Time to get out of the armchair!

I’ve always been a bookworm.

bookworm

When I was in third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Sleeper, told me, in that exasperated tone of voice that only teachers-on-the-edge know how to muster, that if I was ever in California during an earthquake, I’d probably read right through it.

(Which was actually pretty prescient of her, when you realize that we were in Kansas City, Missouri, at the time, and I wouldn’t migrate to California for another 20 years. And that when I experienced my first-ever California earthquake, my first thought, as I sat, trembling, in my car, was, “Um, Mrs. Sleeper? Wrong!!”)

But I digress…

My point is, I am, and always have been, and probably always will be, a couch potato.

couch

And for the past several months, during our long, hard (well, unusually rainy) Southern California winter, my Kindle Unlimited library has been, slowly but surely, filling up to the brim with first-person travel adventures. Specifically, books by people who have walked long distances – like, oh, I dunno, THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL.

And sure, most people have read, or at least seen the movie version of, Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods.”

bryson walk

However, my first exposure to this genre of travel writing was “The Barefoot Sisters: Southbound” by Lucy and Susan Letcher.

barefoot sis

The charming memories of two young women who decided to hike the Trail BAREFOOT (most of the way) inspired me to get into the whole “barefoot” fad.

(We Baby Boomers tend to jump on a lot of bandwagons, don’t we? I started knitting a few years ago for the same reason. BB’s tend to fetishize everything, which is why you’ll find thousands of websites dedicated to otherwise mundane activities such as letting your hair go grey.)

bandwagon

Anyway, long story short, barefoot walking/running/hiking is fine for some people, and I still have some “barefoot shoes” (basically pumped-up socks with treads) that I enjoy wearing around the house and back yard. But after a few months, I sheepishly gave in to my aching bunions, and bought some shoes that were a little more supportive (and didn’t pick up every #$*& sticker or burr I walked over).

So – back to “foot prisons” for me!

barefoot funny

But I digress…

My point, and I do have one (thanks, Ellen!) is that I love to READ about other people’s adventures. Currently, I have at least 8 books in my Kindle Unlimited Library about hiking the AT, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.

And I’ve watched “A Walk in the Woods” TWICE on Amazon Prime (my favorite character, both in the book and the movie, being the insufferable Mary Ellen, played with disturbing accuracy by Kristen Schaal).

kristen

But now, I’m actually reached the point where I’m tired of reading about, or watching, other people’s adventures.

I’m ready to get up out of the armchair, turn off the Kindle, go outside and (dare I say it?) actually start putting one of my OWN feet in front of one of my OTHER feet! (Okay, I only have two, but you know what I mean!)

one foot

And I’m pleased to report that I’ve already started doing this, albeit via small, tentative fits and starts. Next time, I’ll tell you about some of my initial efforts.

(And feel free to share some of YOUR efforts, hopes, fits and starts, etc. in the comments! Don’t be afraid to let your dreams go willy-nilly!)

On organizing a new blog

Well, this is the first time I’ve responded to one of the daily prompts offered here at WordPress. And it’s very timely, too. As you may have noticed, this is only my fourth (or is it fifth? I’ve lost track already) post here at my new blog, and I’m enjoying going through all the “Learning the Fundamentals” lessons.

One thing I’m not clear on yet is where to put the pingback. So just to be completely disorganized, I’m going to put it RIGHT HERE:

Organize

and then I’m going to post this photo:

pingback

in case it looks weird, so I can say I MEANT to do that.

Anyway, blogging is fun, isn’t it? Especially when you’re as well-organized as we are, here at WordPress!

Finally, some specifics!!

Heh … was just rereading my last two posts, and noticed I’d PROMISED, at the end of each one, that I’d delve into the specifics of my plan in the VERY NEXT POST!

Well, wait no more! A pleasure deferred is a pleasure increased, so this post should thrill you to your very marrow!

Here’s the plan (such as it is – I’m still working things out):

  1. I’m using MyFitnessPal to count my calories.
    • It’s definitely NOT perfect (I’ve had to turn off all the social media notifications, because they drive me nuts), but it’s easy to use, and it gives me a good ballpark idea of where I am.
  2. I’m exercising.
    • I’d been doing that, off and on, anyway — but THIS time, I’m not following up every walk or gym session with a visit to KFC or Popeye’s, just because “I earned it!”
  3. Speaking of which, I DO still go to fast food places from time to time. However, I make sure to check the calorie counts first, and make sure they fit in with my daily allowance.
    • For example: last week, I treated myself to one — just one! — piece of KFC Original Recipe chicken — a big, greasy breast, mmm!! — which clocked in at around 320 calories (and I rounded it up to 400 in the calorie counter, just to be safe!) Which sounds like a lot, and it is. But it’s WAY better than when I used to get the Two-Piece Breast and Wing with Mashed Potatoes and Macaroni & Cheese meal, several times a week — doncha think?)
  4. Finally, I’m NOT ditching the “No-S” plan completely.
    • See — it occurred to me that a lot of us treat our diets like religions: there’s only ONE that’s right, and we can never deviate from it or else!
    • But ya know what? I think it’s a great idea to have more than one diet you can use. They should be somewhat compatible, of course — it makes no sense to go from “all carbs” one day to “no carbs” the next, for example.
    • contrasting diets
    • So my “backup” diets are all some variation of calorie counting. The thing about No-S that’s great is, if you’re only having one plate of food at each meal, and only three meals per day, you can just divide your daily calorie allowance by three, and have some really nice meals. My husband is still doing No-S so I try to keep the meals at @500 calories, which gives me an outlet for cooking creatively!
  1. Finally — and this is the most important bullet point of all: DO NOT GET DISTRACTED/DISCOURAGED by diet/fitness advice/articles on the Internet!
    • I can’t stress this point enough. It’s SOOOO easy to find voices on the Net to tell you anything and everything you want to hear. “Dieting is BAD!” “Counting calories is passe!” “You need MORE fat!” etc., etc.
    • All of which may or may not be true, for some people, in other contexts. But for me, with my life experiences*, I know what works for me.

So there ya go — my multi-pronged War On Fat 2017-2018! Stick around, and I’ll let you know how things are working out!

diet

And just for some accountability, here are my starting stats:

As of today, I’m 5 foot 2, and weigh 240.2 pounds**.

(*code word for “I’M OLD DAGNABBIT!!”)

(**and since I’ve already started the diet, I’m pleased to report this is already 3 pounds lost in the past two weeks! Yay for moi!)

 

 

So – now what? My more or less vague plans and intentions

So, now that you know all about me and my dieting/weight loss history, it’s time to focus on the present – and the future.

Now that I’ve I’ve managed to cobble together some weight-loss wisdom, it’s time to put it into practice. Hence, the title of this blog, “50 by 60,” meaning I’ve decided to lose 50 pounds by my 60th birthday – a little more than a year from now.

As of my last weigh-in, the scales stand at 242 pounds. A 50-pound weight loss would put me below 200 pounds – for the first time in at least two decades!

Now I know – and you know – that we’re not supposed to focus on the numbers on the scale. They only represent one metric of health and fitness. There are lots of other numbers which are just as important, if not more so. Like your blood pressure,  for example. Or your bank balance. I’d love to see THAT number change!

scales

Still … I’m a flawed, fallible human being. And even though it may seem superficial and shallow to some, I’ve decided that seeing the numbers on my 10-year-old Weight Watchers decrease to a number starting with a “1” rather than a “2” would make me very, very, VERY happy. (At least for a few minutes.)

So, let’s go! Next post, I’ll dive into the specifics of what I’m doing and why, diet and exercise-wise.

(Meanwhile, if you’re one of the lovely people who’ve “liked” my blog so far, please feel free to post something in the comments – even if only to say hi! But if you’re too shy, that’s fine. I’m glad to know you’re out there, anyway!)

Part 2 of How I Got Here

So there I was, on an unseasonably warm day in March. A *weekday* in March. That’s important, because I was still trying to stick to the “No S Diet Plan” (no snacks, sweets, or seconds, except on days that start with S).

And yet … even though it wasn’t an S day … it was a hot, STICKY day.

Hey – sticky! That starts with S, right?

And that’s all the excuse I needed to grab a Trader Joe’s Mini Vanilla Hold the Cone (80 calories, mmm!).

95434-hold-the-cone-vanilla

Now, it might still have worked out if I’d just said, “OK, this is ONE S day. I’ll get back on track tomorrow.”

And I would have … except the weather refused to cooperate. It just kept staying hot and muggy, day after day after day … and there were still 7 cones left in the box.

Well, when I got down to the last cone, I realized this wasn’t going to work for me any more. I liked the simplicity of the whole No S thing – the idiot-proof rules that I can still recite by heart.

But dagnab it all – I was ready to S my heart out!

So I decided to turn to a method of dieting which I (and many other supposedly diet-savvy folks) had scoffed at for years: good ol’ basic calorie counting.

calories

Sure, I knew it wasn’t perfect. I knew it might be hard to stick to sometimes. I knew it didn’t always take into account the nutritional values of foods. I knew the 3,500 calories in/calories out thing was an estimate at best.

Heck – I’ve been dieting for decades, AND I’m a bookworm, so I know ALL the arguments!

But I knew something else: the one time in my life when I counted calories, in TOPS, wayyyy back in that dusty ol’ building in Belton, Missouri – it had worked!

And something inside told me it was time to try again.

Next time, I’ll tell you some more specific stuff about what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and whether or not it’s working.

(By the way – thanks for reading! I’m by no means a new blogger (my failed blogs litter the internet, and will undoubtedly prove fascinating to data miners of the future), but it’s been quite a while since I’ve given one this level of attention. Please let me know what you think. See you next time!)

50 by 60 – what it all means

Hi, everyone –

My name is Christine, and this is my new blog about why I’m determined to try to lose 50 pounds by the time I turn 60 next year. “50 by 60” – get it?

Anyway, here’s Part I of my long-winded explanation!

I’m about to turn 59 years old, an age I couldn’t even begin to imagine back in 1975, when I made my first real, serious attempt to lose weight by attending TOPS meetings in Belton, Missouri.

Being an eldest child, the awards appealed to me, and I did lose quite a bit of weight. But when I went away to college the next year, it came roaring back, “with all of its little friends,” as Flora, a Weight Watchers leader I met later in life, would describe this all-too-familiar process.

Fast-forward through the ensuing decades, during which I more or less half-heartedly continued my weight loss efforts, through a myriad of diets (all of which insist on calling themselves “lifestyle changes”) and exercise attempts, resting from time to time in the arms of the newly emerging Body Acceptance movement.

Now, here I am, almost 59 years old, living the dream in sunny Southern California, and tipping the scales at about 240 pounds – about 120 pounds heavier than when I started, all those years ago, in that dusty brick building in Belton.

I can never go back to Belton (er, well, OK, I have been back a few times, but it’s a metaphor, OK? Think “Manderly”!) – and I don’t know if I can ever get back to 120 pounds.

manderly

But you know what? I don’t think it’s impossible. And I’ve got some encouraging recent history to back that up.

First of all, just a little over a year ago, my doctor (well, actually the nurse-practitioner – you know how HMOs are these days!) recommended that I consider getting weight loss surgery. I bristled, still brimming with ideology from the Fat Acceptance movement.

“What? ME? What’s wrong with my weight? Sure, I’m fat. I admit it. I embrace it! But I’m healthy! My blood pressure is perfect (true); my cholesterol is–well, okay, it’s a little high, but it’s GOOD cholesterol (more or less true); and I can walk anywhere I want.”

Okay — NOT true!

But I THOUGHT I could, because you see, during these past few decades, I have done quite a lot of walking, especially since moving to California. I used to work in Downtown Los Angeles, and at least two or three times a week, I’d actually walk from my apartment building to my office, four miles one way.

When the Red Line was built, I moved to the Valley and took the subway to work, but always got off a stop or two before my office building, so I could continue my morning walks.

And I loved it! I got intimately familiar with all the sidewalks, traffic lights, and public restrooms between Union Station and Bunker Hill. (I even got to see the chaos surrounding the O.J. Simpson trial, up close and personal, walking past the Hall of Justice every morning.)

Not only that, but early in my So Cal residency, I even climbed the entirety of a pretty steep switchback trail to the top of a (relatively short) mountain called Echo Mountain, north of Altadena, California. I was fascinated by the fact that there’d once been a railroad (the Mount Lowe Railway) stretching from Downtown all the way up to the top of this mountain, and made myself climb to the top to see the ruins of the old hotel

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So, walking and I – we had a history.

But by the time I saw my nurse-practitioner last year, I’d been “downsized” from my Downtown job, and was living a very sedentary life with my husband in the Valley. With no incentive to go anywhere other than the grocery store, my daily walking dwindled to once a week, if that.

Still, there was no way I was going to have weight loss surgery. I’d known people who’d had it, and had terrible health problems afterwards. Plus, there was just something inside me — maybe the spirits of my pioneer ancestors — that rebelled at the idea of taking the “easy way out.” (Before you start throwing rocks at your screen, I KNOW surgery isn’t “easy”! This was just me being overly paranoid, okay? Hang in there!)

So, no surgery for me. And yet — when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the whole idea of trying, yet again, to lose weight. And I realized that, in spite of all the Fat Acceptance messages I’d absorbed, I really did want to try again, one more time.

A couple of years ago, I had read a book called “The No-S Diet” by an engineer named Reinhard Engels. The basic concept is so simple that (as the author himself pointed out) you really just needed to read the subtitle on the front cover:

“No snacks, seconds, or sweets, except on days that start with S.”

In other words, three meals a day, and that’s it.

I liked the concept because it was simple and easy to remember, and had dabbled with it for a while, but lost interest one hot August weekday when I was craving a giant ice cream sandwich. (spoiler alert: foreshadowing!!)

Now I remembered it, and decided this might be the perfect plan to start a more serious weight-loss effort with. And my husband, bless his heart, agreed to go along with it and try it with me.

Here’s what really made the difference this time: being a good Catholic ( more or less ), I decided to enlisted the Lord in my efforts, making a solemn promise to Him that I would stick with this plan for AT LEAST three months before giving up and/or trying something else. I actually stood in front of the altar (when no one else was there, naturally) and raised my hand, Scarlett O’Hara-like, as I made my pledge:

“As God is my witness, I’ll never snack again, except on Saturdays, Sundays, and ‘special’ days!”

m_neverbehungry

And it worked! The weight loss was slow – maybe a pound a month, if that — but the important thing was that after years of “mindless eating,” I felt in control of what I was eating. I could see exactly what I was consuming, at every meal, and decide whether or not a particular food was worthy of a place on my plate.

Satisfied with how easy it was, I renewed my pledge to God three months later. Everything was fine — until the hot weather struck, early in the spring — and I realized I was at a fork in the road.

(To be continued!)