The Upside-downside to being Nutty(er than usual), or More Fun (Way!) with Math

I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit bored with the whole anxiety/panic disorder topic.  Not to mention the whole anxiety/panic disorder thing (IT) itself.   Honestly, writing about IT has helped some.   Up until now, when IT has started to Thoroughly.  Piss. Me. Off.

Today’s status:  Still here, still have some of IT symptoms, dealing.  But I have a buttload of work to do before my vacation next week.  So the increase in my usually barely tolerable work stress is making life a bit more enjoyable.

Now, on to the Upside.  Which is a Downside.  But a good one, especially given the whole freaking point of this freaking year and this freaking blog.

Since August 1, I have lost

♦     18 pounds     ♦

(204 to 186 today).  My last published weight log showed my high point at 202 in March. That was not the eventual high point.

All of my not-so-hard work was paying off in the reverse.   Which was not the trend I wanted to publish, which is why I took down the weight log,  although I did continue doing and woe-is-me-ing weigh-ins March through July.

(Aside:  Rather than Outright Lie, I prefer to Withhold Comment.  Sort of like when a  friend asks me if they look (good or bad or smart or stupid) (doing or wearing or dating) (something or somebody).   I do not want to Lie but I do not want to tell the Truth, either.  So I WC, which is similar in concept to being PC,  but of course without the P.    Since I try not to do or say anything whatsoever that has the remotest chance of having the label P(olitical) attached to it)).  (I love parenthetical comments, as you know.  I think this wins the Most Parentheses Ever In One Paragraph In My Blog award.)  (But I am more in love with run-on sentences than anything, as you also know.)

And no, I do not think achieving the reverse of desired results had anything at all to do with  IT, the Thing I Am Tired Of  Writing About.  Being overweight does not cause me IT.   Being overweight  just Pisses. Me. Off.

Anyway, I told you I was feeling different and bits and pieces were rearranging and my underwear was getting large enough to hold both the Boob Section and the Other End.

I think that I get the biggest kick out of the fact that I have lost a good bit of weight while I am still on Paxil (holding at 10 mg, terrified to step down again until I get a better handle on things).

My formula appears to be:

<20 gr carbs (very little sugar/starch) +

>50 oz liquid +

(30 mins cardio 5-6 days/wk)

= – 18 (in 2 months).


Exercise is better when it involves muck

I have been AWOL from here for the better part of two weeks, which also means AWOL from FFFF for the most part.   But I’m back now, with a new batch of groceries and the renewed spirit that goes with having fresh, non-fuzzy food in the fridge.

I took a short vacation from blogging to work more than usual.   I have to figure out how to work in a fairly demanding job and still do everything else I am supposed to do, like ride, knit and write blog posts.  I pause to consider working parents and then I pause to thank God that all I have to take care is a brood consisting of the rough equivalent of 13 three year old children (6 horses, 5 cats, 2 dogs) who do not need much except space, food, water, cookies, belly rubs, and the occasional field rodent, reptile or skunk to kill or play with.

Oh, and the horses get something else … pedicures every 7 weeks or so.  That is, they get their hooves trimmed and some horses get shoes if they aren’t being kept barefoot.    Someday I will blog on the heady politics vs. science of the Horse World’s barefoot vs. shoes thing if you’re up for some controversy and general nonsense.

I use the horses’ spa time with our farrier to do some catching up on barn chores, since I need to be nearby while he works on the horses.  It is usual and customary for there to be a “handler” standing by for the farrier.   Just in case Something Happens.  Like if someone gets kicked.  More than likely at my farm, the someone getting kicked would be a horse, by the farrier.  But only for potentially or actually dangerous misbehavior.

Our farrier, Glen, with Tatiana supervising

What I do as the handler is hand the horses cookies while they balance on three feet instead of the usual and customary four.  This in my mind keeps the whole pedicure experience a pleasant one for the horse so they won’t misbehave and get kicked.  It also keeps me from annoying the farrier which I try not to do.  Having a good farrier is like having a good hair stylist.  You don’t want to piss them off and have them fire you as a client, and then have to test drive a bunch of new ones.

The other thing I do as the handler is walk away from the horse I am supposed to be handling and go do something else.  Like one of my favorite forms of exercise — cleaning the barn stalls.  It involves a wheelbarrow, manure fork, and of course manure, aka muck.  The only fashion statements you might want to make here are muck boots and gloves, but only if you’re fussy about getting muck on your feet or hands.  The exercise part is shoveling and lifting and dumping.  All the better for strength training if it has rained recently and the manure is soggy and ultra heavy.  Not to mention especially stinky.

Exercise room, with equipment

I don’t know what it is, but there is something about shoveling manure that I like.  It is so much more enjoyable than, say, mopping my kitchen floor or vacuuming the carpet.  It might be because I have poor eyesight.  I can see manure because it is big, and I can see the difference when it’s gone.  When I mop or vacuum, I can’t really see much of a difference from the before state.   The particles getting cleaned up are just too small to get much enjoyment out of the cleaning up of them.

Or, more likely, I can’t see the difference because I didn’t really actually do the mopping or vacuuming.  I just thought about it.  And then decided to go hang out in the barn.

Spring, is that you lurking just around the corner?

No.  It is March after all, which means winter is coming.  The best storms and the most snow I have had in the almost 16 years I have been enduring  enjoying wannabe-farm life in the Sierra Nevada foothills have happened in March.

The other night I was up into the wee hours stormsitting.   Stormsitting is patrolling the farm outside, in the howling wind and pounding rain, with my 2 million mega-mega watt laser-powered flashlight searing holes in the dark for me to walk through, fashionably dressed for the occasion in my authentic Australian oiler coat and hat and tall rubber muck boots.  Storms are both fun and scary out here on the farm.

A fun part is bedding down the horses in the barn late at night and then sitting there listening to them eat contentedly while the rain pounds on the metal roof and the wind whips up a symphony in the pines and oaks on the hill behind.  Somehow getting the horses inside and quietly munching calms my nerves.  A lot can go wrong on the farm if the wind gets too strong.  But because horses are prey animals, they know when there is really something to be afraid of, and they let you know in no uncertain terms.  So as long as they feel safe enough to eat, I can feel safe.   And I can sit there with them and read my Kindle, since it has this cool thingamajig that lights the reading panel without needing external power.  Which by now has more than likely already gone out anyway.

Another fun part is being inside the house with a fire blazing in the woodstove, dogs and cats setting up their various homesteads on couches, the floor, window seat, inside the clothes dryer, and inside the kitchen cupboard where the baking pans live.  It is good to have something purring or snoring nearby when there is a storm.   Of course if you happen to go into the kitchen, the cat that is dozing on the cookie sheets inside the cupboard will make noises and you will think the skunk has returned.  Or the bats.  Or the ghost.     And then that becomes a scary part.

Scary is when the power goes out.  Not because I am afraid of the dark, I am not.  But because when there is no power, there is no water.  So when a storm threatens, I fill up every possible item that can hold water — pots, pans, bathtubs, washing machine, outside garbage cans.  With horses, there has to be a decent amount of water available at all times.    With me, there has to be a decent amount of coffee available at all times.  With dogs and cats, there has to be a toilet.  As long as I am on Restroom Plan B, they are fine.

Scary is when there is too much rain and the clay soil gets saturated and the barn floods.   I hate that.  But to make myself feel better I remind myself that there will be a lot of good exercise re-digging out the trenches around the barn, and that will be Good For Me.   It does make me feel better.  It also pisses me off.

Or when tree limbs from the couple of acres that are nothing but trees start flying around in the wind and who knows where or on what they are going to land.    Like on Stupidest Horse Rainy who won’t stay inside the barn during the storm.  Probably because of her name.  But then again her mother mare’s name is Stormy, and Stormy knows to stay inside the barn during a storm.   So, theory debunked.

The absolute scariest?  When the weather is angry enough to take out my Internet satellite dish.  Since then I would have to face housework or some other productive use of my storm time. Please, not that.

Weird Science #3 — Natural High

I got a little sidetracked looking  for ways to get the effects of exercise without actually doing it.   My brain has been stuck on the concept of endorphins and how they are commonly theorized to produce feelings of euphoria, well-being, and/or happiness from exercise, among other things.

I think physiology or God got it backwards.  I think endorphins should be naturally occurring,  without external causation, at all times.  Because then I would have the feelings of euphoria, well-being, etc.  that I need to keep exercising through the overpowering urge to nap out of the sheer boredom of it.

Aside:  When I imagine what endorphins look like, I see a school of  dolphins laughing and  jumping and splashing around in my blood.  Because “endorphin” looks like “endolphin.”

Then I find out through my extensive research (one reference in Wikipedia, my favorite source of fast, sometimes accurate information about all things) that there is another naturally occurring feel-good thingamajig that may even be better than endorphins — endocannabinoids.  Big word for the naturally-occurring chemical that interacts with the brain deeliebob that causes the marijuana high.

Confession … I do know from experience what the marijuana high is, at least the marijuana high in the olden days, when a lid (ounce baggie) cost about $10, c. 1973 or so.    I don’t know what the quality was then,  but that, rolling papers, a bus ticket to the Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk, a pair of well broken in guaraches, puka shells around my neck, turquoise and silver dangling from my ear lobes,  a couple dozen chocolate, peanut butter and oatmeal gunk cookies, and my best friends along was the finest living my 16-year old self could wish for.

Endocannabinoids are involved in the “reward system of the body, controlling the rewards for both exercise and consuming of dessert.”  This makes sense to me.  The body rewards itself by feeling good, and doesn’t care whether the good feeling comes from a good work-out or a Twinkie.

So, connecting the endorphin-endocannabinoid dots, it seems to me that I all I need to do is eat some cake or pie while visualizing myself on my horse or a treadmill.   Since I’m “high” from the cake/pie, my body thinks it really is exercising and in response burns calories and builds lean muscle and loses fat.   This then causes my body to jump-start some endorphins.  Which also make me high.

Summary:  Eat cake  –>  get high —> lose fat –> get high again.   Far out.

Another aside:  Yes,  it does occur to me that I could spend less time dabbling in science and more time on my horse.

Exercise is boring. Or way fun.

I hate to sit on equipment and maneuver  heavy objects with my arms and legs and butt and move my muscles in a mechanical, repetitive motion that is supposedly good for me.    How can something so mind-numbingly boring be good for me?

Boredom is why I read Spanish language mystery novels on my Kindle when I am on my recumbent bike and pedaling with some of my might to get my heart rate into whatever the fat-burning zone is, which, whatever it is, has to be about 50 whatevers above what my heart wants to rate.  And if I ever did reach that zone, the effort would be totally devoid of any ROI whatsoever anyway, since I would no doubt arrive there in full cardiac arrest, rendering both my heart rate and the question of  ¿Quie’n mato’ a Don Francisco?*  altogether moot.

When I ride my horse Mo,  I am doing basically the same exercise — sitting on equipment and maneuvering a heavy object with my arms and legs and butt and moving my muscles in repetitive motions.  Of course the “equipment” is living and breathing and large and capable at its whim of all kinds of unexpected twists and turns and bounces and sudden changes in speed and/or direction.  It also has a wicked sense of humor and loves to get my goat, so to speak, by being stubborn or pushy or lazy or amped or spooky or just a moron.

So you can imagine riding Mo is much the opposite of boring for me.  So much the opposite, in fact, that a good, exhilarating ride, with all of the physical challenge and mental focus that it requires, is nothing short of pure joy.  My version of a runner’s high, I suppose.    As long as Mo doesn’t do anything so dramatic that I find myself suddenly and unexpectedly airborne and on my way to the  moon, briefly.  Then, inevitably, on my way to what-goes-up-must-eat-dirt.  Then, joy, not so much.  At least not until there are pain meds.

What’s the difference?  Why no endorphinous high when I ride my bike or take a good long walk?  I’m working, breathing, sweating the same as when I ride.  And why is tired and sore from the routine exercise so bothersome, when tired and sore from riding is so gratifying?

The answer is fear.   I am fundamentally afraid of horseback riding.  Even with Mo as perfect as he is for me most of the time, I am always on alert and wondering when my next fall will land me in the E.R.    Along with all of the rewards of riding — learning to communicate with the horse, the rhythmic grace of being connected to his motion,  improving my cues and getting  his best response — there is always an undercurrent of fear.

So I conclude that all I have to do to get a comparable level of enjoyment from the other more mundane forms of exercise is to develop a healthy fear of them.  I guess something like look at my recumbent bike and think “”Hmmm.  How windy is it?  Are there wild turkeys around?  Is there a  bike that my bike hates in the near vicinity?”  Or, look at my walking shoes and think “Hmmm.  What if there is something on the ground for them to trip over and they lose their balance?  What if the big puddle we are approaching gives them the heebie-jeebies and they decide to run off with me?”

Hmmm.  Could work.

*Who killed Don Francisco?

Weird Science #2: Oh No. Exercise Helps?

Look at my progress this past week — over 2 lbs lost — and my activity level.

Well, shoot.

Now, I am not jumping with both feet into the assumption that exercise is mostly responsible, not yet, but I am somewhat concerned.  Pleased with the apparent loss, yes, but I have been around this block enough times to know that I need to go around this block a few more times to know that it’s actually working.

I was hoping that for me, exercise of the kind that I don’t really like and don’t really want to do would not really be a critical success factor.  After all, some sources say that exercise isn’t a factor at all — look at all of the fat people who pay for gym memberships.  Like I did, before they invented teenagers to mob the gyms and use up all of the air conditioning.

Then again, I acknowledge that I am probably not quite the Genius that all of the Internet IQ tests say I am.

I am a reasonably intelligent person, don’t get me wrong.  But when it comes to some topics, like politics, power tools, and of course, physical fitness, I am a member of an entirely different demographic …   Sort of like the one described by Jim, the Waco Kid, to Bart, the new Sheriff of Rock Ridge in Blazing Saddles (1974) :


Jim:  You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West.  You know … morons.


Dense as clay I can surely be when the topic is right, or when it is convenient.   I was thinking all that is needed is for my body to get accustomed to new food while keeping up with the regular farm chores.   Not starving anymore, it would start shedding pounds by the dozens without any more exercise than I normally get as a simple farmer.  But four weeks of doing that, pfffft.  Add some periodic heavy breathing in the target heart rate zone, ta-daaaa.

Maybe.  We shall see.  In the meantime, I will keep up with the exercise.  Because I like the WTF? head-tilt I get from Lulu when I am on my recumbent bike.  And because exercise keeps me from going stiff while I read.   I have found, in spite of my fears to the contrary, that I can have both Kindle and bike electronics going simultaneously without playing the guest-star victim of spontaneous combustion in my own episode of The X-Files.