Thursday, October 25, 2012

In Memory Of......Several Things!

 Little Cataloochee Baptist Church - Little Cataloochee Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - October 24, 2012

After two incredible hiking days in the Cataloochee area of the Smokies, I am now relaxing in my "home" for the rest of the week in beautiful Maggie Valley, North Carolina.  I got lucky as there was a cancellation for this prime week in October and knowing how much I loved coming here, the cabin manager called to see if I'd like to come for the week offering me a deal I simply couldn't resist.  My friend, Becca, who blogs at An Unlikely Adventurer was able to join me for a couple of days of hiking and Bill will be here for the weekend.  Perfect spur of the moment adventure!!

With Becca gone back home, it's just me and the cabin is quiet.  I love that feeling of exhaustion that comes after hard physical activity when you can relax on the sofa and simply rest.  My mind begins to wander and I am filled with every emotion from sadness to gratitude to overwhelming contentment as my memory reflects..........................

Two and a half years ago, I began this blog for no reason other than to journal my thoughts.  One day, I got a comment and that began a friendship.  Those of you who have been with me from the start will remember Margie and her blog.  You will also remember that Margie and her husband, Bruce, were killed in October of 2010, by a suicidal driver while taking their morning walk.  Margie was my first follower and although I never met her in person, she was my friend.  There will never be an October go by that I don't think of her and remember what a support she was to me when I began Gains and Losses.  I still mourn and miss the loss of one of the great encouragers the weight loss blogging community had. 

I am now officially celebrating the loss of old eating habits.  One year ago, I weighed 30 pounds more than I do today and could find no motivation for change.  Today, I am not perfect (nor will I ever be), but my eating habits are as close to "normal" as I think they've ever been.  Over the past couple of months, there have been many temptations to revert back to old habits, but I've remained committed and am gaining more confidence that those days of out of control eating are nothing but a memory.  I did confess to Becca that there was a little "episode" with the peanut butter jar over the weekend!  Although more was consumed than was needed, even that was stopped before it got totally out of hand.

Once week ago, I was in more pain from a very active Rheumatoid Arthritis flare than I'd experienced in over a decade.  At the very least, the pain was acute enough that I was unable to continue normal daily activities and was actually feeling pretty useless since my days were spent on the sofa with heating pads attached to various parts of my body.  In a plea of desparation, I begged my rheumatologist to let me restart the medication, Enbrel, for one more trial period before switching to something else.  As I've mentioned, Enbrel was a miracle drug for me that kept my RA in remission for over a decade.  I had stopped it in July because of increasing headache pain that we were afraid was going to become full fledged migraines.  I was given permission to restart the Enbrel last Thursday and I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am to report that the change was almost immediate.  Within hours of the first injection, I could feel a difference and within 24 hours, I felt as normal as a person with acute rheumatoid disease will ever feel.  By Thursday afternoon, I could lift my coffee mug again with one hand and Thursday evening, I cooked dinner and loaded the dishwasher.  Things continued to improve culminating with yesterday's hike of 9.3 miles followed by today's hike of 6 miles.  As I said earlier, I am tired, but it's the good kind of tired.  So far, there have been no headaches.  My second injection will be this morning.  Let's hope for an even better week and no headaches.  

Thanks so much for all your concern these past months.  It has been so tough, so challenging and emotionally draining.  For the rest of my life, I will battle the ups and downs of RA.  A decade of remission had somewhat put me in a state of believing the worst would never happen again.  But it did and it will again.  I am so grateful for every day with minimal pain and freedom of movement. 

On a lighter note, I'm thinking of letting rest in peace.  For the past couple of years, it's been my go-to for tracking and analyzing, but I'm bored with it.  So I'm asking for your input.  What tracking system do you use and why?  I'm particularly interested in hearing from those who've used Calorie Count and switched.  Why did you switch and to what did you switch? 

I'll leave you with a few pictures from this week's hiking adventures...............

 Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail - GSMNP

 Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail - GSMNP

 Little Cataloochee Trail - GSMNP

 Little Cataloochee Trail - GSMNP

Little Cataloochee Trail - GSMNP

Enjoy Today!
Tell someone you love them, be active, pay it forward!


  1. Hooray for Entrel! And for hiking! I'm so very glad you're feeling better, Sharon, and I hope this takes care of the pain for a long, long time to come.

    As for tracking, when I'm in the mood, I use sparkpeople. It's "the horse that brung me", so to speak, and besides, you earn points for tracking and cute little trophy icons. (I'm such a juvenile.)

  2. Beautiful trail shots! Would love to be on one this morning.

  3. I am so glad to hear the the Enbrel is working for you again! That is good, good news.

    I track on Livesstrong. I like that you can create meals that you usually eat and can add them in 1 click. Plus you can build recipes as well to get calorie counts. I have been thinking about playing with my fitness pal out of curiosity for a change, though.

  4. I track my weight on my fitness pal I occasionally track my food there. And I'm supposed to be tracking my exercise there , too.

    I've learned so much from my weight graphs. Glad the drugs are working. Thanks for posting about Margie and sharing a bought her. Glad you could see Becca. Hang in there. Kp.

  5. Aw, I did not know Margie, but that is so very sad.

    Great news about the Enbrel, and I hope week 2 goes even better with it.

    I also use MyFitnessPal... they are all free, so if you want something new, just sign up and try it for a day ;) On MFP, you can "friend" folks and give encouragement. It kind of has a feed like facebook with things like "Becca has logged in for 5 days"...or "Becca hasn't logged in for 3 days and may need some encouragement". You can choose to share your food log or not with your friends.

  6. I think often about Margie as well, especially when I am tempted to walk on a road with no shoulder...

    I use the 'scrap paper with a magnet on the side of the fridge' method of tracking LOL.

    So so glad the medication is working again. I have had some hip pain this week, and thought of you often! So impressed that you can hike that far with RA.

  7. I took a walk in memory of your friend and her husband along the So California coast. It was a beautiful walk. Until you meet again.

    I'm "gardengirlkp" at My fitness pal. Friend me up but be sure to leave me a comment stating who you are if its not obvious. I like the "small group" community feel at my fitness pal. Nice

    Karen P

  8. I don't use an online tracker because I make so much from scratch it is hard to get accurate totals. I am all freaked out over accuracy!!! The fat shredder eating plan that comes with P90X counts nutrient groups, like one fruit, two vegetables, etc. That is so much easier for me.

    After reading the other comments, I might give my fitness pal a whirl. It seems like a nice community.

    I am so glad that you have found some relief from the pain. I pray it continues to work for you.

  9. Wow. For it to take only a couple of days to go from being unable to lift a coffee cup with one hand to hiking 9 miles is stunning! Praying that the positive effects continue with none of the negatives. :)


  10. After 7 years of calorie counting I can eye up just about any item and come within 10 calories, even take-out. I just keep a running tally in my head or on a scrap of paper. Always been a paper gal, I find websites whose purpose is to help you track and organize to be more effort than a simple pen and paper!

  11. I use Lose It, on my phone. Because it has a scanner, and I can pretend I'm a checker in a grocery store. I don't know why I love that so much, but I swear to you it is SO much fun! :)

  12. Hi Sharon, I love the Maggie area including Cataloochee.... Hope we get back there sometime soon.

    I'm so proud of you dealing not only with your weight loss --but especially with your RA.... Sounds like you are doing everything you need to do in order to stay healthy.

    I use a journal called DietMinder ( write down everything I eat every day. I keep up not only with calories, but also fat, carbs, fiber and protein. This helps me stay balanced.... I was having some trouble with constipation --and even though I drink at least 64 oz of water each day, I realized that I needed more fiber in my diet. SO--I added flaxseed (on my Plain Green Yogurt) and also some prunes... My problem has been fixed!!!!

    Sad about the lady (blog friend of yours) who was killed in 2010.... Life is just so precious and there are never any guarantees.

  13. Love your photos. Glad you got to get out and do some hiking!

  14. Oh Sharon...I do so hope that you are able to continue with the Enbrel. What a blessing that it has worked so well for you---I pray that you continue to be free of unpleasant side effects.

    I'm so glad you got to hike! I love all your pictures, but especially the top one of Little Cataloochee Church. I'll never forget our hike there on the Boogerman Trail---what a wonderful experience!

  15. LOVE that church in the woods... I'd love to go to a service there! I'm your newest follower and rss subscriber...

  16. I am so glad that you're currently not having any headaches, Sharon. Thoughts of you are always on my mind, especially now during this transition.
    I do remember Margie. Was very, very sad to read about her passing. I remember that it spread through the blogging community like wildfire and everyone was just stunned/shocked that it happened. It's hard to believe it's been two years.
    Beautiful photos, as always. Thank you for giving me a bit of your Smokies :)