Friday, October 29, 2010

Abe, Do I Have To Be Honest?

Abe and I are having a little heart-to-heart discussion!
October 18, 2010

You can plainly see that I'm having no impact in my discussions with Mr. B regarding his frequent "butt" shots.  However, I'll have to say that I liked this one.  How he managed to get it with no one else in it is beyond me.  The place was packed with tourists!  But the moment I saw this picture, I knew a "honest Abe" post was coming.  And this is it!

This blog has now been in existence for 5 1/2 months.  I started it with no expectations whatsoever other than the hopes that it would help me stay focused on losing the pounds I had regained from my 65 pound weight loss in 2006-2007.  The almost immediate rewards were "followers" and my joy in learning your stories.  I have found friendship that has been an overwhelming blessing and such a unexpected surprise.  I plan to blog for a long, long time!  But to be honest, the reason I began the blog in the first place just hasn't happened.  My weight is still basically the same - progress has been neither forward nor backward.  I've learned a lot and through my writing, have uncovered some "issues" that are now out there for me to continue exploring, but still the bottom line is I have lost no weight.  And I'm tired!  

I'm tired of every waking thought being about food.  I'm tired of every decision being about food.  I'm tired of getting near the end of a month and dreading the weight because it is the one that has to go on the sidebar in the blog.  I'm tired of asking Mr. B to work HIS life around what/where I can or cannot eat at any given moment.  Do you get the picture?  I'm just TIRED!  

I finally have begun reading Geneen Roth's, "Women, Food and God" and am not quite half way through it, but I can already tell you this.  Would I love to eat in this way for the rest of my life?  Of course, who wouldn't?  And for many of you, the mindful eating approach seems to be working.   Perhaps, I picked exactly the WRONG time to read this book!  My friend, Karen, at Waisting Time, wrote two posts about this book if you are interested.  I'm sure I'll be writing more as I work my way through the book.  But it seems right now as if it is providing more fodder for discouragement than anything else, because this is exactly the way I want to approach healthy eating, but as I've said before, my "stop, when full" button does not function and I've found no evidence I'll ever be able to repair it.  

With very few exceptions even in this time of discouragement, my eating is healthy!  I can truthfully say, that there is absolutely NOTHING in the house right now which would not qualify as a reasonably healthy food.  My problem is all about quantity, not quality.  Most of the time, my mini-binges are even healthy (i.e. nuts, triscuits, fruit, protein bars, peanut butter)!  It's all about the quantity and until I find the power to exercise portion control and not eat it just because it's there, I will not lose the remainder of this weight.  

On the other hand, I will not be satisfied until I do.   Yes, at my current weight, I am just inside the "normal" BMI category for my height.  I could decide to stay here!  But I also know that my goal of 138 is reasonable and my body likes it there.  It's been there before and I felt SOOOOOO good.  No, stopping is not an option.  

So, I keep on keeping on.  I know what works for me and my key word is still DETERMINED.  I am hoping you'll stay with me even when the posts aren't all "yeah, rah" I lost x number of pounds this week.  I am not a wishy-washy sort of person and right now, I'm just kind of feeling as if that's the word that would describe the tone of my posts.  That doesn't set well with me, but in my heart-to-heart with Abe, I asked what he thought about it.   Should I just be really quiet on the blog and keep this all to myself until I could once again write upbeat posts with tons of progress or should I trust my BlogLand friends enough to be honest and hope, that in some way, my thoughts would touch something happening in their lives as well?   

Here's what Abe said to me:

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. 
I am for those means which will give the greatest good to the greatest number. 

The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just. 

It IS a struggle for me.   It always will be.   I am DETERMINED,   I will not fail!   I will reach goal!

Hot 100 Challenge Update:
1)  Reach my goal weight of 138 on or before December 31, 2010.  I am eliminating this goal because it is not doable.  Will replace it next week with a reasonable goal.
2)  I will eat nothing containing white sugar, white flour or trans fats. Not perfect, but o.k.
3)  I will walk 10,000 steps every day or an average of 10,000 steps over seven days.  Done
4)  I will not eat between meals or after 7 p.m. Again, not perfect, but did o.k.
We are headed to our "spur of the moment " getaway, Biltmore Estate in western North Carolina, for the weekend  and staying in a Bed and Breakfast we've enjoyed in the past.  However, it does not provide internet, so probably no more posts until Monday. 
Even in my discouragement, I am happy when your journey is moving forward and care deeply when it is not.  Please be honest (remember Abe wants you to be)!   Would you describe your journey as stuck in a rut, moving backward or progressing quite nicely?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Next Time

Mr. B and his infamous "butt" shots!
Tish and Sharon discussing "the NEXT time" while at Mt. Vernon
October 16, 2010

I am so weary living my daily life with "the next time" in mind.  I've been doing it for a long time and it reached a breaking point during my recent time with Tish.  We both realized how often we were hearing those words come out of our mouths.  First of all, there was a nice non-verbalized, but mutual agreement that there most definitely would be a next time!  But it was also a mutual understanding that "next time," we would both be at our goal weights and that would open up a whole new realm of opportunities.   Not to binge or overeat.  We are both past the mindset that vacations are for abolishing all healthy eating plans.  No, just to simply be able to relax and enjoy all that Alexandria and the District area have in the way of unique eating establishments!   It was fun to be right there to discuss with someone of the same mindset, creative ways to enjoy those things without abandoning a maintenance plan.  We talked about enjoying a salad and splitting entrees.  We talked about choosing entrees, but immediately boxing up half for a later time.  We talked about a time when Tish has not given up chocolate as part of her Hot 100 Challenge goals.  We talked about breakfasting in some of those charming bakery/patisserie/Panera type places that she knows.  Yes, we both knew all of those options were available to us on THIS visit, but we also knew how hard we are working to achieve goal and that those adventures were better saved for "the next time."  

But I am growing weary of waiting for the next time.   And rather than commiserating about it, I want it to move me forward toward the day when there doesn't have to be a next time.   I'm tired of sitting still - moving neither forward nor backward.  I've toyed with staying where I am, but know in my heart that isn't what I want, nor would it work.  It isn't the goal my body likes, so I suspect I'd start moving back up pretty quickly.  

Conversations about "the next time" also revolved around much more than food.   There are many more miles of bike trails to ride and hiking paths to discover.   We both want to be active, healthy and able to enjoy the here and now where good decisions come naturally and proper choices and quantities just happen.  I believe those days are just around the corner, but in the meantime, there is work to be done!

Mr. B and I will leave for six weeks in Europe on May 8, 2011.  I will not reach my goal weight by December 31 as I'd hoped, but it is still quite doable by January 31, 2011.  This is becoming increasingly important to me as it would give me three full months of adjustment to maintenance before leaving for Prague.  That's not a long time to adjust, but it's better than two months or one month would be.  The time in Europe will be full of pitfalls and I absolutely refuse to go into it with any sort of "next time" thinking.  The time is NOW.   Not November 1, not January 1, not tomorrow, etc. etc.   No, the time is now.

Do you find yourself doing any "next time" thinking?

Monday, October 25, 2010


James River Visitor Center - Lowest elevation point along the Blue Ridge Parkway
October 22, 2010

Good morning to all from my soggy home in East Tennessee.   I am so thankful that I am not driving this morning!   I have missed writing, but realized pretty early in the trip that a rest from the pressures of regular posting was in order and I needed to just let it go!  I spent some time each evening catching up on your blogs, but admit, I read them quickly and commented infrequently.  I'm still adjusting and finding my own way in the world of blogging and probably have found that when traveling, I will post infrequently.  There's just too much to do and downtime needs to be spent planning and researching the next day's activities!

Driving home, I spent a lot of time reflecting on the previous week, new friends, friends no longer here, lots of exercise, weight loss progress and this whole world of blogging .  Don't you just love today's picture?  The reflection of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the pedestrian bridge underneath it perfectly silhouetted against the calm water of the James River.  I stood there for a long time thinking of all I'd experienced over the previous ten days. While there, I thought of Margie and Bruce, her children, Stephanie and Dennis, grandchildren, McKenzie and Zoey, Stephanie's husband, Darin and tried to imagine the shock and grief they are living.  I thought of Mr. B and how thankful I am to have a spouse who loves me unconditionally and understands how much I love road trips.  But mostly, I thought of Tish and her lovely family.  Tish is everything that the picture at the top of her blog reflects.  She is kind, a wonderful hostess who has a knack for making people feel at home, she is funny and that smile you see is always readily available to any and all!  Her home is full of joy and warmth with walls that simply exude many happy memories.  I love that I was never treated as company, but as a friend who came by for a few days.  No special accommodations were made - we just did what Tish would normally do on any given day.   And as I wrote in a note to her family, it must have been a taste of what I think heaven will be like.  We meet our brothers and sisters for the very first time and it feels as if we've known them all our life!  There's no awkward moments or disappointments.  It's just perfect!

Tish wrote about our adventures starting here so I won't repeat them, but please go read about our biking, hiking and just plain fun times.  If you don't read her blog, you should, so going there to read about our time together will get you started.  

There's nothing more I can say to sum it up except that I can't wait till the next time.  While I was driving home Saturday and Sunday, Tish was busy checking out Rail Trails in Virginia, so I suspect we'll be finding another adventure soon.  At least, I hope so!!

I am happy to report that I lost 2 1/2 pounds while I was gone.  Totally contrary to my normal procedure, I did not weigh daily simply because I couldn't remember to get my scale when I had access to my car.  In retrospect, I am glad because the loss was a very nice surprise this morning.  Tish is incredibly wonderful and creative with her meal planning.  We ate well and on plan.  I learned a lot from her and more importantly, I think she sparked a flame in Mr. B who has now declared that he wants to eat like we ate at Tish's.  He REQUESTED butternut squash "like Tish made" for dinner last night.  He had to settle for a baked sweet potato, but it went well with our grilled chicken thighs and broccoli.  If he is on board with the healthy eating, I am a lot more motivated to plan and prepare the meals.  I may need to set up a "HELP, how do I do this hotline" with Tish and a few others of you who love to cook!  But at least for now, I'm excited about trying.

Having said that, it's probably time to plan some menus and make a grocery list.   Anything to avoid the stack of mail waiting for me and the loads of laundry downstairs.  I don't think avoidance is the way to get either chore completed.  

What are you reflecting on today?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hot 100 Update

Sharon and Tish - Biker Babes
18 mile ride to Mount Vernon - October 16, 2010

My wonderful days with Tish and her delightful family are drawing to a close.   I'll be heading south towards Tennessee tomorrow morning and breaking the trip into two days so that I can do some leaf peeping along the Blue Ridge Parkway tomorrow.   I have so much to write about and promise to resume regular posting on Sunday.  Have missed Sunday Sharing and look forward to hearing from each of you this week.  

I cannot thank you enough for your kind comments regarding my post about Margie.  I find it so amazing that I was spending time with one blog friend and getting to know her on a personal level while saying "good-bye" to another.  Margie and Bruce were special as shown by the huge response to the posts by her daughter.  It still seems so unreal that I will not read any more of her posts.  I so looked forward to them.  To everything, there is a season..........................

My Hot 100 Challenge truly was a challenge this week and only one of my four goals was totally met.  However, update I must, through the good and the bad.  Hopefully, this will be my only off week.  And in all honesty, it hasn't been that bad.  Tish is a wonderful cook and takes great care to prepare meals that are healthy and on plan.  She has taught me a lot! We allowed ourselves a couple of treats, but I promise, Tish ate NO chocolate!!   LOL! I am satisfied that we have done well during a time we could have used as an "excuse" to go wild.

And so it goes for Week 4:

1)  Reach my goal weight of 138 on or before December 31, 2010.  I have not weighed this week.  I suspect I held my own, but sincerely doubt I lost any weight.

2)  I will eat nothing containing white sugar, white flour or trans fats. I have eaten small amounts of both sugar and flour this week.  That does not meet this goal, but I am happy to say that the small amounts were enough and don't seem to have brought on the intense cravings I've experienced in the past after eating these things in larger amounts.  

3)  I will walk 10,000 steps every day or an average of 10,000 steps over seven days.  Done

4)  I will not eat between meals or after 7 p.m.  Because of our schedule, it has been after 7 p.m. most nights when we COMPLETED dinner.  During our bike rides, I did snack.  All snacks were healthy and bike riding is an exception to this goal - snacks are a must for keeping energy levels adequate.  

More tomorrow night from some quaint little town in southwest Virginia.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Friend Margie

While reading blogs this afternoon, I came upon some information which has left me stunned and speechless.  My friend, Margie, who blogged at My Healthy Living Through Weight Control and whom I posted about in this post last Wednesday was killed early Sunday morning.  She and her husband, Bruce, were walking along a favorite route in Pismo Beach, California and were struck by a driver who was attempting to commit suicide.  Both Margie and Bruce were killed.

Margie's daughter, Stephanie posted the news on Margie's other blog,  Bruce and Margie's Full Time Journey which was the story of their life in a 40 ft. motorhome. I found it when I checked for new posts this afternoon.  Few details are available, but I was able to find this article posted by a local news source.

Margie was one of my first "followers" when I began this blog back in May and we became instant friends because of our shared interest in weight loss and in full-time travel.  Margie also had a great desire to support new bloggers and spent a lot of time seeking them out and lending her support.  Although she and I had never met in person, we were friends.  I did know that she and Bruce were Christians and because of that, I know that one day I will meet both Margie and Bruce.  Although I look forward to that meeting, my heart still breaks today.  Please remember their family.  They had two adorable grandchildren whom they spent this past summer caring for during the day while their parents were at work.

Don't let anyone ever tell you these attachments in this world of blogging don't run deep.  I know they do!  In one week, I've had the highest of highs while spending joyful days getting to know Tish and now the heartbreaking sadness of saying good-bye to my friend Margie, both of whom I only know through a blog I began five short months ago.   

I promise to get you all caught up later, but we are just having way too much fun to spend time inside writing posts.  And there's still so much fun left to be had.   We are making the most of every minute!  Bruce and Margie's tragic death is another vivid reminder to never, ever take one moment or one encounter with another person for granted.  You simply never know what the next second holds!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hot 100 Challenge Update

Eagle Spur Trail - October 15, 2010
Mason Neck State Park - Lorton, VA

Tish, who blogs at Incremental Improvements and I had a wonderful day today that went non-stop.  That included our mouths which never stopped talking all day long.  I feel like I've known her for years.  What gracious hosts she, her DH and delightful son are.  I have been welcomed with open arms and can honestly say I immediately felt right at home.  I enjoyed my first ever Yoga (Praise Moves) class with her this morning and then we took a almost 3 mile hike this afternoon at Mason Neck State Park.  It was lovely.  

Mr. B's flight arrived right on time this evening and we are looking forward to a bike ride to Mt. Vernon in the morning.  He is on fall break and can stay until taking a a very early flight back home on Wednesday morning.  We've got lots of ground to cover while here!!

Here is my Hot 100 Challenge Update for this week:

1)  Reach my goal weight of 138 on or before December 31, 2010.  I lost one pound this week. 

2)  I will eat nothing containing white sugar, white flour or trans fats. I am still doing amazingly well with this goal and I'm happy to say that I'm no longer experiencing cravings for either of these things.  

3)  I will walk 10,000 steps every day or an average of 10,000 steps over seven days.  Done

4)  I will not eat between meals or after 7 p.m. Except for tonight, I have not eaten after 7 p.m. or between meals.  Tonight we chose to have dessert after Mr. B arrived, so it was after 7.  But this was a special occasion and the dessert was a delicious on-plan Orange Dream that just melted in your mouth.  It was worth waiting for!
Tish is an amazing cook who obviously loves planning, creating and serving healthy food.  Hope some of it rubs off on me!  
Busy day tomorrow visiting George and Martha's home.  Hope they won't be offended by my bike shorts!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Guy!

Stratton Bald - Cherokee National Forest, NC
October 9, 2010

For a couple of reasons, Margie, who blogs at My Healthy Living Through Weight Control, is one of my favorite bloggers.  She has two blogs, one in which she blogs about losing and successfully maintaining a 50 pound weight loss.   Margie and her husband, Bruce, live full-time and travel around the US in a 40-foot motorhome. Since this is my dream, I love reading about their adventures.  Margie was one of my very first followers when I started this blog, so she is special in that respect as well.  She wrote a delightfully fun post on Monday about a casual remark her husband, Bruce made regarding a specific part of her anatomy!  You've got to read it!  Way to go, Bruce - what a guy!!   MY GUY on the other hand, when asked by me the other day whether or not he thought I should continue losing weight, promptly replied, YES MY GUY then proceeded to tell me exactly which part of my anatomy I needed to lose said weight from and let's just say Mr. B and Bruce were discussing the same thing, but in VERY different terms! 

Now anyone who reads this blog with any sort of regularity knows that Mr. B and I have a wonderful and very fun relationship.  He was kidding (sort of!!) and would never, ever say anything hurtful.  He loves me exactly the way I am.  He loved me at 203, at 138 and all weights in between.  The thing is, he's RIGHT!  I have 19 pounds left to lose to reach my goal and every last one of them needs to come off the area of my body between my waist and my knees!  Sometimes the way I am built is more frustrating to me than the weight I'd like to lose.  Finding clothes that fit is difficult no matter what my weight is! 

So my parting shot to MY GUY in response to being told I needed to reduce the size of my booty a little more was perhaps he should start hiking in FRONT and let me take pictures of HIS behind.  I'm sure I could come up with a few comments of my own.  LOL!

I'm sitting in a cozy room at a Bed and Breakfast in Lexington, Virginia.  I'm on my way to spend some time with my already good friend, Tish from Incremental Improvements.  This trip was born several months ago when we both mentioned a desire to bike the C and O Canal Path  from Cumberland, MD to Washington DC.  We've managed to coordinate the trip with Mr. B's fall break and I can't wait to get there tomorrow and actually meet her face to face.  Mr. B will fly to DC on Friday evening and is able to stay until Wednesday morning before flying back to Tennessee.  Being the road trip warrior that I am, I've got our bikes on the back of my car and had a beautiful drive through the Shenandoah Valley this afternoon.  I arrived in Lexington in time to check in to my cozy room and head out for a walk through town.  Like most Virginia towns, it is wonderfully quaint and I wish I could spend a couple of days here.  But not this time - I'm on a mission to arrive in Alexandria by early afternoon tomorrow. 

The great bike ride (we are only riding from Harper's Ferry to DC) is next Wednesday and Thursday.  The original plan was for her DH to ride with us, but as you recall from her blog, he broke his wrist last week and will not be able to ride.  He is going to "support" us along the way.  WHAT A GUY!!   I think the next week is going to be one I'll treasure forever.  We plan to stay fully on plan and exercise in all manner of different ways.  I've got my bike, my hiking poles and boots, my Yoga clothes, my walking shoes, and if I need anything else, I bet there's a store somewhere in Alexandria that sells it!!

In other words, by the time I head back south towards Tennessee, MY GUY should be seeing much less of me and perhaps he'll change his tune to "If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me)?"   Yes, my friends, unfortunately, that really was a hit song by the Bellamy Brothers in 1979!

So now you know that I'm a perfectly shaped pear!!  What are you, an apple or a pear?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Autumn Leaves

Along the Cherohala Skyway in North Carolina
October 11, 2010

We had an absolutely wonderful time at Snowbird Mountain Lodge.   I was caught by surprise, however, at the nonexistent wireless internet service.  In the past, it has been very good, but it seems there have been problems with Snowbird's remote location and the internet service providers.  So while they are working this out, Snowbird provides a very weak connection option from the main lobby only and none from the guest rooms.  After sulking for approximately 30 seconds, I packed away the laptop and went technology free for three days.  It was wonderful!   I am terrified to look at my Reader though, so be forewarned that I may NEVER get to all the posts I've missed.  Our exquisite weather here stretches on for days plus I'm getting ready to leave again early Thursday morning, so I'll post as I can, but for right now, October is for outdoors!  

On Saturday and Sunday, we hiked to three different high elevation "balds" and were rewarded with some of the most amazing 360 degree views I have ever seen in my life.  Distance viewing was limited only by one's own eyesight.  Rest assured, you'll be seeing more pictures from those hikes and from Snowbird!

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from my "special diet" request, but I couldn't have been more impressed.   Snowbird's all-inclusive pricing gets you a lovely breakfast, a picnic lunch and a gourmet dinner.  Our first evening, the Executive Chef personally came out to go over the menu items with me and point out those that were gluten free and sugar free.  She also indicated that a special dessert would be prepared for me each evening and did I have any specific requests.  She did this each evening that I was there.  I am here to tell you that I did NOT suffer for lack of good food and now that I've been GF and SF for four days, I'm inclined to say I'd like to stay that way.  The sandwiches in my picnic basket were prepared with GF bread and after the first day, I took half the bread off - it was too heavy!   I am also happy to say that I lost 1/2 pound while I was there.  That is a FIRST - one does not go to Snowbird Mountain Lodge and LOSE weight!!  My prior practice has been to come home from a stay at Snowbird, wait three or four days, then weigh!  LOL!  

Mr. B and I had a chance to do some much needed catching up on what we call "MC."   That stands for "meaningful communication" and has been an inside joke of ours for YEARS!   Any time that one of us requests some MC, the other just rolls their eyes and says, "oh great, what have I done now??"  But sitting on top of one of those balds with the world spread out all around you just invites quiet reflection with someone you love.  I wish for all of you moments of contentment like we experienced over the past three days.  It restores the soul.  Between you and me, I also hope it edged one soul closer to deciding retirement might be just 3-5 years away instead of 5-7!

I am sorry to have missed Sunday Sharing.   It has come to mean a great deal to me and it will resume next week.  In the meantime, if anything is weighing heavily on you this week, we can make it Monday Musings and rest assured, I'll remember you in the same way as always.  The secret of Sunday Sharing is that I think about all of you each morning, not just those who leave specific comments!  But it does help to know what's on your mind.

For me, it's a busy week.  I'm preparing to head out of town again on Thursday for over a week.  For many reasons, I am so excited about this trip, but don't have much turnaround time, so tomorrow and Wednesday are going to be quite hectic.  Packing may be a nightmare because this trip involves hiking, biking, sightseeing, church and who knows what else.  I'm driving to carry our bikes and Mr. B is flying to meet on Friday afternoon, so gotta pack his stuff also!  No complaints here!  Best news of all - this trip involves time with one of you and I CAN'T WAIT!  Come back tomorrow and find out who!

In addition to all of the above, my mom is having cataract surgery in the morning.   Not expecting any problems and she is being insistent that all she needs is daddy and not to even bother coming, but she is 84, so you never know.  She lives about 40 miles from me!  That's my Sunday Sharing request - that all goes well.   She's just really been in a wad cause she can't see her golf ball clearly enough after she hits it!  We sure hope this takes care of that cause we're tired of hearing her complain about it!  LOL!

Guess I'll spend some time finding out what's been going on in your life while I've been sittin' on the top of the world (bet you'll be humming that tune for awhile!).

360 degree view from top of Huckleberry Knob in western North Carolina
October 10, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

So Little Snowbird, Take Me With You When You Go....

I was a Music Education major in college - everything reminds me of a song!   I've seriously considered (and may do it yet....) naming every post after a song title!!  I'm afraid you all would hate me because I promise when that happens, you sing that song in your head for HOURS.  Today's salute is to all my Canadian friends and one of my favorite Canadian singers, Anne Murray.   I've always loved her music and her silky voice.  Had the privilege of hearing her perform with our symphony orchestra as part of their Pops Series and it was one of the best concerts ever!   

We have been visiting Snowbird Mountain Lodge near Robbinsville, NC for more than 20 years.   I can safely say it is probably our favorite place.  Using the incredible and relatively unknown (translate uncrowded) Cherohala Skyway, we can be to Snowbird in exactly two hours.  When we first began going, it was a VERY rustic mountain inn with few frills.  At some point, it changed ownership, and the new owners have spent millions turning Snowbird into a luxury rustic mountain inn.  Their improvements have made the place much, much better, but in doing so, have priced themselves out of our budget except for very special occasions.  This particular "occasion" happens to be a mistake on my part - one I'm very glad I made!  We normally bike on Mr. B's fall break, but he decided early on, he wanted to spend a few days at Snowbird as a "gift" to me for the time I have spent with his mother handling every detail necessary to work through the financial aspects of his dad's death.  I didn't need a gift for doing something I wanted to do, but made the reservations anyway for what I THOUGHT were his fall break dates.  Thank heavens, I only made it for three nights instead of the four we could have stayed!  Because guess what!!  His fall break is NEXT Monday and Tuesday, not this coming one!   I am embarrassed to admit that I made that mistake - so unlike me, but so wonderful in the long run.  See, we now have a much better plan for his fall break that I'll reveal (how's that for tantalizing?) later.   So I'm getting two weeks of autumn travel this year instead of one!   We are in room 19.   18 and 19 are our "favorites" although I think we've stayed in just about all of them at one time or another even the very expensive "cottages."  We could justify that back in my high flying career days in CorporateLand, but not anymore.  Quite frankly, we prefer the rooms in the original inn!  Check it out!  

Here's my Hot 100 Update for this week.   I've changed my update day to Friday since that is also the day I am required to post my results on the challenge website.   Less details for me to remember!

1)  Reach my goal weight of 138 on or before December 31, 2010.   This goal was a stretch to begin with, but I wanted a big challenge to work toward.  I have not given up on it, but I'd have needed a good loss these first couple of weeks and that hasn't happened.  We'll see!

2)  I will eat nothing containing white sugar, white flour or trans fats.   This one is going well.  I have not knowingly eaten anything this week containing these items.  I realized after the fact a couple of times that I had eaten something with hidden sugar in it, but I'm not counting that!!

3)  I will walk 10,000 steps every day or an average of 10,000 steps over seven days.  Done

4)  I will not eat between meals or after 7 p.m.  Done perfectly on the no eating after 7 p.m.  A couple of accidental slips on the no eating between meals.  Again, just forgot about the challenge.  The point is, I'm remembering almost immediately afterwards and working toward the habit of remembering in time!

All in all, a very good eating week and the challenge is helping.  I just wish I'd see some results at the scale.  However, I remain very motivated and determined to make whatever changes needed to start seeing those results.

I have made one concession toward our visit to Snowbird of which I am VERY proud.  I'm actually excited to see how this will work.   Snowbird's location is very remote and their accommodations have always been all-inclusive.  When the upgrading to a luxury inn started, the three meals also became gourmet dining.  And believe me, it is wonderful.  I searched their website for any mention of accommodating "special" diet requests and found that they do.  I emailed their executive chef asking for a no sugar, gluten-free diet.  She immediately responded with some specific questions and then her assurance that my diet requests would be met and my dining experience would be no different than anyone else's.  I can't wait till dinner tonight! 

Thank you so much for your helpful suggestions in response to my last post.   I have told the voice in my head that insists success is only tied to the number on the scale to TAKE A HIKEI will lose the 20 pounds when I lose the 20 pounds and I WILL lose the 20 pounds.  Go away voices in my head!   I really am not discouraged, just bewildered and my word for the week is still DETERMINED!
Thanks also to a couple of you who expressed concern when I didn't post for a couple of days.  Although I didn't think about it at the time, it was nice to be missed!  October is for outdoors and I am spending as much of it as I can outside.  Something else has to go and for a few weeks, it may be daily (or almost daily) posting.  I suppose it will take a year of serious blogging to recognize my own patterns, but one thing I do know is this.  When I can be outdoors and when we are traveling, those things win out over blogging every single time!!  Keeps you on your toes, my friends.   You just never know when I might pop up in your reader or on your sidebar.  Hopefully, absence will make the heart grow fonder.......cough, cough!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Take A Hike!!

View from Andrews Bald - GSMNP
Forney Ridge Trail - October 6, 2010

Taking a hike is exactly what I did and as Mr. B so lovingly (NOT!) put it, "you really needed it."  I tried, REALLY tried to just laugh it off, but several things happened Monday which just really put me in a funk.  This is rare for me, so it usually calls for a long walk in the woods.  As you can see from the picture, yesterday was a perfect October day in the mountains with views only limited by one's eyesight.  Unfortunately, pictures do not show the 100 mph (possibly a slight exaggeration!) winds that were blowing so our time on the bald was limited.  Starting this weekend, I have two wonderful weeks coming up and I cannot have a cold or a sinus infection!  The hike worked its magic and the funk has disappeared.  Just wish these pounds would disappear as easily!

I have settled back into a healthy eating mindset and am feeling much calmer after a couple of weeks without added sugar and white flour.  I have not been perfect, but I have done my best.  The few times that have slipped by me have been instances where the sugar or the flour were not of my making nor were they readily identifiable as "no-no" ingredients.  Only after the fact, did I realize I'd inadvertently eaten one or the other.  
My challenge is that something in my body has changed in the past four years.  I am doing everything that has worked in the past and the pounds just are not coming off.   This I know:   1) I cannot eat any LESS than what I am currently eating and, 2) there is always "tweaking" that can be done, but for the most part, I cannot eat any differently than what I am doing.   

Here are two things that have changed since the last time I lost a significant amount of weight (in 2006-2007):

1)  I have begun, experienced and for the most part completed (I think) the "change."
2)  I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and am on a medication for that.   Since I began the med, all thyroid testing has been at perfect levels and I've experienced no more of the symptoms normally associated with hypothyroidism.

If anyone sees anything there that resonates with an experience of their own, please feel free to offer advice.  I'm trying hard to stay encouraged that I can lose these last 20 pounds, but right now, the task feels overwhelming just because I'm fighting so hard and seeing NO results.  There's a certain irony in the fact that I fought like a dog to lose 10 pounds in three months between late April and August 1, but gained 7 back in less than three weeks!  

The one thing I know needs to be done is an update to my exercise program.  Yes, I walk no less than 10,000 steps per day as recorded on my pedometer, but I've now been doing that for so many years, I suspect my body is acclimated to it and in order to stimulate weight loss, those numbers need to be increased.  That will happen over the next months since hiking season has kicked in, plus I'm looking at some opportunities for some challenging bike rides.  But I think there is room for more and is something I'm going to explore.

Thanks so much for your comments on processed foods.   I loved getting all the different perspectives and did learn some things that I'll incorporate into my philosophy and shopping.   I loved the suggestion which came from more than one person, about giving priority to foods with five or less ingredients.  The general consensus was that it would be very difficult to eliminate processed foods totally from one's eating, but being mindful and taking time to read labels can make a big difference.

I'll leave you with one more picture from yesterday's hike.   This was a sight I'd just as soon NOT have seen:

Yes, that would be snow!  The only good thing I have to say about snow is it means anything that slithers on the ground is slithering way down deep into its winter home.  I am not a fan of anything that slithers!  This hike began at just over 6,000 feet so we shouldn't have been surprised by the snow, but there it was!  

Have you faced challenges such as I'm experiencing that seem different than a normal plateau?   Were you ever able to identify a physical reason and what specific things did you do to overcome it? 

Monday, October 4, 2010

In The Process

Along the Third Creek Greenway - Knoxville, TN
October 2, 2010

In the process..........of a complete meltdown!  Wow, that's not how this post was supposed to begin and is not how it will end!  However, somewhere in the middle is one of those mornings when everything I attempt seems to go wrong.  This is third Monday morning of my new goal to keep Monday totally free of any outside commitments.  It is a day for catching up in every since of the word - routine tasks, mental rest, physical rest, spiritual refreshment, healthy journey planning and anything else that Sharon needs to replenish in order to be productive the rest of the week.

Here's how this Monday has gone so far:
1)  While recording our utility payment (it's an auto-payment, which I highly recommend), I noticed our water usage more than doubled last month.  Not good since the usual implication is a leak somewhere.   Customer Service adopted their normal not nice persona and refused to come for a recheck because it certainly couldn't be any fault of their meter reader!

2)  Our medical insurance is undergoing a complete overhaul 1/1/11 and I've resisted completing the new forms as long as I can.   I designed benefit plans and forms for many years in CorporateLand, so I know these terms well.   They are so darn complicated and confusing to me - I don't see how anyone gets them completed and retains their sanity.  And this is just the forms - guess we just ignore the fact that premiums are rising and benefits are declining!!   

3)  Ordered medication last Thursday which was supposed to be delivered Friday.  I'm still on a bit of a protest over our pharmacy benefits which changed last July.   We now no longer have the option to purchase locally - it HAS to be by mail order.  This is a specialty med that MUST be signed for.  So I waited at home all day Friday for a package that never came.   When I called this morning, it turns out they knew the shipment was delayed, but "we do not consider it our responsibility to notify you."   WHAT!!!

4)  Last, but not least, I stepped on the scale this morning and GAINED 1.5 pounds.  This, after staying the same both Saturday and Sunday mornings.  This, after remaining faithfully on plan, biking 36 miles and walking 38,000 steps over the three days.   Go figure!!

So what am I doing???   Well, I was cussing until I starting writing this.   Now, I'm laughing and I hope you are laughing with me.   After a gloomy and drizzly day yesterday, the sun just broke through and in the whole scheme of things, these are all very minor!   I'm going to finish this post and head for the outdoors.  Isn't that what October is for????  Oh, and BTW, not even once have I been tempted to drown my issues this morning with food.  In fact, I got so wrapped up in these phone calls, I forgot to eat breakfast. 

Now, let's move right along "in the process."  

The more I read, the more I become intrigued by the term "processed" food.  I find the term used and overused in books, magazine articles, websites, talk shows, seminars and yes, even in blogs.  It is no secret that I read and enjoy many blogs and my desire is to learn something from and about each person behind the words I read in their blog.  Over time, I've realized that we all have a different definition of "processed" food and contrasting versions or aversions to how much "processed" food we will eat.  Some seem to pay no attention, others realize it's almost impossible in today's convienence oriented society to NEVER eat anything "processed," others are openly disdainful of anything or anyone who knowingly eats "processed" food.

In googling "what is processed food?" I got 8,650,000 hits.   Is this a sensitive topic or what?   One thing I noticed in checking out a few of those links, is that "processed" food and "convenience" food are often listed interchangeably or considered the same.  The articles are fascinating and you'll find something published on a daily basis reinforcing the fact that this is truly a "hot" topic and rightly so.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll have to admit I eat a lot of food that falls into the classic definition of "processed."  I've never been a very good or creative cook and lost 60 pounds eating mainly frozen dinners.  I still eat a lot of them.   I like them and it provides easy portion control.   But even with enviable numbers in the blood pressure and cholesterol categories, I've always known these are high in sodium and other not so great ingredients and that perhaps, someday I should begin the process (no pun intended) of eating them less often.  That "weaning" period may be about to start.

What I want is feedback from you regarding this topic.
1)  How (be specific) do you define "processed" food?
2)  What foods do you eat that might be considered "processed?"
3)  Is this for convenience purposes or other reasons?
4)  If you eat nothing processed, has this always been the case or a deliberate decision at some point?
5)  Do you think it is possible (maybe the better word is practical) to eat a diet that is completely free of processed foods?
6)  Are convenience foods purchased from places like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's better than those purchased from a regular grocery store?

I'm curious and I think a lot of others are as well, so I'm opening up my blog for comments, criticism (only constructive!!) and advice.  Not just for me, but for all of us! 

One thing is for sure - this isn't something that is going to get better or go away.   Nor do I believe "processed" food is going to suddenly become healthy.  So as I continue my own healthy eating journey and form my own stance, am I or am I not willing to take a stand as food becomes more and more "processed" until we no longer recognize it as food!   Am I or am I not willing to make whatever sacrifice necessary in terms of time or expense to eat in a way that I know is best?

My answers to those statements about my willingness to change are still being formulated, but I'd sure like some company in working them out in practicality!  Any takers??

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Sharing - What is Next Week Like For You?

Morning Glory along the start of our bicycle ride yesterday morning!
October 2, 2010

"Don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.  Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving."  (Matthew 6:25-31, The Message Translation)

Yesterday was "practically perfect in every way" as Mary Poppins would say!  We bicycled one of our favorite routes to the Farmer's Market and on to Panera Bread for lunch.  There was one notable exception that added some length and challenge to our normal route.  A portion of the greenway is closed for some utility construction, so we chose a route along some side streets through the University of Tennessee campus.  I'm trying to prepare for a longer ride in a couple of weeks, so this was really good for me.  Not sure of the total mileage, but between Thursday's ride and yesterday, I biked no less than 36 miles in three days.  It was wonderful.  I am so grateful for the change in weather and as promised, October is for outdoors.  I'm spending as much of it outside as I possibly can!

Today is Sunday Sharing with a twist!  I'll change it up every week or so to keep you on your toes and hopefully, keep you from becoming bored with the concept.  You have no idea how special this has become to me.  Reading and pondering over these every morning while sipping that first cup of coffee is a delight I truly look forward to!  Thanks for responding.  Please continue.

For those who might be new this week, please refer to this post for the background of Sunday Sharing.  For the rest, here's a reminder:

As we start a new week with its gains and losses, ups and downs, triumphs and challenges, joys and sorrows, please leave a comment and tell me some very specific thing that needs to happen in your life this week for you to feel as if you're making progress in a forward direction.  Be as honest and specific as you are comfortable being.  If it has absolutely nothing to do with weight loss, that is perfectly o.k.  This is about your life and what is occupying first place in your mind as you look towards a new week.

Here's the twist:

This week, instead of sharing one specific thing, tell me about your upcoming week as a whole.  What are your concerns and is there anything specific you dread?  Share with me a one word description of your mindset as you face a new week!  Be honest - it's o.k.!

For me, the week is hectic, but until next weekend, holds no huge challenges of which I am aware.  My one word mindset is:  DETERMINED!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lots Of Hot Air!

2010 Pellissippi State Community College Balloon Festival 
October 2, 2010

This balloon festival has become one of the largest fund-raising events for Pellissippi State and is a beloved community event.   This was the seventh year and we have worked one of the entrance gates every year since it started.   Last year, we were "promoted" to the gate which can only be accessed by the balloons, vendors and entertainment.  It's much easier and less hassle.  If you've never seen a balloon "glow," I'll have to say it's quite beautiful.  You can't see from this picture, but the balloons surround a lake and their reflections shimmer in the water as they light up while music is playing.   I've always been fascinated by hot air balloons and the ultimate US balloon festival, the Albequerque Balloon Fiesta is on my bucket list.  But for now, the one we attended last night worked just fine and supported a really great cause.

Last month, I received two awards which I have been delinquent in accepting although I did thank the givers on their blogs.  I appreciate the awards I receive simply because it means you found something in my posts that meant something to you.  That encourages me to keep on writing!

Thanks to Diane at Big Beautiful Me for The Versatile Blogger Award and to Weightless for the One Lovely Blog Award.  I enjoy reading the blogs of both these women.   I have received the first award previously, so am going to count that as having fulfilled the requirements.  The second one is new to me and the requirements are a bit different than other awards I've received.  Thought a Saturday evening might be a good time to answer the questions about me that Weightless posed.  At some point, I'm supposed to pass along the same questions to others or make up new ones of my own.  

So welcome to the Saturday evening edition of "More About Sharon Than You've EVER Wanted To Know."  LOL!!

1. What is the thing you feel most accomplished about?  The fact that even though we married very young, we made some good decisions and stuck with them.  We knew our chosen careers were not high paying ones and we'd never be able to have it all or do it all.  So we chose the things that were important to us, set goals to be able to achieve those things and let go of the rest.  We've always lived a very simple life, but wouldn't trade it for the world.  And 33 years later, those dreams are coming to fruition. Our shared passion is travel.  We've learned how to do it on a shoestring budget, have already done quite a bit, but have a long way to go.

2. Where do you live and what do you like about it?  I live in East Tennessee at the foot of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and there is nothing I don't like about it unless it would be the perception that all people who live in Tennessee are rednecks.  Trust me, I've traveled all over the world.  There are rednecks everywhere!!

3. What is your favorite song?  Humor me!!  I'm a musician!!  I can't have just one favorite song.   My all-time favorite "Unchained Melody."   My "silly" favorite is "Hungry Eyes" from Dirty Dancing.   My favorite hymn is "This Is My Father's World."  My favorite Christmas carol is "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
4. If money wasn't an issue what would you do with your free time?  Exactly what I'm doing right now!  
5. What is one thing you haven't done but wish you had?  Hiked the entire Appalachian Trail.

6. Describe a perfect day?  Hiking or Biking with Mr. B.   Today was pretty much a perfect day!

7. What is your favorite meal?  Lasagna
8. What is your favorite holiday?  Valentine's Day

Like I said, more about me than you've every wanted to tell me stuff about YOU that I really do want to know.   Leave a comment, answer any one of these eight questions and help me know you better.  Heck, answer all eight if you want to!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

October Is For Outdoors!!

 Today's pictures were taken along the Maryville/Alcoa Greenway.  This is an absolutely beautiful 9 mile paved trail which is a joint effort between the two towns in East Tennessee.  It is lighted the entire way and passes through several parks with picnic and restroom facilities.  It is one of my favorite places to ride.  These pictures were taken yesterday, September 30, 2010.  Makes for an excellent 18 mile bike ride.

I slid out of a very difficult August into a wonderful September.  But I am so excited to be running OUT the DOOR right into October.   October is my absolute favorite month of the year and I challenge you to show me anywhere that is more beautiful than October in East Tennessee.  April runs a very close second, but we'll debate that issue on April Fool's Day!!  We have a very full October planned and it begins this evening with an annual fund-raising event at Mr. B's Community College.  You can come along with me via pictures tomorrow.  It has become a well loved community event and a few years ago was named one of Southeast Tourism Society's Top 20 Events, so we are quite proud to be associated with the event.  We "work" every year and have a great time.  My "cooler" is already packed with my food for the evening and we are taking MIL who has NEVER been able to go.  It's going to be so much fun.  

Mr. B surprised me with reservations at one of our favorite inns next weekend, but I'll tell you more about that later.  The following week is his fall break and I can't WAIT to share what we're doing then!  In between all that, I've got to find lots of time to hike because I sure don't want to miss the million dollar show put on by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in October and early November.  Can you tell I'm excited??

Today is an important anniversary.  It was four years ago today, on October 1, 2006, that I stepped on the scale and weighed 203 pounds.  I was so angry with myself, disgusted with my appearance and frustrated with the fact that it was October and I knew I couldn't keep up with my hiking buddy!  I had made up my mind October 1 would be the day and had already developed my eating plan.  I had hoped that I hadn't made it above 200 pounds, but there was 203 staring me in big, red digital numbers!  It took a little over a year, but I reached my goal of 138 the following December.  I wish that over the next three years I had not regained 30 of those pounds, but I did.  Thankfully, I am on my way back down and I truly believe this will be the time it clicks and maintaining 138 becomes as much a priority as getting to 138 was/is.  One thing I have now that I didn't have then, is this blog and you.  For that, I am very, very grateful!  My weight this morning was 157.5, a loss of 2 pounds for the month.  Not what I'd hoped for, but it's o.k. 

Thought it might be interesting to see the trend, so I went back and checked my weight from each of those years on October 1.   One of the smartest things I've ever done with respect to my healthy journey, was to start keeping a simple spreadsheet recording my weight every morning and the number of steps recorded on my pedometer each day.  I refer back to them constantly for both encouragement and a kick in the butt!!
October 1, 2006  -  203
October 1, 2007  - 140.5
October 1, 2008  -  151.5
October 1, 2009  -  162.5
October 1, 2010  -  157.5
On January 1 of this year, I weighed 168, exactly 30 pounds above my goal.  And that goal is exactly where I am headed!  I highly encourage the keeping of records.  You'll refer back to them often looking for trends which are of such value.  With four years of records now, I refer to them all the time.  

I am headed to MIL's to help with some first of the month financial issues.  Tomorrow Mr. B and I will head to the farmer's market on our bicycles.  We plan to hike on Sunday after church.  Hope everyone of you has something exciting to do this weekend with someone special.

I'm curious as always!!   As much as you are comfortable divulging (and I fully understand those who aren't!), tell me where you are, what is the beautiful month of the year in your area and what outdoor activity you enjoy most during that month?  It might be a general activity or a very specific festival or event that occurs during that month.   It's o.k. if you don't want to tell me where you are, but still tell me your favorite month and why!!