Week’s End Report

As I said in my last entry (BTW, thanks for all your thoughtful comments on aging gracefully, I will write on that subject again soon…) MLG was over this week. While I was splitting that wood, he was working on a different project. I had mentioned that my tomatoes were so tall that they kept falling over, and I had run out of fence to tie them up to. Look what he did:

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I think its just a masterpiece! Its like a woven bamboo cage for tomatoes.

Can you see all the little tomatoes in various stages of ripening? Every day I go out and pick a few. I have quite a stash or cherry tomatoes now!

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Ooh ooh ooh. Speaking of tomatoes, here’s my very first BIG tomato. I ate it with some balsamic vinegar, some basil FROM MY GARDEN, and some fresh mozzarella. Mmmm mmmm mmmm!

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My big tomatoes are Brandywine, which are usually very large, but also typically misshapen, and have these splits in them. They still taste the best to me!

MLG also worked on another “problem area”. This area (behind the bench) has always been where I dump leftover stuff from the garden. When we put the beds in, it also became the empty pot place. MLG cleaned everything out, raked it, and even put down that layer of leftover wood shavings to make it neat. The dogs think the wood shavings are second only to carpet for peeing on…

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I put that little bench with my “bonsai” trees there a while ago. Now that the area is cleared out, I will move a couple of the Japanese maples over. I think they will get just the right amount of shade and sunshine there. You can see that I have a cattle gate there. Its not pretty, but I’m reluctant to put anything else in its place. It has been very handy when we needed to have a truck actually drive into the yard to deliver stuff. And beyond that is the old chicken coop. It is an eyesore. In good time, it will be taken down too…

 

A new visitor to the garden:

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I’ve also been making steady progress on my rug. I’ll get one area done, and then get stuck, and have to get opinions from various people, and then I can progress onto the next section. Thanks to Shelley, I was able to get the night sky done!

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And some close-ups:

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The stars:

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Last week I got on a real cooking jag, so this week I’ve reaped the benefits of that. My dinners have taken about 5 minutes to fix! I got a BUNCH of tomatoes that weren’t perfect from the farmstand for $1. I just cooked them a bit, and used half to make a chunky batch of my favorite spaghetti sauce, and the other half to make some delicious taco soup. I made a batch of Georgie’s Morning Glory Muffins, and they are almost too good (their subtitle is Zucchini Carrot Apple Banana Muffins–that tells you how good they are!) 100 calories makes them just right to have with a low cal dinner, or I can have two of them for my breakfast.

I’ve been back in the pool several times this week, but its been for 20 or 30 minutes. That’s just right for now.

I guess that’s all the news that’s fit to print around here. Happy Holiday weekend to everyone. In case I forget to mention it on Monday, our AIM posts will be postponed a week due to the first Monday falling on a holiday. Be sure to watch for it–we’ve picked a fun topic this month.

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Is This What Aging Gracefully Looks Like?

You know, I mention fairly often that I want to age gracefully. I say I should write about it. Other people say I should write about it. I’ve started innumerable articles (okay, one) on what it means to age gracefully.

But the truth is, I am still figuring it out.

This morning, MLG came over to do some more work around the property. He surprised me by bringing along his wood splitter. Do you all know what a wood splitter is? Its a pretty darn nifty tool, if you ask me. And he let ME use it.

A wood splitter eliminates the need to swing an ax. But it does still require you to lift and roll some huge rounds of cut logs, and then to throw the split pieces (that are still pretty heavy) into a pile.

In the middle of splitting this huge pile of oak (a very heavy wood,) I was feeling pretty cocky. I thought, Is this a picture of aging gracefully?

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I thought, ooh, photo op. I should have MLG take a picture of my bad self splitting wood. Good blog fodder. So I ran in to get my camera and glanced in the mirror. Ick. I did not like what I saw. No make-up. I had washed my hair, but let it dry without fluffing it. I was  wearing old work clothes that were not flattering. I just looked like a dowdy old woman. I left the camera inside. I’m pretty sure this is NOT an example of aging gracefully.

So the truth is, I’m still working on that aging gracefully thing. They don’t teach it in school. And no one talks about it to you when you are growing up. Maybe that’s because they know you wouldn’t be interested in listening to it.

I plan to think more about this, and try to write more about it.

I wish I had had the courage to take that picture that just showed me the way I am. I’m proud that I was able to split that much wood, and I even stacked a bit of it before I gave up and took the afternoon off.

Tonight I took a short walk with Noah and felt really great. I haven’t felt that good walking for a long time, so we went a little farther, and I gave myself the night off from my P.T. exercises.

Somewhere between accepting my physical limitations as I age and pushing the boundaries of what I can still do lies one facet of aging gracefully.

Ta-Da!!

Well, that was quite a week. I did de-clutter various areas of my house every day. And every single day I went to the gym for a serious workout! By Friday I was tired of de-cluttering (its not done yet) and I knew I wanted to do my 2.4 mile swim on Saturday. I double checked with my running guru buddy, and she confirmed that I needed to take a day off of exercise before the big day. Yahoo. I celebrated by starting a little quilt.

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(finished it on Saturday!)

My plan was to start my swim at about 4pm. Because no matter how I swim, it still takes me just about one minute per length. Oh, and I had checked on Thursday–2.4 miles was 175 LENGTHS! So I needed to be in the pool for three hours, and I was hoping that by going later in the day I would miss the crowds. That worked pretty well. There were more people there than I expected, but I got a lane all to myself, all except for about 1/2 hour when I had to share it with another woman. She was a very good swimmer, though, so that was fine.

I spent the day doing regular housework chores, a little gardening, and playing around with that little quilt. And I ate a little bit heavier than I normally would have. Still, I figured out that when I headed to the pool, I had only eaten about 890 calories.

I left the house at 3:15 for my big adventure. So here’s the funny tragic part of the day. I wanted to celebrate with a cupcake like Lori does on her long rides. And we do have a really really good cupcake store here in town. I went to get the cupcake before the swim because I knew they would be closed by the time I finished. I was pretty excited. Can you believe, I walked into the bakery and there was not a single cupcake in sight??? Well, they had some carrot cake cupcakes on the back counter that were not even frosted yet, so they weren’t left over. But it was not the same as drooling looking over a case full of cupcakes and selecting just the right one.

On to the gym. I wore my swim shirt (that is usually for swimming in cold weather) for two reasons: I get cold after being in the pool for about an hour, and also, sometimes these shirts are called rash guards. And they do a good job of that. I was very happy I had decided to wear it.

Okay, this is almost funny. And again, Shelley concurs–the same thing happens to her on her runs! I got to the 3rd length (like, 3 whole minutes in the pool,) and I thought, my arms feel so heavy. Something’s terribly wrong. I’ll never be able to swim this far. Very weird, huh?

Anyway, I kept swimming. And swimming. And then I swam some more. I alternated between side stroke and back stroke, and wearing my fins, and swimming without them. The fins might make me go a little bit faster, and for sure I can give my arms a rest when I use them. But they also provide a lot of resistance, and for some reason, I tend to get cramps in my legs when I use them for too long. That is NOT fun.

At about 60 lengths, I needed to go to the bathroom. I kept swimming. I swam for two more hours like that.

At 140 lengths, I started counting down. 35 to go. 34 to go. Then I got bored with that and I just tried to swim as hard and as fast as I could.

Oh, and since 175 lengths is an uneven number, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to decide if I would swim 174 lengths or 176 lengths. In the end, I didn’t want to cut it short, so I did 176.

Hopped out of the pool and headed straight to you-know-where. Showered, dressed, and headed to the car, where I gobbled down my cupcake. Not quite as celebratory as sitting at a nice cafe, having a latte with. Must work on this aspect of the exercise challenge!

My take away from all this? I am really glad that I did it. It makes me feel strong that I can just keep swimming for that long. Who knows when that skill might come in handy?? I don’t think long distance swimming is anywhere near as difficult as long distance running, because I never felt physically exhausted, or like “I’ll never make it,” (except that little weirdness at the 3 minute mark LOL.) The worst thing I felt was a little headache at the end (maybe from wearing ear plugs?) Swimming does burn more calories than I thought. I found this calculator, and its pretty fun to see that I might actually be burning a significant amount of calories with my swimming. I have to say that that calculator encouraged me to keep swimming longer distances. But as far as doing this distance more often, I don’t think I’ll do it too much. Its no fun to keep exercising when you have to pee that bad. And its boring. I think I’d rather do a long workout with the bike, the weights, and a swim.

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Yeah baby!

Almost Spa Week

Well, I had declared to myself and a few friends that this was going to be a spa week. But then I found out it was National Clean Up the Clutter Week. So that is going to be the focus of this week. I am planning to still give exercise a priority this week, but at least part of it will be “functional exercise.” The relaxing, luxurious part of spa week is going to have to wait. Its a lot more fun to relax when your house has been de-cluttered, anyway. I think I’ll blame this change of heart on Shelley and her Amazing Organized Closet!

Actually, I think I changed my mind when I spent a good part of Saturday cleaning all my deck furniture and hauling it BY MYSELF back up onto the deck. Can you hear the self-pity in that sentence? Anyway, it took a lot longer and a lot more energy than I had expected. And then seeing the results of something clean and de-cluttered has spurred me on to work on a couple of other areas in my house this week.

Here’s the deck, with its new green stain on it–MLG did a masterful job of repairing and sanding and staining it. I do love the color. And I just can’t describe how fun it is to walk across the deck knowing that it is safe and secure.

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Ever since I wrote my “Realtime in the Swimming Pool” post, I have been making steady progress on my goal to swim 2.4 miles. I regularly swim 100 lengths, with 40-60 length swims in between. 2.4 miles is 153 lengths. My plan is to swim this next weekend. I will decide what day to do it on depending on how I am feeling, and how busy the pool is. But you can be sure that it will be followed up with a cupcake to celebrate!!

So this week I plan to alternate days on the bike and weights, with swimming. I’ll walk a little. But Noah’s not into the walking too much (thank goodness,) and I do not enjoy walking in August. It is almost unbearably dusty around here in August.

My weight loss is so slow that its …well, I can’t think of a descriptor. Its just slow. I fluctuate between being impatient, thinking its not worth mentioning because its “re-loss,” and being unbearably proud and happy that I have been able to accomplish this. I have lost 22 pounds since last November. Just about 2 1/2 pounds a month.

My knees do feel better. I am sure the weight loss is the most significant factor. I also have kept up with my physical therapy exercises. If I slack off on them, I definitely notice it. In addition, I am taking vitamin B-12. I don’t know if it helps or if its just superstition. But I’m not gonna stop taking it. I still have pain with pretty much every step I take, but its very bearable. I had a couple of really bad days in June. So bad that I consulted my friend who has extensive personal experience with arthritis, and is also studying nutrition. Lynn reminded me that weather changes and pressure changes are one of the main culprits in arthritis flare-ups. And it just so happened that we had had a very weird weather change the days before that happened. Thanks, Lynn!

After that, I started keeping an arthritis calendar. I write down the exercise I do, the calories I consume, and if I have eaten anything different or unusual, like wheat or sugar, or just over-eating. And I write down when I have increased pain. Ever since I started it, though, I have been feeling fit as a fiddle, pretty much every day! There was only one day I was a little more stiff than usual, and that was another day we had a change from unusually cool weather to super hot weather.

Well, this got a little long-winded. Here’s some garden shots to end this on a high note.

My marigold “bouquets”:

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A new pot with that lime green plant (they really do well for me, so I like them) and a pink zinnia. I’m hoping it will grow and fill out the pot. We’re working on a “layered pink look” in the garden…

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And a fuchsia. Because I am silly and I grew up in the Bay Area where fuchsias grew like weeds. They like cool weather. But I can dream, can’t I?

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A Peachy Keen Summer

After grousing about the poor harvest of peaches last summer, it seems I have been rewarded with a banner crop of peaches this year! I have gotten peaches from three different places, and all of them have been wonderful. My latest purchase was from Costco! They traditionally have had great peaches for sale each summer. But really, what is a single person to do with a DOZEN peaches? Time to get creative!!

While I was at Costco, they were promoting their organic products. The lady in the quinoa booth caught my attention, and we had a brief conversation about how we used our quinoa. I still have a lot of quinoa because I bought a SEVEN POUND BAG at Costco. Ahem…moving on. Anyway, she mentioned that she uses it with peaches to thicken them. Ooh, that sounds yummy.

One of the troubles of quinoa is that it is kind of dry. It seems like it needs something to make it stick together. So I came up with this idea. Its more an idea than a recipe, although I guess I’ll write the idea down on my recipe site, if only for myself. I cooked one serving of quinoa–1/4 cup of quinoa in 1 cup of water. While that was cooking, I peeled and chopped 2 peaches. I put them in a separate pan with just a bit of water to keep them from sticking. After they cooked for a bit, I added a slurry (don’t you love these fancy new cooking terms I pick up from my cooking shows) of 1 1/2 tsp corn starch, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 cup water. And I continued to cook for about 3 minutes. By this time the quinoa was cooked and I added the quinoa to the peaches–Voila! Peachy Quinoa Compote. Remove from heat and add sweetener of choice. This made 3 servings at 95 calories per serving.

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Now, here is another recipe I tried at the same time, because I thought they would taste good together, kinda like peaches and cream. Well, its peaches and cream for the weirdly healthy food addict LOL.

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It is Chia Pudding. Couldn’t be simpler. I got the original idea here. All you do is put 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk and 4 Tbsp chia seeds, along with sweetener of choice into a container with a lid. Give it a shake. 15 minutes later give it another shake and then put it in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. I really enjoyed this. Only 50 calories for 1/2 cup.

I think there are a lot of ways you could eat the Peachy Quinoa Compote. Warm, with some granola on top, for a dessert. Maybe as a topping for french toast or protein pancakes?

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(French toast made with whole grain bread, about 230 calories for this plate.)

And I plan to have the rest of the Chia Pudding with some blueberries tomorrow morning. The Fun with Food never stops!

Oh, as long as I mentioned fun with food, I have to share a picture I took of my dinner the other night. I really eat like this.

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( 4 oz. turkey burger with tomatoes and lettuce.)

The Garden View

The other morning I opened the front door, and was just so thankful that I have such a pretty garden view right now. I thought I’d share it with you.

The view to the left:

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The view straight ahead:

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And over a little farther to the right:

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(Mr. Monk still enjoys sniffing around a little bit.)

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He doesn’t mind at all when I yell to “get out of there.” He can’t hear that well.

Each of these marigold plants looks like a bouquet!

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Close-up:

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Here’s what I was trying to show you–these green plants (sweet potato vine?) grow so quickly that they just dwarf the lantanas. But up close I can still enjoy them!

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A new old garden ornament. I’ve had this guy for years. I forgot to move him outside this summer:

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“Mom, blogging is BORRRRING!!!”

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Look at these huge fluffy sunflowers! I bought them at the farmer’s market.

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And the latest project at Casa Debby? Repairing the deck. All those new boards were where the boards were missing or rotted through! I should have taken a before picture. MLG is multi-talented! He did this job too! Tomorrow he will stain it. And we talked about an even bigger, more exciting project! I’ll let you know if that actually starts happening.

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At the same time as MLG was power-washing the deck, the electrician showed up! He replaced some burned out plugs, and next week he will put in some new fixtures that are long over-due. I am going to get track-lighting in the dining room-turned studio. It will be wonderful to have good lighting in there. Gotta tell you, with these two guys working simultaneously on the house, I SOOOOOOO wanted to stress eat. All I ate was an extra gummy calcium. Pretty good, huh?

And that’s how its going around here. Have a nice weekend everybody!

AIM: Show Me Your Maintenance and I’ll Show You Mine

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This month the girls and I have decided to go our separate ways! That is, we are each going to write about an aspect of our lives that is unique to us. I was elected to discuss maintenance in retirement. It occurred to me today that I am also single, so that is an over-riding feature of my life that definitely does impact my ability (and inability sometimes!) to maintain a large weight loss. I’ll probably discuss that a little bit too.

In case anybody is new to my blog, I worked as a Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse for 25 years. It was the most rewarding, punishing, happy, sad occupation you could ever imagine. I loved that I could do it. I considered it a miracle that I even made it through nursing school, much less WORKED IN A HOSPITAL for 25 years (I had a major little paranoia about doctors and hospitals.) So it goes without saying that it was a stressful job. That is not why I was fat. It probably contributed to the difficulty of losing and maintaining weight loss. Nevertheless, in January 2005, I started this last weight loss journey as a NICU nurse, and lost 100 pounds in about a year and a half.

Oh wait. This post is supposed to be about my RETIREMENT! Okay. Fast forward a few years, and in June 2011 I retired from nursing. I remember being worried about how I would handle food in retirement. I even wrote to Georgie to ask her opinion, and she was quite encouraging.

I have to say that, if anything, it has been easier to make wise food choices in retirement. I have plenty of time for food preparation and experimentation, a hobby that I enjoy very much. Of course, being single, I can eat what I want, when I want. That could also be a problem. But mostly it works in my favor. I also don’t have the built in stress that came from my job, nor the built in treats that came with my job.

For many people, retirement is synonymous with traveling. I have actually written quite a bit about travel and food choices and the challenges of being on the road. In fact, one month it was the topic of our AIM blog.

So I think I’ll address another issue in regards to traveling and maintaining weight loss that I have been thinking about lately. I was going to write a different post called “Room for Improvement.”

So far this year I’ve taken three longer trips (Haiti, Ohio, and Oregon,) as well as various and sundry shorter trips to visit family. And then there are the day long shopping trips. Unfortunately for me, travel and food treats are inextricably linked in the hard-wiring of my brain. So when I make the conscious decision to just “go with the flow,” or “eat like the natives do” (haha–I’m referring to the Amish, NOT the Haitians!) that is not a wise decision. Especially if you are trying to lose weight (which I am.) Because a week of eating out of balance can negate 3 weeks of S-L-O-W weight loss. And one day of indulgence can negate any weight loss for that week. If you are “only” trying to maintain your weight, but your retirement includes an increased travel schedule, and you use the aforementioned “go with the flow” plan, you could still end up with a slow but steady weight GAIN. So I am going to review some of my older posts on travel and food, and put a few of my healthy living tips back into my travel plans!

And I suppose I can bring this all around to weight loss maintenance in retirement by saying that it is almost natural to gain weight when you turn into an old lady as you age, and it is also more difficult to lose weight as you age. But it is not impossible.

It is fun to experiment with various recipes and “flavor profiles” (who watches waaaay too many cooking shows?) I love seeing a classic combination, such as strawberries and rosemary, or lemon and raspberries, and start to think about how I can fit those flavors into a healthy low calorie treat. Now that I am retired, I have plenty of time for my food experiments. I saw the combination of lemon and raspberries on Georgie’s blog. Then I saw Lori’s recipe for Ricotta Puffs. I don’t ever have ricotta around the house, but I always have cottage cheese.  So the next morning, I came up with this new recipe for Raspberry Lemon Cheese Puffs. A delicious, filling breakfast treat for about 200 calories. Enjoy!

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To read about how maintenance looks different in different lives, be sure to check out my AIM friends:

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet