And I Would Walk 500 Miles


Tonight, I added music to the treadmill. I even made a special playlist on the iPod. The time it took to walk a mile and a quarter just sped by, and I remembered how much fun it is to listen to music through headphones. Instead of just background, it becomes your own private soundtrack. When I did this before, many moons ago, I went everywhere with a Sony Walkman. (I think mine was made by Aiwa, but if you’re over 30, you know the beast.) Tonight I walked with my eyes closed, I had more rhythm, I was smiling.

The inaugural playlist looked something like this: Lou Reed, Walk on the Wild Side; Seal, Walk on By; The Bangles, Walk Like an Egyptian; Loretta Lynn, These Boots Were Made for Walking; Fats Domino, Walkin’ to New Orleans; Patsy Cline, Walking After Midnight; James Taylor, Walkin’ Man and The Proclaimers I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).

Today’s target number is 61.4, and I clocked 7527 steps.

On the menu: two scrambled eggs, spinach salad (with grilled chicken breast, apple, strawberries, bacon and bleu cheese), toasted coconut custard, watermelon and very lightly sweetened iced tea.

Tomorrow for a change of pace, we’re heading to Clifton Gorge. Thanks to everyone for your continued support, this would be much harder without you.



Learn Chinese Yesterday

Tenderly scrambled eggs with toasted ciabatta.

I was having dinner with a friend at a Chinese restaurant. We’d finished and I excused myself to visit the ladies. When I came back, she’d opened her fortune cookie and I asked her what it said. She replied “It was really strange fortune. It said ‘Learn Chinese yesterday’.” I laughed. “Turn it over, the fortune’s on the other side.”  Whatever the real fortune was, it’s been forgotten. But “Learn Chinese Yesterday” remains. (zuo tian, for the curious.)

The concept of “yesterday” also makes me think of scrambled eggs, as that’s what Paul McCartney originally called the melody of his famous song. I sort of prefer it to the mopey lyrics he finally came up with.

Yesterday’s entry was de-railed by news of the death of one of my most favorite teachers and novelists, Harry Crews. He was an amazing, ferocious teacher and had been a good friend of my father’s. Harry’s slipping away brought my father’s death front and center again for me for an evening, because it sure would have been fun to call up Dad and recall together some of Harry’s antics. Harry had a line from e.e. cummings tattooed on his upper right arm, near the shoulder. It said “How you like your blue eyed boy Mr. Death?”  My father’s wife wrote this morning to say that Dad probably would have been surprised Harry lasted so long.

So I took the evening off from myself and had a bourbon and watched some old tapes of Harry and cried a bit. I’m better today thank you.

Yesterday’s target number was 62.2. Because it was my day off, I only walked 2892 steps. I was so undone that I could not even get up from my desk to walk those last eight steps to roll it over to 2900. It was way past one when I went up to bed, and the pedometer, sensibly, was already on to another day.

Consumed yogurt with granola, watermelon, energy packet of nuts, apple, one pork chop with apricot glaze, sauteed summer squash, small green salad with cucumber and avocado, one ounce dark chocolate with orange peel, two ounces of Maker’s Mark.

Tonight’s entry should be more or less on time.

Survival is Triumph Enough.

Harry Crews, 1979.

Harry Crews is dead. He was the most terrifying and most exhilarating teacher I ever had. For awhile it was said I was the only female student that got an A from Harry that didn’t have to sleep with him to get it.  I just don’t have it in me to write tonight. Tomorrow is time enough for a double dose of self-reflection. Now I think I’ll go have a bourbon. Godspeed, Harry.

Reaching for the Carrot

Last night I posted a call for suggestions for things that might make great rewards– carrots, so to speak– for various milestones along the weight-loss journey.   There were some stipulations: it couldn’t be about food. (I’m not anti-food, but rewarding yourself with a night of indulgence seems counter-intuitive.) It should cost less than $100. (Because I have to save up for the big prize at the end.) It should not be something that I need, but rather a small luxury, something to underscore the achievement with a little sigh.

And the suggestions came.

A trip to California. Not that I can do it on a $100 budget or I would have done it long ago. And of course, with this friend, my astral twin, my sister from another mother– we eat. We luxuriate in eating. So, sad as I am to say it, that won’t make the list.

A treat for the body– massage, mani-pedi, etc. This one from a new friend, a fellow blogger who is bound for Machu Picchu one of these days. It’s a great suggestion, and it might make the list. I’m scheduled for a Day at the Spa soon, so maybe I should just wait until I hit another milestone.

From a dog show friend, the excellent suggestion of a new show lead. I have my favorite kangaroo lead, but that’s not to say I can’t go shopping for another. Thanks, Robin, you helped me fill in that blank.

Of course, there always has to be a wiseass, and this was no exception. What do you do with someone who keeps suggesting that  you should get a stripper’s pole? This time he tried to pawn it off on my husband, but I know better. From someone else I’d believe that this was incredibly cruel, but not so much in this case.  I think maybe this is the grown-up version of the kid that used to yank on my braids in the second grade. Okay, you’ve got my attention.

Sadly, the stripper’s pole is out of the question. Not only because carrying around all this excess baggage has made me incredibly shy about my body, but because it’s not just the weight. It’s the years. Maybe one day I’ll return to that slightly raw-boned Joni-Mitchell knobby-sort-of-thin, but I’ll never again be twenty-something. I’ll never again have those kinds of supple, smooth planes of flesh that young women have. And that’s okay. But my dear, if you mention stripper’s poles to me again, we’ll be taking you to some kind of nefarious club on Dixie Drive for the afternoon.

There’s a linen dress from J.Jill that I want, and a bracelet from my friend the incredible jeweler Jill Raney Wright, and I’m sort of hankering for a good pair of sunglasses– “Hand me my Ray Bans, Jill”– but I am still entertaining suggestions. Unless you’re an extraordinarily tall, thin, snarky baker, in which case, just hush.

Target number is 63.2, down half a pound from yesterday. Steps trotted along today numbered 5710. On the menu: 2 cups watermelon, banana, 2 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, steak salad (romaine, 4 oz filet, grape tomatoes, half an avocado, half  a cucumber, bleu cheese dressing), six pencil thin grissini bread sticks, half-cup rice pudding with a lot of nutmeg (I love nutmeg), half-ounce dark chocolate, a cup of raspberries, and a tiny bowl of blood-orange sorbetto.

This is Not My First Rodeo

This is a photograph of me, it was taken when I was 29 years old. I had emerged triumphant from a cocoon of fat a year or so before. How did I do it? Just like I’m doing now. I wrote down every single thing I ate, and I walked everywhere. I lived in Boston then, so it was easy enough to leave my car parked and take the train to work (walk to the train, take train, walk from train station to work, walk to lunch, walk back to the train station, take train, walk home). I lost a hundred pounds doing it twenty years ago, and I can do it again.

Of course, when I lost all that weight, I swore I would never get that way again. And I didn’t– for quite a long time. But no one walks anywhere in Montana, just as a matter of course. There’s hiking, certainly, and skiing, and riding. But I was busy, newly married, with two stepchildren, then a new baby, then a new job– writing– that kept me firmly planted on my ass much of the time. I even drove the six blocks from the newspaper office to the police station. Parking was never a problem. It was easy, and quick, to drive. There was plenty of socializing and it all involved food. Slowly, year by year, pound by pound, it all came back. And then some.

I’ve made stabs at dieting, but they were lackluster. Occasionally I’ll run across a seemingly blank book only to find that the first three pages are an abandoned food diary. I’d try a little walking, but I was always in a hurry and as it was, there weren’t enough hours in the day. I ate at my desk, in the car, I frequently just grabbed a burger from the Stockman or Mark’s In and Out or McDonald’s. One time I bought up a supply of Slimquick, but that turned me into a raving lunatic. Yes, more of a raving lunatic than I am now.

And every time I started a diet, my husband would furrow his brow and say “Is this the divorce diet?”  My husband worked for the railroad, and it was not uncommon for a railroad wife to lose a bunch of weight, then lose the husband and the life she thought she hated. In fact, my husband’s first wife had pulled this very same move years before I came on the scene. The message was clear: staying fat equalled staying married.

I am happy to say that now that we’ve racked up two decades, he just teases me about the divorce diet, and has been very supportive, other than really struggling with my insistence of buying watermelon already cut up, and thus, much more expensively.

But I had forgotten an essential component of what made the First Rodeo really work: prizes. For every ten pounds I lost, I rewarded myself. I don’t remember all of them. The first ten pounds was a Chanel lipstick. Somewhere along 40 pounds was a Panama hat from LL Bean’s and the trip up to Maine to get it. Weirdly, I don’t remember what the ultimate prize was– maybe I never got it. It certainly was reward enough being half the size I’d been.

Now that I’m 16 pounds down, I’m overdue for the first one, though I think I’m going to count my fantastic new Sperry Son-R shoes (designed for kayaking, sailing, hiking, etc and really fun) as the first one. I set out to lose 80 pounds and that is still the target, it would be nice to make it a good round number like 100– and so I’ve decided that when I lose half myself again, I will finally buy a sailing dinghy, which I’ve wanted to do for years.  Just a little boat to knock around on lakes.

But that leaves Prizes 2 through 9, and I am entertaining suggestions. The object should cost less than a hundred bucks, should not involve food, and should not be something I really need, in other words, a small luxury. Please, send suggestions!

Today’s target number 63.8, number of steps walked 5313. Consumed: banana, blueberry yogurt with granola, cup of blueberries with two tablespoons heavy cream, scrambled eggs for lunch with one ounce of cheese, a  six ounce filet mignon for dinner, with an artichoke and for dessert, half a cup of blood orange sorbetto.


Is that what time it is? I had a very slow start to the day, couldn’t seem to wrestle myself out of bed. Even though I was delighted (and a bit mystified) to find the target number had plummeted another 2.4 pounds to 64.4 when I did finally rise to greet the day.  I don’t know why it was down so much. I know what I’m eating and how much effort I’m putting out. The only unusual thing I’ve added is Horse Chestnut extract which is supposed to stengthen the walls of one’s veins. Maybe that’s working, who knows. The day will come, I know, when I look back at this ruefully and pray for the scale to move.

Because I got a late start, and had a lot of things to look after, I wasn’t all that active. I knew I hadn’t come anywhere close to my 5000 steps. I was about to blow it off and call this my free day, but at 11 p.m. I screwed up my courage and went upstairs and walked a mile-three on the treadmill. So I’m closing out the day with 5259.

It was my intention to write about shoes today and the wondrous process of picking out carrots– that is, rewards. I’m also finding out a lot more about “barefoot running” and though I don’t think I’ll actually go out without shoes, I’m intrigued by the minimalist approach. But I just don’t have it in me tonight, perhaps tomorrow, unless I am similarly distracted.

Today’s delicious nosh: Cherry-Vanilla Brown Cow Yogurt with a quarter-cup granola, and a banana. One ounce of dark chocolate with dried cherries and almonds. (That’s in the chocolate, not in addition to.) Yes, I read the piece yesterday about how thinner people consume more chocolate. It didn’t seem very scientific, but I’ll take it. Sauteed about 3 cups of summer squash for lunch, much enjoyed along with some grilled shrimp. Didn’t really get to dinner. Made do with an apple, a large bowl of melon and a packet of energy-mix nuts. And a ginger Chime.

Thanks to everyone for their encouraging words today. You’re making this possible.