Saturday, June 04, 2011
Ran into two old friends in two different locations while I was carrying out my Saturday routines (at the gym, then picking up some geraniums and nasturtiums at the nursery) neither of whom I'd seen for a very long time . . .
And each of them said, quite spontaneously, "You look so tiny!"
Tiny? I'm 5'9" tall! I've got size 9 or 10 feet!! I'm wearing a size 8 (which is a medium) or an occasional generous 6 (vanity sizing!)
Tiny I am not!!
But have to say, it made me feel good to discover that I'm looking noticeably slimmer!!
Thanks, Spark Friends, for the support. I've been keeping my weight steady at 138-140 for the last three weeks at least. Beck is working for me in helping me find that lowest sustainable weight!
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
"What is so Rare as a Day in June?"
And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, grasping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there ‘s never a leaf or a blade too mean
To be some happy creature’s palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o’errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,–
James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)
This is a snippet from a much longer (and rather heavily religious) poem, taken from an interesting birders' site. And really I like best just the first two lines, celebrating the miracle which is June.
We've a full week of sunny weather forecast . . . it's warm, it's summer, I'm wearing my new white sandals today with white pants!! With fresh asparagus in my lunchtime salad!!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The red and grey and black squirrels in our back yard are irresistibly cute. We have a veritable squirrel paradise: walnut and chestnut trees, pine and spruce cones, wild grape and raspberry . . . and plenty of "leftunders" courtesy of the bird feeders. Plus the suet block we hang all winter for the chickadees and woodpeckers and nuthatches : several athletic grey squirrels have learned how to leap on the suet block holder and (even though we had thought squirrels were not carnivorous) can chomp their way through a whole block in about a day and a half.
So: wouldn't you think they'd be grateful? Not so much.
The grey and black squirrels are hardy types who live outside all year round, with huge dreys in a number of trees. ("Drey" = the traditional leafy squirrel house -- one of the first words my kids taught me).
Red squirrels consider our house to be their house. Actually, we are graciously permitted to occupy the lower levels of the house, but the attic is theirs.
Squirrels are "protected wildlife" which means by law we're not permitted to poison (no no no , we wouldn't want to do that) or trap (no no no again: not even live trap for removal elsewhere). We're only permitted to have squirrel guy install one way "exit doors" and then (after a suitable interval for the squirrels to pack their bags and depart) come back and close in the entrance altogether.
So: squirrel guy is a too-frequent visitor.
Last week, he installed yet another one-way door.
I came home from work to find a totally indignant red squirrel on the back deck. Glowering. Pouncing. Posturing. Flexing his little biceps. Glowering more, fixing me with one bright eye and then the other, head tossing.
He KNEW I was responsible. He wanted me to know he knew. Chchchchchchchch. And that he wasn't going to forget it.
Had he weighed 80 pounds more, that red squirrel would have been truly menacing.
We've heard him trying to re-enter that one-way exit. We know that there will be another assault on the fortress. It's just a matter of time before the squirrels create a new hole. Necessitating another visit from squirrel guy.
Cute? Yeah, they are. I keep telling myself that. Cute. Cute. Cute.
But: annoying also. Very very very annoying!!!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I'm not sure what came over me, but today I spent quite a bit more time in "housewifey" tasks than usual -- I'm generally quite non-domestic!
Did laundry (carefully hanging up my husband's favourite golf shirts after 5 minutes in the dryer, as requested!!). And then a little ironing for next week's work outfits . . .
Made soup -- variation on a Lime Cilantro Black Bean SP recipe recommended by FLOWINGWATER. It smelled great while it was simmering away: the basic concept is to puree one can of black beans with a cup of salsa in the food processor, then add a second can, well rinsed and whole, with lots of cumin. I turned my version into more of a hearty stew with diced tomatoes, brown rice, shredded carrot, chopped red and green peppers, corn, onion, roasted garlic . . . this will be my supper soup for the coming week!!
(Went to the gym for a great cardio workout on the elliptical and then a full strenuous upper body weight routine: but that's pretty routine for a Saturday, and doesn't fit my more-domestic-than-usual theme).
Got to the nursery and picked up some hanging bright red geraniums for the front verandah and back deck: I've got a new Canadian flag flying as well. Walked around my garden, admired my iris, pulled a few weeds, picked some lilac and lily-of-the-valley for a bouquet on the kitchen table. (That's the one domestic thing I always do: flowers. Always.)
Did the groceries by myself: a task I hate, especially when I go alone: but DH was at the office, working on urgent stuff for next week, so he was definitely entitled to a free pass. However, on my way to the grocery store, found a new pair of white flat sandals, the kind with the little zippers up the back and lots of straps: very very cute, and comfortable (and not at all expensive . . . ). Figured that I deserved 'em.
After I got the groceries all put away, I made dinner for myself and DH (with leftovers for DS when he gets home from work any minute now . . . ): roasted chicken, baked potato, steamed local asparagus, and a marvellous low cal rhubarb cake recommended by BLUESKY called Oma's Rhubarb Cake . . . thick Greek yogourt and egg whisked together and mixed into the chopped rhubarb, then folded into the dry ingredients -- whole wheat flour. I tried a little variation on the crumb topping, with large flake oatmeal and brown sugar and cardamom and butter . . . very very delicious warm with a tiny scoop of low fat vanilla ice cream!!.
(Yes, I did finish off my day within calorie range. And weighed in this morning at 139 on the Y's scales . . . )
But: laundry and ironing and cooking and gardening and grocery shopping and dinner prep including baking, all in one day??? This is waaaaaay more Martha Stewart than I usually manage!!
And of course, if I were reliably domestic, do you suppose that anyone would appreciate it? No, no, no: all that effort would just be taken for granted, right??
So I'm thinking I'd better revert to my usual patterns right away. Have to manage expectations carefully . . . Tomorrow it's back to the golf course, yeah!!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
A recent article in the Toronto Globe and Mail offers some encouragement to those of us who used to smoke: current brain imaging research demonstrates that quitting smoking apparently strengthens your will power for application in other areas of our lives, such as weight reduction!
Here's the link: www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/
OK, I'll admit that I used to smoke -- more than 30 years ago. I came from a family of smokers. My husband of 32 years has never known me as a smoker. But I'll also admit -- I've never stopped wanting to smoke. I know I'm one cigarette away from a pack a day. Every day. Working in a cancer hospital for terminal patients as a ward clerk was highly persuasive: watching people in the very last weeks and days of life who still wanted to smoke -- who needed someone to hold a cigarette up to their tracheotomies -- that was an image which stuck in my mind. And I stopped smoking. Cold turkey. Over night.
Don't like smoking: the smell in hair and clothing, the mess of butts on the ground. Yup, I avoid smokers. Long before it was commonplace to restrict others' smoking socially, I made it clear that I would not want anyone to smoke in my home or in my car -- which was a huge problem with both my mother-in-law and my father, no matter how I tried to be "nice" about it and explain that I had a child with severe asthma.
But despite all of that, if I'm honest there's never a week which goes by when I don't experience the craving for a cigarette -- after a meal with a cup of coffee, or passing by someone on the street enjoying a smoke. It's a craving that I sometimes experience daily, even multiple times a day. So I try hard not to be self-righteous about being a non-smoker: I don't have anything to be self-righteous about. I know that nicotine is a powerful powerful addiction and that I haven't "licked" it.
So: you can imagine how chuffed I was about this Globe article which says that developing self-control by giving up smoking can actually result in measurable changes in the brain. And that the increase in self-control learned from quitting smoking is highly transferable to other challenging areas of activity! But also that sustained self-control over a period of time can lead to a "snapping point", and for that reason it's best to ensure (through frequent small meals, exercise, regular breaks) that we maintain stable levels of glucose for optimal functioning of the "self-control" centres in the brain.
Beck talks about the importance of not eating standing up, regardless of the trivial amount of calories you might be consuming, because it's important to strengthen the "resistance" muscle and not to strengthen the "giving in" muscle. That "resistance "muscle" is apparently located in the dorsal-lateral prefrontal cortex which is notably more active in brain scans when we're exercising self-control. That part of the brain is measurably thicker in people who do sustain self-control
So: if you've developed the self-control to give up smoking, does that mean you're likely to be more successful in controlling your weight too? What do you think?
I don't know, but I do see some similarities, some differences. I haven't smoked for over thirty years: I've sustained an 80 pound (now 90 pound) weight loss pretty consistently for almost a decade.
However, I don't really expect ever to stop wanting to smoke, AND I don't expect ever to stop wanting to eat potato chips. But I know that even though I can risk eating a few potato chips or French fries from time to time without triggering a binge, since I quit smoking I've never ever taken the chance of risking even one cigarette.
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