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Daily Bread #105

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Last week I posted about a trail that was too steep for me.  This week we found another way, and I reached the top.  Someone hung two swings where you can sit and enjoy the view.  They made me a little acrophobic so I didn’t get on one, but the view was amazing as was my sense of accomplishment.  I am so lucky to have had my knee surgery when i did because now I can go on hikes when there is nothing much else to do while we shelter in place.  We are using delivery for groceries because although I am fairly healthy now, my age alone puts me in a high risk category for serious complications from COVID-19 as well as a lower priority for a ventilator if needs exceed the number available.  Even when just walking around, we are advised to cover our noses and mouths.  My purple bandana still serves.

92262968_10220895137835771_7119867651374972928_n These are definitely unusual times and I am not at all sure that we will ever get back to what we once thought was normal. There are some good things happening.  Governments are renting hotel rooms to house people without homes.  People are being released from jails and prisons early.  Why did we have so many non-violent offenders behind bars and why did we ever ignore all the people forced to live on the streets?  Now we finally appreciate grocery clerks and farmworkers because we know we would not eat without them.  They have always been essential.  Maybe we should be paying them more.

I do worry that the November election may be delayed. Our President has killed people, right on 5th Avenue like he bragged about, and I am really afraid about the callousness to suffering and death that he displays.  He is either stupid or evil; most likely both. I am also really glad to be in California and also proud to be part of a faith that went to virtual worship nationally even before California shut such gatherings down.  Listen to the scientists not the politicians unless it is very clear that the politicians are listening to the scientists.  I like having a rather nerdy governor.

I am getting used to the way things are and will be for longer than we may expect.

I wrote this poem to keep my spirits up.

Live your life

Live your life

Such as it is now

This isn’t ending soon

The world grows smaller

Shrinks down to a neighborhood

A house, a room, a prison cell.

Our connections are more distant

But deeper too

As we share the fear

The grief, the loss.

Howling in the night

We find some small release.

 

Live your life

Such as it is

While you have it

While you can.

Relish the sunshine

Savor the flowers

Bursting with spring

They are

What your soul needs now.

Talk to your neighbor

From a distance of course

Help them if you can.

We are all refugees now

There is no escape.

There are no borders

Anymore.

This is the whole world

A planet in pain and fear.

 

Live your life.

It is what you have

For now.

Enjoy each day, each moment

Find a way to laugh

To smile.

Courage will come.

This isn’t ending soon

I hope not for me

Or for you.

This is the time to focus on what we can do, not on what we can’t.  The weight management program I have been in is a practice, a lifestyle, built on thousands of separate decisions which when taken together make a difference.   So too, a community responds to a pandemic.  Thousands of individuals make decisions that affect their entire community and even the world.

My weight went up a bit this week, but that is nothing for anyone to worry about.  We have bigger fish to fry – um – I mean bake.  I am getting at least 10,000 steps in every day – if it is raining too hard outside, I just do them in the house. This is not the time for mall walking. I am also doing 30-40 minutes on the stationary bike most days.  My exercise level and calorie deficit were both up slightly this week from the week before, so if it was simple math, I would have lost rather than gained.  The difference might be the amount of salt I ate last week and some water retention that went along with it. That Chinese food delivery order was delicious and well worth a small gain, however.  There are thousands of decisions as I said.  Some are worth it and some aren’t.

We are all  learning what matters most as so much of our former life has slipped away.   I miss our adult children the most.  I knew I was lucky they all lived close by and we could see them often. Now they might as well be thousands of miles away, but am glad we can stay in touch via the phone and video chats and they are all healthy and still employed, at least for now.

I’ll end with the messages I hear so often these days, from family and neighbors, strangers and friends.

Be careful out there!  Stay home if you can, wear a mask, wash your hands.  Be safe.  Stay well.

Love to you all!

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 87053 steps last week for 34.7 miles.   I ate approximately 10269 calories and burned 14276 for a deficit of 4007. My average weight this week is up 1.7  pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 167.6.

Daily Bread #104

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Sometimes there is a path you think you can follow.  The rise looks gentle enough, doable, as they say.  But sometimes that path, after it winds through some trees, after you get a glimpse of simply breathtaking views, the trail becomes a trial.  It goes almost straight up and there are loose rocks that slip under your boots.  At some point you realize that maybe you can reach the summit, but no way could you get down again without falling and sliding on your butt. It is important to find a path that leads more gently to the place you want to go.

The above picture is of a real trail in my neighborhood that looked inviting, but quickly became terrifying and so we turned around.

There are lessons in my walkabouts, if I pay attention.  The metaphors get strained sometimes, like my muscles, but moving can also be a meditation.

I think we are in the second week of lockdown due to COVID-19; time is a little weird these days.  We walk through the neighborhood between rain showers, I ride my stationary bike and do my physical therapy, we play cards, read, go to virtual church, share video calls with our kids, talk on the phone, and cook meals which take more planning as we are avoiding grocery stores and home deliveries can be delayed.  Having a hot tub really helps for relaxation and we discovered GrubHub this week.  We had a great dinner delivered from our favorite local Chinese restaurant with lots of leftovers for another day.  I also wrote a couple of poems.

The Wind

Little Things

Life goes on, at least for now. It feels important to pace myself.  This is a marathon not a sprint.  After almost 2 years in the program (started in April of 2018), I have yet to wander too far from the path. If I can do that, I can also make it through this pandemic.  I am grateful to have good companions and guides along the way, and feel very lucky to be in California where science is not considered fake news.

For all who are afraid, may courage come. For all who are sick, may they be healed.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 75670 steps last week for 31 miles.   I ate approximately 10367 calories and burned 13889 for a deficit of 3522. My average weight this week is down 1.1  pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 169.3.

Daily Bread #103

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Who is that masked woman?

I used to wear that same bandana back in the day, going to demonstrations against the Viet Nam war.  I kept it wet and pulled it over my face to protect my eyes from the clouds of tear gas.  These days, I just pull it up when others are passing a bit too close.  It isn’t as good as a N-95 mask, but we need to save those for the health care workers because the US government is very unprepared for the pandemic.  I am glad to be in California where I can at least trust the state, county, and city officials to not lie to us about the situation.

It is getting to me.  The clueless people still running around in groups.  The run on toilet paper.  The racism still coming from Washington. I wish we had a president that at least acted like he cared about anyone but himself. They closed the parks here, which I knew was coming after the traffic jams at the beach this weekend.  I’ll miss the trails, but at least my neighborhood is pleasant to walk in.  Great views, especially if I head uphill.  Tempers are short, though, including my own.  I usually write this weekly blog fairly early on Mondays, but just couldn’t get centered enough today to put any words together.  I am still not very centered, but am writing anyway.  Does it have to make sense?  Does anything make sense these days?  I am scared and grumpy and am trying to cut myself some slack about it, and trying, not always effectively, to be generous with other stressed and grumpy people, especially on-line.  We will get through this.  I have to keep that hope alive, a flame that at least still flickers even if it isn’t burning very bright right now.

I lost some more weight this week again.  Who cares?  Maybe I still do.  Paying attention to my body and its needs seems even more important just now as we hunker down and try to survive as best we can.

Love to all of you who might read this.  We are in it all together, that much, at least, is very clear.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 78875 steps last week for 32 miles.   I ate approximately 10479 calories and burned 14074 for a deficit of 3595. My average weight this week is down 1.7  pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 168.2.

Daily Bread #102

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As we hunker down and avoid crowds, attend virtual church services, stock up on essentials, cancel appointments and social engagements, pretty much the only place to go is the great outdoors.  It has been raining off and on this week, but we have still managed a few fairly long hikes.  At home there is the internet, reading and playing cards.  This poem, by the Rev. Lyn Unger is helping me cope:

Pandemic

What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath—

the most sacred of times?

Cease from travel.

Cease from buying and selling.

Give up, just for now,

on trying to make the world

different than it is.

Sing. Pray. Touch only those

to whom you commit your life.

Center down.

And when your body has become still,

reach out with your heart.

Know that we are connected

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.

(You could hardly deny it now.)

Know that our lives

are in one another’s hands.

(Surely, that has come clear.)

Do not reach out your hands.

Reach out your heart.

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils

of compassion that move, invisibly,

where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.

–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

 

I wrote one this week as well.

When Fear Comes

When fear comes knocking

I never know

If I should answer

Or hide somewhere inside.

Maybe it won’t know

That I am here.

Maybe it will go away

If I leave it standing

At the door.

 

But fear is just a

Messenger, a warning.

Not a harbinger

Of what must be.

Listen, Fear,

I hear you.

I’ll be as careful as I can

And I thank you

For your time.

Go away now.

I need courage more

Just now.

Send some over, please.

Last week, in group, likely our last in-person meeting for the duration, we talked about self-control.  I ran across this article which seemed timely.

The Myth of Self-Control

It had some useful insights I think.  This is one:

“People who are good at self-control … seem to be structuring their lives in a way to avoid having to make a self-control decision in the first place,” Galla tells me. And structuring your life is a skill. People who do the same activity — like running or meditating — at the same time each day have an easier time accomplishing their goals, he says. Not because of their willpower, but because the routine makes it easier.”

Read the whole article, but if this current cloud has a silver lining, our lives are all becoming much more structured as our options become increasingly limited.  Maybe that is why my weight is down again this week without really trying.

Stay well, everyone.  We are in this together. The whole wide world is in this.

“Promise this world your love–

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health,

so long as we all shall live.”

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 79153 steps last week for 32 miles.   I ate approximately 10388 calories and burned 14115 for a deficit of 3727. My average weight this week is down 1.6  pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 166.5.

Daily Bread #101

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I did my second Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test last week.  The first was a year and a half and a hundred pounds ago.  The rate was of course different, but in some interesting ways.  The weirdest thing was that I got taller.  Not much, just a third of an inch, but given that people tend to get shorter as they age, getting taller is fairly miraculous.  Less weight on my spine, standing straighter, my new knee, are all possible explanations, but who cares?  I will take the miniscule physical growth along with larger emotional and spiritual growth (maturity) that can make us wiser as we age.

My resting energy expenditure went down from 1555 to 1210.  It takes fewer calories to, for example,  pump blood through a smaller body, so I knew that number would go down.  If you add in daily activities and 30 minutes of exercise, the total average calories my body is estimated to burn is 1573.  The really good news is that my metabolic rate is only 8% slower than the average for people of my height, weight and age.  During the last test, I was 11% slower.  The difference is likely due to my exercise routine and increased muscle mass.

In terms of the number of calories I need to eat in order to maintain my weight, the test was only marginally helpful, as it gave a maintenance range of 1210-1573, which seems fairly wide.  I have been eating roughly 1400-1500 calories a day, but then again I exercise more that 30 minutes most days.

I love math, but it isn’t perfect.  Still, it really is calories in versus calories out.  This last week I exercised a lot more as my cold was better, and burned around 2000 more calories than I did last week.  I ate about the same amount and so the scale showed a 1.3 pound loss.

Everyone has been talking and worrying about the corona virus.  I am in a “sensitive category” due to my age, but my health is so much better I am much less worried than I would have been 2 years ago.  No more “underlying health conditions” for me!

In any case, life always involves risks.  And you need to live it if it is going to mean something.  The only real change I am making is washing my hands much more often and for longer.  We will hunker down in our house if the situation gets worse, but for now I am still enjoying my walks.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 65891 steps last week for 27 miles.   I ate approximately 10570 calories and burned 13827 for a deficit of 3257. My average weight this week is down 1.3  pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 164.9.

Daily Bread #100

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This week I celebrated my 70th birthday with a dinner out with the family.  It feels really good to enjoy a dessert without feeling guilty.  My weight is still hovering at under 160, despite a bad cold slowing me down, a conference, and a birthday – so no worries.

I call this blog “Daily Bread”, but I post weekly, so I have been doing this blog every week for 100 weeks, almost 2 full years. I hope it has been helpful to others, but blogging about my journey each week helps keep me on track.  It is one more discipline, like exercising and counting the calories in the food I eat.  (I may have overestimated the pie calories as it was actually fairly light as well as yummy. Restaurant food is always a guessing game.)

It is a discipline, even when guessing. Discipline is self control, but it isn’t like will power. I am not forcing myself. It is more of a practice, and like a spiritual practice, if you are faithful to it, it can lead you to places you might never have imagined.  It takes some character and determination, but is definitely not denial.  The key is really wanting the result – a healthy body – more than that extra helping of whatever it might be.

70 years old feels pretty good.  I am healthier and able to do more physically than in the last 20 or so years.  I think I have earned all my gray hair and wrinkles, and believe I have accumulated just a little bit of wisdom through it all.  More challenges await, no doubt.  That is life after all.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 32610 steps last week for 13.7 miles.   I ate approximately 10416 calories and burned 11688 for a deficit of 1272. My average weight this week is up .6 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 163.6.

Daily Bread #99

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What a week it has been.  My cold got better and now it is worse again.  I flew to Arizona for a retreat for retired Unitarian Universalist Ministers and their partners, and flew back in time for the wedding of one of my sons the next day.  It was a small wedding (ten people) at our house.  I officiated, but my son and his wife did all the decorating and hired a caterer.  They will have a larger celebration in another year or so when her family from China can be here.

The retreat was a retrospective of the last 50 years, stimulating and moving as we listened to panels including ones on the Viet Nam war,  technology, anti-racism work, and the entrance of women in the ministry.  The talent show was particularly fun and I also celebrated my 70th birthday while we were there.

The food was challenging at the retreat center, just as I expected, but I did a lot of walking, including on the labyrinth above.  I came back at basically the same weight, which actually surprised me as I did indulge some in desserts and there was a killer snack table with wine.  With no scale, I did not weigh myself, so the average weight for the week is likely not as accurate as usual.

The food at the wedding was also challenging, and I did over indulge, but a son’s wedding is a very good excuse I think.  Wine, champagne, a four course meal, and wedding cake, it was all wonderful. Between the wedding and the retreat food, I think I consumed about 2000 more calories last week than usual.  Not too terribly far off.

I love walking a labyrinth.  This one was gorgeous and it is always a meditative journey walking around in what seems like circles until you suddenly find yourself in the center.

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This one, like most, has an altar in the center, a place to leave something that symbolizes the journey.  There were even a couple of candy wrappers tucked underneath the stones which made me smile.  This journey has been a strenuous uphill climb for a couple of years now.  Maybe it is time to adopt a more meditative approach, circling around toward my goal of continued good health, finding progress in a way that can feel like an accident, but is instead purposeful and deliberate.

I am living my life, I am feeling good and strong, except for this cold and sore throat which got a lot worse yesterday.  Airplanes and weddings are not the best prescription for virus recovery.  I will rest today, eat sensibly, and hope to exercise more in another day or two.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 58288 steps last week for 24.5 miles.   I ate approximately 12348 calories and burned 13769 for a deficit of 1421. My average weight this week is down  .7 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 164.2.

Daily Bread #98

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My weight is starting to flatline, hovering just below 160.  No worries.  160 is just fine, it feels like a healthy weight for me and some of the weight is just loose skin (they don’t talk about that much).  Stabilizing may even mean I can get some new clothes that will fit me longer term.  I am glad I did not buy very many earlier on.

I signed up to take a new resting metabolic rate (RMR) test in another few weeks so I will have a more accurate picture of my normal calorie burn without exercise.  It will help some with the math I think.  I wanted to wait until my weight stabilized before doing it again, as larger bodies burn more calories than smaller ones at the same activity level so your RMR keeps changeing with your weight.  At this point it probably won’t tell me much that I don’t already know, but it is free for program participants who reach their “goal weight” and free is good.  I can go one morning with delayed caffeine in order to take the test.  For the test, you breathe into a tube which then calculates the calories you burn while resting.

I  got sick this week.  Nothing serious, just a bad cold, but it definitely slowed me down on my exercise routines.  I thought of applying the old adage of “feed a cold and starve a fever” but decided not to stuff myself and instead have been drinking a lot of soup, herbal tea, and liquid cold medicine at night, “so I can sleep” as the commercial says.   That and rest seems to be doing the trick. I fly off to a conference in Arizona soon.  Hopefully people on the plane won’t think I have the plague, which is not an unreasonable fear these days. Food will be a bit more complicated at the conference with shared meals, but again no worries.  This is all a habit for me by now.  I am really looking forward to the conference which is for retired Unitarian Universalist ministers and their partners.  Usually it has excellent programming and worship services and seeing old friends and colleagues is always wonderful.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 49574 steps last week for 20.9 miles.   I ate approximately 9618 calories and burned 12668 for a deficit of 3050. My average weight this week is up  .4 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 163.5.

Daily Bread #97

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I guess maybe I am a shadow of my former self….

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And better in so many ways.  I went on a actual hike this week, only a couple of miles, but it was my first time on an actual trail with my new knee.  The weather was glorious and the knee held up just fine.  I am still trying to take a bit easy every other day so as not to over stress it again.

I need to renew my passport – one never knows these days if one will have to leave the country quickly.  The Nazis put people like me in camps so the descent of our country into fascism makes me nervous on a very deep level.  Then again, we also like to travel and have a trip to Europe planned next fall.

Since it is a passport renewal, I should only need to mail the old one in with current pictures and, of course, a fee.  It was startling to see the difference in my two pictures taken ten years apart.  I am concerned that they will think I am a completely different person, maybe a cousin of the old me.  I called the 800# and asked about it, but the man who answered said it shouldn’t be a problem.  We will see.  I sent in a copy of my drivers license with the renewal so at least they can see an official picture of me at an “in-between” weight.  My smile is the same in all 3 pics anyway.

It is important to keep smiling no matter what happens.  It is joy and laughter that gets us through the challenges of life.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 57110 steps last week for 23.4miles.   I ate approximately 11074 calories and burned 13674 for a deficit of 26004. My average weight this week is down .6 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 163.9.

Daily Bread#96

84879340_10220287677329638_805428645718917120_nI was a little worried this week because our daughter gave us a wine and chocolate tasting for Anne’s birthday.  No worries as it turned out – it was fabulous, but there wasn’t all that much chocolate or wine involved.  It fit well with my new lifestyle – a taste is enough.  Savoring the flavors of food and drink – and life itself – the warm sun, the colors of the sky, the pleasures of friendship and good company are all so wonderful in themselves.  There is no need to overdo any of it.

I did my favorite walk this week for the first time since my knee surgery.  Roughly 7000 steps downhill to the local marina and back uphill home.  It felt good, and the knee is still doing well.

My weight seems to have stabilized and I have been hovering in the same 1-2 pound range every day for the last 2-3 weeks.  This may be where I end up which is just fine.  I am having fun and enjoying life.  I feel healthy and strong.  I am trying not to let the fact that a criminal president will stay in office bring me too far down.

This song (Lead with Love) helps me keep my courage up.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 54965 steps last week for 23.2miles.   I ate approximately 10374 calories and burned 13608 for a deficit of 3234. My average weight this week is down .1 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 163.3.