Layer upon Layer, A Body of Knowledge is Built

How long have I been doing this?  In January 2013, it will be 9 years since I started this last weight loss journey.  NINE YEARS!!  Nine years of reading and researching how to do it, anything and everything about food and nutrition, various types of diet theories (Weight Watchers, paleo, vegetarian, raw food, intuitive eating, low carb, calories in/calories out, whole grain, you get the picture,) the whole psychological component to weight loss, why some people succeed at maintaining weight loss and what and how they do that, oh, and exercise.  I’m sure I left something out.  But you know.  Its a LOT of information.

And the thing is…all of it is useful.  Even the stuff I have decided is not true for me.

Yes, it is frustrating that there is not more definitive information about obesity, its causes and cures, and weight loss maintenance.  But still, we have an awful lot of knowledge to draw upon.  Layer upon layer, I have added all this to the base of my eating and exercise habits.  When I decided to try The Hunger Game, I did not throw away everything I knew about good nutrition and what works in my favor.  If anything, I am using that information more than ever.

It kind of drives me nuts when people who have been doing this a long time figuratively throw their hands up in the air and act like they do not know anything.  We know a LOT.

Part of what I know is that it is hard work to maintain a lower body weight.  It is hard because as you age, something or other goes on in your body (more efficient?  slower metabolism? hormones?) and your body holds onto weight.  Helen reminded me that you don’t need to eat as much when you get older, and the next day I got an article in the mail saying that women who have gone through menopause need 200 calories LESS a day!  Oh my goodness.

It is hard work to maintain a lower body weight if you have previously been very overweight for an extended part of your life.  That is a theory I believe because of the overwhelming amount of objective information available (evidence gathered by various scientists, and also the testimony of many many people who have lost weight and maintained that loss with varying degrees of success.)

I know a LOT about food and nutrition and how the body processes food.  (Oh, side rant:  I know many of you would be more comfortable believing that the body is a machine–that you can input certain food or exercise and you will receive the same results every time.  I’m sorry, but that is simply not true.  The body is closer to a work of art than it is to a machine. Period.  end rant.)  So at my best, I am easily able to choose healthy, balanced whole foods that will keep me satiated for 3-4 hours.

I know a lot about exercise, and what part it plays in weight loss (very little) and weight loss maintenance (a lot.)  I know that the body gets accustomed to the same exercise and gets more efficient at how it processes that exercise (not fair!) so that it is good to continue to challenge your body with exercise by increasing the intensity or by changing the type of exercise periodically.  I know that it is good for your heart and your mind.  I know that it keeps me from becoming stiff as a board, so I keep doing it!

It took a while, but I do understand very well the part that the mind plays in food choices and eating.  I learned that for me, anxiety was the single largest factor in why I overate.  Just learning that was a tremendous step forward in changing my relationship with food.

So I know all this stuff.  I did not discard one bit of it when I decided to WAIT UNTIL I WAS HUNGRY to eat.  Honestly, it just makes sense to me.  Just one more piece of the puzzle.

Hunger and Delicious Food!

Well, I know you all are waiting with baited breath to hear how hungry I am!  The Hunger Game is actually going very well.  What I have found so far is that I don’t really need my afternoon snack with my coffee break.  And I don’t need a snack or dessert after dinner.  Waaaagh.  I already kinda knew this.  So I guess if I really want those things, I will have to eat even less for lunch or dinner.

I normally get up at 6am, and I immediately fix my coffee and breakfast.  So now I’m waiting just a bit to make sure I am hungry.  I made myself a little rule that if I wasn’t hungry in the morning, I wouldn’t wait longer than 2 hours, because I do believe its best to start the day with breakfast.  Anyway, that doesn’t’ seem to be a problem so far.  So if I eat between 6 and 7 am, I really am hungry for an early lunch.  It seems to be working out for me to have a small meal at about 11 and then again about 2.  I’m not getting set on times yet.  I still am waiting until I’m hungry to eat.

And then, so far, I’m really not hungry for a big dinner.  I’ve been having small dinners, like meat and veggies, or just veggies, or some veggies and cottage cheese and fruit.  Sometimes…  I have not even finished my dinner!

So yesterday I was thinking about the container of blueberries that was in the fridge.  I always buy blueberries when they are a good deal because they are supposed to be so healthy for you.  Trouble is, I only like them in baked goods.  So I googled ‘blueberry crumble’ or ‘blueberry cobbler.’  Goodness sake!  All those recipes have 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar in them.  I just can’t do that anymore!  So I went through my recipe archive to see if I could adjust one of my recipes.  And this is what I came up with!  SCRUMPTIOUS!

I think I’ll call it Blueberrylicious Pudding Cake.  Its a derivative of my old Apricot Oatmeal Bar recipe, but super-moist because of all the blueberries, and also because I held back some of the dry ingredients for a topping.  Pretty good stats, and enjoyable as a healthy snack, breakfast, or as a dessert.

And last, I thought I’d tell you about my favorite walking shoes this summer–my Montrail Molokini flip flops!  It started out because I was too lazy to put my shoes on for our after-dinner walk.  But then I really really liked walking in them.  I can walk just as fast in them, and even break out in a little run once in a while.  My version of barefoot running!  Because of the way the sole molds to your foot, they really feel supportive.

Its 6:51, and I am hungry!  But I’m going to walk and pray a bit, and then have my LITTLE dinner.  Because I’m still hopeful that I’ll be hungry again, and can have a little bowl of popcorn with The Dog Whisper.

The Hunger Game

In my travels this past weekend, as per usual I made some really great food choices, and some not so good choices.  What bothers me the most, whether at home or traveling, is when I eat to an over-full feeling.  It doesn’t matter if it is healthy food choices or junk food choices.  Feeling over-full makes me uncomfortable on a number of levels.  So I was thinking  about this a lot.

In addition, I had downloaded the sample of this book.  Jen Hatmaker is a very funny Christian blogger (don’t know if she was a blogger before she was an author) who decided to take seven areas of excess and trim them down for seven months.  The first area was food.  Oh my gosh!  Is it possible that someone so fit and trim could possibly think about food even more than I do?

So between reading that book and having plenty of time to think while driving, it made me think could I make a commitment to NOT eat EVER unless I was hungry?  Well, not ever.  Could I do it for a month?  Would I become a famous blogger and get a book and movie deal out of it?  What would be the benefit of this?

As I thought about it, I liked the idea that the benefit would be two-fold.  First, I would get back in touch with my hunger, and might learn how much good food I need to be satiated. The truth is, I eat LOTS of times when I am not hungry.  Actually, most of the time I eat I am not very hungry.  And the second benefit would be that every time I was hungry I would think a bit about the problem of world hunger, and maybe pray a bit, and maybe I might even think of some creative ways I can help with this problem.  It seems embarrassing that I say I am concerned about world hunger and yet I am seldom hungry myself.

The rules would be simple:

  1. You can’t eat until you are truly hungry.  Not that fake hunger that happens sometimes.  So if you feel hungry, you have to wait 20 minutes to one hour before you can eat.  Spend that 20 minutes to an hour thinking about those less fortunate than yourself, and say a prayer for them.
  2. Make an effort to eat slowly.  That way you will be able to recognize when you are getting full–avoiding being overfull!
  3. You don’t have to count calories.  There is no particular diet plan.  Just the same mostly whole food healthy choices that you are used to.  And a few treats.
  4. And no getting on the scale during the month (a bad number tends to make me give up, and a good number tends to make me want to celebrate with you-know-what.)
  5. Weight loss is not the main goal.  However, it would be a much desired side effect.  That will depend entirely upon your food choices when you get hungry.
  6. Try your hardest to NOT eat in the middle of the night.  Even though you truly think you are hungry.  Go back to bed!

So I’ve tried it for two days.  Because its embarrassing to put something out there and FAIL AGAIN.  But if you don’t put it out there, there’s practically zero chance that you will succeed.  I felt this way about Weight Watchers the first couple of weeks I went.  Didn’t think there was much chance I would stick with it.  But a glimmer of hope.

It was not easy to wait until I was hungry.  But, as Jerry Seinfeld pointed out, another appetite is always on the way.  So when I started to get anxious, I remembered that eventually I would get hungry and I would get to eat again!  Gah!  Talk about first world problems.

Well, this will be an interesting experiment.  Please feel free to join me, or to just voice your opinion or your experiences.  I imagine I will be talking about this frequently in the days to come.

Such a Pretty Weekend

I had such a good time this weekend!  There is something called “Quilting in the Garden” that I have known about for years, but have never gone to, because I didn’t plan ahead, and I was always working.  So this year, I heard about it in plenty of time, and there was a class that I wanted to take, so decided to go and spend a few days down there.  It is called Quilting in the Garden because it is held in a beautiful nursery.  I’ve heard about this place for years, but honestly, for once the descriptions did not do it justice.  It was the most beautiful commercial nursery I’ve ever been to!  I tried to take pictures to share with you, but I’m afraid they don’t show how truly beautiful and peaceful it was.  I was there all day Friday for the class, and then again on Saturday morning for the quilt show.  I was surprised at how serene it was on Friday, when I thought the place would be bustling with getting ready for the crowds and the quilt show on Saturday.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures of Alden Lane Nursery:

This doesn’t show the size or the grandeur of these old oaks.  This one was laying on its side, but was still beautiful.  They hung the quilts from the trees.

This is a view from inside the nursery looking back toward the entrance!  The building was filled with all kinds of tempting gift items, as well as plenty of gardening supplies.


The sun was really bright, and actually made it difficult to look at some of the quilts.  This is the fountain area in the center of the nursery.

And everywhere there were clever arrangements, using found items.

Beauty everywhere you looked!

Oh!  I loved their use of broken pots to make “fairy gardens!”  I think I have a couple of those hanging around here!

And the view as you leave–a beautiful circle of sunflowers.


And here’s what I learned in class!  Squee!!  More sparkly stuff.  This was a great class in how to use beads on quilts.


It was really a very relaxing couple of days.  Lots of time for thinking about more serious topics.  We’ll see if I get around to actually writing about them this week!

100. And Counting.

100.  I swam 100 lengths of the pool!  A mile and a half.  Three-fifths of the way to my goal of swimming 2.4 miles.  I can’t believe I wasn’t shouting this on Sunday night.  Maybe because my arms were too tired to type?  Anyway, on Sunday after church I went to the pool to swim.  I didn’t have a plan to swim 100 lengths.  I was just going to swim for about an hour I thought.  Or until the pool got crowded and I got irritated.  But I did have in the back of my mind that I needed to take advantage of days when the pool was not busy to get some longer swims in.  And it just turned out that the pool was very quiet that afternoon.  So I just kept swimming and swimming.  And I thought about what a nice even number 100 is (like Mr. Monk–the detective, not the dog!)  It wasn’t really that hard while I was doing it, except I got a little cold.

And of course you know I thought about how fun it would be to write that on my blog.  Which brings me to the other part of this post–counting.  Why do we count?  Why do I count?  I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months, ever since I stood in the store comparing two bags of baked chips, comparing the calorie count and how many chips you get in a serving.  I mean, I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to decide which one was a “better deal.”  (side note–the answer is “neither.”  They didn’t even taste like what they were represented as.)

But that set me to thinking about why I count and what I count.  A lot of the time I count to see what I can get away with.  As in, if I am counting calories and I see that I have not reached my daily quota, I am happy that I can eat something else even though I am not hungry.

I count when I am exercising to make sure I “do the right thing.”  Do the number of reps and sets that are recommended.  Sometimes I count so I can brag about it  (see first paragraph.)

I’m not saying counting is bad.  After all, it is the root of the word “accountability.”  (I made that up, but doesn’t’ it seem like counting and accountability are interrelated?)

But sometimes it seems like I swap counting for common sense.  Stop eating when you aren’t hungry.  Exercise hard but don’t injure yourself.  Stuff like that.

I’m probably not going to stop counting.  I like math.  But I am trying to pay a little more attention to what’s behind the numbers.

An Alternate Universe

Who likes science fiction?  I used to like reading Ray Bradbury, and I loved the first of C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy.  It taught me that there were possibly other ways of seeing God besides the pedantic ways I had grown up knowing Him.

If you don’t like science fiction, you will have to have a really good imagination to even conceive of what I am going to try to describe.  Because I can’t really truly conceive of a world like this myself.

What if, in our world, bumps and bubbles, and wrinkles and extra skin, and dare I say FAT  were thought to be desirable?  What happened that made our description of human beauty so narrowly defined?  After all, humans are the ones who worked very hard to create these breeds of dogs that are considered beautiful and desirable by many people.

Extra thin:

Extra wrinkled:

Extra fat:

More wrinkles:

And extra short legs–I mean, extra cute:

It is almost painful to read “weight loss blogs” any more.  Perfectly normal, beautiful, functional woman degrading themselves, spending endless hours obsessing over an impossible to achieve “standard of beauty,” spending what amounts to years of their lives being unhappy and depressed about themselves.  Because they are not a certain shape.  It is not because they aren’t whole and functional people.  Some of these women are wives and mothers (world’s most important job,) marathon runners, weight lifters, swimmers, and artists.  Unbelievable, remarkable women.

And before you think I am pointing the finger at other people, I’m talking to myself too.  I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this the past few months.  Especially since I changed the header on my blog to be about “living a whole and healthy life,” instead of just being about “weight loss and life.”

I am NOT in weight loss mode right now.  Not even in the same country.  Yet, every single day I think about it a great deal.  I think about how I “should” be losing weight, or how I liked how I looked a few pounds ago.  And then I think about how I shouldn’t be thinking about that.

When I swim and even when I walk, I feel so good and strong (aside from the knee.)  I love how energetic and slim I feel (is that a feeling??)  I am happy with the way I spend my time right now.  I am putting more energy into my art (quilting,) and I am working on The Bridge, our child sponsorship program.  Alleviating hunger in the world, even in a small way, is so important to me (wrote about it here.)  I am happy with my daily schedule for the most part.  I am even happier with how I am keeping my house up.  So why would so much of my thought life be spent on this stupid weight issue?

I don’t have an answer for me or for you.  A couple of things that might work–the “acting as if” thing–in other words, I act as if I am okay with my current weight.  I wear shorts, even  in public, and my summer uniform has been a variety of sleeveless teeshirts.  The thought “I’m too fat to swim now” flits through my head quite often, but I load up the bag and head to the gym anyway.

Another thing that might help is the “what you say becomes your reality,” that I have read recently on someone’s blog.  In other words, I try not to use degrading words (even to myself) to describe my physical body.

People, we are more than physical beings.  No matter how you believe, you can’t change that.  We are more than body.  We have a spirit that is infinitely more valuable than the vessel that contains it. Thank goodness.

And one last note to “women of a certain age.”  Who came up with that term?  I love it!  Anyway, as we age, we are ALL going to retain weight around the middle.  We are.  We Are.  WE ARE.  I don’t know why.  When I get an audience with God and I have run out of the important questions, that is the first one I am going to ask.  I’ll report back to you.  In the meantime, will you try to make peace with that fact?  Please?  And yes.  I’m still working on that one myself.

(edited to add:  if you can’t relate to my doggie illustration, please continue on to the comments.  Karen’s description of a rhino on a treadmill is PRICELESS!)

This ‘n’ That

First I want to thank everyone for chiming in with some very good advice in my prior post about arthritis.  Even though I am (was) a nurse, my area was so specialized that I really don’t know a lot about adult medicine.  I feel more informed and am going to go forward from here.  In the meantime, I have been swimming up a storm, and am really loving it.  I am REALLY tired the next day, so I think its a pretty good workout.  Unfortunately, my weight lifting is taking a back seat, but I plan to add that back in soon.

Here is “The Bess Show.”  She gets the award for being the most photogenic dog this week.

Well, you KNOW that you-know-who was not going to be left out entirely.

Bess is very aware of where everything is supposed to be (I don’t know how she manages that in this house.)  If anything is new or out of place, she becomes quite concerned about it. Bordering on obsession, unfortunately.  She is also one of the few tv watching dogs I have had.

Watching The Dog Whisperer:

Watching “Hachi, A Dog’s Tale.”  That’s a pretty good movie, BTW.  Oh, that’s my new computer, which is working wonderfully as a tv/movie screen.  The picture is so clear, and the sound quality is much better than my old computer (very important for us old folks, you know.)

And a rare shot sans tongue.

I have found a few good peaches this past week.  I decided to try the Flax Cakes with peaches instead of blueberries.  And then I had the idea of making them into muffins instead of cakes.  Perfect amount to make six nice muffins.  Yummy, and very filling.

Two of them made a very nice breakfast.

It might seem like Noah is getting ignored on the blog, but don’t worry about him. As well as being lion-sized, he also gets the lion’s share of attention around here.

Almost every night he scratches that carpet up into a ball so he can sleep on the carpet underneath it.  Sigh.

The other morning I went out to check my zucchini plant, and I found this absolutely perfect blossom.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Here is my sad little vegetable patch.  I have actually gotten about 4 or 5 zucchinis and two whole tomatoes.  At the amount of water I have to use, that probably makes it about $5 per vegetable.  I’ll stop complaining about the prices at the Farmer’s Market now.

I bought a four pound bag of walnuts in the shell at the farmer’s market the other day.  $8.  Wanted to compare prices.  Just about half the weight was the actual walnut meat, so that made it $4 per pound, and a lot of hard work on my hands.  Not worthy.

Ah, I mentioned you-tube the other day.  When my computer was down I got very creative with my kindle fire.  I was able to watch you tube videos just fine on there.  And they have some wonderful full-length lectures and such on you tube. I started out looking for sermons by Francis Chan.  If you haven’t heard him speak, he is very compelling.  There’s just a ton of Francis Chan stuff on there. And then I found  an interview with Ann Lamott. I have to admit I have not read any of her books, but I love some of her quotes, and she was really interesting to listen to.  It was very well done, at a Writer’s Forum, and they had interviews with other writers I am interested in such as Eugene Peterson and Phillip Yancey.  Big Think does some interesting looking interviews.  The only one I watched was the interview with Marion Nestle, (New York University Professor of Nutrition) which was fascinating.  Basically she pointed out that people all over the world, in different times and different cultures, have eaten very different diets, and yet they are all healthy.  The main thing is to eat real food, and not too much.  She had such a common sense point of view.  I thoroughly recommend watching that video if you have time.  Its about 14 minutes.

Oh!  I almost forgot the most important news!  Wendy and I got together last week and worked on the website for The Bridge (our Haiti child sponsorship program.)  Well, Wendy had done all the work.  I just forced her to hit ‘publish’ and let it go public.  I think she did a beautiful job, and now you all can see what I am talking about when I talk about The Bridge.

Well, that’s about it for tonight.  Off for some lap time and a little more stitching before bed.