Thanksgiving

This morning I filled a page and a half in my journal with some of the many things I am thankful for. I thought I’d share past pictures from this blog to illustrate just a few. In no particular order,

Beautiful flowers:

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Rug hooking:

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Good food:

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Japanese maples:

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Friends and Carrefour Poy, Haiti:

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The ability to walk:

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Turkey and cranberry sauce!

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These two guys:

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And these two guys:

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My new garden:

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Words, paper and pen, and the word of God (and quilts!)

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I am thankful for these and so much more. Including so many good friends through all the different stages of my life, not the least of which are you, my blogging friends. I wish you a most wonderful Thanksgiving, and pray that you will be filled with a sense of thankfulness for all the blessings of our lives.

Recipe Review: Low Calorie Apple Cranberry Sauce

I thought I might add a new semi-regular column. I’ve got a LOT of recipes over there on my recipe site (BTW, that is a pseudo-blog. I use it only as a depository for my recipes. I never actually write an article on it.) Anyway, some of them are better than others. And I am always delighted when I try an old favorite and find that yes indeed, it is a worthy recipe.

Today’s recipe is the Low Calorie Apple Cranberry Sauce. It just so happened, that on the day I wanted to make this (yesterday) I did not have an orange on hand. So I just used water, and then I added in some cinnamon. Its still delicious and tasty. And I am amazed at the nice thick consistency of it. The apples add a nice sweetness and texture, so not as much sugar is needed. A lot of recipes out there use four times as much sugar, and some of them use fruit juice and then have to add corn starch to thicken it?? What’s the point of that?

Anyway, I do recommend this cranberry sauce recipe. I grew up with the cranberry sauce in the can, and so I have come quite late to making cranberry sauce from scratch. It seems to be a relatively fool-proof recipe. Try it, you’ll like it!

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Changing it Up (Exercise, that is!)

I think we’ve probably all read the experts’ advice about periodically changing our exercise routine for optimal results. Our bodies become very efficient with repeated exercise. I’ve never counted on exercise to help with my weight loss, but I have accepted the experts’ opinion that regular exercise is very important for weight loss maintenance. And for me it is an important part of “aging gracefully.”

Lately (well, really over the past year) I have changed my exercise routine significantly, but not for weight loss or weight loss maintenance. It was for a different reason. Yes…sigh. It probably has to do with aging.

Okay, even though I was sighing up there about the aging, I am actually very happy with the changes in my exercise routine. Remember, it was last November when I finally went to the doctor to see what was wrong with my knee (and my hips and my ankles…..) The doctor gave me permission to stop walking for exercise, and recommended biking–change number one. As long as there’s a good Food Network show on the telly, I’m good with the biking! I like to set the bike on manual and do intervals–usually 3 minutes on a lower resistance setting (8-10 on the bike I use) and then 1 minute on a higher setting (12-14.) I try to challenge myself to go faster, especially on the lower settings. So far, 16-17 MPH seems to be as fast as I can go consistently. I usually do 25 minutes. Lately, I’ve been starting out on the bike for 20 minutes, then go upstairs for my weights workout, and then back to the bike for 20 minutes. I REALLY like this, as long as I’ve got the time for it.

And then last November I went to physical therapy, and the therapist told me to completely stop doing all of the leg weights machines. He eventually had me start back up, but at much lower weights (like on the leg press I had been doing 180 pounds, and he backed me all the way down to 50 pounds!) I kept on doing my heavier upper body workouts on the machines.

And THEN I got that tendonitis in my elbow where I couldn’t even lift a glass! I checked Dr. Google, and he recommended rest. Okay. So I completely stopped all my arm workouts on the weights machines. And how ’bout that? Dr. Google was right. Eventually my elbow completely recovered. But now, using the example of how my PT had me working my legs, I started doing lower weights and higher reps. (For example, on the lat pulldown machine I stopped doing 100 pounds, and decreased it to 60 pounds.)

And after quite a while of sticking with this routine, I want to tell you that I am very happy with it. I used to really enjoy the challenge of lifting heavier and heavier. But then there were the in-between workout days where I felt like I was run over by a truck. And the occasional thought crept in “what’s the point of exercising when you feel like crap half your life?” Now I feel like I have worked out–slight muscle soreness–but I feel great all the time.

So doing these lower weights, higher reps takes more time. But for my overall health and sense of well-being, it really seems worth it. For specific examples, I do 4 sets of 25 reps at 65 pounds on the leg press machine. On the chest press machine, I do 3 sets of 20 reps at 40 pounds.

I feel like I am listening to my body and giving it what it needs. I highly recommend it!

(P.S. Noah says “she still walks every day. She likes walking better than I do. I have become one with the couch.”)

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About that Goal Weight

A little bit ago I shared that I had once again reached ONE HUNDRED POUNDS LOST. I didn’t say it in the post, but some people assumed that I had reached my goal weight. A reasonable assumption, since that is the most I’ve ever lost. But it is not my goal weight. I would actually like to lose more weight in the hopes that it will decrease the stress on my knees and my back. Right now I have in mind to lose another fifteen pounds. Anyone want to bet on the fact that it’ll probably take me another year to do that?

But here’s the thing. I don’t think I want to have a goal weight. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Wouldn’t it be so much better to have a GOAL LIFE? Here are some of the qualities I would like to achieve in that goal life:

  • Kinder
  • Humbler
  • Productive
  • Healthier (which would include being as thin as possible with food choices to support optimal health)
  • BALANCED, with a side of contentedness (keeping up with that healthier goal but with minimal angst over food choices.)

For me, this seems a healthier way to look at weight loss. It is just one part of a whole and healthy life. Granted, it is a big part. But if those other things go by the wayside in order to achieve a certain weight or body size, that is NOT a whole and healthy life. I suppose if someone held a gun to my head and made me choose between being a morbidly obese, kind person, or a model-thin, mean-spirited person, I would choose the former. Fortunately, that is not a choice any of us have to make.

Everything works together. If I neglect my health, eating whatever I want, whenever I want, I will be in (even more) pain all the time. Do you know how hard it is to be loving and kind when you are in pain? So the best possible health is really very important. But if I am impatient or unkind or just plain unwilling to help a person in need because I am obsessed  with what food I am going to eat, or worried that I might miss a workout at the gym, that is not a good life either.

These are some lofty goals. I am not always balanced. Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows I spend a little too much time thinking about food. I am not naturally kind and humble. I have certainly learned a lot about humility in the last few years, but kindness is something I always have to work on. I think I’m relatively productive, but I can be very wasteful of my days sometimes. And heaven knows, I’m doing my best to work on my health LOL.

Forever and Ever?

Forever and ever. Have you ever said that about a new diet or weight loss method you are using?

Finally. Finally it seems like you have found something that is working for you. And you think, “I will eat this way forever.” Or, “I will eliminate that food group from my diet forever.” Or, “If this is what it takes, I will keep coming to these meetings for the rest of my life.” Or, “this exercise method is the key to my new thinner self. I will do this for the rest of my life.”

I have. When I started Weight Watchers nine years ago, and it looked like it was actually going to “take,” I remember thinking (and even saying out loud) that I would continue coming to the meetings for the rest of my life. I thought of it as being like an alcoholic who needs to keep going to AA meetings to stay on the straight and narrow.

Only I didn’t. Me and W.W. parted ways  after a couple of years. I like to call it an amicable divorce.

Between W.W. and the Me Diet, there have been a lot of twists and turns in the weight loss and weight maintenance journey. I completely changed the foods I ate and how much I ate and how often I ate several times. I like to think that most of the changes I made were for the better.

Last November, when I started the “me diet,” I understood that “forever and ever” could not be depended on. I was pretty sure I could not keep drinking shakes for the rest of my life. So what was I going to do? I thought about this ALL THE TIME.

During the past year I have come up with a few alternative low-cal higher-protein meal/snacks that I can substitute for the shakes. And, surprisingly, I have come to enjoy my shakes (smoothies.) Thanks to my friends, Lori and Cammy, I have a very nice repertoire of low-calorie, high-protein smoothies.

I have no doubt that as time goes on, I will continue to make changes in my food choices and portions.

And exercise! Now that was one of the first things I read as I started to lose weight–how our bodies are highly adaptable, and would get used to one kind of exercise and become very efficient at that. And so it was a good idea to occasionally change the type of exercise you did, especially if your goal was weight loss.

The main point, I guess, is to know that the human body is very complex and is not static. It   changes, and its needs change. To navigate weight loss and maintenance successfully, I think you have to agree to this and at least be willing to consider change along the way.

Happy

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This picture makes me very happy. Mr. Monk has been having a tough time lately. His arthritis, especially in his rear legs, became very severe a couple of weeks ago. And then a “sports injury” to a front leg (he jumped off of a chair. yes, I know I shouldn’t have left him up there unattended…) aggravated it to the point where he was having a hard time walking.

He was already taking glucosamine. The vet added rimadyl, but it didn’t seem to be
helping at all. In fact, he was getting worse by the day. So back to the vet, who added an opiate (who knew?) After a couple of VERY UNCOMFORTABLE days, and an increase in  the opiate, Monk has had a few days where he seems relatively comfortable. When I heard a familiar gnawing on the bone, I turned around and was so happy to see him enjoying a chaw. I love this old man a little too much.DSCN0491