Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I challenged myself this past Monday.  I climbed a 1.2 mile long hiking trail to the top of a tiny mountain, more like a hill in terms of mountains, but it sure felt like a mountain to me!  I went by myself, having taken most hiking precautions.  (I had water, a cell phone, a map, insect repellant, I had checked the weather, was dressed fairly appropriately, and I'd told someone where I was going and when I'd left).  I knew it was classed as an easy trail, and it was hiked frequently.  Somewhere I read that an "fit" hiker would manage it in half an hour and a couch potato would need at least an hour.  So I figured I'd need somewhere in the middle.  I started an aggressive walking program last summer, and I felt I was ready for something more, so up I went.

It took me about 45 minutes to reach the top of the trail, so I'd guessed correctly on the amount of time I'd need.  I was really impressed by my stamina too.  I stopped to take pictures along the way up, which was really all I needed to keep my breathing even.  The trail was forested, with many roots, pine needles, and flat rocky surfaces for most of the way.

  In a few spots there were some tricky rocks to climb.

 I did get tired; the last 50 feet of the trail was steep, and a bit tricky and my thighs were complaining, but I did it!   The top of the trail was granite covered, and clear with a lovely view of "our" mountain, Mt. Monadnock, to the north. Since I had cell reception, I let people know where I was.
   I basked in the sun and rested for about 20 minutes before tackling the descent.  That was actually trickier than the ascent.  It's much harder to control your forward momentum!

However, I did it,

and reached my car safe and sound.

Things I learned:  

  • Bring my day pack so that I don't have to carry my water bottle
  • Bring a hiking stick -- snowshoe poles --- with me, especially for the descent
  • I can do a lot more than I thought I could
  • I need to buy some hiking shoes with ankle support. My NB walking shoes had great traction, but I realized how easily I could have twisted my ankle in a few spots.  I also need shoes/boots where my feet don't slide forward in the shoe.
  • Other hikers are helpful and friendly - great conversations too.
  • I love taking pictures of fungi

  • I loved it, even with the pesky deer flies  and mosquitoes
My big take-away?  


This is different from the past, in that for the first time that I can remember, I am realizing I can do PHYSICAL things.  I've always been successful in other areas, but never have I been successful in activities involving my body.  I hated PE because I was terrible at everything that involved running, catching, throwing, having stamina.  Because I couldn't keep up with other kids, I stopped doing those things, and therefore stopped doing other physical things.  NO MORE!

That's why this little hike was so empowering for me.  I'm not planning to hike the Appalachian Trail or back country.  But I am going to buy some supportive hiking shoes, and hit some other easy trails, and this fall, by golly, I'm going to climb Mt. Monadnock!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Good News!

I had a checkup with my endocrinologist yesterday.  I've been seeing her for about 7 years, for 2 different conditions, and I've been taking 2 different medications. One of those conditions is diabetes, and I've been taking 2250mg of metformin daily for over 5 years.  As a result of my hard work with my diet and exercise program, the last 2 A1C checks have brought my numbers down to 5.6%.  So yesterday we cut my metformin down by half, and eliminated the other med entirely!  If my A1C stays where it is when I have it checked again, I will be off the metformin entirely.  And as much as I have liked her, she said there would be no need to see her anymore - I could save money on my specialist co-pay, and have my PCP monitor my A1C!  So I'm doing a happy dance on my way out to yoga class!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Early Morning Joy

For the past week or so, I've gotten back into the habit of heading out to the deck with my coffee BEFORE heading to my computer.  I sit out there, weather permitting, with my iPad and read my Bible as the sun peeks up over the trees that line my yard.  The birds are busy, and sometimes their songs distract me from my meditation.  Usually though, the morning music reminds of the beauty of God's creation.

This morning was cool and dry, especially compared with the heat and humidity of the past few days.  A house wren was singing its heart out at the top of a pine tree, and a cardinal was calling from the other side of the yard.  A robin sang its cheerful morning song as it searched for breakfast.  Such delight!  Even the vehement argument that suddenly broke out between two blue jays and a crow just added to the morning.

I need to figure out a way to bottle the joy and delight and share it with others.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Turning Yourself into a Pretzel

I've taken up yoga, or what my husband calls "Turn Yourself Into a Pretzel".  It's something I've always wanted to do, but never felt confident or competent enough to try it.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm finally giving myself the go-ahead to try a lot of new things.  When a "beginners' yoga" class was offered early in April, I decided to check it out.  I persuaded a friend to join me, and the two of us found ourselves on a mat in an art gallery with a peppy instructor about our age.  She made us feel very comfortable and over the course of a few weeks, I found out that yoga was fun, and that I could do it -- not well, not competently, and certainly not prettily, but I was doing it.  That class has now ended, so I signed up for a class at a local fitness center.

What I've learned:

1.  Anyone can "do" yoga.

2.  Yoga is a practice, and it takes practice.

3.  Yoga is individual.  You do what you can, modify where you need to.

4.  You can use props to help you with some of the poses - a chair, blocks, a belt.

5.  I am more flexible than I thought.  Not as flexible as I'd like to be.  I'm improving.

6.  I still have a weak core which means I lack stability for some of the poses, like warrior II.

7.  Balance can be an issue, but as my core strength improves, my tree pose improves as do other standing poses.

8.  I'm not burning a ton of calories, but I am gaining strength.

9.  Yoga class day is my favorite day!

10.  I'm pretty sure I won't ever be able to do this:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

So Kings, Wise UP!

Psalm 2  - Common English Bible

Why do the nations rant?
    Why do the peoples rave uselessly?
 The earth’s rulers take their stand;
    the leaders scheme together
    against the Lord and
    against his anointed one.
        “We will tear off their ropes
        and throw off their chains!”
 The one who rules in heaven laughs;
    my Lord makes fun of them.

But then God speaks to them angrily;

    then he terrifies them with his fury:
        I hereby appoint my king on Zion
        my holy mountain!”
I will announce the Lord’s decision:
    He said to me, “You are my son,
        today I have become your father.
 Just ask me,
    and I will make the nations your possession;
    the far corners of the earth will be your property.
 You will smash them with an iron rod;
    you will shatter them like a pottery jar.”
 So kings, wise up!
    Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
 Serve the Lord reverently—
    trembling,  kiss his feet
        or else he will become angry,
        and your way will be destroyed
    because his anger ignites in an instant.
But all who take refuge in the Lord are truly happy

This psalm just seems so appropriate for today's times.  I love the line:  So kings, wise up!

If today's rulers could just understand that a world where the needs of people are put first, a world where LOVE reigns, nothing else would matter.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Psalm 1

I was up a bit earlier than usual today, and I took my coffee out to the deck.  Watching the sun come up over the trees and listening to a pine warbler singing, I was surrounded by a deep peace and feeling of oneness with nature.  After a few minutes I opened my newest Bible and felt pushed to read Psalm 1.  I've just purchased the Common English Bible and am exploring it.  I read this several times to myself, and I also read it aloud.  I find reading scripture aloud helps me hear it and understand it.  I sat with it for a bit, and then read it in my usual NRSV version.   I like both versions. I think both are true to the meaning intended.  I do like the way the NRSV titles the psalm "The Two Ways."

I have no great insight to share today.  Just the feeling of calmness and peace at the beginning of what promises to be a hot, busy day.
Psalm 1 - CEB
The truly happy person
    doesn’t follow wicked advice,
    doesn’t stand on the road of sinners,
    and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.
Instead of doing those things,
    these persons love the Lord’s Instruction,
    and they recite God’s Instruction day and night!
They are like a tree replanted by streams of water,
    which bears fruit at just the right time
    and whose leaves don’t fade.
        Whatever they do succeeds.
That’s not true for the wicked!
    They are like dust that the wind blows away.
And that’s why the wicked will have no standing in the court of justice—
    neither will sinners
    in the assembly of the righteous.
The Lord is intimately acquainted
    with the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked is destroyed.

Psalm 1  - NRSV

The Two Ways

Happy are those
    who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
    or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
    planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
    and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

I have no great insight to share today.  Just the feeling of calmness and peace at the beginning of what promises to be a hot, busy day.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Typical Day's Meals

As June gets underway, I realized that it's been a year since I started my journey to better health.  I'm feeling better than I have felt in years, much more fit, and there's definitely a lot less of me - 78 lbs less as of this writing.  I've posted a lot about the journey on my Facebook page, but not so much here.  Several people have suggested that I share what my meals look like so here goes.

This is what I ate last last Wednesday:

For breakfast I had a Joseph's Flax and Oat Bran pita spread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and then rolled up.  It had 142 calories, 9 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 9 grams of fat.  Sometimes I spread the peanut butter on a slice of whole grain bread which adds another 50 calories and lowers the amount of fiber and protein by a gram, adds 7 carbs and 3 gr of sugar.

I also drank a cup of black, unsweetened coffee.

I went out to lunch with a friend at Sunflowers, one of my favorite restaurants and enjoyed a Greek salad with a grilled chicken breast. 

The salad had lots of baby spinach, about an ounce of goat cheese, a couple of sliced olives, red onion, and tomato.

I had to estimate the nutrition part of this, since I hadn't made it myself, but it was just under 350 calories with about 4 carbs.  I had a vinaigrette dressing which was on the side.  I left more than half of the dressing in the cup.  I had unsweetened ice tea with lemon, and water to drink.

For dinner, we had grilled lamb, a quinoa and pineapple salad, and steamed green beans.  My serving was 4 oz of lamb and 1 serving of the quinoa salad. (Recipe follows)  Total nutrition was 457 calories, 44 carbs, 16 gr fat, 33 protein, 9 fiber, and 18 sugar.  I had ice water with lemon to drink, and an apple a bit later for dessert.

Most days I eat 1250-1300 calories, and while I'm ready to eat at meal time, I rarely am "starving."  When I do need a snack, I munch on cucumbers, celery, pickles, or fruit. Or I have a second coffee, or an iced coffee, or tea.  I also allow myself a tablespoon of half and half in my iced coffee or in a second cup of coffee, but no sugar.   I think I've been successful because in addition to recording everything that I put into my mouth, even the "naughty" food, I am getting lots of exercise.  I try to get a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio-type exercise most days of the week.  Lots of time it's a pretty intense water aerobics class or a really brisk walk, but sometimes it's just 10 minutes here and there over the course of the day vacuuming with gusto, or shoveling walks, or sweeping the deck.  I try not to deprive myself of treats, but I do PLAN for them, so that is another tool that's helped.  

So if that helps anyone, I'm glad.

Here's the Pineapple Quinoa Salad which my anti-quinoa husband liked.

This serves 4 at 220 calories per serving.

Combine the following:

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup baby spinach, lightly chopped
1 medium cucumber, diced
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 cup green onions (scallions), chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1 oz (about 2 tbs) lowfat Greek pineapple yogurt (I used Chobani)
juice from a small lime, about 2 tbs lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
honey to taste (I used about 1 tbs)

Mix dressing ingredients, either with a whisk or by shaking in a jar.  Pour over quinoa mixture and mix gently.  Chill salad for a couple of hours.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Five Things On My Mind

First of all, I can't believe how long it's been since I posted.  I've been SO BUSY!

Some things have been on my mind:

1.  Retirement is wonderful.  I am busy, but I'm busy with things I CHOOSE to do, not what I HAVE to do.  I do my housework when it needs doing, or when I'm motivated to tackle a major chore.  I keep up with the business bookkeeping on my schedule.  I exercise regularly.  We've done a bit of traveling on the spur of the moment.  I read, relax, watch TV or Netflix.  I deliver Meals on Wheels.  I've gotten involved again (after a longish hiatus) with church committee work and church events.  I lunch with friends.  It's a lovely life.

2.  I am doing NEW things.  I don't know what is so freeing about being in my 60's but I am doing new things - tubing down a river, joining a yoga class, snowshoeing, going to a paint night.

3.  I'm healthier.  Since June 1, 2016 I've lost over 70 pounds through diet and exercise -- ON MY OWN, not through a program.  I've seen success with a fitness tracker and a fitness app (MyFitnessPal).  I have striven to get at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise at least 5 days a week, through fitness classes like water aerobics, water tabata, Zumba Gold, and through rowing, snowshoeing, and WALKING.  I've gone from a size 30 jean to a size 18 jean, and from 3x tops to XL.

4. Because of my weight loss, I'm learning a new sense of body space!  I still think of myself as enormous and am always pleasantly surprised when I fit in a booth, or put the tray table down on an airplane.  I give myself more space than I need to get by people or past obstacles.  I need to re-learn personal space.

5. Partly because I have time, partly because I'm feeling healthy, partly because we can afford it, and partly because I realize how fleeting life is, I am not putting things off that I want to do.  I'm learning how to identify bird songs, I'm planning trips (off to California to visit our son and daughter-in-law soon, and to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone (tour) in the fall.  Despite the perilous times we are living in nationally and world wide, I am more optimistic about the part of life I can control.  It feels good!