Category Archives: off topic

Salt Sugar Fat (minimalist book review)

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

I have just begun to read this book after listening to two different interviews with the author. The food companies–in it to make as much profit as possible–manipulate processed food to be addictive; this book documents how that process works. I have had a giant “aha!” moment: now I understand why the only way I’ve been able to lose weight is by eating whole unprocessed foods and taking the time to cook them for myself.

Eat less, move more

In my never-ending quest to be the handler my dogs deserve (and somewhere near as fast as Rush needs), I have been trying to lose weight. I saw a nutritionist back in July; as of today, I am down twenty-five pounds, which puts me somewhere in the vicinity of 1995 or so in terms of putting the weight on. (Alternatively, I could look at it as about the same amount I weighed when I was nine months pregnant with Stacia, which would mean that I am now trying to lose the baby weight I put on almost twenty-eight years ago. This is ridiculous.)

Anyway, people are starting to notice that I’ve lost weight and then ask what I’m doing, so here’s the summary, briefly:

Measure both activity and food: track activity (thank you to my Fitbit) and record everything I eat.

Establish baseline (which for me was about 2200 calories and 9000 steps/4 miles per day).
Decrease calories; increase activity. I’m eating about 1500-1600 calories/day and trying to average about 11-12,000 steps/day.

I’ve mostly eliminated junk from my diet over the years, so really the food issue is about amounts. Yes, I am measuring and weighing and being obsessive about food. Yes, that’s what it takes for me to lose weight. I’m using every single strategy I can find.

I measure everything. I use smaller plates. I eat a lot of soup (very filling). I carry measured snacks with me. I walk the dogs twice a day, sometimes three times. I don’t walk that fast, but I get off my ass and I walk the dogs. If we go to a restaurant, I check the menu earlier that day and I plan what I’m going to eat. Mostly I’ve been avoiding restaurants because it’s so easy to go nuts in them. Just ask and they bring you more food! Not helpful.

Oh, and I tell people I’m trying to lose weight. I’ve never done that before, because trying to lose weight is SO BORING. But, hey, anything that works. And this all seems to be working.

(And yes, I am getting faster and yes, it is getting easier to do agility and yes, my knees hurt a whole lot less.)


I’ve been doing hill repeats up Mt. Tabor of late. I realized that walking the dogs was definitely keeping them fit, but wasn’t really improving my fitness, because it wasn’t quite enough stress. I talked to Jay about it, and he suggested cycling up Mt. Tabor a few times and doing it a few times a week. I started with twice up (and twice down) and noticed immediate improvements to my knees, my stamina and my running speed. When it got easier (not easy, easier), I went to three times up. (Scott points out that’s when I started doing repeatS (with the S) rather than repeat (without the S). Ha. Ha. Ha.)

Monday I did three climbs (that would be one climb and two repeats, Scott); I was on my way home when I hit a patch of ice, felt my bike start to slide, and actually managed to fall well, in that I landed on the back of my shoulder, didn’t hit my head, didn’t hit my knees or hips. I actually remembered those obnoxious lessons my mother gave me in how to fall (she used the sofa cushions); I was ten at the time, so that was 46 years ago. This is not the first time it’s come in handy (once I actually managed to trip, roll, and come back to my feet, but I was twenty-three then), but it’s been a long long time.

So I didn’t break anything. I did bruise my shoulder pretty badly, and it will be a while before I can tug with Rush in training, but it’s healing pretty quickly. I actually think I didn’t tear anything either. If that’s true, I should heal nicely.

Utterly off-topic

It’s Independence Day! And hoorah and hooray for our country! I may get frustrated with her from time to time, but give me the Bill of Rights any day.

My corn is far from knee-high (is it “my” corn if my daughter did all the planting work but I’m watching it while she bicycles across the country?) but my potatoes are amazing this year. I think they liked the spring weather. I’ve taken to making myself potato pancakes for lunch. I microwave an apple and put it in the blender to make applesauce. I dig up a potato or two, wash it and grate it, squeeze out the liquid, mix it with an egg (and some salt), then put it in the pan in a bit of very hot olive oil. I push it down with the spatula to make a pancake. It takes about as long to describe as it does to make.

I also have grown beets for two years now. I love the colors! I like them as sprouts when they’re very tiny, roasted whole when they’re marble-size, and now that they’re bigger, I’ve been making beet chips–sliced thin, tossed with olive oil and salt, and roasted on a SilPat until crispy. Astonishingly good.

Completely off topic

It’s 104 degrees (Fahrenheit) here today. The dogs are lazing around. We’re not training, because I may be nuts about agility but I’m not nuts enough to spend half an hour in an extremely hot barn to train.

I just took the dogs out, and I stopped to pick a few blueberries off our blueberry bush. That was a mistake. Eating a hot–although fresh and tasty–blueberry is kind of like having a hot fresh tasty blueberry muffin… without the muffin part.

Which is downright weird.

Talking to Strangers

I talk to a lot of people who just like poodles. Today it was an elderly black man on a bicycle who stopped to admire the girls. He wanted to know if they needed a big place to run around. We talked about their coat and what it takes to maintain it. He asked about the house we’re renting “wasn’t that for sale just a while ago?” I explained that the owners mostly rented it. “I can’t remember when they built them, but it wasn’t that long ago.” “1989. You’ve lived around here a long time, then?”

His reply: “oh yes, I’ve lived here since before that young black jazz musician used to come down from Seattle and play on the corner near the Steel Bridge. What was his name, I know you’ve heard of him… He was great.”

He paused a few minutes to think. “Oh yeah. Jimmy something.”

“Jimi Hendrix?”

“Oh yes, he was GOOD!”

And he bicycled off and I took the girls back inside.

Dog breeders, dog “rescue”, purebreds, and mutts

Out here in the land of dogs, we have all been following the saga of the Obama family puppy with great interest. Our President, who has managed to pass several items on his agenda and reverse several Bush edicts, has not yet managed to find a new puppy for his girls, despite having had months to look. Why not? Well, it seems he’s bowed to political expediency and agreed to take in a rescue dog rather than a purebred. It wouldn’t do for him to seem snobbish, I gather. (Because people with purebred dogs are SUCH snobs!)

But the Obama family also needs a dog that won’t aggravate their daughter’s allergies, that won’t bite the press corps or the staff, that doesn’t offend the public. One hates to assume that they have done polls on the subject, but who knows? Everything else has gotten polled.

They’ve decided on a Portuguese Water Dog, an admirable breed whose sense of humor is almost as good as the Poodle.

And they want to get a PWD from rescue. This is not an easy task. The issues are beautifully addressed by this article from the LA Times: The Obama Family Dog Saga.

I wish them the best.

Going for a swim…

I’m just back from ten days in the Big Island of Hawaii, a trip planned and paid for months ago… thankfully.

We went diving and my knee did very well. Sometime in the next few days I’ll post some of Jay’s pretty underwater pictures.

But much more importantly, I feel quite optimistic, surprisingly. In May, Jay’s brother decided he no longer wanted to live in the owner-occupancy-only condo we owned and rented to him; a week of my life vanished as I spent it in Tulsa (Oklahoma) cleaning and staging the condo; we sold it in late July for not too much less than we’d paid nine years before.

In mid-June, Stacia was hit by a car while riding her bicycle; her collarbone was broken and her knee badly bruised, but she has healed well and appears to be on the road to a full recovery. Insurance settlement talks are proceeding.

In early August, the bike biz was ravaged by a warehouse fire that destroyed all the inventory in that warehouse. The insurance has paid, so far, about half the value–but we’re back in business and things are looking up. We should get the rest of the insurance money over the next few months.

And last week, twice, I swam with spinner dolphins. TWICE. Spinner dolphins are possibly the coolest mammals out there, and I say this with all due deference to poodles. For one thing, they can have sex while they swim. For another thing, they often leap out of the water and spin around, clearly just for the fun of it.

And finally, spinner dolphin babies are the cutest babies ever. Possibly cuter than my own children were at that age. Seriously. The second day, there were two tiny babies with the pod I swam with. The babies were curious about me and approached me. Imagine a miniature dolphin, about a foot long, swimming over to see what and who you are!

Clearly, my luck has turned.