Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Home Is Where The Heart Is!

Oconaluftee River Trail near Cherokee, NC - GSMNP
March 27,2011

Many thoughts of a varied nature are swirling around in my head today.  This post could astound you with its brilliance or leave you wondering just how much sinus/allergy medication I'm taking these days!  LOL! I am back in my comfy den after a wonderful three-day escapade with my MIL to Asheville, NC.  She loved Boyd Mountain Cabins as much as I do and our trip into the Cataloochee Valley area of the GSMNP yielded a total of 36 elk, 6 deer and 4 wild turkeys.  The elk were reintroduced to the park in 2001 and I was so in hopes that we'd see at least one.  36 was more than I could have possibly dreamed of and Mr. B still doesn't believe we saw that many.  On our previous trips, we'd never seen more than 8 at a time.   

We spent Tuesday in Asheville shopping, having a delightful lunch at Tupelo Honey Cafe and making a short visit to Biltmore Estate.  I needed to renew our season passes, secure one for her and check out the progress of the tulips in the garden.  Tulips and Gerbera Daisies are my two favorite flowers.  The spring tulip display in Biltmore Gardens is something to behold and we traditionally visit there on Good Friday.  Yesterday was a bit early, but you can see the show is about to burst forth!!  

We left early this morning as heavy rain and storms were predicted, but it appeared as though we might be able to dodge the worst of it if we left by 9.  It certainly was a different sort of trip than those Mr. B and I make, but I believe she had a great time and that is what's important.  This trip was all about her!

But my heart was back at home because home to me, is where Mr. B is and yesterday was not a good day for him.  One of Mr. B's colleagues suffered a brain aneurysm and died while eating lunch in the college cafeteria.  Mr. B was not there, but many were and the college is feeling it deeply.  Mr. B loves the faculty he works with and is so sad.  My heart ached to be at home with him last night.  In addition, there is a pivotal meeting today regarding the search for a new President to replace the beloved current President who is retiring.  I should be hearing from Mr. B shortly concerning the results of that meeting.  

Confession is good for the soul and so I'm about to do just that.   I made a very poor decision yesterday that has yielded a couple of beneficial "ah-ha" moments.   1)  I have the ability to fool myself in a way that is simply unbelievable.   I can convince myself I'm about to make a good choice when I know as well as I'm sitting here that what I'm telling myself is baloney!  (Now are you starting to wonder about the sinus/allergy medication?  LOL!)  2)  As much progress as I have made, the ability to mess up big time is one breath away and I'd best never, EVER forget that!  

Tupelo Honey Cafe is an Asheville icon that has been featured in many articles and TV shows.  One of their oft mentioned "must-eat" items is the sweet potato pancake.  Google it at your own peril. Think plate-sized, thick, butter slathered, lots of pecans, etc.  I wanted to take MIL there and they have many other good, healthy options available which of course, I had convinced myself I could choose with no problem or temptation.   You know where this is going and yes, the sweet potato pancake was good, but not good enough for me to have to endure the bloated, overly stuffed feeling that I've avoided for so long.  

Here are my lessons learned:
  • As my mother often said, "when you know temptation is present, do all you can to avoid the temptation."  Why I chose to go there thinking I was above the temptation is beyond me.  It was a very poor choice.
  • Oh, the myriad of ways we can fool ourselves into thinking we are o.k. This food item had been tempting me for years.  There's no way I could've gone into this restaurant and avoided the disaster.  To convince myself otherwise was foolish.
  • I am a master at persuading myself that I am doing something for someone else when really the motive is very self-centered.  I knew the Cafe would be quaint and I convinced myself we "needed" to go there for her enjoyment.  Hogwash!!  I went there......well, now you know why I went there.
Moving forward.........I wanted to share this with you and now it is gone.  I will suffer with the sugar/white carb bloats for a few days, but believe that I've avoided the "what's the use" aftereffect that sometimes accompanies a really bad episode and then drags on turning a one-time blunder into a full-fledged binge.

My greatest regret is that I had done so well and was actually looking forward to posting an April 1 weight.  I'll still have a loss, but not the one I was seeing prior to yesterday.  So yes, for many reasons, home is where my heart is and boy, am I ever glad to be back in it. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Moving Right Along

On the grounds of Boyd Mountain Tree Farm and Cabins
Maggie Valley, NC - March 21, 2011

Wow, what a week this past one has been and the one ahead of me looks much the same.  Some time this afternoon, I will be back at Boyd Mountain Cabins in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, but I can promise you it's not going to look like it did last Monday morning when I took today's picture.  Our weather in East Tennessee has turned positively NASTY again and our friends to the east in Maggie Valley are having it even worse.  Local folklore calls it "dogwood winter," I just call it uncomfortable.  But it will pass and by Tuesday, sunshine is promised once again.

My MIL and I are taking a little "girls" road trip to Asheville, but we'll be staying in Maggie Valley, about 30 miles west of Asheville.  Since this is my third trip in a month, you can see that I've fallen in love with Boyd Mountain cabins and for good reason.  They are simply charming and the fact that they've offered a wonderful "march madness" special rate this month makes return trips very attractive.  Mr. B and I got some great hiking in and now my MIL and I can have some fun of our own, although I'll have to say, her definition of fun and mine don't exactly mesh.  Hers includes the dreaded "shopping" word which is not my cup of tea, but this trip is for and about her, so I'll find a nice coffee shop/bookstore close by and she can shop to her heart's content.  We'll find some girlie places to eat and enjoy our quaint little cabin at night.  The Cataloochee Valley area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was chosen as an area for the reintroduction of elk several years ago.  Mr. B and I saw several elk while wandering around down there, so I'm going to take her into the park and hopefully, we'll get to see one or two.  She's really excited about that and also about going into a part of the park she's never seen.  

While downloading pictures, I noticed something disturbing.   My body shape is one of those so-called "pear" shapes and for that, I am very grateful.  "Pear" shaped females are much less susceptible to heart disease and other problems than "apple" shaped women.  Having said that, my "pear" has caused, and continues to cause, all sorts of problems not the least of which is a never ending frustration with finding clothes that fit.  For example, I have NEVER been able to buy a 2-piece anything because even at goal weight, my jacket/blouse size is two sizes smaller than my hip/thigh size.  With the right clothing, some of these "issues" can be hidden, but are still very frustrating and probably the cause of my intense dislike for shopping.  There is simply no fun in it because NOTHING ever fits.  

The other problem for me is that any excess eating that I do of the wrong types of food (i.e. anything "white") goes straight to the back of my butt and my upper thighs.  And that is exactly what I saw that was disturbing.  I know this sounds crazy because my weight is actually falling, but MY HIPS AND THIGHS ARE GROWING.  I can tell it in my jeans and my nylon hiking pants, but the pictures were proof.  

So in the midst of my new comfort zone and level of contentment, there are some things that will never change.  And that is primarily the fact that I need to be eating little, if any, white sugar, white flour, etc.  I don't believe I have any abnormal sensitivity or intolerance to any of these things, they just simply go straight to my hips/thighs.  In theory, it seems so easy to say, "it's just food - I'll just not eat it anymore" because I want to look good in my clothes.  But as we all know, the practice of that is quite a different story.  

I love pictures and am so thankful that I am at a place where I don't mind having my picture taken.  I am also thankful that sometimes a picture can show the truth that trouble is lurking.  In this group of pictures are some where I look happy, healthy and perfectly proportioned.  But then there are those that show the "real" picture.  Hopefully, I've gotten the message.   I bought two new sets of nylon hiking pants and I'm not inclined to want to buy any more this year!!

What do you think?  Have you ever felt that certain food items just seem to glue themselves to certain body parts??  

P.S.  One of these days, I may get the courage to post a couple of those pictures.  You wouldn't want to miss that, now would you??   

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where Is She?

Turkeypen Ridge Trail - GSMNP
March 11, 2011

There are a  couple of very good reasons for my more than a week long absence from BlogWorld, but just like this normally placid rockhop I encountered a couple of weeks ago, there is one particular reason that I'm having trouble getting past.  Due to recent heavy rains and snowmelt, this crossing which I've done many times, actually forced us to turn around and choose another trail altogether.  

I could tell you that my absence was because the wireless access did not work properly at the cabin Mr. B and I occupied from Friday afternoon until yesterday morning.  And that would be true.  But the greater truth is that I must finally admit to myself and, more importantly to you, that blogging has simply taken a backseat to the rest of my life.  I make no apologies for the fact that I think East Tennessee is the most beautiful place in the world to live, but from mid-March through early June, it is simply a taste of heaven and all I want is to be out in it to experience every color, sound, taste and smell that arises with each new bud that opens and flower that blooms.  I wake up, do my morning devotions and then just want to head outside.  

So for now, I am releasing myself from the pressure of regular posting.  I considered several possibilities including a total break or a commitment to a weekly post at a particular time, but neither of those FELT right.  Because it's the pressure I put on myself to write that I needed to release myself from, not the desire to write.  That is so totally still there - the list of ideas in my journal is a testament to that!  So Gains and Losses is still very much an active blog and you'll know when you see a post from me that it is 100% from the heart and EXACTLY what I was wanting to do at that point in time.  I still have visions of posting on a regular schedule and ideas of how I want this blog to eventually look, but for now, a life with which I am very content has taken priority.  

Mr. B and I spent a glorious weekend in the Millstone Cabin in Maggie Valley, NC.  We hiked both Saturday and Sunday.   With an additional solo hike I did yesterday, I have now hiked over 100 miles in 2011.  All the trails we did were new trails for me and I have grown to love the Cataloochee Valley area of the Smokies.  I have not yet downloaded our pictures, but I'm sure you'll begin seeing them in upcoming posts.

I am in the midst of planning our summer trip and that's just another thing that is taking a good bit of time.  We will have the month of June and our original plan was to visit Maine, but for several reasons, we've amended that and are looking at visiting Colorado again.  More on that as the trip unfolds.

My eating is going very well and I know that when I post my quarterly weight on March 31, it will reflect a loss.  Not a significant loss, but one with which I am content.   Spending the entire month of January and part of February basically laying on the couch gave me a lot of time to reflect and consider what's important and what's not.  Yes, being at goal weight is VERY important.  The time I spend thinking and worrying about it is not.  Too many opportunities in my life have been wasted or lost because I was too busy worrying that I might eat something I shouldn't or gain a pound.  

I love every last one of you and am so grateful for every moment you spend reading this blog.  I am right here and will continue to be!  My hope is that what I write contains enough substance and is interesting enough that no matter how random my posting is, you'll always smile when something new pops up.  

As for now, I've got to get out and check on the Trillium I saw yesterday afternoon that was just ready to burst forth with it's glorious yellow flower.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Eyes Have It!

Spruce Flats Falls - GSMNP
March 3, 2011

Greetings from another gloomy, rainy East Tennessee morning.  It appears that in order for you to receive a blog post from me or for me to accomplish anything around the house, these rainy days should be welcomed! I simply cannot stay indoors when we have days like the past several have been.  I enjoyed marvelous hikes on both Friday and Saturday, both of which began in snow and ended in shorts!!  That may not sound incredibly inviting, but when clothed appropriately in layers of the right fabric, those are perfect hiking conditions.  Today's picture was not taken on either of those hikes, but earlier this month.  I've probably used pictures of this waterfall before, but couldn't resist this one taken a couple of weeks ago at what is probably my favorite waterfall in the GSMNP.  Due to lots of rainfall and initial snowmelt, our water levels are higher than I ever remember them and keep in mind I've lived here most of my life!  It is so beautiful, but requires one to be ready for detours or changes in plans at any moment.  This did happen to my hiking "bud" and I on Friday as we hiked about half a mile into the planned route and came to a creek crossing that is normally a simple rock-hop.  It had doubled in width and was at least two feet deep.  Needless to say, we altered the plan, but didn't fret about it or waste any time formulating another plan.

And so it is with my eating these days.  With Mr. B in France and a plan for flawless eating while he was gone, I managed about half way through the week and came to a hurdle that I chose not to cross.   That hurdle was ME!  It wasn't about binging or even making poor food choices although I won't deny that I made a few of those.  It was simply about the fact that I didn't want to do this stringent "diet" plan even for a week.  I was hungry and I didn't WANT the things I was forcing myself to eat.  I was tempted to refuse invitations from kind people who knew Mr. B was out of town and were offering gracious hospitality.  So I gave myself permission to stop.  I altered the plan, didn't fret about it and wasted NO time formulating another plan.  And you know what, that "plan" is not a new one.  It's the one I've lived with for the past six months and the one that makes me calm.  I will not "diet" any more.  I will eat and enjoy it.  I will eat what sounds good.  And the funny thing is, I will lose weight.  It is slow, but it is constant.  I like calm more than I like reverting back to what once worked (thankfully!), but is no longer a part of who I am or what I want.  And that, my friends, is progress.

Here is a picture of me on the day we hiked to Spruce Flats Falls:
And here's a picture of me this past Saturday:
Notice anything different????  Besides the double-chin in the second picture??  Don't know where that came from - even at my heaviest, I don't think I ever had a double chin!  And looking at this picture, it's something I want to avoid at all cost!   LOL!   Hopefully, those who have listened to my whining for the last month will immediately notice the absence of glasses in the second photo!  Yep, I was finally given the green light (after 4 weeks, 5 days of glasses) to wear my contacts.  I've done great with them and although I did exactly what the doctor said, I believe I could have worn them all day the first day.  Doc said the cornea infection had healed and thanked me for being such a good patient.  Apparently, that isn't always the case.   Believe me, when you start messing with my eyes and a serious infection, I'm going to do EXACTLY what the doctor says and am appalled that anyone would do otherwise.  After hiking Friday and Saturday with contacts back in, I really am proud of myself for persevering during that time.  There really is a huge difference in depth perception and I am truly grateful that things seem to be moving back to normal with my health.  

Mr. B is safely back from a flawless trip to France.  This blog is not about him, but I am so proud that I cannot resist sharing the link to the blog which was kept by one of the chaperones during the trip.  If you have time for nothing else, look at the video from the day the group visited and sang at Normandy.  The sound is horrible because it was windy and they were all crying, but the raw emotion is evident.  I believe they represented their college and our country well.  Here is the link.

I'm off to make a new batch of granola, do laundry, fight with my mail-order prescription company, pay bills, get groceries, yada, yada, yada!  Sunny days are coming, but not until Wednesday!

Do you have any battles to fight today?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Little Bottoms

Yes, there really is a Little Bottoms Trail in the GSMNP!
February, 2011

A good hiker never leaves home without someone knowing the intended trail, where the car will be parked and an estimated time of return.  I braced myself for Mr. B's comment when I told him I would be hiking the Little Bottoms Trail and he did not disappoint.  I believe it was something along the lines of, "hope it works!"  LOL!! Shortly thereafter, he departed for France.  Total mileage for this hike is around seven miles and it's one of my favorites because much of the time you are walking alongside Abrams Creek.  Combined with the snowmelt from the higher elevations and the rain we've been having, the creek was spectacular.

 Lunch spot along Abrams Creek

My friend, with whom I've been hiking for over a decade, and I have a routine we follow.  We enjoy getting caught up and having lively discussions while hiking, but also both value our time of solitude in the woods.  We always designate a "hike separately, but within sight of each other" hiking period and during our lunch breaks, we usually eat together, then spend some time alone reading, thinking, praying or whatever.  It is such a comfortable routine and I dearly love my hiking bud.  

This picture was taken about 1 1/2 miles into the hike and I couldn't resist adding it for two reasons.  First, it shows the only real distance viewpoint on the Little Bottoms Trail.  It is a great resting spot after a tough climb over a ridge.  The trail goes off to the left from here and down, down, down where it then parallels Abrams Creek the rest of the way.  Second, this is a picture of my hiking friend whom you can see, most definitely DOES have a "little bottom."  She is five years older than I am and just by watching her, I have learned a lot about "normal" eating.

Speaking of eating, I am having quite a successful eating week with little stress.  It seems I react in quite the opposite way from many of you when Mr. B is out of town.  As you know, he loves to cook and he loves to eat and although we've made great strides toward a healthy compromise, he still tends to cook way too much leaving me to deal with the leftovers.   When he is out of the picture, I am much better able to stick with the strict eating plan I followed when I lost my 65 pounds in 2006-2007. I'm enjoying the simplicity of meal times and am considering having a discussion with Mr. B when he returns to see if he'd work with me again as he did in 2006-2007.  If I could follow this plan for three months, I believe I'd lose the weight I have left.  To use a very southern phrase, I'm tired of "fiddle-farting" around with these last pounds.  I'm excited about maintenance and just want to be there so I can become as successful at maintaining as I am at losing.  So far, maintaining has NOT been my strength!!  That may seem contradictory to some things I've written recently, but I really don't see it that way.  I've realized anew this week, that I LIKE this way of eating.  It is so, so simple and doesn't require time spent planning, shopping or thinking about food which is when I get into trouble! We'll see and I'll keep you posted.

Today is the first day of Lent.  Our church, First Baptist Church of Knoxville, TN  has a service on Ash Wednesday that has come to hold a great deal of meaning for me.  I look forward to it every year and carefully consider what I might give up for six weeks that will be both a sacrifice and a learning experience.  This year, I have chosen to give up sugar in all forms.  I have done this before and found that when I am successful for the six weeks of Lent, I have formed the habit and am able to continue.  This year, I am excited about it and am viewing it in light of a healthy sacrifice rather than something I have to endure.  

We are expecting boatloads of rain today (2-3 inches) so I've compiled a list of indoor activities including making a new batch of my homemade granola and doing our taxes.  Blah!!  On the other hand, this rain is ushering in a series of cool, sunny days and I have hiking plans for Friday and Saturday.  Mr. B will be home late Saturday evening and I am in hopes that he will immediately notice a SMALLER BOTTOM!!!

How's the weather in your neck of the woods?  And BTW, if you've never told me, just exactly where is your neck of the woods?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March Madness

Abrams Creek - GSMNP
February 19, 2011

I supposed you could say I have taken a totally unintentional blogging break.   It seems most everyone does that from time to time.  It hasn't necessarily been that I had grown tired of writing (which I haven't!!), but has simply been a matter of no time.  Living at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is usually a period of about six weeks in the late winter and six weeks in the late fall which are ideal hiking times for me.  For the most part, bears have settled into their winter dens and snakes have gone underground.  Like everyone else, I enjoy seeing the bears but ONLY from the safety of my car - not on the trail!!  And I make no apology for wishing God had never thought up snakes.  IMHO, they are every bit the "devil" they became and I HATE them with a passion.  It is only during this period of time that I am comfortable hiking alone and once I began to feel better, I have been in the park or on a trail for at least a portion of every day that weather has been tolerable.  I've done a lot of walking and a lot of reading/studying by the side of my favorite creeks.  It has been therapeutic and something I really needed.  But with warmer temps and consecutive nights above freezing, those carefree (snake-free) days are quickly coming to an end.  The good news about that is I've already spotted some of my favorite wildflowers about to burst forth and April/May in the GSMNP is an unbelievable sight to behold!  I'll show you with pictures - I promise!!

I am still wearing glasses!  I return to the eye doctor on Tuesday where I think I will simply flip-out if he tells me I can't start wearing my contacts again.  I know he has been very cautious with this eye infection and I appreciate that.  I've actually adapted fairly well EXCEPT when hiking.  Mr. B and I did a trail last weekend that had 13 log bridges to cross!  Those are always a little unsettling to me and the lack of depth perception with my glasses on plays havoc with my sense of balance.  

This past week, I also had a follow-up visit with my ENT who was not pleased that I did not begin taking the Singulair as he had asked.  I explained my reasons for wanting to discuss it with him again and he listened, but still asked that I at least give it a try.  So I am doing that and will keep you posted.  I am continuing to feel better and truly hope my body has decided to cooperate again and become as healthy as a person with a severely compromised immune system can ever be.

I put Mr. B on a airplane yesterday afternoon with 44 of his little "children" otherwise known as his elite choral group.  They arrived safely in Paris around 4 a.m. this morning (our time) and should be on a bus to Cherbourg, France where they'll be until Tuesday.   Before I even write this next sentence, it's important to remember that Mr. B and I spent more time apart than together during the last six years of my career, so we are quite accustomed to being apart.  Having said that, I will miss him terribly, but have actually looked forward to his trip for some time.  I love the freedom and independence of not having to worry about anyone other than myself.  I will have a stellar eating week and should lose several pounds.  

Speaking of stellar eating weeks, I did have a loss in February of four pounds.  Not as much as I'd hoped and not enough to keep me on track for reaching goal by my birthday at the end of July.  That's totally o.k!  As I stated when I set the goal, it's a goal to strive for, not stress out over.  I think that's the major mental shift which has finally taken over in the last six months.  I know in my heart that someday I will reach a goal I am happy with and I no longer care when that is or how long it takes.  But weeks like the upcoming one are helpful because I can return to the strict eating plan that I enjoy, but simply does not work well when having to consider Mr. B.  

I am struggling with the direction and writing of the blog.  I knew when I began last May, that I didn't want to box myself into writing about nothing but weight loss.  I think my vague plan was to write about my eating journey until I reached goal and then branch out into the "gains and losses" of my life in general.  At that time, I thought that would be a straight line, but as life usually is, that line has included a lot of curves.  I find myself wanting to write about my life as it happens.  Although that includes my struggles with weight loss, it is about so much more.  So I guess what I'm saying is this..........I love all of you who read and hope you will continue to do so.  But if you are looking for a blog that discusses nothing but weight loss and food, this one probably isn't it!  That's just not who I am.   I hope you'll keep reading because there's a lot I want to say.  My challenge now is simply sitting down and saying it - right now, there's just too much more to see and do!

BTW, next post will be about my Little Bottoms hike.....unfortunately, it didn't work!  I still don't, nor will I ever, have a little bottom.

How has your blog changed since you first began writing it?