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Monday, July 27, 2015

Long Walks

Yesterday a friend of mine and myself headed of to the Salamonie State Park to walk the 13 mile Bloodroot Trail. The park is about an hours drive south of Fort Wayne and pretty much in the middle of nowhere. As we headed off towards the interstate exit my gas light came on, no biggie, there will surely be a gas station on the exit. We headed onto the exit ramp and I looked at my phone to see  which way to go, turn right, so off we went, in doing this I failed to notice the gas station across the road on the left. We drove a few miles, then turned left, my phone told us to go 9 miles, a sign said Mt. Etna was in 8 miles, good surely there will be a gas station there.  No gas station. We drove another mile, then left for 2 miles, then left for half a mile and turning into a small parking lot to find we had arrived at our destination, it simply provided access to the trail. Yikes, we were now really low on gas and other than trees, a red tailed hawk and a wild turkey we seemed to be on our own. We decided to find a gas station so that we would not be worried about the situation during the hike. So out of the parking and back to the main road, across the main road to the park office, it was closed, then we saw the main park entrance so pulled up the entrance booth. A nice young man told us that a lot of the park was still flooded from the excessive rain that fell throughout June and early July, he said he would not charge us to enter the park, we asked him where the closest gas was located, he told us 9 miles away in Andrews and gave us directions. On gas fumes and prayer we headed off to Andrews, and I am pleased to report that we made it, filled up the van and headed back to the park.

It became apparent on our search for a bathroom that the park was badly flooded. We headed towards the Salamonie Reservoir, signs in the road warned that the road ended in the water, picnic tables were stacked up everywhere, the campground was closed, the beach was closed. Under part of Salamonie Reservoir there are the remains of a small town, a few years ago there was a drought and the water receded to the point that people could walk around the remains, it was a first since the reservoir was built in 1966. This year there is no chance of seeing the remains as the Reservoir is so full and flooded onto surrounding land.

After a little drive around the park we found the Interpretive Center building, it was closed, and just across from it we found the trail head for the Bloodroot Trail. Yea, we were finally starting our hike. Back packs on, hats on, a spray down with insect repellant, (the mosquitos are intense this year after all of the rain), and we were off. The trail was wet with dew and grass long, very quickly our feet were soaked, oh well, this is part of hiking. We came across wild blackberries and enjoyed several of the lovely ripe berries and on we went for about half a mile and that was it, the trail was flooded, and I don't mean just a bit flooded, there was simply a vast expanse of water and it was deep and seemed to be everywhere, so we turned around and headed back to the van. We removed our shoes and socks and place our socks on the dash board in the hopes they would dry out a bit in the sunshine on the way back to Fort Wayne.

Now we know how to get to the park, we know where the trail head is and we hope to return in September to hike the trail, we assume in six weeks time, barring any torrential, ongoing rainfall, the trail should be dried out. Plus I like hiking in September, less humidity, less mosquitos, brilliant sunshiny days, and summer is in its complete last hurrah, it is one of my most favorite months of the year.

My friend and I still wanted to hike, so headed back to Fort Wayne and on the way decided that we would walk the River Greenway Paths in Fort Wayne. I drove us to Sweeney Park and parked the van, we put our damp socks and shoes back on, donned our backpacks, headed to the bathroom and then hit the greenway trail. Good we were off on a walk and planned to take the path all the way to Johnny Appleseed Park, about six miles away. The Greenway was heavily flooded a few weeks ago, although the water has receded there is a lot of debris and mud left in some areas, we got rather muddy and slipped around a bit in the early part of the walk. A walking bridge over the river was barricaded, but we needed to cross so we climbed the barricade and went on our way. It was a great walk, there were many people enjoying the greenway on bike, but very few walkers. We changed our route slightly on the way back, still enjoying the greenway, but avoiding the very muddy areas we encountered early on along with the barricaded walking bridge. When we returned to the van my Map My Walk app said we had walked 11.84 miles in three hours and fifty two minutes, it was an enjoyable walk done at an easy pace with a friend for company. I hope to plan out a good long walk once per month, preferably at one of the state parks as the trails are a little more challenging with lots of hills and that up and down walking is a good work out.

If you have an opportunity to get out and hike, go for it. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Lease on Life

Losing weight is one of the best things I have ever done for myself, it has truly given me a new lease on life. I have now lost 90lbs, slowly, slowly since last September, averaging about 2lbs/week. I have gone from being extremely sedentary and fat,  to quite active and slim. My daily diet has drastically changed, lots of vegetables, fiber, protein, some fruit, a little fat, and really no added sugar. I run/jog most days of the week and find 3 miles to be an easy workout, but do five or six miles a couple of days a week. I make sure I get exercise every day. My blood pressure is now very good, always quite a bit below 120/80. My cholesterol is excellent, I am curious to see how low it will go. I sleep very well at night, I feel good, I feel energetic, I feel twenty years younger.

I am a fifty-one year old female and if I was to believe all that I read I would assume it is impossible to lose weight at my age, that I am past my peak, that jogging is bad for me, that I should accept high blood pressure and high cholesterol as normal and be a good girl and take my meds. I should continue on the path of poor diet, because at my age there is no hope, and probably go on to develop diabetes II, because of course there are meds to take for that too. Oh, and I am allowed to blame my lack of motivation, depressed state, and general poor health on any number of things, genetics, old age, menopause, just to name a few. Each of us has the power to unlock optimum health we just have to want to do it, and it can be done and all you have to do is start right now.

I am here to say there is hope if you track your calories, take some exercise, a walk each day is an excellent start, and begin to weed out the poor food choices in your daily diet. Make small changes, if you have a lot of weight to lose simply reducing the number of calories you eat each day will cause the weight to come off. Remember to be honest, and better to over estimate the calories in something rather than underestimate. As weight comes off you start feeling better and your body starts craving more activity and walking becomes enjoyable, something you look forward to. As weight comes off you begin to appreciate your body and realize that you need to treat it better and fuel it correctly, so slowly but surely you adjust your diet so that the food you eat is good for you and offers benefit and quality nutrition. Your entire outlook on life changes, poor food choices become just that and the lure of cakes, pies, sweets go away, in fact on the rare occasion you might have a dessert you become shocked at how exceedingly sweet it is, really sickly sweet. And when you think about it "sickly sweet" is kind of an ironic description isn't it, because all of that sugar really is sickly and will damage your body in the long run.

Today I urge you to review your daily diet, your daily activity level and make one small, manageable healthy change, and continue to do this every day and you will find you change your behavior and begin to reap the benefits. When you want to snack, ask yourself why, and then have a drink of water if you realize you are bored rather than hungry. Enjoy an apple instead of a donut, eat a serving of nuts (preferably unsalted, raw) instead of chips. If you want something sweet eat a fiber bar instead of a candy bar. There are always good fuel foods to replace foods that offer little nutritional value. Make sure you eat good, lean protein with each meal, and plenty of fiber. Fiber not only helps you feel full, it will keep you regular as clockwork paired with daily exercise.

Excuses will pop up, I don't have time to plan my daily diet, I don't have time to exercise, I am not ready to do this. Well yes you do have time, you already plan your daily diet if you think about what you are going to have for dinner, you will instead think about what good fuel foods you can have for dinner.  Exercise, just start with twenty minutes, most people can find twenty minutes in their day. When you go to the store, park as far away as possible. Look for opportunities to add steps into your day, you will be surprised at all of the opportunities you have to do this. And the last excuse, I am not ready to do this, so when will you be ready? When you have a stroke? When you end up in the hospital with a heart attack or problems caused by diabetes? Don't fool yourself into thinking that it doesn't matter because you can take drugs to address your current health issues, wouldn't you rather control you habits and be rewarded with a healthier body that is not dependent upon drugs to make it function in way that causes you less harm?  Are the immediate rewards of a large piece of cake really worth the long term problems this type of non-nutritious food causes, spikes in blood sugar, inflammation, weight gain?  Immediate gratification is WAY overrated, sticking to a plan, seeing things through, focusing on the long term brings such immense gratification and reward. Nothing worth having comes easily in life, hard work and effort bring such good rewards to the body, mind, and soul.

Sometimes a day will pass where you don't exercise, or you make poor choices, evaluate the day, ask why, and then develop a game plan to avoid the pitfall in the future. I read an article a week or so ago and it said if you were on a road trip and took a wrong turn you would not say, oh boy, this trip is ruined and keep going the wrong way, no you would turn around at the first opportunity and get back on track. Making healthy living choices is the same, you will have days where you "take a wrong turn", forgive yourself, smile, and confidently get back on track. As the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, the weight keeps coming off, your body becomes toned and fit, you will find that you rarely "take a wrong turn" because your new lifestyle habits have taken over.

With a 90lb weight loss I am fast approaching the end of weight loss and the beginning of maintaining my weight for the rest of my life. I weigh 150lbs now, a good weigh for my height of 5' 10". Weight is still coming off but I assume it will stop, or slow down soon, I weigh less than I did in high school, it is very strange. I catch glimpses of myself reflected in a glass door as I enter a store and sometimes take a double take as it seems unbelievable that the tall thin lady reflected back at me is me. I am buying medium in clothing sizes, a far cry from the 2X I used to buy. I got rid of all of my fat clothes, I am NEVER going back to that size because I was miserable and I didn't even realize I was so far overweight, I was in denial and could always find an excuse to eat more. Worse still I didn't realize that there was an energetic, fit and slim person in me that was simply buried in fat, what a tragedy if I had never discovered this fact! I am so glad I made lifestyle changes before I had any major health issues, and I continue to be amazed at just how forgiving our bodies are if we begin to treat them properly, it is truly miraculous.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Little Blessings

Yesterday evening our daughter Emily and her fiancĂ© Skylar welcomed their first child into this world. Little Masen arrived four weeks early, weighing in at six pounds, eleven ounces, he is our seventh grand child. Welcoming grand babies into the family never gets old.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thoughts On Weight Loss

Losing weight is a very odd thing. I have now lost 80lbs and weigh just 5lbs more than I did in high school, I am in the final stretch, probably 10 - 15lbs more and I will be in maintenance mode for the rest of my life. But it is not just weight I have lost, I have gained many things along the way, some expected, some unexpected.
In March I was able to stop taking my blood pressure meds, this week I went to the doctor for a check up, my bp was 100/60, he removed the diagnosis hypertension from my medical record. I am glad I developed hypertension because it was the motivator for taking charge of my health and it is why I started my weight loss journey. I had some routine blood work, the nurse called me yesterday and said all was normal, and then went on to tell me that this time last year my cholesterol was 208 and it is now 167, she told me to keep on doing whatever I am doing. And, believe me when I say that I plan to for the rest of my life. The cholesterol took me by surprise as I never gave it thought, it was an unexpected bonus due to my weight loss and diet changes.
Exercise, I have always enjoyed walking and bike riding, and for most of my adult life have been active but oftentimes with months and months of inactivity. At my heaviest last year I took no exercise, I sat most of the day, and although I thought about walking that was really all I did, I ached and felt old and unmotivated. Now I find it easy to move around, there is a lot less of me to move around, I have lost a third of me, and my body craves exercise. Although I now weigh just 5lbs more that I did in high school I am in much better shape than I was then due to all of the walking and running, it has toned me and burned away fat and built muscle.
Diet, I eat so differently now, and I enjoy my food. So many foods I used to add butter, salt or sugar to, and now I wonder why, I find that my veggies taste just fine as they are. I used to add butter and brown sugar to sweet potatoes and squash, I slowly reduced the sugar over time and then stopped adding it, then I stopped adding butter, and you know what? These veggies have a wonderful flavor and I was totally covering it up with butter and sugar, I cannot not imagine adding anything to them now.
What does a typical day look like for me? Three days a week I run and the other days I walk, and I recently added some weight training to tone and strengthen. I try to do a minimum of 4 miles a day, but oftentimes do 6 or more miles. I make the time to exercise, it has to be a top priority, it is just too beneficial and cannot be neglected.

1 carton of Chobani non-fat plain greek yogurt (I love this stuff)
1 banana with 1 T of low sodium natural peanut butter smeared all over it. (Yummy)
(this is my favorite breakfast and rolls in at 295 calories and gives a nice proportion of protein/fat to carbohydrate)

3 oz baked boneless skinless chicken breast (I bake up several skinless, boneless breasts at time and then keep them in the fridge to eat through out the week)
broccoli - 1 head
half an acorn squash
(this is a filling lunch and rolls in at around 300 calories)

24 almonds
(160 calories and almonds are SO good for you)

4 - 6ozs of salmon
10 brussel sprouts
baked sweet potato
(300 calories, salmon is great for heart health)

Mug of hot milk
(120 calories, I like 2%)

This brings my day to about 1200 calories, I get protein at each meal, the vegetables and fruits provide vitamins and carbohydrates. Protein and fat make up about half of my calories and carbohydrates make up the other half. I have absolutely no problem in getting enough fiber each day, my goal is 21 grams, I usually get around 30 to 35 grams per day.

I would say that most of the above I eat frequently, other things I enjoy:
Bulgar, lentil, onion combination - high in fiber and protein
Oatmeal with almond milk
Baked beans and kale and a couple of poached eggs
xtreme wellness low carb, high fiber tortilla wrap with refried beans and kale and sometimes an added egg.
Creamy cucumber salad made with non-fat greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
No salt rice cakes - at 30 calories a rice cake is great, crunchy snack, good with peanut butter too.
String Cheese - a nice treat with an apple and only 90 calories and it is a pre-measured portion which is a nice bonus.
An occasional treat, but before I eat any kind of treat I check the calorie count so that I am well aware of what I am eating and how much I can have.
And MOST important, measure your portions, so you are eating 1 T, or half a cup, and purchase a small kitchen scale. I am careful to measure and weigh food so that I don't over indulge.

My philosophy is to count every calorie and make every calorie count.

Please note, 1200 calories is good for me to lose 1lb per week. The amount of calories you need will vary depending on your age, gender, weight and height. My thirty one year old son, who is six foot, six inches tall can eat 3000 calories a day for a weight loss goal of 2lbs/week. I am a 51 year old woman, 5 foot, 10 inches tall and weighing 160lbs, my caloric needs are much less than my sons.

Did I start out eating like this on day one of my weight loss journey? UHHH NO!!! At first I was just concerned about calories, not quality of calories. And I lost weight, it came of quickly at first, because I had simply been overeating for a long time and the minute I stopped overeating the weight came off. Once I started using the Myfitnesspal app I found that it provided information on the nutrients my food choices provided and gave a macro of the carbs vs protein and fat, this slowly trained me to make better choices. I find the macro a fun part of the app as I plan my menu for the day, oops over on carbs what do I need to change, or too much fat, or too much protein, over time it becomes easy to determine what you need to tweak to keep the ratios in check. So slowly I went from simple calorie counting, but not too much concern about the quality of calories, to slight modifications to diet that overtime became a complete overhaul of my diet. You will notice I eat very little in the traditional carbs, like bread, cake, cookies, white potatoes, and yet I easily eat enough carbs each day and have plenty of energy to exercise. I have never been a pop/soda drinker, but if you are ditch the habit even if you drink diet, you just don't need that stuff in your system. I drink water, a lot of it, black coffee, and a couple cups of tea each day. I have also started purchasing organic fruits and vegetables. Organic fruits and veggies don't keep as well as non-organic, this really got me to realize just how much the chemicals are a part of the cellular structure of the non-organic stuff and even if it is a banana with a thick skin, the pesticides etc. are still part of every cell of the banana. Bad stuff, I don't want it in my system. And, I really do not eat processed foods, I eat whole foods and keep things simple, this make meal prep a snap.

Did I start exercising right off the bat? NO! For the first several months of weight loss I did not exercise at all, just eating less was all that was needed. By January I was down about 40lbs and feeling better, feeling antsy, I wanted to get out and walk and so I started to walk outside weather permitting and doing the treadmill on poor weather days. By springtime I was walking at least 3 miles a day and easily walking at a 4mph pace for the entire time, that is when I started to add a little bit of running into each mile. The running incorporated easily as my cardio endurance was built up from the long, fast walks. So slowly, over time I went from no exercise, to short walks, to long walks, to long, fast walks, to running.

Other benefits of losing weight. Self confidence, I don't feel like hiding, I don't feel embarrassed by my weight. Clothing, I like the way clothes fit me, I have always shopped at thrift stores and have had fun finding that I have so much more choice when I don't need plus size clothing. Compliments, many kind, encouraging comments from family, friends, and most of all my husband. I don't feel invisible anymore.

Odd things I have found. For the most part family and friends have been super encouraging and I am so very grateful for them as they have played a huge part in my journey. Some people are not so encouraging, they are generally struggling with their own weight issues, comments like you have lost too much, oh just go ahead and eat this one piece it won't hurt you, don't lose too much or you will look old and haggard (yes someone did say that to me), when will you be done with this. I find these comments odd, and the answer to "when will you be done with this?, well never, this is a lifestyle change and it is my lifestyle to be fit and healthy for the rest of my life. The reward of losing weight and exercising for the health benefits is that you end up slim and fit and healthy because you are treating your body the way it was designed to be treated.

I am NOT on a diet! I cannot emphasize that enough, a diet has an end, a journey to health and fitness has no end. I have people who complain to me that they cannot lose weight no matter what they do, I find that hard to believe, you see I used to be fat and overeat and I said the same things while sneaking a cookie that would turn into five or six cookies, and then eat dinner, but think wow that was yummy I will have just a little more, and before you know it you are eating thousands of calories a day and the weight just won't budge or only goes up.  I have learned some things about myself, I would use others to justify buying candy, cookies, chips, baked goods. I would think oh the grandchildren will really enjoy these gummy bears, of course they would enjoy some of the gummy bears but I was really just buying them for myself and I would eat most of them. But I was never buying them for myself, or so I would convince myself. I still think like this, but I catch the thought and tell myself don't use the grandchildren to justify a craving, leave the candy on the store shelf and move on, and you know what I do. Training your self to recognize justification behavior is a challenge and once you recognize the behavior you then train yourself to respond to it appropriately.

Many people say, "Oh I wish I was thin, I wish I could lose weight, I want to lose 60lbs by summer", or things along those lines. Well guess what, wishing you were thin does nothing, planning how you are going to get fit and healthy and beginning to count calories and making modifications to your diet will start you on the journey to a healthier life, and one benefit is that you will become slimmer. Oh, and the chances of losing 60lbs in a couple of months is just a dream, you didn't gain 60lbs in a couple of months. But counting calories and slowly adding in exercise and you will find that the sixty pounds will come off a couple of pounds at a time, and like me you will find all of sudden that you have lost 80lbs and still are losing, which makes me realize just how seriously deluded I was about my heavy weight. I would never have said I was 80lbs overweight, and I never, ever, ever, in my wildest dreams would have thought I would be one of "those people" who lost over a third of their body weight, it is very surreal.

Other things I do, I like to read success stories, I like to read about how people lost the weight and then maintained the weight loss, everyone has a story and everyone experienced changes in all areas of their life because they started to take care of themselves, put their health and well being first. I like to read books about people who did extraordinary things, like hiking the Appalachian Trail at an old age, hiking across the USA, things like that. I have discovered that the human body is wonderfully and beautifully designed by our creator and if we treat it right we can find that we can do so many things and live life to the fullest with strength and vigor. No matter how poorly we have treated our bodies it is amazing how quickly they respond and bounce back when we begin to treat them properly.

So my friends if you are struggling with your weight remember it is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Start today by counting calories, there are many great, free, weight management apps available, get one and use it, and be honest, you have to log everything, that spoonful of cookie dough, that "bite" of something or other, all the little things add up quickly and can sabotage your efforts. As the weight starts to come off begin walking, or doing an exercise that you enjoy, the important thing is that you just get moving, maybe you can only walk a quarter of a mile, so do it, soon you will be able to walk more. Don't get frustrated if after losing a bunch of weight you suddenly plateau, this is normal, just continue on, at least you aren't gaining :), use it as a time to reevaluate your eating, have some old habits crept back in, make sure you are eating clean, the weight will begin to move again. I had one plateau last almost 4 weeks, and have had a couple shorter ones on my journey. A plateau is not a negative, even if you are stuck at that weight it is still SO much better than the weight you started at!  And remember there are no magic bullets, you can't eat the cabbage soup diet for the rest of your life, or do the hard boiled egg diet for life, or take a supplement, or drink slim fast, or drink some ancient elixir, or whatever the latest fad is. To be fit and healthy you need to eat, but you need to eat what is good for you and remain within your calorie budget each day and you need to get up and move, this is all you need to do, and you will see results.

If you are ready to start this journey I am excited for you, I am glad you will be travelling the same path as me and many others, and I know you will not regret the journey and I hope you fully understand that the journey never ends because you are not on a diet, you will be embracing a healthy lifestyle.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Running - I Am Becoming An Addict

I never thought I would say this, but I LOVE running. I so look forward to getting out each day to run three to four miles, and I feel so pumped up when I get back and oddly feel super energized. I have had a little bit of an issue with plantar faciitis, but seem to be slowly on the mend.

Running is not about speed, it is about endurance, find your pace and you are set. If you are huffing and puffing along you are pushing too hard, a comfortable pace is enjoyable.  The funny thing is that I never set out on a daily exercise regime with the goal of running each day. Initially I walked, at first not very far, a couple of miles, but quickly I was doing the couple of miles at a faster pace and my body wanted to go longer. After a while I was/do walk five, six, seven miles at a time, all the while keeping up a steady pace, I find it invigorating and relaxing at the same time. Once my body adapted to an hour, hour and half, sometimes two hours of fast walking the next logical step was to start running. The walking really built up my endurance and the running was fairly easily incorporated into my days. There are, and will be, days when I set out to run and my body seems to say NO you are walking today, but they are few and far between.

I took three days off from fast walking and running, and oh my goodness did I miss it, I planned to rest my foot, due to plantar faciitis pain,  for five days but just couldn't wait any longer to get back out to exercise. I was going crazy. Funny how my body has so adapted to exercise. A year ago I would feel that a slow walk to the chicken coop was a lot! But of course at that time I was 75 lbs heavier and leading a very sedentary life.

This past weekend I picked up a book by Jeff Galloway, Running Getting Started, it is just chock full of information. And, the format of the book allows for quick digestion of the facts presented and is upbeat and encouraging, it covers everything from shoes, clothing, fat burning, diet, injuries, how to treat injuries, how to prepare for an event, etc. Jeff Galloway was an Olympic runner in 1972, he is now in his mid 60's ,and  still an avid runner. Jeff has started many people off to become runners, no matter what decade of life they are in, it is never too late, if a person in their 80's can take up running and incorporate daily exercise into their life what is your reason for not exercising?

I admire Ernestine Shepherd, the 76 year old from Maryland who runs 10 miles a day and is the worlds oldest female body builder, she is in excellent shape and doesn't look her age. Last week a 92 year old lady became the oldest woman ever to finish a marathon, yes a marathon 26.2 miles, it took her just over 7 hours, AMAZING. I am PROUD of my Mom, she is 75 and recently took up daily walking, she is doing 3.7 miles a day!! The results have paid off, Mom is now off of her blood pressure medication and heart medication, and she is committed to walking daily for her health. My Mom is an inspiration. (Maybe Mom will end up being a runner :))

Wherever you are in life, perhaps you have a disability and exercise is going to be a struggle, try to find something that you enjoy that gets you moving. At first everything is hard, your body resists, you ache, muscles hurt that you didn't even know you had, but you have to push through and do what you can. After a week or two your body adjusts and you can do a little more, and then a little more after that, and before you know it you are looking forward to your walk, you feel elated to see your progress, your body and mind begin to reap the benefits of regular exercise.

Last summer my body was stiff and tired, my knees ached, my back was stiff, my feet hurt, I would get up out of chair and then have to take a moment to unkink, I felt old and I was only 50. I always had aches and pains. The funny thing is the aches, pains and stiffness were really my muscles way of telling me HELLO you need to use us or we will continue to weaken and waste away. So beginning to exercise causes new aches and pains, but they are due to muscles suddenly being used and strengthened, and once they are strengthened the aches, pains, stiffness disappear, you suddenly realize that you bounce up out of the chair, you find yourself running up the stairs, you move faster, you sleep better.  And as you drag your body back into shape you have a desire to eat a healthy diet, you notice that some foods really slow you down so you eliminate them. It is all win win.

So my friends I encourage you to get up off the couch and start moving, just put one foot in front of the other and go. Don't worry about distance, don't worry about speed, just start moving more each day than you do right now and be prepared to amaze yourself.

Hopefully you can read the "evolution of a runner", I read this list and chuckled as it described my journey to a T :)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Lindenwood Park, A Wonderful Place To Hike With Small Children and Strollers!!!

Summer vacation and time to keep older grandchildren occupied. Today we went on a hike. When I got up this morning I looked online to find stroller friendly hiking trails in Fort Wayne, don't you just love the internet? A suggested park was Lindenwood, a heavily wooded area near downtown Fort Wayne with a number of trails, the longest about a one mile loop, perfect for little legs. I used to take my children to Lindenwood to walk the trails and was disappointed in myself for forgetting about this wonderful park. Oh, and admission is free.

Today was perfect for a little hike, we walked the Reflection Trail, extremely stroller friendly with a wide path and many lengths of broad walk, ending at a pond with a nice deck area to relax and enjoy the pond from. We took a simple picnic of string cheese, bananas, granola bars and the most wonderful, gigantic, organic strawberries, and of course water. We saw a lot of very fuzzy caterpillars, many birds, and some very energetic squirrels, and we saw deer footprints in the mud. I hope that the joys of nature and the enjoyment of walking trails is something that stays with my grandsons for their entire life.

At the campfire ring getting ready to walk the Reflection Trail

And we are off on our hike!

Charles loves strawberries.

Henry enjoying a granola bar.

Pat enjoying a granola bar.

Sweet Pete enjoying life.

Lying down with eyes closed listening to the wind and birds.

Pete enjoying a granola bar.

The hikers are into the spirit of the day.

We wore little Charles out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

5K - I Did It!

 Wow, the first 5K is in the past, completed successfully and was a lot of fun. I am continuing to run several times a week, and walking on other days. I am up to four miles at a time and am aiming for 6 miles so I can do a 10K. Here are some pictures from The Color Run 5K Fun Run.

Getting ready to leave the house for The Color Run, I was pretty pumped up.

My fellow runners, daughter Amber and her husband Brad, me, and Skylar who is Emily's fiance.

Ta Da, I DID IT!! First 5K completed.

Husband Dave, my "manager" :)

The cheerleaders, daughter Emily, husband Dave, and the grandsons!

Sweet Pete, the littlest cheerleader.

The grandsons after they played with some of the color packs, compliments of The Color Run.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5K Training!

Well if you had told me one year ago that I would voluntarily sign myself up to do a 5K run in the spring of 2015 I would have laughed at you. But this is exactly what has happened, three weeks from today I will do my first 5K, a fun run, so it should not be intimidating and it is not timed.
For the past week I have added running to my walking routine and all that fast walking for miles at a time has paid off, it has really built up my endurance. A 5K is around 3.1 miles, last Saturday I ran that distance and managed it well, I was very pleased. I have since run 3.1 to 3.2 miles three more times
Running uses different muscles to walking, this rather surprised me, so I plan to mix it up, some days run, some days walk, some days both.  Walking is definitely easier on the body, my right heel is a little sore from the running, but I am doing stretches and have iced it, and feel this will improve with time.
I am not a fast runner! I have read several articles about getting started with running, all said don't focus on speed, focus on endurance and run a pace that is comfortable. This is key, one day I started out too fast, quickly I was breathing too fast and feeling out of breath and had to stop. My mantra when I start is, "keep it slow and steady", this works well for me.
Daughter Amber, and son-in-law Brad signed up for the fun run, I am excited to have their support. Husband Dave, and our daughter Emily will be there to support us and watch the grandsons while we run. I am really looking forward to May 23.

On other news, the shingles are really healing up now, still a little irritation from time to time, but for the most part I feel back to normal, and that is a GOOD THING.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Ughhhhhhhhhh Shingles

Three weeks ago I was standing in the kitchen washing dishes and noticed that I kept scratching the right side of my back. It was an annoying itch so I went into the bathroom to look in the mirror, I could not see any reason at all for the itchiness and after a while it subsided. On Sunday evening my back ached on the right side above my waistline, I had worked hard all day cooking Easter dinner for the family, cleaning up afterwards, and playing corn hole for the first time in 2015. I assumed my back ached because I was tired from a busy day, I did not sleep well that night. Monday night was the same, a sore back, no position was comfortable and another restless night. On Tuesday evening I left with my son, daughter-in-law and grand daughters to drive to Florida to see my parents, a fifteen plus hour drive. We drove all night, my back bothered me quite a bit. The next morning my back was super bothering me, we still had five hours of driving to do, and the pain was now radiating through my ribs and around my right side and across my stomach. I felt quiet unwell and began imagining all kinds of things must be wrong with me. Suddenly I thought about shingles, and thanks to the wonders of the cell phones and internet, within a minute I was reading articles about shingles and understanding that my symptoms seemed to be the onset of this nasty illness. A day later my self diagnoses was confirmed when I noticed a nasty rash developing on the right side of my stomach and back.
The rash grew for around five days and then looked yucky and has since slowly dried up and scabbed over. The shingles pain is very odd, sometimes just itchiness and burning, other times such annoying irritation, and often deep pain that feels like extreme bruising or a very pulled muscle. I have had very few good nights of sleep, and have felt very tired, tonight is the first night in a week that I have stayed up past 8:30 pm. Tylenol and Advil have helped immensely. Initially calamine lotion and cortisone cream helped the rash when it was at a very itchy, annoying stage.
It seems this virus lasts for three to five weeks, I am hoping that I am now cruising into the final weeks of battling shingles, I sure hope so. The good thing, the younger you are when you get shingles the less likely you are to have long lasting after effects from it, and once you have shingles it is unlikely that it will reoccur.
Walking helps a lot to relieve the pain of shingles, but I have not walked as much as usual because some days I have simply been too tired, but I am doing the best I can. Today I decided to sign up for a 5K run, a first for me, and I am excited as it gives me something to work towards and I should be well over the shingles by May 23, whether I will be quite ready to run the full 5K who knows, but I will give it my best shot. It made me feel a lot better this afternoon to have something to focus on in the near future that will be a new experience and it is a motivator to get back out to daily exercise and not let these stupid shingles slow me down.

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Journey to Good Health

Just over a year ago I turned fifty. I was overweight, and continued to gain weight through the spring of 2014 and by late summer was at the heaviest I had ever been in my life. I did not feel good at all, my clothes were barely fitting me, my joints ached, I walked at a very slow pace, I was always tired. My blood pressure was high so I went to the doctor last June and he put me on medication to control it, but he also said that I should lose weight and start walking each day.

Well June ended, July came and went and I gained more weight, in early August our fifth grandchild was born, Dave and I had our picture taken with all five of our grandchildren, I looked at the picture and was disturbed at just how large I had become, I felt upset and frustrated, I knew I needed to do something and I knew that I had to start with my diet, lots of baked goods, candies, snacks and daily overeating had taken their toll.

At first I just started eating less and avoided junk food, I lost ten or twelve pounds fairly quickly, then the weight loss slowed and a pound or two crept back. Frustration kicked in, I needed a better way to track what I was doing and to measure progress. In October we had a bonfire and invited family to come hang out. While sitting around the bonfire someone asked my husband's brother-in-law how he had lost weight. Bill was never a heavy man but over the past few years he had gained about twenty pounds, he started feeling unwell and went to the doctor and they diagnosed him with type 2 diabetes, his doctor said if he would commit to losing 15 pounds he would probably be able to reverse the diagnoses. Bill found an app on the Livestrong website and started using it, it tracked his food and helped him stay on track, he lost thirty pounds, he looks and feels great, but best of all when he returned to the doctor his blood sugar had normalized and he no longer has type 2 diabetes. My son-in-law's father, Conley, did the same thing, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, followed the doctors orders to lose weight, and low and behold he no longer has type 2 diabetes.  I was inspired by both Bill and Conley, they both decided to take control of their health and are all the better for it.

After the bonfire I downloaded the Livestrong app, I used it to track all of my food and kept within my calorie allowance each day and by Thanksgiving I had lost almost twenty-five pounds, although still heavy I was feeling really good. Unfortunately the Livestrong app had many issues working on my phone and when I contacted their tech support they told me it wasn't supported on my device. Thankfully I found another app, MyfitnessPal, and to say it has been a lifesaver is not an exaggeration. It helps me track all of my food so I can stay within my calorie budget, and it sort of retrains you to eat better, I always get plenty of fiber each day, enough protein, eat my green leafy vegetables, and enjoy a treat here and there, but I can plan my day to make sure I don't overeat.

Over thanksgiving my sister and brother-in-law were visiting from England, both are in great shape, they run, they bike, they eat healthy foods and both are lean, trim, and energetic. Each Thanksgiving they have done the Turkey Gobbler run, a Fort Wayne tradition on Thanksgiving morning, when they returned from their run they encouraged me to start training so I can join them on the 2015 run. I felt encouraged by my sister and brother-in-law.

My sister Marika has also been an inspiration on my weight loss journey, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in January of 2013, she had a partial mastectomy but refused further traditional treatment of chemotherapy and radiation.  Marika instead did research on diet and natural approaches to treating cancer, she visited a doctor in New York and followed his regimen, she follows a very strict diet for optimal health but my goodness she is the picture of health and two years later remains cancer free and is living her life to the fullest. Another person who decided to take control of her health and is all the better for it.

Well after Thanksgiving I found another app, MapMyWalk, an awesome app, it does what it says, it maps your walk, it times your pace and tells you how fast you walk and kind of challenges and encourages you to compete against yourself.  I have gone from walking slowly and painfully last summer, to taking five to six mile walks daily at a pace of fourteen and a half minutes per mile. As I march around the countryside I feel alive, pumped up, good. Last week I did a 9.8 mile walk, I was tired when I returned home, but felt wonderful when I thought back to where I was a year ago. I incorporate some running into my walks, one day I jogged two and half miles without stopping, but the running is coming along slowly, I will persevere.

Now it is April, I am down sixty pounds. Sixty pounds! That is a bag and a half of softener salt, six sacks of potatoes, that I am no longer lugging around. No wonder my joints ached, no wonder I moved slowly. I still have around twenty pounds to go, but I feel absolutely fabulous, and my first major goal was met two weeks ago.

Remember the blood pressure medication? Well doing what my doctor recommended, walking each day and losing weight paid off.  My blood pressure started getting very low on the bp meds, 93 over 60, those sort of readings, so I called the doctor and they said halve the dose and come see them in a week. I did that and they said to STOP taking the medication and keep an eye on my bp, it has been two weeks and my bp has remained in a normal range all of that time and I feel so happy to be off of the medication as this was one of my main goals when I started my weight loss journey.  My next goal is to reach a healthy BMI, I am two pounds from the high end of normal weight BMI for my height, so the goal is almost reached. My third goal is to get twenty more pounds off so that I am in the mid-range of healthy BMI for my height.  And my final goal is to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of my life by eating a good diet and daily exercise.

My motivation to walk each day is that it is my daily dose of medicine for my bp, I would much rather take a brisk walk than a pill. My children have encouraged me and for my birthday this year, I turned 51, they gave me a FitBit, and I love it, it tracks my steps each day, my heart rate, my sleep, it links with MyFitnessPal to track my exercise and calories, it is a great little motivator, you really, really want to make sure you get the 10,000 steps in each day. (about five miles).

Another inspiration is a post that was shared on FaceBook about a lady called Ernestine Shepherd, google her, the seven minute YouTube video is well worth watching. Ernestine is the worlds oldest female body builder, she will be 79 this coming June.  Ernestine takes no meds, is lean and strong as can be, she runs, yes runs, 10 miles each day, she eats a healthy diet, she does weight training for two hours a day, and she teaches exercise classes at her church, in addition to competing in body builder competitions and giving motivational speeches. She is 78! And, Ernestine looks FABULOUS in a bikini when she is competing, and did I mention, she is 78!  When I don't feel like exercising I think about Ernestine getting up at three each morning to run 10 miles.

In closing it takes self-motivation to make a life change, but it also takes encouragement and inspiration from family and friends and from people we don't know who share their stories. I hope my story helps someone move off of the couch to start taking those first steps towards changing their health and their life.  Not only do I feel better, I look better, I have energy, I have strength, I move quickly, I feel twenty years younger, taking control of your health is about the best thing you can do for yourself.

Thank you for reading to the end of this very long post :)


Friday, March 6, 2015

Knitting and Bread Making - What else is a girl to do on cold winter days?

Well as the title to this post suggests, I have been busy knitting and making bread. We had such a cold February, and March began with five inches of snow and very cold temperatures, but today is the last day of super cold and boy am I glad to know things are warming up. Even with the cold, cold weather it is nice to see the day light hours lengthening, and my thoughts turn to the garden, what we will plant, where we will plant, I can't wait to get outside to play in the mud.

Anyway, back to knitting, I have been on a roll lately. First I made myself a new cardigan knitted in a bright and cheerful variegated yarn, I love the way the colors knitted into stripes and I very pleased with the end result. This must be my winter of variegated yarn, I knitted Alivia a very colorful sweater in a primary color variegated yarn and will be making Charlie a matching sweater next. Next week I will see my mom and will borrow from her a pattern for a zippered, hoodie sweater, I plan to knit one for myself in the same variegated yarn I am using for Alivia and Charlie's sweaters. Henry asked for a sweater too, I may end up making all grand babies the colorful variegated sweater, boy will we look a riot of color if we all go out and about together. 

I really love browsing the knitting books at our library and found a gem of a pattern book recently, Baby Knits Made Easy, I am LOVING this book and will order a copy for my very own. I knitted baby Aubrey a ballet wrap cardigan and am working on a matching one for Alivia. I then made a long, striped cap for Emily's new baby, grandbaby #7,  who is due on August 8, (Dave's birthday, which he already shares with our son Ben, and our grandson Peter!!).  

It was nice to bake bread on Wednesday, I decided to do a double batch and ended up with 9 loaves, the grand babies devoured the first loaf and the rest went to the freezer. Kneading bread is very relaxing, the aroma of baking bread is awesome, the taste of fresh baked, warm from the oven bread is amazing. And along with all of the delights of the bread making, baking, tasting is the cozy warm kitchen. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Some Memories From My Mother

Recently I was listening to an interview on BBC Radio 4 with author David Lodge. It was an interesting interview and David sounded as though he is in his thirties rather than in his early eighties. Anyway, I thought to myself if the author is so interesting what must his books be like? I did a quick search on our local library website and wowsers they own many titles by David Lodge. I left work that day and headed to our fabulous downtown library, (we truly have a most wonderful library service in our county, I think one of the best in the country), I quickly located David Lodge in Readers Services and selected four of his books to read.
 I am reading the first of the four David Lodge books, I am most of the way done, I seem to have very little time to get reading in, but it is very good. In fact, I thought to myself, self your mother would really, really enjoy this book, so I emailed good old Mumpy and said you have to read this book. Wow, when I speak Mumpy jumps and she looked the book up on Amazon and ordered it. Mumpy read the book in about two days flat, she sent me email updates, to say she enjoyed it is a bit of an understatement.
The author is five or so years older than my parents, but they all grew up while World War II waged on, and all were impacted by rationing and the austerity of 1950's Britain. In the book the author is lucky enough to take a trip to Heidelberg, Germany and to experience the American way of life at an American military base, my parents moved our family to America in the late 70's. For the author, and for my parents, the American lifestyle was something unimaginable in England and life changing for all of them..
By now your are wondering to yourselves what has all of this to do with the title of my post, well a lot. As I mentioned my Mom emailed me several times as she read the book, it so resonated with her, it resonates with me too and I was born way after the end of World War II. So below I will, with my Mom's permission share her memories she emailed to me. I just loved her emails and want to keep them forever, and posting them on my blog is a great way to keep them available for many years to come.

Email #1
It arrived in the mail today.  Good golly does that not bring back 
memories.  Of course, I was five years younger being born in 1939 - But
I surely remember the anderson shelters, the mickey mouse gas masks and
the morrison shelters. And, just when I thought he had forgotten about
shrapnel collecting, there it was.  I remember so well, going into the
street after an air raid and finding the warm twisted pieces of metal
laying in the road.   Just got as far as the buzz bombs!   It is
extremely readable and brings back a lot of memories.  House across the
street from where my mom and I lived was bombed just after we left to
stay at Auntie Edna's for the rest of the war.

Email #2
How well it resonates.  I am in Heidelberg now.  The visits to the
American stores reminds me of when we first came to America.  We were
overwhelmed by the variety of goods, food, et al and the inexpensiveness
of it all.  Not that we had any excess of money by any means as you will
well recall.  But we did eat a lot better and it certainly was reflected
in the waistline. Our very first bedroom set I believe is the one that
you and Dave sleep in was on sale of course. Unbelievable. You will
remember how we rushed out to every sale at 25% off. Sales only occurred
in Uk in January and August and then it would only be 10% off.  When I
worked at Clement Jocelyn in Bury they would trot out the remnant fabric
and offer it at 10% discount and any that did not sell went back into
the store room to be trotted out six months later at 10% once more.
Also  I remember Jim Miller here, in America. We were invited over for
July 4th, he placed an enormous steak on my plate which was great and
when I was half way through and struggling he threw another steak  on to
my plate.  "Oh no I cried, thank you but this is great and is far too
much".  He did no more than lift the steak from my plate and put it into
the dog's dish.  The dog really appreciated it. I had not eaten steak in
at least three years......I was horrified. Also, I had not had a glass
of wine in three years either!

After Marika was born, things went downhill fast in UK. Inflation went
to 28%.  Our mortgage was linked to the bank rate. That went to over
17%.  Every month a letter came indicating that we could pay the same
which would mean we would never ever pay off the loan because it would
go to infinity or, we could pay the stated amount and stay on track.  We
agreed we would stay on track. Each month we had to pay more money which
meant less money for other things like a bottle of wine on a Saturday
night and a steak.  That was why we invested in the digging machine and
were planting potatoes and growing green beans.  We severely rationed
our intake of meat. The reason I knitted everything and made as many
things as I could was because that was the most inexpensive thing to do.
Clothing was expensive.  I saved the family allowance for your new
school uniforms each year - I did not dare spend it on day to day stuff
because the start of the school year was expensive and I did not want
you guys not to have new stuff for the new school year.

America was a wonderful opportunity for us and I remember when I was
first in Fort Wayne, all be it in the blizzard of 78, I felt a sense of
freedom more than I had ever known.  It was down to us. We could sit on
our behinds and starve, or, we could stand up and make a life.  Our
choice.  It was a great feeling.  And, by golly we sure faced a
challenge when Pete lost his job at Bowmar. Thank goodness for the $2000
rainy day fund I stored in the bank.  Thank goodness for my sewing
machine in the basement - I think I shortened every guys pair of pants
in the neighborhood at $4 a go. It was a tough three years.  Pete, lived
out of his car in Florida since we could not afford for him to live
anywhere.  He could not get a job in his field of expertise because he
was not a citizen and had to take what he could.  But you know all of
this and I am chattering on.  But, not once did we want to return to
UK.  We were determined one way or another we will make this work and we

We have a wonderful family and we built a successful business - what
more could anyone want.  Even today, apart from visiting there is no way
I would want to live in UK. Our, "out of the shelter" is definitely here.

I just love these emails, I remember our life in England in the 70's but never realized that my parents were pinching every penny until it screamed, I remember a pleasant childhood, a wonderful garden, cool dresses my mom made for us, and one time some really cool pink fur parkas, and lots of lovely knitted items. I certainly have no negative memories of this time at all, because as an adult, I sew my own clothes and sew for my grandchildren, I knit all the time for myself and grandchildren, my husband and I keep a large garden. One of my favorite shows from the 70's is  The Good Life, a show about a suburban couple who decide to become self-sufficient in Surbiton, a suburb of London, I liked it because my parents kind of did the thing, except my Dad worked and did everything else in his spare time. Maybe a lot of people in England did this sort of thing in the 70's, even if they didn't, it was a great experience for our family and has given me many good memories.

Anyway if you want to read a good book check out, Out of the Shelter by David Lodge.

Blessings to you,


Monday, February 2, 2015

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow...... Okay glad it did finally stop!

On my previous post I mentioned that we were expecting snow over the weekend. The forecasts at first were vague, but by Saturday afternoon we were under a Winter Storm Warning for 10 to 15 inches of snow. Snow started falling Saturday night and by Sunday morning we had around 4 inches of wet snow on the ground, the temperature was around 32 degrees and the snow had stopped. Dave shoveled the driveway and I went for a brisk walk. It was wonderful outside, the wet snow clung to the tree branches and power lines making everything stunningly beautiful. The snow muffled all sound and it was amazingly peaceful, I stopped along the way to take pictures some are below.

When I returned from my walk I decided to play in the snow and built a snowman and snowkitty, it was fun and I was pleased with how they turned out.

By lunchtime it was snowing again, we never had blizzard conditions, we just had a steady snow all afternoon throughout Sunday night, this morning we awoke to very cold temperatures, twelve degrees, and brilliant sunshine, it looks spectacular outside. We will be off to shovel the driveway in a bit, it drifted heavily overnight, but it will be a joy to be outside and enjoy the sunshine and work together to dig out. I took pictures throughout the day to track the snow accumulation, and cannot believe we ended up with 11.5 inches!


Friday, January 30, 2015

Reading and Knitting and Knitting and Reading

Almost to the end of January, halfway through winter, boy am I ready for spring! More snow forecast for the weekend, we have had some very dreary days, cold temperatures and ice, everyone is looking forward to the longer days, sunshine, and warmer weather.

My knitting this week is going gang-busters, over halfway up the back of my cardigan, and I just love the yarn I am using. When I popped into our local branch library earlier this week they had a special display of knitting books, of course I picked some up, I enjoy browsing through knitting books.

Yesterday I while listening to BBC Radio 4 I heard an interview with author David Lodge, he wrote many books through the 60's, 70's and early 80's. David Lodge is now in his eighties, he has been with his wife for over 60 years, has written many books, and was a super interesting interviewee. It was hard to believe he was in his eighties, he sounded like a man in his thirties! Anyway, I looked up a few of his books, thought they sounded interesting and then looked to see if our library had them and I was in luck. I checked out four books, the cover synopsis on each sounds good and I am looking forward to getting dug into them this weekend.

Last week on another quick trip to library I picked up a book by Spencer Quinn, The Dog Who Knew Too Much, a Chet and Bernie mystery. It is a pretty fun read. Bernie is a private investigator and Chet is his partner and dog. Chet, the dog, tells the story and it makes for a good read hearing the story from a dogs perspective. Good bedtime reading :)

Little grandson Henry started Kindergarten this year, reading is a subject he picked up quickly and he can now pretty much read anything.. His new skill makes it fun to take him out to buy a book, he likes chapter books and really likes the Lego series of books, last weekend I was amused as he lay sideways in the recliner with his nose buried in his new book. I ordered him another Lego book this week and it arrived in the mail yesterday, I am looking forward to giving it to him when I see him later today. Henry is also quite the artist, I like this Star Wars Christmas picture he drew recently.

This winter I have inadvertently been collecting up cat t-shirts, not sure why, except they amuse me to no end. Yesterday I found a Rasta Cat t-shirt that made me laugh out loud, so of course I had to buy it ;) It goes well with my little dancing cat earrings.

I have spent a lot of time this winter working on collecting music for our MP3 player, this has involved many searches at the library, they have an excellent music collection, and the purchase of some harder to find CDs. I would say that the bulk of the music is from the seventies, lots of good stuff, and we have collected a lot of disco. I can't say I was a huge disco fan way back when, but it is sure fun to listen to now and we always end up dancing. It is great to have on when working around the house and you can be sure that you will be dancing all the way as you clean and vacuum and it just makes you feel cheerful and alive on a dreary winters day.

Well that is about that for today.

Peace be with you,