Monday, May 30, 2011

Million Dollar Moments

Along the "Million Dollar Highway" between Ouray and Silverton, CO
May 26, 2011

The "Million Dollar Highway" is a 24 mile stretch of road between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado that is listed as one of the Top 10 Scenic Drives in America.   With several mountain passes to cross and steep drop-offs without benefit of guard rails, it is NOT for the faint of heart.  But it is a spectacular drive and even with a few white-knuckle moments, we'd both do it again in a heartbeat. 

We are not yet halfway through our trip around Colorado and the "million dollar" moments are not confined to driving on a highway, but are happening on a daily basis.  We are doing lots of hiking, biking, walking, strolling through historical areas and beautifully restored downtowns, meeting and talking to lots of local folks and even getting involved (as spectators) in one of the largest bicycling events in the United States, the Iron Horse Classic.  Most evenings, we relax quietly in our "home" talking and planning our activities for the next day.  Right now (I'm writing this on Sunday evening), I'm getting caught up with blog reading while Mr. B is listening to music already selecting things for his choirs to begin working on this fall.  It's such a peaceful "million dollar" moment and I am so grateful to be experiencing this adventure. 

I have been somewhat surprised that new readers just keep popping up even though this blog currently has very little to do with weight loss and entries are hit or miss.  So thank you for seeing enough content even while I'm traveling to want to continue reading on a regular basis.  In a few weeks, things will be back to normal.   Oh my goodness, there's that word again.   NORMAL!  Whatever that is!

For those of you who are following the separate travel journal I am keeping, some new entries have been added and here is the link to find them.

In the spirit of being Honest and Real as the award I recently received suggests, I have to admit that eating has not gone as well this past week as it did the first week.  No, I haven't gone off the deep end, but I've had a number of indulgences mostly in the form of cinnamon rolls.  We are doing so much physical activity that it seems to be balancing itself out and so far, I've shown only a small gain.  I'd hope to lose while on this trip, but in all reality, I'll be happy to maintain. 
And lastly, but certainly not least, I have to thank my friend, Karen at Waisting Time  for thinking my blog worthy of another award.  

I'm not certain anything about me has ever been referred to as "adorable" before, so that makes it even more special.  I must tell you ten things about me, but that may have to wait until I am back at home with more time to think.  In the meantime, thanks a bunch.  You made my day!
Did you have a "million dollar" moment today?  I sure hope so!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Awards and Rewards

View from the balcony of our condo taken just after sunrise
Durango, Colorado - May 22, 2011

I have recently received two blog awards and didn't want to wait any longer to express my appreciation to my two friends who felt this blog worthy of the award. 

My friend, Lori, who was my second follower when I began the blog just over a year ago, gave me this award.   I am so thankful that she sees this blog as honest and real because if that's NOT what I'm achieving, then I don't need to be doing it.  Believe me, at times it's been hard to keep it honest because it would be so much easier to stop or take a "break" when the going gets tough.  But that wasn't my intent when I chose the title, "Gains and Losses."  Through the good and the bad.  I had no idea that within three months, almost to the day, after my first post, you all would help me through the "loss" of my precious father-in-law, nor did I have any idea you would love me through the regaining of weight I had lost between the start of the blog and my FIL's death.  I have learned so much about myself and believe you will continue to hold me up until and long after I am at my goal weight.  I promise to continue being honest and real as I share with you my gains and losses.

The only requirement for this award was to pass it along to someone I felt deserved it for the honesty and reality found in their blog.  One of my favorite bloggers is Dawne who blogs at It's My Time.  I came upon Dawne's blog shortly after I began my own and we've supported each other since then.  Dawne lost a tremendous amount of weight in a short amount of time through clean eating.  She then hit a plateau which lasted forever even with complete adherence to her eating plan.  Then the weight started coming off again just before the holidays.  Since then she, like many of us, have struggled with a slight regain and finding the motivation to shed the remaining pounds.  I absolutely love her blog, her writing style and most of all, her complete honesty about how she's feeling and what she's thinking.  It's a long way to Canada, but I'd sure love to meet her in person and share our stories face to face!

This was given to me by Joy who blogs at Nuggets of Truth.  I truly appreciate this award as I can assure you that my real-world friends would call me anything other than stylish.  So I'm glad Joy must see something in my writing that she considers stylish.  I'm going to cheat a bit and link back to a previous post where I told you seven things about me.  And I'm going to wait until I'm back home and have more time to think about it before I pass the award along to the 15 (if I'm remembering correctly) other bloggers the award requires. 

Thanks again, to both of you.  You are very special to me!!

We are in week two of Bill and Sharon's Summer Trip 2011.  I have added some updates to the travel journal I am keeping, so follow the link if you are interested in keeping up with us.  I'll leave you with a couple of my favorite pictures so far.

Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak in the background
Colorado Springs, CO - May 16, 2011

Morning walk along the Animas River Trail
Durango, CO - May 22, 2011

Mesa Verde National Park 
Mancos, Colorado - May 23, 2011

Today we HIKE!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Time Keeps on Slipping Away! - Blog's First Anniversary

Pikes Peak seen from the Waldo Canyon Trail
Colorado Springs, CO - May 17, 2001

Greetings from beautiful Colorado!  We are having a terrific time here in Colorado Springs and find it hard to believe our week is almost up.  But that means a new place to explore and we are looking forward to moving on to the southwest part of this state where we'll be based in Durango for TWO whole weeks!  If you are following our trip or interested in reading the trip journal I am keeping, here is the link:

Because we are traveling, I let a very important date slip by!  On May 14th, one year ago, I hit publish for the first time and Gains And Losses: Life Through Sharon's Eyes was begun.  I really had no idea what I was doing.  I'd been struggling for a long time and knew I was on a dangerous path towards regaining every single pound of the 60 I had lost.  I'd been considering a blog, but never could get a sense of what I wanted it to be and at that point in time, wasn't aware that a Weight Loss Blogging Community actually existed.  I had no earthly idea what a "follower" was.  In fact, after I began the blog and my first follower showed up, it scared me to death!  LOL!  But on Friday, May 14th, the blog was born, followers continued to come and it has been a joy in more ways than I could possibly imagine.  Here is a link to that very first post:

I wish I could tell you that one year later, I am at goal weight.   But you know that I am not.  As a matter of fact, I'm pretty much exactly where I was one year ago.  Do I regret that?  Absolutely!   Especially since I made such progress between that first blog post and the end of August.  Did I have reason to have a setback in my progress?  Yes, you could say that.  But there has been ample time to turn it around, but the scale does not reflect that I have done that.  But I will - in due time!

Instead, what I have learned about myself this year through my writing and through your comments more than compensates for little movement at the scale.  I still have a long way to go, but everything about the way I approach healthy eating and losing weight has changed.  Once it clicks (and I truly believe it will), these pounds will come off slowly, but surely and I will hardly even notice what's happening!  

The thing for which I am most grateful simply because it is a milestone is this.  In prior weight loss successes, by now, I would have more than regained every ounce I had lost, plus added many more.  This time I have regained less than half of what I lost and have actually MAINTAINED that loss now for well over a year.  In my adult life, I don't think I've EVER stayed within five pounds of the same weight for more than one week!  I've ALWAYS either been losing or gaining.

So on this anniversary of my blog, I want to humbly thank each of you for every post you've read, for making the commitment to be a follower and most of all, for your supportive comments.  They have meant the world to me and will continue to do so.  I am fortunate to have met three of you in person and I can only say that all three of you have enriched my life and the time we spent together was precious. 

I still have so many ideas and thoughts running around in my head regarding changes to the blog and ways I might improve the content.  Time truly does just keep on slipping away and I try not to waste a moment of any day in my real world, which sometimes, just doesn't leave room for sitting in front of a computer. 

Thank you again for your part in making this adventure one I couldn't even have begun to imagine.  I hope you will continue to find enough here to keep on reading.  I need each and every one of you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

When the Image Becomes Clear

Columbine growing in a Hermann, Missouri garden
May 11, 2011

We found this large patch of Columbine growing in an exquisite garden in the front yard of a home in Hermann, MO where we spent three days last week.  Columbine is easy to grow, but I can also show you large patches of it in my beloved Great Smoky Mountains National Park that grows totally on its own with no human TLC whatsoever.  Columbine attracts other things of beauty such as hummingbirds and butterflies.  

When searching for today's picture, this one spoke to me for reasons which have nothing to with flowers or gardens.  What I saw were the two perfectly focused flowers in the forefront with all the others beautifully situated in the somewhat blurry background.  And it became to me a lovely picture of the time I spent this past Friday with Karen who blogs at Waisting Time.  Because, until last Friday, Karen was just like all of you except Kimberlynn and Tish (two other bloggers with whom I've had the privilege of spending time).  Bloggers with whom I had much in common and with whom I had formed a connection.  Bloggers who were beautiful and attracted others with beauty.  But bloggers who remained a bit blurry because we all know that until you meet someone face to face, their image will never be totally clear.  I experienced that when I spent time with Tish and Kimberlynn and now I've experienced it with Karen.  She is everything her blog reflects and is a delightful person whom I wish you all could know.  There were hugs, there was laughter, there was sharing, there was conversation that went way beyond weight issues and the challenges therein.  What NEVER happened were moments of silence or awkwardness.  What was solidified beyond any shadow of a doubt, was friendship and I am so thankful that she and I had this opportunity.  I am thankful to my sweet Mr. B who enjoyed lunch with us, but then graciously went back to our hotel so Karen and I could have several hours to get better acquainted.  It was an afternoon I'll never forget and truly hope it isn't the last time we are able to be together.  Her personality is reflected through her writing, but there is so much more.  There is a kind, caring woman with a delightful sense of humor who loves her family deeply and cares about her friends, both in her "real" world and her blog.  

If you EVER have an opportunity to meet those you have become attached to via your blogs, please don't pass up the chance to do so.  If you do, those lovely "columbines" will remain forever in a slightly blurry background when they could be growing beside you CLEARLY reflecting a show of unity and harmony.  It makes me smile with pleasure even now two days and 600 miles later.  Thanks Karen - it was an afternoon of joy which I will never forget.

Sharon and Karen
May 13, 2011

Summer Trip 2011 is progressing nicely and I am writing from Colorado Springs, CO.  Unfortunately our first full day here was cold, drizzly and foggy.  If I hadn't seen it before, you'd never convince me Pikes Peak was anywhere near because you sure couldn't see it yesterday.  We went to the grocery store and wandered around the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center where the plan was to do a couple of short hikes while still acclimating to the higher altitude.  Being outside just wasn't pleasant, nor were we really dressed for it, so we came back to our cute little cottage and relaxed for the rest of the day. Movies and popcorn were all that was needed after almost a week of non-stop travel.

I have added a couple of updates to the separate journal that's going to our family and friends who do not know about this blog.  Here is a link to that journal if you are interested:

Eating is going very well and as expected, I have lost four pounds since last Monday.  I have my trusty scales with me and my promise to you is that I will continue to weigh every day (as is my normal practice) no matter what!  We've enjoyed some treats and had a DELICIOUS lunch with Karen at Avenues Bistro in Leawood, Kansas.  Now that we are settled for a week in Colorado Springs, our level of exercise will pick up dramatically and we made some good choices at the grocery store. Yeah for a Whole Foods nearby and a KingSooper which is Colorado's version of Kroger, my normal grocery store in Tennessee. 

My posts will remain infrequent while we are traveling, but I'll let you know when I update the travel journal and I absolutely had to post about my visit with Karen.

Don't allow your blogger friends to remain blurry images in the background if you have any chance for the image to become focused and clear.  I promise, you will NOT regret the effort!  It will enrich your life and give you one more reason to smile!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Great Trip So Far!

Please forgive my lack of a picture with this brief update.  We are in Hermann, Missouri until Friday and our internet connection is painfully slow.  Trying to include pictures is an exercise in frustration.

Speaking of exercise, I've gotten plenty of it today and am looking forward to more in a few hours when we'll take our evening stroll. 

Healthy eating is going well although I'll admit, I've allowed myself a couple of treats.  Why do these little villages always have local bakeries that begin baking at 3 a.m. sending their delicious aromas wafting throughout the community? 

Not only will I have a super-fast internet connection come Friday, it's also that day I get to meet a super-great Blog Friend.  When we first became Blog Friends almost a year ago, I never in my wildest dreams thought we'd have a chance to meet this quickly.  I am so excited!

There are a couple of new updates to the journal.   Here's the link:

I also realized after my last post that I've let the cat out of the bag and everyone now knows that Mr. B is in fact, my sweet husband of almost 34 years, Bill!   He is affectionately known by all of his students as Mr. B and I actually do call him that about half the time!

Till next time, enjoy the journal.   Thanks for being interested enough to read it and allowing me to sort of substitute it for this one.  I'm having enough trouble keeping our friends at home satisfied with the journal and frequent Facebook updates.  There's no way I could keep this one up as well!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Travel Strategies

Mother's Day Celebration - May 8, 2011

We had a delightful Mother's Day Celebration at Lakeside Tavern, a local restaurant with beautiful views of the lake.  My parents, Mr. B's mom and our niece spent some quality time just laughing and enjoying being together.  

Tomorrow is the big day!!  We leave on Summer Trip 2011 and I can't begin to tell you how excited we are.  We started the summer trips in 2001 when Mr. B began his teaching career and was off during the summers.  Last year's trip was only in fragments as his dad was declining quickly and we did not want to leave for an extended period of time, so this year is the first real Summer Trip since I've been blogging!

Here's a little secret that only YOU will know.  Several trips ago, we started a secret tradition of leaving a day early IF we could get everything packed and ready.  It's the kind of deal where no plans are made - we'd just get everything done, look at each other and say, "let's go."  We'd then drive until we got tired, find a hotel and the next day, have less miles to travel to our first REAL destination.  We are hoping that will be the case today, although I'll admit, what we have left to do is rather intimidating.  We've gotten really good at it over the years, but it's still hard to get ready to leave home for six weeks feeling confident that everything is taken care of.  

Several of you have asked if I will blog while away from home.  I've thought long and hard about that.  Blogging is not the question - WHERE I blog has been the issue.  Here's my dilemma:  I have always maintained a travel journal when we travel because our friends and family seem to enjoy it.  The distribution list for THAT journal is now over 40 people and I've moved that journal from a simple email newsletter to

You recall that I have been very careful to keep THIS blog private and there is no one in my "other" life who knows about it.  I will never refer to this blog in the travel journal. Here's the deal.  I will maintain this blog and try to post frequently while on the trip.  I NEED the outlet and the accountability.  I suspect the posts on this blog will be brief and only related to how I am doing with healthy eating.  I will always link to the travel journal so that if you are the least bit interest in those musings, you'll know where to go to find them.  My only disclaimer is this - we let NO grass grow under our feet when we travel and blogging in ANY form or fashion will not be a priority.  I'll do what I can, but promise nothing!!

With respect to my current weight and eating patterns, I am truly anxious to get gone because it will help me tremendously.  I am not happy with my weight, but thankfully, am finished with the Prednisone and can already feel a difference in bloat and retention.  I've learned from the past that Prednisone weight gain does not FALL off of me like some medication related weight gain does, but it will come off eventually with lots of water intake, little sodium intake and just plain healthy eating.  

I know this goes against the normal grain of  vacation/travel mindset, but then, when was I ever normal? I've always done better, or maybe I should say it's always been easier, with healthy eating when away from home.  Probably has to do with all the physical activity and instinctively knowing it's easier when my body has been nurtured properly.  

One other thing before I head back to the suitcases.   On Friday, I am so excited that I will get to meet and spend an afternoon with another Blog Friend.  I'm telling you, if I could spend all my time traveling around the US/Canada spending time with Blog Friends, I'd have no weight issues whatsoever because I've learned that (at least for me) meeting you guys face-to-face is the greatest source of motivation and encouragement there is.  I absolutely cannot wait for Friday to get here.  I only hope she's half as excited as I am.

Here's the link for the travel blog.  There isn't much on it yet. I've written some pretty boring posts just to get the hang of the navigating around a different website.  I hope you enjoy it and will stick with me for the next six weeks one way or the other.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May Is For Mosaic

National Cathedral - Washington, DC
October, 2010

I do not write my posts in advance, so what comes out on this written page is pretty much what's on my mind at that point in time.  I'm a very early riser and my quiet time comes first.  Generally, whether I write and what I write comes from something brought to mind during those moments of quiet time.  I have loved beginning each new month with a word that helps me define my goals for the month and provides encouragement for this journey we call "life!"  But I must confess that I am in a mighty struggle right now and May's word has remained hidden.  

Not once, but TWICE from two totally unrelated sources, the word "mosaic" appeared in my reading this morning.  That was enough to get my attention because I believe that the things revealed to me through my morning quiet time are not random.  The first mention was in yesterday's reading from the book I have mentioned many times, "Bread For the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith" by Henri Nouwen.  These short meditations are so full of truth that if I happen to miss a day I always go back the following day and catch up.  Mr. B and I had an appointment at 7:10 yesterday morning so I was reading yesterday's meditation today.  Again, I do not believe that was by chance.  

Here is part of that reading:  "A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones.  Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold.  When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone.  But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself."  

A few minutes later, I was reading the next chapter in a book I am working my through and will write much more about in the future.  Until this morning, I had not even planned to mention it until I wrote about it.  But right there, on page 145, of  Lysa Terkeurst's book, "Made To Crave" was this sentence:  "A mosaic is a work of art made up of hundreds or thousands of tiny, broken pieces of glass or ceramic tile."

And when I read that rather unusual word for the second time in less than a hour, I understood that this needed to be my word for May.  Because it seems my life is in a thousand pieces, some wonderful, some troubling, some exciting, some difficult, some disturbing and yes, some just plain depressing.  And by the end of May, I'd like to work these pieces back into a work of art that is beautiful both from a distance and at close range.  

All the beautiful mosaics in the world must be polished, cleaned, refurbished and occasionally even taken apart from time to time.  Maybe I'm in the midst of one of those occasions!   But I've stood from a distance and seen the mosaic of my life when the pieces were fitting together beautifully and I've also learned that even then, when viewed close up, the flaws are easy to spot!  

Here are some of my "pieces."   This time around, the prednisone has done a number on me.  The dosage was for twenty days and between the side effects of the medication and the large number of events where food was not in my control, I simply have no fight left within me.  But yet I also knew that one ALWAYS has some control over what they choose to put in their mouth, so even knowing the medication was making things difficult, another piece is the self-disgust that has come with knowing I've gained several pounds in a matter of days.  Then there is the "piece" which reminds me I am leaving on a six week trip which tempts me to just let loose and deal with the consequences when I return.  That "piece" isn't even ME - it's someone else who is inhabiting my body right now.  I NEVER look at healthy eating as something which stops while we travel.  There are many other "pieces" too personal to put even in the privacy of this blog, but they are very real and very frustrating to me. 

I was fighting so hard for something that might help me make sense of all this and provide encouragement to turn it around.   And there it was - my "mosaic" and a whole month to work on my pieces one by one.  

But there is a larger "mosaic" upon which I can lean.  That is where the word "community" enters.  And I am so thankful for the many communities which give me strength.  Look again at the absolutely stunning stained-glass mosaics in today's picture.  This is only three of several found in our National Cathedral in Washington, DC.  Made up of thousands of individual pieces, how beautiful they are.  I have so many "pieces" in the form of family, friends, and YOU, my blog friends.  When "pieced" together and viewed both from a distance and close-up, there can be no better picture of strength and beauty.  

Thank you - ALL of you!  My "mosaic," though a tad fragile today, will look different by the end of the month!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Is It Vacation or Is It Travel?

Little River Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
April 29, 2011

I am of the opinion that you are either born with it or you aren't and the gene may or may not perpetuate itself from generation to generation.  I am talking about the spirit of wanderlust. defines it as "a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about."   Thanks to my mother, I was born with it!  However, my only sister would rather eat dirt than pack a suitcase and from childhood, she managed to make life miserable for the rest of us because she so hated riding in a car.  Mr. B, on the other hand, was not born with it nor did his family take many vacations.  Time off from work was for the purpose of "doing things around the house."  Since that isn't something normally covered in pre-marital counseling, you might understand that there were some tense moments during our first few years of marriage when it came time to plan what we would do on days off from work!!  But as the years have passed, he has truly come around and now enjoys "travel" as much as I do.  I love the planning and he is such a happy-go-lucky type of guy that whatever I plan is totally o.k. with him.

In our mid-30's, we set the goal to retire in our early 50's so that we could divide our time between personal travel and volunteer travel opportunities around the world.  Things change and careers go in different directions, but we never strayed far from the original plan.  When Mr. B accepted his current position at one of our community colleges, he had no idea that it would become his dream job.  But as things have a way of working themselves out, we realized that he could continue working as long as he liked, yet we'd still have plenty of time to wander around the USA and occasionally abroad.  I retired for good in 2002 and the fact hat he truly loves what he is doing is just icing on the cake!  So that is a short explanation of how it is that we are able to roam around the country during the months of May and June.  

We spent so many years juggling vacations where one spends one or two weeks frantically trying to see and do everything that returning to work is almost a blessing.  That is why those of us with "wanderlust" like to "travel" rather than take a vacation.  On our upcoming trip, we will spend five weeks in the state of Colorado.  We will take one week to get there and one week to get back home.  We will travel backroads as much as possible and we will enjoy spending nights in smaller communities where we can truly "experience" what it would be like to live there.  It's less about doing things and more about meeting people and understanding what is special about that place.

As I've pondered these things, as always, I relate the two concepts to my weight-loss journey.  I've always been interested in the variety of mindsets I see from fellow bloggers regarding "vacation."  For many, it's a time to  let loose and take a "vacation" from EVERYTHING including healthy eating and they are willing to deal with the consequences later.  For others, it's the mindset that healthy eating is a lifelong journey and the same good choices can be made when on vacation that are made at home.  For me, part of the concept of "travel" vs. "vacation" is the fact that we try to keep our routines similar to those we follow at home.  We are just following those routines in a different place.  Because of the increased amount of physical activity when we travel, I actually tend to LOSE weight!  We enjoy visiting local "eateries" and trying new things that are unique to certain parts of the US, but for the most part, we remain true to our healthy eating habits.  We are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination and to be able to afford the travel we enjoy, certain sacrifices must be made.  Those include staying in cabins/cottages/hotels with kitchen facilities and preparing most of our own meals.  

So as the days count down to our May 10 departure, part of the planning process is reminding ourselves that we will be "traveling" on a great adventure and that healthy eating will "travel" with us.  We want and need to feel our best!  We want and need to enjoy the stamina and energy levels achieved when our bodies have been fed exactly what they need.  This is no time to take a "vacation."

What about you?  Were you or were you not born with the spirit of "wanderlust?"