Exercise, Interrupted

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you will know that my normal orderly 🙂 life has been disrupted for the past few months. Since the week before Christmas, construction and renovation have been going on steadily until about a week ago. Then in February, I went on a long trip. After I returned from that trip, I got a bad cold that knocked me out for a couple of weeks.

Anyway…the exercise. At first when the construction started, I went to the gym very regularly. It was a good reason to get out of the house for a few hours (haha, not that I spend a few hours EXERCISING.) You know what I mean. After a while, though, sometimes I skipped the gym. Watching all that construction wore me out :).

Of course, travel always interrupts my exercise. I do not really like going to hotel gyms. So I don’t. Pretty much regular exercise goes out the window when I travel. I was surprised that my brother, who loves to exercise, said that he does not work out when he is on vacation. That made me feel better about that.

And then, the cold. I was just plum worn out. I walked a little most days, but I couldn’t make myself drive down to the gym.

AND THEN, and this is the biggest interruption, my carpets got taken away, and hardwood floors were installed. What the what? What do hardwood floors have to do with exercising interruption? Well let me tell you. They are HARD. The exercise that got interrupted was my 3X/week P.T. exercises for my knees and back. They are mostly floor exercises. I would sit on the floor (on my carpet) and do them while I watched a tv show. I just stopped doing them. I am looking for a carpet for the living room, but so far have not found just the right one.

Finally, last week, I hauled in a smaller rug I had for the entry and re-started my PT exercises. I’ve been back at the gym for a couple of weeks. And walking continues as before. Interruption ended.

I guess all I want to say is that life happens. Injuries, family obligations, work–exercise gets interrupted. I think its pretty much the same as eating and food. If it’s a lifetime commitment to healthy living, the interruptions are just an unavoidable part of that. There’s no need to despair, or to quit and start all over. Just start right back as soon as you can, doing as much as life allows.

Sometimes you have to find something different to do (I wrote about that here.) But for sure you need to do something. For your best life, its a good thing. (haha, don’t tell Bob or Martha that I “borrowed” their words.)

I Like Me

I like me.

I like me, being what no one else can be.

Yes, I like me.

I had a little cross-stitched pillow with this saying on it. I started thinking about it when I thought about this topic. I couldn’t find it to take a picture for you guys. Either buried in clutter, or eaten by dogs. Either way, that’s a completely different post.

Back to what it says–“I like me.” The last set of AIM posts got me to thinking about this. Forgive me if this has been written about elsewhere, but I don’t recall that it has:

What if “self-acceptance” is a key component when it comes to long-term weight loss maintenance?

The National Weight Control Registry is often quoted by the experts as the definitive gathering of information on what it takes to maintain weight loss. I am a member of that society, so I know the questions they ask to gather this information. They don’t ask any questions about your psyche. I think that they would say that, as scientists, that kind of data is hard to quantify. Its simpler to say things like

    • 78% eat breakfast every day.
    • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
    • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
    • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

Its not so easy to report what these weight loss maintainers think about themselves.

But it seems to me, in all my reading, that the people who have been successful at maintaining their weight loss either went into it already thinking well of themselves, or else they did a lot of work during the weight loss or after they reached “goal” on self-acceptance, or “liking themselves.”

I was very overweight for a very very very long time. I was one of the lucky ones. I had parents who loved me and thought I was clever. They encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be– “you can do anything you want to do with your life.” And then when I got to that age where you have to decide for yourself what you really believe about yourself, I worked very hard at “being content in whatever state I was in” (Phil. 4:12) and believing that God made me the way I was ON PURPOSE, and he liked me this way. Egads. Could there be a bigger ego booster than that?

I didn’t like being fat. I didn’t like looking for clothes that would just “cover me up.” I didn’t like being tired and sore all the time. But for sure I liked me.

I do read quite frequently the story about the (usually younger) woman, who thinks her life will be wonderful, and she will finally love herself (because everyone else will love this thinner person,) and they are devastated when they get there and find out it is not the golden ring after all. And many many times they regain all the weight that they lost. This young blogger wrote very well about this experience here. Fortunately for her, she recognized the problem, and worked on it before she regained the weight.

Anyway, its just something to think about, whether you are starting on your weight loss journey, or you are “maintaining.” Do you like yourself?

Before and After–Me and My Garden


I ran across some old “fat” photos of me, and (squee!!) I figured out how to scan them. As I looked at one of them, I realized that it was a “before” picture of me AND my garden. It was probably taken within the first couple of years that I lived here, so that would have been about 1988. That’s me at 34 years old, and the start of my garden. I planted a couple of petunias in a wooden box. They actually did very well. The same wooden box was where I planted my little maple tree. That little maple tree grew and grew in that little wooden box until it couldn’t grow any more. And that is what precipitated the whole garden project! The big pine tree trunk behind me in that picture also grew and grew, until it had to be taken down. Its stump is in the middle of the raised bed now. Those are my dogs I had when I moved here, Charlie the Standard Poodle, and Muppet, my little Lhasa Apso. (The storage shed in the background had a tree fall on its roof, and it was removed shortly after that.)

This bed is built right where I was sitting in the first picture. The big maple tree is the one that started the whole project. It is doing so well this year.


Here’s a view of the other beds this morning, with recent improvements by MLG (Master Landscaping Guy.)


And me? Fortunately, instead of growing and growing, I stayed that same size for a very long time. And then I got smaller.

DSCN0716Me and that little maple tree–we’ve weathered a lot over the years. But we’re still standing.

The Mudroom

I went to a conference with some friends for a couple of days, and came home last night to an almost-finished mud room! I think J. the contractor might have a bit of painting here or there to do, but it looks finished to me.

This little room is an idea I’ve had for years! I don’t have a big roof overhang, and because of all the trees, even at the best of times, the rain gutters don’t work well. So when it rains, there is just a constant drip or downpour right outside the front door, and its a royal pain to try to get the dogs inside and toweled off before they shake all over everything. I was so excited when J. told me it was possible to build this. Its only 4′ X 7′, but that is plenty of room for even me and four dogs to get in out of the rain. And then I had the bright idea to ask if I could have a doggie door put in at the same time. Oh my. I am in heaven. I might never have to get out of my chair again. Some little doggies have to go to the bathroom quite often. Without mentioning names, evidently their royal systems are small and delicate.

So here’s the queen investigating the new doggie door:


And Sophie and Mr. Monk looking out the new front door:


I tried to get a shot of the front of the house, because I think the door to the mudroom is much brighter than the studio door. I’m not sure if its the light, or if it needs another coat of paint. Its a little bright, even for me. But I do like the way the front of the house looks now!




Spring Flowers and Blueberry Pancakes

This has been the earliest spring that I can remember up here in the Sierra Foothills. We had one early snow storm, and then we had an unusual stretch of about 10 weeks of sunny days. It got all the bulbs blooming early, and fortunately, knock on wood, we have not had a winter storm to knock them down. Here’s a few views of the garden.


And look what was almost hidden in that bed! This is the most exciting thing I’ve seen this early spring:


Yes!!! Those are the little tips of the lily of the valley plants that came special delivery all the way from New York last year! Thank you so much Lori!

A little bit of everything in this bed: primroses, pansies, muscari, hyacinths, and daffodils. And the flowering almond bush in the back.


Close-up of the pansy:


Here’s a close-up of the flowering almond:


The pink flower thief’s favorite bush is in full bloom:




Daffodils everywhere:



And honestly, I love these little violets that bloom so freely, and self-propagate so well.


So last night I was watching a Food Network program (as usual,) and I chose to watch Throwdown with Bobby Flay–Blueberry Pancakes. Some of you probably think its weird to watch food shows about “food I can’t eat.” But honestly, for whatever reason, I am not tempted to make or eat the food they show. I just like getting new ideas from them. And watching how they made those blueberry pancakes gave me something new to try with my beloved protein pancake recipe. Basically they whipped the egg whites into a meringue and then folded them into the rest of the batter. So after dreaming all night about how I would incorporate this into my recipe, I decided to keep the recipe as is, except that instead of using the egg beaters stuff, I used two egg whites, figuring that those would whip better. I thought that it would work to whip them in the Magic Bullet, but after doing 15 second intervals for about three minutes, they were only slightly thicker and foamy. I even added a tiny bit of cream of tartar to see if that would help. So I just added the rest of the ingredients (1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup cottage cheese, vanilla) and I did add about 1/8 tsp each of baking soda and baking powder. Whirred those around in the magic bullet and put the batter in the pre-heated pan, and then added the blueberries. They were definitely lighter and fluffier than my normal protein pancakes, but I don’t know that they were any better tasting. I used about 3/4 cup of blueberries, so they were chock-full of blueberries. They were definitely a treat on this beautiful spring morning!

The Weekend

Its a cat bed, for goodness sakes!

DSCN0990There are at least three other more “luxurious” doggie beds in the house, but for some reason, this seemed to be the only possible choice on the day. Hope you all enjoy a little “catnap” this weekend!

AIM: The Last Straw


This month we are tackling one of the questions we were asked in our questionnaire:

1. What was your “last straw” moment, or your kick in the butt, or whatever it was that finally made you say “I just have to do this (get healthy)”?

Well, I have to be honest here. Even though I promoted this as one of the questions we tackle, I knew that I did not have a good singular answer.

I knew that I had a LOT of moments that SHOULD have been “the last straw.”

  • Like when I would take my nieces on a special trip to Lake Tahoe, and I would sit on a bench in the shade just watching them.
  • Or when I admitted to a special group of friends that sometimes I just felt like running out the front door, but I wasn’t physically able to do that.
  • Like when I would limp into the house from the car after my 12 hour shift, thinking, I guess I’m just going to die early (because I can’t give up chocolate chip cookies.)
  • Knowing that my blood pressure and blood sugar were starting to increase just a bit (and my dad had long-term hypertension and diabetes.)
  • Or when something popped in my knee while taking a shower, and my leg hurt so bad that it literally took me half an hour to tie my shoe laces (so I could go to the ER.)

That last one. Man, I really thought that was going to do it for me. But no. I couldn’t seem to change the way I ate and thought and moved.

So my last straw seems to be an accumulation of years of quiet acceptance and desperation combined.

And then a friend had the temerity to ask if I would go with her to Weight Watchers. And after turning her down, and struggling on my own to try to cut back on calories (and being very very hungry…) I had to admit to myself that I needed help.

I was a reluctant convert. And VERY skeptical that anything would “take.”

The only thing I had going for me was a very firm conviction that anything I did would have to be “for the rest of my life.” (which was also why I was so very reluctant to make a change in the first place.)

Ha! And I was right. I still have a very occasional chocolate chip cookie, but they are no longer a part of my daily diet. And now, as I write this, I am waiting for a butternut squash to cook so I can try it in a new salad recipe I found, and will have that salad along with some strawberries and cottage cheese for my “special” Sunday night supper. For dessert, I might make my Apple Blackberry Sour Cream Pie in a Bowl. You can see that I was right about making a change for the rest of my life. When I was so stuck on my old way of eating, I never would have dreamed of trying a salad that had butternut squash in it.  But you know what? Its a great change! I do believe that I will be eating this way for the rest of my life.

I so wish for all of you who are looking for that “last straw” or that “AHA moment” that you will find what you are looking for. Maybe it won’t be a big recognizable moment. Maybe it will just be that little admission “I need help,” or the quiet desperation that finally reaches the tipping point. Whatever it is, I know that I and my AIM friends wish the very best for you. If you have more questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments.

And be sure to check out the other AIMers. I can’t wait to read about their last straw!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

Haiti Revisited

Going backward in time describing my trip has allowed me time to mull over my thoughts about Haiti. What did I want to say about Haiti this time (I visited there for the first time one year ago.) What did I think about Haiti? And then my friend posted this wonderful piece of writing about the dreams and disparity that you see in Haiti. THAT’S how I felt! She voiced it so much better than I could.

When I go to Haiti, I tend to be overwhelmed by everything. The heat! The humidity! The electricity is off! The masses of people everywhere trying to sell stuff on the sidewalk. How can any of them make enough money to live when there are so many trying to sell the same thing? The dust! The despair that I see on so many faces. The traffic! The little trucks on their very last legs packed with people like sardines in a can–how can they even breath in there? The “roads.” The slums. The LANGUAGE. I can’t understand a word they are saying. (LOL, sometimes I can’t even understand when they are speaking to me in English…)

And yet. And yet….

There are flashes of brilliance. Of greatness. Spending time with a man who serves God like none I’ve ever experienced before. Pastor Gilbert is our host when we go to Haiti. He has an SUV and two cell phones. Every day as we traveled back and forth to the villages with him, we had traveling companions with us. He would be giving a ride to this or that person. Drop them off at their work corner. Get them down the road a ways. Taking them along on his journeys so he could talk to them and instruct them. Bringing them along to experience the small villages. Delivering a bit of food or some supplies. Constantly taking or making calls (presumably to arrange these pick ups and drop offs, and fielding other requests.) Providing a word of wisdom or encouragement. And if they happened to still be in the car when he arrived home, ALWAYS, a big plate of rice and beans for them before they returned to their own home. His life is God’s life.

And now, the trip. As we arrived in Haiti, Pastor Gilbert met us at the exit and took us to his car, where there were (of course) two other women that he was giving a ride to! One was an animated American who CAME TO HAITI ON VACATION EVERY YEAR BECAUSE SHE LOVED IT. What the what???? No comprehendo. I’m still mulling that one over.

This is one of my favorite pictures. Because it is so typical of my brother. This is Pastor Gilbert and my brother trying to order a plain cheese pizza at a huge fast food joint that we went to on our first night there. It was quite the ordeal trying to explain that to the young clerk.


This place was huge, and had a number of different types of food offered. Maybe like one of the food courts in our American malls? I wish I had gone around the corner and seen the Haitian chicken before I ordered my “steak sandwich.” I told my brother later that it was tasty, but there was no discernible steak in it! Tasty french fries though.


The next morning, as we headed to Carrefour Poy, I was surprised to see that much of the tent cities were cleared out. I hadn’t expected that big of a change in one year.

And then we came upon these little pastel block houses that had been built at the location of one of the tent cities!


This is just a typical scene of the street vendors. They are everywhere—city, country, and on the major roads in between.


And then we arrived at Carrefour Poy. My friend Claudel gave me a tour of the classrooms. It was Friday, and I think the kids were in high spirits because it was a half day.


The well that was installed in the church yard is constantly in use.


One of “my” girls, Ketlyn.


And the other, Elvena. Elvena was home sick, but somehow Claudel sent word for her to come to the school to see me. Its a mystery to me how they communicate out there in the middle of nowhere.

Alvena’s mom has died, and her dad is supposedly the voodoo priest in the town. What he really is is a man who has fried his brain on alcohol. I worry about her. But it does seem she has a stepmother who cares about her, because she has been well-dressed and well-groomed each time I’ve visited.


The main purpose of our trip: my brother presented a “seminar” on hog management in each of three villages. It cracks me up how they “do business” in Haiti. The seminar is supposed to start at 9. We show up about 9:10. No one is there. Pastor Gilbert hangs around outside for a while, and pretty soon people start appearing (again with the mysterious mode of communication in the boonies.) And then we start about 10.

My brother always spoke from the Bible for a few minutes, and then got into the hog management aspect. What he does is so far removed from what they do in Haiti, we wondered if there were anything he could offer them. But by the third seminar, it did seem that he had some very practical suggestions for them. I was so proud of my brother for doing this. Just going to Haiti was so far out of his comfort zone.


While my brother spoke, I stitched on one of my little travel quilts. I had put together some “quilt kits” to share in case anyone expressed any interest. Two different women started watching me, and so I gave each one of them a kit. One of them happened to be my favorite teacher from our previous trip to Haiti (she helped us with the shoe giveaway) so I was very happy about that. It turned out that the other woman was also a teacher! She opened her kit right away, and we sat and stitched companionably for about an hour!

On Sunday we returned to Carrefour Poy for church. It happened to be their 18 year church anniversary, so they had decorated the church with streamers.


Church is so special to these people. They all dress in their very best. There is no glancing at watches to see if the service will be over soon. They are there to worship!


My friend Claudel. He is the young man I mentioned in this post. 


He was so excited to show me the construction that he had started on his new home.


And for your amusement, (and to show that I’m not ALWAYS a whiny American baby,) here’s one of the “bathrooms” that I visited. I don’t think its used too often because the “toilet” (brick hole) was a little covered in cobwebs. A nice young woman did hold the “door” closed for me as it was quite breezy that day!


One of the young pastors we met asked me “do you love Haiti?” To which I replied “I love the people of Haiti.” I thought to myself as the trip neared its end, I don’t think I’ll come back again. But now as I write this, I know that Haiti is an important part of my Christian pilgrimage, and that I will indeed return again someday to Haiti.