Workin’ Out with the Big Boys

Not really.  But its a catchy title, isn’t it?  Today, Vicky took me to a room at the gym that I hadn’t entered yet.  It looked kinda scary, and there were usually men with big muscles in there (well, maybe they were teenage boys hoping to get big muscles, but it doesn’t take much to intimidate me.)  Anywho, we walked in the room and stood in front of a machine that looked like the medieval torture device called ‘the rack.’  It was actually something called a 45 Degree Leg Press.  And I did 210 pounds on it.  Sounds good, huh?  Vicky explained that you can do heavier weights because of the angle.  It was all downhill from there.  She helped me try doing chest presses with the barbell only and I was pretty wobbly.  The bar weighs 45 pounds so I was okay with that.  We did a couple of other machines that I not only can’t describe, but am very grateful that none of you was there to see me on.  And then ended with some complicated cable machine that I could only do 30 pounds on, and in the middle of it, I made the mistake of looking in the mirror, and remembered my comment about my bicep muscle and the you-know-what, and cracked myself up, which made it even harder to lift any weight.

Vicky ended my humiliation by making me do the plank position and then try to go straight from that into a full pushup position.  I did 1 1/2 of those.

Seriously, though, I loved every minute of it.  I love challenging myself, and seeing how much weight I can lift.  I love eating all this good food, and not being consumed by wanting more.  (I am still a little consumed about food in general–you know, what I should eat, when I should eat it, how I should cook it, when do I get to eat it next, etc., etc., etc.)  I love jumping in the pool and swimming laps, even if my form isn’t perfect.

At least I’m SWIMMING!

Hey Hey Hey! A New (Old) Low!

Hi all!  Here I am refreshed from my ‘Sabbath rest,’ and pretty excited about my weight this morning:  159.8.  That is the first time since I started this blog a year ago that I have seen a number in the 150′s on the scale!  I did not suffer, I did not go hungry.  I ate some different foods than I was eating a year ago, and some smaller portions.  Amazing!

Next, had a great day yesterday.  I thoroughly recommend it to anyone–call it whatever you want–Rest day, Mini-retreat, Luxury day…  We are too busy in our world.  I just set a few boundaries and guidelines for myself.  No cooking (because I can really spend a lot of time cooking since I enjoy it,) no housework, minimal phone calls (I actually unplugged the phone by mid-day.)  In the morning, I wrote a little schedule (I know, schedule ≠ rest.)  But basically it was so I didn’t get off-course for my main purpose, which was to spend time with/thinking about God.  

In June, I had to cancel plans to go to an international Renovare conference, and so I had indulged and bought the DVD’s of all the keynote speakers, and I watched a couple of them during the day–FANTASTIC speakers!  I got out my spiritual journal that I hadn’t written in for a few weeks, and a scrap of paper fell out with a plan for a new quilt called ‘A Dream for Africa,’ and so that became my quilt project for the day!  In the morning, before it got too hot, I spent some time outside reading, and took the dogs for a walk.  All my food was pre-planned, so that was easy.  Even though I always change it up a bit during the day, I still have an outline, and so it makes it easier to stick with my calories.  And like I had said the day before, I planned for it to be a day with lots of veggies and fruit, and so by the end of the day I had a few calories left over, and I thought and thought about what I wanted, and finally decided to indulge in a No-Pudge Brownie–very yumm!  BTW, that ‘Lasagne in the Raw’ recipe that I mentioned in the last post was delicious.  I re-named it Zucchini Marinara Bake and it is over there in my recipe section on the side-bar.  I even gave some ideas about how you could vary it to suit your own tastes.

If you do a day like this, the main thing to remember is that the goal is REST.  For example, in the late afternoon, I got a little obsessed with the idea that I could FINISH the quilt, and then finally I realized that it was becoming more like work than rest, so I got to a stopping place and put it away.  Anything, even blogging(!) can become work.

So now I am renewed and refreshed, and ready for a workout with Vicky.  Have a great day, everyone!

Questions and Thoughts

Good Sunday morning to ye!  Finally done with work for the week and looking forward to a great 5 days off, with not a lot of obligations.  I am going to try to go to the gym after church today like I did a few weeks ago.  It was almost empty and I had the weights room and the pool almost to myself!  Not like Friday when I gave up on getting on one machine because it was so busy, and then went down to the pool and it was closed for physical therapy–aargh.  My fault for not knowing the schedule.  Then Monday I am planning to have a day of ‘Sabbath rest.’  I have read several articles/books on this*, and even if it is not on Sunday I think it will be a good thing for me. I noticed that lately I have a hard time sitting or stilling myself–who would’ve thunk that would be a problem for me?!?

Anyway, my last post had a lot of interesting comments, and some good questions, so thought I would answer them or comment on them in another post.  I never know if I answer comments whether people go back and check to see if I replied.

First, a word about THE SCALE.  I have been weighing less frequently d/t knowing how the scale fluctuates up on travel and work days.  No point in weighing then.  It’s only discouraging.  And here is the grand insight I had this morning.  The number on the scale does not change the way I eat.  I am still trying every day to eat correctly and to eat the right amount of calories.  If the number on the scale is down, I might be tempted to loosen up and eat a little more.  IF the number on the scale is up, I might be discouraged, and tempted to ‘give up’ ‘what’s the use?’ and eat a little more.  So for now, I think I just might go back to weighing once a week.  Which is of course, what the experts recommend when you are in weight loss mode.

Now, the questions and comments.   The food.  Yes, it was every bit as good as it sounded!  I don’t know if Vicky will do a cookbook, but there are tons of recipe sites out there.  And if we all just get creative with our food, I think its possible to come up with some darn good stuff.  For example, the sun dried tomato, pesto, and goat cheese quiche.  Of course hers did not have half and half or cream.  How bout trying a combo of egg, egg whites, and cottage cheese?  And then, of course, the great idea of using pine nuts for a ‘crust.’  Eliminates the pie crust completely and adds some nutrition and a delicious flavor/crunch.  Her ‘Lasagne in the Raw’ was also delicious, but very strong tasting for my personal taste.  So today, I tried my own version:  cut up lots of squash (summer and zucchini,) baby portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, added in a bit of mozarella cheese, high-fiber pasta, and olive oil, and used a low cal marinara sauce from Trader Joe’s that I like.  Layered all the stuff 3X, and then baked it in the oven.  (And can I just say, I know that I misspelled a lot of food words in this paragraph, but I am too lazy to look them up.  And I know it is not ‘in the raw’ because I baked it.)  I actually haven’t tried it yet, but if its worthy, I’ll post the recipe later this week.

For Laura N--thanks for the great movie line comment “I want what she’s having.”  Made me laugh out loud, and not much does that!

Jill had the most questions.  Most of them made me laugh!  After she asked about the changes in my muscle definition, and if I was happy with how my body looks, I spent hours in front of the mirror posing and looking for muscle definition.  Just kidding!  I do think I have a little bicep muscle, but that is offset by you-know-what (not gonna talk bad about myself!)  I must be a little happy with how my body looks, because I am willing to wear relatively form-fitting clothes in public.  Mostly, I think it is due to being happy with how my body feels and acts.  I feel stronger and firmer (make no mistake, firmer is not a word a stranger would use to describe me.)  My posture is better, and I remember to hold my stomach in a little more often.  But I think you have to work out seriously for a long time before you see noticeable results.  I work out with Vicky once a week, and each week she does something a little differently.  Since I like doing it, I usually make it to the gym two other times in the week, and try to swim and work on the weights machines.  So far, I have not tried  any classes besides the water aerobics classes.

Juice–here’s what Vicky told me about how to sleep to help my back pain.  She said to sleep with a king-sized pillow under my knees to support them.  Which I have heard before, but it is hard for me to sleep on my back.  I am very used to sleeping on my side.  And so she said, the pillow is already there, just position it between your two legs when you turn on your side, and having your top leg aligned like that will really take the pressure off your back.  And I have to say, it has really really helped me this week.

Lynn–that’s cool that you said you could feel my energy through the post.  Because I was REALLY feeling energetic that day!  I hope you had a good time at the hotel gym.  I am always a little intimidated at hotel gyms.  Even though there is usually just a treadmill in an empty room…

Well, I started this post this morning.  But will end by saying good night!  It has been an excellent day.  Church was fantastic. My workout was really good.  I did 140 pounds on the leg press, and 85 pounds on the lat pull-down, only 60 pounds on the chest press.  Then I swam 20 laps in 20 minutes.  I actually don’t know if these numbers are good or bad.  I just like keeping track to see if I can improve on my own weights or time.  I am getting better at swimming, and I actually could have kept going, but I had spent enough time there, and was ready to get home.  Amazingly, my food has still been right on target.  As long as I stay away from the refined carbs, I just don’t have a problem eating the right stuff and the right portions. I think I’m a little low on the veggies though, so tomorrow for my ‘day of rest,’ I plan to make it a fruit and veggie day!

*Excellent books:  The Rest of God, by Mark Buchanan,and Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren Winner

The Mind-Body Connection

Apparently mine is NOT connected.  Just kidding.  Sort of….

So here’s what happened to me in the last week or so.  I had that really hard workout with Vicky last Thursday (I usually meet with her on Tuesday, but it got changed that week.)  Then I had 2 days of work–no exercise except extra walking at work.  And then 2 days with my dad here to visit and me taking him back to the bay area yesterday.  So two more days of no exercise.  And last night when I got back from the 6 hours of driving, I was exhausted and sitting in my regular chair brooding about having to go see Vicky (and weigh in) and feeling very fat and feeling very badly about myself because I had not exercised ‘all week.’  My food intake had actually been very good, but I did not give myself any credit for that.

So this morning when I weighed myself (I hadn’t weighed since last Thursday d/t work and travel days,) I was pleasantly surprised that my weight was down a bit.  And then I got my paper from the frig to enter my exercise for the week on my workout page (which runs from Tuesday through the following Monday,) and again I was pleasantly surprised.  I had completely forgotten that I had worked out fairly vigorously Tuesday, Wedsnesday, and Thursday.

Of course I went to work out and meet with Vicky with a completely different attitude than I had had the night before.  For me, this is the value of any kind of journal.  I just have a poor memory.   

When I got there, Vicky was still working with another client.  I enjoyed overhearing their talk about food and exercises and choices and such.  Vicky always has very helpful suggestions, and is very encouraging.  And as she left, I realized that this lady was Vicky’s 92 year old client!   Can you believe it?!  I said to Vicky, ‘That’s what I want to be like when I grow up!’  We had a great chat about different food choices and eating plans.  I asked her if she had heard of the ‘crack diet.’  And she said that the concept was similar to the zig-zagging that she was having me do, which is what I had thought.  Then I weighed in, and on her scale, I was down 2 pounds!  Then she made me do 2 different Tabata intervals.  What is interesting to me about Vicky is that I know she has a plan when I get there, but then as the workout progresses, and I mention this problem or that, she changes up the plan.  I know she is doing it, but she never says anything, or makes a big deal out of it.  I’m telling you, this is the best ‘health insurance’ money I have spent in my life.  She also gave me some great advice about sleeping differently to help my back.  That is when my back hurts the worst.

In the middle of the workout, she decided to make me work on my balance.  She made me get on these balancing pods and stand on one foot and balance myself (this is after my legs were really worn out.)  These pods are like a miniature bosu, so I really wobble around on top of them.  Then, she approaches me with some kind of work-out ball about  15 inches across, and I burst out with ‘I am not a circus animal.’  (You have to say this in a loud and passionate English voice a la ‘the Elephant Man.’)  It cracked both of us up, and then it was even harder to balance.

We went and looked at all the new and exciting food she had, and I picked out what I wanted for the week. YUMM YUMM!!  A berry protein smoothie, lasagne in the raw, those great ham and pickle roll-ups, a BBQ hummus wrap, a sausage and egg breakfast bread, pita chips w/olive oil and asiago cheese, some lo bars, and a new goat cheese and sun dried tomato quiche with a pine nut crust.  When I have food like this, and I supplement it with a bit of fruit and dairy (cottage cheese and home-made or greek yogurt,) I don’t really have much trouble keeping my calorie count down.  Oh yeah, she also told me to eat a little higher calories on one day–VERY EXCITING to me.  I ended my time at the gym with a dip in the pool and 10 laps.

Back to work tomorrow, and 3 days of work this week, so I’ll try to visit with you on Friday.  Have a great day.

The Travel Bug

Lately, I’ve found myself wanting to travel more.  Heck, I already have been traveling more the past few years.  But now, I want to travel further afield.  I think its at least a little related to being a weight that fits easily into airplane seats, and being in better shape so I am not afraid of all the walking that might need to be done.

(side note:  after reading about Lori’s ‘pumpkin oats’ for over a year, I finally had some this morning–EXCELLENT!  I made mine with steel cut oatmeal, added a little quinoa partway into the cooking, added in the pumpkin, unsweetened almond breeze, spices, and splenda, and topped with a little ground flax seed.  I really recommend steel cut oatmeal, yummy texture and nutty taste.)

Back to travel…Margie has been writing about her cruise adventures over here.  Somebody linked to this inspirational travelista here.  And Hanlie added her own travel dream list here.  And then, of course, there was the fabulous travelogue by Pasta Queen.  Reading all these just adds to my own wanderlust.  For me, this means planning way ahead.  Setting goals to get the time off, and to save money.  If I really want to travel overseas, it means getting a passport.

Here are some of the places I want to go to:

Africa.  I really am going to do this.  And I can’t believe I am going to do this.  A few years ago, I became interested in Vapor Sports after reading an impassioned description of the abject poverty in Kawangware by this guy.  I really like them because they are interested in taking care of the whole person.  And as time has gone on, I am more and more concerned about people going hungry, and living without food, and water, and even shoes on their feet.*  But I think that it just might be important for me to go and see this in person.  I think it might make monetary choices even clearer in my future.  At first I said I would go in 2011, but I think I am going to try to go next year.

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I really do want to take a cruise to Alaska.  I think it would be a blast.  I know I would gain weight, but I think it would be worthy…there are quite a few quilting cruises to Alaska, but I’m not sure if I want to do that, or just go to enjoy the scenery and be inspired that way.  

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I would like to visit England, Ireland, and Scotland.  Just love the scenery over there.  The whole James Herriot thing.

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And, I would like to rent a camper or something, and travel around the United States, a la John Steinbeck, in Travels with Charley!  I even named one of my standard poodles Charlie.  There are so many beautiful places to see in our country, and of course, now I would have to include stops to visit with some of my favorite bloggers!

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Of course my trip would have to be called ‘Travels with Oliver,’ who is evidently completely non-photogenic.  Oh, there might be one problem with that…Oliver doesn’t enjoy travel at all.  Maybe, ‘Travels with Sophie?’

All this brings up one other subject that I will have to mull over in deciding how much I can really travel.  And that is my desire to live a simple life.  Part of living a simple life is being willing to live with less income.  And I don’t really know how that would fit with extensive travel plans.

Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

*  see my verse of the week page for my thoughts about this.

A Lazy Day

I realize I am posting all out of order, and it is probably confusing.  But this post is about the day after the quilt show when I was still at my friend’s house in Oregon.  I guess we were pretty tired from our two days of traveling to Sisters and back, so we pretty much spent the day in our ‘pajama clothes’ watching movies and doing handwork.  It was drizzly and cool outside–just a perfect day for lazing around.  We watched several pretty good movies, including Music and Lyrics, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day–this was really an amusing movie.

When I finally looked outside, the scenery was just beautiful, so I grabbed my camera and took a few shots from their deck.  Oregon is really a beautiful state.

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Just a bit about today…Vicky set up a circuit for me to do.  It was a lot like Jillian’s Shred, but harder, and I didn’t have Jillian yarping at me the whole time.  Just Vicky saying quietly, 10 more seconds.  We did the circuit 3x, about 30 minutes total, then did some stretching and a couple other exercises after that.  I was really wiped!  But I like that she teaches me different stuff.  This is something I can actually set up and do at home in my little living room, and listen to music that I like instead of doing the same DVD over and over.  I have to admit, I like the weight machines more.  When we were done, I took a quick dip in the pool and swam 4 laps.  I’ve eaten really well all three days since I came home–less than 1300 calories each day!  Its not so hard when you make every food choice count–something that is nourishing as well as something that I actually like and WANT to eat.

Back to work tomorrow.  This has been an excellent vacation.  Have a nice weekend, everyone!

P.S.  Wanted to be sure and mention Pubsgal’s excellent blog entry today–a MUST-READ for anyone who is diabetic or pre-diabetic.  All about how she changed her life to minimize diabetes in her life.  Inspirational!

A Walk in the Woods

I had such a nice day today.  Made myself get out and take a long walk with the doggies at 8AM.  And so glad I did, because after that it got really hot.  Halfway up the hill I was startled by some animal moving and turned to look, and it was a great blue heron taking flight.  Beautiful, and no more than 3 feet from me.  It happened so fast that the dogs didn’t even react.  Saw some deer and a little flock of wild turkeys too.

While I walked, I was contemplating Miz’s posting, and wondering if I am doing things right.  I really don’t think I eat too little.  Sometimes when my calorie count is low, I think it might just be that I am counting incorrectly.  Because I am just not that hungry.  I mean, I sometimes make myself wait until I am hungry before I eat again.  But I am never ravenous like some people talk about.  And I don’t really think that I exercise too much.  My goal is to do something every day, but I never reach that goal.  And of course when I work, I walk a lot, but no organized exercise on those days.

Anyway, I came home from my walk, thinking about all these things, and read a few more blogs.  And found these comments which I just LOVE.  Lynn quoted Ann Sexton, who wrote,

 “Once I was beautiful. Now I am myself.” 

And then Dietgirl wrote a great article about the similarities between gardening and losing weight, and ended with this paragraph:

Some things are beyond your control
You can be diligent with your diet or pamper the hell out of your plants, but sometimes the weather turns nasty or a pheasant craps on your head or a snail gnaws away at your resolve. But at least you’re DOIN’ IT, baby.

I just loved that–but at least you’re DOIN’ IT, baby!  I think that will be my mantra for quite a while.

Had some lovely, lovely food today.  My homemade yogurt and some rainier cherries to start the day.  Followed by an apricot oatmeal protein bar.  I had some sweet potato fries and a fabulous fruit smoothie for lunch.  Mid-afternoon, had a couple of lo-bars.  And for dinner, had a great creation–fresh corn, onion, edemame, and grilled checken, and a fresh tomato from the farmer’s market–yumm!  For dessert, I half-froze some of my yogurt that had some vanilla and splenda to sweeten, and topped it with some strawberries from the farmer’s market.  And one little square of dark chocolate.

In the afternoon, I worked pretty hard at cleaning/organizing my room, and tonight, I finally settled down to do a little hand-quilting.  All in all, a lovely day.

Sisters Quilt Show

The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is billed as the biggest outdoor quilt show in the world.  Sisters, Oregon is just a beautiful, charming town, full of interesting shops and charming scenery.  Overnight it is transformed by hanging over 1300 quilts all over the town.  They are everywhere, on the sides of buildings, freestanding on the streets and in the parks, even inside some of the shops.  Everywhere you go you see quilts. It is quite an experience.
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I’m not always so good at remembering when things happened, but I do remember that when I went to the Sisters Quilt Show for the first time, it was 3 years ago, and I weighed 168.  That was a year and a half into my weight loss journey.  So actually I was very encouraged that at this show I weighed 161.  Vicky often reminds me that most people gain 5-10 pounds per year.  So even though I am sometimes frustrated by my lack of movement down the scale, this was a great marking point for me to realize that I am indeed moving in the right direction.  In addition, in general I feel even better than I did 3 years ago.  I especially notice that my posture is better after these past few months of working out with Vicky.

Now, on to the quilt show tour!  Originally, I had wanted to go to the show this year to see the quilters of Gees Bend.  These are African-American quilters from a very poor, isolated area in Alabama that were ‘discovered’ a few years ago, and have become quite well-known for their ‘modern art’ quilts.  I have been inspired by them not so much because I want to make quilts like theirs, but by the fact that they took just what they had, which was usually worn-out work clothes and scraps of corduroy, and made something beautiful out of them.

Anyway, because we shortened our plans, we missed out on the lecture they were doing.  But we were pleasantly surprised when they were asked to sing at the evening ‘picnic’ that we attended.  They sang old spirituals, and it was such a moving experience..  Then the next morning, the first thing we headed for was the exhibit of their quilts.  In the afternoon, right before we left to go home, we headed back to the quilt store for one more look around, and were surprised that the Gees Bend quilters were still there, and were giving an informal talk about their lives and quilting.  I was so impressed with how God was naturally interwoven into their talk about everything in their lives.  They have lived very hard lives by most people’s standards, and yet they talked about how blessed they were.  I think my favorite line was ‘but we was happy chillun!’ which came after a description of the abject poverty that they lived in.  And then they broke out into song again!  I’m telling you, it was really a moving experience.  I didn’t get any good shots of the quilts they had there, but this is one of their most famous ones–its on the cover of their first book.
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The quilt pictured at the top of the page is a ‘collaborative quilt’ by the team of Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston.  These gals are 70-80 years old, and are as funny as can be.  They gave a lecture at the picnic, and we just love hearing them talk.  My favorite line of theirs was ‘we enjoy admiring our own work!’  My friend and I fancy ourselves younger versions of Freddy and Gwen, and have tried ‘collaborative quilting’ ourselves.  It is harder than it looks.

One of our favorite discoveries at the first Sisters quilt show was a singer named Lindy Gravelle.  She is something else!  Kind of sings country/honky tonk/blues.  Has her own style, and definitely sings songs that women can relate to!  It doesn’t hurt that she is our age and enjoying the heck out of life.  This is a link to a video/slide show of the quilt show with Lindy singing in the background

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This next quilt was one of my favorites.  I guess I like it because of the colors and all the ‘stuff’ in it.  It is called ‘Sam’s World,’ and just has everyday scenes of what goes on in a little girl’s life.  I love the 3D ‘sleeping bags’ down on the lower left corner.

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There were two of these quilt-covered cars!  Can you believe people spend time doing this?  Fun to look at.

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This heron quilt was found in the ‘teacher’s tent.’  The details are beautiful, and I am always attracted to herons.

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Well, that concludes my quilt show tour!  I’ll be back tomorrow with more pics from my trip!