in my opinion, anyway. I was totally sucked in by Gone With the Wind – I haven't watched the whole movie from beginning to end in years.

That's a lot of knitting time.

Today is an easy, three-mile run. The temperature is supposed to climb to 40 this afternoon; that's warm enough for an outdoor run as long as it's not pouring down rain.

Sixty-one days until race day.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A virgin experience

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I were watching the news last night when a new-to-us commercial aired.

Now, we're pretty much experts on early-evening commercials. We know which actor lowered his cholesterol and by how many points, and who lost X number of pounds following the XX diet plan. Meaning we probably watch too much television. NutriSystem funds the cable news programs, while Big Pharma seems to have a lock on network news.

Maybe we watch too much news. Heh. [My daughter would definitely agree with me on this one!]

At any rate, I've never seen a commercial for surgery before, when up pops this woman who claimed that lap band surgery changed her life. Maybe even saved it!

Her 'before' photo was displayed for all the world to see and she didn't look any fatter than half the people I saw loading their plates at Ryan's Friday night. Everyone has his or her own reasons for choosing a particular weight-loss path, but when I think about how prescription pharmaceutical advertising has contributed to the number of sick people in this country [a pill for every ill], I can only shudder at how many overweight people will suddenly decide that this eat-right-and-exercise crap just isn't worth it. There must be an easier way!

They should read some of the blogs written by those who've had surgery. They should talk to my neighbor, who looks wonderful and has lost a lot of weight, but still measures and weighs her food, among a long list of other disciplines. It is worth it, if you've gone into it for all the right reasons and with your eyes wide open.

But having a commercial spokesperson suggest that you ask your doctor about lap band surgery to take care of that pesky weight problem? I think maybe they've crossed a line.

Okay, on to my own method, which right now isn't working so well. If you're a regular reader, you know I'm in training for a long-distance race, and you also know that the weight is not falling off, despite the number of miles I'm logging. I have to keep telling myself this is to be expected. My marathon bible, Marathoning for Mortals, suggests that it's not a good idea to expect weight loss while in training. So I'm trying to concentrate on eating reasonably and healthfully while following my training schedule.

As Nuke LaLoosh said in Bull Durham: "I'm going to give it my best shot and the good Lord willing, everything will work out."

Ya gotta love those cliches.

Yesterday was the end of the easy weeks. From now on the schedule includes more miles, faster miles, and oh, did I mention more miles? I ran four miles again yesterday, but on a different road. The first three were hard, hard, hard, but something happened as I began the fourth mile. My body seemed to relax. I hit a groove and sailed through the last mile. I would have kept going, except Mr. Shrinking Knitter was sitting there in the car, waiting for me. It was a great feeling, and I hope I can remember it the next time I think I can't take one more step.

Four miles in 48 minutes – that's 5mph, my fastest time yet.

Freezing rain, snow and cold temperatures are headed our way again. Today is a rest day, but since I only ran four miles yesterday [Only! Can you believe I said that?!?], I think I'll do some rowing and weight training today. Looks like Monday and Tuesday will be treadmill workouts again.

Tonight is the Oscars! You can print out your own ballot and play along here or here or here. Me? I'll be knitting.

Sixty-two days until race day.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Congratulations are in order

PQ has reached a major milestone … do go check out her big news!

Slow motion

My Dark Ages dial-up internet connection seems to be moving in slow motion this morning, and I am, as well.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I went shopping together yesterday, something we rarely do. Mostly because I like shopping and he doesn't. So the shopping was limited to picking up a couple more pairs of Thorlo running socks and some office supplies. And then we went out for dinner.

Our choices were Outback Steakhouse or Ryan's. Outback is pretty self-explanatory; Ryan's is a buffet with a whole lotta everything. He was very hungry and I didn't have a preference, so Ryan's it was.

I can handle myself pretty well at a buffet, and did so yesterday. Rotisserie chicken without the skin, green beans, steamed broccoli, salad with vinegar and a little olive oil. My one indulgence was a piece of sugar-free apple pie from the dessert bar.

By the time we got home I was feeling icky. Before Jeopardy was over I was sick, and since I feel pretty much okay this morning, I know it was something I ate. No more Ryan's for me, thankyouverymuch.

Lori asked in yesterday's comments if I had to deal with the wind when I ran Thursday. Unfortunately, I did; I was facing it on the two-mile return part of the loop. I had no choice but to keep on running, though, both to make my target time and to get back to my car. Today I'm going to run four straight miles on a longer road; Mr. Shrinking Knitter agreed to drop me off at the beginning and pick me up at the end.

Or somewhere along the way, if I don't make it. Heh. Kidding!

I've made my Oscar knitting selection, and it turns out that I'm actually not in the mood to make anything felted after all. Maybe it's the whole promise-of-spring thing, with the sunshine and the snow all gone and the warmer temperatures. Also, I would have to paw through a stack of random patterns about eight inches tall to find what I need. That fat woman over there is wearing a previous version [five years ago? maybe longer] of the sweater I started a couple days ago.

It's called the Sailing Pullover from a book called New Directions in Knitting published by House of White Birches. I'm making the new one in a solid pale pink ribbon; the others have been cream-and-white and black-and-tan. The examples in the book are red-and-white striped and blue-and-white striped – quite nautical and soooo not my style.

I like making this sweater; it's one of the few I've done multiple times. You start by knitting a long narrow rectangle for the back, then another one with a little neckline shaping for the front. Then you pick up stitches along one long side of both pieces and start knitting the sides and sleeves, and repeat for the other side. It's all garter stitch, all the time, so not much thinking is necessary. Perfect for watching who's with whom and what they're wearing, doncha think?

And it also will be a nice top to wear this spring.

Spring is on its way, right?

Sixty-three days [seven weeks] until race day.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Quote Day

Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified.
~Samuel Johnson
Oh, Samuel, I do hope you're right.

That quote may be a little overdramatic for how I'm feeling today. My difficulties are purely physical this morning.

I thought two days of road-running would have me feeling tip-top. I. Was. So. Wrong. But these aches and pains are a mixture – as most things are – of good and bad.

  • I can actually run four miles without stopping. At my age!
  • I'm moving around more once I'm home again because it hurts so much to get up after I've been sitting for a while.
  • I know the pain is temporary, not chronic or debilitating.
  • I don't need a prescription product to feel better. Aleve alleves it. Heh.
  • I. Don't. Like. Feeling. Pain.
Emotional difficulties are the ones that push me over the edge. Next time I get discouraged after months of staying the same weight, despite valiant efforts, remind me to come back and read Sam's quote, okay?

So some of you've had problems with your iPods, too, eh? Mine stays docked on a mini-speaker system that continuously charges it. But I figured out that it hadn't been charging. When it's charging there's a little battery icon on the screen; mine has been displaying the information for the last song it played … and that was a couple of days ago, probably longer.

I'm glad to know about the potential overheating problem, though, because I carry it in the pouch of my hoodie when I run, and if pockets or pouches cause it to overheat then I'll just stick with the Shuffle. My favorite running playlist is on it, but once I start going longer distances again I'll have to add some more songs. Jonathan, a phone that works like yours does sounds terrific! All you need to do is train it to chop vegetables and you'll have the perfect all-purpose tool, right? Unfortunately we have so many hills and mountains around here that my cell phone doesn't work once I get to the end of my own driveway.

More of the pure joy of living in the Middle of Nowhere. Heh.

May your difficulties be surmountable and your wishes gratified. And if not, may Aleve do the trick.

Sixty-four days until race day.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

As God is my witness …

I'm never running on the treadmill again.

[You can insert the deity of your choice there, if it makes you more comfortable. I'm all about making my guests comfortable!]

Now, you all know that's an out-and-out lie. I'll run on the treadmill if the weather sucks on a training day. But like Scarlett having her moment in the radish patch just before intermission, that's how I feel about treadmill running vs. outdoor running.

By mid-afternoon yesterday I was feeling the burn in my thighs, for sure, but also in my back and shoulders. My abs would tell you I did 50 crunches; I did exactly ZERO. It hurts to stand up from a sitting position and last night was not a good night for Molly to hurl her dinner. You try crawling around on your hands and knees, cleaning up used dog food, when you can barely stand upright.

Okay, I'm exaggerating, but not much.

In other words, I had a great four-mile run on a nice flat stretch of not-too-icy road. About 50 minutes, start to finish – that's a 12:30 mile. I was supposed to do it at a 13:53 pace, but apparently I can't read the schedule very well.

I had the iPod with me because it has a clock [the Shuffle doesn't have that feature and I don't wear a watch], and it quit playing with about three-quarters of a mile to go. Gack!
I think the time on the clock in the car is accurate with the iPod. I ended up having to reset and reload the iPod when I got home, but I still don't know why it quit mid-song.

Today's run is the same as yesterday's. I've already had my Aleve/vitamin/Rx cocktail. Maybe I should take another Aleve when I get back. I'll also do some weight-training today.

I've been knitting; still working on baby gifts. I have to come up with something easy to work on during the Academy Awards Sunday night – maybe a bag, or another pair of felted clogs – a little break from baby knitting is in order, I think.

I'm not a big fan of intarsia, but for a small piece like a bib it's effective and not too obnoxious, don't you think? The other baby thing I finished recently is a teensy little one-piece romper. I still have to sew buttons on. But that's sewing, you see, and I'd rather be knitting. Heh.

On another, completely-not-related-to-fitness note [or two]: Could they just bury Anna Nicole Smith and move on? I'm appalled at the whole thing. And Britney! Can you spell b-i-p-o-l-a-r?

Sixty-five days until race day.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Treadmill vs. road

Yesterday was a rest/cross-training day, as Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays always are during the 14 weeks of my half-marathon training. I've always done something on Tuesdays and Fridays, because I am not just training for a race; I'm also trying not to be the fattest old lady on the course.

The YOAD strength workout was very easy, incorporating many familiar-to-me moves and convincing me that I'd probably be better off sticking with a couple of weight bench and yoga sessions each week. I need to do more work on flexibility and leg strength.

For the rest of yesterday's workout, I went for a two-mile walk/run. The first mile of my loop is all uphill, and is walking by default. [At one time, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was able to run up the first hill. 'Twas in another lifetime.] Naturally it was an easy choice to run downhill all the way home.

Although running downhill has its own set of rules to prevent knee injuries. And you have to be careful not to slip on the gravel.

Anyway, my last road run was probably a month ago, maybe longer. Quelle difference! If I ever wondered which was more effective – the treadmill or the road – I am wondering no more. The road wins, hands down, no question.

It's a good thing I gave myself 14 weeks to train, because I feel like I'm starting over.

Today is another four-mile 'easy' run, and will happen probably in the early afternoon. It rained all night, but the rain is moving out and the temperature should be up to about 50 by the time the roads are dry.

I went to a meeting last night and wore a pair of pants that I was sure would fit snugly. I told Lori how surprised I was that they just slipped right on. Some of you suggested that even though my weight was staying the same, I was probably losing inches. It's certainly true of my waist [thank you, YOAD!], but being able to wear those pants comfortably was a nice surprise.

I also Googled for something like 'losing weight while training for a marathon' and came away further convinced that I'll be maintaining for a couple more months. Cross-training on rest days might help, but probably won't make much of a difference. So if you're stopping by here looking for weight-loss tips, you might want to come back in May. I think the only thing that's going to happen for the next 10 weeks is staying the same, same, same.

Of course, I could be wrong. Heh.

Sixty-six days until race day.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

One more, one more!

Thanks for sharing your NSVs yesterday. If you weren't here, we were sharing a few Non-Scale Victories – things like collarbones and muscles and such. It's a treat to find them when you haven't noticed them for a while.

The big one I forgot about is one that can't be seen, except as data on a piece of paper, and that's blood chemistry results. For me, it was a cholesterol reading that dropped from 239 [November, 2005] to 169 [October, 2006]. The LDL ["bad" cholesterol] went from 160 to 98.8, and the ratio improved from 5.1 to 3.1.

I give exercise all the credit for those great results, as I've been eating more-or-less healthfully for years. Portion sizes – in other words, calories – count, even when you're eating low-fat food, and that, in addition to exercise, was another of my missing links in weight control.

I don't know what the missing link is this week. I stayed the same, even though at one point during the week I was down two pounds. Up, down, up, down ... I try to tell myself what Jonathan keeps reiterating: The number on the scale is information, not a value judgment.

Average calories consumed daily: 1368
Average calories burned daily: 512

I ran or walked 24 miles last week and spent an hour on the rowing machine.

Enough about that.

Yesterday was like a present from Mother Nature, wrapped in a breeze and embellished with birdsong. The temperature topped out at 47 degrees by mid-afternoon, with thin, high clouds that only added to the glory of the sky. I did my 'easy' four-mile run on the treadmill in the morning, but I just couldn't let the day end without getting outside. I threw on a jacket and headed out at about 2 p.m. and walked for two miles, which took between 35 and 40 minutes. I really wasn't counting. I didn't take the Shuffle and I didn't break into a jog. I was so happy to be outside in the sun.

The breeze was getting breezier by the time I got back to my driveway, and I'd forgotten a hat, so two miles was plenty … a little bit of a spring teaser. I saw a flock of fat robins who all looked perfectly happy to be here. For this Ohio native, robins are the first sign of spring.

I can't wait to get back outside on a regular basis again. Maybe today, although it's supposed to rain. Today is a cross-training day on the half-marathon schedule, and I'd rather walk outside than row inside any time. I'm going to do the YOAD strength workout today, as well. It's a 20-minute routine you can do with resistance bands, with weights or
without weights. Since the beauty of it, for me anyway, is that you can do it without weights, that's how I'll tackle it today. If it seems too easy, I can add bands or weights next time.

Sixty-seven days until race day.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How do you spell 'rest?'

The half-marathon training schedule has me doing some kind of run – easy, speed/tempo or long – on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The remaining three days are rest or cross-training days. I've been using the rowing machine for 30 minutes on Tuesdays and Fridays, along with some light weight-training. So I spell 'rest' R-O-W. Usually.

I have the best of intentions for cross-training on Sunday, but it hasn't happened yet. Including yesterday. Yesterday 'rest' was spelled S-I-T O-N M-Y A-S-S A-N-D K-N-I-T A-L-L D-A-Y.

The sum total of my physical activity consisted of shoveling and spreading salt on a path from the house to the garage and then walking on it so I could go watch television and knit.

Oh, and the path? Covered. With snow. Thankyouverymuch, Mother Nature.

Here's the view from the porch, looking down the driveway, early yesterday afternoon. When I looked at the photo from the display on the back of the camera I thought there was some kind of debris on the lens. Turns out it's a bird [circled in the photo] flying backwards in the fierce wind.

I'm not sure how the training gurus have figured out that the fifth week should be full of easy runs, but that's what it is. Four days of four-mile runs, with the usual three rest days. Since it's supposed to be warmer this week [except today], I might run and rest [walk] outside. Although the last time I set out for a walk I ended up running after all.

Grumpy has listed some of her more memorable non-scale victories [NSVs] – always good to contemplate when the going gets boring. Yesterday I was in the lower level of the garage and heard the phone ring in the upper level. I ran up the stairs and answered the phone, as if I'd been walking from one room to the other. No panting, no shortness of breath, no lumbering cow comparisons. Our voice mail picks up after four rings; I picked up in the middle of the third.

My other favorite is my rings. I wear a ring that belonged to my grandmother on my right hand, and it's been slip-sliding away for quite some time now. When Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I bought my wedding ring, it fit very snugly. But a month later, when I took it to a jeweler for resizing, she said it should fit somewhat snugly, and if I was losing weight I should probably leave it as it was. So I did, and now it's slip-sliding away, as well. It's not as loose as Grandma's ring, but I do love having to twist it around so the stones are on top of my finger where they're supposed to be.

And yours? What's your favorite NSV?

Sixty-eight days until race day.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

More snow

The ground, roads and driveway are once again covered. I'm officially sick of winter.

Snow in December is fun – you know, the whole white Christmas thing and all. And it's prettier in December, too, because all we've looked at for two or three months is dead leaves.

Snow in February is just tiresome and banal.

Today's oh-so-appropriate for weight-loss bloggers "Quote of the Day" on my Google home page is:

A waist is a terrible thing to mind.
~ Jane Caminos
Three words, Jane: Thanks for sharing!

The doll:

As I said yesterday, this pattern is from one of the little Vogue On the Go baby books. I did the ruffle around the neckline differently. The instructions said to knit a long narrow strip of garter stitch, gather it and sew it on. When I sew, I use one needle and it's usually attached to a machine. Since I'm knitting, I just picked up stitches at the lower edge of the head, then increased in every stitch every other round. A total of five or six rounds was all it took.

Invincible was pretty good, although nowadays rating a movie means how far did I get through the treadmill run before I looked at the mileage? Heh.

It was Rocky Balboa, The Rookie and The Natural but for pro football instead of boxing and baseball. When are they gonna get an old guy trying out for a spot on the Boston Celtics bench? And it was Hoosiers and We Are Marshall for heart and inspiration.

It kept me entertained for eight otherwise-boring treadmill miles. I thought I was supposed to do nine yesterday, but I looked at the wrong week of the schedule.

The first three miles, at 4.5mph, went by really quickly.
The remaining 20 laps? Not so much. The first time I looked at how far I'd gone I was on the 12th lap [they're quarter-mile laps]. So maybe the key is to just never look at the digital displays. I'm afraid that would mean I'd have to run blindfolded, and somehow that doesn't seem safe.

I slowed it down and ran the last five between 4.3 and 4.4mph, for a total of eight miles at a 13:75 pace.

Today is a rest day, but I'll probably do a weight-training session and 30 minutes walking or rowing. Next week we pick up the pace slightly and do four easy runs – 13:53 instead of 14:01 – for four miles. There is no long run at all, and no speed drills.

I'm thinking about the next race, after the Country Music Half in April. There are half-marathons in Virginia Beach Labor Day weekend, and in Huntington, WV, in November. It'll be one or the other, because they're too close together to do both. Unless, of course, I end up hating running races.

I'm not hating the training, though. It's good discipline and puts a focus on my workouts that is more than just losing weight.

Gettin' strong now ... won't be long now.

Sixty-nine days until race day.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

One more treadmill weekend … sigh

Mid-30s and snow forecast for today, which means this week's eight-mile long run will again be indoors. I checked the movie schedule. Rocky II is on a non-Pay-Per-View channel. I have the DVD, but it won't play in the DVD player in the room where the treadmill is.

Then there's a PPV movie called Invincible that looks good to a sports nut like me. Thirty-year-old guy gets to play pro football with the Philadelphia Eagles.

I think I'll go with the latter.

I haven't updated the knitting 'completed projects' list lately, but I do have a couple new finished things, both baby gifts. One is this pair of little baby driving moccasins. I should have put something in for scale; they are four inches long from heel to toe. The pattern is from Vogue On the Go Baby Knits II. I think. The moccasins are on the cover.

The other is from Vogue On the Go Baby Gifts, and is the doll illustrated on the cover of that book.

I'm easily sucked in by cover photos.

I'll try to get a photo of my version of the doll up in a day or two.

Right now I'm off to play Super Scrabble with Mr. Shrinking Knitter, and then run eight miles. The rest of the day will be spent waiting for the next round of snow.

Seventy days until race day.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Friday Quote Day

I usually find a quote during the week that I think will work for Friday Quote Day. I've never ended up on Friday morning scrambling around for something more appropriate. Here's what I thought would work for today:
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
But it just doesn't feel true after what I've been reading.

The good doctors Roizen and Oz are telling me I don't have to fight the good fight. They're suggesting a more elegant solution, a way to work with my body instead of against it.

Jonathan wisely reminded me yesterday to beware of those "never" statements I quoted from the book's introduction. And you know, Jonathan, I thought about that all afternoon and evening.

[Jonathan also wrote this brilliant statement in this post:
“… if I’m getting out of life the things I really want, I’m less likely to be stuffing myself with food as a means of compensation for repressed anger, guilt, frustration, etc.”
~ Jack Sprat
Which is pretty much what the book is telling me, as well.

I guess I'm tired of the fight and desperate for an answer, and what these doctors are telling me, in their cutesy, simile-laden way [I'm starting to edit the similes out as I'm reading, that's how tiresome they are!] is that I can lay my weapons down.

And that's very appealing.

To make the Eisenhower quote meaningful for today, planning still
is essential on the YOAD program. You can't have a soup-and-salad lunch when the crisper is empty. A daily 30-minute walk [as you all know, I'm doing way more than that, but that's the minimum YOAD recommendation] has to be worked into the schedule, somehow.

We plan for the other parts of our lives: work, children, school, pets, spouses, friends, meetings – all our activities and relationships are important and vital, and we make appointments – plans – for the events that make life meaningful.

My life would be even more meaningful if I didn't constantly have the weight of my weight hanging over me.

So I'm still working this all out. Are they good marketing men, getting me to believe that I don't have to fight with myself any longer? I used to work in advertising; I'd like to believe I'm not that gullible.

It's hard to argue with success. As they suggest, I've been taking a waist measurement every day since I started following the plan. [And I will reiterate – I am loosely following the plan. I still don't have all the recommended foods, and I still love wheat saltines far, far too much.] Three days – an inch and a half smaller. Pretty incredible.

Seventy-one days until race day.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

It's not about the food

I had a post completely proofed, spell-checked, sliced, diced and done, hit the "publish" button and it disappeared. Damn!

Basically, I was answering Vickie's question from yesterday's comments. She wanted to know:
"…what is different about this plan vs what you were doing before? More food? different food (how so)? different combinations? eating smaller more often? eating larger less often?"
All I can say right now is it's not about the food. Anyone who follows the link from yesterday's post can get the gist of the food plan, which looks to be mostly plant-based, light on protein and heavy – heh – on satisfying fiber.

I'm ready to begin reading Chapter 6: Metabolic Motors. Since I've spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about, crying over and bemoaning my own broken metabolism, I want to give this chapter my full and undivided attention. Meaning it's probably not good bedtime reading.

When I first mentioned ordering the book, several of you said you were going to start reading your own copies. What do you think, so far? Or do you want to do book club after you've finished reading it?

Several of you also said you were loathe to buy another diet book. I can't tell you how many times during the past year I've picked this book up and put it back down after a cursory glance, saying to myself, "Puh-lease! Not another diet book!"

My collection of nutrition and diet books rivals that of the local library. But I hope I will always be teachable, and I give Laurie the credit for inspiring me to finally order it and give it a chance. The plan I've been on for more than a year is not meeting my needs. Something needs to change, and since I'm the only part of the equation that can make that decision, I guess it's up to me to do the changing.

Here's the part of the book that hooked me, from page 10 of the Introduction:
"… using this plan, you will train yourself to never think about how much you're eating, never think about getting on a diet or worry about coming off one, and never have to figure out formulas, zones, or, for the love of (fill in the deity of your choice), place a chicken breast on a food scale."
Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? And we all know things that sound too good to be true usually are.

I hope we're wrong about the good doctors YOU.

My treadmill and I have become best friends this winter. I tried the new shoes out yesterday, for six miles, accompanied by that venerable and wonderful Valentine's Day film Sleepless in Seattle. It took 81 minutes, and the shoes felt great. The middle four miles were supposed to be at a 12:30 pace, but I was confused and thought they were supposed to be 12:23. I had to stop and rest for a few seconds here and there, but overall I think my time was pretty decent. If you've ever seen me, you know I wasn't built for speed!

Seventy-two days until race day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

All we need is love

I hope you get flowers instead of candy. Heh.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter is a great card buyer. He puts a lot of thought into them, and will study a display of cards for a long, loooooooong time searching for the perfect sentiment. The design is less important to him than the words or the price. He did, however, tell me that he could have taken me out to dinner 20 years ago for what he spent on my card this year.

It's a great card, though, and worth every penny dollar.

This is the first Valentine's Day in our 14-year-history we've been able to buy "husband" and "wife" cards – our first date was 14 years ago last night.

Well, I started reading YOU: On a Diet [hereinafter known as YOAD] yesterday. It's an easy and entertaining read, surprisingly so, since it's written by two men of medicine. The good doctors Roizen and Oz were busy as bees coming up with relevant similes for just about every other sentence. I'm a little distracted reading comments on how our bodies have gotten 'large enough to be spotted by Google Earth' and statements that healthy eating will become as 'automatic as a Simon Cowell barb.' And that's just on the first page of the introduction.

Someday, God willing, no one will know what a Simon Cowell barb is. [I know, I know – some of you don't!]

But. The information is solid science, presented in a way that makes it understandable in a way a high-school biology textbook never was. At least for me. And after one imperfect day on the plan – 30 minutes of activity [they suggest walking, I rowed, and it was a rest day for me], three meals and three snacks – my waist is a half-inch smaller and I got rid of one of those new extra pounds.

It's not about the pounds, though, they are careful to emphasize. Reducing waist size is more important for health than reducing pounds. For someone like me, who already has good cholesterol levels and a healthy heart, I could easily talk myself out of following their advice.

But why would I? My blogless friend Nancy [whose husband is undergoing surgery today – prayers for Jim, please] reminded me that when we started eDiets we agreed to shake things up when necessary. After many weeks of continuing to pay them money follow that program and gaining or staying the same, it's necessary. I'm ready for something new.

I want the same enthusiasm and hope I had a year ago in January. The YOAD book includes a whole section on how their plan helps overcome emotional eating. Their premise, you see, is that by eating healthful food frequently you never allow yourself to become hungry. But, as I've mentioned here before, I don't have to be hungry to eat. Somehow they seem to think they have the answer for that, too.

I hope they're right.

If you don't want to buy or borrow the book, you can get a taste – heh – of the plan from the book link above. Two weeks of menus, a shopping list and recipes are all on the website. And forums, where you can ask questions and get advice. Be advised that the forum members all seem to be YOAD cheerleaders – but who better to turn to when seeking enthusiasm, eh?

My training today is a six-mile tempo run: one mile to warm up, four miles at a 12:30 pace and one mile to cool down. That seems pretty fast, but last week's pace was a slightly faster 12:23. It'll be a good test for the new shoes.

Seventy-three days until race day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A splendid idea

Grumpy has a great idea: If a workout video or DVD has outlived its usefulness for you, pass it on to someone else who might be able to use it. So, in that spirit, I'll offer "Walk and Kick" from Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds Power Series.

I think I started using this DVD about a year ago, shortly after I started my eDiets plan. I recall that it was quite challenging and also quite effective. Meaning I worked up a sweat, despite the apparent simplicity of the routine.

So don't be shy! If you want it, send an e-mail with your name and address to shrinkingknitter AT citynet DOT net. Like Grumpy, if more than one person e-mails, I'll have a drawing.

So here's my list from yesterday again:
  • balance the checkbook
  • pay bills
  • make a shopping list
  • run four miles at a 14:01 pace
  • shower
  • dress for a trip to town
  • drive to that town – an hour away
  • go to the dentist
  • go to the grocery
  • go to a sporting good store [for new running shoes]
  • go to a bookstore
  • go to a couple of craft stores [made it to one]
  • go to Target
You can see that quite a few things got done. And I was exhausted when I got home at 5-ish. For once I was grateful for the freezing rain that had started falling on my way home. I called the prison at 5:30 to cancel – yet again – the drawing class and hunkered down for the night.

Of course, it turned out to be a non-weather event. I went to sleep early, about 7:30 I think, and fully expected to be iced in or have no power when I woke up. All it did was rain. More rain predicted for today. And tomorrow. No snow until later in the week, naturally, when I'd like to be, um, outside, running nine miles. I kind of dread doing that on the treadmill.

I have wonderful new New Balance shoes for the next run, recommended by a knowledgeable salesperson at a real sporting goods store. I think I would have to drive two hours to get to a runner's specialty store, but the young man who helped me seemed to have the same information and knowledge I did. For "ws" who commented yesterday, these shoes won't have to be broken in. They feel great right out of the box, and Mr. Helpful Salesperson said that's the way they're supposed to feel. Today's a rest day; no need to wear them on the rowing machine. Tomorrow is a speed drill, though, and I'm anxious to try them out.

If you're keeping track, you know that Tuesday is weigh-in day. I'm up two pounds. I think we can put the 1400- to 1500-calories-per-day experiment to rest. I was careful to make the additional calories count nutritionally – yogurt, couscous, low-fat cheese, that kind of thing. I'm still not eating sugar – two months today! – and I'm surprisingly not too discouraged. Sometimes experiments work out, most of the time they don't.

You: On a Diet came yesterday. I haven't had a chance to even crack the cover yet [although I've carefully gone through every page of both of the one-skein-project knitting books. Priorities, people, priorities!]. I do, however, have enough of the right type of food items in stock to start the YOAD program. Today.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Making a list

My wake-up-and-get-going routine starts here, with you. I make coffee, let the dogs out and back in, feed them and park my ass on a Swiss ball in front of the computer within 10 minutes of waking up. Every morning. I open a new blogger window and start typing as soon as I've sifted through my e-mail. Sometimes, as I did this morning, I read your blogs before I start writing. I'm in a calmer, less anxious mood this morning simply because I read Jonathan's thoughts from last night. Thank you, Jonathan, for a nice, centered post full of gratitude for what is.

I have a lot going on today, and having a lot going on is not usually how my Mondays go. In chronological order, my list reads:
  • balance the checkbook
  • paying bills
  • make a shopping list
  • run four miles at a 14:01 pace
  • shower
  • dress for a trip to town
  • drive to that town – an hour away
  • go to the dentist
  • go to the grocery
  • go to a sporting goods store [for new running shoes]
  • go to a bookstore
  • go to a couple of craft stores
  • go to Target
It won't break my heart if I skip the bookstore or Target. The other stops are more important, and some – the dentist and grocery, for instance – are essential.

Today will be the most moderate temperature – mid-40s by mid-afternoon – we've had in a couple of weeks. I'm tempted to rearrange the schedule and put the four-mile run last on the list so I can do it outside. But self-knowledge is a wonderful thing. I know from past experience that when I've been on the go all day, I want to relax when I return home. Gearing up to go for a run is not likely to happen after a full day out and about.

It feels so good to write all this down. I'll be able to come home and check off what did get done, figure out what to do about what didn't get done and reset for tomorrow. While there always is a tomorrow, we're supposed to have that good old wintry mix overnight and I imagine I'll be spending Tuesday indoors.

Starting with you.

Seventy-five days until race day.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bonus weekend quote

Losers are people
who are so afraid
of not winning,
they don't even try.

If one must use a treadmill to do a long training run, it's good to have visual entertainment at hand, so you don't have to think about the remaining miles. It's so interesting to me that I can do a long run outside with music, but inside it's nearly impossible. Of course outside the visuals are constantly changing and evolving, from day to day and season to season. Slow-motion entertainment, if you will.

Yesterday I watched Little Miss Sunshine – an hour and 44 minutes, which left me just the last eight minutes of my 112-minute session to get through on my own. Which I did! Eight miles in 112 minutes = 14 minutes per mile. That's one second faster than the schedule dictated, but who's counting?

When I ordered the Pay-Per-View movie, I happened to choose one which allowed me to view it all day, so Mr. Shrinking Knitter and watched it again together last night. And I didn't even knit. It's that good.

One suggestion if you want your boyfriend or husband to watch it with you without complaint: Don't mention that it involves a children's beauty pageant. Instant sneer from Mr. SK when I said that. I had to quickly say how darkly funny it was; throwing Alan Arkin's name [playing the Grandpa role] into the conversation also helped.

And to the men who stop by here – pay no attention to the beauty pageant aspect of the story. It's just another vehicle, along with the VW bus, to get the family from Arizona to California.

I found that after the run yesterday I was able to participate in normal daily activities, such as Scrabble, fixing meals and cleaning the floor. The first time I went a long distance I slept for the remainder of the day. I guess this is what training is all about – your body adapts to the demands you place on it.

I wasn't an athletic child, preferring sedentary and creative activities like drawing, painting, reading and talking on the phone. I played on a girls' softball team for two years in junior high, during which we never won even one game. I wasn't the cheerleader type.

When I lost a lot of weight several years ago, my 'training' was just hours of aerobic and strengthening exercises performed in a gym in a rather haphazard way. The goal was to get rid of as much weight as I could, as quickly as possible. I had to start slowly, since I was in terrible physical shape, but once I lost about half of the weight I needed to lose, I could and did spend an inordinate amount of time both in the gym and running to and from the gym.

I rather like the way this race training is making me focus on improving my endurance, strength and speed with a different goal in mind. I do have to plan my life around it, to a certain extent, to make sure I get it all done and am able to rest properly for the next session. But it doesn't feel like I'm a slave to it. I just matter-of-factly get it done and move on to the next thing on my list.

Seventy-six days until race day.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Once again …

I can't think of a relevant title for a post.

Yesterday I actually got to go to town. Twice! I went to the grocery after I worked out [30 minutes rowing machine, 10 minutes weight training] and then Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I took his mother out for dinner [Chinese] for her birthday. Since I hadn't eaten much all day, I probably overindulged at the buffet, but since y'all are telling me to shake those calories up, I figured I was just following orders.


Today is a long-run day on the half-marathon training schedule. So far the long runs have been seven miles; today I increase it to eight. But what's another mile? I kind of feel like Lainey, also in training for a half-marathon, who recently said:
"4 miles sounds so easy! That feels good to think that. Weird, but good."

I would, of course, be much happier if I were going to be running eight miles outside. It is currently 10, um TEN degrees here in the Middle of Nowhere, and it feels like 0, um ZERO. So I'll be treadmilling today for Eight. F-ing. Miles.

Don't you feel sorry for me? I've been pretty lucky so far finding movies that have started and ended the same time I do, and I'm heading over to the DirecTV website to see what's on this morning. I might even spring for Pay-Per-View.

Because I'm worth it.

Seventy-seven days until race day.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Quote Day

Lessee … how about this:
Every cloud has a silver lining.
No? Then, maybe …
This, too, shall pass.
Okay, seriously, here's the quote that speaks to me today:
Every one of us
gets through the tough times
because somebody is there,
standing in the gap
to close it for us.

Oprah Winfrey
So. I might actually have used that quote in a previous post. If so, it's worth repeating.

Thanks for your good wishes, thoughts and comments yesterday. One of my blogless friends asked me Wednesday if I'd found something for which to be grateful, and the first thing I came up with was the internet. I guess the second thing would be that we didn't have a power failure, for without power, there is no internet.

[Here I go, off on a tangent again. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I have often said that if we ever did get a generator, we'd put it in the garage. We could totally survive in the office for a few days. But I'd probably have to move the computer from the house to the office. Just knowing that electricity was soooo close … but I digress.]

I can't go through and answer each and every comment because you would all go away and read someone else's blog and I neeeeeeeeeed you. Heh. But I do want to clear a couple things up, and say one special thank-you.

Maryanne suggested cross-training as a way to shake things up a bit and "trick" my body into releasing more weight. Or at least not packing more on. She's new here, and so doesn't know that I'm doing that. I've been pretty consistent about doing a yoga session once a week and a rowing machine session once or twice a week. On the days I cross-train, I also do a light weight-training session with dumbbells, a barbell and a bench that has these weighted contraptions for leg and arm moves.

While I agree that my doctor should be – and is – an important part of my plan, I doubt I'll be talking with him about taking cholesterol-lowering medication, as Vickie's friend did. Besides, my triglycerides are on the low side anyway – 81, and the normal range is 50-150.

He's been very good about letting me try a course or two of different drugs to see if adding something would help. My greatest hope was Topamax; the side effect of loss of appetite has earned it the moniker 'doctors' wives drug' among pharmaceutical reps. I'm one of the ones who doesn't experience weight loss, and taking a drug just to lose weight – without the underlying conditions [epilepsy, migraine prevention] for which it is intended means your insurance company won't pay for it.

It's pretty expensive to use for vanity purposes.

I like Denise's theory: Let's blame everything on Global Warming! And Gaby offered the advice to eat plenty of vegetables [I do] and keep my metabolism guessing [I try].

All of you are so supportive. It feels like I have my own little pep squad out there. And of all of you, Jonathan must be the captain. Thank you, my friend, for your kind words. You always give me hope.

My wonderful neighbor with the snowblade came by yesterday to plow the driveway – after I'd shoveled two tire-track paths so I could get out to pick up the mail. But I didn't mind. Every little bit of exercise I do is good, and the driveway is now clear from edge to edge and end to end. The sun did its job, melting the snow from the surface and our road is even clear in the shady spots.

Today is a rest-from-running day, so I'll hop on the rowing machine and lift weights this morning and then … drumroll … I'm going to town! I never thought I'd be so excited about going to the bank and the grocery. And on Monday, oh, goodie, goodie, I have a dentist's appointment in the city. Meaning I can actually go to a Mall and Shop and even Buy Well-Fitting Running Shoes. Oh, and Craft Supplies. Heh.

It's good to have something to look forward to.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Retail therapy

Yesterday was one of the lowest days I've had in a very, very long time. Normally I feel something – satisfaction, happiness, anger, you-name-the-emotion. Yesterday? Just a long, long, blah day. Soooo, since the statement for the credit card I use for was a big, fat ZERO last month [I pay the entire bill every month but haven't had a zero-balance statement in a while – and why do they even send zero-balance statements, anyway?], I went shopping.

The Shrinking Knitter is a [mostly] no-whine zone, so I won't go into details about my blues. But I'm happy to share what I did to start feeling better! Heh. First, I ordered two knitting books, both of which offer a variety of small projects. Things Which Take One Skein, actually, although I think some of them take One Skein Each of Several Colors. I have plenty of both, and am looking forward to making a dent in the pile. And if the books don't meet my needs, they'll be available soon through interlibrary loan. Don't most Friends of the Library donate their unwanted books? Want links? One Skein. One-Skein Wonders.

Then, because I'm a lemming, I added You: On a Diet to my cart. Oh, and also that tipped the balance to qualify for free shipping.

What I've read from others who are using this book – not just reading it, but actually following the principles – sounds promising. Healthy, even. Not so obsessed about numbers, and focused on taking care of yourself in a positive way, instead of grinding yourself down because you're not making goals or measuring up. Because you're measuring out, actually.

Anyway, it's something to look forward to.

Speaking of numbers and following the Skinny Daily link Vickie left in the comments Tuesday, I ended up at the BEE Calculator. As you might imagine, I'm still not convinced that upping my daily caloric intake is right for me. Especially when the scale this morning, after two 1400-calorie days, was up another pound! This is getting scary, kids.

Anyway, my Basal Energy Expenditure is 1416. JuJu explains that's just a starting point. For moderate activity, you're supposed to multiply that number by 1.5 to determine your Resting Metabolic Rate. JuJu and I have the same number: 2124.

That's a heck of a lot of calories, folks. I'm assuming that's what I need to maintain my weight. Clearly, that's a bit on the high side. Heh.

M@rla recommended the Hussman calculator to me a long time ago, and I thought it was worthy of adding to my link list. The BMR [Base Metabolic Rate] calculator there says I should eat between 1070 and 1430 calories per day for fat loss, assuming I am moderately active. Frankly, I think I'm more than moderately active, but I'll be conservative.

This is all very confusing, particularly when I've been eating between 1070 and 1430 calories per day pretty consistently for more than a year now. Yes, I've lost 35 pounds, but my weight has climbed steadily since October 23, 2006. I was willing to blame it on not being able to walk or run because of my heel injury, but that hasn't been a factor since late November, when I was able to walk comfortably again.

[This is the value of keeping good records. I was able to go back and find when I quit walking and when I started again. I've been back at it consistently for two months now.]

Here's the caveat that pops up at at the end of every Hussman calculation session:

This is what I believe. Read it again. Keep in mind that I weigh, measure and record every bite I eat and every intentional activity I perform. Then tell me what I'm doing wrong. How am I not creating a calorie deficit when
  • I should maintain at 2000 calories per day (hah!)
  • I eat 1200 calories per day
  • I burn 350 to 500 per day and
  • I should be losing weight eating 1400 per day?
Dr. Oz can't get here soon enough. I should have sprung for two-day shipping.

Seventy-nine days until race day.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Cabin fever

You would have no trouble finding a spot of white this morning in the Middle of Nowhere to get a white balance setting on your camera. Not that I did that or anything ... I just pointed the camera out the front door and clicked the shutter. Heh.

Let's see. Last Thursday I went to the grocery. Friday, Saturday and Sunday I didn't leave the house. I went to the post office and a neighbor's Monday afternoon for two hours, and went to the post office yesterday. The post office is less than a mile from my house, as is my neighbor.

Normally I would have gone to the prison both Monday and Tuesday evenings, but I cancelled Monday's class and was supposed to have gone to a meeting in town last night at 6:30 to discuss the creation of an art community here in my county. It started snowing about 4 p.m.; an hour later the roads were covered.

Meaning I was staying home.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I have frequently said that if the road conditions were such that we needed a four-wheel drive vehicle to get around, we'd just stay home.

To tell you the truth, I wish I'd had a four-wheel drive last night.

Yesterday was a rest or cross-training day, so I decided to meet Gilad. I had previously recorded one of his half-hour shows from FitTV, so I did that, and then worked out to another one from the FitTV line-up. I kept lifting dumbbells or marching in place during the commercials and figure I spent a good 50 minutes working up a sweat with him on the beach. Don't tell my husband! Heh.

According to CalorieKing, that burned slightly more than 400 calories, and I ate 1382, give or take. I can see how dieters have trouble eating 1500 calories – or more! – daily.

CalorieKing doesn't give you any credit for knitting, but I finished my little ribbed cap yesterday and am wearing it right now. Along with a sweatshirt and pajamas and wool slippers. It's much warmer this morning than it was yesterday or the day before, though, so I guess I should count my blessings.

I'm having a little trouble feeling grateful today, and I'm going to work on that as the day goes on. Mr. Shrinking Knitter got some wonderful career news yesterday, so I'm very happy about that. But the rest of life seems grey and plain and dull.

Well, actually, it's not grey. It's very, very white.

Eighty days until race day.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Crap, crap, crap

Well, numbers don't lie. I thought I'd been doing really, really well this week, but my activity level was much lower than I thought. I only burned 367 calories per day, and ate an average of 1234 [how cool is that? 1-2-3-4] calories per day. That combo resulted in yet another one-pound gain. I'm still nine pounds heavier than the lowest weight I was able to achieve last year. Bummer!

I've been following the half-marathon training program perfectly, but only added two short weight-training workouts and only 40 minutes of additional intentional exercise all week. I guess my body is getting used to running on the treadmill for extended periods of time at 4.3 mph. I wish my head would get used to it. Mind. Over. Matter.

I'll be so glad when I can get back outside again. We could use some Global Warming here in the Middle of Nowhere! [Now don't go getting all huffy and righteous on me. I watched An Inconvenient Truth. I read the papers and watch the news. I know there's a real problem. I'm trying to be funny!] The dogs don't even stay out longer than necessary.

I wimped out last night and cancelled the drawing class at the prison. We can extend the session a week so they don't miss any of the work, but I felt a little guilty staying home just because it was cold. But it was cold! The high temperature hit 21, and it's only 2 – or should I say TWO – right now. It should be warmer – hah! – today, and I've been invited to attend a Creative Community Task Force meeting tonight. I won't be wimping out on that. Unless it snows. The prediction is for two to five inches. How's that for precise?

Like Rosanna Rosannadanna said: "It's always something."

I bet you're tired of reading blogger weather reports, aren't you?

Last week when I reported a one-pound gain, Dee suggested eating 1500 calories per day. Then the eDiets nutritional support team asked me how much cardiovascular activity I was doing. For the month of January I averaged five hours per week. They suggested my calories should be in the range of 1600 to 1700 per day.

I know all about starvation mode and how your body supposedly won't release weight because it's afraid you're not going to feed it. But I just canNOT wrap my head around these theories. Logically and realistically it all has to come down to creating a calorie deficit. What these theories don't account for is the individual's age – I'm 55. Metabolism slows and slows and s-l-o-w-s the older you get. Most people eat less as they age to maintain a healthy weight.

But I sent a note to the nutritional support team yesterday, surrendering. They're going to revamp my menu plan and I'll try it for a month. I've a feeling I'm going to get fatter rather than thinner, though. But I'm not going to quit running, so as long as I don't break an ankle I'll at least be fit and fat.

Oh, and did I mention, "Crap, crap, crap?"

Eighty-one days until race day.

Monday, February 05, 2007

They did it!

I am one happy little Colts fan this morning. How could you not root for that cute guy over there on the left?

Now when does football season start again? No more college, no more pro [unless you count the Pro Bowl, next Saturday]. I'm not as rabid an NBA fan as I used to be and college basketball doesn't really get exciting for another month or so.

What's a sports fan to do?

I watched the trophy ceremony on CBS and then switched over to ESPN for the post-game analysis. I don't know why I needed to do that –
I'd just watched the whole game – but I wasn't quite ready to quit, until one of the talking heads prefaced a commercial break with this:
"When we return, does Peyton need to win another ring to cement his legacy?"
Or some such BS.

The whole pre-game hype, for two freakin' weeks, was all about Peyton needing to win this game to prove himself. Now they think he needs to do it again? To prove himself? Gimme a break. He hasn't even gotten back from Disney World and they want a repeat performance. Sheesh!

Moving on … doncha just love Prince?
Say what you will about my musical taste, but I put Prince right up there with Bob Dylan in the creative genius category. [I hear you snickering! Stop it!]

I tried to find an image of the unusual, um, headgear he wore for the first part of his performance, but couldn't. It reminded me of the way my grandmother used to wear little scarves around her head on washday. You know how women used to tie them in the front, to cover all their pincurls? [I'm clearly dating myself here.] Except hers weren't solid black. I must say I was relieved when he ripped it off, revealing hair, and not pincurls. Much less distracting.

Since it was the Super Bowl, I indulged in a cheese-and-crackers snack, and I'm sure I'll pay for it tomorrow morning when I weigh in. I didn't need them, but I sure wanted them. [Actually, what I wanted was much more fattening and indulgent; low-fat cheese and wheat crackers was the lesser of two evils.] I did a light weight-training session earlier in the day and rowed for 10 whole minutes. I just couldn't manage any more than that. I guess there's a good reason the training schedule puts a rest day after a long-run day.

I made lots of knitting progress before and during the game. Another beret bites the dust. Too big again! It was a wool/mohair blend so I tried fulling it and again the top part shrank while the band remained too large. I'm giving up on berets; I cast on for a ribbed beanie last night and should finish it today. I worked on the three socks, as well, but didn't expect to finish any of them.

I'm going to need the ribbed beanie tonight when I go to the prison for drawing class. We're in the midst of a cold snap – er, I mean Cold Snap – and temperatures will be in the teens when I'm out, dropping to single digits overnight. I doubt if the furnace shuts off until tomorrow afternoon.

Eight-two days until race day.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl X-treme Knitting

The Super Bowl should be on from about 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., Eastern time in the U.S., not counting the bulk of the pre-game hype, but counting the half-hour Kickoff show. So, four hours of fun and games. It just so happens that I have four knitting projects on the needles, three socks and yet another beret. I'm going to force myself to work on one project per hour, and hope I get something finished.

I'm close to finishing two of the socks, each of which are half a pair. The third sock is only about three inches long so far, so not even close to done. But when it is, I'll have a new pair to throw into the wearing rotation. I've started the decreases on the crown of the beret, and am using size 8 needles so it should go fairly quickly. I might finish it in less than an hour.

At any rate, if the game is exciting I'll surely be knitting more quickly. And if it's a runaway for the Colts, I'll be in such a good mood that I won't mind four hours of fairly boring knitting.

May your favorite team win, as long as they're from Indianapolis!

How to stop evening snack attacks

Go to bed at 6 p.m.

Am I too old to both train for a half-marathon and live a normal life? Perhaps I am.

I started the weekly long run at 10:20 a.m. and finished at noon-ish – seven miles in 98 minutes, to be precise. Did two loads of laundry in the afternoon and watched a basketball game. Made and ate dinner [homemade chicken noodle soup – whole wheat noodles and defatted broth with toasted cheese sandwiches – whole wheat, sugar-free bread and low-fat pepperjack cheese]. I told Mr. Shrinking Knitter I was going to rest for a bit after dinner and the next thing I knew it was 6:40 a.m.

I should be raring to go today, eh?

I had to run on the treadmill this week. The temperature was somewhere around 20 degrees at 10 a.m., and the wind was fierce. I found a movie on Showtime called House of D which looked interesting enough to keep my feet moving for a couple hours, and it did the trick. After five miles I was wishing time was up, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other and got 'er done. No runner's high for me yesterday, that's for sure.

I swear I didn't know 'House of D' stood for House of Detention when I started watching the film. It's a sweet little coming-of-age piece, written, directed and starring David Duchovny. Most of the movie takes place in New York's Greenwich Village when Duchovny's character is a 13-year-old boy. The plot turns with the advice an inmate at a women's prison offers young Tommy.

It just figures I would end up watching a story about a women's prison, doesn't it?

I'm positive Tommy's mother was played by Meredith Baxter, but she's not listed in the credits and I wasn't paying attention when they rolled them as the movie ended. I think I was probably melted to the treadmill track at that point.

Anyway, it's done, over, in the can, finished and today is a new day. I'm not sore, I have tons o' energy [so far, anyway, but it's early] and I think I'll do a little rowing machine and weight-training work today after all.

One rest day a week is plenty, don't you think?

Eighty-three days until race day.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Nothing. Nadda. Nil.

Yesterday my workout consisted of … nothing!

My usual rest day is Sunday, but this week I guess I'm taking two. Unless I feel incredibly energetic tomorrow, which isn't likely since I'll be treadmilling seven miles today. I'm keeping an open mind, however.

I feel like the rudest blogger in the world for neglecting to thank you for complimenting me on the progress photos and wishing me well with the whole conjunctivitis thing. I do indeed have it, and am putting drops in the affected eye three times a day, which has already helped a lot. It's still red, but I don't think I would scare little children and my hairdresser probably wouldn't even notice it.

As for the progress photos, it's still hard for me to think I look okay, let alone good. If you cover up the before picture, you see a kind of frumpy, slightly overweight lady who looks a little self-conscious because she's taking her own damned picture. I'll give myself props for not slamming myself the day I posted the picture, but then I guess I have to take them back for slamming myself today. Hmmm.

Yesterday I could not get warm. I felt chilled to the bone all day, shivering while wearing wool socks, wool clogs, fingerless mittens, a turtleneck under a sweater and soft, fuzzy, warm gym pants. I napped under the sheet, blanket, comforter and an extra blanket. And I never nap unless I'm sick. So maybe I was on the edge of being sick. I feel fine this morning. In fact I kicked the extra blanket off in the middle of the night and feel downright toasty today.

Well, so far anyway.

Part of not working out yesterday was because I was just too cold to go outside. Getting to our home gym means walking a few short feet to the garage and climbing a flight of stairs. We don't turn the heat on in that room unless we're going to spend some time there, so the idea of braving the outside cold to get to a cold room was Just Too Much.

Food has been great, though. While I haven't yet read You: On a Diet, I know that one thing Dr. Oz recommends is to make breakfasts and lunches pretty consistent, and I've been doing that. In addition to reducing temptation, it also makes you seem kind of silly for wanting to chow down on a deep-dish pizza after you've done so well all day. I can see where some people might think, 'Wow, I've done so well all day I think I can afford to splurge on a deep-dish pizza,' but that's not how it's working with me.

I'll be partying tomorrow by myself for the Super Bowl, so I won't have to contend with snacks of unknown origin. If you're hosting or expected to bring something to your party, here are some ideas that no one would even suspect are healthy alternatives to usual football-party fare.

Go, Colts!

Eighty-four days until race day.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday Quote Day

I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.
– Anna Freud
This is a good thought to think when you're working out.

No amount of reading – be it book or blog – or writing or thinking or talking makes your arms and legs and lungs move. You can visualize and fantasize and dream about your performance, but in the end you have to do something. Run, walk, lift, row, stretch, lunge, breathe, contort [that's for you Pilates fans!] – whatever your workout entails, the strength and confidence to complete it comes from no one but you.

PQ commented last week that when she runs outside she knows that halfway through the distance she's going to have to turn around and go back. There's no choice, and I feel the same way. It's another good reason to train outdoors.

[I suppose if you were training in a city, and had the forethought to tuck some cashmoneybucks in your pocket or your sock, you might be able to hail a cab. Having never in my life hailed a cab in a city, though, I don't know if this works or not.]

I have to trick myself to keep going on the treadmill. Yesterday was a three-mile 'easy' run. Three miles wasn't particularly easy the day after a speed drill. But I knew how many laps I needed to do and was determined to do the required amount at the suggested pace: 12 laps in 42 minutes and three seconds. I played around with the speed and finished three seconds over – 42:06 – and called it done.

In addition to adjusting the speed up and down to try to end up on an exact number, I count laps as a percentage of the total distance run. For a five-mile run, 5 laps is 25 percent … that kind of thing. It takes a little more brain power to calculate percentages on a seven-mile trip to nowhere, and that's a good thing when you know you're going to be going nowhere for almost two hours.

Once I hit the halfway mark, I start assessing how I'm breathing, whether anything hurts, how hot or cold I am – all to determine if I think I can finish. So far the second half of each run has been surprisingly easier than the first. Maybe not physically easier, because I'm tired, tired, tired, but mentally I've convinced myself that I can do it.

And I do.

Eighty-five days until race day.