Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Too Much of ANYTHING is Never Good!

Flooding from the Ohio River in Metropolis, Illinois
May 10, 2011

Some will disagree with me, but I truly believe that too much of anything can be detrimental in one way or the other.  And yes, I would even argue that to be the case with too much money.  One only needs to point to the news or call out certain names to understand that too much money leads to greed, dishonesty, crime, cover-ups or just the inability to handle lots of money (i.e. lottery winners).  But this is not about money.  On our trip to Colorado (and you will be seeing pictures from that trip for a LONG time!), we saw lots of heartbreaking scenes like the picture above, where way too much water was causing major problems.  This was actually a totally flooded state park on the outskirts of Metropolis, Illinois.  On our return trip 6 1/2 weeks later, we noticed that the park still had not reopened and although the water had receded, the ground and facilities were a complete mess.

My point?  Since Monday's somewhat depressing post, I've done a complete about face and am now feeling like this:

Superwoman - Metropolis, IL

But in the process of the metamorphosis from Downer Dufus to Superwoman Sharon, I've learned re-learned some things which Stubborn Sharon wishes would sink in for good!  Since that horrendous weigh in early Monday morning, I have carefully planned, evaluated, measured and written down every morsel of food that had passed my lips.  And I have attempted to eat the way I always eat.  It becomes so clear to me that there can be no argument with WHAT I eat.  I cover every food group, eat food in the healthiest form available to me, try to eat it in the most natural form I can, and make a concerted effort to avoid processed foods.  But I have come to a crashing, crystal clear revelation that TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING IS NEVER GOOD!  Even yummy fruits and fresh vegetables need to be measured.  I'm not currently doing Weight Watchers, but I am a lifetime member so am a fan of the program.  But I honestly believe that I am the one who could mess up the "free" fruits part of the new plan.  For example, in my refrigerator right now, is a brilliant red personal watermelon.  It is totally delicious.  I could easily cut it into bite size pieces and eat the ENTIRE thing.  You could give me a choice of potato chips, cake or the watermelon and I would choose the watermelon.  But I must understand that TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING IS NEVER GOOD!

So this is what Superwoman Sharon is concentrating on this week and it is working.  I cannot thank you enough for your feedback from Monday's post.  It was quick, it was helpful and it was what I needed.  Thankfully, once I got over the shock of a 7-pound in 5 days gain, I went to work and the results have been good.  But I am giving myself credit for hard work.  Did I panic?  A little, perhaps, but the point is, I turned it around and we are back on track.  

1250 calories
17021 steps

1158 calories
18410 steps

As of this morning, I had lost five of the seven pounds.

Remember what I said about our return trip by the previously flooded park in Illinois?  The water had receded, but the mess remained.  What a clear picture of exactly what happens when we eat too much!

This morning during my quiet time, Psalm 145 was up next and one particular verse stuck with me all day.  Verse 14 says:
God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
      gives a fresh start to those ready to quit. 
The Message Translation
I can't say that I was ready to quit, but I believe that God (through the words and kindness of my friends in BlogLand) gave me a hand and the courage to make a fresh start. 

And I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Maybe I'm wrong - It seems one could NEVER have TOO many ENCOURAGERS!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Welcome Home - Reality Sets In!!

Yes, these are real!   Aren't they beautiful?
Poppyies growing beside a home in Durango, Colorado - June, 2011

By the end of this post, you are probably going to think I've spent a considerable amount of time rolling around in an entire field of poppies, but that's not the case.  Unfortunately, I am very much of a sound mind sitting in my den in Tennessee.   We had a wonderful trip home from Colorado and once more, if you are interested in reading about the things we saw and did during that four days, here's a link to the journal I kept for our family and friends.

But this morning, reality came crashing down and from this point forward, this post can't help but reflect the discouragement that hit me square between the eyes.  I'm feeling a lot more like the dude on the right than whoever that "adorable" (thanks, Karen) cutie is on the left.

Those wide eyes and grimace are exactly what was on my face when I stepped on the scales about 6:15 a.m. this morning.   Yes, I expected a gain as evidenced by the fact that this daily weigher had not been on the scales since last Wednesday morning, but no way did I EVER expect it to be SEVEN pounds.  Yep, that's every pound that I had lost while in Colorado right back on in five days.  I was expecting two, maybe three, pounds, but SEVEN?????   No way - but there it was.

Am I angry?   Perhaps.  Because it is one of those days when it just doesn't seem fair.  But then, the reality of it is that it ISN'T fair.  Life isn't fair and we all know that.  The reality of it is that I always have and always will have a sluggish metabolism that gains weight VERY quickly even when I don't perceive that I'm eating large quantities of food.  That is what seems so unfair.  Have I binged?  Absolutely not.  Have I overeaten?  Not excessively.   Have I eaten when I wasn't hungry, late at night or extra snacking?  Not really.   So yes, I'm a little angry, but mostly just frustrated.  Frustrated at how this struggle just seems so endless.

So what's the deal??  Here's the good news and another opportunity for me to thank you, my blog friends for the care and support you've given me over the past year as I've struggled with so many issues regarding my weight and the "whys" of it.   Because I've learned so very much.   I know what has happened, I know what to do and best of all, I caught it in five days!!!   

1)  My body HAS to move.  This is a non-negotiable!  And I went from hiking/biking/walking an average of 15,000 steps per day for six weeks to multiple days of being almost completely sedentary.  Four of them were spent riding in a car which is even worse.  And once we were home, it was so hot, humid and stormy that I couldn't bring myself to go outside.  This was a huge adjustment after the cool temps and cloudless blue skies in Colorado.  But my body HAS to move or it WILL gain weight no matter what I eat or don't eat.  Thanks to Mr. B who suggested that we walk in the mall each morning before he goes to school.  He's such a sweetheart, knows how I HATE walking in the mall, but will do just about whatever to help me.  This was his idea and we started this morning.

2)  I cannot eat at restaurants on a regular basis.  I simply do not (and may not EVER) have the discipline.  Arriving back at home after being gone for 6 1/2 weeks brought an immediate onslaught of invitations for dinner out or dinner at someone's home.  From Wednesday evening through last night, we did not eat one single meal at home except breakfast.  I did not want to do this and I tried to make good choices, but this is a no-win scenario for someone who gains weight as easily as I do.

3)  Psychologically, having "choices" taken away from me made me mad and that "anger" led to "I'm being forced to do things I don't want to do, so to heck with it."  Longtime readers of this blog will remember a series of posts I wrote on this very topic a long time ago.  I do NOT react well to being "forced" into eating situations not of my choosing and that anger translates into a "these people are forcing me to do things I don't want to do, so who gives a rip."  I am so much better than I used to be (thanks to writing it all out a long time ago), but I HAVE to learn to say "no!"  And I don't mean "no" once I'm already into a situation I don't want to be in.  I mean "no" to the invitation altogether or "no" that's not acceptable - we need to choose something else.  I know my limits and I know my reactions.  Those who truly care about me in my "real" world know my struggles and will adjust if I'll just have the courage to use that two-letter word "no."  Sometimes that stance seems harsh and selfish, but it's a two-way street and those who aren't willing to meet me halfway should probably tell me something about that relationship to start with!

And here's the plan:

1)  1200 calories per day.  This works for me.  Less in not enough nutritionally.  More does not result in losses.  Right now, I'm not going to obsess over exactly what those 1200 calories are.  I'm going for as much "bulk" calories as I can in order to stay full, but I am naturally a nutritious eater so will gravitate towards "good" stuff as a rule.  With the exception of bread and crackers, no argument can be found with WHAT I eat.  I just eat way too much.  And even a perfect eating plan can backfire if portion control is not closely monitored.  I will weigh and measure meticulously. 

2)  12,000 steps per day.  I normally strive for 10,000 daily, but am increasing that to help jumpstart.  Mr. B is a lifesaver.  I despise walking in the mall, but his going with me at 7:30 a.m. makes for great communication time and the stores in the mall have not yet opened, so its actually quite peaceful.  Getting the exercise done early in the morning is also a huge plus for me.  That leads to #3.................

3)  Visit BlogLand and write posts in the afternoon.  This is a routine I established last year and boy, does it work well for me.  My most difficult period of the day is late afternoon through dinner time.  I am most likely to overeat, snack or binge during this time.  I discovered that if I wrote my posts, read other blogs and sought out new blogs during this "tough" time of the day, it served as a huge encouragement to me.  I need to reestablish this habit and KEEP it.  But darn it, I love reading your posts first thing in the morning, so I may cheat on that one a bit.

4)  No white flour, no sugar.  Eliminating these two items will result in an immediate loss.  Neither are my current "triggers," but both have been consumed lately.

5)  Water, water, water  I'm good at this as water is my drink of choice, but there's always room for improvement and it is so darn HOT here that no amount of water is too much!

6)  Track progress in blog.  Haven't decided yet exactly how I will do this, but I'll keep you posted (and ME accountable) for how I'm doing.

Today has been easy once I got over the shock of stepping on the scales this morning.  Remember, I was expecting a gain, so had already begun psyching myself up for what I knew I had to do.  It was just that doggone SEVEN pounds.  What dufus (me!!) can gain seven pounds in five days and not realize it?

It's been a tough reentry all the way around!   The painters had begun painting our house from the April 27th hailstorm only to find some extensive water damage around our chimney that we, nor the insurance adjuster, had realized was there.  So our repair work is going to take more time and be quite a larger headache than what we had originally anticipated.  I am SO glad we didn't know that before we left!!

I am excited to be fully back in BlogLand and can't wait to get back to a regular routine of posting and commenting.  I've read frequently, so I know what's going on with most of you, but have done very little commenting.  Thanks for all your encouragement.  I value it highly.

So where are you in your journey right now?   Are you making progress, suffering through a tough patch or feeling like you are at the bottom of the barrel?   Bring me up to date............................

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Farewell to Colorado

Sprague Lake - Rocky Mountain National Park
June, 2011

Very early tomorrow morning, we will leave Estes Park and a few hours later, we will exit the state of Colorado heading eastward towards home.  It has been an absolutely wonderful five weeks in this beautiful state and once again, I leave it feeling as if there is so much more to be seen and experienced.  Being a lover of the outdoors is welcomed and celebrated here by the majority and exercise is a given at any time of day or night.  Courtesy is extended to anyone walking or biking and more often than not, you'll get a thumbs up or at the very least, a wave.  Much as I love my home state of Tennessee and every one of you know how much I do, this is not the norm when I am out walking or biking there.  Some progress is being made, but we have so far to go to be on par with most states outside of the south..  

Didn't mean to get on that soapbox - it's just always a little daunting to return so full of energy and excited about my exercise (especially biking) knowing that it will be a challenge just to find a safe place to ride.  Guess I'll just have to start planning my next road trip!

Healthy eating has remained a priority and although I have not lost any more weight, I've maintained the six pounds that I lost since May 9 when we left home.  We are taking four days to make our way back across the midwest and they will present some challenges.  We are staying in Bed & Breakfasts two of the nights which means a delicious breakfast each morning.  But that's o.k.  I can compensate at other meals because what's the point of staying at a B & B if you aren't going to enjoy the breakfast?  

I am excited about getting settled back in at home, catching up with the dreaded domestic stuff and resuming normal life.  I am doubly excited about resuming a fairly regular blogging schedule and find that I seem to have lots to say, so watch out!!  

If you have been reading or are at all interested in our trip, I have posted several additional updates to the journal I've kept for family and friends.  I'll leave you with that link and will post again as soon as I get a chance after we get home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Some Random Thoughts!

Deer Mountain Trail - RMNP
June 13, 2011

Mr. B took this picture yesterday as we were hiking to the summit of Deer Mountain.  With views like this not far from the start, you can only imagine what they were like from the summit.  It was an amazing hike in every respect.  Our time in Colorado in quickly coming to an end and we are beginning to turn our thoughts eastward toward Tennessee and home.  We have no regrets - we have used our time here wisely.   As much as we love our travels, we always look forward to returning home.  We miss our family, friends and our church, so the feelings are mixed as we prepare to leave.  There are many things we haven't seen and many trails we haven't covered, but that's o.k.  We will head to our home which we love and I'll start planning our next adventure.  Before we know it, it'll be time to get the luggage out again.  But we still have four more days in Estes Park.  Our plan is to hike twice, bike ride a trail in Longmont and as is our custom, spend the last day revisiting our favorite places close by.  

But back to the picture......I had no idea he was taking this shot and I really like it.   There is some deep contemplation going on and I can tell you exactly some of the things I was thinking about.

First of all, I am extremely pleased with the way I have handled my eating on this trip.  With all the exercise we get, I'm not surprised to have lost a few pounds.  I know that's unusual for most people on vacation, but not unheard of for me.  What I have been surprised about is that, with a few exceptions of course, my choices have been effortless and I can truthfully say I have chosen what I wanted.  And at times, I have easily made the choice to throw something away or leave it laying on the table.  Although I have indulged in some treats, only once have I overeaten to the point of feeling miserable.  And I didn't like that feeling AT ALL! 

Just today, I easily made a decision that in times past, I never would have.  From our one and only run to The DoNut Haus, I had 1/2 of a giant doughnut left.  Mid-afternoon, I decided I was ready to eat it and went to heat it in the microwave.  When I took the first bite, the staleness hit me square between the eyes.  I chewed it up anyway, but looked at the rest of it and thought, "not worth it."  I immediately put it down the garbage disposal.  In times past, I would've eaten it no matter how stale.  Don't know why, but I would have.   Who knows what choice I might make next time, but for that moment, I made a good one and felt great about it.

Earlier in the afternoon, we walked partially around the Lake Estes Trail which I wrote about here and as we headed back through town along the riverwalk, Mr. B mentioned he'd like some ice cream.  I thought about it and realized that I just didn't NEED ice cream.  Again, in times past, I would've gone right along with him whether I wanted any or not.  I thought I ALWAYS wanted ice cream.  To lessen the temptation, I asked if he minded if I stepped into the bookstore down the street while he went to get his ice cream.  That strategy worked perfectly.  He got his ice cream, sat on a bench outside the bookstore eating it and then came in.  I don't even know what kind he got!  Of course, my time in the bookstore cost him $19.00 since I found a book I couldn't live without!  LOL!

But all of this rambling just points back to what I said earlier.  I'm pleased with not only what I have or have not eaten while we've been traveling, but with the mindset that I've approached each choice.  I believe that progress is more significant than the fact that I've lost weight while being away from home.  Of course, I'll take that as well!!

I have really missed maintaining this blog in the way that I normally do and I am so looking forward to getting back into a regular schedule of posting the things on my mind along with the continued progress I plan to be making toward my goal.  It's one of those times when the ideas are rolling around much more quickly than I can get them jotted down (another thing I was thinking about when Mr. B took that pic) and I can't wait to start sharing them with you.  Being the radical soul that I am, I will let you in on a little secret.  Summer is my LEAST favorite season of the year.  Prime hiking season is over, the East Tennessee heat and humidity has kicked in and being outdoors just isn't pleasant most of the time.  I try to get my walking in very early and that leaves lots of afternoon time for writing.  Mr B's summer class starts the week after we get home, so I'll have lots of quiet time to get all those ideas and thoughts out there. 

And my last random thought for today is to thank you again for continuing to read while we've been traveling.  I really, really appreciate it.  This blog means a great deal to me and that's mainly because each of YOU have supported it with your comments and feedback.  I'd write it anyway because of the outlet and encouragement it provides to ME, but I still, to this very day, smile when that little "ding" tells me I have a comment.  

So there you have it - you know what I was thinking about as I gazed off into those totally mesmerizing formations we call the Rocky Mountains.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Come With Me On A Walk

Beginning point of the Lake Estes Walking/Bike Path
Estes Park, Colorado - June 9, 2011

We needed something simple to do on Thursday.   We have been hiking every other day and choosing something less strenuous to do on the off days.  For some reason, we had never found time to walk the 4 mile paved walking/biking/jogging path that circles Lake Estes in downtown Estes Park so that was where we headed.  Come along with me on our walk - you won't be sorry!!

This is looking toward the east and it was a bit cloudy as we began, but the clouds gave way to sunny skies.  The path soon moves into an area that is known as an elk calving area and this is that time of year, so we were warned to be careful.  Normally, elk are very docile creatures, but much as I'm used to regarding bear safety in my Smokies, you are emphatically warned to NEVER find yourself between a mama elk and her baby!!   We did see some mama's and babies, but never very close.

This is the Big Thompson River which also flows within nine feet of our cabin.  If you've read my other journal, you know that due to excessive snow in the high country, flooding has been a concern since we've been here.  You can't really tell from this picture, but the river had gone over it's banks by several feet on the left side.  

 We have reached the far eastern point of the lake and are getting ready to walk down below where it is damned and then back up to face westward and begin the walk back to the starting point.
This damn controls the release of water from the lake into the Big Thompson Canyon that runs out of Estes Park down to Loveland and beyond.  Lots of homes, cabins and other dwellings depend on this damn to keep their properties safe.  As you can see, the water was gushing over the spillway.

We've finally made the turn back to the west and are about 3/4 of the way to the end.   This was a beautiful walk and I hope to do it again before we leave.  How lucky the folks who live here to have 350 miles of Rocky Mountain National Park trails on their doorstep and THIS beautiful path to walk on the "easy" days!!

I've posted a few new journal updates on the journal I'm keeping for family and friends.  If you are interested, here's the link:

I can't believe this, but I have lost six pounds since we left home on May 9.  I am thrilled about that to say the least.  It's most certainly a combination of plenty of exercise and sensible decisions about eating.  I haven't deprived myself by any stretch of the imagination, but neither have I used "vacation" as a reason to indulge.  Remember, for us, this is "travel" and we see that as different than a "vacation," so my philosophy is that eating patterns should not change.   And for the most part, they haven't!  We have one more week in Estes Park, then on next Sunday morning, we will head eastward toward the "other" big mountains!!  

What's going on in your life this week?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

Rocky Mountain National Park
June 7, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, Colorado feel like coming home.  We spent three weeks here in 2009, so it feels familiar and comfortable.  We purposely placed the two week in Estes Park at the end of our time in Colorado because we knew that we'd be tired and would enjoy a few quiet days in a place that felt like home.  And it certainly does!!  We are here mainly for the purpose of hiking and so far, that is exactly what we've been doing.  I have posted a few new updates to the separate journal I am keeping for our friends and family, so if you are interested, here is the link to that journal:

I am happy to say that I am maintaining my weight even with some treats thrown in.  We are planning meals, grocery shopping and eating most meals in our cabin.  That helps a lot both with my eating properly and our staying within budget for this trip.  I'd forgotten about Hayley's Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Shop (they don't have a website, but these are Yelp reviews that tell the tale!!) and The DoNut Haus.  But I resisted both of those places last time we were here EXCEPT for a couple of special treats and I can do the same this time.  We've been here since Saturday and I've only had ice cream once and we've yet to visit The DoNut Haus! 

The journal tells all about the hiking we've been doing, so I'll just leave you with a few of my favorite RMNP pictures.  I love the alpine lakes one finds on the trails in RMNP.  We have lots of beautiful streams and waterfalls in "my" Smokies, but no alpine lakes at elevations of 9000 feet and above.  I am mesmerized by them - they are just stunningly beautiful against the backdrop of the snow covered Rockies.  So here are pictures of three we've hiked to so far.  Enjoy!

 Cub Lake - RMNP
June 7, 2011

 Sprague Lake - RMNP
June 5, 2011

Bierstadt Lake - RMNP
June 6, 2011

Hope all is well with you and you are enjoying your summer!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Through The Years - 34 of Them!!

San Juan Skyway near Telluride, CO
May 31, 2011

Tomorrow, June 4, Mr. B and will celebrate 34 years of marriage.  Pretty amazing, isn't it?  One of my favorite posts is the one I wrote last year on our 33rd anniversary, so I thought I'd link to it because I can't think of any better way to sum it up than what I've already said!. Here's that link.

Several years ago, we started taking an official anniversary picture just for fun.  They weren't all taken on June 4 of that year, but all were taken within a couple of weeks of June 4.  And just to show all you youngsters out there that being married to the same person for 34 years can be lots of fun, take a look at  years 30-34.

Santa Fe, New Mexico 
June, 2007 - 30 Years

Roan Mountain, North Carolina
June, 2008 - 31 Years

Estes Park, Colorado
June, 2009 - 32 Years

Mt. Pisgah, North Carolina
June 2010 - 33 Years

Colorado Springs, Colorado
June 2011 - 34 Years

Happy Anniversary Mr. B - I Love You More Than Ever!!

We have had a truly delightful two weeks in the Durango area. Today, we plan to hike one last time in the San Juan Mountains.  Early in the morning, we will leave for Estes Park, an area we've visited before, so we are looking forward to revisiting some of our favorite places, but I've got a long list of new things to see and do as well.  I've posted several new entries in our Trip Journal that is separate from this blog because it is open to our friends and family while this blog is only between me and you!!  Here's the link to that journal:

Eating is going well and I feel good that even with a few treats thrown in, we are eating in a healthy way.  I am so thankful Mr. B loves to cook (because I certainly DON'T) and finds it relaxing to prepare nice healthy meals for us when we travel.  Our condo in Durango has a dream kitchen and he's had lots of fun stirring up things with lots of nice vegetables and grilling lovely pieces of meat on the fancy grill.  I just come to the table when he says "come."  I'm a lucky girl indeed!!

I've been so busy telling you about my summer travels that I've failed to ask about YOURS!  What are your vacation plans for this year?  Is it a VAcation somewhere familiar or new or is it a STAYcation close to home?  I love hearing about your adventures as much as I love sharing mine!