Stirring Things Up

Ha!  I bet you thought I was going to wax eloquent about food AGAIN.  Nope.  This time I’m talking exercise.

Now, without going on and on about my aches and pains (see previous post,) most of the time all my joints hurt, and there’s still something wrong with my knee.  And yes.  I finally have a doctor’s appointment, and as much as I dislike going to the doctor’s, I am looking forward to finding out what is wrong and if anything can be done about it.

So.  I am still walking every day, and most days I walk two times a day.  But the walks have been shorter–mostly 20-30 minutes each.  Sometimes, when everything seems to be working well, I walk quite briskly.  Noah can’t keep up LOL.  But other times, like this morning, we both look at each other, and just cut it short.

Exercise at the gym has been going really well.  Mostly I have been able to steadily increase the weights I am using.  I don’t do squats so much any more.  And if my knee feels unstable, I decrease the weight and do more reps.  Oh, and I have a new goal.  I want to bench press 100 pounds!  My brother (my over-the-phone trainer) says I can do it. I got the idea for this when I miscalculated the amount of weight I was already doing. I thought I was doing 75 pounds, and that seemed pretty close to 100.  Then I re-figured out how much I was lifting and it was only 60.  Still, it is a fun goal to work on.

The other day I was trudging along, with everything hurting, thinking about the future.  Thinking about how I keep track of everything I eat.  How I eat very healthy foods.  How I exercise all the time.  And how it doesn’t seem to make a speck of difference (I know.  faulty thinking.)  And all of a sudden, I remembered that one of my big goals was to keep my blood pressure within normal limits and to avoid getting diabetes.  I had almost forgotten about that!!

So.  I am adding in a couple of good old exercises that hopefully will allow me to exercise a bit more, and will not hurt as much.  My bike is in the shop getting a tune-up, and when I pick it up I am going to get a bike rack so I can take it places that are more bike friendly.  I am really excited about the prospect of adding bike riding to my routine.  Right now I don’t have a distance goal.  Just getting on the bike and doing it is goal enough!

And, I have started back to the pool.  I do have a goal here.  I want to swim a mile.  I don’t think this will be hard to do at all.  I am already swimming 30 lengths, which I think is a quarter mile.*(edited to correct:  a mile is 66 lengths, so I am already almost half-way there!)  I have an order coming from swim outleta lap counter, some fins, a new suit, and some water shoes.  So fun to get new equipment.

And now I must cut this short to get out for that second walk of the day.  WAKE UP, NOAH!!

Aging Gracefully

“I feel bad about my neck.”  That Nora Ephron really had a way with words, didn’t she?  I bought that book just because I loved the phraseology of that sentence.  I gave it to my BFF, who, at the time, was more worried about her neck than I was.

After hearing about Nora Ephron’s passing, I listened to a radio interview with her.  I believe it was done at about the time she wrote this book.  And she said, “the thing is, you just never know what you’re going to see.” (referring to the aging process.)  Man, again with the perfect words.  Here’s some examples of what I “saw” this weekend.

  • Friday afternoon at the gym:  “Don’t look in the mirror.  Don’t look in the mirror.  Oh there you did it.  You looked in the mirror.  Oh well, these little boys will just have to get used to the fat old lady working out in their room.”
  • Saturday morning, washing my face:  “man, I look really youthful today.   No makeup necessary.”
  • Sunday morning, putting lipstick on in the car on the way to church:  “OH MY GOSH.  How many stinkin’ wrinkles can one person have on her face?  Really, why do I have to have wrinkles on my CHEEKS?  And wrinkles on the upper lip???  I never smoked a cigarette in my entire life.  Its not fair.”
  • Sunday noon, pre-swim in the dressing room:  “Wow.  Look how little I look.  Why did I think I didn’t look good enough to get into this suit.”

I’m not kidding.  That is what goes on in my head constantly.

I want to age gracefully.  I think about it all the time.  I think it is something that I have to actively work on.  Working to accept the inevitable aging process.  I look around at older women and think, who would I like to be like.  One of the women I really admire is a woman who is one of the best cooks in our church.  She loves good food as much as I do, and she gets great pleasure out of making beautiful delicious food and sharing it with others.  She is not thin, but seems very active.  I don’t think she has arthritis.  And I was very surprised to learn that she was over 80 years old.  I would like to be like her.  She doesn’t seem tortured by her relationship with food.

Not long ago, my BFF and I were discussing the ‘hump’ and the bent back that some older women get.  I think her mother had been worrying about that.  The same day I saw a little older lady in the gym bathroom (key here–she was in the gym!) and she had a very pronounced bend in her back.  Her face was extremely wrinkled.  But she was fussing with her hair and her make-up and she had a sparkle in her eye that just wouldn’t quit.  And I thought, that wouldn’t be so bad.

I also think that part of aging gracefully is NOT rehearsing all your aches and pains all the time.  That said, I was SO HAPPY this morning when I checked out Karen’s blog, and she was talking about aches and stiffness.  And I just laugh at the weekly conversations between my brother and I.  Of course, all the aches and pains that we discuss are “sports injuries,” doncha know.

And you know, since I mentioned Nora Ephron, here is what I do every time I hear someone just died.  I do the math.  It is only 14 years until I reach the age Nora was at her death.  FOURTEEN YEARS.  I can remember 28 years ago like it was no time at all (I was in nursing school.)  That’s what the math whiz in me does EVERY TIME.  There’s no easy solution to that one.  Except to live gracefully, and to appreciate every day as the gift that it is.  And for me, to “think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” (Colossians 3:2)

I don’t have a neat tidy ending to this subject.  But it is one I think about a LOT.  Maybe even more than my never-ending thought life about food and weight and such.

To be continued….

Another Salad, and a Few Good Desserts

Oh my goodness people.  Evidently I retired just in time.  I worked out for just a few minutes before going to work (the weights were being used when I was there yesterday, so had to get these in.)  Then I went to work for Vicky.  Things were unusually busy today so my ‘work’ (I know, THREE WHOLE HOURS) involved me either standing in one place or walking around on a concrete floor.  I swear.  I was WORN OUT!!  So on the way home, I re-thought my dinner plans.  What would be quick and easy?  Ah.  Another salad.

This one was a goodie.  Chicken (again about two ounces) tossed in a bit of BBQ sauce,  half an apple, 1 ounce of fresh asiago cheese (BTW, this is good, but not nearly as flavorful as aged asiago,) and baby greens.  I made a salad dressing in the bowl of olive oil, rice wine vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper. Yum yum yum.

Doncha love how long it takes to eat a salad?

So, I ate those refrigerator oatmeals three mornings in a row.  Quite good.  I loved the chia seeds.  I didn’t like the oats so much.  Which is weird, because I love muesli in my yogurt.  So I thought about making chia pudding.  Of course I googled it, and came up with several promising recipes.  This one looked the most promising, but I did change it up a bit.  The thing is, it is not as thick as I would think it should be.  I think I might have made a mistake and used half the amount of chia seeds.  Especially after looking at her pics again.  Anyway, it is quite tasty.  My recipe was simple:  1 cup almond milk, 1 cup plain yogurt, 4Tbsp chia seeds (this is where I think maybe I only added two,) 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut, and 2Tbsp honey.  Put it all in one of those mason jars and stir.  I liked the idea of making a coconut pudding to use as a base for whatever I would like to add.  Here is what I added for tonight’s dessert.*

That’s only two squares of my favorite dark chocolate (50 cal.)

I never know how to take a picture of stuff like this.  It really helps to choose the right container for it.

I’ve been thinking about making some chocolate froyo for a while, so when I saw this recipe over on Katie’s blog I had to try my version.  VERY satisfying.  I used 3 frozen banana cubes, about 2 Tbsp of my homemade yogurt, 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp vanilla, pinch of salt, and maybe 1/2 Tbsp of walnut butter.  The only thing I would say is that if I was more patient, I would put it back in the freezer for maybe 1/2-1 hour to let it firm up a bit.  Its always pretty melty after whirling around in my food processor.  But VERY tasty!*

I’m trying to find desserts that are very lightly sweetened, and also I am having fruit more often for dessert.  I especially am loving the big bowl of watermelon that I cut up and have handy in the fridge.*  I used Shelley’s ‘pineapple’ method to cut it up.  That worked really great!  Thanks for that idea Shelley!

*  Disclaimer:  I did not have all these desserts on the same night!

Salad Central

The secret to easy salads is having all the stuff on hand.  I usually keep romaine hearts and a tub of the baby lettuce in the fridge.  And baby carrots.  And pre-cooked meat in the freezer.  And then all the fun stuff in the cupboard.  Oh, and goat cheese in the fridge.  And  balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mustard and honey.

Okay.  It doesn’t sound easy, but it really is.  The other day I bought a bag of those little frozen pre-cooked salad shrimpies.  Very good in salads, really low cal, and a good protein kick for your calorie expenditure.  Yesterday I was so lazy that I made the salad dressing in the bowl I was going to eat the salad in (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper) and added THREE ingredients.  Toss and eat.  And it was yummy!!  The three ingredients?  Romaine lettuce, baby shrimps, and baby carrots.

Today I had one of my favorite combos.  I have to give credit to Vicky for the combo idea.  Chicken, lettuce, chopped almonds, orange pieces, and goat cheese (blue cheese if you have it.)  I made the same salad dressing for this one.  Oh so scrumptious.  I took a little piece of chicken out of the freezer, and thought it was awful small, so I weighed it.  Only two ounces, but it was just right for a salad.

Other happenings around here:  I’ve been quilting up a storm.  Blogging about it over on the quilt blog.  

Spinning some yarn up:

‘Cause I’ve been knitting a lot.

My friend mentioned these little solar yard lights, and I thought it would be a good idea for my yard.  But when I looked at Walmart, they were too expensive. Then I was in there this past Friday getting some fertilizer, and these little yard lites were on sale!!  I wish I could take a picture that shows them sparkling in the yard at night.  So pretty.  And now when I take the dogs out for their ‘last call,’ I won’t stumble over the planters!

Guess who’s got a new friend?  Noah is THRILLED that Bess has initiated playtime with him.

And the traditional ear-licking at the end of play.  Dont’ ask me what that means.  We probably don’t want to know.


So I went to the retirement party of a couple of the women that I had worked with for the past 23 years.  But first!  Breaking news!  IT IS HOT HERE.  California has finally caught up with the rest of the country.  Here’s some proof.

Bess doing her best to keep cool on the dog couch.

I’m doing my best too.  Getting out for a walk fairly early in the morning.  And then staying inside all the rest of the day.  Minimal cooking, and oh!  I tried a new recipe that I think will be a staple for the rest of the summer!  Thanks, Sharon, for pointing me towards The Yummy Life.  This is her version of Overnight, No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal.  I made a couple versions this morning, and I couldn’t wait overnight.  It was just right for a cool afternoon snack.  I really really like that it was not too sweet.  Working on that sweet tooth of mine, you know.  Her pictures are prettier than mine–I like her use of mason jars.

Those little bubbly things?  Chia seeds–yay!!!  Plus I LOVE that it uses yogurt.  You know I’ve always got a steady supply of that stuff around here.

I’m also hoping to beat the heat by spending some serious time in the pool.  I finally ordered a top to wear with my swim shorts.  Hope Land’s End gets it here soon!

Back to the retirement party.  I was really excited about this party.  Not sure exactly why.  These women were good friends, and they were very interested in retiring when I did it last year, so we talked a lot about it at the time.  It has just been recently that I have actually started to feel “retired,” and I was excited for them, and wanted to tell them how great it was. I also knew it would be a good time to see more of my former colleagues at one time than when I have dropped into the unit for a visit.  What I didn’t count on was that there would be quite a few people there who had retired in the years prior to me.  That was very interesting to see all of them. One thing that was particularly interesting to me was that no one seemed particularly changed after retirement.  Oh, lots of people say, “you look great.” or  “You look so relaxed.”  That’s nice.  But I don’t really believe its true.  I think I have aged a LOT in the past year.  But that’s a topic for another post, one I definitely want to write about.  To me, the people that were unhappy and uptight at work still seemed unhappy and uptight several years after retiring. Just an observation.  Take from it what you will.

Well, its too hot to sit here and blog any more, so I will leave you with a short entry today.  Probably a relief, as it is probably too hot to sit and read blogs where you are as well!  Keep cool, and try that refrigerator oatmeal, either for a nice snack or for breakfast!

A Good Week

It was a pretty good week.  I ate too much.  What else is new?  Hopefully making up for it this coming week.  I spent four days in the Bay Area this week.  First day I drove straight from my house all the way to Pacific Grove.  That is a long drive.  Between the drive and not drinking enough, I reaffirmed that those two factors work together to make me feel like crap.

I had a lot of fun shopping in Pacific Grove.  Of course, they have a quilt shop that I love going to, a good yarn shop, and lots of other interesting little shops.  I didn’t really buy much.  Headed back to my hotel headquarters in Milpitas (that was the most centrally located place for all the places I wanted to visit.)  I had brought food with me for lunch, so after checking into the hotel, I treated myself to dinner at Chili’s.  Because I wanted some chips…  To go along with the chips, I chose a salad from their ‘healthy’ menu, and it was so pretty when it came, I took a picture of it.  Quite tasty.  Even the salad dressing seemed light.

Next day was a “day with Mom.”  I try to find nice places to walk every day, and this is Niles Creek, right next to where my mom lives.  That heron and duck never stopped preening their feathers the whole time I was down there.

And all these Canadian geese seemed to really enjoy the shallow water and the rocks.

Day with Mom went well.  I think I ate too much that day too…  Oh, she took me to a grocery story called Sunflowers Farmers Market–reminded me of Sprouts–and that was a lot of fun.  They have stuff in the bins, which I like, because its a lot cheaper than packaged stuff, and I found some chia seeds at a decent price.

And then the next day–A VISIT WITH SHELLEY!!!  Its so fun that Shelley and I have been able to meet more than usual due to our California/Texas connection.  Last time we got together, I started Shelley out knitting, and she has taken off like wildfire, as most of you know.  So this day we visited a few yarn shops in Santa Cruz (where she is visiting her BF) and then we had lunch at an excellent Bakery, which was conveniently located right next to one of the yarn shops.  They served lunch on an outdoor patio area, and we just sat and talked and knit and talked and ate a little, and then knit some more.  It was so fun, and so relaxing.  It was one of those lovely days with the sun shining brightly and a cool breeze blowing.  The perfect day to get a sunburn… oh well, once every 10 years or so I do that.

And then it was time for dinner, so we found a frozen yogurt shop!  I swear, between the two of us it was like we had a froyo GPS!

Friday morning I headed home, with a side trip to check out my dad’s house to see how repairs are coming along there.  Its almost ready to put on the market.  Worrying about this is stressful to me.  I’m blaming my overeating on that, and hoping that once its sold and the estate is settled, I will be able to get a few pounds off…

Stopped in Stockton to eat lunch and to shop at Costco for Vicky.  I do some grocery shopping for her sometimes.  Its actually hard work shopping for someone else.  And then on to the gym, where I did not work out, but I worked for Vicky for a couple of hours.  THAT was a long day!

When I got home those Newton shoes that I had ordered were waiting for me.  Can I just say that I feel like a grade school crossing guard wearing them?  Those things are BRIGHT!  But, they fit just right.  The soles are definitely different than my Saucony’s, so I am still getting used to walking in them. But I think I like them.

Saturday was a slugfest.  Shelley had kindly brought along Season Five of Doc Martin (everybody knows about this show, right?) for me to borrow.  I sat and watched all 8 episodes in one day! Most of the day the doggies stayed in my lap,  but for a while I was organizing some thread, and this was the scene:

Bess keeping a close watch from her perch on the couch.

And Sophie, as always, as close as she can possibly get without breaking the rules… you can see Monk across the room in ‘his’ chair.

Sometimes I think about “how did I ever do this (get the weight off?)”  I think about all the stuff I used to eat that I no longer consider healthy.  One of those things is the sugar free chocolate COOK AND SERVE pudding.  I really used to like that stuff.  So I decided to make some when I got home.  And I noticed the microwave directions on the box.  YAY!  Cooking the pudding was a pain in the butt because the milk would always stick to the pan.  Microwaving it was slick, just like when I make my homemade yogurt in the microwave.  And it is still tasty, and at least it is like eating 1/2 cup of milk.

I’ve got to end this right now, because I HAVE to get out for at least a little walk with Noah tonight!