Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Brief Break From the Rules

Lunch break from the highpoint of the Animas Mountain Trail
Durango, Colorado - May 24, 2011

For some unknown explanation, this week dawned with absolutely no motivation to blog.  There you have it, a true confession.  The weekend was exhausting and Monday was a trying day for reasons that shall remain private for now.  But it's funny how this blogging thing works.  At least for me, even when I don't want to, I still want to.   Does that make any sense to anyone else??   So I decided to take a quick break from the Diet Rules to Break posts you can find here and here.   Today, I'm going to write what's on my heart.

Shortly after I began this blog in May, 2010, I borrowed the idea of a daily picture from my friend, Margie, who blogged at My Healthy Living Through Weight Control, and was my first follower.  Two days after writing the post to which I linked above, she and her husband, Bruce, were killed by a suicidal driver while on their daily early morning walk.  I still miss her every time I sit down to write a post and will always honor her with my daily pictures.  The pictures I choose each day are not random, but carefully selected to either go along with what I intend to write or at the very least, reflect my mood that day. Which leads to the picture with this post as it does BOTH of those things!

I am sensing so much struggle amongst my friends in BlogLand and to a certain degree, in myself.  It seems every day, I move through my reader and see someone else having such a hard time of it.  For some, it is lack of motivation.  A journey that just seems so long and the knowledge that once the goal is reached, the journey doesn't end, it just changes!  For others, it is a myriad of pressures from without over which they have no control, but can't help but effect the mind so involved in the journey within!  Some have suffered devastating illnesses or accidents to family/friends and are having to shuffle lives with sudden caregiving responsibilities and lack of control over food choices (we all know that sitting in a hospital room is one of the WORST places to try and eat healthy) while others are dealing with personal challenges that require trying new meds that may help the illness, but carry the depressing side effect of weight gain.  I know of one friend who has just moved from one state to another and is missing the support group she left and facing the daunting task of finding another.  Another is waiting word on whether a proposal she submitted will be funded or not.  If it is, it could have huge ramifications on the remainder of her career.  And I could go on and on.

Every one of these have a name and a blog.  And as I thought of this, I remembered the picture Mr. B took at our lunch break the day we hiked this trail.  Some thoughtful trail maintainers had hauled that wonderful bench three miles up more than 1000 feet for the enjoyment of hikers for years to come.  I remember sitting there and pondering the number of paths I saw laid out in front of me.  And I remember thinking that on that day in May, I knew someone on every one of those paths.

The same holds true this morning.   I am grateful that today I can also name friends in BlogWorld who are very much on the straight and narrow path you see winding down the middle of the picture.  Yes, this summer has held a curve or two like you see in the upper part just before the road disappears, but they've held fast to their plan and the curve did not derail them.  They are an encouragement to me because I know their stories and I know it is NEVER easy.  

The road to the left of the straight one wound through some hills and valleys, but comes back out on the main road.  We all take that side road from time to time, but we find ways to negotiate the hills and valleys, we never get totally lost and pretty soon, find ourselves back on the road to our destination.

But oh my, look at the river to the right of the straight road.  As far as I could see from behind me to the view from the bench, it wound and wound and wound.  You could see how it had carved its way for decades along THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE!  And I realized that the river will never connect to the straight firm pavement of the highway.  It will go under it, it will weave around both sides of it, but it will NEVER join it.  And if we happen to be on the river path, we can never get to the straight path without pulling ourselves up out of the water and walking, crawling or running to join the straight road that was carefully planned by experts to follow the BEST route that avoids the most danger.  

Every one of us is on one of these paths.   I am so encouraged by those who strengthen me as they work their way down that path towards their goal looking neither right nor left at other alternatives, just looking ahead at the goal.  I see others who are off the main route for whatever reason and struggling through the hills and valleys trying to find their way back.  They've been on that straight road and can see it beside them.  They've just got to keep motoring on until they find the place where they can rejoin the highway.  And finally, I see those in the river.   Some are close to drowning and begging for a life preserver.  Sadly, we can encourage from the banks, but this is one time, the life preservation techniques can only be administered from within.  The longer we allow ourselves to be carried along the path of least resistance, the more exhausted we will become and the harder it will be to pull ourselves out of the water and climb to the straight path.  

Yes, I thought all of those things as I sat there that day and truthfully, I never intended to write about them, but they came back to me this morning as I read even more blogs of people that I care about who are struggling.  It is no secret to this blog that I am a Christian and am very much of the praying sort.  And I don't mind telling you that on that day, as well as this day, lots of prayers were said for some very specific people who are struggling.  From up there, those paths all looked so close together and as if it would be so easy to move from one to the other.  I often wonder if that isn't the way God sees us and thinks, "child, it isn't that hard.  YOU are the one making it hard.  The paths are close.  Find the one that gets you to your goal the quickest.  Don't make it so hard.  It doesn't have to be."  I know not every one reading this follows my belief system and that is so o.k.   But I also know you can look at my vantage point in that picture and see how easy it would be to get from one path to the other.  It just takes some effort and determination. 

Where am I today?  I'm currently negotiating some hills and valleys that are personal, but it effects the way I eat.  But I can see the intersection where I can rejoin the straight path and I'm almost there.  Today is better than yesterday.  And yesterday was better than the weekend.  I'm not going to have the July results for which I'd hoped, but the valleys got in the way and I am happy to say I stayed to the left and didn't fall in the river!!

Like I said, this was from the heart.  It may not have made much sense to you, but it makes perfect sense to me.  If you saw yourself in anything I wrote, you were probably on target, because most every sentence I wrote was directed to someone who is on my heart.  You can't "live" in this community and not care.  If you don't, you probably shouldn't be "living" in this community of wonderful Bloggers.

On which path are you traveling today?  I may know where you are, but others may not, so tell me and in doing so, you may find some new friends.

Diet Rules To Break - Rule #3 Coming Very Soon!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let's Break Some Rules - Rule #2

Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park
June, 2011

I loved the response from the first Let's Break Some Rules post.  If you missed it, please click on the link and read it now.  This post, and the next few, will make much more sense if you've read the background.  

It seems that most of you are breaking OLD rule #1 that advocates staying off the scale and judging progress by how you feel and how clothes fit.  Most everyone, losers and maintainers alike, have found the routine that works for them but it does include a regular date with the scales.  I loved seeing the variety.  This tells me we've found what works for us as individuals and are not simply following the crowd.  I also saw a distinct differentiation between those of us in weight loss mode and those who are maintaining.   Once we reach maintenance status, we'll need to re-evaluate rather than just plodding along in the same way.  

Lori of Finding Radiance made a statement that really resonated with me.  She says several pounds can be gained (she is a 100+ loss maintainer) before it shows up in the way her clothes fit, so that is NOT a helpful way for her to measure progress.  I am that way as well and could NEVER, EVER use the fit of my clothing as a tool for whether or not I've gained weight.  By the time I felt it in my clothes, I could be up 20 pounds and that's no lie!

But it's time to move on to Rule #2 and this one should illicit some spirited discussion............

Words in italics and red print are copied directly from the Family Circle Magazine article (2/11) 

Old Rule: Eat mindfully. Listen closely to your internal hunger cues. Chew each bite slowly, savoring the flavors, and stop as soon as you feel full.

Break It: Mindful eating works great for people with a lot of time and self-discipline—but it can be frustrating for the rest of us, says Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and a member of the Family Circle Health Advisory Board. "People end up feeling bad about themselves because they think they don't have any willpower," he says. Truth is, we're biologically programmed to eat as much high-cal food as we can, and working against that instinct can seem like an uphill battle. In Wansink's research, people tend to eat big portions of calorie-dense food almost automatically, especially when it's served in big bowls or plates.

Revised Plan: Re-engineer your environment so that it's easier for you to eat less, says Wansink. Switch to 10-inch dinner plates, "de-convenience" tempting treats by putting them on a high shelf, and portion out single servings of snacks instead of eating out of big containers. But a little mindless eating is actually good when it comes to fruits and vegetables, which most people don't eat enough of. Serve steamed vegetables, green salads, and cut-up fruit family-style at the table during mealtime (plate everything else at the stove)

Sharon's take on this one:   I will immediately and emphatically say that for me, the mindful eating fad is a joke!  Please do not be offended because take note that I said, FOR ME!  One of my strongest goals for this blog has always been that it be a place where differing opinions are welcomed and accepted.  But it also seems to me that this rule acknowledges the fact that "mindful eating" was somewhat of a fad and is now considered largely unsuccessful.  To stop before every meal or snack and ask my body, "what am I hungry for" or  to just stop eating when full (especially if there is more food in front of me) is simply a joke.  As research shows, our bodies are biologically programmed to want high density, high calorie foods in larger amounts than we need.  The restaurant association has certainly learned this about us, haven't they?  Yes, this rule is one I am very glad to see someone speak out about.  I could name four or five blogger friends who tried this approach as an experiment, found great success for a week or two, but quickly realized that yes, it did take way too much time and willpower and eventually led to failure.  For the vast majority of us, healthy eating and weight loss go hand-in-hand with careful planning.  Free reign with choosing what we "want" got us in this mess and free reign with food will most likely NOT get us out of it.  I love the suggestions in the "revised" plan and utilize many of them regularly.

In other news......................... I am thrilled to report that the work on my den should be completed by late Friday afternoon.  I simply cannot wait to move back into my den and have a day where I can stay in comfy clothes till NOON if I want to without worrying about construction workers showing up who knows when!!  

Mr. B finishes his summer class one week from today and we've got one two day trip and one nine day trip planned before faculty must report back on August  17.  

I mentioned in my last post that I had no challenges until this weekend.  Well, I was wrong!  Sunday was MIL's 80th birthday and her choice for celebration was dinner at Olive Garden on Monday evening.  I've talked about Olive Garden before and if you don't know, it is one of the WORST restaurants for a weight loss mode person to emerged from unscathed.  Nutrition info is available on their website, but finding something suitable is not easy and the first thing one must do is RUN from their very healthy looking never-ending salad bowl and breadsticks.  It is calorie laden and not a good choice EVER.  I ordered the Ventian Apricot Chicken which was very good, but then of course Mr B and his mother ordered not one, but TWO desserts.  I've written before about their sugar addiction and how many times it has sabotaged me.  Not their fault (although I've always felt a little consideration would be kind), I'm a big girl and should be able to say no, but MIL won't leave it alone and as always, I ended up eating my share of the two desserts.  Those feelings are some I'm still working through and am tired of, but I end up being angry with myself and angrier with them.  Enough of that - you've heard it before!  I was back on track the next day and back at my pre-Olive Garden weight yesterday.  So, no harm done except psychologically.   Next challenge is a large party at MY house Sunday afternoon.  Heavy hors d'ouvres, one of my greatest nemesis!  Yikes!

What are your thoughts about breaking Rule #2?   Have you ever tried the mindful eating approach?   What did or did not work?   Are you following that approach now?

P.S.  Sorry about the constantly changing font in this post.  It has something to do with copying and pasting from the Family Circle article.  I got tired of trying to fix it and wanted to get this published.  Although Mr. B might disagree, I promise I'm not losing my mind!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Let's Break Some Rules!

Deer Mountain Trail - Rocky Mountain National Park
June 13, 2011

Back in February, when I was spending WAY too much time in the waiting area of doctor's offices, I came across an article in Family Circle Magazine called 6 Diet Rules To Break.  I found the article extremely interesting and decided that I wanted to write a post on each of these "rules" in the hopes of getting some spirited discussion underway.  I was sorely tempted to "borrow" the magazine especially knowing that I was going to be frequenting this doctor's office for awhile, but I didn't and hoped I'd be able to find the article online.  I was successful and as of today, it is still posted online if you want to jump ahead and spoil the anticipation. LOL!  I loved the way the article stated the "old" rule, their justification for breaking it and a revised plan.  I'll add my two cents worth to each, but it is my hope that you'll chime in with your opinion and rationale behind it.  So here we go with Diet Rule #1 To Break.

Words in italics and red print are copied directly from the Family Circle Magazine article (2/11)

Old Rule: Stay off the scale. Don't focus on numbers—instead, zero in on how you feel and how your clothes fit.

Break It: Regularly stepping on the scale is actually linked to better results, according to findings from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), the largest investigation of successful, long-term losers. Among people who dropped at least 30 pounds and kept them off for a year or more, those who weighed themselves most frequently had the lowest Body Mass Index (BMI). People who slacked off on weigh-ins were more likely to regain their lost pounds—and report a greater loss of control around food—than those who kept up with them. Researchers say getting on a scale regularly is crucial because you can catch (and rein in) a small slipup before it becomes a big problem.

Revised Plan: Step on the scale first thing every morning. But here's the catch: "Use the number only to find out if what you're doing is working," says NWCR researcher J. Graham Thomas, PhD. "Don't let the number determine how you're going to feel about yourself that day." If you're up 2 pounds from last week, scale back on after-dinner snacking or pack your lunch instead of grabbing takeout. Down a pound? Stay the course and keep up with your healthy habits.

Sharon's take on this one:  I am in total agreement with this although I know many are of the "throw the scale away" school of thought.  And maybe there is some merit to going by how your clothes feel, but for every one I know who doesn't bother with the scale, I can name two who tried that approach and it failed them miserably.  It was a nice reinforcement for me to see the statistics from the NWCR backing up the theory that it's better to use the scale as a tool.  

The part of this "rule" that I think must become very individualized is how often to use the scale.  Like any other tool, the scale can be abused and then become a negative reinforcement rather than simply a tool for measuring progress.  I think there is even some wiggle room in the "revised" plan.  Maybe you don't need to weight every morning.  Maybe a weekly weigh-in at your WW meeting is what works for you.  I think the common thread here is finding a regularity that works for you, a method for recording it, a mindset that lets you process the information before letting it go, and then sticking to the routine you've established.  

I have a simple EXCEL spreadsheet that I have used since October 1, 2006.  I weigh every morning and record the weight on the spreadsheet.  At the end of each week, the seven days are automatically averaged and that weight appears in big, bold, red letters.  The column beside the average weight is set to tell me if that is a gain or a loss from the prior week.  That's what I focus on for a moment as a tool to determine what I might need to do differently the next week.  It works for me and has been working now for almost five years.  And just in case you wondered, there are NO blank spaces.  I weigh every morning no matter how painful it might be!!!

In other news............................. Much was accomplished last week towards getting the work completed in our den, but much remains to be done.  At least we were able to cover up the construction work enough for us to use the den this weekend although we'll have to tear it apart again tonight.  

Out of somewhere came a brief reprieve in our weather including lower temps and humidity.  Yesterday, the sun never made an appearance which was wonderful!  Never thought I'd hear myself say that, but the cloudy skies allowed folks to spend a little time outside.  Mr. B had an all day board meeting, so I took MIL with me to the farmer's market and we had a great time.  

Mr. B finishes teaching his summer school class in less than two weeks and we have another adventure planned for some of the days between the end of his class and the time faculty reports back for the fall semester.   Ah, now there's a word I'm loving to say.   FALL - can't wait!!!    As for the adventure, you'll hear all about it!

The eating is going so great.  How can it be so easy one week and so difficult the next?  And what is it that changes or flips the switch in our heads that sends us spiraling from days/weeks of effortless healthy eating and the good feeling it generates into what feels like a death spiral of thinking molded bread sounds good slathered with curdled butter?  Geez!   At any rate, I'm happy to say right now I'm in the pattern of "effortless" and I sure hope it stays that way.  No significant challenges this week that I'm aware of and that's the way I like to face a new week!

What are your thoughts on breaking Rule #1?  Do you agree with the NWCR that the scale can help keep us accountable in several different ways?  What are your "scale" habits?

Look for Diet Rule to Break #2 later this week.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Miss South Carolina - Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down??

View from the balcony of our condo - Durango, Coloraod
May, 2011

Well, in all honesty, I have to start by saying that I've been totally unmotivated this week and that has included my interest in taking time to write a blog post.  I know where this has come from and it will pass, but for right now, I'm just in a real funk.  My den is my sanctuary.  It is cozy, pleasant and has large picture windows on three sides which allow me to look out into my backyard which is somewhat secluded.  I spend hours sitting there reading, writing, meditating, planning and whatever else that can be accomplished from that position.  Without that go-to spot in my house, I become a bit lost.  Don't get me wrong - we have a lovely living room and I have an office, but it's just not the same as my den.  If you read my last post (here it is), you know what a mess we are in and it will be a least two more weeks before the work is complete.  So between losing my "sanctuary," gosh-awful dust, construction workers everywhere and a less than enthusiastic response from our insurance company, my attitude has gone from bad to worse.  

But I am happy to say that my eating has stayed very much on a even keel.  I remain very motivated in this area and am making progress of which I am proud.  I've kept up my goal of 12,000+ steps each day and am staying very close to 1,200 calories.  I feel strong and in control.  I haven't felt this positive about my weight loss journey in several months.  It feels good!!

So on a random sort of tangent, I was do you feel about the Miss South Carolina story?  In case you've been living under a rock, the newly crowned Miss South Carolina, Bree Boyce, weighed 234 pounds at age 17.  In just two years (I've not been able to learn which two years or how long ago this was), she lost 112 pounds supposedly through healthy eating and exercise.  In addition to winning the overall title, she won the swimsuit competition in the pageant and has an amazing body.  She claims this was achieved through working with a trainer and 6+ hours of exercise daily when preparing for a pageant.  She claims she ONLY exercises 30 minutes to an hour each day when not getting ready to compete.

She has appeared on every morning show this week and is all over TV and the web.  If you haven't heard her story, please click on the above link or "google" her and give a listen.  It is truly an astounding makeover.

To borrow from my friend, Karen at Waisting Time, I'm giving Miss South Carolina a HUGE "thumbs up" for her dedication and perseverance.  I am thrilled that someone who is a real life success story will use diet and healthy eating for her platform.  She will have a huge audience and hundreds of thousands of women of all ages hanging on to her every word.  What a difference she can make and I wish her all the best in the Miss America pageant.  

But I also have some concerns.  This is a new story and the media is all over it.  But it seems that I am hearing the same few claims over and over with not a lot of specifics.  She has already been placed way up there on a mighty tall pedestal, but I'd love to hear more about EXACTLY what her definition of "healthy diet and exercise" really is.  That pedestal can tumble as quickly as it rose should we learn that this dramatic change was achieved in a not-so-great way.  For example, if an eating disorder is learned, how many young women will decide that's o.k. if the end result is to look like Bree and become Miss South Carolina.  

And then there's the maintenance.  One only has to look as far as Mike Huckabee , a political figure who lost a dramatic amount of weight in 2005, wrote a best-selling book about it and toured the country promoting healthy eating and his book.  He has since gained back the majority, if not all, of the weight he lost.   

Granted, once Miss South Carolina completes her reign (should she win) or returns to South Carolina (if she doesn't win), she will fade into obscurity and most of us will never know whether she maintains her loss or not.  

But I still can't help but wonder whether this story and this platform is a "thumbs up" for those of us who plug along day after day trying to lose our excess weight in a healthy way that will allow us to maintain that loss permanently.  We do this without the benefit of six+ hours of exercise each day with a professional trainer or without the benefit of dieticians and/or professional nutritionists.  Or is this story a major "thumbs down" which will only serve to perpetuate false hopes in many minds of all ages as to exactly what are reasonable goals to achieve, in what period of time and using what methods?  Unfortunately, there are very few of us who can EVER expect to look like Bree Boyce no matter how much weight we lose.

Personally, I'm just thankful for good old Jared and his famous Subway diet.  He seems to me to be an example of someone who lost his weight in a semi-healthy way, got Subway on board to help promote it, became a celebrity and a household name,  and has actually MAINTAINED that weight for several years now.  I also give Jared and Subway a lot of credit for beginning a trend toward fast food places offering at least one option that could pass for healthy!!

And for me, my heroes are Debby, Diane, Lori, Lynn, Cammy, Ellen, and a host of other blog friends who are MY encouragement and MY inspiration. They've each lost more than/or close to 100 pounds and kept it off.  They aren't looking for celebrity status and will be the first to tell you that losing the weight is only the first half of the battle.   In my book, they'd ALL win the swimsuit competition in their respective states.  And I promise you, NONE of them work out with a professional trainer 6+ hours a day!!

What about you?  Do you think Miss South Carolina will be a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down" for the future of healthy eating, diet/weight loss and exercise by using it as her platform?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Work In Progress

Thomas Divide Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
July 10, 2011

Have you ever had something incredibly difficult and inconvenient happen that eventually became a blessing in disguise because it uncovered something much worse that could have proven disastrous? Many people in the southeast, us included, experienced severe weather on April 27th of this year unlike anything we'd ever witnessed before.  I had never seen and certainly never heard the sound of tennis ball size hail hitting my roof for over 10 minutes.  Fortunately, my side of town escaped tornado damage, but many of my friends did not!  Our damage appeared mostly cosmetic, so we worked with our insurance adjustor from afar and were able to continue our trip to Colorado as planned.  All went smoothly UNTIL the painters arrived and discovered what they said were "a couple" of rotted boards on the side of the house that had sustained the most damage.  It was suggested that someone come replace those boards before the painting was done.  When that individual tore away the first board, it was discovered that we had one heck of a mess.  Somehow, water, hail or wind had damaged the roof and flashing around the chimney in our den and had been seeping/leaking/ruining the insides of our den walls since at least April 27 and possibly from earlier.  He kept ripping more and more boards trying to find the end of the wet "innards" of my den.  It became increasingly painful to watch!  By the time he finally reached dry boards, it was evident that one whole side of my den was destroyed.  How could something that horrible have been invisible until something else (a hailstorm) came along to uncover it?  Eventually (and not very far in the future, I might add), that entire wall would have caved in.  I keep asking, "how could we have prevented this?"  There isn't an easy answer and the seepage  probably dates back to some shoddy roofing that was done seven years ago, but our contractor insists that the hail was so severe for so long that it finally became visible from the outside.  Repairs began this morning and this is what one corner of my den look like right now:

The joists were added this morning to keep the roof from caving in when they remove the walls and window.  Repairs will last approximately three weeks.  Thankfully, we've got a wonderful, honest guy who will do superior work and with whom I'm comfortable giving a key, so I am not stuck here while he works.  

As this saga has unfolded, each worsening layer has been a vivid reminder of how much unseen damage can occur before the warning signs are ever spotted.  Our bodies are made up of so many layers that are never seen, yet are required to work properly if we are to function at our optimum potential.   

This tiny little "bad" space:

Led to the discovery of this:

Which led to this:
And finally to this:

Our contractor continues to assure us that we did nothing wrong.  Although it was somewhat of a fluke, there is no way we could have known this was happening.  But our house is old and when we can't do something ourselves or when we see something amiss, we take steps to get the proper experts here who can help us. 

This healthy eating thing is important.  It is VERY important.  We continue to learn that certain things we put into our bodies are harmful and we are even learning that sometimes things in our environment that we smell or touch can be harmful.  But the lesson of which I am reminded here is that no matter what we eat, smell, touch or breathe, undetected and unseen damage can occur from the inside out.  

Don't waste time.  Get that annual physical.  Have those tests.  Get that horrid mammogram and visit your gynecologist every year. Get that bone density scan.  Visit your eye doctor and dentist at the appropriate time - not when you get around to it.  Do whatever it takes to arrive at a healthy weight and stay there.  Your joints are one of those things like the studs in the walls of my house that will never TELL you they've been damaged until it's too late.  That's damage that can't be seen, but every extra pound triples the burden you are asking your joints to carry.  

I learn new life lessons every day that help me in my journey to a healthy weight.  This has been a vivid reminder that just because something LOOKS right doesn't mean all is well.  I'll do all I can to keep my body functioning properly from the inside out.  And when it doesn't, I'll get help from the best experts I can find. 

I finally was able to hike in my Smoky Mountains on Saturday.  It was incredibly hot and humid even at an elevation of over 5,000 feet.  I missed the cool temps and dry air in Colorado, but it sure was nice to be back home in MY mountains.  

Eating is on plan and going well.  Weight comes off of me so slowly and a recent thyroid check told me that we still don't have it regulated properly.  I am still of the mind that this could be at the root of why I have felt so rotten most of this year.  The thyroid is such a persnickety little thing and it sure can cause a lot of trouble.  But I've got an expert and we're working on it.  Don't want any surprises!!

What's happening in your world these days?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jumpstart July

Just outside Durango, Colorado
June 4, 2011

I'd love to report that for the first six months of 2011,  my life has been the picture of tranquility reflected in today's picture taken very early one morning as we were leaving Durango, Colorado for the last time.  The morning was still, the winds were calm and the sun was just beginning to peek over the edge of the mountains.  The solitary hot air balloon seemed to exude confidence that it had found it's way and would tolerate no interference along the path it and its pilot would navigate.   

But that would not be a fair report because my life has felt much more like this........................
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - Colorado
May, 2011

.....................jagged edges, rocks, opportunities to fall (or fail!), a seemingly never-ending maze of decisions  trying to find rest either on the smooth surfaces of the top or the peaceful waters of the bottom.  

I have fought to desperately for a path that looked like this:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - Colorado
May, 2011

But most of the time it has looked like this:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - Colorado
May, 2011

Someone, I believe it was my friend Lori, reminded me last week when I was lamenting my post-Colorado travel weight gain, that I had been through a lot physically the first half of this year.  Believe it or not, I had forgotten that along with one important piece of information that I never mentioned in the blog because I was so darn tired of talking about how bad I felt.  

One month before we left for Colorado, I paid yet another visit to my ENT in total desparation.  Even though the eye infection had cleared and I supposedly had no more infection in my sinuses, I just did not feel well and was determined to be better by the time we left.  He looked at me and said, "prednisone."  I am embarrassed to say that I literally fell apart.  It was the culmination of four months of feeling like crap, fighting it the whole time and knowing I didn't feel all that much better.  I felt stuck with no GOOD choice, so I gave in.  He prescribed 20 days of a continuously high dose (not the tapering dose-pack I had taken in March) of Prednisone.  The prednisone made a huge difference in the way I felt as I knew it would, but the consequence I knew I might as well resign myself to was a gain of 13 pounds over the course of the 20 days.  I never gave up and I never changed my healthy eating habits (except for a couple of REALLY depressing days), but for me, 20 days of prednisone WILL result in a weight gain and there is absolutely NOTHING I can do about it except cry and I did plenty of that!!  

I did feel better and although I knew the weight would not fall off as it does with some medications that cause weight gain, I also knew I could hike/bike it off while in Colorado.  So here's the bottom line for my mid-year report.  During the second quarter (April), I gained 13 pounds, but lost 7 1/2 of them in late May/June for a net second quarter gain of 5 1/2 pounds.

Fortunately, I am not discouraged.  In fact, I am highly motivated and doing well with healthy eating by choice.  When I reach my goal somewhere down the road, my path will be littered with scars like these:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park - Colorado
May, 2011

But I know that there is a point to be reached after which the path will never be completely smooth but perhaps, the edges will be a little less jagged and even though there will still be cloudy and dark times, maybe, just maybe, they'll look a little more like this:

View from the end of Black Canyon - Colorado
May, 2011

I am looking forward to the remainder of 2011 in the hopes of finding some peace and tranquility!   I hope you are!

Thanks for your friendship and support in the good times as well as the tough days!

Friday, July 1, 2011


Bridal Veil Falls - Rocky Mountain National Park
June 9, 2011

I am about to do something that I have never done in a post during the life of this blog.  I am going to  talk about a specific food item that I recently discovered.  And I guess I should say this upfront!  Although I have been in communication with the folks at NOOSA Yoghurt, it was at MY instigation and MY determination to hound them until I was able to figure out how to get this product at home.  Turns out they are some really cool Australian folks, but until I send them a link to this post, they have no idea that I write a blog, am endorsing their product on my blog and they certainly haven't asked me to do anything.  I did document NOOSA's trip from Boulder, Colorado to Tennessee in pictures and have sent those to NOOSA, but again, not for anything in return.  Just because it was fun!!  Hope that covers everything I'm supposed to say!

The Boulder County Farmer's Market in Boulder, Colorado is without a doubt, the best farmer's market I've ever found.  We fell in love with this market when we were in Colorado two years ago and could not wait to return this year.  It is an incredible mixture of fresh fruits and veggies with all sorts of other locally produced or grown items.  It is HUGE and obviously a well loved activity in Boulder.  Once thing most vendors do that has not yet caught on here in our local market, is provide samples.  So being the yogurt lover that I am, I headed directly over to the booth for NOOSA Yoghurt.  I mean, really, how could you not be intrigued by a name like NOOSA and folks who don't even know how to spell yogurt?  LOL! 

And the other thing I love about the Boulder Market is that the folks on BOTH sides of the vendor booths are having a REALLY GOOD TIME!!  There's no rush, take your time, enjoy the product and sure, they are happy if you buy, but if you don't, they send you off with a cheery good-bye.  So, Mr B & I sauntered up to the NOOSA booth and I said, "what's a NOOSA?"  The dude handed me a cup of honey flavored YOGHURT (spelling intended!!), I took the first bite and nearly swooned!  That was some of the best stuff I've ever put in my mouth.  It was so thick it tasted like pudding.  But here's the real endorsement.   Mr. B, who generally turns up his nose at yogurt, looked at me and said, "we gotta get some of this!"  Turns out, NOOSA is a "shire" located on the sunshine coast of Australia and "yoghurt" is the way it's spelled there. 

Unfortunately, we were on our bicycles having parked a few miles away to avoid the traffic associated with the market, so we were unable to purchase any NOOSA.  However, I had noted a sign on the booth stating that NOOSA could be found at Whole Foods or King Sooper's (a Colorado Kroger affiliate for you easterners!!).  So we stopped at King Sooper's on the way back to Estes Park and guess what?  No NOOSA!    That is when my email friendship with these cool Australians began.  To make this story a bit shorter, they guided me to the Whole Foods in Boulder where I was certain to find all varieties and our last stop as we left Estes Park on June 19 was at Whole Foods in Boulder to buy as much NOOSA as our cooler would hold!  

Check our their website, enjoy their story and find some NOOSA!  I guarantee you will LOVE it!   I was thrilled to learn that Fresh Market grocery stores carry NOOSA, but I held little hope that either of the Fresh Market stores in my community would actually have it.  Let's just say I embarrassed myself and mortified Mr. B when we walked in our local Fresh Market last Saturday afternoon and there smiling happily at me were several different varieties of NOOSA!  I can get it whenever I want it!  I don't have to make monthly trips to Boulder (although that wouldn't be so bad except I'd go bankrupt!).  

Now that I've gushed disgustingly about something I love, let's get down to the facts.  Things are still going so well here.  I am somewhat surprised, but thrilled.  All seven of the Colorado to Tennessee travel pounds are gone.  It has been a week of healthy, on-plan eating and I am happy to say it has been effortless. I've been within my 1200 calorie range and exceeded my 12000 steps per day goal. We have a couple of social events this holiday weekend that will be challenging, but without being overly confident, I believe I'm o.k. to face the them.  

I have not yet returned to my beloved Great Smoky Mountains National Park since we've been home.  No one is willing to hike with me in this heat and quite frankly, I'm not sure I'd want to go even if I could find a partner.  My best hiking "bud" nearly stepped on a timber rattlesnake while I was gone and everyone say that the bears seem to be extra hungry and aggressive this year.  I've been out walking early in the mornings and we've been walking in the mall (ugh!), so I've gotten my exercise, but oh man, my hiking boots are calling out to me!

Today is a new month and it's my birthday month, so I'm really excited!  Have been searching for my word for July and I think it's going to be JumpStart July.  But more on that Monday!  

Have you ever heard of or seen NOOSA Yoghurt?  If not, go find some and let me know if you like it as much as I do.  My favorite flavors are Mango & Honey.  BTW, nutrition data for all flavors can be found on their website along with a store locator and cool information about their company.  And don't worry, you'll have NO problem with any of the ingredients.  It's all natural and all local! 

Well, what do you know?  It's LUNCH time.  Think I'll have me some Strawberry Rhubarb NOOSA with fresh strawberries.   YUM!

Have a GREAT and safe Fourth of July weekend.   G'day Mates!