Category Archives: The (mostly) Healthy Life

A bit about me and update on 2020 “resolutions”

I haven’t said jack about my Kinda, Sorta New Year’s Resolutions 2020 since one update in March. I suppose I’ve had other things on my mind.😕 But I did not just give up. That was not an option. The world is not ending and I’m not sick. That said I didn’t/don’t feel that it has to be “business as usual.” I can be tough on myself but I am not out of my head.😁

My work life, which is part time, has been unaffected by the pandemic. I don’t have a lot of people contact and when I do have any, distancing is possible. I mention this to note that I was and have been grateful to be working and to say it came first over the course of the last 5+ months.

While work has been the same, several other things have not been, obviously. I’ve stayed away from people, out of stores almost entirely, and off public transportation.

Reading books became difficult for the early months of the pandemic; it was too hard to concentrate. I’m very, very happy to say my public library is in the earliest stage of reopening and it’s possible to request & pick up materials (outside). I feel less distracted now and am enjoying books again. I’ve read 22 of a planned 30 for the year. I’m currently listening to Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, which got a lot of buzz last year.

My “good deeds” are going okay too. The rule is it has to be something where I go a bit out of my way (more so than normal, every day things I do) and it has to be with no expectation of reward of any kind. I’ve done 16 of a planned 20. I don’t know what a “good deed” will be in advance; I just look for opportunities.

The Elementary School has lovely flower gardens. They were initially planted by volunteers/parents (I’m neither) and they’d typically hold “work parties” to maintain them. At the end of February, pre-pandemic, I noticed the beds were neglected, full of leaves & last year’s dead perennials. I knew that there’d likely be a cleanup date scheduled when it got warmer, but since I usually work best alone, I started working on them. Well, you know what happened in pretty short order. School got closed and nobody touched those beds. So I did. I keep ’em clean and haul away the debris. School is not re-opening for fall so I expect I have an ongoing good-deed-doing project this year. They’re so nice; it’d be a shame to let them totally go.

The best one with rose bushes, black-eyed susans, coneflowers, sedum & other stuff😊

Two other beds. Both have flowers and one has a Crepe Myrtle & I don’t know what the other tree is

Yoga has fallen off. I am active outdoors in seasonal weather (and unseasonal to a lesser degree) and I’ve realized that yoga is a better winter activity for me at least now. I do feel like I lose momentum by not doing it year round but I just have to accept that. This means my yoga goals will not happen as they were ambitious, pre-pandemic, and supposed to be spread over the calendar year.

I have gotten rid of (recycled, given away, etc) over 90 things. I love it! I want less things/better things. It’s kinda funny to me; in the last several years I’ve focused on making my home an attractive, useful, clutter-free place. And now, during the pandemic, I’ve gotten to live in it. It’s almost as if I’ve been preparing for this time. In retrospect anyway.

This is not mine & it doesn’t count as a “good deed” because I think of it as my contribution for the use of it, but I’ve been weeding this bed & keeping the immediate grass around it cut. I thought it was such a lovely, generous thing for someone to contribute. I’m mad for Basil especially & really don’t get enough sun for it so I’ve been delighted to have access.

I planned to cut back on movie-watching (more books, less movies) in 2020 BUT since I don’t have cable & don’t watch movies on my tablet AND I couldn’t get DVDs from the library, I was FORCED to cut back! That’s right, I didn’t see any of the Tiger King stuff – not sure I want to – or that Love is Blind (I think that’s the name) pod dating show either. Instead, I discovered re-runs of Shipping Wars on regular TV. Fascinating show. The shippers are SO insulting toward one another but SO funny. I could relate! Now however, I am so happy to again have access to library DVDS. They are my reward.

There’s something else I want to say. For most of the time I’ve had this blog, I’ve also had a problem in my life. No one is sick or dying but the problem is one I have no control over. The people who should have helped didn’t. In my 2020 Resolutions post I wrote about relief from this problem. That relief, which gave me back a kick in my step, has continued. I have wanted to tell you this: for me personally, everything that has happened this year has been a cakewalk when contrasted against this problem. I tell you that so you’ll have an idea of the magnitude the problem had for me. I am so, so, so grateful to not have had this problem on my plate in this year. I don’t like to think of what it might have like to have dealt with both. This problem may easily return, I have no certainty but AT LEAST it was not on my plate this year. I breath easier.

Let’s lighten the mood. I had slacked on pushups figuring I was doing enough other exercise. I was wrong.😐 Like many, I put on a few pandemic pounds. You wouldn’t know it but I do. Pushups strengthen the upper body AND tone the abdomen. I’ve started doing 10 every day again.

That’s right, I’m BAD

This post would not be finished if I didn’ talk about the social upheaval. If I was a younger woman and there wasn’t a pandemic I think I’d almost certainly have gone to a Black Lives Matter march or anti police brutality demonstration. These are terrifically important times and I had tugs of feeling that history was passing me by as I stayed home safe in my community. But there’s only so much you can do and you have to prioritize. I’m not young & I don’t like crowds. So, like many, I watch the TV, I take in the latest horrifying event, whatever it is. I still fear for this country but that so many do seem to want healthy change, gives me hope.

What Does Colette Eat?

This post might seem a little strange, coming out of left field, but what the hell. Food is very, very important to me. I am one of those people that definitely lives to eat. You might not think it to look at me because I stay fit and lean but if you knew me in real life and asked, “Are you hungry?” or “Do you want to eat?” at any given point of the day, the answer is usually “YES.” (It’s a safe bet.)

I won’t say I hoard food so much as stockpile.  I think of hoarders as people who have no clue what they have and who won’t ever get to all of it (i.e., if it’s food, a lot of it will expire or go bad) – that is not me.  I eat what I buy, keep track of expirations, write the date on foods in the freezer and so on. I do tend to deliberately load up on  supplies pre-winter because I like the comfort of knowing that even if there’s a 3-foot snow storm and I can’t get anywhere, I’ll still have food to eat. And even shy of that, since I don’t have a car, I just like knowing that I have stuff, and won’t necessarily have to trudge out in the sub-freezing temps or ride the bus to get groceries (which I seem to be doing like clockwork anyway, but…).

Last year I was what I considered a bit indulgent in my grocery shopping. I treated myself to foods I wouldn’t otherwise buy. It was nice and I enjoyed it. I did also keep track of what I spent on food and come the end of the year, it was about $2,200. As a lump sum, that kind of jumped out at me. I had no sense if that’s about par or what (anytime I’ve seen food cost charts, they usually are calculated for a “family of four” or something). Anyway, I decided I’d like to bring that figure back down this year, more in line with previous years.

These thoughts about cost are somewhat extraneous so far as this post – the post is just a list of the foods I have on hand right now. I thought it would be helpful to me to make it and it was.  I don’t know if it’ll be helpful to anyone else but maybe it might. (I like to know what other people eat and to get new ideas, especially from people who are fit and health-conscious.) I don’t follow any “diet” that has a name but I try to eat well and I really, really enjoy food.

FREEZER

2018 Farmers market Yams = 3 jars

2018 Farmers market Turnips = 2 small bags

2018 Farmers Market Butternut Squash = 2 small bags

Mixed Berries = ½ bag, about 1.5lbs

Blueberries = 3lb bag

Strawberries = 2 or 3lbs

Blackberries = ½ bag, about 1.5lbs

Red & Green Peppers = 2 1lb bags

Okra = 1 old bag

Spinach = ½ 1lb bag

Peas = 2 1lb bags

Green Beans = 1 1lb bag

Homemade Refried Beans = 3 small jars

Whole Wheat bread = 1 open bag, 1 unopened bag

Whole Wheat Pita Bread = 1 open bag, 1 unopened 12oz bag

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas = 4 small bags

Homemade Pasta  dish = 7 portions

Homemade Egg Sandwiches = 4

Homemade Spinach & Artichoke Heart Quiche = 2 portions

Homemade Pie = 2 slices

Homemade healthy cookies = 6 small bags

Mozzarella Cheese Sticks = 34 1oz sticks

Colby & Montery Jack cheese = 14 1oz cubes

Feta = half a jar

Cheddar Slices = 3

Brown Rice = 1 5lb bag

Wild Rice = 1lb

Arborio Rice = little left in container

White Rice = 1lb

Whole Wheat Flour = 3.5 5lb bags

White Flour = 1 5lb bag

Walnuts = 2 16oz bags plus small 4oz bag

Brown Sesame Seeds = 2 1lb bags

Almonds = 2.5lbs

Raw Sunflower seeds = a lot

Pitted Dates = a lot

Homemade Soup = 3 jars

 

CANS

Green Beans = 4

Peas = 1

Corn = 4

Pickles = 1

Salmon = 6 15oz cans

Tuna = 10 cans

Crushed Tomatoes = 8 28oz cans

Diced Tomatoes = 11 28oz cans

Whole Peeled Tomatoes = 2 28oz cans

Evaporated Milk = 1 can

Pineapple = 2 24oz cans

Peaches = 2 15oz cans

Pears = 2 15oz cans

Tomato Paste – 2 6oz cans

 

PANTRY FOODS

Panko Bread crumbs = ½ box

Peanuts = 5 jars

Date Paste = 1 2lb bag

Raisins = ½ carton

Brown Sugar = 1 peanut jar full

White Sugar = ½ 4lb bag (plenty)

Cocoa Powder = about 34oz (1 23oz unopened container plus 2 open containers)

Dark Chocolate Chips = 1 open bag, 1 unopened bag

Unsweetened Coconut = 1 10oz bag

Taco Shells = 2 boxes

Tofu = 12 boxes (Amazon sells it by the 12-pack)

Pumpkin = 2 boxes

Boxed Milk = 2qt boxes

Dry Milk = 2 envelopes plus 2 unopened boxes

Baking powder

Baking Soda

 

 

PASTA & NOODLES

Rotini = 1.5lbs

Penne = 3 1lb boxes

Farfalle = 3 1lb boxes

Orzo = 1 1lb box

Linguine = 3.5 lbs

Angel Hair Spaghetti = 2.5lbs

Spaghetti = 4lbs

Whole Wheat Spaghetti = 1 open box (not excited about this)

Rice Noodles = little bit left

Long Udon noodles = ½ bag

Whole Wheat Egg noodles = 12oz bag (ok, I might not eat this😐)

 

BEANS & GRAINS

Red Kidney = 1 1lb bag dried

Pinto = 1.5lbs dried

Lentils = 2 1lb bags

Great Northern = 2 1lb bags dried

Chick Peas = 4 1lb bags dried

Black Beans = 3 1lb bags dried

Old Fashioned Oats = 1 open 42oz box, 1 unopened 42oz box

1 Minute Oats = 1 open 42oz box, 1 unopened 42oz box

Oat Bran = 1 18oz bag

Bob’s Red Mill Five Grain Hot Cereal = 1 16oz bag

Bob’s Seven Grain Hot Cereal = ½ 1lb bag

White Cornmeal = most of a bag

Chia Seeds = 1 bag

Wheat Bran = 1 8oz bag

Barley = 2 open bags (oops)

Popcorn = 3 2lb bags unpopped

 

OILS, VINEGARS, CONDIMENTS, ETC

Canola Oil = 4 48oz bottles

Sesame Oil = 1 16oz bottle

Coconut Oil = little bit

Extra Virgin Olive Oil = about 95oz (I REALLY like olive oil 😊)

Balsamic Vinegar = 1 open bottle

Red Wine Vinegar = 1 open bottle

Rice Vinegar = 1 open bottle, 2 unopen

Liquid Aminos = 1 open bottle

Lemon Juice

Lime Juice

Blackstrap Molasses = 1 16oz bottle

Molasses = 1 11oz bottle

Honey = 1 24oz jar

Tabasco sauce = 2 2oz bottles

Garlic = 1 open jar

Peanut Butter (no salt, no sugar) = 1 open jar

Peanut Butter Powder = a lot

Nutritional Yeast

Yeast = a lot

Pure Vanilla = 2 2oz jars

Mustard = 1 12oz bottle

Catsup, no sugar added  = 1 open bottle

Pesto = 2 jars

Marinated Artichoke Hearts – 1 large jar

Capers = 2 2oz jars

Peppercorns = 2 2oz jars

Kalamata Olives = 1 open jar

Green olives = 2 open jars, 4 unopened

 

FRESH FRUITS & VEGETABLES

Onions

Kiwis

Bananas

Cabbage

Lettuce

Oranges

Broccoli

Green Onions

Red Onion

Carrots

Although I have canned salmon & tuna, you may have noticed the absence of any meats, chops, chicken etc. I am a mostly vegetarian. I’m not hard core but rarely buy meat or poultry. I don’t buy frozen dinners or much that’s ready-made.  What’s missing and I need to buy are:

Non-fat, Plain Yogurt

Raisins (why has the price jumped so much lately?!)

Salsa

Flax seed

Black Olives

Black-eye Peas

Frozen fish fillets

Potatoes, any kind

 

 

 

 

 

Makin’ progress on my 2019 “resolutions”

It’s time for a little update on my kinda, sorta, resolutions for 2019. I’m off to a good start.  I’ve read 9 books (the year’s goal is 20) but I actually think nine isn’t that many because I started several I didn’t finish so they don’t count. I’ve been having trouble finding books that really hold me. My attention wanders or I’m not anxious to pick the book up again after starting it. I know completely what it is to fall into a book, to be absorbed and excited and unable to stop turning pages. THAT’S what I want but lately that hasn’t happened so much. The books are “okay” just not blowing me away. Best one so far was Kathryn Harrison’s book of essays, True Crimes: A family album.

Yesterday I started reading Chuck Klosterman’s collection of essays X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century and I’m happy to say, it’s going fast. He is so readable especially to anyone prone to analyzing, particularly pop culture.

The yoga is off to an excellent start. I’ve done the “Sun Salutation” sixteen times (the goal for the year is 50) and I’ve done 30 minutes of yoga eleven times (the goal is 25). I never used exercise videos before but to teach myself yoga, I’ve been checking DVDs out of the public library. I’ve done five different ones. My impression so far is that yoga is no different than anything else; instructors have very different styles & approaches. For instance, one instructor says always breathe through your nose and out your mouth while doing the poses and another says always breathe in through your nose and out through your nose. I don’t really care one way or the other; the breathing aspect is not my concern. My exhaling while practicing yoga is most obvious to me; it’s a sign I’m relaxing.  I like teachers I can relate to, who have a sense of humor, and aren’t overly rigid; to that end I can already tell I prefer Tara Stiles over Rodney Yee, for an example (of two well-known instructors).

To me, yoga is exercise focusing on balance, strength, and stretch. The way I see it, most of us over time limit our range of motion which doesn’t serve us as we age. Yoga positions aren’t ones you’d typically find yourself in on the average day. Like, how often does any of us make a point to bend over backward or remember to stretch out our spine or balance on one foot or swing our feet over our head while laying down? I dunno about you but these things aren’t in my usual day’s repertoire of motion. Yoga gets you to make a point of these things and much more.

I’m not going to tell you my life is transformed but I am sure yoga is good for me, physically and mentally. However much I do of it. I think it helps you to not take your body for granted and to become aware of it and everything it does for you. And — quality of life is often attached to strength and range of motion. The longer you  can remain strong and agile, the better off you will be as you age. This is my take. I am the one taking care of me so I have a BIG investment in staying strong and capable.

I made simple loose leaf lists to keep track of my progress. In my experience, things – of pretty much any stripe – are always longer ago than I remember them, so the lists keep me on track. I can take a quick look and see, “Oops, I haven’t done yoga in a week!” Since I’m far more a when-the-spirit-moves-me-person than one-who-adheres-to-a-strict-routine, this works well.

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I’m more active in warm weather so, since I don’t belong to a gym (and never have) I really need to make a point to keep moving in winter. I wanted this to be a year of getting physically stronger. Not that I’m any slouch, but I wanted to do more. I’ve been walking a lot and using my treadmill, a manual one someone gave away in 2017, on days I don’t walk outdoors. I’m doing pushups (the man kind) and using my hand weights. I didn’t include this in my resolutions, but I’m also regularly using the hula hoop I picked up at Target a couple years ago. I’d like to think it works your mid-section but even if it doesn’t, any kind of motion, I figure, is good.

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Switching gears, I have to make fun of myself yet again for thinking it might be “hard” to find fifteen things to get rid of this year. See, I’ve already done all kinds of de-cluttering in years past. I read Throw Out Fifty Things and Peter Walsh’s book and more recently even Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy (although I’ve never seen her show). No one would walk into my home – I promise – and think I had a clutter problem or needed to get rid of stuff. And YET…. I’ve already put 97 things on my list!! I’ll grant you, almost all were small items, but still, that’s 97 things given away, recycled, or tossed. Here’s a small section of the list to show you. (As you see, I editorialize myself occasionally with things like an UNHAPPY face, which is basically me rolling my eyes at myself.)

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I’m slacking on the Italian CDs. I have the Conversational Italian CD set out of the library but I haven’t gotten past lesson 6, meaning basically I haven’t done any in 2019. My goal was to get through all the lessons but I’m no longer sure I will. I’ve never felt I had a knack for anything other than the English language and trying these Italian lessons, sadly, hasn’t changed my mind.  I haven’t learned nothing exactly; I can say – poorly – that I speak a little Italian. I should probably learn how to say I speak VERY little Italian.

On whole, I’m feeling good about all this. I might do some yoga, and I might read some books, and I might throw out stuff  with no resolutions and no lists but with the resolutions and my simple lists, I KNOW I’m doing it. 2019 is about pushing myself physically and mentally, preventing drift and being more focused. I like it.

Challenging myself at the playground

In the post about my Kinda, sorta resolutions for 2019 I said I’d like to challenge myself intellectually and physically. I’m off to a good start on both endeavors and wanted to tell you just a bit about pushing myself physically. As I said previously I think many people increasingly limit themselves as they age in no small part because they’re afraid of getting hurt, leading to a long recovery time, if they ever fully recover at all. It’s a fine line to walk; challenging yourself beyond your comfort vs over-doing it and being very sorry.

For a long time there were a couple things I’d do at playgrounds when I’d be going by but due to either injuries or having taxed myself elsewhere, I hadn’t done any of them in years. With the passing of time, I wasn’t even sure if I could do them any more.

There’s a skinny pole leading to a platform at one playground and, if no one else was there, I used to climb the pole occasionally and step over to the platform. I can’t tell you I liked it but I did think it was good for me. It was kind of a point of pride that I could do it. (I’d never once seen anyone else climb it, not even kids, although that doesn’t mean no one did.)

The first time I (re)attempted the climb in January, I found, to my surprise, I went up fairly easily. The next time I went back, for whatever reason, it seemed harder. When I went last weekend I took along a tape measure so I could tell you how high the platform is (I could only guess). It’s 6.5 feet, so not all that high. I again climbed up the pole but I can’t tell you it’s easy for me; I have to psyche myself up a little: “C’mon, you can do this.”
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At other playgrounds I had a few things I did on the bars that were fun for me. In January I went to one of these playgrounds and was again happy to find that I could still do them. On this day, after climbing the pole (and getting the photo) I went to another playground that has old-fashioned equipment and a couple sets of bars both of which I like.
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The thing I always loved doing on a playground with similar bars was, on a low one, grabbing it with both hands and jumping up to where my mid-section hit the bar, and then, leaning forward, flipping my feet over my head, landing on my feet facing on forward on the other side of the bar, letting go of the bar as I did so.
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Let me demonstrate with the help of my able assistant, Gumby.
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Another woman blogger recently wrote about attempting a chin-up or pull-up. Her post made me wonder if I could do that. It wasn’t ever a feat I was in the habit of doing – had I done one ever? – so I had no idea if I was capable. I tried one on the highest bar of the trio above and no way, no how was it happening.😐 I tried once with my hands over the bar and once with them under and it made no difference. I was able to raise myself a little but nowhere near accomplishing a chin-up. I was disappointed; on the other hand, it’s not like a skill I knew I had and lost. I’m not sure what it would take to accomplish this but I tend to think it would be by first getting stronger doing other upper body exercise. That is, I don’t think merely trying repeatedly to do a chin-up would be enough.

I went to another low bar (one I think is just a tad lower) for this other trick, namely hanging by my knees only. I grabbed hold of the bar and kind of walked up the side pole in order to get my legs over the bar. What I particularly like to do is choose a bar at a height where I can hang by my knees and place my hands on the ground so that I can, with the help of gravity, swing my legs off the bar over my head ultimately landing on my feet, or more accurately, on my feet and hands before standing up straight. I have to say there’s a moment of fear when I let go of the bar, even knowing the ground is close.
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Let’s bring Gumby back for a demo.
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While I was there and had the place to myself, I tried one last thing on the monkey bars (do they still call them that?) The idea is to grab them with your hands and swing across, hand over hand. Well, on this set of 8 bars, I was able to go across but I didn’t swing madly and instead took them one by one. I think it’d be easier to swing hand over hand if the bars were higher off the ground and I had the space to get a “jump” start – that’s kind of how I remember doing it when I was a kid.
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Easy, healthy “vegan” cookies you’ll actually want to eat

This recipe originates with Dr Neal Barnard, vegan advocate. I don’t remember the exact title of the book I got it from but if you are desperate to know I can probably figure it out. I’ve been making the cookies, which have no dairy, for years. Let me tell you why I like ’em. Unlike typical, traditional cookies, these are not full of sugar and fat, but instead more filling, nutritious ingredients. For me this means they are more satisfying because they are made of actual food. And unlike typical cookies, which flip a switch in my brain causing me to want more, more, more, these cookies satisfy my desire for something sweet without an accompanying desire to overindulge.

Here’s Dr Barnard’s recipe:

-3 cups whole wheat flour

-4 tsp baking powder

-1 tsp baking soda

-1 tsp cinnamon

-1/2 tsp nutmeg

-2 (or 2.5) tbsp sugar

-1 15oz can pumpkin

-1 mashed ripe banana

– 1 cup soy milk or water

-1 cup raisins

Yesterday I changed up the recipe by also adding unsweetened coconut, brown sesame seeds, and peanut butter powder. I found all three ingredients on Amazon. The peanut butter powder was a recent discovery; it’s peanuts with the oil squeezed out. These additions made good cookies even better.

Mix all the ingredients together and bake 15 minutes at 350°.  (After dropping teaspoon fulls of dough onto a cookie sheet, I find it helpful to push them down slightly so the cookies come out flatter and less like cookie balls.) Makes about 35 really good cookies.

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