Crazy Day

Okay.  First off, DARN IT!!!  I didn’t have my camera with me this morning.  Because I got up bright and early,  (only it wasn’t very bright yet) and let the little guys out first thing  and thought, what’s that on the ground?  SNOW????  Yep, it snowed during the night, and it continued to snow for a couple of hours.  On the day that I was FINALLY going to go visit my dad.  Our plans had gotten mucked up a couple of times.

Anyway, after a couple of hours it started warming up and the snow started melting so I felt safe to go ahead and drive on down.  Before I left I took Noah out for a walk.  That boy LOVES the snow!  Its really fun to watch him.  I thought my hands were going to fall off from frostbite though.  Does anybody else that has lost a lot of weight have perennially cold hands?  I am almost used to it, but it really bugs me sometimes.

It was a gorgeous drive across the state.  Sometimes it seems weird to me that we are so mobile in current times.  In the olden days no one would have thought of driving from the eastern side of California to the Pacific Ocean and back in one day.  Well, I don’t do it too often.  But overall it is easier than packing an overnight bag and all the other stuff I would need to bring and making arrangements for the dogs, etc.

Okay, here’s the only interesting thing to tell you.  My dad and I went out for dinner, and after looking the menu over carefully, looking at all the choices they had, and then checking the nutritionals in the back of the menu (love it when these are included,) we decided to share a cup of soup and an appetizer.  SCORE!!!  It was just the right size meal, really.  I kept thinking about the posts I have written in the past despairing of ever being able to make good choices at restaurants, and Miz telling me it was more about someone else preparing the food, and Vicky mentioning eating an appetizer as a main dish.  I’m telling you, it felt so good to make that choice, and to have that be the food that I actually wanted, not that I was giving up what I really wanted and just making do.  It was just the right amount of food, and we went back to Dad’s apartment and had a delicious bowl of strawberries with some homemade greek yogurt topping.

Back in the car for the drive over the hills and through the valley and on up into the mountains to home sweet home.  I’m off to my own lovely bed.  Goodnight all!

Me and Africa

"A Dream for Africa"

Since some of you found my mention of travel to Africa a surprise, I did a search on my own blog to see if I had said anything about it.  Like I said in the comments, I tend to think I repeat myself.  But maybe its only in my own mind that I say things over and over… (Here’s the post where I did mention wanting to travel to Africa.)

So Africa.  How did this happen to me?  I grew up going to church and hearing missionary stories which were alternately boring and scary to me.  Please, Lord, don’t make me go to Africa.

But the church I go to now has a pastor who has a heart for missions.  And for the first time I found the missionaries to be interesting, and I have felt compassion for the people they work with.  I actually got carpal tunnel from knitting so many hats for the orphans in the Ukraine–it is so cold over there, and they shave the little kids heads when they come into the orphanage (lice.)

Then a couple of years ago, I read an email story written by this guy about the abject poverty in the Kawangware slum in Kenya.  What this young guy has managed to do is amazing.  He has a goal of starting centers in the 10 largest slums in the world.  And what I like is that they minister not just to the spiritual needs of the people but to the physical and mental needs as well.  I think it is sort of funny that I like an organization that is involved with sports, because I am not interested in sports at all.  But I love the passion and compassion that is shown to the people.

So I have mentioned periodically that I am really concerned about people going hungry, and living without clean water or even shoes to wear.  I could go on and on.  But you guys all know what its like.  Its on the news and talk shows and Oprah, for goodness sake.  It’s unbelievable, the stories of children raising themselves, no clean water anywhere, food once a day or less.  And it bothers me.  But its too easy to forget and go blithely on my way and buy stuff I don’t need.  I want to go to Africa so I won’t ever be able to forget.  I want my heart to be broken.  I want to care about the things that God cares about.  When I read Kristen‘s journal of her trip to Africa, it was like reading my own story in advance.  (This is the post she wrote shortly after returning from her trip.)

The Africa quilt is something I made as a gift for Micah and Audrey McElveen (from Vapor Sports.)  Its called ‘A Dream for Africa’ because the center panel shows a group of happy, well-fed African women and children.  But that is not the reality.  I plan to have it displayed with pictures of the kids from the slum of Kawangware.  The two yellow banners on the quilt are Scripture quotes from James 4 ‘Life is a Vapor,’ and Isaiah 58, a passage that I memorized a while ago that really taught me what God is concerned about (…feed the hungry, and help those in trouble…)

Last Sunday we had a bunch of missionaries at our church and I spent some time talking to a couple who work with the hill people in Thailand.  I think they started out trying to rescue the young girls that were being sold into slavery (again because the people were starving to death and had no food.)  And now this couple has developed schools for the girls to go to, and they teach them practical crafts so that they can make a living.  They have a program where you can sponsor some of the little kids, and I am going to do that.  But I see a trip to Thailand in my future…

Monday Review and Some Linky Love

Man, you can get lost in blogland, can’t you?

My friend Jill picked up on this new commenter on her blog and praised her blog, so I had to check it out.  LOVE IT!  And Jenn has two pugs, so she’s gotta be good people, right?  Then from Jenn’s comments, I clicked on over to Averie’s site.  She has some very delicious and yummy sounding recipes.  And she is in unbelievable shape.  I have to be careful on sites like hers, though.  Because sometimes in my warped mind that translates to “if I eat all those delicious treats all the time I will look just like her.”

Then I checked out Miz’s blog this morning, and she had a guest interview over on Sheposts.  This website for news about all things blog had LOTS of stuff to look at and read.

Last week my friend Juice mentioned a blogger having a big influence on her, so I checked her out.  Kristen writes about her family life, but what hooked me was her extensive blogging about her trip to Africa. She describes exactly what I think will happen to me when I visit Africa.  Juice also mentioned a book she was reading, Home Comforts, and when I checked that book out, another book popped up, and that book was written by a BLOGGER in England who also has a very pretty and intriguing blog.

And hey, did you all hear the news that Pioneer Woman is going to be featured in a movie with Reese Witherspoon playing the lead roll?  I have to admit that P.W.’s romance saga was my bedtime reading for quite a while.  And when I post a lot of pictures in one post, I think, well, P.W. does it.  And then I laugh, because I hear a blog friend saying, ‘I have read Pioneer Woman’s blog, and you, sir, are no Pioneer Woman.’  BTW, have you seen her cookbook?  Gorgeous.  A friend bought it at the GROCERY STORE just because it was a pretty book.  She didn’t even know who P.W. was…

Okay.  Enough about other people.  Onto the important stuff.  More about me LOL.  No, my name is not Lol.  I just like laughing out loud sometimes.  Yesterday was a day.  I didn’t like it very much.  Because it started out in the closet AGAIN.  But I finished it.  It’s not picture worthy, Shelley, but it is more clutter free and organized and spacious than its been in years!  Oh yeah, I thought you guys might find it interesting that it is the ONLY closet in my house.  I am not kidding.  And it used to be smaller.  So when I bought my house, I asked the people if they would change the configuration and make it a walk in closet.  That made me feel a little better about the overwhelming clutteriness of my house.  When Vickie pointed out that my extreme urge to eat Sunday was probably emotional, I think she was right on.  But I think a big part of the emotion was my despair at dealing with the clutter.  I actually think it is almost impossible to be creative AND to live clutter-free.  So right now I am in the de-cluttering mode, and there is not a lot of creativity going on.  But that’s okay.  Balance, Debby, balance.

I did start the day with a food plan, and I stuck to it meticulously.  Seems like I do a lot of Mondays like this.  Very fun, to try to balance pleasurable food with nourishing food with limiting calories.  Sorry I did not take pictures.  Just can’t remember to shoot before I eat!  Here’s the list:

  • Yogurt and muesli, coffee, 225 cal
  • Pineapple slice, 75 cal
  • Rice and lentil dish, 175 cal
  • Pear, 75 cal
  • Apple snack, 210 cal
  • Salmon, roasted cauliflower, Sweet potato bites, 330 cal
  • Milk, 75 cal
  • Lo-bars, 130 cal

I also stuck in two walks with Noah, who is not feeling the energy much yet.  That was good for me, because I was pretty darn worn out from the previous day’s exercise.

And then I did something I have done before.  While cleaning out the closet, I came to a bag of yarn.  And a partially finished sweater.  So this was beautiful white cotton/wool blend yarn.  And the sweater was a 3/4 finished (complete front and back and one sleeve) very intricate cable fisherman’s sweater.  IN MY OLD SIZE.  Do you see what’s coming next?  It took me this long to decide (3 years,) but I UNRAVELED that whole sweater, wound it neatly into skeins, and washed it to get the knitting kinks out of it.  I might make a throw blanket out of that yarn.  While I was unraveling, I watched a pretty good movie.  16 Blocks.  Not the kind of movie I would normally pick up, but Charles Colson recommended it in one of his books.  Definitely made an impact.

Okay.  Almost done.  The other thing I did was to do my taxes.  I don’t know why I dislike this so much.  Turbotax makes it pretty easy, although they get more expensive every year, and I always get a refund.  But it is a chore I put off til the last minute almost every year.  But guess what?  I got to the end, and I thought:  my trip to Africa is paid for!  What an amazing miracle.  I have given more than usual to Vapor Sports (for Africa,) and I didn’t really want to stop giving this year, so I have been a little worried that the trip was not actually going to happen (throw in a little procrastination and my little fear of traveling, and there was good reason for me to worry…)  God is good!

"A Dream for Africa"

It was dusk when I took the little guys out to go potty and I heard some water splashing.  I thought I had left the hose on, so I looked in that direction.  And there was a little bird in the birdbath I had just filled that morning.  And he didn’t stop when he saw me and the doggies.  He was totally enjoying his bath, and nothing was going to stop him!  Who knew that birds take a shower just before bedtime just like I do?  To me it was a miracle to see this, because I have 3 or 4 birdbaths in my yard, and I just never see birds using them!  It was the topper to a so-so kind of day.

I’m off to do a little offline reading, and then on to my workout with Vicky!

The Noah Picture Show

Hey guys, I’m back again, this time with the Noah Picture Show.  I’m afraid I’m turning into one of those mothers who think their baby is the cutest, smartest baby in the world, and won’t stop showing pictures to their friends.  But he is cute and fluffy, isn’t he?  And he is so smart.  Just wait ’til you hear what he did.

All of a sudden, it seems like he has the world’s longest tail!

So I was out in the yard doing some weeding, and spending ‘quality time’ with Noah, and I watched him do this over and over.  He takes his ball, and if he puts it in a certain spot, there is just enough of a slope that the ball will roll downhill so he can chase it again.  If it didn’t start rolling right away, he would nose it or paw it to get it started.

And finally, Noah is tired.

Okay, enough about Noah.  Time to talk about me LOL!  Today was a good but weird day.  Started out with a really good run with Noah this morning.  That felt good because yesterday when I brought him home from the vet’s I could barely walk.  At least that’s what it felt like.  Don’t know if it was two days without walking, or the hard workout I did on Friday.  I’ve been trying to challenge myself a little bit more with the weights at the gym.  Trying for heavier weights even if it means I can do less reps.

After church I went to the gym and again challenged myself to work out harder.  I had a really nice conversation with a lady that I know a little from one class with Vicky and just seeing her on the weights pretty frequently.  And I admitted to her that I was intimidated to take a class, and haven’t taken one in the year I’ve been at the gym.  And she gave me a good rundown of all the classes and the ones she thinks I’d like.  Which, BTW, has anyone heard of TRX workouts?  Uses your own body weight and straps.  Looks very interesting to me.  Anyway, I think I will try some classes soon!

So I got really hungry after the workout, even though I had a pre-snack and a post-snack.  Then this afternoon, I was working in my closet for the second day in a row (thanks for the motivation, Shelley!) and I ran across some old pictures of me.  I could not believe how horrible I looked.  I mean, I looked like one of those people in the tv shows who are so heavy they can’t get out of bed.  But not just that, I look so very unhealthy.  I did not see that when I was overweight.  It is the first thing I notice when I see an old picture of my dad or myself.  We just look sick.

And yet, with those pictures very fresh in my mind, I started having one of those times where I just want to eat.  A lot.  Not all bad stuff, but way too much.  I tried thinking about those pictures, and how I never wanted to be like that again, but somehow being ‘like that’ did not connect with me wanting to eat a bunch of food now.  But, I kept myself busy, and then I ate a very reasonable dinner, and I settled on what I wanted for a snack tonight, and then I came over to the computer to read blogs to try to distract myself.  Several people were having the same problem.  And then a friend called, and we talked for a long time, which is very unusual for me, and the danger of eating too much seems to have been diverted for now.  Yahoo.  Boy, you can’t ever completely let your guard down.  But the fight is worth it.  I took those terrible pictures and looked back and forth from the picture to myself in the mirror–first just my face in the bathroom mirror, and then my body in the full-length mirror.  That was good for me.  And my friend, who does not give out empty compliments, said I looked smaller at church.  That was very nice to hear.

And that was my day in a nutshell.  Hope you all had a great weekend.  And a very happy Monday to you all!

Flower Show

Good Sunday morning to you all!  Yesterday was another glorious sunny springtime day.  I spent some time out in the yard with Noah after getting home from the vet’s, and I was astounded by how EVERYTHING is coming to life and blooming  right now.  Thought I’d share some of it with you.

First thing I see when I walk out my front door is my biggest, oldest Japanese maple.  Every spring it has these seed berries on it.  I am always hopeful that one or two will germinate and I can start another new little tree.

Right below the maple is this pot of the first daffodils of the year.

Just a little planning in the fall will reap a bright harvest in the springtime.  I love planting pansies in the fall.

I didn’t get around to planting these hyacinths until the end of January, but they still cooperated by putting on a good show.

More daffodils.

I planted a forsythia and a camelia right outside my front door many years ago.  It is the total wrong place for a forsythia–total shade–but it struggles on each year.

I have a weeping flowering cherry that is also struggling.  But always manages to bloom each spring.  I always think about a lecture I heard a tree expert give.  “Trees want to live,”  he said.

And another view.  I kind of like the blurry foreground with the background in focus.

That’s all for now, folks.  Come back this afternoon.  I have some fun pictures of Noah to share!

I Hate it When that Happens

Today was one of those days.  I had a good plan for today, but it got turned around, and I was just at loose ends all day long.  I got up pretty early and took Noah in to be neutered, and then turned back around and stopped at the gym for a challenging workout before coming home.  Originally my plan had been to go on to the Bay Area to visit my dad, and then to pick Noah up the next morning on the way home.  But that didn’t work out.

So I was home without a plan for the day.  And I was pretty tired from getting up early, and from the workout, I guess.  It seems very strange without Noah here, even though he is not in the house all day long.  I miss him!

I have a new book that I will review when I am done reading it.  Vicky recommended it when we were discussing IE (I promise I will stop talking about this pretty soon!)  There are a few recipes in the book.  One of them intrigued both Vicky and I, so I decided to try it out.  It was the ‘energy bar’ recipe. (Cue ominous Jaws music…)

Well, you know, there’s a reason they call them recipes.  If you follow them, you most likely will end up with the product they describe.  I think I tweaked this recipe one too many times…when it became apparent that the batter was MUCH thinner than the recipe described, I made an emergency call to Vicky for suggestions.  I added what she suggested, plus some more of my own ideas.  This made the recipe bigger than it already was, but not really any thicker.  It is more of a nut-buttery syrup/topping.  REALLY delicious.  I used it tonight as a dip for slices of an asian pear.  I can see using it to top oatmeal, cottage cheese, yogurt.  All kinds of stuff.  But very frustrating to make that big of a recipe and have it fail completely.  Oh yeah, I also tried to bake it.  That made it taste really bad…and hard…

Here are some of the ingredients, in case any of you have a need for a lot of nut-butter syrup topping.  Oatmeal, soy protein powder (I sub’d whey,)  tahini (I substituted a little coconut oil and mostly almond butter,) dried fruit (I used dried cherries, a few dates, and a couple pieces of crystallized ginger,) maple syrup ( sub’d agave syrup,) shredded coconut, grated rind of an orange, and apple sauce (I substituted some canned mangos that I osterized into a sauce.)  When I was trying to thicken it, I added more oatmeal that I ground into ‘oat flour,’ some walnuts that I also ground almost into walnut butter, and more protein powder.

You can see that it has some delicious flavors in there.  I would print the whole recipe, but I’m hoping between Vicky and I we might be able to tweak this and make actual bars out of it.

Such is the life of an experimental cook.

I took care of a little frustrating business, and gave Mr. Monk and Sophie a bath, and called it a day.  I am really trying to pay attention to my hunger.  Finding on a day like today that I want to eat a little more often than I am hungry.  And I’m still obsessively counting my calories….its somehow reassuring to me.

Here’s one thing I keep thinking about that I didn’t talk about in the last two posts.  And that is that when I lost all that weight when I was in my twenties, I didn’t weigh myself, and I didn’t count calories.  But I knew when I was hungry.  And I did stay hungry a good deal, and I did lose weight.  That’s really why I’ve been on this jag of paying attention to hunger.

And so it goes.  We keep working on what we are eating, tweaking our food choices, refining and balancing.  Its for life.  In every sense of that word.

Sophie and Mr. Monk after-bath photo op:

Accidental proximity

Opposites attract?

To Clarify

Yesterday at work I was so frustrated, because I didn’t think I had written what I was trying to say in the last post.  I meant to talk more about trusting myself, and less about intuitive eating.  After all, I have not read the book on IE, and I have only listened to a one hour seminar.  That is the sum total of my knowledge.  But there  were some very interesting and informative comments.  Thanks everyone.  In particular, Three Herring had a very good comment discussing IE–very informed.

Dr. Barbara Berkley had a great post over on Refuse to Regain about ‘The Faulty Metabolism Myth,’ in which she also discusses why calorie counting doesn’t always work, and how necessary it is to NOT veer from a program of weight loss in order to continue to lose.   Vicky and I had a great discussion today about Weight Watchers, and why it doesn’t work for some people.  And what I think about W.W. and IE is very similar.  People take what they want from a particular program and manipulate it to suit their needs.  And then when it doesn’t work, they blame the program, instead of owning up to their part in the ‘failure.’

Well, that’s what I think.  Because I am all about the personal responsibility.  Because that gives you personal power.

So maybe what I am doing is not intuitive eating.  I even had to look up the word intuition.  But what I am saying is that I know a lot now.  I know what kinds of foods will fuel me for a long time.  I know what kinds of food will just make me want more and more and more.  I know what size serving will hold me.  I know that if I put the food on the plate (give myself permission to eat it) I find it very difficult to not finish the food.  Better for me to have a smaller serving to begin with.  I know what kind of foods will satisfy my need to have really tasty foods.  I know how to eat on days that I work, and I know how to eat on days I stay home.  I know a lot of different foods I can take with me when I travel.  I know how to eat before I work out, and I know how to eat after I work out.  I KNOW A LOT ABOUT ME AND FOOD AND HOW TO EAT CORRECTLY.  Can I trust myself?  That’s all I’m saying.  I think.

Had such a great time with Vicky today–lots of good food talk, and then a short but very intense workout–cardio and weights circuit.  Had lunch with a friend, and then came home to give Noah his bath.  I didn’t get his post-bath glamour shot because he was a wild and crazy guy, and I knew he wouldn’t hold still.  Maybe tomorrow or the next day.  I think he is as big as Oliver was, and heavier–I can barely lift him.  Disclaimer:  not because I am a weakling.  Because he is a big bundle and it is awkward LOL!

Last night I scored big at Costco:  d’anjou pears, asian pears, some fantastic ripe strawberries, a giant bag of frozen blueberries, and a two-pack of agave syrup.  I’m back to work tomorrow, so will sign off–gonna watch an episode of Monk and have some strawberries and cottage cheese with some decaf coffee.  HABANADA!

Trusting Myself–Thoughts on Intuitive Eating

A few weeks ago I listened in on a tele-seminar that Dineen did.  Dineen is all about the intuitive eating.  I’ve been thinking about the concept ever since.  Of course, intuitive eating appeals to the foodie* in all of us.  It says, no foods are forbidden.  Eat just exactly what you want when you want it.  Eat foods you really love.  Eat for the pure pleasure of eating.  And my thought was, ‘hmmmph, that’s how I got to be 255 pounds.’  I wasn’t a binge eater.  And really, most of the time I did not stuff myself.  But I did eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it.

Now, to be fair, Dineen started off the seminar talking for quite a long time about the first component of intuitive eating:  hunger.  Really being aware of your hunger.  Recognizing true hunger.  Allowing yourself to be hungry.  This is the part of intuitive eating that us foodies tend to forget about.  But I’ve been thinking about being hungry and actually practicing letting myself get hungry before eating (sometimes) for a while now.

So I wondered.  Could I trust myself to eat ‘what I want’ and not count calories like I have been doing for so very long?

I talked to Vicky about it.  What was her take on ‘intuitive eating?’  ‘Well,’ she said, ‘part of eating what you want and eating what pleasures you is eating really good food that is also good for you and nourishes you.  Food that tastes good while you are eating it, and makes you feel good after you have eaten it.’  And I think that if I read the book on intuitive eating that that would also be a big part of their ‘program.’  And I agreed with this.  Lots of times now, I WANT the healthy alternative.  LIke last week, when I was thinking about what I really wanted for dessert, and I thought about that lone piece of pie in the freezer left over from Christmas.  But I decided what I really wanted was some cottage cheese and fresh strawberries.

But here’s the thing.  This intuitive eating thing would never have worked for me from the get go.  Because I would not ever have thought that cottage cheese and strawberries was something worth eating.  After all, I had strawberries with heavy cream and powdered sugar on them.    And I for sure would not have looked forward to an afternoon coffee with a lo-bar.  Not when I knew how to make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, and had them on hand at all times.  And I would never have thought tonight’s dinner was something that would satisfy–not when I could have a sweet potato covered in melted butter as a side dish to fried fish.

Tonight's dinner: Half a baked sweet potato with laughing cow light (I would leave this off next time) covered with a saute of brocolli, mushrooms, onions, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil. Very filling and very tasty.

So the intuitive eating thing, I don’t think it will work unless you have a whole arsenal of healthy meals/snacks/recipes under your belt.  But I do have that now.  So last week, I wasn’t doing my Vicky food any more, and I had two days of work scheduled.  I wasn’t particularly prepared.  But knowing what it takes to keep me fueled, I made a little plan:  500 calories before noon, 250 calories for lunch, 100 calories afternoon snack, 200 calories drive home, and 250 calories when I get home.  The 250 calories when I got home was an idea Vickie gave me since I was having trouble eating after I got home from work even though I was not hungry.

So I know this plan includes calories, but its a process.  When I say a calorie count, I pretty much have a very good idea of a variety of food choices within that range.  I tried to include protein with each meal, along with a balance of fiber and some good fats.  I have to say this worked really really well.  It helped that there was no food in the breakroom!

Yesterday and today I have tried to do the intuitive eating, and really pay attention to my hunger.  I have to admit that even though I am not writing it down, I count up the calories NUMEROUS times during the day.  I think it will take me a while to get away from counting calories.  I’m not even sure I want to.  But this is an interesting experiment.  I am having some foods I might not otherwise indulge in, and I am letting myself get a little hungrier before eating.  I am thinking more in terms of maintaining my weight for this experiment, rather than hoping for a weight loss.

Regular stuff update.  I am getting a lot of walking in.  The little guys think they want to go for a walk now.  So yesterday I went on THREE walks with the dogs, in additional to a really challenging weights workout at the gym.  Today I took it easy with just two nice medium walks with Noah.  I have been on a real cooking jag these past two days.  Tried Christina’s asian sesame-crusted chicken nuggets, which were quite enjoyable.  I think it would be a good addition to a stir-fry.  I made my own Shrimp Ceviche, and this time added some jicama–quite good also.  Made some homemade yogurt and strained it to make Greek yogurt.  Well, made some other stuff, but that’s enough for now.

Doggie update and questions answered:  Noah is fascinated by Mr. Monk, and Mr. Monk tolerates his nosing and sniffing for a little while and then gets up high away from him.  But it is going well.  Sophie and Mr. Monk occasionally share a blanket!  Mr. Monk weighs between 18 and 21 pounds, depending on whose weighing him.  He is a real sweetheart and has fit in so easily around here I can hardly believe it.  He follows me around, and wags his whole body when he is excited to see me.  I think it is good for Sophie to have another ‘little person’ in the house.  She seems not to be so obsessive about food and other stuff.  I think Noah weighs 65 pounds now.  We will see this Friday.  He has his appointment to get neutered!

Gratuitous Noah shot:

Noah eats a young pine tree.

Hope all is well with everyone.  Back to work tomorrow–see you in a day or two.

*foodie:  one who loves food and finds pleasure in the flavors, colors and textures of food.