Cold Brew Coffee

I made cashew milk for the first time last night.  It’s tasty, but having the patience to let the cashews soak overnight beforehand was tough for me.  Funny that something so easy tests my patience because I have to let it sit.

America’s Test Kitchen had a cold brew coffee recipe I might try.  A twist at the end: adding kosher salt!

Yes, that’s salt he’s adding.


Weigh-In: 185.8 this morning.  I was 183.5 two days ago.  Looking at the trend lines from my scale, over the past month and a half I’ve crept up from “around 184” to “around 185” with about 2 pounds of water weight related variance in either direction.  I’ve stopped tracking my food over the summer and I’ve upped my intake of beer.  Both of these things are mistakes, I think.  Time to get back on the bandwagon.

Non-Scale Victory: On the other hand, I’ve run 20 miles in the past 5 days — two 5-milers and one 10-miler — so despite what the scale says, I still consider my overall health to be good.

We’re Getting Canned: In a Good Way

Josh got tickets to have our beer canned by Buckeye Canning at the Grandview Summer Session festival in August.  Not sure yet what we’ll brew or whether we’ll bring our dog, but this should be a fun event.

I wonder if we get to design art for the outside, or if they’ll just be plain aluminum cans.  Probably the latter, but maybe there’s a way to add some cool labels afterward?

P.S. Today’s weigh-in 184.4 lbs.  Still stuck in the mid-180s.

Summer – In all its sticky glory

The plateau that is my weight continues. I went for a 2 mile jog before weighing in, so I shed some water and dropped 1.5 lbs from last week, but it’s basically the same ol’ same ol’.

Today’s weight: 182.5 lbs.

I find it a bit demoralizing that the new Withings scale shows a “normal” weight range that starts around 122 and ends around 168 lbs.  I cannot imagine myself being a normal, reasonably happy person at 130 lbs.  I would need to have radically changed everything about how I consume food and had liposuction to get down to that kind of weight.

In other news, here’s another defense of “calories in, calories out.”  The latest was a Opinion piece by Frank Bruni in the Times:

[Aggressively marketed pills, products, and plans] show no signs of going away anytime soon. Worse yet, they belong to, and are complemented by, a brimming culture of micro theories and boutique science that seeks explanations for excess pounds in equations well beyond the sturdy maxim of calories in, calories out.

Yes, that maxim oversimplifies. Yes, we learn more all the time about the asterisks to it and about which kinds of calories set you up to be hungrier (and to continue eating) or not.

But consult the most respected physicians in the field of weight loss and they’ll tell you that the maxim remains as relevant as ever. And the vogue for painstakingly tailored eating regimens and dieting techniques is to some extent a distraction from that, a dangerous one, because it promotes the idea that basic nature and fundamental biology can somehow be gamed, cheated, transcended.

“In terms of diet, the general laws of thermodynamics hold,” Rudolph Leibel, an obesity expert at the Columbia University Medical Center, told me. “The issue of — ‘If I eat a diet of all watermelons as opposed to a diet of hamburgers with the same number of calories, will I be able to lose more weight on the watermelons?’ — that’s a specious argument. We’re dealing with chemistry and physics, not imagination.”

I’m no doctor.  I’m not even a Times OpEd writer who gets quotes from doctors.  I agree that miracle pills aren’t the way to lose weight.

My “woo-woo” integrative health doctor – who my husband thinks is a quack and whom I am considering ditching because she is routinely 20 minutes late for appointments, even when I schedule early in the day so there won’t be a back log of people waiting – last year suggested I try cinnamon pills as a way of suppressing appetite and increasing my body’s use of sugars.  Didn’t seem to work.  There’s $10 down the drain.  So what did I do this year?  I let her suggest another supplement – lipoic acid.  Both of these supplements, when I look them up online, appear to be primarily for diabetics.  Does she think I’m pre-diabetic?  If so, she’s never mentioned it.  Nor did I get even a “good job” for losing 20 lbs this past year.  It’s all very discouraging.  Also, she told me to drink more water, and when I said it makes me use the restroom ALL THE TIME (by which, I mean, about every 45 minutes) she said to drink mineral water or put salt in my water to increase retention so I wouldn’t use the restroom so much.  When I did that, not only did I continue to use the restroom constantly but I also gained nearly 3 lbs in retained water.  It worked all right, but not in the way I had hoped.

So, I agree with Bruni about miracle pills, but I think the falling back on calories in/calories out is not as useful as it could be, because, at least for me, exercise makes me hungrier and I don’t think I get enough metabolic burn going from the exercise to make up for the uptick in calories.  Plus, it’s hot and muggy out.  Hello summer!

I’d like to try to stick to Michael Pollan’s rule: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”  

Post Half Blues

Where have the past two weeks gone?  I didn’t run much the week after the Cap City, and then this past weekend we drove up to Chicago for a wedding and I didn’t keep track of what I ate, so who knows really.  We did do a very pleasant 5K Monday along the lakeshore, and I made it to the gym Tuesday for an ab workout and out for a 2 miler this morning, so some uptick in activity there.

I’ve been feeling listless and depressed lately and am trying to figure out if it’s procrastination, lack of exercise, poor diet, or something else.  About the only thing I am doing is getting enough sleep most nights, but I’m starting to feel guilty about sleeping in when my spouse has to haul out and go to work.

I was really hoping to get a long run in today to juice my numbers a bit for my yearly physical.  I’d like the numbers to show me down 20lbs from the last visit, but right now, it will probably be slightly less.

J got me a new wireless scale for our 3-year anniversary.  It’s going to be a very useful gift, but I think he was worried I would think it was unromantic.  He looked concerned and asked, “Too utilitarian?” as I opened it.  I got him leather cufflinks and a book of poetry, so in a fairly rare turn of events I probably did end up giving him the more romantic gift of the exchange.  They weren’t exactly love poems, though.  It was a collection by Mary Oliver, an Ohioan, queer, nature poet (seems disrespectful of a person to reduce them to three adjectives like that).  Go buy her book so I’ll feel less bad about my reductionism.

In any case, I’m going to set a few SMART goals for the next week and update on my progress next Friday.

Goal One – Use my tracking tools: weigh in each day, record everything I consume on LoseIt, use my Fitbit to track sleep in addition to steps.

Goal Two – Exercise at least 30 minutes, 4 times a week.  This should be an easy target.  I’ve already exercised 3 times this week and I’m signed up for a 5 mile charity run on Memorial Day.

Goal Three – Drink at least 6 glasses of water a day.  I find this hard.  Guess I’ll go get myself a glass now.  

I was 183.8 lbs at my weigh-in this morning.  13.8 lbs to my goal.

Half Marathon Accomplished

J and I successfully completed the Cap City Half Marathon this weekend there are three things about it that I am particularly pleased about:

1. We made it in my goal time of 2:30 — about 2:29 was our finish — and that was after being put in the slowest corral and having to move our way up through the course.

2. We didn’t walk — not even at the giant hill at the end of the course.  It helped that the DJ on the corners started playing Regulate as we turned the corner and faced the hill.  Nate Dogg had our back on the incline. Warren G, if I had wings I would have flown up that hill.  (As an aside: based purely on themes, street fights, picking up a car full of ladies, it doesn’t seem like this would be my style of song, but I love the third verse when they start explaining G funk and say “the rhythm is the base and the base is the treble” and “we brings…melodies.”)

3. Friends and co-workers are supportive — I’ve been getting lots of congratulations on finishing this race, which makes me feel happy about telling everyone I was going to do it!

There’s something about my physiology that makes me lose salt like crazy on these long runs.  J was wiping salt off my face at the end before we took pictures.  I’m wondering if the salt loss led to my body hoarding it the next few days because by Monday I’d gained a few pounds from my last weigh in.  I’ve been making an effort to stay hydrated the past couple of days, which means constant bathroom trips for me, and I’m now back down a couple of pounds.

Making my official Wednesday Weigh In = 183.4 lbs.

Not super, but I can work with this.  Here are my goals to start working back down again:

  • 60 oz a day of water.  People who drink 100 oz, I applaud you.  Maybe on days when I can live on the toilet.
  • Eat out no more than once a day.  Baby steps, folks.  I had double Panera on Friday.  Yes, you can do worse, but 2x a day is excessive.
  • Track my food.  LoseIt! here I come.

Unnecessary Roughness

The Times had an Op-Ed today on testing female athletes for high testosterone levels.  It convinced me that this is a troubling practice.  It’s one thing for a sport to choose to ban “doping” with supplements, but to ban a female athlete because she has too much naturally occurring testosterone or to force her to have an operation or take hormone suppressants to reduce those levels in order to continue competing in her sport strikes me as unfair.

First, as the op-ed points out, it’s not clear that higher testosterone leads to better performance.  Second, there are all kinds of naturally occurring advantages people have that society is profoundly uncomfortable handicapping.   And just to be clear, when I say society or culture here, I’m primarily talking about western, first world, etc. because that’s what I have grown up in.

What is feels like to me is a discomfort with people who don’t conform to traditional gender models, here complicated by the fact that it’s also about sex, which people feel they can somehow make an absolute binary.  As our culture grows more comfortable with people expressing themselves on a gender continuum, we still cling to this sense, “yes, she may dress like a boy, but she is essentially a girl.”  Women even being involved in sports is seen as a threat by some people.   few people are willing to say “A woman’s place is in the home”, but plenty of people are willing to take digs at women’s sports by saying things like, “Nobody watches women’s [basketball/soccer/tennis].”  Usually, they say these things when there’s a women’s basketball game on.

Being “male” is still seen as a de facto advantage in sports.  Even competing in sports causes a woman to take on attributes that are seen are more masculine than feminine.  Having more biological “maleness” in the form of testosterone becomes profoundly threatening not just to other female athletes who may perceive you to be advantaged, but to everyone who wants to preserve a strict definition of what it means to be biologically male or biologically female.

Weigh-In This Week: 182.

For some reason now that the weather is heating up my digital scale is working better (and then it snowed after I started writing this post and my scale is no longer giving me a body fat calculation).  Still stuck in my low-180s holding pattern, but at least it’s holding and not rising for now.  It’s getting hard as I get closer to this half-marathon not to want to eat everything in sight.

From: Hyperbole and a Half. Go buy Allie’s book. I’ve lent it to at least three people already and am feeling guilty about cutting her royalty stream.

I admit it, I’m a Foodie

For the second time since moving to Columbus, I have been accused of being a “foodie.”  Not by people trying to be mean.  If anything, by people who are amused at my obsession with what some food stuff is and how it’s made, where its from, and “Is that cheese spelled mobier or moRbier, and how do you pronounce that anyway?”*

We had dinner with a colleague of mine and her husband last weekend and when it came out that we were homebrewers who also liked cider (we made a very drinkable dry cider this past fall), the husband insisted we take home a bottle of their homemade apple cider.  I love that sort of thing.

It occurs to me that we are really only a couple of generations removed from a time when most people were capable of producing at least some of their own food, and that these past 50 years or so of the pattern of food distribution may seem like blip on the radar in the future.  (Also, the metaphor will be anachronistic as technology will have moved beyond radar.)

I’m traveling today and there’s nothing like walking through an airport and passing dozens of fast food restaurants to remind me of the importance of making and consuming my own food.  Heidi Swanson — who runs a food porn, I mean cooking, website — from San Francisco often posts about the food she makes and packs for trips.  In the past, I’ve looked at her 101 Cookbooks site and rolled my eyes a little thinking about making a cake for a roadtrip.  Now, I’m feeling more ambitious, or at least wishing I’d packed some dried fruit for this trip.

Weigh-in wise, I’ve been hovering around 179-182 for the past couple of weeks.  Since I’m about to attend a 3-day conference and may not get my long run in this weekend, I’m guessing that number’s not going to improve this week, but maybe with some care I can mitigate the damage.  I did pack two changes of running gear.  So, goals for the rest of this week at the conference:

1. Drink at least 8 glasses of water/day.

2. No more than 2 alcoholic beverages at a time.

3. Go for at least 2 runs, even if they’re not my long run.


* (really, it’s a website) tells me:

Morbier is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese named after the small village of Morbier in Franche-Comté. The cheese has an ivory color, and it is a bit soft and fairly elastic. It gets immediately identified because of its black layer of tasteless ash, which separates horizontally in the middle. Earlier, Morbier was made by a layer of the morning and the evening milk, but it is made by a single milking nowadays, while ash is added to it to follow the tradition. The cheese takes about 45 days to 3 months for full maturation with yellowish, moist and leathery rind.

I’m disappointed the ash layer is for show and doesn’t delineate separate milkings.

How is it the 20th of March?

Granted, I co-taught an intensive 4-day class over Spring Break last week, which required more planning than I had anticipated (teaching always does) but how have 3 weeks gone by since my last academic conference and now my next one is in two weeks?

This Vampire Weekend song is what I’ve been using to try to relax lately.  I’m not even a huge New York booster, but I find this song lovely and evocative.  It’s fun once you realize that the song is about the act of making music — the main hook, the title, and a bunch of other references are about other songs and musicians that have influenced the band.  I love the line, “Maybe she’s gone and I can’t resurrect her.  The truth is she doesn’t need me to protect her.”  For the Internet’s take on the references in the song, check out Rap Genius.

Also, not unexpectedly given I’ve been getting less exercise and haven’t been tracking my foods, my weight has plateaued and is possibly creeping back up a bit.  I’ve set my Loseit App to send me meal tracking reminders, so we’ll see if that helps.  I was 181.4 this morning, and have been mostly in the 181-183 range the past few weeks.  I’m trying to get over the artificial nature of the BMI scale and to not discount the progress I’ve already made.  If I do make it to 170, it will be the thinnest I’ve ever been at my adult height and within the “normal” BMI range — and guess what, I still won’t be “thin” by any conventional standard.  But is “thin” really the goal?  Not so much.  So why does it even bother me that at best I’ll be a size 10/12 and still “big” even after losing over 30 lbs?  (An aside, I went to go buy work shirts last weekend and ended up getting a size 10/12 at Coldwater Creek.  Hurray for women’s sizing.)


Belated Wednesday Weigh-In

Never got around to posting this last Wednesday.  Still, may be the last time in a while I see 170s on the scale, so worth posting.  Also, ran a 5K in sand this weekend.  Didn’t feel too bad at first, but I definitely felt it in my lower legs on the second half.

February 5, 2014 - Broke the 180s, for about a minute.

February 5, 2014 – Broke the 180s, for about a minute.

Wanderings and Weigh-In

What City Should You Live In

Buzz Feed has a quiz for what city should you live in, and my result was…Portland.

That doesn’t come as a huge shock to me.  I took it twice with slightly different answers and still got Portland, so then I got suspicious and provided more or less random answers to get Cape Town, so there are different city results!

My parents live across the Columbia River from Portland, near Vancouver, Washington.  I’ve spent some time in Portland and, yes, I think it’s a great place to visit and would probably be a fun place to live.


The Fox and the Hound

Tinni and Sniffer

Tinni and Sniffer the Fox.  This was originally forwarded to me as an email with lots of commentary about how much these animals love each other.  They’re cute.  They’re buddies.  They are probably happy to consider themselves part of a pack, but love?  That feels a little anthropomorphic to me.



Numbers are continuing to drop.  I think the long runs on the weekend are helping.

Numbers are continuing to drop. I think the long runs on the weekend are helping.