Eat Dessert First

We were laughing about the middle-aged couple we’d seen earlier. We noticed them  tucked away in a booth as we passed through the upscale restaurant. They were sitting cuddled up on the same side of the booth, necking. Married, no doubt, but not to each other. Perhaps from Cincinnati, or even as close as Dayton. People are foolish, we agreed.

Lunch was wonderful– a “lobster crab cake” for me, on a bed of mixed greens; Quiche for Rita. Either of those things might have been dreadful. It many restaurants, they are. But today at the Coldwater Cafe, they were sublime. A handheld chalkboard had been left on our table, listing the day’s dessert offerings.

“Will it bother you if I order dessert?” Rita asked. She knows I’ve been sticking to this weight-loss project, and she is one of the most considerate people I know.

“Not at all,” I responded cheerily. “I’m planning on ordering dessert myself.”

Earlier we’d been comparing prescribed diets– Atkins, South Beach, Nutri-System. I confessed that I failed miserably at those I’d tried, and it’s not a mystery as to the why. I am a contrarian. If you tell me I can’t do something, I will do it. If I’m allotted certain foods and forbidden others, I will only want the forbidden.

It’s not that I want to be thin at all costs. I want to be healthy for the rest of my life. I want to skip knee surgery, back surgery, hip replacement, I want to get back to doing the things that I used to do when I had a more active lifestyle.

This does not mean that I am going to skip dessert in a good restaurant when I am having lunch with a friend.

Quite a few of the desserts offered were ice-cream based. Ice cream used to be my number one weakness. I loved ice cream. But as time went on I was less and less able to digest it, and it got to the point that when I ate ice cream it made me ill. One’s body is a funny thing that way: when things make you sick, you tend not to crave them anymore. Once in great while, I do have a yearning for ice cream– and then I load up on the Lact-aid and I have a little.

So no ice cream desserts. Too hot for bread pudding, ditto Coconut cake. There were some sorbets. I thought about them. It’s a sensible kind of dessert. I wasn’t sure how Sriracha Peach Sorbet would be– that might have been a misstep in the kitchen. But  you know I can have sorbet at home any night of the week.

Rita ordered Chocolate Mousse Cake, which arrived in a beautiful presentation on a long rectangular plate with a swirl of chocolate ribbon and an artful dollop of whipped cream.  She said it was just as delicious as it looked.

“And for you?”

“Creme brulee.”

Before you start typing your comments as to how much fat and how high the calories, let me stop you: I don’t care. I know it’s heavy cream and egg yolks and sugar. It’s not like I have creme brulee three times a week, though I might be willing to make concessions to afford that if I could figure out how to.

It was perfect. It was silky and sweet and cold, only slightly warmed by the torch that left a perfect burnt sugar shell.

It’s good to adjust our habits towards better health. It’s an excellent thing to lose weight and get fit. But it has to fit in with the rest of our lives too– life isn’t all about work and deprivation. Without pleasure, what’s the point?

Today’s Target Number: 54! (Yes, new territory.) Steps: 5239, which includes 1.3 miles on the treadmill, .18 of a mile at a run. (That’s a furlong and a half, race fans.) Breakfast: yogurt with granola, hard-boiled egg, banana, a piece of ciabatta. Lunch: a cup of pasta with 6 shrimp, broccoli and peppers in a lemon sauce, another piece of ciabatta. Dinner: 2 scrambled eggs,  two pieces of ciabatta toast, blueberries with blueberry yogurt.

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Hotter Than a Match Head

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

It’s 104 degrees out right now in Dayton, Ohio. The official heat index number is 107. Though it was my intention to get three episodes of exercise during each week, I’m a little daunted by exercising in this.

Other blog posts and articles suggest that if you stay hydrated enough, anything is possible. On the other hand, people of all ages drop dead while exercising in brutal heat.

So, what to do? There are lots of suggestions on the internet: go to the gym, go to the pool, get active on your Wii-Fit home fitness system, engage in some mall-crawling.

Well, I don’t have a gym membership. (I’ve tried them, and I just never go. My husband got a free-membership to the YMCA through his Medicare coverage and guess how many times he went in a year. Yes, that’s right. Zip.)

The pool is out, at least for this week. My sunburn is just healing from last week’s foray to the pool. Plus you know it has to be mobbed.

I’ve staved off my son’s constant pleading for video game consoles for a decade, I’m not going to give in now. And honestly, folks, it does look kind of goofy, gyrating there in front of your television screen.

The mall thing doesn’t really work for me either– it’s just walking, and I was looking for something to do in addition to the walking. (Engaging in something more energetic than just walking at the mall surely provides too much amusement for the people watching husbands waiting patiently on benches.)

I had planned to garden today. There are a couple of hollies and a rose-bush I want to get in. I figured the digging would count for something. But really, it’s 103-feels-like-107. Maybe I can get up extra early and do it tomorrow.  An evening bike ride would be nice– quietly peddling along the river, it might be tolerable, especially with plenty of water and appropriately dressed in loose, lightweight, pale clothes. But I took my bike to the Bike Shop two days ago for a tune-up and a good cleaning and it won’t be done ’till next Wednesday.

I did find a lot of great suggestions for fitness that could easily be added to one’s day-to-day activities– dancing around the house, isometric exercises where you sit, five-minute cleaning frenzies, a mini-trampoline. Great ideas all, but not really the “active event” kind of exercise I was looking for.

But there were some suggestions that have real merit.

Racquetball.  There’s a club here that lets non-members play for ten bucks an hour. The courts are air-conditioned and you can play by yourself if you like. I haven’t played racquetball since I was a freshman in college, but just fooling around won’t be hard to fall into again. I like Squash too, but the Squash club charges $960 a year for a membership (billed in 12 convenient monthly statements) so Racquetball it is. I ordered a racquet, balls and eyewear on Amazon.

Waterplay in the backyard. You know, like when we were kids– firing off water pistols, dodging water balloons, running through the sprinklers. This would work better if the grandkids were here– I think our son may have aged out of this one.

Bowling. Bowling. Well, I hadn’t thought of that. When I did a search on “how much exercise is bowling?” I was bowled over by the results. (Sorry.) Apparently bowling is pretty decent exercise. Maybe not much in the way of a cardiovascular workout, but it does stretch and tone and burn fat. Good enough. Plus the bowling alleys are air-conditioned.

Sex. My husband will be so thrilled.

Today’s target number 55. Steps yesterday 5738 (Which included 1.5 miles on the treadmill, and I ran for a quarter-mile of those. Two furlongs!) Breakfast: blueberries with yogurt and granola; two tenderly scrambled eggs with a piece of ciabatta toast and a little butter; Lunch: 2 ounces roast pork, two hard-boiled eggs, banana. Dinner was a second banana and another  hard-boiled egg.

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast has always been a challenge. After all, if you’re not rising ’till after noon, well, they’ve long stopped serving eggs and pancakes. I love to go out for breakfast, but that somewhat negates the edict to eat within half an hour of getting up. The other factor to that is that my appetite has not cranked into gear within half an hour– some parts of my body are not even awake then and that must include my stomach.

I’ve found a way to work around this with yogurt. It is a surprise that I have been able to go on eating it– usually I’m good for a yogurt or two or three, and that’ll hold  me ’till next year, thanks. The addition of a good granola changes everything. The addition of blueberries or raspberries even more so. So day after day, it’s yogurt that gets me through. Even if it’s two in the afternoon when I first see the light of day.

It’s always the same brand of yogurt — even though only one or two grocery stores in the Dayton area carry it, and that does not include the upscale Dorothy Lane or the health food chains. It’s Brown Cow. My husband (perhaps a little petulantly) asks “Why can’t you just eat Activia?”  (“Like the rest of us” is understood.) I guess I don’t like Activia. Maybe I just don’t like Jamie Lee Curtis preaching to me.

Here’s my unabashed endorsement, beginning with the specs for this morning’s blueberry cream top,  here– click on blueberry on the list. (Compare Activia’s blueberry here) Brown Cow has whole milk yogurt (because you need fat to keep from feeling hungry and to sustain you through the day) While it is sweetened (with maple syrup and cane sugar) it does not have that sickly sweet candy-fruit flavor of some other yogurts. And it has a picture of a beautiful Jersey cow on the container. It’s worth spending the 99 cents on a carton. It’s worth finding a store that stocks it, and I appreciate that Meijer’s carries it, though I wish they’d carry more than five flavors. (Brown Cow makes 12 flavors, including the somewhat unusual Maple (which is the least sweet, ironically) and Coffee.)

I’m so grateful to them– they make it possible for me to eat breakfast.

Yesterday’s renewed endeavors towards this project went well. I was cheerful through the day and felt full of energy. I did realize that it would make more sense to record the target number from my weight on the morning that I write, which is too bad, because it went up a pound from yesterday. (I’m not fretting, but how much more of a validation would it have been if I’d lost a pound or two instead?)  Though my husband says he is delighted that I’m getting up in the morning, I think he is also a little sorry to lose these hours that were his alone.

It was just at the end of the day,  I happened upon the obituary of Nora Ephron in yesterday’s New York Times and I felt so sad, and whatever accomplishments of the day were diminished. What a remarkable talent; a fantastic, witty writer, an extraordinary woman. And while Sleeping in Seattle and Mixed Nuts (and When Harry Met Sally and so many others) were fine entertainment,  Silkwood changed my life. Godspeed, Nora.

Target number 57. Steps 5818  (the push was running six times up and down a flight of 16 stairs- you try it!) Breakfast: egg salad sandwich and half a pint of raspberries. Lunch: another egg salad sandwich.  Dinner: haddock filet, half cup of carrots, half cup of turnip greens and three small red boiled potatoes. Small cornbread muffin with half a teaspoon butter.

Morning

This is a fresh start. It’s not starting over, because I never really stopped. It’s just that I’ve become less and less focused– staying with the project, but not really paying attention. It’s quite clear from the static number on the scale and the cruel fact that I did not lose a single inch this month that my body now thinks we are at a set point. It’s quite happy to putter along with that many calories and that level of exercise and only give me variations in weight based on stomach contents or water retention. Lack of progress makes one cranky.

So there are changes afoot. I’ll be writing each morning about the day before instead of staying up late writing about the day that just happened. That should increase the quality of the posts as well as my health and well-being. This morning I woke up at 7:30 and got up at 8. I did not feel stressed out about at all. It felt like a totally natural turn of events. And I am cheerful.

I’m changing the rules and probably moving the finish line. That’s okay, it’s my project, I can change the rules if I want to. The goal for weight loss each week will be one pound instead of two. If I lose two, good for me. I am tired of not meeting the goal and feeling depressed about it. Losing a pound a week still means losing 50 pounds a year. This may mean that Twelve Moons goes on for and extra moon or two or ten, and that’s okay too. I’ll miss the blog when I stop. I am going to set the step requirement at 35,000 and leave it there. If I have an active week, it’s easy to meet and it still gives me room for a day off.

Instead on an ever-increasing step count, I am adding something different. I am going to have three days a week in which I do something energetic. It might be painting a room, playing tennis, riding a bike, showing a dog, going swimming, taking a substantial hike, cleaning out the garage. So three times a week,  I will have serious exercise. Included in some of the day-to-day stuff, though, I want to add just a few minutes of high-intensity work– running, jumping rope,   walking on steep inclines. Surely this should help crank up the old metabolism.

And as far as food goes, I’m cleaning out the fridge today. (I don’t think that qualifies as one of the three exercise events– it’s not that far gone.) When I started the project in March, I had renewed enthusiasm for food, but that has waned. I am once again opening the cupboards looking for something to nosh on, forgetting to ask myself if I might just be bored or thirsty instead. I’m not over-eating, but it’s not conscious eating either. That said, I’ve had three egg-salad sandwiches in the last 24 hours. I made the egg salad, with a dressing instead mayo straight out of the jar, and caramelized Vidalia onions and you know it’s the best damn egg salad I’ve ever had.

I’m going to start eating bread again. I don’t eat much in the way of rice or potatoes or pasta. I’m not addicted to carbs. I can go without bread for long stretches at a time. But good bread is worth eating and since I have access to superb bread– well, it’s ridiculous not to have some. Yesterday I finally ate the chocolate duckling from Easter. It was good. It was probably better six weeks ago. Oh well, live and learn.

Enough about me. Time to go out and face the day.

. . .

Did not weigh yesterday, so no official target number. Did not put on the pedometer, so no clue as to steps, but laid low by Benadryl, so probably no more than 1000.  Consumed: two hard-boiled eggs, yogurt with granola, banana. Lunch: egg salad sandwich. Mid-afternoon: 6 ounces blueberries with yogurt and granola. Dinner: egg salad sandwich, 5 oz of raspberries, 2 oz. chocolate duckling.

Changing Times

This would usually be the day that I make an accounting of how the former week has gone– and take an unflinching look at the progress I’ve made, or as has been the case lately, not made.

In the meantime, I’ve been staying up ridiculous hours because I have a tendency to noodle around on the computer at night. I cruise around on Facebook. I read the news. I am easily distracted. But I’m having to wait until the end of the day in order to fully credit the proper number of steps.  Or the food I’ve eaten, or whatever. There are some nights I don’t go to bed until four or five in the morning.

Given my various neurological twitches, I know how essential it is to get enough sleep, so I get enough sleep. But this means that I don’t wake up until noon some days. Or 1 p.m. Or two. Because of that, I’m not even tired when conventional bedtime rolls around.

This has got to stop.

So tomorrow, we are starting something new. I’ll be posting in the morning, recounting the activities and food consumed of the day before. I will be back to counting and accounting next Monday morning.

I have a new notebook to keep track of what I’ve eaten, and other things that might be of interest or import. I have a fresh new start tomorrow. Even though I’ll be writing about today, in which I did little more than sleep. I took a Benadryl and that made me such a sleepyhead. I’d let this project kind of unspiral, and because of that I felt untidy and uninspired. But I love a blank page, and that’s what tomorrow is.

Oh, and I named the new puppy.

Bliss.

That’s her name and also how I feel about finally naming her.

Where I Am

Whenever I am down about this process of re-making myself, one or two or ten helpful friends remind me that I am so much further along than I would be if I had never started. And that’s true. Though the scale vacillates stubbornly back and forth two or three pounds, I do seem to have stalled out a bit. I had planned that every 8 weeks, I would take a week-long sabbatical and give myself some breathing room. I wonder if that hasn’t come a little early this time.

The sunburn (I know, I do whine, don’t I?) continues to be something distinctly uncomfortable. When my husband laid his hand on my shoulder yesterday, I nearly came unglued from the pain. It astounds me that he could forget. But apparently he does, so now when he comes near me, I raise my hands to remind him. Today the offended skin erupted in thousands of tiny blisters. I feel vaguely reptilian and a little sick.

We did go out for a walk this afternoon– a mile or so through the forest. It was even too hot there, but we managed. As we walked I thought about where I was in this project and what I would do if I truly did not lose another ounce. At first that thought filled me with despair. But that’s ridiculous, it’s nothing to despair of. I think it is a matter of tricking my metabolism again and see if we can’t get the old Tin Lizzy up and running again.

There are so many things to remember along the way, and so many are forgotten. I think the business of eating enough is probably an essential role that most people miss. We think dieting, and to everyone, that means reduce. Eat less, and especially eat less well. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. A friend who is on a similar journey recently made a concerted effort to concentrate on nutrition, and the results were staggering– first and foremost that she feels so much better.

Me too. Though I am plagued with migraines, they have been well in abatement since I started this. My skin looks better. I have more energy. I am no longer bothered by acid reflux. I do not feel so “draggy.” Though some parts of this are weight-loss and exercise, a huge factor is what I’ve been eating. It’s not perfect all the time, for sure, (today for instance, wasn’t stellar) but across the board I’ve made so many improvements in the way I eat, and what I eat, that I think the benefits will stay with me for a long time.

So even if I never lose another ounce, that’s been a huge saving grace for me. And I will lose more ounces. Probably I will have to buckle down and make a better schedule. Walk with Lori on one day, tennis with Martha on another. Lunch and maybe a quick walk with Gina after a morning doing research at the Library. I need to get back to work on the book. (I have succumbed to summer-itis, where I feel like just loafing around. The 90 degree days contribute to that.) I need to train my puppy. Perhaps I can train the puppy to run alongside the bicycle.  The treadmill beckons.

It feels like I’ve stalled out a bit here. Better to stop kidding myself and start moving forward again.

. . .

Target number 57. Steps today: 6315. Breakfast: two hard-boiled eggs. Half a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Lunch: half a cup of cottage cheese, half a chicken salad sandwich, 4 potato chips, two ounces of Coke, glass of v-8. Dinner: green salad. Yogurt with granola. Two  hard-boiled eggs. 6 ounces of fresh raspberries.

Solarcaine, Ahh.

My intention (one of many that paves the road to hell) was to write about artificial sweeteners and the ridiculous way our very real concerns have been placated by the chemists who make this stuff. If I sound a little biased, I am– aspartame is a known migraine trigger for me, and I resent the many ways it’s hidden in our food. But I don’t want to make that just a cursory piece. It’s an important topic for me, and important for your health as well, so give me another day or two to get all the facts lined up like ducks in a row.

In the meantime, I want to talk about Solarcaine. Three days ago I got a little overdone at the swimming pool.

I don’t actually remember the last time I was this sunburned.

It is has been impossible to conduct my normal life. I am very limited as to what I can wear for clothes– bras as you might expect, are right out. No weighty fabrics, nothing fitted. My husband, bless his heart, keeps resting a hand on my shoulder, which just about sends me through the roof.  I feel just a little nauseated. I have a big bottle of aloe vera gel which I have been liberally applying.  I took my friends’ advice for home remedies seriously:  vinegar soaked paper towels draped on the burns and left to dry; a shower of cold tea. And yes they provided some relief. Someone mention Noxzema (remember Noxzema?) but I think it might be off the market now, I don’t remember the last time I saw it.  Yes, I’ve been taking ibuprofen. And despite the advice found in too many content farm “articles,”  Cort-aid and the like are not to be used on sunburned skin. It says so right there on the package in 6 point type.

Then I remembered Solarcaine– the white plastic bottle with blue letters and a red circle around the blue cross, and I wondered if that was still being made or if it had been linked to something dreadful. It has not. And an online search revealed it at Walgreen’s. I walked right in to get a bottle. Even though it was close enough it could have reached out and touched me on my shoulder (ouch!) I had a hard time seeing it on the display. That was because I was looking for the classic white bottle. Now it’s green– with the addition of aloe vera. (Well, and yellow 5 and blue 1.) It didn’t matter to me, it still has Lidocaine as an active ingredient and I was very eager and enthusiastic about relief.

When I smoothed it on to my skin, I nearly swooned.  It was working, it was really working! This is the first night in many that I will be able to lie down comfortably in bed and sleep. Lately, I’ve been propped on pillows, gingerly turning this way and that when the discomfort grew too intense. Tomorrow, I might even be able to wear a full complement of clothing.

There was a surprise about the Solarcaine too. The scent of it must not have been affected by the addition of aloe vera leaf juice or green food dyes– because as I slathered it over my poor, red, stinging skin I was transported back to Crescent Beach, Florida, a little girl playing at the edge of the water. I remember the sand on the floor of the beachside cottage, and sitting cross-legged on the floor playing “Go fish.”  I remember my mother’s hands delivering relief to my pink pink skin. I hadn’t thought of those things, or the beach there on the northern Florida coast, well, for a long time. Nothing like a particular scent to send you back 45 years. I’m sure my mother was very careful with me– I remember the sunscreen rituals, and the brown bottle of Coppertone. But in those days, sunscreens were not what they are today, and even with what they are today– well, you can still get crispy. (Yes, I reapplied it! SPF 45)  Opening that bottle of Solarcaine was like meeting an old friend, one uniquely qualified to ease my pain.

Target number 57.  Steps 4334. For breakfast: blueberries with yogurt and granola, hard-boiled egg. Lunch: cup of watermelon, two-thirds of a cheeseburger, 6 pretzel crisps, a few grapes, half a brownie and an iced coffee. Dinner was a large green salad with 4 oz. New York Strip (thinly sliced) half an avocado, one hard-boiled egg, and a dozen cherry tomatoes.