Monday, March 26, 2012

Sign, Sign Everywhere A Sign!

Along one of our beautiful greenways - March 25, 2012

In my neck of the woods, spring has definitely arrived and there are signs everywhere.  Mr. B and I took a nice long walk along one of our favorite local greenways after church yesterday morning and were mesmerized by all the different shades of pink we saw.  

Our dogwoods are within a week of peaking and tulips are bursting forth all over.   The redbuds have already peaked and are beginning to wane.  Azaleas are popping.  And NONE of this.   I repeat, NONE of it is happening at the usual time.  Everything is happening at least three weeks early.  And things aren't blooming in their normal order.  It is just a neverending vista of surprises.  And you know how I do love a surprise!!

But I was thinking about this today and wondering how it is that we've all determined what is the "right" time and exactly how it is that things are "supposed" to happen.  None of us have any control over the weather, the changing of the seasons and we certainly had no hand in "creating" any of these things that, according to us, are all out of sync.  So who are we to so arrogantly claim that things aren't happening at the "right" time?   Of course, it's the right time!!  It's EXACTLY the right time for all these things to happen in 2012.  It's a very real part of the circle of life and the circle of growth.  I, for one, am thrilled to know that it's not my responsibility to make sure things in nature happen at the "right" time.  It's only my responsibility to care for, preserve and enjoy the things around me to the best of my ability.

It has been this thought process that has taught me two things this week and very quickly brought me out of the funk I had created for myself because winter left so suddenly cutting my hiking season short (how selfish does that sound??).

1)  Things happen at the right time and although I'd like to think otherwise, nature doesn't revolve around what's convenient for me.  It's time to quit grumbling and appreciate the beauty of what is around me.  Yes, winter views are fading, humidity is already an issue, I actually killed a yellowjacket and I've already encountered a huge blacksnake.   But "pink" is all around me and it's time for me to notice.

2)  And the concept of things happening at the right time also reminded me that is is the same with our bodies and our journey to a proper weight.  In a couple of months, I will celebrate the second anniversary of this blog and rest assured, if you'd told me then that two years later, I'd still not be at my goal weight, I'd have promptly told you that THEN was the right time and I'd be there in six months!  But it wasn't the right time.  In that two years, I've dealt with illness, the death of my beloved FIL, out-of-control eating, and many other things.  But I've also had the opportunity to meet and share life with many of you through our blogs and off the page in person.  We're a hodgepodge of lives, circumstances and journeys which sometimes might seem all out of order and "blooming" or NOT "blooming" at all the wrong times.  But nothing could be further from the truth. 

All of which have brought us to NOW.  For me, I'm so close.   And I've learned so much.  And in the end, it's been so easy.  And it's happening at just the right time.  For you, it may seem that so much is out of order or things are happening at the wrong time.  They aren't.  There's a plan in there somewhere even when it can't be seen and certainly makes no sense.  But trust me, at the right time, it will all come together.  Just ask anyone who lives in East Tennessee because they'll just shake their heads and say, "I've never in all my life seen the azaleas bloom before the redbuds are gone." 

Four months ago today, I began Cycle 1 of the 17 Day Diet with no clue what would happen or that for me, it finally was the "right" time.   I have lost 22 pounds and have 12 left to reach goal making it a total loss of 58 pounds.  Here's a celebration picture Mr. B shot in our backyard yesterday.

March 25, 2012

I have reactivated my travel blog and would love to have you follow along on it as well.   That is a huge part of our life and I consider each of you friends, so would be honored to have you share in those exploits with us!   There's a link on the left side of the page.

Are things happening at the "right" time for you or does everything seem totally out of sync?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Long Overdue Update

Biltmore Estate - Asheville, North Carolina
November, 2011

It was never my intent to go this long without posting.  After our fall break adventures, we didn't do a whole lot of traveling, but there was some fun to be had.  Lest anyone think we sit around idly twiddling our thumbs, I'll do one of those quick recaps with a picture or two from each month.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and will get the blog caught up to the present.  Just to whet the old appetite, I'll say that the 2012 Summer Adventure is fully planned and the excitement is building.  Much more about that coming later.  

In mid-November, we met friends from college for a weekend at Boyd Mountain Cabins, our favorite go-to spot in Waynesville, NC.   We stayed in the Clinch Valley Cabin which was a new one for us.  These are very special friends that we don't get to see nearly often enough given the fact that they are only 2 1/2 hours away, but when we do see them, time just melts away!  We headed over to Biltmore on Saturday where I took the above picture on an absolutely perfect fall day.  Our friends had to leave early Sunday morning, so Bill and I headed out for a fall hike on what has become one of my favorite trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Flat Creek Trail isn't long, but boy is it ever packed with beauty.  The upper trailhead is on a road which had already been closed for the season, so our solitude was complete.  It was a perfect day!

Upper end of Flat Creek Trail near Heintooga Picnic Area
November, 2011

After a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with our family, we rolled right on into December.  We traditionally celebrate Bill's completion of another semester with an adventure of some sort.  My sister was performing as part of a back-up choir during a concert in Nashville that coincided with the end of finals, so off we went.  We stayed in another of our favorites, Uncle Pete's at Rockhaven Cabins in Mt. Juliet.  We found this delightful oasis when there was only one cabin (Magnolia), but have since stayed many times in all three.  Rhonda and Nate Powell have lovingly BUILT and decorated these cabins which are located on the property where Nate was born and grew up.  Unfortunately, Rockhaven's beauty has been discovered and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find any of the three cabins available.   Since my sister was in the concert, we did not get to see her at all, but enjoyed treating our two nieces to dinner and attending the concert with them and the oldest niece's fiance.  We spent the rest of our time walking some of the greenways we love, meandering around the Opryland Hotel, and of course, shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.  The daughter of the friends mentioned earlier lives and works in Nashville, so we took the opportunity to enjoy lunch with her at Brick's Cafe and get caught up on what's been happening in her life.  We met other friends for dinner in Franklin at an amazing place which, unfortunately, I cannot recall its name.  Looking back, no wonder we were exhausted when we got home!  

Opryland Hotel - Nashville, TN
December, 2011

Christmas, 2011 came and went with much celebration.  This was our second Christmas without Bill's dad and although we still miss him every day, the holiday season was much easier this year than last.  

Christmas, 2011

For the first time in over a decade, we did not go to Florida during Bill's break.  It was an experiment to see how much we missed it.  And we did!  But we also thoroughly enjoyed being at home and one of us got the winter hiking season begun in fine style.  Between January 1 and February 29, I hiked 95.6 miles and loved every minute of being in the woods.  It doesn't matter to me how cold it is (you can always dress properly), my favorite time of year for hiking is winter. Clear blue skies and expansive views through the forest floor are instant calm for my soul and I simply can't get enough of it.

 Bradley Fork Trail - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
January, 2012

Bradley Fork Trail - GSMNP
January, 2012

 Cucumber Gap Loop - GSMNP
February, 2012

Cucumber Gap Loop - GSMNP
February, 2012

Indian Flats Falls with one of my many groups of hiking friends - GSMNP
February, 2012

While I was hiking, Bill was preparing his auditioned choral ensemble for their fifth annual Spring Break European Tour.  This year's trip was to Germany.  They left on March 2 returning on March 11 with tales of amazing experiences and videos of incredible concerts.  

Did I let any grass grow under my feet while he was gone!  Oh no, of course not!  I took a solo trip to Atlanta and turned it into one of my favorite ways of travel.  Ten hours to travel 216 miles.  But that's another post all on its own.  

Thanks for reading!
My plan is weekly updates - more often when we are traveling!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Be Careful Who Your Friends Are

This new bench miraculously appeared over the winter along one of my favorite walking trails.
I'll be spending lots of time here!
March 14, 2012

When I was growing up, one of my mother's famous lines was, "be careful who your friends are."  Of course, at that point in time, I would just roll my eyes back in my head and think, "what does she know?," but as I grew older, it turns out she was right!  Last Monday, my friend, Diane, who blogs at Fit To The Finish, wrote an excellent post entitled, Is Weight Loss Contagious?  It reminded me of an article I had stolen borrowed from my doctor's office after one of those many visits last year that I intended to write about, but never did.  Had to dig awhile, but finally found it!  

Borrowing from Diane's thoughts and turning them around, I'm asking,"Is Weight GAIN contagious"?  The article I read was from WebMD Magazine, September, 2011 and was entitled "Big Problem - The Surprising Link Between Women's Thoughts About Obesity and The Size Of America."  (I have tried to find a link to this article, but can't.) I could write about six posts based on the specific MISCEPTIONS women have about the influence our personal weight and diet patterns have on others, but one in particular jumped out at me.  According to this survey of 1,037 women, less than 1/3 of them UNDERSTOOD that they were 57% more likely to become obese if their friend/friends were obese, 40% if their sibling was, and 37% if their spouse was.  So it seems my mom was right.  If I choose to hang around with people who are obese, have a sibling who is or a spouse who is, it's likely to have an impact on me.  

Now PLEASE don't fire off comments berating me for speaking negatively or unkindly about the problem of obesity.  I want to think that the two concepts of weight loss being contagious and weight gain being contagious might work together in the name of love and compassion for each other.  But I do think this opened my eyes to the fact that I'm probably not immune, nor will I ever be, to the poor eating habits of obese friends and family if I make the choice to subject myself to their way of eating all the time.  I have friends who fall into the category of obese and although things are going quite well for me right now, I can attest to the fact that their eating habits have been detrimental to my choices in times past when I wasn't feeling as strong as I am right now.  In fact, early last fall, a few successive days of on-plan eating were derailed after one dinner out with a specific couple whom I have in mind.  And the most important thing about this survey is this.  It's not inevitable that YOUR weight loss pattern is going to be impacted by the patterns of your friends, siblings or spouse.  It's that you must UNDERSTAND how often it happens and how easily it happens!  

Shifting gears, I loved your comments from my last post.   It's such fun to learn obscure things about each of you such as whether you have articles of clothing in more than one size.  And I was thrilled to hear that some of you have also given in to the dreaded stretch waist bands especially those who are at maintenance and still don't have that 36-26-36 figure which I was just certain everyone did!  LOL!   Maybe we should start an exclusive club just for those who may wear size 8 slacks or skirt, but still gotta have some stretch in the waist to fit those hips!!

A couple of you also mentioned how lucky I am to have that "pear" shaped body type even with the difficulties it presents in buying clothes.  And I want you to know that I TOTALLY understand that and NEVER take it for granted.  A pear-shape is much less susceptible to heart disease and other risk factors.  In all my complaining, I never lose sight of the fact that I'm glad I'm a pear!!

And lastly, I'd love to throw away all those larger sizes once I no longer need them.  But here's the thing.  Those specific jeans are quickly becoming a style that are no longer made.  Once very popular, they are now made in only a couple of factories and finding them has become impossible.  I suspect they'll soon no longer be made at all.  So nope, can't discard them!  However, once they are too big, rest assured they are washed, folded and stored in an airtight container DEEP in the bowels of our largest storage closet.  I don't plan on ever wearing them again, but they were good purchases, I've taken care of them and I just don't think it wise to throw them away.  But in my mind, they're gone!

It has gotten quite warm here and wildflowers are in full bloom.  They are at least three weeks early and I've fought a bit of discouragement.  Bears have been spotted in the park and even if I chose to which I probably wouldn't, I've got to respect Mr. B's request that I no longer hike solo once the bears have left their dens.  They are hungry, pregnant or already with cubs and quite moody!  So, much as I love hiking under any circumstances, I do miss the freedom of just taking off with or without a partner.  The heat this early in March has created some wicked storms already and I'm just a wee bit leery of what we might be looking at for the rest of spring.

Eating is very balanced and the weight continues to come off.  I tried two new recipes yesterday, Oatmeal Muffins (Oat Flour) and Spinach and Bacon Frittata, both of which were very good.  I substituted my homemade applesauce for the brown sugar in the muffins.  They are not very sweet at all (which I like), but would be delicious with a thin spread of just about anything.  The frittata I made as written except that I did not sprinkle cheese at the end of baking as it suggests.  We had it for lunch today and it was excellent.  

Looking forward to a busy week full of activity..........hope you are!

What Do You Think??
Is Weight Loss Contagious?   Is Weight Gain Contagious?
Tell Me About Your Real Life Friends, Siblings, Spouse
  Are They A Good or Bad Influence?

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Proof Is In The Jeans

Little River Trail - GSMNP
February, 2012

I am not one of those who will ever tell you that I like the way I am built.  I have my mother to thank for it!  It doesn't matter if I weigh 120 or 220, my body will ALWAYS be out of proportion.  I will ALWAYS have large hips and thighs which are even more exaggerated because I have a very small upper body and waist.  No matter how much weight I gain or lose, my upper body stays the same.  In some respects, that works well because weight gains are very easy to hide.  It's all in the hips and thighs!

Shopping for clothes is, always has been and always will be, a complete nightmare.  And this is precisely why I HATE to shop.  Clothes just simply do not fit my body.  And this is applicable no matter what size I am currently wearing or what weight the scales are reflecting.  I have never in my life been able to purchase a two-piece anything!  And one thing I've certainly never been able to buy are slacks or a skirt with a normal waistband.  I've seen many comments made (some with a sarcastic bent) about wearing clothes with elastic in the waistband and quite frankly, I find those offensive because there are circumstances (like mine) where that is the only choice.  But I digress!  

It is no secret that I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl.  Soon to be shorts and t-shirt kind of girl!!  And finding jeans that fit and also looked good was so hard.  So a few years ago, when I found a style that fit me well (with small section of elastic just on the sides of the waistband), I bought two pair in the correct size PLUS two of one size larger and two of one size smaller.  Shortly after, I began losing weight.  To make a long story short, I now own two pair of these jeans in EVERY size from 12 - 22.  I can just hear you laughing.  In the spirit of total honesty, in a few sizes, I own THREE pair.  Remember, I am retired.  In the cooler months, the only time I am NOT wearing jeans is when I am headed to church or in something more comfortable while at home!  

When in losing mode, I keep the next smaller size in my closet where I can see them every time I open the door.  Every couple of weeks, I pull on the next smaller size to see if I can see any progress.  A month ago, I was able to start wearing those jeans.  I immediately went to the storage bin and pulled out the NEXT smaller size and laid it in the top of my closet knowing it was a long time before I'd fit into them.

For some unknown reason, yesterday afternoon, I pulled those jeans down thinking I'd check to see just how far I needed to go before they'd fit.  I pulled them on, they slid effortlessly over those thighs, hips and by george, up they zipped!  And I could breathe!  In fact, they fit perfectly!  Just to be sure, I checked the size!  Then I took them off and tried on the second pair in that same size.  Guess what??  They fit also!  It was no fluke and I wasn't hallucinating.  

I may not have lost much weight last month, but I sure as heck redistributed some!!  I give complete credit to two things.  1)  I have always believed that my sugar/carb sensitive body sent those items directly to my hips/thighs.  I've often joked that there was no need to swallow bread or sweets.  Just slap them on my hips cause that's where they're headed anyway.  The 17DD has worked so well for me and even though the rate of pounds lost has slowed, the inches are literally melting off.   2) Hiking as much as I do in the mountains certainly has an impact on inches lost and also from where they are lost!

It was a happy moment and I am wearing that smaller size proudly.  And you better believe, I've already been back to the storage bin and pulled out the NEXT smaller size.  It's waiting in the top of closet.   And it's not going to have to wait long!   It's also my smallest size!!   I know they will fit at goal weight.  And it is one of the sizes I have THREE pair.  Good - because it's the last size I'm ever going to wear!!

Mr. B made it back from Germany after a wonderfully successful week with his choir!  They behaved like responsible adults and sang like angels in every concert.  He was thrilled and exhausted!  My week without him was not drama free.  There were episodes with my parents and multiple episodes with MIL.  In addition, I manage to put a huge scratch on HIS car while in Atlanta and the workers who came to put our new gutters on (finally getting all that squared away from hail damage last spring) made a complete mess of our front yard after having me tell them specifically and emphatically that they were NOT to park or drive in the yard.  

But I did have a great time grocery shopping in Atlanta and enjoyed relaxing in my room at the Ponce de Leon Place Bed and Breakfast.  It was a hectic week all the way around and I am hoping for a much quieter few days ahead.  Planning to start it off with a hike in the mountains where hopefully, I'll be headed when you read this!!

Am I crazy to own the same pair of jeans in all sizes?  Have you ever done anything like that?

Monday, March 5, 2012

I'm Normal!

First 2012 trail wildflower sighting - March 1, 2012
Meigs Mountain Trail - GSMNP

I am not, nor will ever claim to be, the world's greatest photographer.  I take pictures more for the purpose of recording life than anything else.  But I do enjoy my hiking and travel pictures and appreciate the feedback you give me regarding those I choose for blog posts.  I confess that sometimes I labor over the picture more than the writing itself.  But today's picture was a given, even though it is by no means an award-winning photo.  Why, you say??  Because it represents my very first Smokies wildflower spotting of 2012.  I spotted it with mixed feelings! Smokies wildflower season is spectacular.  There is no doubt about that.  But with it comes more limited views, snakes, bears, gnats, mosquitos and lots of tourists!  It ends my comfort level with solo hiking and that, I truly miss!  Because of our extremely unseasonable weather this year, this wildflower was spotted at least two weeks early, but it is usually the first bloomer.  I'm fairly certain it's Bloodroot, but again, not an expert identifier.  Really doesn't matter to me, I just want to appreciate its beauty!

You will know when Mr. B reads the title of this post as you will hear him laughing from wherever you are!  Normal is not a word that has ever been used to describe me, but this past Friday morning, I became "normal" once again.  For the first time since October 24, 2010 (I love keeping good records), my weight fell into the "normal" BMI category!  I have been "overweight" on some level every day since then.  Thankfully, never "obese," but always overweight!  Although I think these BMI categories should ALWAYS leave room for individual interpretation, I also believe they can be a very helpful and accurate "benchmark" guideline.  My friend, Debby, wrote a very insightful post recently reflecting the cut-and-dried response to the BMI numbers we often see from "experts" who inform us of what we should weight knowing little or nothing about our history, health or otherwise.    I totally agree with what she said.  My goal is to lose 14 more pounds which will leave me slightly above the mid-point of "normal" according to the BMI charts.  However, I know my body and my overall health status.   I know my history and I know what is reasonable and sustainable.  No CHART can dictate those things to me.  But for today, I am just happy to be NORMAL!

My February stats were not what I'd hoped them to be, but that's o.k.  I've lost 19.4 pounds since October 25, 2011 which was my highest weight this go round.  That's an average of 4-5 pounds lost each month and with only 14 pounds left to lose, the rate of loss will slow down.  Obviously, the bulk of that was lost during Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 of the 17 DD, but as I've settled into a comfortable routine with the Cycles, I've found that steady loss does continue, it just slows down significantly.  And I'm here to tell you EMPHATICALLY that this is totally o.k.  The lack of cravings, the satisfaction with what I'm eating, the energy level that just doesn't quit and the joy of having found something that works more than compensates for a quick path to goal.  I will get there and more importantly, I WILL STAY THERE!!

Here are my February statistics!
Weight Lost in February - 1.8 pounds
Miles Hiked in February - 48.4 (2012 total - 95.6)

Average Weekly Steps - 12408  (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!!

In addition to loving the surprises, during February, I made it a priority to CELEBRATE my own successes as jubilantly as I celebrated the successes of others.  Because you know what?   Right now, I've got LOTS to celebrate.  I've waited a long time and shed lots of tears just wanting to be NORMAL!!

What one word would your spouse, significant other or best friend use to describe you?  

Would it be NORMAL??