Weight Loss Answer for Kristine

I told a friend last night that I’ve lost 12 pounds in 2 months on a diet and she asked me to send her the info on what I’m doing.  Since it’s easier to type at my keyboard than on my phone, I decided to simply make a blog post out of it.  I don’t know if anyone else will be interested, but here it is, with just a little bit of background for anyone who isn’t Kristine. 

My husband, Wes, started the four hour body diet in August (http://fourhourbody.com/).  He’s doing very well on it.  I didn’t.  The first week, I gained 2 pounds.  The second week I lost one of those pounds.  The third week I lost the other pound.  The fourth week I lost 1/2 pound.  So… by the end of one month I was down half a pound.  I went nuts.  I cried.  I went to see my doctor and had a bit of a meltdown.  I asked him to test my hormone level, my thyroid – something must be wrong.  Because I was following this diet strictly and it wasn’t working.  Wes had lost something like 16 pounds, and I’d lost half a pound. 

All my tests came back fine.  I decided that it was just the diet that wasn’t working and started “tweaking” it.  I’ve had pretty good results and that’s what I’m talking about here.  And remember – this is for Kristine, who specifically asked me to do this.  I’m not “selling” anything.  Kristine, by the way, lost a ton of weight already and looks awesome!!  (Really, you do!)

So, in no particular order:

1. Eat Less, Exercise More.

 I know, “duh.”  But that’s the main gist of the whole thing. 

2. Download “Lose It” for your smart phone

or a similar program.  I’m not familiar with any of the others, but I like this one.  You put in your age, weight, and how much you want to lose per week and it tells you how much you can eat.  Exercise earns you calories back.  You can scan bar codes to record food.  It’s really cool.  And If you’re strict with yourself, sometimes you’ll decide it’s too much trouble to record the food and then you simply won’t eat it.  When that happens to me it usually means I’m not really hungry.

3. Cut out white flour

and basically flours as a whole.  And potatoes.  When you’re not eating breads, pastas, and such, you stop craving them.   Instead:

4. Increase your protein intake.

Lose It has a great pie chart that shows you what you’re eating every day: how much Protein/Carbs/Fat.  I try to make my pie chart equal parts, with the goal being that there is more protein than carbs, more carbs than fat.   This is where I think the 4 Hour Body failed for me.  The carb level was very low, but my fat intake was was out of control.  I think that’s more of an issue for women than men.  But I did keep some of his tips in mind, like

5. Don’t drink calories.

Water, water, water.  No sodas, except an occasional diet soda.  No juices.   A glass of red wine is okay, once in a while. 

6. Find foods that work for you. 

I started buying protein bars because I’m on the road a lot.  I don’t have time to pack a day’s worth of food before I leave in the morning.  I’m just not that organized.  I like my food to be easy. 

Eating out is always a challenge but, in a restaurant, you can ask for extra veggies instead of potatoes.  Fast food isn’t totally off limits, either.  I found that the McDonald’s grilled chicken salad isn’t bad.  KFC will sell you a single grilled chicken breast.  Subway sells salads (with tuna, if you like).  And you can always run into a grocery store during the day and buy something simple to eat, which leads me to:

7. Allow yourself one serving per day of fruit and/or dairy.

Grab a pint of blueberries, a banana, and/or a greek yogurt for lunch.  I used to see people eating this for lunch and wonder how they weren’t starving in an hour.  Meanwhile I’d be eating a tuna sandwich on wheat with a small bag of chips, and I’d still be hungry in an hour.  Once I cut the flour (no cravings!) I found that fruit and a yogurt really do fill me up. 

The four hour body cuts fruit and dairy out of your diet entirely.  That made me crazy.  I was eating nuts to stave off hunger, and they’re high in fat.  Instead, a banana fills me up.  Carbs, but no fats.  If I’m hungry at night, I have a small glass of skim milk to insure that I don’t wake up at 3 am and sleepily raid the fridge.   Another dairy option is the sugar free Jello Pudding cups, which also satisfies my chocolate addiction.

8. Find an exercise program that works for you.

I’ve done the gym thing more than once (join, go faithfully for a month, stop going – but keep paying til you finally admit you’ll never go back).  I’ve tried Curves.  I tried walking 3-5 times a week, which the dog likes, but I started to hate.  For me, it’s dancing.  Dance classes don’t feel like exercise.  I need more of them.  At least I’m up and moving.  If, in your mind, exercise = work, you probably won’t do it for very long.  When exercise = fun, you’ll do it.

9. Set attainable goals

and reward yourself in non-food ways.  Get a new haircut.  Buy a new pair of pants.  Or shoes. 

10. Have a cheat day.

In my opinion, this is the most important one.  I can do anything if it’s not forever.  I make notes during the week if I’m craving something.  On Saturday, I can have it – if my craving isn’t gone by then.  The first week, I ate four blueberry pancakes for breakfast, with lots of syrup.  Then I slept for four more hours.  The carb overload made me crash.  The second weekend, I had two blueberry pancakes.  The third, I had one.  (Who knew I had such a thing for blueberry pancakes?? But that’s what I was craving!)  Anyway, cheating once a week is important.  Wes and I really look forward to our Saturdays!

But maintain some control.  If you eat three days worth of calories on cheat day, you’re undoing some of your work.  I’ve heard people say that a cheat day “reboots” your body.  Keeps it from getting used to less calories.  Whatever.  I think the piece of mind is the most important part of cheat day. 

No… I can’t have mashed potatoes during the week.  But I can on Saturday. 

No… I’m not going to stop at Carvel (or Ben and Jerry’s) on the way home today.  But I can on Saturday.

Or Sunday.  Or whatever day your cheat day is. 

And, once in a while, maybe it’s a whole cheat week. Although, I’d almost guarantee you won’t do that.  By the end of cheat day on Saturday I feel lousy.  Overfull.  Sluggish.  It’s amazing how your body wants you to eat well. 


And that’s it.  I’m losing weight slowly but not painfully.  Hopefully that will be the key.  I still have a looong way to go. 


A letter to Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy

Sometimes an issue bothers you enough that you can’t keep quiet.  This, for me, is one of those times.  These letters were sent out by me tonight. 


Dear Senator Blumenthal/Murphy,

I am a married, heterosexual woman who has lived in Connecticut for over 30 years.  I’ve been very proud of my state in light of the marriage equality laws for same-sex couples.  I hope that the US as a whole will eventually honor all marriages by gay couples in the not-too-distant future. 

In the meantime, I’m seriously concerned about Russia’s recent laws signed by Mr Putin that, according to the NY Times, allow “police officers to arrest tourists and foreign nationals they suspect of being homosexual, lesbian or “pro-gay” and detain them for up to 14 days.” 

How is it that the US is not boycotting these Olympic games?  Are gay athletes supposed to excuse themselves from playing in this Olympics without the support of the USOC?  Are athletes with gay family members supposed to travel without them or risk having them arrested? 

And aren’t we, as a nation, telling the world, if we attend that we do not support the rights of gay people? 

Does the US condone hate crimes, as long as they happen in another country? 

I am not gay.  I do, however, have gay friends and family.  I suppose that makes me “pro-gay,” because I do not wish to see any of them discriminated against or physically tormented for their lifestyle.  Therefore even I could not attend the Winter Olympics in Russia without fear of arrest. 

The US has a proud history of fighting for what is right in the world.  Rarely is the opportunity to stand up for what is right so easily done.  There is no need for war.  No soldiers need to leave their families and risk death for us to make a statement. 

“Russia’s law is wrong.  We support the rights of those who are gay.  We do not condone violence against people for their sexual orientation.  We CANNOT attend because we would all risk imprisonment.”

If we attend the Olympics, we tell the world something else.   Do whatever you want to “them.”  THEY are not US.  

Please, Senator, I urge you to propose that we boycott the Olympics.  Allow me to continue to be proud of my state and, ultimately, to be proud of my country. 

Joanna Baldwin

Memories of Munchie


I love this photo of Munchie.

Munchie (officially, Munchkin – because he was as small as a doughnut hole when I got him) is the only cat I’ve ever gotten as a kitten.  The Corner Bookstore, which at one time was actually located at the corner of two streets, but by this time was in the Stop & Shop center and not exactly on a corner anymore, had a lady working there who would bring shelter cats in and keep their cages by cash register.  It was brilliant, really.  I mean, cats and books just go together. My mom  was at the bookstore and, knowing I had a “thing” for orange cats,  called to tell me there was a kitten there I should see.  I didn’t have to take him home, she said. I could just look. Right.

I don’t know exactly how old he was, but he was small enough to fit in my coat pocket and that’s how I carried him home.  He was adorable.

Munchie was very nearly the perfect cat.  He loved Lance, my dog.  He got along with the other cats.  He ate bugs.  He rarely got sick.  He was quiet and sweet, and I can’t remember him ever scratching or biting me.  Ever.

When I lived in Winsted, he was allowed to go outside.  He loved that.  I’d give a long,  high-pitched call of “Mun-cheee-eee!” and he’d come running, tail high and straight.  Most cats will rub along your leg to let you know they love you.  Munch would come alongside your leg and not actually touch until… thump! his backside would bump you.

Munchie was my bathtub cat.  He’d drink the hot water out of my tub while the water ran. (He loved to drink running water from the bathroom sink, too – a penchant he taught to his “brother,” Morgan.)  While I took my bath and read a book, Munch would walk around the edge of the tub til he found a ‘spot’ and would stretch out, so I could pet him while I read.

Munch fell in love with Wes and decided Wes had the best lap to sleep in.  As soon as Wes would sit down, Munchie came running to claim his spot.  Wes called him The Bat Faced Kitty.  The only thing Munchie didn’t like about life after Wes & I got married was that he was no longer allowed to go outside.  Cars drive too quickly past our house.  There are also lots of dangerous-to-cat animals living around here, like foxes, coyotes and bears.  Munchie was NOT happy about it, though, and ripped through a window screen more than once to get outside.   Each time he did, I’d fret all night, and then call out for him the next morning.  He’d hear “Mun-cheee-eee!” – and come running through the yard, stopping right before the door to walk in calmly, looking at me as if to say, “I told you I’d be fine.”

He came to me as a kitten and died of old age.  A pretty perfect life for a pretty perfect feline.

The “S” Word


I have a memory of being a child, running outside ahead of my grandfather into the white wilderness in unadulterated joy.  He was grumbling.  As I threw handfuls of frozen splendor into the air, I shouted, “I love snow!”  He answered, “That’s because you don’t have to shovel it.”  I remember thinking he must be really old to hate snow.

I don’t know why I decided that age played a factor in it, but it must.  Even now my assumption is borne out in our vocabulary: pure joy is “unadulterated.”  I am now an adult.  I have become adult-erated.  I no longer find joy in snow.

Some of this is my own fault.   I don’t participate in any winter sports, like skiing.  I don’t particularly enjoy being cold.  I also drive, a lot, for work and I don’t like driving in bad weather.  Or on icy roads.   I don’t care to have my family out there driving either.

Our two cars under a blanket of snow.

Our two cars under a blanket of snow.

On the other hand, I love to knit and a lack of cold weather would severely limit my knitting options.  How many scarves do you need if you never see snow?   I would also hate to seemy pile of hand-knit socks go to waste.  We have a nice wood-stove for the winter and I enjoy reading by the fire, although I haven’t actually done that in years.  Again, that’s my own fault.

One thing hasn’t changed, though.  I love a good “snow day.”  When the weather reports are accurate and the blizzard is here, there isn’t much you can do but wait it out.  Schools are closed.  Events get cancelled.  Everyone slows down and waits out the weather.  You need this rest because once the storm is over, the work begins; digging out isn’t easy.  But for a moment, it is quiet and peaceful.

One storm per year is plenty, though, and I’m thankful that February is a short month.

More Past Pets

I’ve written about Leia, the most recent pet we’ve lost.  Working backward in time, the next two cats to pass weren’t really “ours” but we got to share a bit of them, and they are missed.


First is Rugen.  He belonged to our daughter-in-law, Angie.  I’m sure there are many things about Rugen that she will remember that we never even knew, but I do remember the first time we met him.  We had a group of friends over to play a game and she came by with this little bundle of shiny black fur.  He walked around the kitchen table while everyone took turns petting him.  He had huge paws with an extra toe, hence his name – Count Rugen, after the “six fingered man” from The Princess Bride.  If you haven’t seen The Princess Bride, he’s the…. no, wait.  If you haven’t seen The Princess Bride, stop reading this blog, immediately, and go watch it.  Seriously.  Anyway, Rugen had huge feet and grew up to be an incredibly large cat.  Unfortunately, his life was too short.   Rugen joined the growing pet cemetery in our yard this past summer, just three years old.

My Mother–in-law, Joanne, had two cats when I met her: Ebony and Taffy.  Ebony died just a year or two later.  TaffyTaffy was still going strong when Joanne sold her home and moved into The Sarah Pierce (now called Brandywine), an assisted living center in Litchfield.  In 2009, Joanne and Taffy moved in with us.  Up until that time, Taffy had no use for Wes or me.  She would hide the moment we entered the room.  For some reason, we terrified her.  After moving in with us, Joanne had multiple hospital stays due to her failing health,  followed by long recovery periods in nursing homes.  We fed Taffy but pretty much left her alone.  Taffy, however, changed drastically.  She was used to round the clock company and got very lonely.  All of a sudden, we were acceptable humans; she sought us out for love and attention.

The strangest thing about Taffy was her “meow.”  She would be all alone in her room and start to cry and it sounded like “Hello?”  Well, it sounded more like “hewwo.”  Like Elmer Fudd had just come to call.  But it was really strange.  The first time we heard it, Wes & I looked at each other quizzically, then one of us answered, calling “Hello?” down the stairs.  I don’t remember how long it took us to figure out it was Taffy.  From then on, we took it in stride but other people would turn their heads when she cried with the same quizzical look we had that first day.

Taffy died July 2, 2012.  She, too, is buried in our backyard.  We didn’t know what to tell Joanne.  In the end, we decided not to tell her.  She was in a nursing home by then and we didn’t want to upset her.  My Mother-in-law passed away on September 25th.  After getting the news, we cried, and then I told Wes, “Y’know, mom’s mad at us right now.  She died, saw her cat and said, “Taffy! What are YOU doing here?”

On Past Pets Who’ve Passed

ImageThis is Leia. 

Leia is one of the three cats that lived with Wes when he and I got married.  She, Luke & UB were litter-mates.  She was a bit neurotic and wary of strangers, which was anyone she decided was “strange” at the moment.  I knew I had “made it” into the family the first time I came to visit and she sought me out.

She is the most recent of our pets to leave us.  Making the decision to put her to sleep was agonizing.  She was very old, very sick and it was the right decision.  None of that made it any easier, as anyone who has been in that position will attest.

Losing Leia made me realize that I remembered more about the passing of my pets than about the lives they spent with me, probably because that moment is so heart-wrenching that it has burned itself into my memory.  I decided that, before any more time has a chance to make my memories fade, I would jot down the wonderful things I remember about the wonderful animals who’ve shared their lives with me.

As for my Leia-lou, as we called her, she was a bit loony.  Wes called her “Loopy-Lou.”  He remembers that, as a kitten, she used to fetch bottle caps.  She and her brother and sister would sleep together in a small basket.

A few years ago Leia suffered from a condition called Mega-colon.  We tried medication to see if we could alleviate the problem (it didn’t work).  While she was on the medication we went to Cape Cod for the weekend and decided to bring her with us, since we didn’t want to make anyone else responsible for pilling her twice a day (not easy!).  She cried the entire way to the Cape and then, once she realized she had us all to herself, she was in Heaven!  After 3 days, we loaded her back into the car and she cried all the way home.  When we got back to our house, she looked at the other cats and was outraged!  Apparently, we’d betrayed her.  She thought we’d finally made her the sole heir to the feline throne.  Poor Leia!  She ended up needing surgery to correct the condition and, luckily, at the time,we were able to afford it.  She came through surgery with flying colors.

Morgan, her step-brother, loved to torment her.  She would hide in her kitty condo and he would lie down in front of the exit.  She would hiss and spit and make tons of noise – making it sound like there was a huge cat fight going on!  He would look up, with feigned innocence: “Oh, am *I* troubling you?”

Leia was afraid of feet.  Her eyes would dart around the room, watching the feet of the people approaching her.  If you said her name as you got close, she would realize you knew she was there and wouldn’t step on her, and she’d relax a bit.  When she was content, especially while being petted, she’d purr until she drooled.  (This is a lot more endearing than it may sound.)  And, although she was still wary, I got her to let me carry her around like a baby, upside down in my arms.  I will miss her terribly.

I expected to write one post and include all my pets in it.  What was I thinking?  Obviously, one post is not enough space to fit them all.  More memories to come.

Sub sub sub sub…

Groups and sub-groups fascinate me.  First of all, there is no group of people that can’t be broken up into multiple sub-groups.  Second, no one is so unique that they can’t find a group of people like them.

Let’s hit the first point: every group of people has sub-groups.

You all know this: think about where you work.  You probably all have similar training, work in a similar environment, doing similar things, but you are not “the same” as these people.  Your background, experiences, and personal interests make you different.  Someone walking in to your workplace might just see “a group of engineers,” or “a room full of teachers” but you know that isn’t true.

As an ASL Interpreter, I have Deaf people who I count among my friends.  If you’ve only “met a Deaf person once,” you will assume all deaf people are just like the person you met.  I can tell you without question, that is not so.  Deaf people are just like people who are not Deaf, that is, different from one another.  In my group of Deaf friends, one is a knitter, like me.  One speaks on his cell phone, but doesn’t text; all of my other Deaf friends text me.  One is a stay-at-home mom who is an avid reader. One loves music and dancing.  (For those people who are confused right now, being Deaf doesn’t mean you hear nothing, it means you have a hearing loss.)  The only thing these friends have in common is that they are unique.

We all want to be unique.  Unique is good.  Unique is special.  Our fingerprints are all different. Our DNA is ours and ours alone.  There is a point, however, when unique becomes, well… weird.  You wouldn’t want to be the only person in the world, for example, who liked eating chocolate covered pretzels.  First of all, they’d be very hard to find.  People would ridicule you for making them yourself to satisfy the craving.  And, if every time someone tried your delicacy they got sick, you’d start wondering just how “unique” you are.

Which brings me to my second point: no one is so unique that they can’t find a group of people like them.

For better or worse (and I’m definitely a “better” believer), the Internet has made the world smaller.  There may only be a few people who share your interest in antique cars, whale bone corsets and macrame, but rest assured someone likes these things as much as you do.

I’m a member of a website called Ravelry, which I’ve talked about before.  I describe it as Facebook for Knitters, but it’s really much more.  On Ravelry, you can join various groups of people who share your interests.  I belong to a Harry Potter Knit & Crochet House Cup group.   The House Cup group is run as a School.  We’ve broken the year into 3 terms (3 months, break, 3 months, break, 3 months, break).  Everyone is sorted into a house (just like the original books) and each term there are classes with a “homework assignment.” You craft an item for the class to win points for your House (I’m a proud Badger of Hufflepuff in my 5th term.) Each house has it’s own separate forum where we can chat online and cheer each other on. You post pictures of your project to prove you’ve finished your “homework” and … okay, some of you are reading this thinking, “Okay, THAT is weird.”  Well, the HPKCHC has over three thousand members.  I may be weird, but I’m in good company.  And they really ARE good company.  Besides chat & encouragement, I received many birthday wishes online last month and two of my Hufflepuff classmates sent me snail mail cards with gifts!

These people are great and I feel lucky to have found them.  They are my sub-group.  Maybe even my sub-sub-group. And it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

Just for fun, I recommend you check out the website 10 of the Weirdest Hobbies (http://www.oddee.com/item_97171.aspx).  Even though one of them is knitting related (no, I’ve never knit one of those), my favorite is number 8: Grooming Dogs.