Monday, January 30, 2012

Pride Had Nothing To Do With This Fall!

Goshen Prong Trail - GSMNP
January 24, 2012

Oh boy, did I ever take a tumble.  But before you panic and begin sending encouraging words my way, I am happy to report that my "fall" had nothing to do with eating or was in any way related to the current success I am experiencing with losing weight.  In fact, I have yet another week of healthy eating behind me alternating between Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 of the 17-Day Diet.  It has become second nature to me and I'm truly enjoying the way I am eating, the wide variety of food I am eating and most importantly, the way I am feeling both physically and emotionally.

Nope, this "fall" was of the very real variety when one loses their footing, dances around for a few seconds trying to regain their balance and then realizes just before hitting the ground that this really is going to happen.   Every serious hiker falls occasionally.  There are just too many hazards along the trail to avoid.  I'm naturally pretty clumsy, but this was only the third time I've taken what could've been a serious tumble.  And that's in over 20 years of hiking.   

I haven't written a whole lot about the fact that I was diagnosed at age 28 with Acute Rheumatoid Disease.  My original diagnosis and years of pain while finding the proper treatment plan is fodder for several posts, but the miracle is that with the advances in treatment options for the disease, mine has pretty much been in remission for several years although I have been experiencing some pain that started early last year.  HOWEVER, for someone like me, falling can have major consequences that don't show up immediately.  A jolt to the body can easily trigger a major flare which often leads to full blown disease progression.  

All that to say, for obvious reasons, I try to be extra vigilant while on the trail in order to avoid falling.  I am so grateful just for the fact that I can hike since for about five years in the late 80's, I could barely walk, much less do any form of physical activity other than work.  Some have told me I shouldn't take the risk, but to me, the risk is in NOT pursuing the things which benefit me physically and mentally.  

Looking back, I have no idea what caused me to fall and that's the way it often is.  The trail was relatively flat, smooth, not rutted or rocky.  In hindsight, it is likely that I looked up or around at something that caught my eye and just stumbled.  And I hit the ground!!  First my knees, then my elbows, then my nose and lastly, forehead.  And I saw stars!!  Scared my hiking bud to death.  But there was no blood, the stars cleared pretty quickly and although I knew my right elbow was injured, it wasn't bad enough to turn around.  Nothing broken, all teeth still in place and no knot on forehead.  I was lucky.  Very lucky!

This happened on Tuesday.  By Friday, the swelling in my elbow had returned to normal and I had all mobility back.  Both elbows, knees and chin are bruised, but not badly.  The only thing still sore is my upper arms which probably caught the brunt of the fall as I tried to catch myself.  Mr. B and I actually returned to the hiking trail yesterday and enjoyed hiking together.  He did, however, have to help me lift my pack onto my shoulders because my upper arms are still so sore.  

Why am I telling you all this?  Because it was a vivid reminder to me that life is all about falling.  We will all fall.  We live in a fallen world and our lives will always be impacted by the ways in which we personally fall as well as the "falls" taken by people we love.  They will also be impacted by the "falls" of people we've never even met.  

So what do we do?  We get up.  We check for injury.  We sit still for a moment to allow the stars to clear.  We hold out our hands for help getting up.  We move on.  We live with the consequences.  We handle the pain.  We wonder if we could have or should have done anything differently.  Sometimes we cry.  And one day, the pain from that particular circumstance is gone and we put it behind us.  Until the next time.  Because there WILL be a next time.  

It had been almost two years since the last time I fell, but mostly likely, I will fall again.  

Whether we are talking about a faceplant 5.5 miles in the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an epic fail in the kitchen, a conversation we'd love to retract, angry words that should've been left unsaid, or an eating binge of  monumental proportions, we are fallen human beings and we will continue to fall as long as we live on this earth.  




Monday, January 23, 2012


River Bluff Trail - Norris Dam State Park
January 18, 2012

When I hear the sweet voice of my seven year old next door neighbor on the other end of the telephone, I knew exactly why she was calling.  We have a great friendship with them and their two young daughters.  Our garage is very visible from their backyard play area and the two girls always run over to say hello if they see one of us outside.  But only twice a year does Miss Isabel TELEPHONE in her most business-like manner.  And in January, that always means, "would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies from me this year?"  As always, I said, "of course, we would."  But this year's difference came in my handing the phone to Mr. B with a look that said it all.   A)  Buy anything EXCEPT Tagalongs or Samoas and B) take em to school with you or keep em out of my sight.  I left the room so have no idea what he actually bought.  I also know that I am in full control right now and that's a good feeling.  The cookies or the idea of the cookies present no problem, but I also know that one bite can derail what is now eight weeks of success.  I refuse to place myself in a position of temptation any more than is necessary.  Tagalongs or Samoas are a temptation that simply doesn't need to be laying around.  I suspect that everyone reading this post will have to deal with the Girl Scout Cookie issue.  Perhaps if you think about it NOW and decide what stance will be yours this year, when the time comes, it will be easier to either walk away, eat one, or adhere to whatever decision you had previously made regarding the cookies.  Come on folks and admit it.  Yes, it's for a good cause and I would never disappoint my young professional saleswoman from next door, but the cookies are expensive and aren't all they great in the long run considering some of the yummy cookie recipes easily available in BlogLand.  As my friend, Joy would say, "STAY STRONG."

Continuing on in the sprit of Tagalongs, I was totally thrilled last week when Blogger FINALLY got with the program and added the "reply" feature to the comment section of our blogs.  This means that those of use who use the Blogger platform now have the same benefit as those using Wordpress and others.  I've had no complaints or problems with Blogger (knock on wood!!), but this has been my one frustration.   I've just never known quite what to do for adequate responses when commenters ask questions or need some sort of reply.  And I've always felt somewhat as though I were ignoring things that needed to be addressed.  Here will be my stance on this.  I'd love to say that I will reply to every comment and I will certainly try, so please comment away and more importantly, remember to check back for a reply.  For now, I'm just excited to have the option!

And as usual, I am the last to respond to the most recent flurry of "tagging" that began running rampant in BlogLand around the start of the New Year.  So you can call me the world's laziest, but conscientious TagALong!   LOL!   Problem is, I was tagged by so many people, I can't even remember who all of them were.  I lost count at five and now can't remember who the fifth one was, so all I can say is thanks to all of you.  It may not seem that way, but I really do appreciate that you like my blog well enough to "tag" it and I love, love reading the 11 random things about everyone.  But I do remember that the first to tag me was my friend Karen, from Waisting Time, so I'll go with answering her eleven questions.

But first, eleven random things about me:

1)  I am left handed.  My only sister is left handed.  We can find no trace of anyone else on either side of my family who was left handed.

2) I drive a 2000 Toyota Corolla with 183,000 miles on it. 

3)  My dream since childhood has been to drive an RV around the perimeter of the United States.

4) My hair is its natural color and has never had anything put on it.  Not even that awful Sun-In!!

5) Every morning, I read the chapter in Proverbs from the Bible that corresponds with that day on the calendar.  There are 31 chapters in Proverbs and 30/31 days in each month.  I've been doing this for years and every day I find a new proverb to guide me through the day.

6) My "trigger" foods are Potato Chips, Triscuits and Kettle Popcorn

7) The only vegetable I don't like are green peas.

8) At the end of my 8th grade typing class, I tested faster than anyone ever had before. 

9) When my Toyota Corolla mentioned above dies, I secretly want a Pacific Blue Toyota RAV4.  Mr. B says it's my mid-life crises car.

10) Mr. B never actually proposed to me.  As we were sitting at a red light, he just looked at me and said, "I reckon we ought to get married one day, don't you think?"  I just looked at him and said, "duh" and we drove on to wherever it was we were headed.  We will celebrate out 35th anniversary in June.  Guess we knew what we were doing after all!!!

11) I am terrified of two things and two things only.   Thunderstorms and snakes.   (This came to me as number 11 because we are currently in the midst of a horrid and most unusual January severe thunderstorm.)

So because of random thing about me #11 plus the fact that this post is already quite long enough, I'm going to defer answering Karen's 11 questions to my next post.   Excuse me, while I go hide under the bed until this storm lets up.  Nope, make that the basement.................headed that way now. 

What does your week look like?   Hope your Monday is starting slightly less NOISY than mine!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Progressing Quite Nicely

This very well-preserved railroad bridged "surprised" me quite nicely as it was more than five miles into the backcountry along the Cabin Flats Trail.  Isn't it beautiful?
January 9, 2012

Good Morning!  I am still basking in the glow of what Mr. B called, "the perfect day!"  Tomorrow (Tuesday) is his birthday and we celebrated with friends yesterday by attending our sixth performance of Les Miserables followed by a delicious dinner at Chesapeake's, our favorite local restaurant.  I make no apologies for having seen this Broadway production six times.  But I do admit that this isn't even MY favorite, although it is his.  My favorite is Phantom of the Opera which we have only seen five times, so guess what's next.  My birthday, maybe???  No matter - either production is well worth repeat visits and last nights did not disappoint.  Our recently renovated venue for these events, The Tennessee Theatre is now more than worthy to host stellar productions such as these and I am thrilled to no longer HAVE to travel other places to see great shows!  Today (MLK Day) is a holiday for Mr. B so we'll continue to celebrate.  My suggestion of a hike did not meet with much enthusiasm as this is NOT his idea of a birthday celebration, so guess I'll have to go with whatever he suggests.

I am into my seventh week following the 17 Day Diet which I first wrote about here and here.  I could not be more thrilled with this plan or with my results.  I still cringe talking about it because I so dislike the word "diet," and am searching for the appropriate way to mix words so that I don't have to call it that, yet still give honor to the fact that it is the copyrighted name of the plan.  I have settled into the different cycles, moving in and out of them as my schedule dictates while still losing steadily.  The weight loss has slowed (as of this morning, I have lost 15 pounds), but I have the complete confidence that if I were to move back into Cycle 1 - Accelerate and follow it to the letter for 17 consecutive days, I would lose quickly as I did before.  Currently, I am moving among Cycles 1, 2 and 3 and losing between 3/4 and 1 full pound each week.  All three of the cycles have become second nature to me and each morning I spend about thirty seconds reviewing my schedule for the day and deciding which "cycle" I will live in that day.  I've learned that I instinctively strive for Cycle 2 as it is my favorite, but my overall goal is to spend consecutive days in Cycle 1 as that is where the quickest weight loss will be found, yet it is still a well-balanced meal plan that doesn't leave me feeling deprived or hungry.  Rare are the days when I choose to live in Cycle 3.  I no longer need the cushion of knowing I could choose a pasta or bread product as I no longer crave, nor want them.  Yet that option is there for the days when I might be faced with less choices and knowing I've chosen that option for that day completely eliminates any feeling of guilt or doing something "bad."  I find that more often than not, I choose to NOT exercise that option reverting to something back on Cycle 2 or 1.  

Sugar, the bread basket on the table in the restaurant, white flour products and processed foods have completely lost their appeal to me and are no longer a temptation.  This is the factor for which I am most grateful and still in the stage of disbelief.  There are restaurants I have refused to go to for years because of the bread basket.  I'm still not heading there tomorrow (Macaroni Grill comes to mind), but believe that if given one of those "no choice" situations which have derailed me so many times in the past, I could accept it, find something suitable on the menu and ignore the bread basket.  

Here are the two things which I want everyone reading this post to understand with complete clarity!!!

1)  I am not CURED!  This is not a MIRACLE!  In a weak moment, one bite of any of those things could send me in the downward spiral I've encountered so many times.  I have gone as long as three YEARS without sugar and one bite was all it took.  You can argue whether or not carbs are "addictive" until pigs fly, but those of us who know it is just know.  And we also know that, FOR US, "one bite" does NOT satisfy and moderation will NOT work. 

2)  But on the other hand, I want to encourage you that if I can do this, so can you.  I read a lot of blogs and spend a lot of time thinking about my journey and my writing.  For many of you, the new year began with such hopes, new plans, new enthusiasm and renewed motivation.  Some are succeeding, some are already discouraged, some set goals that are already needing to be modified and yes, some have already just quit!  I have been there, I have done all of those things.  I have arrived at January 16 more times than I can count in a state of despair that this year was just like all the others where I'd end the year at a higher weight than I began it.  The 17-Day Diet may not be for you - in fact, it probably isn't although it is a healthy, sustainable "plan" that can work for a lifetime.  But if you don't possess certain personality traits that "fit" with this way of doing things, it isn't for you.  But there is something out there that is!  And no matter what it's called, it will be a balance of healthy calories in vs. calories burned out!!  

I have said before that I don't know what happened or what clicked on that day just before Thanksgiving when I walked into Barnes & Noble and first laid eyes on the 17-Day Diet book.  It's a bestseller, for heaven's sake and I'd never even HEARD of it.  And that's the miracle I want to stress.  Don't give up - don't quit.  I was flirting with that idea myself although the thought was always met with self-disgust because deep down I knew I wasn't at the weight I wanted to live with and in the end, I wouldn't stay there, I'd just keep gaining. 

And maybe that was exactly when my 2012 resolution of finding a "surprise" in every day was born!  You have to look for it and you have to be willing to see it when you least expect it.  What an absolute joy 2012 has been because I've found multiple surprises in every day, not the least of which is my "surprise" that I made it through another day full of energy and feeling healthy.  Not the least of which is the total feeling of success when I watched the other three at my table last night chowing down on a chocolate waffle covered with ice cream and various other toppings knowing two things, 1) I didn't want it, and 2) I'd be the one who'd later lay down my head on my pillow feeling strong and healthy while those three would lay down in a sugar-induced haze feeling like crap and fervently wishing they hadn't eaten that dessert. Sure enough, Mr. B's last words before we went to sleep last night were, "I'm miserable."   I don't say that to be judgmental or critical as that would be so wrong.  I've done it to many times myself.  I just repeat it to emphasize once more that yes, it can be done.  And yes, it becomes easier.  

How Can I Help You This Week?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Challenges and Choices

Looking back across the broken footlog at the junction of Bradley Fork Trail and Smokemont Loop Trail - GSMNP
December 30, 2011

This was posted at the start of the Bradley Fork trail, but NOT posted (still scratching my head on that one) at the lower trailhead of the Smokemont Loop Trail.

Broken bridge was at top of map where Smokemont Loop comes into Bradley Fork Trail just to the left of the .5 mile marker. 

I was incredibly excited about this particular trail because every step of it marked new trail for me.  I'd never done any of the trails in the Smokemont section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  So imagine my dismay when I (quite by coincidence) mentioned to a ranger at the Sugarlands Visitor Center (restroom stop!!) that this was our intended destination.   She immediately asked if we were aware the bridge was out.  And she had the pictures to prove it!  Fortunately, her definition of "out" and ours were two different interpretations.  But my hiking bud that day and I are, above everything else, safety conscious and armed with a Plan B, we soldiered on in the hopes that water levels were down enough and the broken (as opposed to "out") bridge was stable enough to cross.  Normally this hike is done counter-clock wise starting up Bradley Fork Trail crossing the bridge and coming back down Smokemont Loop Trail.  There is a reason for this.  Smokemont Loop Trail (much more about the trail along with an elevation profile can be found here) has a sharp climb made worse if the trail is hiked clock-wise.  Our Plan B was to do just that and if we got to the junction and found the bridge impassible, we would simply turn around and retrace our steps.  Total mileage would've been a tad more, but difficulty would've been considerably more.  And at our first break a couple of miles into the hike, we both looked at each other and no words needed to be spoken.  I could tell neither wanted to backtrack.  We WOULD find a way to cross that bridge UNLESS there truly was a stupidity factor involved.  As you can see, I'm here to write about it, so there was no loss of life and I can promise that neither were there any dramatic rescues.  And in retrospect, here are some things of which I was reminded.

1)  Don't focus on something in the future and miss the experience of the present.   Smokemont Loop Trail is a beautiful trail that I could've enjoyed more if I hadn't been so concerned about whether or not we'd be able to cross the bridge at the end.  This is a trail with no other connections so it isn't likely I'll be doing it again.  I wish I had savored the quiet forested beauty of it more.

2)  Rather than immediately giving up on an anticipated action, try finding a plan B as a backup.  My sometimes impulsive nature was to simply hike another trail, but my very levelheaded hiking partner that day came up with the plan B I mentioned earlier.   Plan B could've been a whole different destination, but I'm so glad it wasn't.   That was Plan C!!!

3) Work as a team and depend on each other. There are basically three people I hike with most of the time.  On this day, I was with a male hiking friend from our church and I'm glad.  With the blessings of both our spouses, we are compatible and enjoy hiking together.  He is the more experienced hiker, but yet the total professional in bending to my weaknesses. Plan B was his suggestion, but the thing that sold me was his remark that, "when we get to the bridge, the decision whether or not to cross will be 100% yours.  If you are uncomfortable in any way, we will retrace our steps, no questions asked."  But I also knew that he would never put himself or me at risk and if HE said we could cross, I'd trust him.  He is strong and would help me. 

Here's how the story ends.  Our first sight of the bridge was encouraging.  Water appeared to be down only covering the bridge at the "V" where the break had occurred.  We knew temps were well above freezing, so ice was not an issue.  Truthfully, the first section looked easier to me than if the bridge had been in place.  I think I've written before that I DON'T like these footlogs.  They mess with my equilibrium and this one is known to be "long and bouncy."   My hiking bud suggested he cross then come back for my backpack and offer any help I might need.   He crossed easily, took his pack off, walked back down and met me halfway.   The picture doesn't reflect the steep pitch of the second half, nor does it show that the stability posts were totally useless.  That last 20 feet was no picnic, but I did it.

Taken shortly after the bridge crossing.  Can't you just see the relief and total JOY in my face?

We've all written about choices and we've all written about challenges.  There is no new material here.  But real-life applications are always more dramatic to me than just reading about the fact that I always have a choice and this journey will always be a challenge.  Even though this experience happened just before 2012 kicked in, I wanted to share it with you and in compliance with my 2012 New Year's Mantra seen here..............................

Look for a SURPRISE in every day.
EXPECT steady results from a healthy eating plan and efforts to have a normal relationship with food.
RECEIVE love, friendship, gifts and kindness without question from those who choose to give it to me.
Embrace JOY with every thread of my being.
CELEBRATE my own successes as jubilantly as I celebrate those of others.
SHARE my life, my time, my money and my possessions in creative ways that are new and extravagant.
........................I realized that almost all of those elements came into play as I faced challenges and made choices about whether or not to cross a bridge. 
What "bridge" will you be crossing today or this week?  What are its choices and challenges?  Is there any specific way I can encourage or help you?