Monday, February 27, 2012

Three Months of the 17 Day Diet

Cucumber Gap Trail - GSMNP
February 13, 2012

Wow, what a week!  Packed full of activity and I simply don't know where it went.  As a result, did not get post started over the weekend as I normally do, so this will most likely be all over the place.  My week's highlight, however, was spending Thursday afternoon with my "getting better all the time friend, " Cammy.  Cammy blogs at Tippy Toe Diet, and is a long time maintainer of a more 100+ pound weight loss.  She has a delightful writing style and an in-person personality that matches.  I first met Cammy at our mini-meetup last October in Little Rock, Arkansas and was absolutely delighted when she emailed that she'd be in the East Tennessee area on business last week.  It was a gorgeous sunny February afternoon, so we took a nice long walk on the Gatlinburg Trail and then enjoyed an early dinner at Calhoun's restaurant in Gatlinburg.  We talked like we'd known each other all our lives and after dropping her back at her hotel with her eyelids drooping (remember, she'd been conducting training sessions all week and I for one, know how exhausting that is!!), I hoped that was just the first of many "business" trips to my end of the state.

At Cataract Falls just outside Gatlinburg, TN
February 23, 2012

It appears that today is the day we are finally getting our roof replaced following the deadly tornado outbreak and hailstorm from last April 17.  We were fortunate in that our roof was only six years old and it held up better than most throughout the storm, but with significant damage, we knew it would eventually need to be replaced.  We chose to wait hoping those who needed it worse would get their repairs accomplished plus give the fly-by-night unscrupulous roofing companies time to leave town.  Monday is normally my "domestic" day, so my goal is to get 'er done and GET OUT OF DODGE before I get a headache.  LOL!   (Insert five minute break while I go start laundry!)

On Friday morning at dark-thirty, Mr. B leaves for a week in Germany with his auditioned choral ensemble and to say he is wild would be putting it mildly.   If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know that he and I are very close and do not separate well, but he enjoys this trip so much and after five years of having him travel abroad without me, I've become comfortable enough that I actually look forward to the week alone.  I've got several things already planned including a day with MIL (to soothe her spirits as it TERRIFIES her having him "all the way over there"), three days of hiking and a grocery shopping trip to Atlanta.  Can't wait for two full days to enjoy the Dekalb Farmers Market, Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Publix.  Even better for me, is the 0% sales tax on food in Georgia, so that is automatically a 5.5% savings for me over any food purchases in Tennessee.  That Atlanta trip will also include a trip to REI where I'm certain I will find more hiking gadgets that I simply can't live without. If there are any readers in the Atlanta metro area and we could work it out, I'd love to meet for lunch one of those days!! 

February 25 marked three months of amazing success with the 17 Day Diet.  To say that I am thrilled with this plan and its results would be an understatement.  Between November 25 and February 25, I lost 17.4 pounds.  The calendar month of February has not brought the loss of pounds I would've liked, but I know exactly what to do to change that.  I also know that I am at the exact weight at which my body likes to "set."   Every time I've lost weight, I have plateaued at this particular number no matter how many pounds I had lost to get there.  I suspect my body could enjoy this as a happy weight, but once I start losing again, I will lose steadily down to the next weight where I know my body can and will be happy!!  So I'm looking forward to March and the madness it will bring in many ways including basketball heaven!!  My plan is to adhere strictly to Cycle 1 while Mr. B is in Germany and get that weight moving once again.  As long as I average a 5-6 pound loss per month, I am happy.  But most of all, I am happy with the way I feel and am getting happier by the day with the way I look.   

Told you this post would ramble, but the pounding is about to get to me, so I believe it's time to leave the premises in the hands of roofers and get outside.  Thankfully, roofing and nice days go hand-in-hand, so spending most of this day outside will be a pleasure.

Does your week look quiet and serene or noisy like mine??

Thursday, February 23, 2012

PLEASE Turn Off Word Verification

 Cucumber Gap Trail (GSMNP) - February 20, 2012
See end of post for what I also saw two hours later on the SAME trail!

It was my intent to include this as a caveat to my normal Monday morning post, however it has become such an issue that I decided to plead my case in a separate post today and be back to much more pleasant things on Monday.
When I started Gains and Losses almost two years ago, I knew NOTHNG about blogging or blogging platforms.  I just wanted to write.  Blogger seemed to be where most of the blogs I'd begun reading were posted from and it was really easy to get my blog started.   When I came to the "Word Verification," it seemed prudent for security reasons to check "yes."  After that, I pretty much forgot about it.  My guess is that those of you who still have the feature turned on don't even realize it!

For whatever reason, Blogger has chosen to significantly increase the difficulty of word verification adding an additional word and making one of the two words virtually impossible to read.  I have researched this from a non-partial viewpoint and learned that there is truly NO benefit (security, spam prevention or otherwise) to having word verification turned on.  I have since removed that feature from my blog.

This morning, I tried commenting on a blog of someone I read ALL the time and would not, for any reason, stop reading.   However, it took FIVE tries before I could read the word verification garbage well enough for it to accept my comment.  Needless to say, that is frustrating!


If you don't know how, follow these steps.:

You cannot turn them off from the new interface.  (this is important - blogger doesn't WANT you to turn it off!)
Go to your old dashboard. 
Find your old dashboard by clicking on the settings icon (little grey wheel) top right of your new interface.
It will give you a dropdown menu.
Click on Old Blogger interface
From there proceed to Settings, then Comments.
Uncheck Word Verification.


Would you believe that I found this near the end of Monday's hike on the same trail where two hours earlier I was hiking in snow??   That shouldn't happen!   Nor should I be seeing a wildflower at ALL in February.   Go figure!

Have a great weekend!   See you right back here on Monday morning!

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Does Lent Mean To You?

Finley Cane Trail - GSMNP
February 17, 2012

There is way too much rolling around in my brain that I'd like to talk about.  I wish there had been more time this past week to write.   But I've come to accept the fact that my life is just very full right now leaving little time for sitting in front of a computer.  I'm very grateful for that!  Given an extra hour with a choice, I'd rather visit around to see what you've been up to than spend that time creating a post of my own.  But c'est la vie!!  

I was not raised in a church that taught or practiced Lent, so it is something I've only come to appreciate over the past decade. I've always heard the question, "what are you giving up for Lent?" but only recently through the music sung by the choir of which I'm a member and participation in the Ash Wednesday service at my church have I truly come to appreciate the concept of LOSING (or giving up) something in order to GAIN a greater appreciation for new beginnings and new life that are a part of the Easter Sunday morning celebration 40 days later.  Since our choir began rehearsing Ash Wednesday service music several weeks ago, I've already had plenty of time to reflect on what I might "give up" for 40 days beginning next Wednesday.  The usual things (sugar, white flour, fast food, etc) are no longer a part of my eating and THAT alone is an amazing example of LOSING something in order to GAIN energy and strength I've not had in many years. I'm wondering if this year's "lesson" for me might need to move away from those easily identifiable, more tangible "don'ts" and towards characteristics which the discipline of the 17-Day Diet along with some other life situations have revealed I need to address.  

One of those is in the area of generosity.  Not just plain old giving back or paying it forward, but a renewed and DISCIPLINED (there's that word again) effort to be generous in very new and creative ways.  Ways in which I might have to LOSE something in order to fully appreciate what I've GAINED through my efforts.  If you'll recall, the fifth statement in my 2012 New Year's Mantra was this:

SHARE my life, my time, my money and my possessions in creative ways that are new and extravagant.
So in keeping with my mantra, in anticipation of the joyous upcoming celebration of spring and Easter, and in keeping with my obsessive personality which must have an organized plan, here is my goal for Lent:   For each of the next 40 days beginning on Wednesday, February 22, in addition to seeking out random opportunities for practicing generosity, I will plan a specific event/activity/goal/etc. that causes me to LOSE something.  My LOSS could be time, money, compromise, giving up of control, a combination of the above or something I've not yet even though about.  I will be creative and make every attempt to step out of MY comfort zone in order to be generous towards someone or something else.  
I have no expectations or ideas as to what I might GAIN.  We'll just let that be a surprise! 

I continue to be totally amazed at my success with the 17 Day Diet.  February will not record a significant weight loss although there WILL be a loss, but another month under my belt with the plan has brought its own rewards.  The biggest of those has been a continuing freedom from desires or cravings for sugar, wheat or dairy products.  NEVER in all of my life on ANY plan, have I had the luxury of easily passing up the bread basket in a restaurant or the chocolate in every imaginable form that flowed freely at the Valentine's party we attended last weekend.  NEVER have I experienced this level of freedom and its been a long, long time since I've felt this good, both physically and mentally.  I am strong and I have energy.  I mostly adhere to Cycle 2 with many days naturally ending up as Cycle 1 days.  The weight is continuing to come off.

I am thrilled that several of you have expressed an interest in the 17DD, have begun the plan and are having success with it.   You've told me you first heard about it here and that my success was an encouragement for you.  That makes me feel like a proud "parent" and I am almost as excited over your results as I've been over my own.  You are spread out all over the country, but I think we should already start planning a "strut your stuff" meetup when we all get to our respective goals.  In the spirit of sharing, I wanted to make sure that you all read each other's blogs and have that source of encouragement from other people on the same plan.   

Here are the links to those I know following the 17DD.  If you know of others, please let me know so I can share and maybe find some new friends of my own.

We are gearing up for some very busy weeks ahead.  Next to the month of December, Mr. B's schedule is craziest during March and April.  It begins with the international trip his auditioned choir takes each year.  This year, they are traveling to Germany and he will leave in a couple of weeks.  Our 2012 Summer Adventure is out of my head and on the written page.  Our cabins and cottages have been secured so now the fun of planning what we'll do begins.  I'll be reactivating the travel blog soon and will add a link so if you are interested in that part of my life, you can follow along.  I have two hiking days planned this week and some activities already in mind for the first few days of what I'm calling my Season of Generosity.   So, as you can see, life is very full and life is very good.

Do you practice Lent?  What will you begin giving up this year?


Monday, February 13, 2012

One Moment In Time

West Prong Trail - GSMNP
February 9, 2012

 Give me one moment in time
When I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heart beat away
And the answers are all up to me

Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will be, I will be, I will be free, I will be, I will be free

With all my heart, I hope that you have had many moments in time when you were more than you thought you could be and all of your dreams were only a heartbeat away.  Whitney Houston, I would imagine, lived many years knowing that all of her dreams HAD come true, yet I also suspect that her race with destiny wasn't in a direction she had the strength to control and that only in death, is she truly, truly free.  
It is almost impossible to pick out a favorite Whitney Houston song.  I turned 30 in 1985, the year her first album was released that produced three #1 singles.  I've belted every one of them out in the shower, in my car and anywhere else the mood struck.  But would I have ever, for even one moment in time wanted to BE Whitney Houston or any kind of celebrity for that matter.  Never - not once!!  My dreams were always a whole lot simpler and the moments in which I was more than I thought I could be never involved performing or large crowds of "fans."  

But I am free.  I'm racing with destiny and it's a race I want to continue embracing with anticipation and excitement.  I'm growing, I'm learning and most importantly, I am surrounded by people who love me and want the best for me.  People who are not afraid to tell me "no" and who will gently remind me when there are changes I need to consider.  People who remind me that I'm not perfect and that we are all created equal with no one person better than any other no matter whether we sing about our moments in time in the shower or in front of millions.

Wouldn't it be nice if things were always as neatly packaged as they are in a song that is wrapped up in 2 1/2 to 3 minutes?  Are "the answers all up to me?"  I suppose the FINAL answer ultimately always is, but we all know that things are rarely that cut and dried.  I am 24 hours past my first major challenge since beginning the 17-Day Diet on November 25.  Now rest assured, I've had many challenges, but this was the first one I approached with so much uncertainty.   We traditionally attend a Valentine's Day party given by good friends.  We have dinner, play games and laugh until we make ourselves sick.  It is huge fun time and something I look forward to every year.  But the dinner is lavish and every imaginable kind of chocolate flows freely.  As late as Wednesday evening, I was asking our host about dinner and her response was still, "I don't know yet."  Thankfully, I am past the point of the chocolate/candy/cupcakes being a distraction (although I'll admit, it was my most difficult evening yet), but having no idea what was being served for dinner had me wishing I could stay home.  I'm happy to say that dinner was delicious and there were several things I was free to eat in unlimited amounts.  And again, I was reminded how grateful I am for friends whom I really should trust more because at that moment in time, our hosts, who knew about my new eating lifestyle, came through with some delicious menu items that everyone enjoyed and I truly appreciated.

But ultimately, most of the answers are up to me and the choices I make contribute to that race with destiny.  I want to make choices in all of life which lead me to be more than I ever thought I could be.  I want to respect and honor the talent, beauty and gifts of Whitney Houston.  And not just for ONE Moment in Time, but for every last one of my remaining moments in time, I choose to be free!

What is your favorite Whitney Houston song?

Monday, February 6, 2012

So Long, January! Hello, February!

Baskins Creek Falls - GSMNP
January 31, 2012

You might recall that I entered 2012 on a high note with expectations that my newly found enthusiasm would continue in the same fashion and I am happy to say that it has.  What crazy person would EVER choose to begin a whole new way of losing weight on the day after Thanksgiving?  That crazy person was me and it has been one of the best decisions I've ever made.  January has now faded right into February and the enthusiasm remains high and the plan has become second nature.  Should there be anyone reading who has not kept up with my progress on the 17-day Diet, you'll find my posts outlining the decision to start that plan here.  It has worked perfectly for me and although I'm still living in Cycles 1 and 2 because I have more weight to lose, I know that Cycle 4 (maintenance) is something I can sustain forever.  To date, I have lost a total of 17.2 pounds since November 25.

Here are some January statistics of which I'm very proud!

Weight Lost in January - 6.2 pounds
Miles Hiked in January - 47.2
Average Weekly Steps - 12538  (this is total steps for week divided by 7)

Remember my New Year's mantra?  It has become so meaningful to me that I plan to share it with you at the beginning of every month during 2012.  

In 2012, I will:

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.
If you missed the background behind this mantra of mine, here's a link to my first post of 2012.  Like the 17-Day Diet, my mantra has become such a part of each day that I find my brain checking off whether or not I've experienced each aspect at some point during that day.  But mostly, I love the surprises!!

This past week, I was lucky to be able to hike on three different days.  Our weather continues to be incredibly mild and un-winter-like making hiking conditions pleasant, so other things are fading into the background as I know these days are probably limited.  One of those things that has temporarily faded is my newfound love of cooking that I discovered last fall.  Between hiking and what seems like an unusually hectic activity schedule, I just have not had time to keep up the level of experimenting I had begun.  But that doesn't mean I've lost the fire or the joy.  I've gone back and made a few of the recipes a second time and Mr. B begs for repeat performances of the soups I'd made.  Once we return to "normal" weather conditions, rest assured you'll start hearing about more kitchen adventures!  I'm am almost totally gluten-free now, so want to experiment with some gluten-free baking alternatives as I'm not willing to give up the yummy muffin/bread recipes I'd made last fall.  So never fear, one of these days the cooking diva (LOL!!) will make a return appearance.  

And lastly, I'm finally going to answer the fun questions my friend, Karen of Waisting Time posed during the recent round of tagging.  Don't know that I'll ever get around to answering the questions from everyone who tageed me, but she was first, so here goes.........................

What is the most memorable meal you ever ate?  
I've had so many that I'd never attempt to choose just one, so will mention the most recent.  Last fall, we were "treated" by friends to dinner in the Blue Ridge Dining Room at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC.  Not only was the food among the best I'd ever eaten, but we were seated at the exact table you will see if you click on the link.  The view was incredible!
What TV show(s) are you embarrassed to admit you watched
The only TV I watch is an occasional show on The Food Network, so can't say there's anything I'm embarassed to admit I watch. 

Share a favorite childhood memory.
My most cherished memories are those of my family camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in our pop-up camper.  

What destination would you love to visit?
All of them.  (O.K., I'm allowed one snarky answer although it's a truthful one!)

What’s one food you think you don’t like but you’ve never actually tried?

What modern technology that you didn’t grow up with could you now not live without?
No brainer - my computer!

List the 5 websites you visit most often.,,,,  (this doesn't even remotely cover it!!)

Who would you like to meet (living, dead, fictional character, blogger, anyone…)?
This so overwhelmed me with the enormity of choosing just one, I realized I couldn't possibly do that.  So, I'm just going to say that my experiences with meeting other bloggers have been so wonderful, I want to meet as many of you as I possibly can.   And that involves visiting new and exciting places, so I get to travel at the same time!

What’s your favorite spot in your house and why?  Where in your house do you spend the most time?
I spend the most time in our den working on my laptop, but my favorite spot is probably on our screened-in backporch or patio.   Our house is very cozy even if I do say so myself, so most everywhere is pleasant and comfortable.

How long on average does it take you to write a blog post?
It depends.   If I'm just writing about my week or off the top of my head, it flows quickly and takes under an hour.  If I'm trying to tie life events in with a meaningful point, it can take much longer because I'm forming the thoughts for myself at the same time I'm writing them for you, so there's a lot of staring, thinking, reflecting, writing and usually a trip or two to the kitchen for more coffee!!   Sometimes it seems as if choosing just the right picture takes more time than writing the post!

We are in for a string of delightful days with no rain in the forecast and temps in the 50's.  Guess what I'm going to be doing?  How about you?