Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Let me guess: the fat pads behind her knees?
Oh, maybe it's her saddlebags?
What do you mean, you look at her eyes? And her mouth? You watch her talking, her laughing, her hands as she gestures?
You're not trying to figure out if you can pinch two inches on her triceps?
It would never occur to you?
Because you're really interested in what she has to say, and besides, no one over the age of eight really cares about stuff like that, anyway?
Thank you. That's a relief. Maybe I'll wear shorts today.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Today I joined a raw foods team. That's sort of jumping the gun for me. I usually try to live off my garden as much as possible over the summer. Neither the weather nor my schedule have been very cooperative, so I haven't finished planting it. But last night Solly and I surveyed the mature fruit trees. We won't have everything this year, but we will have a HECK of a lot of plums and pears. We'll have a smattering of crabapples. The apple tree looks pathetic. The immature fruit trees were ravaged by deer and moles the year I was gone so they don't look like they will yield anything. The small fruit garden also received damage, but the blueberries have mostly rebounded and some of the raspberries and blackberries look like they'll make it. I'm not sure about the exotics. Maybe, maybe not.
I planted 10 tomato and 3 pepper transplants from a local store. I also started a few seeds, but I am WAY behind there. I have weeded the strawberries and started uncovering my poor figs, which are being overrun by grass.
I crave fat and salt, which I read somewhere that "android" types (which I undoubtedly am, having enormous shoulders, small hips and singing Porgy's part in Porgy and Bess in high school) naturally do. I can't grow fat and salt. But I have managed, a few years, to do pretty well July - September. Yes, I know it is only May. I am jumping the gun. We still have 46 degree nights. I am dreaming here, dreaming...
Western Oregon can grow greens year round, though, even in 47 degree nights. It's the things that need sunlight that are the problem. We are just now getting daily doses of sun, but now we will have daylight long after people back East do. I remember calling friends back home after I moved here. I'd still be working out in the garden in dimming light at 9pm and they'd think I was totally lying to them. It's like we have to cram all our growing into three months... so we do.
Here's to big dreams of big, juicy tomatoes and pears. Yummmmy.
Sunday, May 05, 2013
A conversation with another Sparker got me thinking about how much I would like to resemble one of my dogs more than the other. I'm not trying to be disrespectful towards one dog, but on the subject of diets and activity level, one is NOT a good role model.
One of the dogs literally would eat until he exploded. We dread having to leave the dogs in a kennel because we have to impress thoroughly upon kennel employees - verbally and in writing - that the dogs MUST be fed separately or one will not eat anything the whole time we are gone and the other will eat until he is sick. Invariably, the employees roll their eyes like we are overreacting ninnies... but do not separate the dogs at mealtimes. Then we have a starving, dehydrated, skinny Standard Poodle and a blown up like a watermelon Boston Terrier who proceeds to squirt out both ends all over the car on the way home. Oh... and did I mention the gas? If the kennel employees didn't notice he LOOKED odd, couldn't they notice his ODOR? (This has happened half a dozen times at more than one kennel!)
The Boston will eat anything, and never chews, which may solve the problem of having to taste it in case it is truly vile. Assorted animal poops, garbage, sticks, compost, dead birds, whole plums with pits... We have taken him to the vet countless times for whatever unknown thing he has eaten. The plum pits were extra aggravating. I guess they resembled bones with a juicy coating. He wanders around the house, mouth open on the floor, resembling a catfish in a tank. Other than eating, sleeping off eating is about his only joy in life.
The Boston can't stand to watch anyone else eat. He shivers and shakes and moans and sucks in his belly and looks like he has a dreadful disease. His slobber starts as a small bubble, expands until it pops and then becomes a string of drool that finally reaches the floor. His moaning and whining increases in intensity until it becomes nearly impossible to have a conversation over him. My husband used to give him his plate to lick after he finished. He had to stop because the Boston started crying as soon as we sat down. Now at least he has the decency to wait three or four minutes to start.
When it is the Boston's dinner time, we have to lock him in his crate so he doesn't inhale his own food, then steal the poodle's.
I don't want to be that dog.
The poodle is a dainty, fastidious eater. He considers each morsel. He picks individual pieces of food out of his bowl and carries them to another room to inspect them. If they meet his approval, he chews them. Sometimes he looks profoundly satisfied while eating. Sometimes he stares at his food dish with clear disdain because all he has is unadorned dog food. And he is better than that. (He prefers his dog food with diced apples, carrots and pears in it. Or bits of chicken or steak.) He let himself into my garden and plucked out every one of the just perfect red, ripe strawberries and ate them, himself, the night I was going to pick them for dinner. He didn't eat any of the pinkish ones. He is too discerning for that.
Even though he is fastidious in the kitchen, he is great fun outside. He follows me all around the farmette. He is playful and joyful and loves his toys.
If I have to eat like a dog, my choice is clear. The Boston is only a reasonable weight against his will. Every cell of his body cries out to be fat. The poodle is perfectly happy to be a reasonable weight. The poodle says certain foods are wonderful and worth savoring. Life is also too wonderful for there to be any point in wasting any time or energy on any mediocre foods! He is ready to go explore it!
Thursday, May 02, 2013
I love to cook. And I am a great cook. When my kids were at home, I used to let them open up a picture atlas and pick out a country. Then we'd have fun creating a whole weekend's worth of meals, politics and stories around that country. (When they were little, anyway. When they were older they no longer wanted to devise political posters and hold mock elections and pretend they were rulers of that country.) One weekend we might do Greece, another Mongolia, then Armenia, then Saigon, then Vietnam, then Argentina, then the Philllipines....
I used to eat quite a large amount of gourmet food - man quantities of it - and not be fat, and I still want to do that. I have grudgingly accepted that I don't live the same life I did in those days. (I was much more active all day long, between a more active job and a bigger farm.) I had given up eating so adventurously most days of the week, but still the pounds crept up, anyway, just because I was so much more sedentary, until this year, at age 47 I started doing something about it.
Now it's spring and I've really amped up not only my exercise at the gym, but I've also been working really, really hard on my Oregon farmette. I have done at least half an hour of cardio every day for two weeks and have done serious heavy labor at home for over six hours in the past week.
I want to eat like I used to eat. I miss my coconut curries and my gumbo and sabayons. I miss them. I ache for them. Somehow I've been fairly reasonable. Before I started exercising a lot, I kept my calories between 1200-1500. Once I started exercising, I increased my calories to between 1400-1700. I hit 1800 twice, when I was "bad".
I am sure I routinely exceeded 2500 in my former life, and even though I have not come close to that, I guess I don't have enough muscle mass yet to eat like I used to because I gained 1.2 lbs last week. (I also had an unnecessary peanut butter binge.)
We shall see what my scale tells me next week.
Just to make me feel better, here are some pictures of food I've made that are NOT high calorie (excuse the cheap little camera - not high quality photos):
Rare beef with dipping sauce, green onions and tomatoes - my version of Negimaki
Natto with brown rice, egg and seaweed
Caramelized Banana Meringue Pie (only the crust was high in calories)
Red Wine and Sumac Hummus
Lime Zucchini Fresh Salsa
Rosemary and Black Olive Roasted Red Pepper Breads
Black Bean Garlic Beef
In case anyone wonders whether it is worth gardening: ALL of the veggies in the photos are from my garden, which is now very small - about what could be grown in a backyard. The eggs are from 6 hens. I do have a small orchard here, too, but no products of tree fruits are in these pictures. YOU can also produce 50% of the foods shown in these recipes - in any moderate climate, in any small yard.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
I got some ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops. They come in a blue bottle. I usually get them from VitaCost because they are not cheap. However, when I get charlie horses AND crazy cravings, I am in a hurry to make them go away so I'll get them from a health food store and pay a lot more for them. (I used to buy them regularly. I'd stopped and wished I hadn't!) In addition to having charlie horses, I've also been having weird spasms from elbows to fingers and from hip to knee.
Anyway, these minerals don't taste spectacular by themselves. When my husband takes a dose, he mixes it with fruit juice and drinks it down as fast as he can. I mix it with a couple ounces of black coffee and 20 ounces of cold water and it tastes like a Japanese tea I used to get when I worked at a restaurant in Washington. I love it, but my husband thinks I'm nutso. I drank some yesterday afternoon and some this morning before going to the gym.
I got on the treadmill and I had a little extra determination to undo my peanut butter binge (probably five tablespoons). I also remembered how well I had done on the elliptical 2 days before. I feel like my body made much more obvious visual changes the first month, because I went down a pants size almost immediately. Now nothing seems to be changing in my shape, but my endurance really seems to be improving. A LOT. So I was giving myself this pep talk as I was warming up, from speed 2.0 up to 3.5 up to 4.0, which is where I usually stop and race walk, so I can read my Mental Floss Magazine, or whatever I've brought with me.
Today I kept pushing the "speed" button. I had to jog to keep up. My right ankle, which I did something bad to in January (I didn't have it x-rayed) started to hurt almost immediately so I slowed down to 4.4. I jogged there a little while, slowed down to 4, raced walked a while, slowed down to 3.7, took it back up to 4.7, slowed down, took it back up, and did that interval walk/jog for 50 minutes (including warm up and cool down).
This is a BIG DEAL. I am not a normal girl. I am the girl who was in "special ed" gym during public school for physical problems. I was literally in a class with people who were pregnant or had leukemia or had such severe thyroid disease that their hearts were affected. Why was I there? Because I was volatile. I was having too many grand mals, too many episodes of unexplained runaway tachycardia, too many unexplained asthma attacks. No one knew what triggered me at that time or how to keep me out of the hospital, so I stuffed envelopes for the school administrative office while other kids were playing basket ball. No kidding. The last time I ran around a track was in 6th grade. Until recently, I was pretty thin, so no one knew how unhealthy I was. In this culture, we judge health according to weight!
Two years ago I took a couple of college classes that were about staying fit throughout life; one of them really motivated me because it showed major improvements in the mental and physical health of people even in nursing homes. They tried a wide variety of exercise options, including balance, weights and mild cardio. They measured muscle mass and were astounded at the improvement. They were likewise astounded at the improvement in lung function.
I had come to that class feeling very bad about myself. I had suffered unrelenting tachycardia and terrible angina with no definitive cause (one clinic said this; another said that...) and the only thing that was clear was that my lung function had a definite relationship to my heart health. (Now, after studing anatomy, I understand why, even though none of the doctors or nurses were able to explain it to me, strangely enough!) I felt old. I felt worthless. I didn't have a college degree and had lost a good job and a good house when I moved west. What was an old unhealthy person like me going to do to start over?
And then I took that class and the wheels started to turn. So I started to take anatomy courses and I started working on my own health again, which had been on a downward spiral. And I walked around my first track a year later with a class at the college. I was one of the slowest ones, but I did it.
I got a "clean" stress test. I watched the sonographer, who showed me that several things that had repeatedly been printing out on my EKGs for 30 years (and which I had been accepting as truth) were flat out WRONG. An EKG makes interpretations based on electrical activity and it can be thrown off by conditions like poor oxygen exchange and a rapid pulse with resulting poor ventrical fill. So I DON'T have a regurgitating pulminary valve and I DON'T have an enlarged right atrium. My pulmonary valve is snapping open and shut like jumpy little frog legs, thank you very much. And my atrium is perfectly proportioned as it should be. I got on the treadmill and we took me up to 188 bpm before I started having a series of PVCs, at which we stopped me, because that's the rhythm that leads me into trouble. But otherwise, I was fine.
So I was cleared to exercise, so long as I kept my inhalant with me and my heart rate down. Since I start at a higher heart rate than most people, I have to monitor myself very closely, and adjust constantly. I may never run any kind of marathon with the goal of finishing in the top 50%, because I will have to adjust my speed up and down to adjust my heart rate. But I may run one just to run it. For the pride of having done so.
After jogging a very little, I'm feeling very, very fine. Like the Dr. Seuss book says, I'm in pretty good shape for the shape that I'm in.
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