Archives for: July 2009
I can do a pushup. A real one…from my toes. I want to shout it from the housetops. Now, you have to know my history before you can understand my excitement.
When I was in elementary school, I was the classic bookish girl – the non-athlete who was always chosen last for the kickball team. Actually there was one other girl who was as bad an athlete as I was. She and I were in weekly competition, hoping we would be next-to-last and not last.
I did not like team sports, and in my school that’s all there was. Today’s kids can run track or swim or participate in any number of individual sports, but in elementary school kickball was king. In high school there was volleyball, which I hated even more than kickball.
This was during the Cold War era and the US was focused on the Space Race. There were government incentives to encourage school children to study science and get physically fit. Oh I hated those yearly fitness tests. Because I didn’t like sports, I was always below the acceptable level. I did tolerably well at sit ups, but my 100 yard dash was pathetic, and I could not do a push up. Not even one. Not if the teacher insisted on correct form.
I’ve blogged at other times about how as a newly wed, my husband introduced me to running, which showed me that I not only had athletic ability, but that I relished it. Running is one thing, but upper body strength is something else. I still couldn’t do a push up.
When I first started the BTD, I learned so much from Heidi’s column. She was recommending the Royal Canadian Air Force Fitness plan. I downloaded it and used it for about a year. That plan built up my arms to the point where I could do a knee push up with correct form. But any attempt to do a push up from my toes brought total collapse.
Last summer DD and I used the weights in our neighborhood fitness room a lot. She left for college, and I left off going to the fitness room. I forgot one of the key concepts for women over 50 who want to remain healthy. Because your hormone levels are dropping, you will lose muscle mass unless you make a daily commitment to build it. If you want to get a shock – Google “menopause ‘pound of muscle.’” Here is just one quote,
“You lose about half a pound of muscle every year after the age of 35. Because muscle is more metabolically active than fat, it requires eight times more calories to maintain, even at rest. Therefore, as you lose more muscle you burn fewer calories. If all other factors remain constant, this translates into about four pounds of muscle lost and 15 lbs of fat gained every decade!”
I believe this is the root of my knee pain. I was focused on cardio exercise because that’s what like the best. I wasn't gaining weight, but I let the muscles in my legs lose their tone and strength.
DD came home for the summer after spending a year lifting weights with the football and basketball boys. She is so petite, that it amused them to see her lifting weights. They taught her a lot of new exercises and muscle building techniques. I was convinced that I had to increase the muscles in my legs unless I wanted to live the rest of my life with knee pain. So she and I have spent the summer focused on building muscle.
Several weeks ago, we were doing an exercise tape that included knee pushups. I was doing 10 – 12 with out much effort. I decided to try a real pushup. I couldn’t do it, but I didn’t completely collapse. I felt the same way I had felt when I first started knee pushups on the Royal Canadian Plan. So several times a week, I’ve done five knee pushups to warm up, then worked at pushing up from my toes. Every day was a little better. Last night I did it. Two pushups from my toes with correct form.
If anyone from my elementary school is reading this blog, they have now fainted. I have proved to myself that I can – even at 55 years old – defy my hormones and build muscles. If you are a woman over 40, I urge you to get some kind of a weight or muscle building program. The only alternative is pain.
Now I have a new goal. I want to do a pull up.
I like having DD home for the summer for many reasons. One of them is having an exercise partner. She is a planner. I am spontaneous. She plans our exercise for the week. I come up with alternates when something happens to throw the plan off.
One of our new exercise routines this summer is what we call 20-20. There is a walking path near the swimming pool in our neighborhood. It is a ¾ mile loop that goes down a hill, by a fish pond, and back up to the top of the hill. DD and I run the loop for 20 minutes, then jump in the pool and swim for 20 minutes. We have to start early. The neighborhood kids start arriving at the pool about 10:30, and it’s hard to swim laps when they are splashing.
The board of our neighborhood association decided to upgrade the equipment in the fitness room. They bought a new elliptical trainer and a new treadmill. They also got two different types of stationary bicycles that target different muscles, plus they bought a really nice weight machine. When DD and I go to the fitness room, one of us uses the weight machine for 20-30 minutes, while the other does cardio on one of the other machines. Then we switch. I’m seeing some nice results in the muscle tone on my arms.
Not too many people used the old equipment, but more and more neighbors are taking advantage of the fitness room now that we have good machines. Yesterday I was on the elliptical and DD was lifting weights. Another lady came in and chose the treadmill. A few minutes later a fourth lady arrived. She evidently saw that one of us was using the equipment she wanted because she left, saying she’d come back later.
We ride our bikes at least one day a week after dinner. It’s starting to cool off by then, and we have the added bonus of watching a sunset change colors as we ride home.
God, in the Bible, often uses physical principles to make a spiritual point. For instance there are many verses about endurance and stamina. Those verses encourage me when I exercise. They keep me pressing on when I’m tired and would rather take it easy. But while God commends my efforts to strengthen my body, the higher meaning of those verses is to strengthen my character and my faith.
Today I read a verse in proverbs about food choices. “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil. But a foolish man devours all he has.” That is Proverbs 21:20. I first thought of the BTD when I read it. Doesn’t it perfectly describe modern society? When I shop if I buy only choice, healthy foods, my family and I will eat wisely. But if I bring junk foods and avoids into my home, stress may overcome me and I may devour everything in sight.
The spiritual principle is also there. Just as I don’t want to make leave myself vulnerable to making poor food decisions in the kitchen when I am hungry or needing comfort, I don’t want to ignore God until a crisis strikes, and then cry out for help.
Just as I want to make wise and beneficial food decisions ahead of time at the grocery store, I want to develop a relationship with God and absorb His teachings ahead of time so that in a crisis I understand His will.
DD has been experimenting with nut butters this summer. Nut butter sandwiches on Ezekiel bread are easy to take to work and beneficial for Type As.
I had always made almond butter and pumpkin seed butter. Almond butter is very expensive, and I’ve never seen pumpkin seed butter in the store. However, I always bought peanut butter for DD and my husband. Natural peanut butter is cheap and easy to find.
However DD decided to try making her own. She used unsalted, dry roasted peanuts. It worked beautifully, and smelled heavenly. It made me wish that Type Os could have peanuts. One day I watched her make it. She put one jar of dry roasted nuts in the food processor, and started it spinning. “Now, Mom,” she said, “just when you think that it’s going to be too dry and you will need to add olive oil, suddenly, like magic, it becomes beautifully creamy.” She was right. Just as the food processor seemed ready to give up, the peanut butter turned creamy before our eyes. It’s fresh and it’s half the cost of peanut butter in a jar.
Next she decided to try pecan butter. She used raw pecans. They quickly became smooth and creamy. Pecan butter on carrots is a delicious snack. If you like nut butters, you must try this one. It’s heavenly.
I have been distracted this week because my husband was sick. He ran fever for a full week. He went to the doctor twice. His symptoms were very mixed up, and the doctor finally decided he had two simultaneous infections. He stayed free of fever all day today, and his other symptoms are improving.
Stress is the single biggest risk factor for many diseases. HH has been under a lot of stress lately. Some of it is just part of life, but some has been self imposed. He paid a big price for his worrying.
I read a photography newsletter published in Chicago. The editor complains that the weather has been cool and rainy. He laments that they are not having a summer. Those of us in South Texas would love to trade places with him. Our drought and over 100 degree temperatures continue.
Our electricity bill goes up every time the temperature goes up. HH raised the thermostat in the house to 80 degrees. We have fans running in every room. It’s hard to get excited about cooking when it’s so hot. However, it is delightful to have something cool to drink.
Last winter I saw guava juice in the store. I can see the cardboard carton that it was in, but when I looked last week, I couldn’t find it. However, I did find a bottle of concentrated goji juice. Since goji is beneficial, I bought some. I’ve been mixing it with club soda. Today I mixed it with club soda and grapefruit juice. The combination was good.
I’m drinking more grapefruit juice because it helps reduce cholesterol, and my next cholesterol test is coming up later in July. Goji is best known for its anti-oxidant and anti-ageing properties, but it also helps cholesterol.
The benefits make the combination sound healthful for me. Even better is how it feels when I drink it in a glass full of ice sitting at the computer with the lights off and the fan on.
Our family loves to watch movies. My first date with HH was to a movie. We purchased our first VCR because SS was such a fussy baby that we dared not take him to a theater. When the kids were growing up, we looked forward to Friday “dinner and a movie” on the living room floor. Because I was a health nut, I bought an air popcorn popper – no palm oil or microwave popcorn for my family.
After the BTD, I gave up popcorn, but still made it for HH and DD since corn was a neutral food for them. Then HH’s blood sugar went over the line into pre-diabetes territory, and popcorn was banned from the living room. We all missed it. DD loves to look in the Blood Type Diet Recipe Center for new foods to try. She found a recipe for a popcorn substitute. We have made it twice now with our Friday night movies.
The first time we made it, we had serious doubts about whether it would work. We were “popping” walnuts and pumpkin seeds in a covered sauce pan as if they were popcorn. But it works just like the recipe says. You hear the pumpkin seeds start to pop, and you shake the sauce pan to keep them from burning. When the popping stops, they are ready.
We have not added the nutritional yeast. I know I would like it – I eat nutritional yeast in my breakfast every morning. However, we wanted the flavor to be as much like popcorn as possible for HH, and nutritional yeast can be a little strong for the uninitiated. DD, SS and I love faux popcorn. DD thinks it is better than the real thing. HH would still prefer popcorn, but since that is not an option, he is willing to accept this as an alternative.
The popped seeds have a roasted flavor similar to popcorn, but they are delicious in their own right. The biggest difference between popcorn and faux popcorn is that the popcorn is mostly air, so you can eat a lot of it. Since these are nuts, you wouldn’t want to eat a whole bowlful. Type “faux” in the search box in the Recipe Center and you’ll find detailed instructions.
In honor of the 4th of July, I served red, white, and blue food last night for a church party at our house. The food at church parties is like the food at parties everywhere – mostly chips and desserts with an occasional veggie or fruit tray. I didn’t want to do chips or desserts, because I didn’t want leftovers. As long as there is no junk food in the house, my Honorable Husband sticks to the BTD and keeps his blood sugar in the normal range, but if corn or sugar based snacks are available he eats them.
I decided that since the weather has been so hot and dry, that I would just serve fruit. It sounded cool and refreshing to me. At the store DD and I joked that the fresh fruit colors went along with the 4th of July. The idea stuck with me, and I decided to go with the theme.
At one end of my dining room table I had a big white bowl filled with watermelon. (By the way, the yellow spot technique that I blogged about earlier has worked. I have a 100% record for sweet watermelons this year.) At the other end of the table I had a tray arranged with cherries, white grapes and blueberries in stripes. I made a centerpiece of paper firecrackers and American flags. I used white plates and red napkins. It was very cute.
I served peppermint green tea and pineapple juice. Two people told me how glad they were that I served fruit. The youth really enjoyed the green tea. Best of all, we can freely enjoy the leftovers.
I can’t resist saying a word about the title of this blog. When I was in high school I worked at Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Parlor. That is where I first heard the phrase “Red White and Blueberry.” It was their featured July flavor of the month. Thinking of myself working at an ice cream parlor makes me shake my head and smile. I’ve certainly come a long way since then!