Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day of Rest

This has been a wonderful and quiet day of rest in our house.   After church, we fixed a simple lunch which we enjoyed together while Mr. B told me about the conference he attended Friday and Saturday.  He was so tired last evening when he got home that we hardly talked about it at all.

Following lunch, we discussed going to the mall to walk (its another 90+ degree day here), but decided to take a break from that as well.  It was looking as if we might have some rain and he was anticipating a nap.  I settled on the sofa with my laptop to read Margie and Bruce's RV Travel Blog.  Margie also writes a blog about her weight loss and maintenance journey which is how I originally found her (or she found me!!).  Bruce and Margie live full-time in their RV and are living MY dream.  I've been hoping for a few hours of free time to settle in with her blog and a pot of fresh coffee.  I am happy to say I am all caught up to the present and what an enjoyable afternoon of travel it was.   Margie and I are on opposite sides of the country, but I certainly hope we are able to meet one of these days.  In fact, in the few weeks since I began this blog, I've found quite a few people I hope I can someday meet.

We have a very busy three days planned and then Mr. B will start teaching his summer school class on Thursday.  Things will get back into somewhat of a routine at least for the month of July.

Since I am now posting my weight statistics on the sidebar, I'll no longer do that here, but will continue to post my exercise information each week.

Average daily steps this week:  12,347
Did not hike or bike this week 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm Going Public!

Anyone even remotely familiar with East Tennessee was able to quickly identify my hometown as Knoxville even though I hadn't mentioned it by name.  I've been wanting to start adding some pictures to the blog and decided my trek to the farmer's market this morning would be a good way to introduce you to my community.  From May through early November, if Mr. B and I are in town, we combine our exercise for the day with a trip to the market.  Since he was in Chattanooga this morning, I decided to take you with me instead.   Let's go..............

This section of the greenway runs along our riverfront.   I began walking at 8:30 and though the gorgeous blue sky doesn't show it, let me tell you it was already HOT!   Directly in front of you is the University of Tennessee campus and what Mr. B refers to as the two largest worship centers in the city.  (That would be Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena.  Now don't get me wrong - we both love our Tennessee Vols, but do agree that with respect to sports in our country, some priorities have gotten skewed, but that's certainly not for this blog.)

At the end of this stretch, the greenway goes under the street through a pedestrian tunnel and then you see this...................................                                               

 Although it appears you are in a lovely forest, in reality, the UT campus is on your immediate left and the downtown area is on your right.
Continuing along, the path starts up toward the Sunsphere which was the centerpiece of the 1982 World's Fair. 

This is the amphitheater used for concerts and other events during the World's Fair and the green space that was created after the fair was over utilizing the area where most of the World's Fair exhibits were located.   It is now a wonderful outdoor space that is loved and well used by the community.

Another ten minute walk through downtown and we arrive at Market Square, a place where the Saturday market has been a tradition for years, hence the name.  The market is larger than it appears in this picture and wasn't yet crowded since I arrived right at opening time.  In another hour, the crowd would have been oppressive and vendors would already be selling out of some things.  It's a wildly popular event and as much as I love going, I'm thankful it no longer is our only choice.  We now have a farmer's market option every day except Sunday and Monday.

After I make my purchases, we start back to complete the loop.  On the way, we pass  my church.

On Saturday morning, you find us at the Farmer's Market.  On Sunday morning, you find us in the choir loft inside this building.  We love our church and since it is on the route, I couldn't resist showing it to you.

This pedestrian walkway crosses the same road about 1/2 mile from the tunnel we used earlier.  After crossing, we'll go down three flights of stairs to river level and complete the loop.

This is at the end of the pedestrian walkway just before heading down the stairs.  Down on river level where you can see some people walking is near where I took the very first picture.  It is still about a mile back to my car from this spot.

I will turn left here and walk a short way up to my car, but the greenway continues straight ahead for another mile along the river and ends at a beautiful park.

At the Farmer's Market, I bought two kinds of lettuce, and this................................
Today's "I have no idea what this is" purchase was Mung Beans.  That is what is in the ziploc bag.   I was told by the grower to eat them straight from the bag, put them in salads, or saute in a little butter with some chopped sweet onion.  After I got home, I "googled" Mung Beans and found many other recipes along with some pretty impressive nutritional information.  I can vouch for the fact that they are good straight from the bag and on a salad.  I loved the little squashes and the four kinds of little tomatoes.   The dark ones are called Black Cherry tomatoes and that variety was also a new food item for me.  They are YUMMY!   I had a to-die-for salad with some of everything I bought.   It was soooooooooooooo good.   Should've taken a picture of it.  Shucks!! 

It has been a great day.   Mr. B is home from his conference in Chattanooga and we are looking forward to Sunday and a new week.  Hope you are.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Am One COOL Chick!

People generally tell me I'm a pretty cool person to be around, but in case that title has you thinking I'm an arrogant fool, read yesterday's post and understand being one cool chick is totally literal!  I spent yesterday waiting for someone to come repair our non-functioning air conditioning unit and that person never showed.  Needless to say, I was HOT in more than one way.  No call, no explanation.  The heat index was well over 100 - it was a difficult day for me.   But that was yesterday.....air is now functioning perfectly, it was a simple fix which translates to as little expense as one could expect, so now, I AM one cool, happy chick!!

I look for what all of life's experiences, gains or losses, can teach me about my weight loss journey.  That's why I call this blog, "Life Through Sharon's Eyes."  Yesterday's misery is forgotten, today's agenda is my focus.  How I wish I could so easily forget poor food choices I might make on a given day and focus on the next day's opportunities.  In the whole scheme of things, 48 hours without air conditioning was minimal.  In the whole scheme of things, a poor food choice, snack, meal, day or even week is minimal.  Put it behind you, move forward.

Mr. B (referring to my husband - this is what his students call him) has gone to Chattanooga for a conference so I have until Saturday evening all to myself.   Chattanooga, with its amazing downtown revitalization and 10-mile Riverwalk, is a couple of hours away from our home. It has become a quick getaway place for us, so the original plan was for me to go with him, stay a few extra days and do some biking.  With temps in the mid-90's, we nixed that plan earlier this week.

I have plenty to do here and am excited about getting started now that I'm "cool."  This also gives me two full days of eating without having to think of anyone other than myself.   I have my meals planned and believe I will work the plan without much difficulty.  None of my trigger foods are in the house.  I will have to walk at the mall today, but tomorrow plan to get out early and walk to the farmer's market.  I am sad to say, we do not live in a pedestrian friendly area, so we have to drive to a certain point before we can walk to the farmer's market, but we've established a great route that gets my steps for the day with a fun break at the market.  It's something Mr. B and I truly enjoy doing together, so I will really miss him in the morning.  The last two weeks we were in Lexington, so I can't wait to see what's new.  Summer produce should be starting to come in by the boatloads!!  Gotta keep up my goal of finding something new every week.

I'm am working on some July goals for both myself and the blog and will share soon.   For now, this "cool" chick is headed for her "cool" kitchen to do some cooking.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's Not Cool To Be Hot!

Thank you for your kind thoughts in response to yesterday's post.  My husband is an only child and although, I've always been treated equally as a daughter and would have been welcome yesterday, I believe the mother and son time alone together was precious.  It began a process of honesty regarding end of life decisions and the process of letting go.  Everyone is on the same page, healing tears were shed and now we wait to see what happens next.

In my town, we have already surpassed last year's TOTAL number of 90+ degree days with no relief in the near future.  So imagine our dismay when we returned from choir practice last evening to find a very warm house.  Not the best timing for our air conditioner to stop blowing nice cool air!  It was a hot night and believe me, that is NOT meant in a good way!  lol!  At 7 a.m., I placed a call to our faithful Heating & Air Conditioning Repairman, but haven't heard back from him yet, so looks like I'm in for a warm day of waiting.  How convenient that, suddenly, Mr. Wonderful (a.k.a. husband) had things to do at school today.  And how interesting that, suddenly, walking at the mall doesn't seem nearly as unpleasant as it did in my earlier posts. 

Which got me to thinking (this is where those who know me go "uh-oh") about our ability to adapt when something that normally operates in the background without a hitch, like air conditioning, unexpectedly goes haywire (NO cool air on a day forecast to be 96 degrees and mostly sunny).  Some people automatically search for a way OUT (my husband immediately declared he was going to school) while others automatically search for a way to work within the circumstances.  I had a list of things to do today including cooking and other household projects.  Instead, I will do the things I had planned for tomorrow - working on my blog (although it's amazing how much heat this laptop generates!!), writing some notes, making some calls and reading.  Another choice we have is to compromise.  Before leaving for school, my husband agreed to be back home no later than 1 so I could go walk and run some necessary errands (all in air conditioned buildings!!)  All three choices are appropriate in certain circumstances - the challenge is finding the best one for the moment.   

How can this apply to a weight loss journey???   Every day, hundreds of times, we are faced with unexpected food-related situations that require us to adapt.  The way I see it, we can:

1) LOOK FOR A WAY OUT (refuse the sudden lunch invitation, go for a walk when the chips in the pantry start talking, call a friend when you ate the chips and now the cookies are calling, etc.)
2) SEARCH FOR A WAY TO WORK WITHIN THE CIRCUMSTANCE (accept the lunch invitation and ask if you can choose the restaurant, grind the chips in the garbage disposal, etc.)
3) COMPROMISE (work out a solution to any given situation as a "team" even if the "team" is you and yourself!!  This is a mental game, but it works!!)

I am having a really good week sticking to my eating plan.   I feel good and strong.   With no "challenges" for the remainder of the week, I should have a good loss to report on Sunday.  The sinus headache I mentioned earlier this week has gone away seemingly without triggering a sinus infection which is what normally happens.  I am very thankful for that. 

I have added my weight loss journey statistics to a side-bar on my blog.  This was a HUGE step for me. I am a total introvert who guards her privacy and has never been one to openly share private information.  I believe it will help me stay accountable and who knows, it may lead to more information about me than you've EVER wanted to know......................!!

I leave you with a pearl of wisdom:  When your air conditioning isn't working and it's 93 degrees at 10 a.m., STOP DRINKING COFFEE!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An Irony In My Life

We have known how fortunate we are to be approaching our mid-50's with all of our parents still living and until recently, in good health.  We have watched our friends struggle with difficult decisions regarding care of their parents and been fully aware that it was only a matter of time until it would be our turn.  Late last summer, my father-in-law (age 85) was diagnosed with cancer of the sinuses.  Already showing signs of dementia, the weeks of radiation and chemo to his head and neck area have truly taken their toll.  The treatments worked for the cancer, but we've come to understand that the whole process made a tremendous impact on his mental capabilities. As it is with most cancer patients receiving treatment to the head and neck area, a feeding tube had to be inserted because he would not or could not continue to eat. Because of his diminished mental capacities, the feeding tube caused problems from the beginning that were unrelated to eating.  It was finally removed a couple of weeks ago when his doctor determined that, although not eating anywhere near normally, he was eating enough to sustain his weight.  Unfortunately, now he is refusing to eat at all.  (There is family history here and compelling reasons why he may or may not be doing this on purpose, but that is not the point of this post.)

My husband has gone to their home this morning to make some decisions with his mom about how to proceed with his dad's care.  As he was leaving, I told him through my tears, that I would give anything on this earth to be able to give his dad these last 22 pounds I am struggling so to lose and this appetite I cannot seem to control.  What an incredible irony that I sit here on my sofa begging for the strength and courage to stay motivated NOT to eat while across town, two of the most precious people in my life, beg for the strength and courage to know how to motivate someone that MUST eat in order to stay alive. 

In BOTH situations, just the right amount of calories and nutrients will solve the struggle.  This is the amazing wonder and miracle of how our bodies are designed.   In BOTH situations, the struggle is more mental than physical.  This is what motivates me today.   These are the ironies of life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yeah, It Was The Moon........and Keep On Talking About It!

Up until my last post on Friday and on through the weekend, the irony has been almost laughable.  It if wasn't such a serious subject, it would be!  Of course, I'm kidding about the moon thing, but even through this morning, I'm still reading blogs with frantic posts regarding weight gains these past few days.  For me, along with several others, the inexplicable gains we wrote about disappeared as quickly as they mysteriously appeared.  As I struggle to lose these last 22 pounds (for the LAST time), I'm certain there will be more days when I step on the scale and for no apparent reason, find a gain of one or more pounds.  But here is what I learned and what many of you already know.  All of you that experienced the same thing I did, took one of two approaches to the weight gain: either a) Where did that come from?  I stuck to plan, I exercised, I did everything right, or 2) What was I thinking?  I've eaten everything in sight, I've not exercised in three days, I've binged, I've forgotten I even had a eating plan, etc.  But the response, without exception, has been the same.  I've thought it through, I've talked about it in my blog, I have a plan and I will work the plan. 

I am so grateful to those who provided feedback last week in response to my weird three pound gain.  Although my blog is new and I'm still learning, I've quickly come to see how much the feedback means.  My spouse and friends support me because they know me and love me.  But this is different - you actually understand what this feels like because you are LIVING it just like I am.   So keep on talking with your fingers as often as you can.   Help build each others networks, especially for new bloggers like me.  Take a few extra minutes occasionally to search out a brand new blogger who might desperately need to receive that first bit of feedback.  Lyn's (Escape From Obesity) Bethany McDonald Blogroll is a great place to start.  I know those first comments meant the world to me (thanks, Pam and Margie).

We are back at home in East Tennessee.  It is so hot, pollen count is "very high" according to, and we are under an air quality alert.   So no surprise that I woke up with a sinus headache this morning.   My husband teaches a summer school course during the month of July and although I was happy to put the suitcases away for a few weeks, I believe I'd get them out again in a heartbeat if I could head somewhere with cool, clean air.  Getting my 12,000 steps today will require three circuits at one of our malls.  I detest doing this - for me, that's when exercise becomes something I "have" to do rather than the pleasurable activity it normally is.   I had planned a hike to Gregory Bald in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park tomorrow with some friends from church, but after discussing it yesterday, we decided to cancel.  The hike is 11 miles and with predicted temps of 94, it neither sounded fun or safe.  Hiking is my #1 favorite activity.   Rest assured, it is hard, REALLY hard, for me to cancel a planned hike.  Gregory Bald boasts one of the largest concentrations of Flame Azalea in the entire world and when they bloom in mid-June, it is a sight that defies description.  I am sad to miss it this year.   

I have some goals to accomplish this week, two of which are to do some more work on this blog and learn how to post pictures.  Shouldn't be difficult for me, just need some time to work on it.  Since I've been out of town most of the last five weeks, I have several friends whom I need to meet (for coffee, of course) and get caught up on what's been happening in their lives.  Fortunately, mine will slow down considerably when my husband begins his class. 

Weight Loss Last Week:  .71 pounds (22 pounds to goal)
Average Steps Last Week:  12,170
Did not hike* or bike last week
*Walked more than 3 miles at Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Park all on short trails

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is It The Moon???

After glancing at a few blog updates, I'm feeling a little bit better about what the scale showed me this morning.  Let's just say it wasn't good.  Seems to have happened to several folks these past couple of days and for no apparent reason.  Is the moon in some kind of weird cycle that makes one gain weight???  I could have made some better choices yesterday, but did nothing that should have resulted in a two pound gain overnight.  That's three pounds in two days.  Yikes!   And I have no idea why - but I'm here to tell you, it hard not to feel discouraged.  The good news is that unless the trend continues tomorrow (heaven help!!), I will still show a slight loss for the week.  That's the beauty in weighing every day, but averaging the previous seven days and only paying attention the the average.  This method is what works for me and will lessen the pain of today's inexplicable gain. 

We had a really nice day visiting the Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Park areas of eastern Kentucky.  We were smart and got a very early start so we could get our hiking in before it got unbearably hot.  The Red River Gorge area boasts over 100 natural arches claiming to have more than anywhere else in the world outside of Arches National Park.  We saw a few of them and would love to return.  This would be an incredibly beautiful area in the fall. 

We will head home early in the morning and although we've had a wonderful week in Lexington, we love our home and are always excited to return.  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Quick Update and Some Frustration

My husband's conference ended on Tuesday evening and I planned three days of non-stop activity so that we could experience as much of central Kentucky as possible while in the area.  It is an absolutely beautiful part of our country with gently rolling hills and mile after mile of stunning horse farms.  As planned, we spent yesterday in Louisville, KY where we lived from 1979-1985.  At that time, we were wide-eyed newlyweds, had NO money to speak of and having both grown-up in mid-sized towns, finding ourselves in a town the size of Louisville was quite an experience.  We had a lot of laughs yesterday as we revisited places with great memories and truly appreciated how naive we really were.  But we made the best of it and wouldn't trade the time for anything.   That's where we truly began to learn and practice a frugal, simple lifestyle because we had no other choice and I am so grateful that we've continued those habits throughout our marriage.

We spent today in Frankfort, Kentucky's state capital.  Several years ago, we set some travel goals to give us direction in planning future travel.  One of those was to visit every state capital.  We are now on number 28, but today's visit to Frankfort was not our first trip. When we visited several years ago, it was on a weekend, so we were unable to go inside the capital building.  It was also prior to digital photography, so my pictures are not very good.   We remedied both of those things today and had a lovely day touring the capital and the city.  In addition, we visited Rebecca Ruth Candies, original inventor of Bourbon Balls!! 

Eating has been a little tough these past two days and I'm a little frustrated.  I mentioned that we would be eating at Kingfish Restaurant during our day in Louisville.  In the early 80s, we scrimped and saved in order to eat our 3rd, 4th & 5th anniversary dinners at Kingfish, so we always return even though the restaurant is not nearly as good as it was then.  Prior to our visit yesterday, I had carefully searched their website looking for broiled or grilled options as I was determined not to stray from plan.  According to their website, I would have a few choices including a "Wednesday Special."  At the restaurant, however, the menu did not show any of these options that had I had seen.  When I asked our server, she was not the least bit helpful and rather abruptly informed me that the only Wednesday special was the Fried Scrod sandwich.  In fact, the only broiled options available were from the dinner menu at exorbitant prices.  I finally decided on the Scrod knowing I would take it off the bread.  But it got worse.  The list of side items was unbelievable.  Not one item on it that wasn't fried or a starch or BOTH!!  Needless to say, by this time I was pretty agitated.  Our food came, it was so-so as we expected.  

It is quite disheartening to me when I do my research and go to a restaurant prepared to order something in line with my eating plan only to find the reality nothing like what I had prepared for.  Kingfish is not a chain of 500 restaurants - they only have three locations. What is shown on their website ought to be in line with what is available in the restaurant.  We don't eat out a whole lot for many reasons.  Incidents like this certainly don't make me want to change our stance.  FYI - my husband said his fried shrimp and oysters were good, but you'd never have known it from his moaning, groaning & frequent trips to the bathroom for Maalox last night.  Serves him right!!!

I have not eaten very well today either.  Nothing drastic, just some poor choices I made on the spur of the moment that I wish I could take back.  I don't like the way I feel right now and my choices today will probably result in a gain tomorrow.   

Tomorrow we are headed east to the Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Park.  Totally different than the last two days.   Looking forward to it. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Question......I Need Advice

After yesterday's mega-post, I plan to keep this one short, but I need some advice.  So far, I have kept the fact that I am blogging to myself and those who find me at random or from another blog.  I love the fact that I have "friends" from all parts of the country, but there is still a part of me that would like to share my blog with current friends and family members who have always been so supportive of my weight loss efforts.  Many of them are struggling to lose and/or maintain weight themselves and we've spent countless hours discussing the battle.  But by opening the blog up to friends and relatives, would I be constantly filtering my writing through the lens of "what will they think?"  And do I really want to set myself up for the verbal "comments" I might receive?  My blog will always describe my thoughts and my life on that particular day which includes personal information i.e. when we are away from home or struggles I might be having with particular people.  I just want the blog to always be "real" and I never want to choose words based on who I think might be reading.

I've read a lot of blogs and this is something I haven't seen anyone write about.  Can you help me?  Who has access to YOUR blog?   Have you opened it up to friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors, etc.?   Has it made any difference in the way you write? 

We are still in Lexington, KY.   My husband's conference ended yesterday, so now we have three days for fun.  Today, we are headed to Louisville for the day.  It's about 1 1/2 hours to the west of Lexington and in keeping with our "no interstate" philosophy, we'll head west on U.S Hwy 60.  We lived in Louisville for 6 years in the early 1980's when my husband was in grad school.  Every few years we enjoy going back and revisiting just to see how it has changed.  We'll eat lunch at Kingfish Restaurant, a Louisville tradition.  It's really not all that great anymore, but is nostalgic for us simply because it's the place we went for special occasions that we always had to save up for.  For sure, it's not a place for someone trying to lose weight - we'll see what they offer and whether I can pass up the Fried Clams which was their specialty.  I'll let you know.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How and Why This Blog Got Started - This One Is Going To Be Long!!

Just over a month ago, I began my first blog entry with the words, "I love to write.  I always have."  I had no idea what to expect, how long it would last or how much it would come to mean to me in such a short time.  After just a month, I suspect it's going to last a LONG time.  I've been an avid reader of travel, hiking and full-time RVer blogs for quite some time and had thought of adding one of my own, but it just never felt right.  I now know why. 

I was at a point where I was quickly gaining back the 60 pounds I had lost in 2006-2007 and in a moment of sheer frustration, one morning I "googled" something (now I can't even exactly what it was) and Lynn's blog popped up.  I started at the beginning, read every word and then moved on to Diane's blog.  I ended up spending the entire day reading blogs and it was like a whole new world of motivation opened up before me.  Suddenly, I was 100% inspired to lose the 30 pounds I had regained and even though I'd yet to even offer a comment on anyone's blog, I knew I had found of community of support that would help me.  I also knew that rather than writing a travel blog as I had assumed I would, it immediately became clear that my blog would be much broader and would be about the gains and losses of my life in general with a primary focus on my continuing battles with weight loss and maintenance.  I know that this is going to be a struggle for the rest of my life on this earth, so I'll NEVER run out of material to write about!!  But for some reason, I still hesitated - I just couldn't get started.  I mulled it over for weeks until my husband finally said, "you are way over analyzing this, either do it or don't!"  But the doubts and questions remained.  Why was I considering it?  Was I doing it for me or in the hopes someone else would read it?  Who would that be?  Should I mention it to friends and family?  If I did that, I couldn't be totally open.  Or could I?  You get the picture!! 

And then came April 27.  I've been open in the blog about the fact that I am Christian.  Worshiping God through corporate worship experiences and daily living, consistently growing in my relationship with Jesus and modeling that to others is the reason I exist.  Part of that process is my morning quiet time.  Thankfully, I am a morning person because I allow nothing to get in the way of my quiet time.  Henri Nouwen wrote over 40 books, but one of my favorites is Bread For the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith .  Although written from a Christian perspective, each day's "wisdom" is applicable to anyone and can be read in less than 60 seconds.  I highly recommend it!!  On April 27, in the midst of all my doubts about starting a blog, I opened the book and the day's title, "Writing To Save The Day" stared back at me. I read the meditation, then through my tears, read it again...and again...and again.  Few times in my life, have I had a clearer answer to a question.  I would start the blog.  I would start it as a spiritual discipline for ME but in the process, would hope it might be helpful to others who begin reading it along the way. 

April 28th & April 29th meditations were also on the subject of writing and were equally as pertinent to the struggles I'd been experiencing.  On April 30th, the reading moved away from the subject of writing, but the title of that days meditation was, "Losing And Gaining Our Lives."  This may sound crazy, but I swear, I heard an audible voice that said, "Sharon, there is the title of your blog.  Now go get started."  And I did.  It was 14 more days before I posted the first entry, but I began the groundwork that day.  I write it for me - I write it for you!! 
For those who might be interested, maybe thinking of starting their own blog, considering discontinuing their current blog or just disenchanted with the whole process, and for me, ten years from now when I want to remember how this all got started, here are those meditations:

From "Bread For the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith" by Henri Nouwen

April 27 - Writing to Save the Day
Writing can be a true spiritual discipline.  Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories.  Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.  Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it.  By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others, too.

April 28 - Writing, Opening a Deep Well
Writing is not just jotting down ideas.  Often we say, "I don't know what to write. I have no thoughts worth writing down."  But much good writing emerges from the process of writing itself.  As we simply sit down in front of a sheet of paper and start to express in words what is on our minds or in our hearts, new ideas emerge, ideas that can surprise us and lead us to inner places we hardly knew were there.  One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as for others to see.

April 29 - Making Our Lives Available to Others
One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this: "I have nothing original to say: Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to."  This, however, is not a good arguments for not writing.  Each human being is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. Furthermore, what we have lived, we have lived not just for ourselves but for others as well.  Writing can be a creative and invigorating way to make our lives available to ourselves and to others.  We have to trust that our stories deser to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.

We are still in Lexington, KY.  My husband's conference ends today and we have several fun things planned for the rest of the week if we don't melt first!  So far, eating is good today.  However, wonderful husband cannot come to KY without having a dinner of gut-busters, a.k.a. White Castle.  No temptation there for me, I can't stand them.  Will take my wonderful salad with me and enjoy it immensely.  I will also sleep like a baby tonight while he sits up in the recliner munching Maalox. 

If you made it to the end of this post, you are truly a "follower" and I appreciate it.  I hope I can be the same to you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Walking, Walking, Walking

Lexington, KY is a wonderful town with many neighborhoods near the downtown area that have been designated as Historic Districts.  We are staying in an apartment this week that is in one of those marvelous historic districts located just east of downtown and a few blocks from the University of Kentucky campus.  It is about a 20 minute walk to the building on UK's campus where my husband's conference is being held.  This morning, he and I walked together to his first workshop and then I walked back to our apartment by another route.  Throughout the day, I have walked and walked and walked.  Everywhere I walked was clean, lawns were well-manicured, I felt safe and comfortable.  It was quite hot and humid, so I returned to the apartment frequently to cool off and drink lots of water.   The conference ends tomorrow evening and I suspect we'll be doing a lot more walking this week.  But we'll have to get out early - my husband doesn't tolerate the heat as well as I do.  Unfortunately, my heat tolerance level dropped significantly about the time I turned 50!  LOL!!  I've also got some area day trips planned for later in the week.  But today was for walking and I enjoyed every minute of it. 

It has also been a good day for eating.  With most of my husband's meals provided by the conference he is attending, I have been on my own all day.  Although we have quite a bit of food that we brought, most of it is for planned meals this week and there isn't anything that is calling me or tempting me.  Much easier than at home! It was a good day to eat lightly and I have done just that.  This is encouraging to me as I was able to enjoy my day and get some great exercise while not giving much thought to what I was going to eat next.  Anytime I can go hours without thinking about food is an indication of progress.  Good for me!!

I still have several posts to write that are along the "getting to know me" trains of thought.  I feel one of those coming on tomorrow.  I'm just not sure which one........................

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Taking the Slow Road

Yesterday, we drove from our home in East Tennessee to Lexington, KY for my husband to attend a conference this week.  Normally, this would be a quick 2 1/2 hour trip up I-75, but in keeping with our travel philosophy of never driving on an interstate if possible, we managed to take 7 hours for the trip and loved every minute of it.  I have been a hopeless vagabond since childhood and have never seen a road that I wasn't curious as to where it lead.  Once I retired, we wanted to become travelers rather than vacationers and that's when we became very serious about our "no interstate" philosophy.  We enjoyed a morning break at Cumberland Gap National Park, picnic lunch somewhere in the Daniel Boone National Forest and an afternoon stroll through the laid-back downtown area of Irvine, KY.  Driving through Winchester, KY, we stumbled upon the Second Annual Beer Cheese Festival which showcased small town America at its finest.  Most of these roads we will likely never travel again and I wouldn't trade our experience yesterday for any amount of extra time we might have gained by flying up I-75.  We have all week to enjoy Lexington - yesterday was for taking the slow road.

How does this apply to weight loss?  This time around, I'm trying to make myself lose weight more slowly so that transitioning from weight loss mode to maintenance mode will be a little less traumatic.  I'm trying to be creative with my food plan by trying new foods and different ways of preparing them.  In evaluating past weight loss efforts, many of which were successful, I've found that what I "gained" from losing weight quickly, I very soon "lost" in my inability to maintain because I had not learned anything new during the journey.  Seems like those words, "gained" and "lost", are backwards doesn't it, but no, I said exactly what I meant.  I was so focused on "gaining" a new skinny me that I "lost" the understanding of why I was doing this in the first place and upon reaching goal, I wasn't quite sure what to do, so I'd just revert back to old habits.  Most of us have already learned through failed past efforts, that losing weight is really the "easy" part.  Keeping it off is where the battle begins.  And it's a battle that never ends. 

So for right now, life through Sharon's eyes means taking the slow road not just when I travel, but in all areas of my life including my weight loss journey.  There are new adventures around every corner, new foods to try, new relationships to build, new roads to travel, but you can't be flying down the interstate and expect to find them.

Last week's commitment to keeping a meticulous food journal and posting what I ate on the blog paid huge dividends in just a few days.  I was able to quickly see that yes, I was consuming way too many calories to expect a weight loss.  I found ways to make adjustments and this week had a small loss.  I ate well and at no time, felt deprived.  From time to time, I'll continue posting what I eat, but for now, there are just too many other things I want to write about.  I do promise, however, that I am keeping my food journal - if it goes in my mouth, it goes in the journal!!

This week's update:
Weight Loss This Week:  .71 pounds (23.21 pounds to goal)
Average Daily Steps This Week:  10883
Did not hike or bike this week

Friday, June 11, 2010

Progress And Challenge

Earlier this week, I wrote that this week would involve two significant challenge meals that I would have to negotiate.  One of those challenges did not happen and the other changed in a way that made it a different sort of challenge.  As a result, Wednesday was a day of progress (I met my goal of 1200 calories), but yesterday saw my calorie count back up to 1795.  

Wednesday Total Calories:  1228
Breakfast:   1/2 c. granola w/1 c. skim milk, grapefruit
Snack:  1/4 c. cottage cheese, handful sugar snap peas
Lunch:  Chicken Teriyaki, raw veggies, strawberries
Dinner:  Ground Beef Patty (3 oz.), roasted yellow squash and purple potatoes  (YUM!!)
Snack:  1/2 c. yogurt w/1 T. granola

Thursday Total Calories:  1795
Breakfast:  1/2 c. granola w/1 c. skim milk
Lunch:  Chik-Fil-A Chick 'n Strips salad w/lowfat Italian dressing
Snack:  grapefruit, handful almonds
Dinner: Grilled Ribeye Steak, salad w/lowfat ranch dressing

Evaluation:  Wednesday was an excellent day.  I planned well, worked the plan and was satisfied.  Thursday, not so much.  The challenge should have been in making a plan and sticking to it while having dinner in someone else's home.  I volunteered to bring the salad and as you can see, that meal went flawlessly.  I even ate only a small portion (my guess would be 4 oz.) of steak.  Earlier in the day, however, my husband and I found ourselves in a position of needing to eat and no where near home.  Normally, Chik-Fil-A would be a good choice because I love their salads/lowfat Italian dressing and their website meticulously posts nutrition content and a fantastic meal calculator.  However, on this day, with a potentially high calorie dinner in someone's home later, I wish I'd had my lunch with me or chosen the grilled instead of traditional option for my Chik-Fil-A salad.  That gets in to my restaurant eating philosophy and other issues which are for another post.  Soooooooo, although Thursday would have been an excellent day for maintenance, the almost 1800 calories were too many for me while trying to lose.

I have already come to a couple of conclusions this week that will make more sense if you've read my May 16 post on the eating plan I followed while losing 60 pounds in 2006-2007.

1) Yes, I enjoy the challenge of creating menus that meet my 1200 calorie goal and utilizing "real" food.
2)  My other 1200 calorie eating plan is MUCH, MUCH easier to follow and works better for me when in losing mode.

This blog is really helping me work toward a balance between the two conclusions.  I'm leaning toward continuing what I've done this week for the rest of June and then following the other plan for the month of July.  My husband will be teaching a summer school course and the temptation to spend time planning meals we can both enjoy will be much less.  We are planning to travel the 2 1/2 week period between his summer class and the beginning of his fall term and I'd like to have made a dent in this 30 pounds before facing that challenge.  We'll see!!

Today will be a day of preparation for travel again.   We leave early in the morning to travel to Lexington, KY for the week.  My husband will be attending a Choral Conference at UK for three of those days.  Lexington is a very bike friendly town, so we will be taking our bicycles and enjoying some activities we've discovered in the past along with some new places I've found for us to explore.  We really like Lexington, but it does present a couple of major challenges for me. They are Graeter's Ice Cream and Spaulding's Doughnuts.  Several years ago, one of our travel goals became to always discover local favorites in the places we visit.  These two indulgences are a result of that goal.  Unfortunately (lol!!) the house we are renting is within easy biking/walking distance of BOTH of these.  Geez!!

One more thing........since this blog is new and primarily about my weight loss and maintenance journey, I haven't written much about my other passions.  One of those is our efforts to live a simple and frugal lifestyle.  Here is an example of how I try to do that.  A main argument I've heard regarding my successful "eating plan" for the 60 pounds I lost is that it is "too expensive."  I addressed my response to that in the 5/16 post, but this is an example of how that is just so NOT true.  My primary grocery store (Kroger) has Lean Cuisine frozen dinners on sale this week for $1.88.  That is a good price to begin with, however, I have $10 worth of coupons that will expire soon, I will purchase them in KY where there is no sales tax on food (a 5.25% savings over purchasing in TN), and I will pay with rebate checks I receive from Kroger for utilizing their credit card.  Even without the rebate checks, the cost would have been $1.38.  For me, they will be free.   Folks, that is NOT expensive.  BTW, we utilize the credit card for everything to accrue the points, BUT it is paid off IN FULL every month. 

I hope my blog posts are not too long......................sorry!!   I keep reminding myself that I plan for this to be a long process and I don't have too say everything in the first month!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Getting Closer

Yesterday was a successful day and I was much closer to my goal of 1200 calories.  With one minor change, I would have so totally been there!!  It's those darn potato chips................

Breakfast:  1/2 c. granola with 1 c. skim milk
Lunch:  Ham Sandwich (2 oz. ham on whole wheat bread with lettuce, mushrooms & low-fat mayo), 1 oz. chips, grape tomatoes and mini-carrots, strawberries
Snack: 1/2 c. cottage cheese, sugar snap peas
Dinner:  Salad (lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli florets, 1 oz. ham, walnuts, croutons, homemade ranch dressing)

Total Calories:  1385

Evaluation:  This is a no-brainer.  Lose the chips!!  Good news is, I carefully weighed out 1 oz. and put the bag in the back of the pantry where it cannot be seen.  Bad news is, the bag is in the pantry and it makes no difference that I can't see it.  It's yelling at me. Chips are my trigger food.  I know that!  I've known it since I was in high school.  How they got in my buggy at Sam's is beyond me...........just because they lowered the price doesn't mean I need to buy them.  Geez!  It never ends.

Earlier this spring, we had to have a very large oak tree cut from our back yard.   With a strong "save the trees, save the planet" philosophy, this decision was very difficult for us to make, but the tree was obviously unhealthy and had begun to pose a danger to both our house and our neighbors.  The positive spin is we now have years worth of wonderful firewood and a large patch in our backyard that now receives full sunlight a good part of the day.  I've tried growing veggies in container gardens a few times before, but our yard just didn't have enough sunlight, so I gave up several years ago.  We decided to try again and I am thrilled to report that within a couple of weeks, I should no longer have to buy squash, sweet red peppers or tomatoes at the farmer's market.  I am so excited!!  We're already planning what we can try next year!  Speaking of the farmer's market, yesterday's bounty included a quart box with four different varieties of broccoli & cauliflower (who knew??), sugar snap peas and purple potatoes.  I am really beginning to see the transition from early season produce to the items we will see all summer.  Local strawberries are gone, but peaches are on the way.  In Pam's blog, she recently wrote that she was going to try something new each week from the farmer's market.  I thought that was a great idea and decided to do the same thing.  This week, it is the purple potatoes.  It'll be fun to decide how to prepare them.

It is raining this morning in East Tennessee so I plan to get caught up on some reading.  It isn't supposed to last all day, so I have high hopes for getting out this afternoon to get my walking done.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Numbers Don't Lie

The truth sometimes hurts, doesn't it?  One day of following my "back to basics" plan told me everything I needed to know.  Putting it out there in writing makes it pretty clear.  No matter how confident one feels in their ability to do it accurately, counting daily calorie intake in your head requires a reality check from time to time.   My reality check came yesterday.

Here, as promised in yesterday's post, is what I ate:

Breakfast:  1/2 cup cereal with 1 cup milk (I make my own granola)
Snack:   1 oz. Potato Chips  (o.k., so it was all that was left in the bag, at least I measured it!!)
Lunch:  3 oz. Smithfield Ham, Multi-Grain Bagel, 2 T Cream Cheese, Carrot Sticks
Snack:  1 oz almonds
Dinner:  2 chicken thighs (grilled), Salad w/lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, slivered almonds, homemade  ranch dressing)
Snack:   1/2 c Yogurt w/granola

Total Calories Intake:   1978

My body loses weight comfortably at 1200 calories per day and I can maintain at 1600-1800.  

Evaluation:  Eliminating the three snacks and eating 1/2 of the bagel/cream cheese would have dropped it to 1219 calories.  I try to eat something every three hours to keep my blood sugar stable. This helps eliminate cravings for white flour/sugar. I will make better snack choices today.  I knew the open bag of chips in the pantry (this is my major trigger food) and the bagels would be a problem.  Mountain Bagels 'n a Hole Lot More is a locally owned place in Boone, NC that sells one and two day old bagels at an amazing price.  I came home with two bags which was a mistake, but just couldn't resist.  Will have to use power of control to eat them 1/2 at a time.  They are safely stored in the freezer at least eliminating the visual temptation every time I open the fridge.

Lesson  Learned AGAIN:  Write it down, write it down, write it down.  'Nuff said.................

Because I used the morning hours to catch up on personal stuff from being out of town last week, the afternoon heat and humidity forced me to walk in the mall.   I intensely dislike doing this and makes getting my daily steps a chore rather than something I look forward to.  Looks like I'll be doing the same thing today.  We have our first air quality alert of the summer.  Believe me, this is NOT something our tourism brochures brag about!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Back To Basics

We will be at home until Saturday, so this week I pledge to do all those little things that have helped make weight loss steady in the the past.  Those things include:

1)  Weigh everything that goes in to my mouth.
2)  If it cannot be weighed, I must be able to find its calorie/nutrition/portion data on packaging or web.
3)  I will write it down in this blog.
4)  I will utilize one different form of exercise other than walking.

On July 30th, I will turn 55.  Yep, I will "officially" be entitled to lots of discounts which to me is much more positive than declaring I will be a senior citizen.  There is nothing "senior" about my attitude or the way I feel!  Back in January, I set the goal of having lost 55 pounds (total) by my 55th birthday.  That would have meant 30 pounds in 7 months which was more than doable.  Obviously, I will not reach that goal, but I'd still like to work diligently during June and July to get as close as I can. 

I have reset that goal for October 1 which will be the 4th anniversary of the date I started my most recent successful weight loss endeavor.  With 24 pounds to go (as of June 1), that is certainly attainable, but will require a concentrated effort on my part.  I already know of two probable "challenges" that I will have this week.  Will share more about those and my plan for meeting those "challenges" on the morning of the day they occur.

We had an enjoyable trip home yesterday from North Carolina and I'm happy to say that some sort of front moved through East Tennessee last evening leaving us a with a delightfully cool, humidity free morning.  I have the windows open and can feel a gentle breeze moving through the den.  Thanks to my husband's hard work and love for landscaping (it's his stress releaser!), my back yard really should be featured on HGTV.  Sometimes I wonder why I ever want to leave it, but alas, for a vagabond like me, the road is ALWAYS calling.  But it is also nice to come home.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Heading Home

After a relaxing week in the Blowing Rock/Boone, North Carolina area, we are headed back to the heat and humidity of East Tennessee.  We will be at home for a week, then on the go again.  That's how it is for us during the summer.  During May and June, we either take an extended trip (5-6 weeks) or several short trips.  My husband teaches a summer course during the month of July and then generally has another 2-3 week break in August before beginning the fall term.  We always head to a cooler climate for that one!

I have gotten a tremendous amount of exercise this week, yet didn't reflect a very substantial weight loss.  I will have some time next week to do some serious evaluation as to why I think this is.  My food choices have been good, but I must be eating more calories than I think I am.  Being at home will help as I will have my scale to measure/weigh portions plus I've made the commitment to get serious about keeping a food journal again.  I realize I've made some changes in my approach to losing these pounds and have just got to be patient with the slower rate of loss.  I can always return to my original eating plan (see earlier posts) for a temporary period of time.  I know that is a 1200 calorie plan and I will lose 1-2 pounds each week.  Truth be told, with the yummy stuff I'm seeing in our farmer's market's, I really don't want to limit myself to such a strict diet right now.  The good news is, I'm motivated and actually enjoying the challenge.  I really believe reading other blogs and writing this one is making a huge difference.  Thanks to those who have commented.  For some reason, I'm having trouble commenting on some of your blogs, so I've got to figure that out.  Rest assured, your comments mean a great deal to me.

Weight Loss for May:                3 pounds
This week's weight LOSS:        .5 pounds (23.93 to goal)
This week's average STEPS:    15283
This week's hiking MILES:      22.07
This week's biking MILES:      Did not bike this week

Friday, June 4, 2010

33 Years

Today, my husband and I celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary.  On June 4, 1977, three weeks after we graduated from college, we walked down the aisle and promised to stay married to each other "as long as we both shall live."  At age 21, we had no clue what we were doing.  It has been a constant learning and growing experience which has rarely been easy.  I believe any married couple would say the same thing.  No matter how much love is involved, actually promising to live with someone for the rest of your life on this earth and then keeping that promise, is not going to be easy.  It is always going to involve patience, compromise and yes, pain. 

We learned quickly that our different temperaments would always require compromise.  He is the world's greatest extrovert, totally energized from without.  He is at his best when "performing", whether it be in the classroom, conducting a concert, giving a presentation or being the life of the party.  He loves large groups, noisy places and lots of activity.  I, on the other hand, am a complete introvert, totally energized from within.  I love, and am truly comfortable being alone, much prefer intimate conversations with one or two people, become claustrophobic in large crowds and require time to recover after having to spend time in any situation in which I become overstimulated.  Needless to say, this has always been our issue of greatest conflict and has required the greatest amount of compromise from BOTH of us.  We have learned that sometimes it's o.k. to just say, "you go do your thing and I'll go do mine."  But we've also learned that sometimes you agree to do things that aren't comfortable just because that's part of loving someone more than you love yourself.  Thankfully, we know each others "quirk's" so well that we know exactly when to push or when to back off.  That's why we've been married 33 years and that's why we'll still be married in 50 years!

We are still in the Blowing Rock/Boone, North Carolina area and enjoying every minute of it.  We have hiked several times, visited some farmer's markets, strolled the streets of Blowing Rock, but mostly just hung out in our gorgeous cabin with a beautiful view of Grandfather Mountain.  The weather has been delighfully cool and we are beginning to dread heading back to the heat and humidity of East Tennessee on Sunday.

I have done well with my eating this week and hope to reflect a weight loss on Sunday.  I have allowed myself a small treat here and there, but have done it in a way that "normal" weight people probably do.  The thing that is most encouraging to me right now is that it hasn't been hard.  I enjoyed the two bites of my husband's mega-cookie from Sticky Boy Bread Company instead of us buying six cookies and my eating three of them before we got back to our cabin like I would have done in the past.   I finished the last few bites of my husband's Kilwin's single scoop waffle cone rather than having one of my own.  (We'll ignore the fact that HE can't even eat all of a single scoop!! Says it just doesn't taste good any more. That's not on my radar!!  LOL!)  

Time to go wake up sleepyhead and wish him a Happy Anniversary!