Thursday, August 23, 2012

Just a Little Bit Obsessive/Compulsive

I was out on the 574 tonight, cutting the hay in the Back Eight with the Bush Hog and I got to thinking.  (Yes, I actually do cogitate now and then...surprise, surprise.)   Nothing like sitting on a tractor going back and forth in a field for a few hours to get your mind to wandering.  

When was the last time I wrote a blog post?

Oh, my.   It's been weeks and weeks since I last wrote a word, which also includes personal emails. I looked at my inbox  and was stunned to see I had over 200+ emails piled up.  Wow.  Luckily most of them were spam, though there were a few from good friends that I still have to get back to. Time is just zipping on by and I'm being yanked along with it in all sorts of directions. Since starting my exercise routine and trying to get more sleep, my time is cut shorter than ever.  I use to be a diehard night owl, but have since reformed quite a bit.  (Probably not tonight, though, since I didn't start writing this til midnight.)
We've had our fair share of garden walks and tour groups this summer and many, many impromptu, drop-in visitors, just like any other year.  And as usual, we spent a lot of time primping and preening the garden to get it up to standards.  Luckily, we were blessed and had some nice, gentle rainfall this month which has greened everything up beautifully.  We even hosted an 'almost surprise' birthday party for a friend of ours in July, but she figured it out. Still, it was fun, and we've used the tent several more times, too.  Lots of good friends have visited this year, and we enjoyed seeing them all.

And before you ask, the answer is No, Castle Aaargh is STILL not done.  I know, I know, why not?

We just hauled some bagged cement home on Monday night, so here we go again for the year.  Gentleman, start your Mortar Mixers, it's time to mix some mud.  I still say I should have realized how much work the silly thing was going to be.  Oh, well.  Live and Learn.

That's where the OCD thing rears it's head.  I'm not sure why, but I have a tendency to go overboard on projects or hobbies.  I'm not sure if losing weight is a 'hobby' per se, but it sure as heck has been a big project, ha, and the work in that direction goes on.  I'm down forty pounds since the first of the year which sounds like a lot, but since I need to lose at least that much more, well, it's not time to cheer just yet.  Let's just say if I stand sideways, you'll still see me, I won't disappear like a sheet of paper. "Now you see me, now you don't....." er, never mind, you can still see me no matter which way I turn. 

The weird part is I've never lost weight before, never even tried to, even though I obviously should have.  My weight was just another one of those subtle things in life that snuck up on me; 'up' being the operative word.  Isn't there a poem, 'Fog comes on little cat feet'?  Well, poundage comes on just as stealthily, too, right along with the Big M. 


Too bad there isn't a time in a woman's life cycle called Weightopause.

I mean, really, we endure puberty and all those bizarre changes (I remember my first week with a bra, you mean I have to wear one of these for the Rest of My Life?!) gads, what a harness! And they call it a Playtex?  Any garment with 'Play' in the name should be fun, right?  Not sure what the 'tex' part is referring to, but now that I've done graduated to the 18 Hour version, I'll be the first to tell you, there ain't nothing all that comfortable about a Comfort Strap.  And don't get me started on Sports Bras.  Whoo doggies....they are aptly named; it's a sport in itself just crawling in and out of those contraptions. 

Playing Catch-up here with old pictures from July.....Lily season came and went.  

 Then after puberty comes a whole bunch of other silliness and mood swings and for many women, the childbearing years.  What was once a nice, taut tummy suddenly resembles something out of a science fiction horror flick and you and your bathroom become inseparable.  Aching feet, aching back and then presto/chango, you're now a Mom.  (Ah, if it was only that easy.)  No more sleep, you don't know what you're doing, you feel like a zombie the first month or two but then, all of a sudden, you hit your stride.  And despite all your best efforts, they survive your clumsy parenting attempts and they begin to grow up.  And one night you look in the mirror and see a few gray hairs and gasp, wrinkles?  Can't be. Must be a smudge on the mirror.

 Before you know it, your bundle of joy is in kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school and then you find yourself sitting on the bleachers trying not to bawl as they walk across the stage and get their diploma.  More school to come...suddenly somewhere in the teenage years you aren't as smart as you (and they) once thought you were and the roles are reversed.  You go to them for help with stuff like computers and new gadgets and they sigh (just like you did when you taught them to tie their shoes for the zillionth time) and walk you through the set up of your new toy.

And then they move out. 

And you're back to where you started.  And those wrinkles and gray hair you first saw a decade ago are now definitely there to stay.  Along with that tummy that never really got taut again. 

And then I found myself standing bent over crooked under my son's suspended kayak on a freight scale in our garage on a frigid night last December, weighing frozen hamburger packages for the heck of it and wondered why the scale wouldn't go back down to the number I clearly recalled weighing the last time I checked.  (In 1993.)  There's gotta be something wrong with the silly thing...surely there's a  whole box of frozen meat on the scale with me...what?  There isn't?  Give me a flashlight, I want to read this number.  What?  You've gotta be kidding.  Wowzers.  Houston, we have a problem.

Cue the Obsession.  Here we go.

While we were battling the drought and extreme heat of July with hoses and air conditioning, I was also still marching on with Leslie every morning in my never-ending walk, walk, walk.  Obsessive?  You betcha.  An hour a day with Ms. Sansone for eight and a half months and I still look forward to it.  What is up with that? 

My mother asked me, "Do you have to exercise for the rest of your life?" 

I said, "I guess so, come to think of it, I really haven't given it much thought.  I just like it, is all."

"You like exercise?"

"Yeah, I think I might be addicted."

"Oh, that a bad thing?  Can't you stop?"

 "Sure I can stop, I just don't want to." 

Hmmm.....the old flower bed in the Formal Garden looks sort of like a track.......
 I wonder how many laps would make a mile?  How many rocks and how big do they have to be before I could be considered 'lifting heavy'? 

I'm on weight loss Plateau now, and it's a lonely place.  All loss has come to a screeching halt for several weeks.  Oh, goody.  So now what?  Pass the chocolate bon bons or punt?  I've spent oodles of time on weight loss websites, punching my numbers into online calculators trying to figure out what my caloric intake levels should be vs. my exercise output, BMI, BMR, TDEE, RMR, the acronyms and the advice all vary according to the sites and if I thought at one time that gardening and all the Latin names of plants was confusing, well, now I'm Really Confused. 

In the Realm of Fitness and Dieting there are more opinions on what to do than you can shake a stick at.  Which ones are right?  Do I set my Activity Level to Sedentary and log all my exercise activities, or set it to Very Active and forgeddabout logging exercise?  Do I eat back my exercise calories?  Some of them?  Or all of them?  Or none of them?  Who knows. 

Consistency is key.  Try something for awhile and see what happens.  If that doesn't work, back to the drawing board and try something else. Should I Eat More To Weigh Less or Eat Less and Move A Whole LOT More?  Turns out, eating too little is just as bad as eating too much, in fact, it's worse.  Who knew?  I'm experimenting with upping calories a little and so far, no gain, so that tells me something.  You have to eat, and 1200 calories a day or less is NUTS. (Not that I ever ate that little.  C'mon this is ME we're talking about!)   Especially for active people, as all of us gardeners are.  And yes, I keep a Food Diary, full of scintillating details like how many calories are in that cup of yogurt.  Yogurt, ha, I eat yogurt now.  Oh, my. 

And everyone has an opinion on exercise.  Cardio is King!  Boo, hiss, Cardio is BAD!  Weight lifting is Best!  Lift HEAVY!  Lose weight.  Lose inches.  

Lose your mind.

The most helpful advice I read online was:  The best exercise for weight loss is:  

The One You'll Do.  

 Not the one you'll think about doing, or the one you'll do once and then after you're out of traction, never, ever try again. The best exercise is one you'll commit to and enjoy.  Do I want to become rail thin?  Nope.  I just want to be fit.  ('Just'--- as if that's so easy.)

I've come to think of this weighty journey as akin to gardening, really.  After all, I know gardening is an obsession of ours and I suspect, of all my garden blogging friends, too.  Why else would we all spend so much time and money in all kinds of weather along with blood, sweat and tears on trying to coax plants to grow?  How about all those endless trips to nurseries and greenhouses and garden walks?  Yes, I believe most serious gardeners have a form of OCD. 

We're always trying to fix things, try new plants, and battle the elements.  Hey, it's like farming, we have to take what we get and work with it.

 So, if any of my followers are still reading me after this hiatus, I'm so grateful.  I can't tell you how many times I think of you all and I've bopped in and read many of your blog posts, but just haven't had the time to comment consistently.  My computer is aging rapidly and very cantankerous and both of my sons are giving me advice on what to look for and buy (here we go again with Confusion) so, hopefully, Soon I will have a new computer and those problems will be a thing of the past.  Hey, I can hope, right?

Ernie the Urn says Hi

Oh, boy, it's late again and I have to lead two exercise classes tomorrow morning....yes, you read it right, life leads us down some really strange paths sometimes; I'm substituting this week for our regular exercise class leader.  Me.  The woman who weighs herself on a freight scale under a kayak.  Wow.  Wonders never cease, do they?  No, I wasn't selected to lead the class because of my ultra-athleticism or my svelte figure.  Nope.  

My claim to fame is:

I know how to run the DVD player.



Sue said...

Karen-so good to see your post-looks like your garden came through that hot and droughty July with flying colors.
Good luck on breaking past the plateau--I FINALLY started moving down on the scale a bit after being stuck forever. My goal was to lose 15 pounds a year--for quite a few years. I was beginning to think this year was going to be a bust, but it's finally moving now-yay!
Best of luck on your continued weight loss!!

Darla said...

Oh Honey Boo Boo Child! You have been missed!! I would love to see photos of your 40 lbs lost, I know you look fab. I have always felt you were too hard on yourself. Your gardens are still gorgeous.....

FlowerLady said...

Oh there you are dear Karen. I've been wondering about you. I do know you guys are very busy during the summer, but it is so GOOD to see your post.

I'm proud of you for sticking with your exercise regimen and that you have lost 40 lbs. I thought you looked great in that photo you posted at your inlaws' anniversary celebration (?). You are an inspiration.

Your property, gardens and blooms, Castle Aaargh, and all of your beautiful bits that Carl has built around your place are all wonderful. It's no wonder you have some many visitors during the summer.

Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

Junebug said...

Yeah, she is back! You sure have been missed! You had me chuckling like usual this morning on your 40 lb journey! Congratulations Big Time!!!

Your flowers are lovely like usual and that Castle Aaargh will always be waiting for your spare second.

Hugs and keep up all work it is paying off!!!!!!

Nadezda said...

Karen, do not worry about calories and diets! The important thing is that you feel good, no pain.
Wonderful photos, they are fascinating, charming and are made with good taste.

Peonies & Magnolias said...

Glad to see you back again. Congrats on the weight loss, that's fantastic. The garden is beautiful. Hope you have a great weekend.


Alison said...

Hey there Karen! So good to see a post from you. I'm so glad you're still losing weight and still walking and exercising. WooHoo! Your garden looks good too. I'm still on the weight loss journey too, slowly that scale is moving downward. I have heard that one key to getting past a plateau is to vary the amount of calories you eat each day (which is NOT the same as pigging out on candy and cookies, so you have to be careful what calories you add in.) I hope you're eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies.

Chad B said...

Karen, I just wanted to congratulate you on losing 40 pounds already. No matter how long you stay on this weight loss plateau now, I hope you know that what you've already accomplished is quite a feat!

Also, I totally agree about all gardeners have some level of OCD. My question is: which came first the gardening or the OCD?

Carol said...

Tell Ernie I said he is very pretty. Glad to know all is well. Have great weekend! Carol

Indie said...

I love what you've done with the grate, with all those petunias and whatnot in front of it! I also love your long border of red and yellow.

Congratulations on 40 pounds! It takes me most of the year to lose the holiday weight (just in time for the next round of holidays!) I heartily agree that the best exercise is the one you'll do.

africanaussie said...

I just love reading your posts... you write so well, and honestly. Wow! congratulations on your weight loss success - and even leading the exercise class - I am impressed. Your garden as usual is looking totally lovely. The entrance is superb - when you first put up those grates I had my reservations, but you proved me wrong! Thanks for staying up after midnight to keep us posted!

El Gaucho said...

Karen - congratulations on your accomplishments. Everyone here (dogs and people) is darn impressed with your weight loss and the walking regimen you've been sticking with. Don't let all the information and misinformation on the web and on television confuse you or push you into one thing or another. If your goal is to be fit, you're there. Walking an hour a day along with all the gardening you do is more activity than most folks are capable of, and you ought to be very proud.

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

Wow, 40 pounds is something to celebrate! Way to go, woman!!!
Try interval training. While out on your walks, do several bursts of running in between times of walking to mix it up a little. Weight lifting is good, too, and I suspect you will be doing a lot of that once you get back to the Castle. We got a break from our heat when we visited WI a few weeks ago when it was in the mid 80s. Felt good to us. Your garden looks great despite the hot, dry summer you've had. Just think of all those calories you burned dragging hoses around :-) Keep up the good work all around. I admire your commitment to discipline in eating and bed time. Getting enough sleep is supposed to help with weight loss, too, "they" say. Good to hear from you again!! Take care :-)

Missy said...

Good on you Karen. Obviously a bit of OCD can be a good thing when it helps you to achieve something you want.
Love the way the garden is looking at the moment.

Judy F. said...

Missed you, I so look forward to your entertaining posts and amazing garden phots. Congratulatios on the exercise/weight loss!

Gatsbys Gardens said...


Your garden looks beautiful and congrats on all of that weight you lost.


Karen said...

Sue, congratulations to you on your weight loss, too! Good to hear from you again, too.

Hi Darla, thank you. I thought about posting a pic, but I'm still so self-conscious. I have a lot more to lose, there's so MUCH of me to go around.

Rainey, thank you, you're such a dear! I'm going to set aside some time very soon just to take in your blog, I miss visiting.

Hi Junebug! I'm glad you enjoyed my rambling, lol. Great to hear from you.

Nadezda, you are very right, I am blessed to have good health, weight isn't all that important. So good to hear from you, too!

Sandy, thank you and I hope you have a great weekend, too.

Hi Alison, Congratulations on your weight loss, too! Have you started raising chickens yet? Is that the Zig-Zag Plan? I think it's a good idea, actually. Right now I'm trying to eat maintenance calories for my goal weight and see how that goes. Plateaus are really frustrating but I'll give it some time and see what happens. It's quite the journey, isn't it?

Thank you, Chad! I almost think the OCD tendencies were there first, sort of a chicken/egg thing. But at least we gardeners put our 'disorder' to good use, beautifying the world, lol.

Karen said...

Hi Carol, I'll tell Ernie you said hello!

Indie, I know about the holidays and the weight gain, boy do I! All that tempting food....yum. I'll have to quit walking and start running, lol!

africanaussie, thank you so much! I know, the grates did look silly at first but the flowers really helped. We're kind of interested to see what sort of snow drifts we'll get this winter. Me leading any kind of class, much less exercise is something I never, ever thought I'd do. Our regular teacher is back on Monday, thank goodness!

Aw. El Gaucho, thank you and Alycia and the Canine Crew at your house, too. You're right about the info out there on weight loss; such a quagmire to slog through. Opinions and experiences abound on that topic!

Toni, I'm glad you had a break from the heat in Wisconsin, you should have stopped in! HIIT training does look very interesting, and I have done some jogging during outdoor walks and with Leslie, too. Great idea! And yep, we'll be getting me some weight training on good ol' Aaargh very soon.

Hi Missy, yes being OCD has its perks, thank goodness. So good to hear from you.

Judy F, thank you very much!

Thank you, Eileen. Your last post on rejuvenating the garden and moving things around inspired me to change some plantings around here, too.

Rosemary said...

Karen So glad you are back blogging again... as usual you make me smile... so relate to the bra and children growing up and away.. then the weight and menopause..... too too funny........... Glad you got some rain we did but now it has been hot and dry for the last 2 weeks and everything is showing stress again.....

Beth said...

I've missed you, Karen! I figured you were very busy in the garden. I know I have been, and mine isn't nearly as large as yours. The drought has of course made for even more work. Your gardens look lovely as always! I love that last photo. It's the picture of why annuals are so important in a garden and a show of dedication to your growing in the greenhouse. Congrats on your weight loss! I admire your dedication to your exercise program!