Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Well, it's not all that cold out this morning, so I made a pot of coffee, dumped it in a carafe and ventured over here to the garage/office in the dark. Because there's really not much to do in the house at 6:30 a.m.

I still have to install a keyboard tray, because the surface we put the computer on is too high for comfort. The tray has been purchased and put together. I'm at a stopping point for want of a drill. I've made it to my mid-50s without one, and it's not likely I'm going to need one again soon. I'm going to see if I can borrow one from a neighbor. Perhaps he'll take pity on me and actually drill the holes as well.

It's been four weeks since my last official weigh-in. I weigh myself daily, but if I reported daily or even weekly numbers it would be too depressing for both you and me. Monthly accountability is the best I can do, and I'm shocked and thrilled to say that I lost 2.5 pounds in January. That's two-thirds of a pound per week, which is better than I expected.

If I keep this up, I'll be at a comfortable weight by St. Patrick's Day of 2009. And since my 40-year high-school reunion will be that summer, I think the timing is perfect. I wouldn't want to get to goal too soon; I might gain it back before the big party. Heh.

I promised I would do monthly progress photos, but February's is going to be late. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are taking a little trip to the sunny south – blog break alert! [Sob! There go my stats!] I'll either take a picture while we're gone or as soon as we get home again.

We've had this trip planned for a couple of months. Serendipitously, my dad, whom we're going to visit, is getting out of the hospital today. Hopefully we'll be of some help to him and his wife. He needed a long weekend of IV antibiotic therapy.

If ever there were an in-your-face reason to keep plugging away at this healthy body stuff, it would be my dad. He is obese, has Type II diabetes and has had bilateral knee replacements. He takes a handful of medications four times a day, as well as a daily injection, to manage his blood sugar, blood pressure, pain and probably some other stuff I don't know about.

He's also the best example I know of how to face adversity with grace and good humor. And he's the first one to tell you that if he'd known he was going to live this long, he'd have taken better care of himself.

As much as I get discouraged about my slow downward progress, I will keep plugging away. If I were to quit, all I need to do is look at him to see my future.

My running schedule is a little wacky this week. Yesterday's easy run was great – I was able to run outdoors, I ran three miles instead of the prescribed two and my pace was faster than the suggested 13:25. Tomorrow is speedwork day, but I'm going to do it today. We'll be driving for two days, but on Friday and Sunday I'll be able to run in Florida! Flat land! Warm weather! Gentle breezes! Palm trees!

That's probably enough exclamation points for one post. Maybe even five. Heh.

Y'all play nice while I'm gone …

Monday, January 28, 2008

Moving day

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I have determined that today's the day to move the computer to the second-floor office of the garage.

I need a moment. To sob.

I spend a couple of early-morning hours in front of this screen, writing and reading and surfing, almost every day. I'm not sure how easily or often that's going to happen when I have to creep out in that cold and dark hour before sunrise to log on. [Our garage is not attached to our house and, um, it's winter here in the Middle of Nowhere.]

We shall see. Blog posts may happen later in the day, and workouts may happen earlier. That might not be a bad thing, all in all.

Speaking of workouts, I'm about ready to start weight-training again, after the minor snow-shoveling injury. I rearranged things in the garage yesterday to make my little workout area more inviting. I have lots of wall space for the poster and inspirational quotes. Photos to come. Someday.

And speaking again of workouts, I did six treadmill miles Saturday at a 13:12 pace, slightly faster than the schedule called for [13:25]. That's pretty slow, I know, but it was a challenge. I can really tell that my fitness level has declined since last fall. I can also tell that I'm improving since I did the home surgery on my right foot. It makes such a difference to run pain-free. Imagine that!

Today is an easy-peasy two miles at the same slow pace. I might get to do them outside, if I wait until later. We're supposed to reach a high of 50° sometime today. My last outdoor run was January 12 – seems like longer than that.

Congratulations to Jess on a great finish in the Miami Half-Marathon. Her recap is full of enthusiasm, and makes me want to keep on running.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

We don't need no stinkin' skinny

I woke up early this morning – earlier than usual, and usual is usually early – and caught up on a lot of blogs. Laurie said:

Makes you think, "I wonder what else I can do that I always thought I had to be skinny to do? I wonder where I can go, see, visit that I just assumed I'd get to once I was skinny?"

Laurie is young enough to be my daughter, but she is One Wise Woman.

I always thought I had to be skinny – or at least look like a runner – to run a race. But 15 years ago, when I did look like a runner, I was far too unsure of myself to register for one.

I can't remember a time when I haven't been uncomfortable doing or trying something new. I hate the awkwardness of not knowing how to accomplish something I've never done before, and races are not just running long distances. They are getting to the starting line, pinning on a bib, lacing a timing chip to my shoe, going to the bathroom and hoping I won't have to go again before the gun fires.
[It helps tremendously to have someone – in my case, family members who live in the towns I've run in – take care of parking and not getting lost and a hundred other things I could add to my list.]

And all the time I'm doing this, I'm thinking, 'I don't belong here, I don't look like these people, what are they thinking about me, who do I think I am? Oh, and I hope that half a banana was enough breakfast, but not too much.'

Such a negative litany when, in fact, everyone on that course is thinking of themselves. Certainly not the same crap I'm thinking, but they don't have room in their heads to be worried about someone else, especially someone who is behind them.

The other day when I made my race-day confession about hoping I wasn't the fattest woman on the course, some of you chimed in with similar concerns. You made me feel less alone, less awkward, less different. Thank you for that.

And this morning, as I read Laurie's thoughtful post, I realized that, while it's taken me a few years to get over it, already, I can do some pretty amazing things. And I didn't have to be skinny to do them.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Quote Day

Nobody succeeds
beyond her wildest expectations
unless she begins
with some wild expectations.

~ Ralph Charell

That quote holds such hope and excitement, promise and enthusiasm, doesn't it? If you're gonna dream, dream BIG!

I don't even know how to write about it, actually. I know right off the bat my expectations have usually been pretty tame. I suppose I rein them in to reduce the possibility of crushing disappointment. But … what would happen if I put something spectacular out there on the horizon?

Implicit in the quote is that along with the expectations must come some effort in order to achieve them. Success doesn't happen on luck and a promise; we need to plan, prepare, make an effort, do the footwork, recognize what works and ditch what doesn't. Who among us puts quite this much analysis into a project?

Maybe that kind of evaluation is exactly what's needed to achieve a great big goal.

Ya think?

Thanks so much for your thoughts yesterday on clutter-busting. I've heard of the study suggesting some people with weight issues also can be hoarders. Even Flylady has made the connection between body clutter and "stuff" clutter. I actually dug into the office "stuff" yesterday, and even wrote down several areas of interest I need to organize the "stuff" into. It's a start.

My mileage is on track so far this week, although I had to split the Wednesday run into two days. I've slacked off on drinking water again – I find it very difficult to drink two liters of water on a cold winter day. But I'm still on track with the other behavior changes and am astonished that I still haven't had an evening snack.

If you had a wild expectation, what would it be?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I are getting ready to move my little office from our house into a bit of space in the large office/family room which is otherwise known as "upstairs" – the second floor of the garage. We designed the garage together and had it built about five years ago, I think. It seems like it's always been there. And it's always been his office.

We'd like to turn my office in the house into a tiny den/TV room, as neither of us really likes having a television in the bedroom, and our living room – well, there's no place to put one. On one side of the room is a large fireplace; the other walls are all sliding glass doors. We did not design the house.

In order to accomplish this move, I need to go through filing cabinets, bookshelves and storage bins to weed out what I no longer need and to determine what will go where. In other words, it's time to purge.

But I don't wanna.

We've already had a two-line phone jack installed, in order to hook the computer up to the very slow dial-up internet connection. [While arranging for this, a Verizon representative told me it looks like broadband will be in this part of the Middle of Nowhere February 17. I'll believe it when I see it.]

At any rate, I'm at a point where if it is to be, it's up to me. And I Just. Can't. Get. Started. It's overwhelming. I need Flylady standing over me, cracking the whip every 15 minutes.

I'm a crafty kinda gal. I need a clear surface for working on paper crafts, beading and bookmaking. And the stuff one needs to do these crafty things takes up space. I have several storage tubs full of supplies, as well as a six-cube storage unit stuffed full of, well, stuff. Most of my yarn and knitting tools are already up there; at least that's done.

What does this have to do with weight loss or getting healthy? Not much. But maybe talking about it here will spur me on to some action.

Thank goodness this inertia hasn't migrated over to the fitness part of my life. I'm following my training program to the best of my ability, which is to say I'm not quite getting the mileage in for the speed drills, but I'm pushing myself farther each week. Speed drills have always been my least favorite part of training. Fartleks – a Swedish word for 'speed play' – are more likely to happen than a sustained 11-minute mile.

I'm going to make up the missed mileage from yesterday sometime today. I was supposed to have done five; I did three. About half of that was at 5.5 mph, and I felt good when I was done. But it wasn't long before I felt really drained and, consequently, no work got done in the office.

Hopefully these almost-daily runs will become routine soon, and I can work on the rest of my life.

Since this post isn't terribly inspiring or motivating, I invite you to go visit Jonathan, who has some really terrific thoughts on how losing weight has changed more than his body. He really does maintenance well, and offers lots of good reasons for continuing to whittle away the pounds, if that's what you're trying to do.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sleep tight

I occasionally have trouble sleeping, meaning I'll go three or four days with very little sleep, followed by a crash and burn.

Last night was a blessedly wonderful crash-and-burn night.

I slept for 11 hours, which is approximately the total number of hours I'd gotten since Friday.

I usually volunteer at the prison on Tuesday night, so I made sure another volunteer would be there before I bagged it. Mr. Shrinking Knitter even volunteered to drive me if I felt strongly about going.

As it was, I was asleep before my prison meeting would have started. Good thing I didn't go … you never know what a room full of rowdy prison camp inmates would do with a sleeping volunteer. Heh.

Yesterday morning was spent running errands – a doctor's appointment for my husband and a Sam's Club run. With the economy slumping as it is, we felt like stocking up on non-perishables. There was no room left in the back of the PT Cruiser when we finished shopping. Now I have to rearrange the garage in order to store all the napkins, paper towels and sandwich bags I thought we might need for, oh, a year or two.

Anyway, I tried to nap in the afternoon but naps don't happen unless I'm sick. I can't say I feel 100 percent this morning, but I feel better, and I certainly couldn't go back to sleep right now, even if I tried.

No intentional activity was accomplished yesterday, unless you count moving 40-pound bags of water softener salt and dog food from the store to the car and the car to the garage. Today's schedule is another round of speedwork. Alternating jogs/fast runs sandwiched between a mile warmup and cooldown. With my New! Improved! foot, I should actually be able to do okay. I don't anticipate an 11:06 mile at this stage, but I might be able to do an 11:06 lap. Maybe I'll do treadmill fartleks.

Anything is better than nothing, right?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dear Scale,

Please accept my apology for offering even the merest hint of a loss this past Saturday. I worried about offending you by mentioning the little gift you'd given me last week, and you've certainly let me know, under no uncertain terms, that in the future we need to keep things between ourselves.

I'm so very sorry for offending you, and I promise never to mention any progress whatsoever prior to an official weigh-in day.

May I please have that two-pound loss back by next week? I'm doing my best – drinking water, avoiding sugar, eating vegetables, logging every morsel, running and weight-training. I'm not sure what else I can possibly offer as a sacrifice to prove my worthiness.

I don't mean to imply that you're stingy, though, I'd never do that. Half a pound in three weeks is wonderful. Thank you so much for that crumb of hope.

Now that my foot pain is gone, I'll be able to run longer and faster, just like I did yesterday. Did I mention I made it up to 5 mph for a couple laps? I knew you'd like that.

Anyway, I just want to let you know that I still want to be friends, and I promise I'll never betray your confidence again. I've truly learned my lesson. I look forward to our short daily visits – really, I do! – and I hope you'll find it in your heart to show me some forgiveness next Tuesday.

Your lifelong slave friend,
The Shrinking Knitter

Monday, January 21, 2008

My decorating project

Remember when I was going to put up motivational quotes and posters on the garage walls, and I bought a little speaker system for the iPod so I didn't have to drag the one from the house over to the workout area, and I was going to really bust ass [and biceps and abs] with the strength-training routine?

And then I hurt my shoulder?

Well, I've been testing the waters, as it were, and I'm doing pretty well. I think it's helping my shoulder, actually, to lift some weights – like physical therapy, only I don't have to pay!

I've yet to put up the posters and quotes, but that will change as soon as I get a frame for this. My daughter took the photo [and inspires me daily with her photographic eye] and, when I asked if she'd send me the image on a CD so I could print it out for my garage wall, she instead ordered a poster-sized print and had it sent to me.

She'll do it for you, too. But you'll have to pay. Heh.

I'm going to have the coolest garage in the Middle of Nowhere.

I have a football hangover this morning, and am beyond disappointed that the Old Guy didn't come through in the clutch. But Peyton's little bro' took care of business and, truly, the Giants deserved the win. The Packers seemed bent on self-destruction in that disastrous third quarter. How many penalties? Three? Four? I stopped counting.

As for the earlier game. Patriots over the Chargers. Who saw that coming? Yawn.

Since I'm training for a half-marathon, maybe I should mention that I ran six miles on the treadmill Saturday. I rule! I didn't like it and I wasn't fast and the ball of my right foot still hurt. I wondered all weekend if I should even keep training. Then last night I decided to take matters into my own hand – literally – and perform what Wendy calls "home surgery."

No sharp objects were involved in the operation, unless you count fingernails. If you gross out easily, STOP READING HERE.

I kept digging at that callous until I removed, literally, three little tiny pieces of fossilized flesh. I've always said the sensation I felt was like a pinprick. Now? Gone! I haven't tested it by running yet, but there's an easy run on the schedule for today and for the first time in ages I'm looking forward to it. No matter how hard I press down on the ball of my foot, I feel no pain. None.

I spent $300 last year searching for a shoe that didn't hurt my foot, when all I needed to do was a little self-mutiliation. Who knew?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Course correction

It came to me in a moment of clarity yesterday that there was no freakin' way I'd be ready to run a full marathon this spring. I was supposed to run nine miles today, on the treadmill. I nearly cried at the prospect.

This is supposed to be fun. In order to make it fun again, I've made an executive decision to stick with the half. Today's long run is six manageable miles.

I may be ready for a full next spring, depending on the amount of weight I lose this year. [How's that for positive thinking?] And I'm setting a definite goal of running a full on or near my 60th birthday, which isn't until 2011. That gives me plenty of time to not only condition myself, but maybe, perhaps, hopefully, even look like a runner.

One of the things I'm acutely aware of when I – heh – "race" is that I don't look like most of the women out there. I'm soft and pudgy and short. I'm always checking to see if there's anyone bigger than I am on the course. I know that's horrible, but there it is – my dirty little running secret.

They, on the other hand, those real runners are strong, lean and tall, with defined muscles and nice tans. And cool clothes.

There I go again, comparing myself to people I don't even know, most of whom I will never see again.

My training last winter was fun, and all I wanted each week was to do better than I'd done the previous week. My body amazed me. I remember the first time I ran seven miles. SEVEN!!! I also remember collapsing for the remainder of that day, but still. I ran seven miles; I'd never done that before.

This time I've done that and more. I could get that thrill by running 14 or 18 or 20 miles, I know I could. But I wouldn't be able to walk the next day. The extra weight I'm dragging around is hard on my joints and especially hard on the soles of my feet.

And it's hard on my spirit, too. I've done really well this week with those little things. It hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be to stop eating before 6:30 p.m., to drink two liters of water each day or to log every morsel. The scale has given me a tiny gift; I'm hoping I still have it on Tuesday, which will be the three-week point in this year's effort. Only then will I feel like I can report any progress.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter made it home just fine, about 8 o'clock last night. He isn't anxious to go back, which is unusual because he considers Vegas the ultimate vacation destination, and he's always ready to go to Vegas. Maybe this is a course correction for him, as well.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Quote Day

"Most people seem to want
tremendous improvement, instantly.
But you'll probably find
it's the little things you do
that eventually add up to big results."

~ Joel Weldon

Is that the same thing as "hope springs eternal?"

The daily weigh-in has been less traumatic this week. Do you think, maybe, it might have something to do with, oh, not snacking at night? Or drinking massive quantities de l'eau?

I missed doing any kind of intentional activity yesterday, opting instead to shovel a bit of snow. I didn't get much done before our neighbor came by in his tractor with the snowblade on the front. He cleared the entire driveway and parking area in 10 minutes; it would have taken me two hours, at least. And, truthfully, my left shoulder was so happy to see him. It's killing me this morning; it has been feeling so good lately that it didn't occur to me that shoveling snow might not be a Good Thing.

Yesterday was my last chance to have popcorn for dinner; Mr. Shrinking Knitter will be home today. When I have a popcorn-for-dinner day, I usually have it later in the evening. You know, like a snack. Yesterday I ate popcorn watching the news. It felt weird and wasn't nearly as much fun.

So. Back to those little things. Two liters of water seems to be the right amount for me. Not snacking in the evening isn't as hard as I thought it would be. I'm looking at the daily appointment with the scale as information, not a value judgment.

Logging my food intake does two things. I'm determined to record everything, which helps put the brakes on quantities. And, of course, it gives me an idea of the total number of calories I'm eating.

I do want tremendous improvement, instantly. It's the American way, n'est pas? But I've wanted it for two years now and I haven't gotten it.The Universe must be trying to teach me a lesson about delayed gratification.

Ya think?

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Well, it looks like I get another day to myself and the weekend trip will be cancelled. [Blog break alert cancelled, as well.]

The Middle of Nowhere is in the middle of yet another winter storm alert, this time for real. And Mr. Shrinking Knitter's flight, headed from out west for Atlanta, was cancelled. I probably knew about it before he did, since Delta was kind enough to send an update at 4 a.m.

Not that I saw it then, of course. I was still blissfully asleep.

Nope. More than likely he went all the way to the airport to find out he gets another crack at the Vegas blackjack tables.

Now to answer a couple of questions from yesterday's comments.

From Jeannie, regarding the too-big sweater: "I see so many women who make themselves clothes that are far too big. I think it may have to do with the self-image. Did you knit to gauge? Did you just pick the wrong size to knit?"
I did get the correct tension PRE-blocking, but the gauge changed after blocking. It was interesting – the sleeves grew, but the body got shorter, which was the opposite of what I would have preferred. I probably could have knit the next size smaller, but my experience with this pattern [Cottage Creations' Wonderful Wallaby] is that they tend to run small. Ah, well. I love to knit and enjoyed making it.
And from MPE: "How does the logging food work? it seems so tedious but i think i might need to start."
I use a program called CalorieKing to track my food and exercise. Since I'm still on dial-up [but have heard rumors that we're soon getting wireless or broadband or DSL, oh my], it took a long time for me to enter things in FitDay, which is probably the most popular online service. At the time I was ready to buy standalone software, CalorieKing was the only program that worked on the Macintosh platform. I've been very pleased with it.

SparkPeople is another great site to help you plan and track meals and exercise.
If anyone out there recommends something else, feel free to jump in with a comment.

So how did I do yesterday with nixing the evening snack, drinking tons o' water and logging
food? I'll take a high five for all three!

I highly recommend drinking water earlier in the day, rather than later, and definitely prior to 9 p.m., however. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yet another too-big sweater

Somehow I knew the modified Wallaby was going to overwhelm my shortness about halfway through the raglan decreases. I switched to a size smaller needle and increased the rate of decreases, which helped correct the depth of the armsceyes, but the sweater still was just too big after I blocked it. That's two in a row, kids. Maybe I should take some measurements next time. Mine and a post-blocked swatch.

It turned out nicely, and I'm not about to take apart a beautifully made and perfectly good sweater. It's on its way to Indiana, where a wonderful friend who is several inches taller than I am should look great in it. And if she doesn't care for it, I hope she'll pass it on to someone else.

Two weeks into this new year, I've taken another look at my list of things that worked for me in 2006. I'm doing four of the nine things consistently. One of them – a monthly progress photo – has only needed to be done once, so it really doesn't count. But I'm still not:
  • planning my menus
  • eliminating the evening snack
  • drinking tons of water
  • writing down what I eat
Since I'll be out of town this weekend [blog break alert!], planning menus probably would be futile. I can, however, pick one of the other three to really concentrate on with the hope that it will once again become a habit. And since that snack thing is next on the list, I'll just pick that and do my best.

But I'm also going to try to be more consistent with food journaling, and there are four bottles of water on my kitchen counter, waiting for me to guzzle down during the course of the day.

Never let it be said that I'm not an all-or-nothing kinda gal.

Despite daily exercise [with one rest day per week], no sugar, daily blogging and a daily weigh-in, I'm half a pound heavier than I was January 2. It's really not hard to see that, for me anyway, it's more about the food than it is about intentional activity.

Back to knitting: The chocolate brown yarn came for the first of the triplets' blankets. I've done about four inches of all-seed-stitch, all-the-time so far [the blanket has a six-inch seed-stitch border]. I decided to do the brown one first for two reasons: It's the hardest color to work on [old eyes], so I'm getting it over with first, and I didn't have to go digging in the yarn closet for the cream or the blue. All I had to do was open a package and cast on.

Maybe my sloth has something to do with the menu planning/evening snacking/drinking water/food journaling issues.

Ya think?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Out of sight, out of mind …

works very well for me with yarn.

My yarn collection is mostly stored in one large cedar-lined closet in the second-floor office of our garage. The overflow is in a wicker trunk in the guest bedroom. Beside and atop the trunk are various boxes and bags of yarn – the more recent purchases.

When I decide I want to knit something, I'll go to the yarn closet first and find that nothing – nothing – is suitable. We're talking about a five-foot by 10-foot closet with stuffed-to-the-gills storage cubes stacked floor to ceiling on each wall. To find everything in there, I would have to empty each individual cube. It's easier to order something new.

I'm sometimes seduced by yarn – not so much the fiber itself, but a nice wool in a good color at a great price will instantly melt my credit card. Thus I stay away from places like Elann and eBay and Webs and Knitpicks – and if you love nice yarn at great prices, I suggest you back away from those links. Heh.

Does 'out of sight, out of mind' work with food? Sometimes it does for me. All of our food is stored in either a closed pantry, the refrigerator or the freezer. The exception is baking stuff – flour and sugar are on the top two shelves of a kitchen cupboard. When I want to eat, I have to open doors, assemble ingredients, pull out utensils, and chop, mix, stir, cook or otherwise prepare something.

Prior to last year's annual July 4th reunion, I bought some packaged snack foods – chips and Chex Mix – and tucked them in a non-working, built-in microwave. [When this house was built, it was equipped with all the latest gadgets, which are now 25 years old. To replace that microwave means replacing the entire oven/convection oven/microwave unit. Since everything else works, we replaced the broken built-in with a countertop model. Instant storage!]

Well, today's trash day, and those snacks are heading down to the end of the driveway. It's pretty incredible to me that I've had packaged, processed crap in my house for half a year and didn't even remember it was here.

'Out of sight, out of mind' isn't working so well for me when it comes to Mr. Shrinking Knitter. He's in Las Vegas, a combination Christmas/retirement present trip, and won't be back until Thursday night. I thought I would enjoy a few days to myself, to eat popcorn for dinner or stay in my pajamas all day.

All I can say is, his retirement seems to be working very well for us.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Two outta three ain't bad

I experienced almost total football immersion this weekend and came away mostly happy with the results. The Colts won't be defending their championship, but Peyton's little brother fought for the chance to move the New York Giants to the next round, and Brett's Packers [now there's a Comeback Kid] will be the Giants' next opponent.

There's no question where my loyalty lies: I'll be rooting for the old guy.

That probably sounds like a foreign language to those of you who don't follow football. M@rla.
Heh. Translation:

Packers won.
Giants won.
Colts lost.

Thus the title of this post, with apologies to Meat Loaf.

Seven outta eight ain't bad, either. Saturday morning found me on my old, familiar four-mile road, ready to do an out-and-back eight-miler. I haven't run anything even close to that distance since November 4 – the City of Oaks Half-Marathon.

I didn't have to run fast – which is a good thing, because I never run fast – just farther than I have in far too long. I did pretty well [for me] the first four – 51:10 total time – but my ass was dragging most of the way back. I willed myself through the seventh mile by doing a 1:4 walk:run and by promising myself I could walk the last mile.
Total time was 1:32:13, for a 13:11 pace. The schedule suggested a 13:25 pace.

I wish I had a Garmin. Perhaps if I were able to slow myself down I could actually run for a longer period of time.

I'll tell you what, though – I felt old, old, old when I got back home.

Today is a grey, dreary day, with low clouds, no sun and the prediction of snow. It is, in fact, spitting those tiny little snow pellets right now. Mean little snow pellets, not those big, fat, friendly flakes that define the beauty of winter.

My, my, my I'm in a weird mood. Perhaps I need to release some endorphins. On the treadmill. Like, three miles' worth, maybe? Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Two down

Sometime in the past I noted in my electronic calendar that today marks the second anniversary of this blog. However, when I went back to the very first post, it was actually January 10, 2006. Instead of a day late and a dollar short, make it two.

So two years and two days ago – there is a bit of symmetry in that – I found the magic of the blogosphere.

The biggest deal the first year was that Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I ran away to Las Vegas to get married. I can never call him the Spousal Equivalent again. We agree that tying the knot was one of our better decisions.

The second year found me running not one, but two half-marathons and a grueling 10-miler and, sadly, not losing an ounce of weight in the process.

The most important event of 2007 was the arrival of my second granddaughter, my son and daughter-in-law's first child and a new cousin for my granddaughter and grandson. She is now six months old, sitting up, eating cereal and taking two-hour naps. We learned later in the year that Mr. Shrinking Knitter's son and his wife were expecting triplets. They'll be here this spring
, thus doubling the number of grandchildren in one swell foop.

I did a lot of knitting, a lot of healthy eating [today marks two full months of being sugar-free. Again.], a lot of running and, well, a lot of writing. My blog stats have gone up, along with my spirits, and I'm blessed – truly – to have virtually met so many supportive and caring people.

You've extended yourselves in so many ways to help me along this sometimes torturous path to health and fitness. I'm quite sure I'd have thrown in the towel long ago if you hadn't been holding my hand.

So thanks. Lots.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Quote Day

"Some things you have to do every day.
Eating seven apples on
Saturday night
instead of one a day
just isn't going to get
the job done."
~ Jim Rohn

While today's quote mentions food, I'm posting it to remind myself of the necessity for daily exercise. Call it what you will – intentional activity, getting off your ass, moving more – it all comes down to the "E" word. Just like vitamins and caffeine, you ought to have some every day. Heh.

Starting January 2, the only day I haven't recorded at least 30 minutes of running, weight lifting or cross training was last Sunday. I told myself I needed a day of rest when, in fact, half an hour of anything would have been better than nothing at all.

I know it sounds like I'm grrr-ing at myself, but here's the thing: Two years ago, I was recording an hour of something almost every day. Most days it was a combination of two or three things – treadmill-rower-weights, or yoga-walking outside.

When I belonged to a fancy-schmancy gym in Ohio, I wouldn't leave until the total number of calories I burned, according to the readouts on the machines [which aren't accurate but at least are a benchmark] was 1000.

Again, that's ONE THOUSAND. Believe me, the weight melted off. Fifty pounds in five months.

Last year, when race training started, I did only what the plan said to do. Nothing extra. If it was a cross-training/rest day, I opted to rest more often than not. I ran three or four days a week, as prescribed, limited my stretching to my lower limbs and told myself that training for a race was enough.

Clearly, it wasn't. Is it any wonder I'm not losing any weight?

The down side is, sadly, my body needs to burn more calories than your average bear in order to release fat.

The up side is, for some reason today it's very evident to me that I need to put more effort into this project. Period.

Thanks so much for your music suggestions yesterday. I tuned into a satellite music channel of techno/dance music while I did the treadmill, and managed to kick the pace up a bit without panting.

My weight training consisted of moving large pieces of exercise equipment. Picture this: A two-story garage on one side of the house and a storage building on the other. Here's what Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I moved:
  • A gym-quality, non-working Stairmaster from garage level one to storage building.
  • A weight bench and plates from one side of garage level one to the other.
  • A rowing machine from garage level two to garage level one.
And of course you can't move all that stuff without sweeping debris from the garage floor and vacuuming the carpet on level two, can you? I have a lovely kind of achy feeling in my upper back this morning. Like I actually used some muscles, instead of just going through the motions.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I got the music in me …

and here's why it works.

I haven't run outdoors with music in a long time, preferring to retain the ability to hear cars coming up behind me rather than get splattered all over the road listening to the theme from Rocky.

Indoors, though, if I'm not interested in SportsCenter, a good beat helps with pacing, and that article explains a bit of the science behind it.

Yesterday, though? Not so much.

I had a car service appointment in the late morning, and since it was rainy and windy early, I did, indeed, hit the treadmill. I was disappointed with my performance, to say the least. I was running-running-keep-on-running in time to something that was way too fast for my current level of fitness. My treadmill has a heartrate monitor [the grip kind], and while I don't know how accurate it is, I do know I've never seen a 190 readout. Since Mr. Shrinking Knitter was gone, I felt it best to slow down for a bit, and then to switch to the rowing machine.

So Wednesday's speedwork ended up being a bit of a bust. I'm going to try again today. The rain we're supposed to have should be intermittent; I'm sure I'll find a window of opportunity in which to walk one/run three/walk one sometime today. Heck, the way the weather prognosticators have been missing the mark lately, I can probably work it in any time. If it weren't for my one-shower-a-day rule, I could have done it yesterday afternoon, as it was really lovely.

Seven minutes into my 20-minute rowing session, the cable broke. That was a bit of a surprise, although I've been using the rower pretty consistently for more than 12 years. For all my disorganization in household matters, I was able to find the instruction book within five minutes. I called the toll-free number, spoke with a very cheerful and knowledgeable gentleman, and a new cable, with installation instructions, is on the way.

I was surprised they even had the cable in stock. If you're in the market for an indoor rower, I can personally recommend Tunturi for both quality and customer support.

Food has been going a bit less well. I'm still sugar-free, and that hasn't been a problem for me at all. It's as if I was able to flip a switch and simply not want to consume it, in much the same way that I was able to stop smoking – cold turkey. I'm the same weight I was January 2, which is disappointing, but I'm also eating three dinners each week that I wasn't eating prior to Mr. Shrinking Knitter's retirement. So I still have some work to do here.

That NYTImes article mentioned some tunes on my favorite running playlist, including Salt 'n' Pepa's "Push It" and "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers. And since I haven't asked in a while … what are the high-energy songs that pump you up?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I see a treadmill in my immediate future

Need I say more?

Did I say I was going to row and lift weights yesterday? I forgot about a late-morning board meeting at the prison, and by the time I remembered I had to shower, dress and go. I'm not one to take two daily showers, especially in dry-skin-inducing winter, so I bagged the workout.

Then when I got home I felt like such a loser, so I lifted weights. Briefly. So I wouldn't, um, glow. Heh. Anything's better than nothing, right?

I did all my regular moves – curls, presses, lunges, squats, etc. – but instead of two or three sets of 12 or 15, I just did one set of each until I couldn't do any more. I counted the bicep curls, to get an idea of how many I could do, but stopped after 30.

Perhaps I need to move up to a heavier dumbbell. Hmmm.

Thanks for all your good wishes about the babies-to-be. It will be no surprise to some of you that I have enough yarn for all three blankets "in stock," so to speak. But the brown isn't quite right, so I ordered more. One will be blue, one will be cream and one will be brown, to match the nursery, although I guess babies don't sleep with crib blankets any more.

And a belated thanks for all your good wishes about this round of race training. It's so cool to have so many cheerleaders out there in blogland. Mr. Shrinking Knitter does what he can, but race training isn't quite the novelty it was the first time around.

Remind me I said this when I do a 20-miler, 'kay?

I'm starting to wonder how in the world I'm going to be able to find something to photograph every day for the rest of the year. This seemed like such a good idea a week ago. I've already stooped to stealing ideas from others. Perhaps I'll come up with a monthly theme. I might actually have to go on these things called "photo shoots" instead of just hanging 'round the shanty looking for inspiration.

What a concept.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy

This is a three-part post; I'll save the best for last.

Well, the Buckeyes could have played better last night, that's for sure. If you're a Bayou Bengal, congratulations – you were just a little hungrier than we were.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I weren't hungry at all, after we tucked into our party feast. We had guests though:

Seriously, I made so much food that we ended up putting the cheese tray back in the refrigerator. The only ones who sampled it were Molly, on the left, and Hershey. We humans demolished the vegetable platter – I felt so virtuous!

For Anne: My high-school senior class president went to OSU and got to dot the "I" in the Script Ohio at the Rose Bowl. I'll never forget watching that on television!

Yesterday's first training run went very well. The weather cooperated – no wind, mixed sun and clouds and temperatures in the mid-60s. I could have worn shorts – in January! In West Virginia! –
that's how warm it was.

My mission was to run three miles at a snail's 13:25 pace. I beat that handily [12:45], and though I wasn't at all swift, I felt great for the entire three miles. I was even able to kick it up a notch in the third mile.
I had fun!

Cross-training is on today's schedule, which will include some rowing and some weight work. The new issue of Runner's World has an article on the importance of core training [that links to a video, which I haven't watched since I'm on dial-up] which makes a lot of sense. I've been doing crunches all this week, which is a good start. But I can always do more, and the article has some good suggestions.

Today's Subject Line
Now for the good stuff.

A little more than a month ago, Mr. Shrinking Knitter handed the phone to me and said his son wanted to tell me something. Since his son is my running inspiration, I thought he might want to announce an upcoming event.

Well, he did, but it had nothing to do with running.

He and his wife are expecting.


And yesterday we learned they're all … boys!

Two are identical, one is fraternal, and their due date is June, but they'll most certainly be arriving early. The pregnancy is going well and all the babies are active and growing just as they should be. For that, we are truly grateful.

My list of knitting projects just got a lot bigger. Heh.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Go, Bucks!

The Ohio State University fight song is on continuous loop on my iPod [not really, but I have played it today], the snacks are ready, I'm wearing my OSU sweatshirt [and it's far, far too hot for a sweatshirt but we do what we must] and it's two hours until the BCS Championship Bowl.

Am I psyched? You bet I am. I'm a transplanted Buckeye and tonight my heart is in Ohio.

Mr. Shrinking Knitter is even going to cheer for them, more to be loyal to me than to that state just north of here.

We've decided to not eat dinner tonight and instead we're having our own little football party, with a huge veggie tray [that's it on the left], hummus, cheese and crackers and shrimp cocktail. I've logged it all and guess what? I'm over my calorie limit for the day!

Snort. Tonight … who cares?

Are you ready for some football?!?

Today is the first day of the next 16 weeks

Training begins today! As I've mentioned previously, I'm not sure if I'm going to run the half or the full in Nashville in April. I've already registered for the half, but I'm training as if I'm going to run the full.


I've printed out two schedules [since yet another marathon book still isn't here to advise me]. The Runner's World Smart Coach plans vary the mileage each week – a three-week increase and then a cutback week. The plan from MarathonRookie.com calls for a steady increase in mileage from Week One until the two weeks before marathon day.

What I like about RW's plan is that it suggests a pace for each run, and for the easy and long runs it's a pace I can manage. The tempo/speed runs will be more challenging. Those of you who routinely run eight- or nine- or even 10-minute miles will laugh at me, but here's the thing. While I have run three miles at an 11:45 pace, long ago in another galaxy, I haven't done anything even remotely like that in a couple of months.

I have to do that day after tomorrow.

The Marathon Rookie plan's increasing numbers would, I think, give me confidence that I actually could run 26.2 freakin' miles. Right now I'm not so sure.

But I guess I only have to do it a mile at a time, right?

Anyhoo, training for an event really pumps me up, and I'm looking forward to today's easy three-miler. For today, at least, both schedules are the same.

For the next four months, expect to be bored beyond belief with training talk, including injury reports, nutrition evaluation, wailing about how hard it is and worrying about my weight. I know if I were smaller this would all be easier. And I know not to expect to lose weight during training.

Hope springs eternal, though; surely training for a marathon will burn more calories than training for a half.

I might be crazy.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I'm Not There

In a comment on the 365 blog, Jeannie asked if she'd missed my review of the recently released Bob Dylan bio-pic I'm Not There.

Well, you missed it because I never posted one. Not a single opinion from me to you, due mostly to timing. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I saw the film December 23, and the days from then until just a couple days ago have been a blur of holidays, outings, football and retirement.

We are, in fact, still getting used to the idea that he doesn't have to go to work! More about this later. First, the movie.

Frankly, if I weren't such a Bob Dylan fanatic, I probably wouldn't have gotten it. Writer/director Todd Haynes has structured the film around six characters, played by six different and diverse actors, each of whom represents Dylan at a different stage of his career.

It helps tremendously to know, for instance, that in Dylan's early years he was obsessed with Woody Guthrie, and that he later experienced a religious conversion.

Some of the dialogue – and even some of the visuals – are taken right out of song lyrics, which is surprising and delightful when you happen to catch one. Mr. Shrinking Knitter didn't catch any of them. Not that he didn't try.

The acting is superb, particularly Cate Blanchett, who deserves an Oscar for her dead-on portrayal of a chain-smoking, nervous Dylan at the height of his career. Although, really, every time you think he's reached his peak he comes up with something new and wonderful.

If you're a Dylan fanatic, that is.

I loved this movie and am looking forward to adding the DVD to my collection when it's released [no details on when that might happen – I hope it's before my birthday, though. Hint, hint. Heh.]. The film's music is wonderful; Dylan songs at every turn. The soundtrack, however, is a disappointment. I much prefer Dylan singing Dylan; the CD has lots of wonderful songs, all but the last covered by other artists. [The last song is by Dylan when he was with The Band, but the sound quality is very poor.]

If you're a Dylan fan, you won't be disappointed. If not, you might appreciate the cinematography, but will probably find the abrupt transitions from one character to the next a bit confusing.

Now to Mr. Shrinking Knitter's retirement, which technically began December 21. Since he would have gotten a lot of those end-of-year holidays off, it feels to us like he started retirement January 2nd. In the past three days we've both eaten healthful meals and worked out regularly and he's taken a nap each afternoon. He's lost four pounds and I've … gained one.

The only thing I can attribute this to is that I didn't eat dinner three nights a week when he was working. He left on Mondays to drive four hours away to the clinic where he practiced, and he came home on Thursdays. I cooked real meals Thursday through Sunday, and ate very lightly the days he was gone.

Not sure what I'm going to do about this. I'm certainly working out more consistently now that he's home. He doesn't pressure me at all, but I feel more motivated and am much less likely to talk myself out of hopping on the treadmill when he's here.

So, as usual, it's all about the food. I'm sure I'll work it out eventually. In the meantime?

Thank goodness for yoga pants.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Friday Quote Day

"Hard work often leads to success.
No work seldom does."

~ Harvey Mackay

Well, duh.

The key word in the first sentence is "often." Also? It helps to define success.

As both all of you long-time readers know, I've given this diet-and-exercise thing my all [not all the time, of course – I'm Not Perfect], and have experienced varying degrees of 'success,' if you define 'success' as fitting my ass into smaller jeans.

But giving it one's all is tiring and boring and frustrating when one's ass stays the same for weeks – nay, months! – on end. Staying the same despite great effort and diligence leads to carb fests and snacking and sloth, oh my.

And so I must learn to define success as something more like 'feeling good about accomplishing my daily goals.' Did I drink the water my body needs to stay hydrated and turn my pee straw-colored? Did I forego the evening snacks? Did I plan my meals, and eat what I planned to eat? Did I get some exercise? Did I write down what I ate? Etc., etc., etc.

Well, so far so good. Today is Day Three, and I'm still on plan with the exception of the evening snack. Last night was hummus and fresh vegetables – it could have been much, much worse, had Mr. Shrinking Knitter requested crack popcorn, because I canNOT turn down crack popcorn. To my credit, I decided to put myself to bed rather than eat an entire container of hummus. Sometimes drastic measures are called for.

I don't feel deprived, nor do I feel like following this healthful plan is any great burden.

But ask me again in a month or so, when my jeans are the same size as they are today.

Thanks for checking out my Project 365 blog. I had to kind of scramble to find something yesterday. And, of course, after I took the photo I realized I could have rearranged the elements to work better. That's one purpose of the project, to make you think before you shoot. Then again, I think shooting something as is might also be part of the procedure.

At any rate, I'm looking at my little world with new eyes, and while that's not so great when one is driving, it's making hanging around the shanty a lot more interesting.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

WVU is the new Boise State

Well, maybe it's not quite that dramatic, but still … I didn't hear one single analyst predict the Mountaineers' win over the Oklahoma Sooners prior to last night's Fiesta Bowl. [The Tostita commercials were sooooo bad I refuse to attach the sponsor's name to the event.] With WVU's season-ending loss to Pitt and the subsequent departure of Coach Rodriguez, everyone had the Mountaineers dead and buried for their BCS bowl.

Take that! 48-28! A decisive victory and a defense that was seriously ready for battle.

The first touchdown of the game belonged to Owen Schmitt, already a legend in Morgantown. Known for his mohawk 'do and his propensity for breaking facemasks, he's the one I'd have voted least likely to scamper 57 yards into the endzone. He's also my new mind picture for How to Run. He's a big guy, but ran like the wind. Like me, right? Heh.

May I mention how spectacularly bad the announcers were? And the sound quality of the broadcast? Fox just doesn't get it. You're not supposed to be biased for Oklahoma either team, 'kay? And the bands' drumbeats shouldn't drown out your play-by-play. Oh, and when a player does something great, or when an official throws a flag, that might be a good time to cut the chit-chat and actually tell the viewers what's going on do your job. And maybe speak up, so the band doesn't overpower your voice.

Give me ESPN for college football, please. Or – and I can't believe I'm saying this because I really, really don't like Brent Mouseburger Musburger – the ABC team of Brent and Kirk Herbstreit.

I take my sports very seriously around here.

On to other things … I thought about yesterday's list of Things That Work all day. I drank 1.5 liters of water, which is a lot for me when it's cold and I don't think about hydration. I did 45 minutes on exercise machines – 30 on the treadmill and 15 on the rower – and about 10 minutes of strength training. My shoulder is a little stiff, but all in all I'd say my arm is definitely ready to rock. My pre-planned food was healthful and in reasonable quantities, and I'm still sugar-free. I had a few pita chips during the game, but hey – it was a game! And I didn't go overboard. All in all, a good day from morning to night.

Since I'm so in love with my new camera lens, I decided maybe this was the year to really do Project 365. I started a new blog just for the photos, so I don't have to bore you with them here. But if you'd like to have a look [hint, hint!], it's here, and I also have it listed in the Links sidebar.

Finally, have you heard of Spirit of the Marathon? It's a running film, and is being shown in theatres for just one night – Thursday, January 24 – in select cities [large cities, not the Middle of Nowhere] around the country. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I need to go to Ohio sometime this month; I'm thinking January 24 would be a good time to get there. Heh.

How are you all doing with your first-of-January health-and-wellness plans? Let's keep this new resolve alive and kicking!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What works for me

I'm listing these things not so much as advice for you, but as a reminder for me. If you happen to think these things might work for you, then feel free to join me. My New Year truly starts January 2nd, as New Year's Day is devoted to ribs, kraut, hoppin' john and carrot coins – all eaten for good luck in the new year – and football with snacks. All this food is eaten cheerfully and without guilt.

I hope all the food I eat in 2008 is eaten with the same attitude.

Now on to what has worked for me in the past …
  • Menu planning
  • Exercising daily
  • No evening snacks
  • Lots o' water
  • Monthly progress photos
  • Daily – or almost daily – blog posting
  • Daily weigh-in
  • Food journaling [I use CalorieKing software for this]
  • No sugar
That list includes just about every suggestion offered by every diet program out there, and then some, doesn't it? Listing isn't enough, of course. I'll be working on my follow-through. And I'm betting I won't be alone.

This year will be different because Mr. Shrinking Knitter has retired and will be here all the time. He expects at least one meal a day. [He manages to feed himself for breakfast and lunch, if he wants food during the day, but does enjoy having a nice, home-cooked dinner.] When he was working out of town, I had three nights where I didn't have to eat at all if I didn't want to.

Obviously, when I look at my lack of weight-loss progress in 2007, I wanted to. Heh.

Here's what weather.com told me this morning:

I have a dentist's appointment late this morning, an hour's drive away; not sure if I'll make it. I will make it to the treadmill today, and the weight bench as well. My shoulder/arm/bicep still hurts, but I need to do some strength training or else!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

You say a new beginning, I say beginning anew

Happy new year to all of you, and may all our wishes for the coming year come true.

They won't, of course, unless we do the footwork. Funny how that works.

In 2006 I lost about 40 pounds. In 2007 I gained 20. Not exactly a good maintenance program, eh?

Posting progress photos was one of my strategies in 2006. No reason it won't work again. Unless I get in my own way, of course. So I'm using the spectacularly unflattering picture of that pink cabled sweater for a starting point. February is bound to look better, simply because that sweater adds about 10 pounds of bulk.

When I was sifting through photos, I found one from July, 2006 that makes me both happy and sad. Happy because that was my wedding outfit, and I made it and I think I looked pretty good in it. Sad because it was made of ribbon, which eventually fell apart. And sadder still because even if it hadn't fallen apart, it would no longer fit me today.

All in all, though, 2007 was pretty great. Two half-marathons and a 10-miler – I never thought I'd be able to do that. From now on, the word "never" is officially banned from my vocabulary. I can do anything I want to, provided I do the work necessary to achieve it.


Including losing 40 pounds. I hope you'll join me with renewed resolve, commitment and determination.