The Garden…and Other Things I Haven’t Written About

This morning I spent about 3 hours working in the garden. And I thought about taking pictures, but it just seemed like the garden is in that in-between stage when there’s nothing particularly interesting to show. Hopefully, in a few weeks, my work will be rewarded with lots of pretty flowers to share with you.

But while I worked, I thought about all the things I HAVEN’T written about lately. And how, just like the garden, even though I haven’t written about those things, it doesn’t mean the work is not being done.

Just because I haven’t written much about weight loss/maintenance DOESN’T MEAN I AM FAT. GIVE ME A BREAK. Maybe I have already said everything I could possibly think to say about the subject. Maybe I am busy living my life, and going to the computer to repeat my thoughts about what is necessary to lose and maintain weight has been usurped by much more interesting creative impulses.

Every day of my life I work on maintaining my weight loss. Some days it seems absolutely effortless. And some days it seems like a full time job. When I mention to people that I used to weigh a lot more, and we’re discussing keeping the weight off, I almost always say the same thing–”Its hard work.”

Just because I am not writing about food or recipes or low-cal cooking DOESN’T mean I have gone off the rails. FAR FROM IT. I’ve tried some really excellent new recipes lately. They were other people’s recipes, and they were tasty and healthy and low calorie. I didn’t even have to adjust them. They’re all out there on the web. I just didn’t feel the need to share them. And sometimes food tastes better than it looks. That’s the case with my latest try.

Just because I haven’t mentioned the gym lately, doesn’t mean I sit for hours in my Lazy Boy in front of the boob tube. How many times and in how many different ways can I say “I went to the gym. I did my weights workouts. The same exercises at the same weights. I got on the exercise bike, and I rode for the same distance in the same amount of minutes.” And on the other days, “I took Noah for a walk, and I came home and did my PT exercises.” And in case anybody’s wondering–yes, I am in an exercise rut. Its a rut I like very much. Which means that I will keep exercising consistently. Which is one of the most important factors in weight loss maintenance.

Oh, and one more thing. Just because I do not post pictures of myself that often, it does not mean I have gained a ton of weight and am embarrassed by my appearance. I live alone. My arms are short. You do the math.

Maybe, just maybe, if I am ever really healed of the chronic condition of WEIGHT, there will be no more need to write ad nauseam about the daily vagaries of my LIFE WITH FOOD.

I love you guys and I love blogging. I love the comments and “conversations” we have on this blog and some of my other friends’ blogs.

But sometimes the drama and the judgmental attitudes expressed by other bloggers just gets to me. Their opinions are arrogant and mean-spirited, and they are saying those things about people they don’t even really know. If you want to write about your own shortcomings, that’s fine. But don’t drag all the rest of us in with your irresponsible blanket statements.

 

 

Exercise, Interrupted

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you will know that my normal orderly :) life has been disrupted for the past few months. Since the week before Christmas, construction and renovation have been going on steadily until about a week ago. Then in February, I went on a long trip. After I returned from that trip, I got a bad cold that knocked me out for a couple of weeks.

Anyway…the exercise. At first when the construction started, I went to the gym very regularly. It was a good reason to get out of the house for a few hours (haha, not that I spend a few hours EXERCISING.) You know what I mean. After a while, though, sometimes I skipped the gym. Watching all that construction wore me out :).

Of course, travel always interrupts my exercise. I do not really like going to hotel gyms. So I don’t. Pretty much regular exercise goes out the window when I travel. I was surprised that my brother, who loves to exercise, said that he does not work out when he is on vacation. That made me feel better about that.

And then, the cold. I was just plum worn out. I walked a little most days, but I couldn’t make myself drive down to the gym.

AND THEN, and this is the biggest interruption, my carpets got taken away, and hardwood floors were installed. What the what? What do hardwood floors have to do with exercising interruption? Well let me tell you. They are HARD. The exercise that got interrupted was my 3X/week P.T. exercises for my knees and back. They are mostly floor exercises. I would sit on the floor (on my carpet) and do them while I watched a tv show. I just stopped doing them. I am looking for a carpet for the living room, but so far have not found just the right one.

Finally, last week, I hauled in a smaller rug I had for the entry and re-started my PT exercises. I’ve been back at the gym for a couple of weeks. And walking continues as before. Interruption ended.

I guess all I want to say is that life happens. Injuries, family obligations, work–exercise gets interrupted. I think its pretty much the same as eating and food. If it’s a lifetime commitment to healthy living, the interruptions are just an unavoidable part of that. There’s no need to despair, or to quit and start all over. Just start right back as soon as you can, doing as much as life allows.

Sometimes you have to find something different to do (I wrote about that here.) But for sure you need to do something. For your best life, its a good thing. (haha, don’t tell Bob or Martha that I “borrowed” their words.)

Try Something New!

If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you are probably well aware of my fondness for things that stay the same. I like the familiar. I like routine. It feels safe and comfortable. Ha! You might be thinking that this building/remodeling project must be pretty uncomfortable for debby. You just might be right about that!

That might be one reason I have not strayed from something that IS the same and familiar to me–going to they gym for a workout on a regular basis. I love my gym routine–20 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes upstairs on the weights, and finishing with 20 minutes on the bike. Its familiar, and feels safe and comfortable.

One day last week there was a notice at the sign-in desk for a new class that was starting. Of course the “burn hundreds of calories” claim piqued my interest. But it also mentioned working with free weights, something I would like to do more of. The notice said the class was being led by a certified personal trainer. “Is that you?” I asked the young man at the desk. He is one of the nicest people working in that gym. We chatted a bit, and I said I’d come to the class on Friday.

Well, Friday rolled around and I was still having my “issues” with paint color. I was determined to get my “final” paint color samples mixed. I headed down to town to do that, and then planned to go to the new exercise class. But I was running a little late… maybe I will have to skip the class. It went pretty well at the first paint store. But I needed to go to the second paint store. I glanced at my watch–3:45. I could get to the new class right on time or I could justify skipping it. I NEEDED those paint colors. I turned in the direction of the gym.

I LOVED the new class. Small size (me and five other people,) GREAT instruction, and a HUGE challenge (but not so much that I couldn’t move the next day.) It made me feel good about myself all weekend.

Try something new. Its good for your body, and surprisingly good for your mind.

Garden Doings

I actually did a lot of planting in the garden this week, and MLG came and did one major job, but we had such a sudden hot spell that everything looks a little shell shocked right now, so I couldn’t get too many good pictures. But I’ll share a bit of what’s happened this weekend.

I bought quite a few plants. I worked for a couple of hours getting them all planted while MLG (master landscaping guy) worked on digging a huge hole through a major rock field. He got the sideways dogwood planted, and used all the rocks to make a nice surround for it. I think it is going to be just the perfect place for this tree, and I have high hopes that it will actually bloom next spring! (You can see it in the back, past the “sun bed.”)

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Some pretty columbine that are performing very well this year. They are still in pots because I read that columbine need to be replaced after a few years. Does anybody know if this is true?

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Noah checks out the front bed. So far so good with this one. Noah has not trampled one plant here, and the tomatoes are starting to take off. I felt like a kindergartener when my green beans actually started coming through the ground! So exciting!

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The thing I am currently most please about is ground cover! After my local nursery girl’s recommendation that I try elfin thyme, I am finally having success at getting ground cover to grow between my paver stones!

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And this is the most successful I’ve ever been with corsican mint. It is my favorite ground cover. I buy it every year, and every year I fail with it. I’ve tried it in all different types of locations, but ultimately it dies. So to see it actually covering ground–that’s exciting!

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And finally, the most exciting new addition to my garden is some TRANSCONTINENTAL plants! I was beyond excited when Lori offered to send me some lily of the valleys. They are the perfect addition to my shade bed. And how fun to know that they came from a friend on the other side of the country.

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Here’s a shot of Noah relaxing on his couch.

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Diet and exercise update:  It was so hot I actually didn’t want to go to the gym, even to swim. But yesterday evening I went for a swim after going to a party (an outside party, in 104 degrees–crazy Californians!) It was so enjoyable that I went again after church today. The pool was practically empty both times–crazy Californians! Oh, and also, I am trying to establish a new habit. I have never been able to make myself exercise consistently in the morning. But I thought, since I get up at 5 every morning, why not try to get a walk in before it heats up? I can still have a quiet time and enjoy my coffee before getting dressed to take a walk. So far, 6 days in a row. It takes 21 to establish a habit!

I am still doing very well with my dieting. Slow but sure. As of Saturday morning, all the vacation weight is back off. That makes a total of 20 pounds lost since the end of November. I’ll take it! I’ve been eating a LOT of salads since the weather heated up. And have had my new favorite veggie several times–rutabega fries! And I am still enjoying the protein smoothies. I made a new one that was most delicious yesterday: 1 cup of low fat plain yogurt, 1 cup of frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup of egg beaters, a handful of spinach, and sweetener of choice. I might have added just a little water to get the blender started. Yummy and thick and satisfying.

 

Springtime in the Garden

Daffodils are in full bloom now. Forgive the fences. SOMEONE thinks the pots are for him  to play “King of the Hill” on.

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Every day I go out and stand under the new cherry tree to see if it has bloomed. Will it be the cherry tree of my dreams? I do believe it is! At least it is close enough! And I just read a magazine article yesterday where the gardener said that the cherry trees had grown an amazing amount in just 2 or 3 years!

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This is an interesting little shrub. It doesn’t really look like much, and then all these funny little blooms pop out. It almost looks like confetti.

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The camellia that I have to practically stand on my head to get a picture of. This is one of the bushes I hope to get in the ground. I am pretty sure it will be a LOT happier out of its container.

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Pansies and violas are such a cheerful addition. A lot of pleasure for very little investment.

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This Japanese maple is covered in seed buds. It almost looks unreal to me.

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I bought myself a few new plants at the nursery yesterday. This is a flowering almond, one of my most favorite plants. I have one, but it has never done well. The girl at the nursery said it probably has a canker. I thought she was just making that term up, and then I read it in a magazine the very same day!

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Doesn’t it have the most beautiful, delicate blooms?

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All the maples are leafing out now, and each one has a different shade.

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There seems to be a pink theme going on here. I can’t help it. Its my favorite color.

Its been a good week. I got a lot more functional exercise. The second pile of wood is all stacked up. A lot of pots have been re-arranged. I’ve gotten in the pool twice, on the bike three times, kept up with my PT exercises, and I’m starting to do fast-walking sprints like Tabata intervals on my walks with Noah. Those are really a good workout. And that doesn’t even include all the aerobic quilting I’ve done :))

 

You Can Always Do Something.

I thought I’d talk a bit about how my exercise has changed over the past few months to accommodate  my aging? injury prone? body. The main point I want to make is that you can (and SHOULD) always do something.

Over the years I have always been very inspired by stories of people with severe physical  limitations and how they found a way to exercise. SO INSPIRED. There was just never really any justification for NOT exercising. Not even morbid obesity. If a person without legs could walk, how could I possibly excuse myself?

That said, it has been a little frustrating challenging to find new ways to exercise as various body parts break down. First there was the back. I went to P.T. and was careful to not do exercises that would exacerbate the injury that was already there. I could still pretty much do a full range of strength exercises, and of course I continued walking and occasionally running. I added in some swimming, which I really enjoyed. Last summer I made a goal to swim 2.4 miles and I did it! I’m thinking that this year I will try to do that at least 3 times during the swimming season.

And then the decrepit knees came along. That has been very frustrating, since walking fairly long distances (3-5 miles) was my norm. And that just wasn’t pleasant any more. When I finally went to the doctor and he gave me permission–in fact, encouraged-me to stop doing weight bearing exercise, it was a relief. I had already started increasing my swim time before I saw him, and he was an avid cycler, so he encouraged me to do some biking. He mentioned the word aerobic in that conversation (which included some talk about losing weight.) Oh, aerobic. I kinda had forgotten about that. I don’t like to sweat… So I started getting on the bike at the gym. In conjunction with watching The Food Network, I really enjoy my time on the bike. I do intervals and try to challenge myself.

At the same time, I went to P.T. for my knees, and that was the end of the heavy weight training for my lower body. Instead, I do multiple reps (like 60-100) of much lower weights. Its still a pretty good challenge. If I keep up with the P.T. exercises, walking is now fairly comfortable for shorter distances. I was happy to keep doing my regular heavy lifting for my upper body (remember my goal to do a 100 pound bench press?)

Well, yeah. THEN something happened to my elbow/arm. I could still use it to push, but I couldn’t even reach to pick up a glass. No strength at all, and it hurt like the dickens. My brother said its probably tendonitis. I consulted the internets and they said rest for 5-6 weeks was the cure. So there went my upper body strength training. I just stopped cold turkey. But you know what I started doing recently? I don’t know what made me think of this, except I probably just needed to move a bit–I started doing those arm circles that they made us do in jr. high gym class! Those things are pretty hard to do!

Oh, and the latest thing I am trying (and loving) is sprints. So far it seems like its okay on my knees and my back. I read this blog about running, which was pretty entertaining, and she quoted Mark Sisson, who mentioned having debilitating osteoarthritis at age 28. Well if he could run sprints, I guess I could.

The idea of these 30 second sprints does remind me of Tabata intervals. Which is something else I could add back in. And core exercises. I definitely could add some of those. Oh, and stretching. Maybe some yoga? Pilates? Definitely, you can always do something.

Its Going to Take Some Time This Time

“Its going to take some time this time”–exercise, that is! I’m dating myself–that’s one of the great songs Karen Carpenter used to sing.

I know I’ve said I love exercise, and I do. But I still have a wee bit of a problem with how much time it consumes. I guess after years and years of giving NO time to exercise, that habit is going to take a while to change.

Its not just the exercise. There’s the pre-exercise stuff: Taking Noah for a morning walk (usually at least 20 minutes,) and then changing into (hopefully) fur-free clothing to go to the gym. (Okay, it doesn’t take that much time to change clothes. It just seems like it takes a lot of time.) Sometimes there is some clothes changing involved at the gym, if I am going to include swimming, or if I have chores afterwards and don’t want to wear gym clothes. No matter which way I go, it takes 20 minutes to get to the gym and 20 minutes to get home.

Then there’s all the exercise options and necessities. I really need to keep up my PT exercises for my knees. After my 6 weeks of scheduled physical therapy was done, I often forgot to do the exercises. I could immediately tell the difference. So it is really important for me to do those exercises at least 4X per week. I timed it so I wouldn’t exaggerate. It takes me 22 minutes to go through the PT exercises I do at home.

At the gym there are so many things I enjoy doing. Strength training (including a few PT exercises)–I could easily take as long as 45 minutes with this, but most days I cut it down to 20-30 minutes. I get on the exercise bike for 20-30 minutes. Right now I consider the exercise bike my most important exercise. And then if its a nice day, I can get in the pool. Another 30-40 minutes. Admittedly, this does not happen that often in the winter. It will definitely change as the weather gets warmer, because I do love it, and I love how I feel when I swim (nothing hurts!)

Then there is the after-exercise stuff. Okay, this I would have to do anyway. But I’m still counting it. Because now I’ve been gone for a while, and the dogs are all ready to go for a walk. I take all four of them, and we just stroll (Monk-speed.) So that’s not exactly exercise I guess. Its still moving and its a time-suck, so I’m counting it.

I don’t do all these things every day. I try to make it to the gym at least 4 days a week. Some sessions I am in a hurry, and I only do the bike. On the days I stay home, I take a little longer and more vigorous walk with Noah, and I do my at home PT exercises. And, of course, the evening stroll.

This weekend was Lori’s Heart Healthy Challenge. I really enjoy this. Thanks for organizing it every year, Lori! I pretty much did EVERYTHING I listed above! Pre-walk with Noah. Only 15 quick minutes of strength training. I increased my time on the bike to 40 minutes (did 9 miles) and got in the pool afterward for 25 minutes (24 lengths.) And after a little time at Starbuck’s, headed home for the after-cool down stroll with the doggies. It was a great day.

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The end of my heart healthy workout!

I guess my point in even writing this is that exercise is necessary for a whole and healthy life. Changing my attitude and intention towards it makes it that much more enjoyable.

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Noah, after his bath. Now THAT was a workout. For both of us.

So Much to Say, So Little Time…

Well, I missed out on that whole end-of-year-review AND the beginning-of-the-year-goal-setting. I’ll just say that my BF pointed out to me that it had been a VERY GOOD YEAR for me, and she is so right. And it is already starting to be a VERY GOOD YEAR in this new year.

The two biggest projects for the past year are converging at exactly the same time, and that is the reason there is “so little time” to write. Tomorrow I go to Folsom to hang the quilts for the gallery showing. The quilts that I have been working on all year. TWENTY quilts. I am so pleased that I set a goal for myself to make 20 quilts, and that I actually was able to accomplish that. Some of them are pictured over on the quilt blog. I hope to have all of them photographed and to do a slide show or something. But that will have to wait for a week or two.

Because the other BIG THING that is happening is that I leave for Haiti on Monday. And this is also at the end of a year of working on our child sponsorship program for the children of Carrefour Poy. We are so happy with what we have been able to do so far. But have so much more that we want to do. It will be so helpful to ‘see for ourselves’ the situation and the needs. You can see some pictures of the kids on our website. We were so happy when they were able to start a lunch program. And our shoe drive for the month of December reaped fantastic results. We have about 175 pairs of shoes! Our suitcases are stuffed to the gills. Fortunately the weather is warm there, so our lightweight clothing will not take much room!

But you all know that what I really like to talk about is the daily dailies. And food. So here’s a bit of this and that.

I made crepes!! I was pretty excited at how perfectly I was able to make crepes for the first time. I used Georgie’s recipe, which if you look at it, it is a form of our protein pancakes.

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But here’s the weird thing. I made these for myself Christmas morning, but I didn’t really like them. The chocolate banana filling was too rich for me. So I tossed them, and had a piece of that baked oatmeal that I had made out of the fruit salad. BTW, I liked that baked oatmeal so much that I figured out how to make it again and will post that recipe soon. The crepes themselves were great, though, and I will try them again. Maybe with a blueberry filling.

And then, for Christmas, I finally bought myself one of those spiralizers. SUPER COOL!!! I bought the one that Cammy had pointed out to me. So nice. Hand-held, and I can put it in the drawer when I am done. Look at these cool spiralized carrots and zucchini! I cooked them and made some of my Darn Good Spaghetti Sauce to serve on top of them.

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And this is a nice little gift idea: Home-made muesli fixings. My mom likes me to make muesli for her. Lately I haven’t had enough oatmeal on hand, so I just put all the other stuff in a container and tell her to mix it in with oatmeal. For Christmas I had the idea to layer the ingredients in a mason jar. You can use whatever you want as the add-ins. This jar has slivered almonds, unsweetened coconut, date pieces, dried apricot pieces, and dried cranberries. The powder in the top is some cinnamon splenda.

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And a little health and exercise update: after 6 weeks of PT, going twice a week, and dutifully performing all my exercises between visits, my knee is VASTLY improved! I celebrated New Year’s Day by taking the three mile walk to the end of my road and back. I haven’t done this for about 9 months because it hurt too bad to go uphill or downhill for too long, and there is a very long steep hill on that walk. On New Year’s Eve I was at the gym, and it was a bright and sunny day, so I got to take a dip in the pool. What a treat! I am doing fantastic staying on my “me diet.” I am not sure what will happen food-wise in Haiti. I am taking some protein bars with me, and hopefully I will not gain weight like I did in Africa. That was a bit weird…

 

I’m not sure I’ll get to blog again before I leave, so I will say Happy New Year and farewell. And will be anxious to share with you when I return!