Thursday, September 30, 2010

Invitation to all of you to Making Food Good

Today I am going to invite you all to attend an upcoming conference that begins next Tuesday, October 5 at 10:00 am (CST) and concludes Wednesday, October 6 at 9:00pm. What you say, a conference? Surely, Michele, you must be kidding! Well, no, I am not. In fact the best part of attending this conference is you do not have to travel any further than your laptop, because the entire proceedings will be streamed online and archived almost immediately for viewing at any time. The price is right, too: free, my friends, free. Now this is not just any conference: it is a Nobel Conference®, held right here in Southern Minnesota, Saint Peter as a matter of fact.

Making Food Good, suggests that the topic of this particular Nobel will appeal to many bloggers and readers who care about their health (which is you!) and the plethora of dilemmas and opportunities around food. "Nobel Conference® 46 will consider a whole panoply of food issues—from human health to the health of planetary ecosystems; from nutraceuticals to culturally appropriate foods; from community gardening to fuel crops, to genetic modification, and to food security" ( Over the next couple of posts I will provide an overview of each of our seven main conference speakers, Bina Agarwal, Linda Bartoshuk, Cary Fowler, Jeffrey Friedman, Frances Moore Lappé, Marion Nestle and Paul B. Thompson, including their research interests that led to their invitation to this unique conference. Yes, that is the Marion Nestle who sports a label on this blog. She will OPEN the conference, so I will begin with her:

Marion Nestle’s research interests include food and nutrition policy development and analysis, with a focus on dietary guidance; social, cultural, economic, and environmental influences on food choice; the politics of food safety; and the effects of food industry marketing on children’s diets and health. She speaks out (and often) about the public confusion about nutrition. She has authored many books including Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (2002) and Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism (200), both from University of California Press. You have heard about her book What to Eat, published by North Point Press/ Farrar, Straus & Giroux (2006), a “Must Read” by Eating Well magazine and brought up several times on this blog. If you have been following this blog you know that I am following her adage to: eat less, move more, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, go easy on the junk food and finally enjoy what you eat. Dr. Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, and professor of sociology, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, New York City, and visiting professor of nutritional sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. Her talk is titled: "Food Politics: Personal Responsibility vs. Social Responsibility."

Cary Fowler
will deliver the second lecture: Saving the World's Genetic Plant Heritage. Nobel Director and Professor of Physics Chuck Niederriter writes: “In his book, Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity, Dr. Cary Fowler discusses how control of domesticated plants threatens to shatter the world's food supply, as loss of genetic diversity sets the stage for widespread hunger. Fowler is Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Rome. His career in the conservation of crop diversity spans more than 30 years. He is the author of several books and more than 75 articles on the subjects of plant diversity and genetic resources. In 1985 he and colleague Pat Mooney were awarded the Right Livelihood in a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament “for working to save the world’s genetic plant heritage.”

"Leptin and the Biologic Basis of Obesity" will be the talk by Jeffrey M. Friedman, the third speaker at the conference. In 1994 Jeffrey Friedman’s lab identified leptin, a hormonal signal made by the body’s fat cells that regulates food intake and energy expenditure and has powerful effects on reproduction, metabolism, other endocrine systems, and even immune function. His current research focuses on the genes and neural circuits that control food intake and body weight, and leptin’s mechanism of action and its relevance to the development of obesity.

Tomorrow, I will share some highlights of the speakers for the second day of the Conference. Stay strong and determined in your healthy journey.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Grandbabies, SV and NSV

Hello Bloggers!!
Grandbabies: Hubby and try to help our adult children out a couple of times a month with day care. Today is one of those days: Oma and Opa day care day. Except that I, Oma, am the one doing day care. Now that three are in school (2 in Kindergarten and one in second grade, in case you want to know more…!) I have one of the three year olds, Hann or Hannie, and one-year-old Noah, so day care is a delight! We have already been on the bike (with Burley attached) to my favorite grocery to pick up a few things, including some baby food (seems like the parentals forgot something to feed the little boy!). So, with babies in tow, exercise is partially completed for today. I will hop on again later when they are gone.

Here is what I really want to tell you, my blogger friends. When I first started on this regaining my health journey, I blogged about how I am someone who likes to have real life contexts of things that are nebulous. I have a great deal of weight to lose to be healthy. True statement. But what does this look like? Some folks think about dog food or other tangible objects, like flour or potatoes. My tangible reference point will be my grandbabies. Well here is baby, Noah:

When I took that picture Noah weighed in at 20.4 pounds. I have lost almost 19 (!!!) pounds. I am zeroing in on losing the amount of weight that a small human being, boy Noah, weighs. That to me is astounding! A real life tangible context of how much mass my weight loss really is. I thought about this today as I walked up the stairs to put Noah down for his nappie. “Wow, this is one heavy kid,” I thought as I went up the stairs. But, instantly I knew that this was almost the exact amount of weight that I had been lugging around for about two years. Just as I was grateful to put that sweet (but heavy) little boy in his crib, I thought about how happy my own body must be (if it could talk) that I am almost 19 pounds less.

Stay strong and have a great day on your getting healthier journey!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

First light of dawn and planning

Good Morning Everyone!!
On Monday I went out early on my bike. The early bird catches the first light as well as the worm. Enjoy a few pictures of the sun's beginning light...

Planning ahead: This is not a new subject to this blog. But for today's post, I thought I would share with you how I plan ahead with salads. Salads are good for all of us trying to regain our health, right?? How many times have you thought: "I wish I had time to make one..." I was always one of the first people to say I have no time to prepare a salad. Sure, I can buy the pre-made variety, but they never taste as good. So, what to do?? Well, here is what I have been doing the past couple of months. First I cut up a couple of different kinds of lettuce. For this salad it was iceberg and romaine (about 50-50). I rinse and throw in salad spinner. Next I grate up a few carrots (because I do not like carrots and this way I eat them!). Then I chop up some other veggies or fruits. In this salad I cut up some red grapes. Often times I throw in some drained and rinsed beans like black or kidney, some zucchini, some cashews, raisins, radishes, etc.
I put all of it in a good Tupperware type container and place in the refrigerator. Takes all of 10 minutes to cut and prep. I then have a premade salad that I like every single day.

To top it off I use a vinaigrette salad dressing. At the moment I enjoy the TJ raspberry vinaigrette.
Try it! It is super easy! There you have it!
Enjoy! Stay strong on your healthy journey!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Three months and ruminations on the journey to health

Today marks three-months on my journey to healthy living! As I reported in Friday’s post, I am 18 pounds lighter than I was when I began this journey on June 26, 2010. This is the longest sustained time period of time that I have ever traveled in terms of my own health. Ruminations will be the topic of the day!

First: I am facing my obesity and the solution to my obesity every single day. Openly and honestly. I am no longer in denial. I have and am confronting my own big elephant in the room. I am FINALLY out of the closet about how much I weigh(ed). Posting that number (213) and including a record of THAT number were tangible ways that I embraced who I am in terms of my own obesity and marginal health right from the beginning. From the moment I published THAT number I have been free. Relieved. Calmed. Present. Out of prison. Determined. Facing that number, my own BIG elephant, head on and sharing it with my readers through this blog was one of the most important steps for me to initiate a forward trajectory to better health. You can see my photographic record on my photo page.

Second: Moving forward towards better health is easier than I ever thought it would be. Yes and NO Kidding! I am deeply committed and determined. Simple. Eat less. Move more. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Go easy on the junk foods. Words of wisdom from my favorite nutritionist, Marion.

Third: This blog. I started this blog as a way to keep me accountable and to FACE my elephant of obesity in a weigh (way) that I never did before. I never realized the empowering possibilities that would result from blogging nor the encouragement and support that I would receive from all of you, my readers and followers. It boggles my mind how readers whom I do not know in person and would probably not even recognize in the real world are such a large part of my supportive virtual community. Your simple and kind words wrap around me daily and help me overcome the temptations to stray from my path. I always know “You got my back!” Thank-you. Thank-you. Thank-you. Here are just SOME of the comments I received recently. Who could stray away when all these people are on your cheer leading squad??
  • Go Michele! Man you are getting after it. Isn't that twice you said adios to two pounds lately?
  • You are doing great, Michele, and I am so glad I'm here to watch your progress and be inspired by you.
  • Sounds like you had a great week, Michele. You inspire me!
  • Awesome Michele! Have a good weekend!
  • Great job Michele! I also just lost 2 pounds bringing my total pounds lost to 18! I remember you said we started at the same time and it looks like we are losing the same too! Keep up the great work!
  • Your posts have given me a much needed boost today, so thanks.
  • FANTASTIC on the weight loss, but even better on the exercising this past week! Impressive!
  • Things are just humming along for you, Michele. Congrats. You must feel pleased with your accomplishments so far. I always love reading your posts - so positive and encouraging. You enjoy your weekend too!
  • Congrats on your success, I am most-inspired. I LOVE your approach and really appreciate what you share here. Enjoy the weekend! Janelle
  • Keep it up - you are doing awesome!!!
  • How great to hear from you, and to find your blog. I love it, and will be reading regularly!! We'll be in touch!
  • Yay for you on the three months towards better health! That is what I would call a big accomplishment.
  • Congratulations, Michele--you're doing great. I appreciate your introducing us to other bloggers. I think that's what this blog world is best at right now.
  • Seriously? How great are you? Love this post; so much love it's palpable! AND thank you for your comment on my blog. You are a gem. Truly, Michele.
  • From a fellow Minnesotan: I loved this post. Keep up the great work!
Fourth: It is not a Diet but a live-it! What I am doing is changing the way I go about living with food and of course eating. I do not feel deprived of the foods that I enjoy. I am learning how to eat within 1200-1500 calories per day, how to manage portion sizes, how to plan when I am going to eat out or with other family, and learning how to plan for higher caloric foods that I enjoy and budget accordingly. I do not feel deprived because I budget in foods (ice cream, cookie, hamburger) every so often into my daily budget. I am not on a diet. I am on a live-it.

Which brings me to my fifth point: For years, I postponed regaining my health because there was a birthday, a party, a holiday, or a potluck on the horizon. You name it if it was an event, I gave my self a license to drive through it overeating at every stop. I did this by telling myself when this event was past (or next Monday or next month), I would start my getting healthy plan. I know now that I can eat healthy and weather my life’s events, including the death of a parent, numerous birthdays, World Cup Soccer, Vikings and Dodger games, summer BBQ’s, vacation, eating out and much more. As I wrote in an earlier post, it is the event that is important, not the food.

I am ready for the next three months! More than ready. When I celebrate my next three-month milestone we will be just past Christmas (December 26). You should all know that for the VERY FIRST time I am NOT worried about any of the holidays. Not one bit. I plan to take the suggestion of Sean Anderson and to budget an additional 1000 calories for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I also know that at my losing rate, I will be all together 30 pounds lighter on December 26 than when I started June 26. I can’t wait. I know you will be with me all along the way. You people rock!

Stay strong in your journey this week! Michele

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!
It has been a great week for me on my healthy journey!! First: I am nearing completion of three months of moving towards better health: eating less and moving more. I am down another 2 pounds for a total of 18 pounds off!! I also exercised at least 45 minutes for the last 5/6 days. The only reason it was not 6/6 was because we had about 5 inches of rain (no kidding!). I will post more reflections on my healthy journey next week after I surpass my three months.

Second: I would like to welcome my new followers and readers. A special shout out to: Potato Diva, Mella B, Slimmer Sally, Margi, Angie, Gina, Katie J, Christina, Alan, Capone 810, Spunkysuzi, Debbie, virtualjtr, and Crystal. You people keep my journey strong! You all ROCK! I am committed to supporting each of you as best as I am able on your journey.

Next, a couple of our blogger friends need some support:
Many of you have probably felt inspired by our blogger friend 266. If you have not looked at her anniversary presentation, check it out. It will inspire you! It is now our turn to turn the tables. In a recent post, 266 revealed her own deep struggles to stay the course. I invite all of you to reach out and send her some encouragement and support.

Finally, Paula wrote a strong and deeply moving post recently, not about staying the course of her path to a healthy life, but the challenges and frustrations of being a single mom to three children. Her post was a direct result of being nominated for the “Cherry on Top” award and responding to this question: If you had one chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?” I know many of you have children and undoubtedly many of you were single moms or still are-reach out to our sister Paula and share some of your story.

Have a great week end everybody and stay strong on your journey!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cold weather wear, another NSV! and Marion

Yesterday was a cool morning, but I got out and on my bike. Our days are numbered here in Minnesota (meaning winter is coming!!) to enjoy exercising in the outdoors. I road the 6-7 miles to Minnehaha Falls and back again in just a little over an hour. For the first time I had to put on my “under-roos, ” the name I call long underwear. At 41 degrees you need something so your big butt (or little butt) doesn’t freeze. I wore a fleece vest and a fleece jacket and was toasty warm. Enjoy one more picture of the Falls!
NSV: I have downsized!!! I ordered some new cold weather wear from my favorite outdoor store (LL Bean). Mind you my clothes have been getting looser, so I decided to go for Large (L) vs. Extra Large (XL) for my new vests and a new corduroy shirt. Guess what??? They fit perfectly!! This is the first time in over two years that I have worn something that was not an XL! Wahoo-another NSV!!
Marion Nestle: If you link to my labels in the side bar you will notice that Marion Nestle's name comes up often in my posts. There’s a reason for that. If you are new to my blog (and thank-you for stopping by!!) you may not know that I am following Nestle’s little adage by eating less (1200-1500 calories a day), moving more (at least 30 minutes per day of vigorous exercise), going easy on junk foods (budgeting them in) and eating lots of fruits and veggies. I am also borrowing from other weight loss gurus like Geneen Roth and Jon Kabat-Zin (Mindful Eating). That is it.

Well today, I was browsing Marion’s blog and found a label for “eating less." In the first post under eating less she discusses "the basic principles of healthful diets: variety in food intake, moderation in calories, largely plant-based (although not necessarily exclusively), and minimally processed. Eat according to those principles and you do not have to worry about nutritional details. All of that boils down to the advice I propose in What to Eat: eat less, move more, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and don’t eat too much junk food." In the second post she discusses "The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation", an excellent overview and in my book a must read for anyone who is interested in health and fitness. You will hear much more about my interest in Marion's work in a coming post.

Stay strong on your healthy journey! Michele

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Fall and Fourth Blog Award!

Happy Fall! Here are some beautiful pictures to enjoy from the autumn landscape of Minnesota.

Lanie passed on this award. Thanks, Lanie.

The rules are simple: first:answer the question, "If you had one chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you and what would it be?”

My answer is maybe. I am indecisive on this question because I really like who I am and who I am coming to be. I certainly do not like all of the events or even my reactions to those events in my life, but those events contributed to who I am today. I feel very blessed and fortunate in my life. I grew up in a splintered and dysfunctional family, however, I have moved forward and become a person that I am very satisfied to be. Many of my qualities of self reliance, integrity, a can do attitude and optimism were born out of the difficulties I had to deal with at a young age. Sure, I am working out some of my lumps and healing from past pain, but I feel downright fortunate. I am loved, have a great family, a sprinkling of friends who enrich my life and push me to think harder and laugh OUTLOUD, and have my health.

My “maybe” response is in regards to two things that I wish rather than things I would change:

1. I wish I had become committed to regaining my health earlier in my life. I have blogged about this too. You can read more about how I came to my tipping points here. But, with that said, I am glad that I woke up and am on this journey now. The rest of my life will include healthy eating, exercise and taking good care of myself so that I can enjoy the people (especially the little people in my life) and engage in living the fullest life possible.
2. My mom was bipolar. Over the last 15 years of her life I became her legal guardian and conservator. My mom passed away last year. It was not until after she died that I realized that I never asked her how it felt to be bipolar and to gain insight as to her perspective on living with a serious mental health challenge. She had so much promise, but because of her bipolar illness she never realized her tremendous gifts and potential as an adult.

Pass this award on to six people and inform them of the award. I chose the following blogs because they represent for me the “cherry on top.” In their blogs I have learned something about their own journey toward better health or about their own maintenance that has contributed to my own growing positive journey. By their contributions to bloggerland they continue to help me to stay focused and not to be too hard on myself. Here they are!

266: Her slide show of the results of her journey inspires me daily!
Paula: She has experienced incredible success and is pushing herself hard to be super fit with running, dancing, mountain hiking and more.
Bethanny: This blogger delights me everyday with her pictures and her sense of humor as she moves forward in her journey.
Karen Evans: Karen blogs about health and fitness in many ways. She is dedicated to sharing her insights with others that are starting off, which in my book makes her a go to person.
PIP: A blogger who is just getting started and needs our support.
B, M and J: You all need to meet these super friends who are blogging together as they move toward better health.

Have a wonderful Wednesday and stay strong! TTFN, Michele

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Verstile Blogger Award, too (two!)

I received TWO blog awards recently. The Versatile blog award from Donell. I want to send a shout out to my blogger friend Lanie for my second award. Thank you to you both!

First: The Versatile Blogger Award
Now here are the rules of this award:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award.

2. Share seven things about yourself.

3. Nominate 15 newly discovered blogs.

4. Let your nominees know about the award.

This is the second time around for me for this award, so here goes: Seven NEW Things about me:

First, more about my family:
1. I have five adult children and I am a mom of multiples! I was a young mom (only 21) when I was blessed with identical twin boys. I did not know I was having twins until just a few hours before they were born. I loved being a mom to twins and would do it all over again if I could, although the first three months were rough.

2. After the birth of one more child, we chose intercountry adoption to round out our family. Our daughters are now 28 and 30 and came to us from Korea.

3. Four out of 5 of my children live in or near Minneapolis-so I enjoy seeing them all frequently and of course frequent visits with my grandbabies.

4. My son, Sean, is engaged to be married to Anne next July 30, 2011 in Port Townsend, Washington. We love Anne so we are all looking forward to this wedding. You will hear much more about this in the coming months!

Second some other interests:
5. I am a reader. Not just books: blogs (yep you know this one), but also magazines and journals. I especially love the New Yorker. A friend and I share a subscription. I save up and read 6 or so at a time over an afternoon. A couple recent articles that struck my fancy were on hospice and the neuroscience basis of reading. I am an eclectic reader of mostly non-fiction, but do enjoy some fiction, too, just not as much as I used to.

6. I have always been somewhat independent and definitely self sufficient. When our children were younger and we were still living in California, I took all five by myself on trips to the Pacific Northwest to see my brother and his family, camping throughout the Easters Sierras and Northern California and Oregon. We went to Yosemite, Crater Lake and Lassen National Parks.

7. For this last bit about me, I will toot my horn a little here: I am a published author of children's books! A number of years ago, I was approached by a small publishing company in Mankato (Capstone Press) about writing a series of math books for emergent readers. One of my professional interests is math education, so this was not too much of a stretch. One of the best awards I ever received was from AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) with the selection of one of my books (Size: Many Ways to Measure ) as one of the ten best math books of that year (2002)!!

Passing this award on!!
The blogs I listed below are all relatively new bloggers or recommitted to their journey about weight loss and regaining better health. Many of them have few readers and followers. Each one of them is unique and is moving forward to regain their health. I am hoping you, my blog readers and followers, will support them as you are able. Each one of these bloggers has illustrated to me their merit for receiving this Verstile Blogger Award!!
  1. Faridha
  2. Yo Mama
  3. Jill
  4. Becky
  5. Granny2em
  6. Thin Lizzy
  7. Brenda
  8. Cara
  9. Tracy
  10. Carla
  11. Slimmer Sally
  12. KC Norton
  13. Beth
  14. Angie
  15. Polar's Mom and one more for
  16. Wendy
I will post on Wednesday about the other award I received from Lanie-Painie. TTFN and stay strong in your journey, Michele

Monday, September 20, 2010

Winners and Losers...

Well, if you are a Miami Dolphins fan you are undoubtedly feeling pretty good that they sported a win against the Vikings today (14-10). If you are a Viking fan, like me, you are wondering what is going on with your team, besides the obvious, no reliable wide receivers. BF threw for three interceptions... Not good. But, we are not fair weather fans in Minnesota. We are hoping that the Vikings that we know and love will show up, and SOON!!

I am happy to report that I made it through this weekend a winner and with a couple of NSVs (Non scale victories). Hubby and I rode our bikes to the stadium, which is about 14 miles round trip. Not only was this great exercise, but also when we leave, we can't help feeling a little smug hopping on our bikes while the throngs are departing. Second, I planned for eating by taking along a couple of serving size baggies with grapes, a sandwich and a 100 calorie granola bar. At the game, I had a few sips of beer, but mainly had a diet soda. No burgers, fries or other stadium type foods-wasn't even interested.

Our seats are in the upper deck, 12 rows up. The other winning thing I noticed was how easy it was for me to go up and down the stairs-almost skipping up them. Plus, I wore a pair of jeans on the bike rode because it was cold. I was a little worried that they would not be flexible enough for riding: but no worries. Seems they are a lot roomier now that I am 16 pounds lighter; almost baggy. So, two NSVs for me at the stadium: skipping up the stairs, and loose fitting jeans! So, I am also a winner!!

Enjoy a few pictures of our bike ride to the stadium along the Ground Rounds:

Have a great Monday. Stay strong and TTFN,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Slaying dragons!

Today was one of those mornings, cool, gray and dark. Our low in Minneapolis was 48 degrees. Dampness and puddles everywhere from the overnight showers. The kind of morning where that dragon voice starts protesting in my head: stay in bed; too cold; you can do it later or why don't you skip today. Well, I ignored those voices and hopped on my bike anyway. It took me a while to get into it. I was just as sluggish as the weather and barely awake. But, I made myself hop on that bike and am I glad I did. I rode another 8 miles in under 50 minutes. Not a record, but still good for me. Guess what? By the time I finished I was as energized as that little energizer bunny. You know that feeling after you exercise. Re-charged that’s what I was. Recharged.

I bet many of you saw that summer movie called: How to Train Your Dragon. If you haven’t it is a good one: spirited and poignant. Well, as I left home, ready for my day, I realized that I did not slay the dragon that tried to take my will away today, rather, I trained it. Trained it by showing it that regardless of what it says, I am going to go with the training plan: get outside, hop on the bike and move more. Period. Dragons beware!

Have a great weekend everybody and stay strong in your healthy choices! Michele

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Scale Victory an NSV and Honi

A Scale Victory an NSV and Honi
First: Two and a half pounds less today on my WI. Now down a total of 16 pounds since June 26!!! Wahoo!!!

I celebrated a non-scale victory today as well. I wear a lot of button down shirts to work. I like these because they are practical, hide your flaws somewhat and comfy. Another thing is that you can leave the lower button or two open to allow yourself a little room (i.e. the bottom of the shirt does not fit around your amble hips). Well today when I was getting dressed, I noticed I could button ALL the way down and better yet, smooth the whole shirt out over my Big Butt (one of my favorite posts). Non-scale victory (NSV) One (1)!!!! Whoopee!!

Those of you who are new to blogging about your weight loss are probably beginning to feel the empowering nature of blogging and garnering the support and encouragement of readers and followers to be accountable and stay the course. I sure am and do! Thank-you to all my followers and readers (especially you newbies)!

Well, there is more: Blogging is a weigh (way) for us to uncover and heal old wounds that contributed to why we are overweight and obese in the first place. As a matter of fact, understanding why we overeat is critically important in this journey to better health and in making this journey (the one you are on right now) the last. The keeper. Today I read a post from one of my followers, Honi. In her post, she digs deep into her past and uncovers many of the events that contributed to where she is right now. I hope you will reach out to Honi and send some of your blogger support to her. Her entry is honest, poignant and full of pain.

Enjoy a great and strong day! Michele

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Revisiting fantasy and reality

I posted awhile back on moving forward from fantasy to realism. Today on my bike, I had another “aha” moment that allowed me to see that I am uncovering the new me as a reality vs a fantasy. I do a lot of ruminating on my bike (I bet you do to!). Today I was thinking about how many weeks until Thanksgiving (about 10) and Christmas (about 14). As I continue on this journey I have come to realize that I will lose about a pound a week. So, in 10 weeks, I will be 10 pounds less and in 14 about 14 pounds less. This would mean that by Christmas, I should be 30 pounds lighter, not taking into account any plateau I might go through-just the plan math of one pound off a week.

Okay, Michele, that's great, but where is the “aha” you ask? Well, here it is: what I realized while I was doing this little bit of math in my head is that I am moving farther and father away from a fantasy notion of how much lighter I might be in so many weeks (like 10 pounds in two weeks!) to what I know (the realism part) I will be able to do. This was a powerful “aha” moment to me. I realized that I was no longer fantasizing about how much weight I might lose, but was realistically setting up some targets. To me being 30 pounds less at Christmas is a fabulous target. And realistic. Don't you think??

Monday, September 13, 2010

See you next spring: the Monarchs are moving south!

The Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is the official butterfly of the State of Minnesota. Minneapolis celebrated the start of this magnificent creature's 2,300-mile migration to its overwintering grounds in Michoacán Mexico Minnesota style with the second annual Monarch Festival. Over the past many summers I worked with scientists at the University of Minnesota in bringing the science of insect ecology to teachers and their students. I use these insects to help my own college students to learn how to teach science. I monitor monarchs each summer at our hobby farm as part of the data collection efforts of the monarch larva-monitoring project, a citizen science initiative where I am often accompanied by one or more of my grandbabies. So you can say for a variety of reasons, this beloved creature is near and dear to my heart and that of my family.

Monarch butterflies cannot survive the long cold winter in Minnesota or any other cold northern area. Instead, they spend the winter in roosting spots. Monarchs east of the Rockies travel to the central mountains of Michoacán Mexico where they seek sanctuary in the oyamel forests high in the mountains. Seasonal changes in day length and temperature influence the movement of the Monarch. “In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the Monarchs of North America. They travel much farther than all other tropical butterflies, up to three thousand miles. They are the only butterflies to make such a long, two-way migration every year. Amazingly, they fly in masses to the same winter roosts, often to the exact same trees. Their migration is more the type we expect from birds or whales. However, unlike birds and whales, individuals only make the round-trip once. It is their children's grandchildren that return south the following fall” (Monarch Watch). This festival was a send off for the monarchs who will arrive in Mexico around the Day of the Dead, November 1. Here is a graphic with a map of their route.
Celebrating the monarch migration through art.

And with kites:
Nani, Owie and Greta monitoring monarch larvae at our farm. They are counting how many monarchs are present on over 100 common milkweed plants. They count the eggs, larva,the rare pupa and adults.

Releasing monarchs to travel south to Mexico:

So now you know a little bit more about my life and interests besides my journey to better health. How did I do with another event that featured FOOD? Great! No problem. Rode my bike to the festival with Ellery in the Burley about 8 miles round trip to get my exercise in and prepared with a snack. I did have a few bites of some of the best made tamales we can get in Minnesota, but other than that, stayed true. As a matter of fact each time I weather an event with food it is getting easier and easier to ignore the food. The food was not the event. The celebration of the monarchs was. So, long monarch butterflies. Travel safe. See your great or grandchildren back here in Minnesota next May! And readers in Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas here they come!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sunrise over Minnesota Lakes

Now that the academic year has started, I am back to work and no longer have the luxury to exercise at a whim. Yesterday morning I was out on my bike early (6AM) doing what is for me now a typical 8-10 miles on my bike around two Minneapolis Lakes (Harriett and Calhoun). The sun was starting to rise so I snapped a few pictures of the progression of the sun rising while I was biking. Enjoy:

Yes, even at that early hour there was someone fishing (it is Minnesota, eh?!?!). Have a great weekend all and stay strong on your healthy journey, Michele

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Positively moving forward

Truth be told, I often get inspirations from my blogger friends while I am reading their posts. Jo reminded us of the importance of looking forward. As I ruminate today, I want to dwell on some of the positive aspects of moving forward in this journey for me.

1. I am lighter.
2. I can hop on my bike and do 15 miles in about an hour and a quarter
3. It is easier and easier for me to walk
4. I am sleeping better
5. I can get by with a taste of a treat
6. I am better and better at planning what I will eat in advance
7. My clothes are starting to get loose
8. I continue to marvel at my ability to eat between 1200-1500 calories a day
9. When I go over that calorie budget, I do not beat myself up.
10. I can budget my calories so that I am able to have a treat at BD parties, a beer at a game, or something else that I like without going over
11. I am empowered to move forward because of my many readers (YOU!) who are reading my posts and sending your strong healthy vibes my weigh (way)
12. I understand more about myself and why I ate the weigh (way) I did in the first place
13. Slow as a snail is better than no pace at all
14. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.

What about you? What is your Positively moving forward list?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Summer Fruits and Farmer’s Markets

In Minnesota we are experiencing our first cool down into fall. Temperatures over the last couple of days were in the 60’s with nightly lows reaching down to the low 50’s and our first high forties. Falling temperatures for me mean that soon the freshest summer produce at farmer’s markets and supermarkets will diminish. This year I frequented local farmer’s markets more than I ever did. Lately I have enjoyed fresh, juicy and delectable peaches.Wanna a bite?

I cannot get enough of their delicious and full-bodied flavor. Why eat sweets when there are fresh peaches, nectarines, blue berries and other peak season fruits available? I always have enjoyed fruit, but this summer and because of my journey to better health, I enjoyed the seasonal fruits of summer more. What about you? What are the seasonal fruits that you enjoyed this summer? Did you also find yourself frequenting farmer’s markets more than in the past?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weekend recap & Award # 2

Hello Everyone!
I hope you all had a great weekend! You all know about my little excursion to the State Fair, but what you do not know is that on Saturday, Sunday and Monday I completed an additional 42 miles (total) on my bike. I also had the pleasure on Monday of going on a short bike ride on one of the trails near our farm in Mankato with three grandbabies. One of them just graduated to no training wheels, so this little ride was cause for a little celebration. The rest of the weekend (after the State Fair) was focused and on target as far as eating,

I received this award from both Joy (August 31) and Tish (September 4). Thank-you both for this award. I am honestly not sure what it means, but I am grateful.
Rules are:
1. Post who gave you the award.
2. State 10 things you like.
3. Give this award to 10 other bloggers and notify them with a comment.

Ten things I like.

1. I like spending time with my family whether it be counting monarch eggs or larvae with one of the grandbabies or sharing a meal and a tasty beverage with my adult children or sitting side by side with my hubby, both of us independently reading.
2. I like learning new things. You might say I am the epitome of a life long learner. I am known for asking a ton of questions.
3. I like water. I like to drink it, to play in it and to enjoy it’s power and beauty. Liking water’s taste is a new like for me. I have learned to like water recently and enjoy drinking it with a little lemon. I love to play in water, i.e. swimming in it when we are out with our boat on a MN lake. I respect the power of water to carve out mountain valleys via a stream or its response to storms with huge waves and I admire the stillness of a calm water body on a still evening whether it be beach or lake.
4. I like being outdoors and as much as possible.
5. I like the feel of certain fabrics on my skin especially in skirts or pants; like a woolen gabardine, silk, or polished cotton.
6. I like being read to.
7. I like the cello, a lot. The music of this instrument stirs my soul. I played for many years but gave it up, for now, because of a head injury that I had a number of years ago that made it difficult for me to tolerate intense sound (like that of an orchestra). I hope to start up again in the near future. In the meantime, I listen to anything from Yo-Yo Ma and attend as many concerts featuring cello soloists as I can.
8. I like watching insects interact in the natural world like bees and butterflies nectaring on flowers.
9. I like to sew although I have not done much of this lately. When my hubby and I started our family we were both in school. I learned to sew and for many years made most of the clothes that we wore including kids PJ’s, shirts, shorts, dresses and pants (jeans) as well as adult dresses, shorts pants etc.
10. I like receiving comments from my blog reader’s ands supporters. As I have said many times, I know that I am not alone on this journey and feel your support all the time.

Now, passing this award on. This is my blog so I am going to twist the rule about passing it on to others. I know that many of the blogs that I frequent have also received this award. I also understand that passing the award on is another way that we build our weight loss community and network in bloggerland. I know the rules state that this award should be given to ten more blogs. However, I also know that we are all busy people. Lately I have received 10 or so comments per post (Thanks!). What I would like each of you to do who read this post is to suggest a weight loss or getting fit blog that you feel is unique in some way or stands out to you for whatever reason and write about that blog and why we might like it when you comment on this post. So instead of me “awarding” ten blogs with this award I would like each of you to share here (via comments) blogs that are touching you in some way (weigh). This way we learn more about other great blogs and continue to enlarge our community network, but none of my beloved followers and readers will need to go out and tag ten blogs. So, weigh (way) in on one or even two of your favorite blogs that you think others might enjoy. Oh, and no fair suggesting Escape from Obesity or Jack Sh*t Getting Fit because most of us follow these blogs.

Monday, September 6, 2010

News, learning more mindful eating and Friends Making Mondays!

My first news is that I am down another 1.5 pounds to 14.5 pounds off. I am now lighter than 200 pounds!! Wahoo!!

My second news is that I learned that I am still not as mindful about eating as I think I am. Let me explain. First on Friday, we celebrated a family birthday. I made the cake: low fat carrot cake. I planned for a piece of cake, (300 calories), no problem here because I budgeted this piece into my calorie budget. But I had TWO, so now I was over by three hundred calories!

Saturday morning started great with a 12 mile bike ride pulling Ellery (5 and 42 pounds) in the Burley to Minnehaha Falls and park (again). Salad for lunch. Then a return trip to Minnesota State Fair (trouble). Before I went to the fair, I had 700 calories left to spend. Here is a summary of my food and beverages at the fair:

Corn dog: 350
Blackberry malt: 450
Fries: 450
Total: 1440
740 over my calories budget!!

It was the fries that made me realize that I have more work to do by being mindful of what I eat. I bought the basket of the “World’s Best Fries” (It is the State Fair after all, and almost everything is the “Best!”) for our table of about 10 adults. I knew going in that 27 fries was a serving at 450 calories. But, here is what I found my self-doing. I was so in the moment of enjoying my family (all of our adult children had babysitters-so it was just us ADULTS) -having some beers and of course fries that I realized after I had scarfed down maybe a dozen or so fries, that I was not even aware of eating them. I had reverted back to my old ways of just eating and not thinking back to where I had been. The good news, is that although I estimated I had eaten about 10-12 by the time I became mindful: I did not give myself permission to continue to eat. I counted the next 15 mentally as I ate. I also slowed way down in eating and once again found myself really tasting every morsel!
Yum! So, I leave the weekend being over 1000 calories over my budget, but having learned a few lessons on my weigh (way) to a healthier me.

Friends Making Mondays

Shane posted this little ditty last Monday. So, I am passing it now onto all of you. it's called Friends Making Mondays. Copy and past the answers to the following and then paste the link and teach some other bloggers more about yourself and learn more about others.


I don't like...people who are wishy-washy.

I hubby. I am so blessed.

I dream of...going back packing in the Sierra or hiking down the Grand Canyon.

I wonder...why we make our lives so hard sometimes.

I know...that life is short and that we need to live every day as if it is our last. Because I know this: I try to enjoy every possible moment with the people I love, hubby, children and those six grandbabies and my few special friends and siblings.

I Barrow, Alaska last April to supervise some students. I have a greater understanding and appreciation of the Inupiat people, their culture and their values.

I have...a great and supportive family. My hubby and my adult children are behind me in life through thick and thin, up and downs, ebbs and flows.

I think...there is hope for all of us fatties.

I be on sabbatical next calendar year (2011)!! I plan to work on several research studies, read, and find my balanced center.

I regret...not starting on this journey to better health years ago.

I do...think about my blog posts when I am on my bike.

I drink...too much caffeine in a combination of coffee (2 cups) and at least two diet sodas daily. I am getting better at drinking water-about 2 liters per day.

I wish...junk food were not so cheap.

I am...extremely loved.

I am good at being an environmental steward as I would like.

I need...some alone time almost every day.

I graduated...from CSUN, FPU and U of MN. I always had to couple college and graduate school with raising a family and working. Most of the time working full time all the way to my recent stint at the U of MN where I received my terminal degree.

I grandbabies will be life long learners and continue to enjoy the natural world as they do now.

I plant a prairie at our family farm from seeds that I am harvesting from this year’s plants..

I sometimes...try to do too many things at one time.

I counted on to do what I need to and to step up when the moment comes.

I work...way too hard in my professional life. I have made it a priority to start this academic year with a finite numbers of hours allocated to work (no more than 50), including reading and writing professionally, so I can continue my journey to a healthier me and exercise. Learning to balance my work (which I love) with my personal life is a life long challenge for me.

I cannot...WAIT for the Vikings to start their regular season.

I, except for groceries. I am just not a shopper….except the day after Thanksgiving with my daughter and daughters-in-law.

I some kind of a race (5K, 10 K or something) sometime soon and within the next 6 months.

Now it's your turn to answer these questions my friends! Have a great Labor Day! Michele

Friday, September 3, 2010

Come on down the trail with me...

Come with me on my ride on the Minnehaha trail to Minnehaha Falls.
Starting out the bike path looks like this.
The trail twists and turns through some wooded areas:
Here is an example of how the path follows the creek.

See that little bridge (upper right)? The creek flows under that bridge.

One of the chain of lakes I pass, Lake Hiawatha, on the trail. Look at that fisher-person and notice the skyline of Minneapolis in the upper background toward the right.

Top of the falls

The Falls (You've seen this picture before).

Going back.
Have a great day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Smoking is not good for you...

Genie shared a post with us the other day about the passion of her father. When I read Genie’s post many parts of her text resonated with me. First I was amazed at the drive this man embodied to try to get to DC for that rally. I could feel her father’s desire to be independent, follow his passions and have autonomy even as he labored for every breath. Laboring for every breath, but still doing something that he found passionate. WOW!

But there is something more I could feel in her post: I could feel the concern for his well being from Genie’s mom and herself. Sick with worry comes to mind. With my father, his passing was miserable. Esophageal cancer is no picnic and I quite frankly would not wish it on anyone. I doubt that Genie’s father, and I know my father, ever felt they would get these serious and chronic diseases that for my father would take his life. He was in denial. I cannot speak for Genie’s father, but my father ignored the health risks and lived in denial for years. Years.

Smoking is not good for your health. Yes, that is true, you say. You don’t need a wake up call about the dangers of smoking. I sure don’t. My father smoked for 60 years and developed esophageal cancer that killed him. I know Genie has a father who smoked for 50 years, plus was exposed to asbestos in his job, and now has emphysema. These two blogger family friends are just two examples of how smoking impacts and puts health at risk. But there are many, thousands, hundreds of thousands and undoubtedly millions more such stories linking smoking with cancer and other health issues, like heart disease. To top it off smokers are addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes. Bad. Bad. Bad.

My father kicked the habit when he was 86 (if kicking the habit at the age means something). Sounds like Genie’s father did kicked the habit, too. But the fact of the matter is that even with all the evidence over years, decades, of research that smoking is down right bad for you these two people, our fathers, continued to smoke and for many years. Mine for over 65; Genie’s for 50. All of those years of smoking finally caught up to them (and Genie’s father also had the asbestos issue). When the catch up comes, who pays? Right. We all do. The smoker, the smoker’s family, and of course all of us (regular citizens) by increased health care costs, lost wages, etc. etc.

As I read Genie’s post, I realized that there are many parallels between smoking and obesity. There are known health risks with obesity just like smoking. Diabetes and high blood pressure for sure and other chronic and serious diseases are linked with obesity (see my tipping point post). I started on this journey on June 26 because I finally emerged from my denial. I chose to ignore the risks for far too long. You also know that I finally realized that it is my family, my sweet grandbabies that will pay the price of my denial and of the years of putting off taking care of myself. The health risks that I put myself into will make them sick with worry, and that is simply not fair nor acceptable to me. My time has simply come to take care of me. You all know that I am out of denial and moving forward and taking steps to regain my health.

But what about you? Has you wake up call come? Have you reached your tipping point? Can you put that cigarette of obesity down and rub out its impact, its hold on you?? I ask these questions because I think you all know I read many blogs. I KNOW that some of you, including my dear readers and followers, have not reached the point where you are firmly resolved to do something positive and lasting to regain your health. You are in wishy-washy land, to be direct. As I read your posts I am not confident that you have the clarity, the resolve and the determination to move forward. But my questions are: Well, when are you? What will it take to get you to kick your obesity in the ass? What will it take for you to take back your life? Because if you don’t, I know that there are people in your life who will be sick with worry when the impact of years of obesity catch up with you. I know. People will weep at your suffering. Is that the future you want for yourself and your loved ones??

I know that I took way too long to get to where I am today in reclaiming my health and publicly through this blog. Many of you are well on your weigh (way) with me and for those of you who are moving forward I say BRAVO!!!. As I have said before: my hope for those of you who are not 100% determined and resolved is that you will come to your senses; you will get your wake up call well before I did at 56.

And for all of you that are solidly on your way to regaining your health: stay strong. In strength we can overcome.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Turning point

My good buddy Carolyn wrote a comment on my binging post last week that has given me pause for ruminations. Here is her comment:

You know what I think, Michele? I think that if there is a "problem" here, it isn't that you might binge, but your FEAR of that possibility. The fear itself is what puts the capital B on binge and makes it feel like a big animal waiting to leap on you when you don't expect it. So ... fear. Hmmm. What are your tips and techniques for handling your own fear, whether it's about binging, about a loved one dying, or anything???

You all know the quote “There is nothing to fear but fear itself ” (FDR’s first inaugural address). Yes, for me it is the fear of the possibility of binging which in my mind is still equated with the slippery slope into failure at losing weight and getting healthy. Fear with an “F.” So what am I doing about it? I am staring FEAR in the face and meeting it head on. For me, the list below captures some of the important things that I have done to moderate my fear of binging and failure at getting healthy.

First: Plan. Plan. Plan. I simply have carved out a new habit where I plan my food in advance of any event, function or just plain life by bringing food with me in that little cooler type lunch box.

Second: I make sure that I have healthy snacks within reach. My favorite right now is a cup of grapes and a 100-calorie granola bar. Many weight loss bloggers have posted about snacks like Karen and Dr. Fat to Fit. I subscribe to the importance of having snacks to eat between meals and whole-heartedly.

Third: I have learned how to be more mindful about my eating. I honestly do not have much desire to eat off my calorie budget. When I do, I enjoy every morsel. Reading Geneen Roth, Marion Nestle and Dr. Jan Chozen Bays have really inspired me to understand about the importance of paying attention to everything you eat. I am GUILTY of eating different foods, many of them salty, sugary and fatty, without tasting them. Just sort of scarffing them down. I am sure there are some of my readers who are guilty as well...

Fourth: I am building an accountability system and network through blogging. Blogging is therapeutic for me, for one. It is helping me to come out of the closet about food, eating and obesity in ways that are allowing me to heal. Second: As you are all well aware, the support and encouragement in blogger land is priceless. That is why I am also so committed to supporting each of my followers. We share in the angst, disappointment, humiliation, fatigue and many other related emotions that are part of our coming to terms with our fatness, why we are fat, and what we are doing about it. I know because of my weight loss blogger cohort that I am NEVER alone in my journey. Never. That feels really, really good.

But there is overall one other thing that I have learned about myself in this journey and that is what I will characterize as a “turning point.” My tipping point led me to get started on this journey toward better health. As the weeks have gone by, something else has happened. I am at a turning point. Here is why I know: I wrote above how planning has become one of my newly engrained habits in terms of planning ahead for food and what I am going to eat. But there is more. I have made it a new habit to exercise. I have become a nut on the bike. I simply get antsy to get back on when I have to skip a day. I think someone could torture me by taking my bike away now (I am serious!). I make time to exercise at least 5-6 times per week. Right now I am at about an hour a day of vigorous exercise. These are two new habits that I did not have on June 26 when I started this journey.

You all do not know my good friend Carolyn, but she is good at asking good and tough questions. (Side note: I hope you have someone in your life that pushes you hard with tough questions). So, this next response is for her, but also for all of you. Carolyn, what you asked above is basically how I would handle the fear of binging or overeating when faced with huge and emotional life events. Well, my response is: meeting those fears head on (and that is my tip and technique for handling any fear). The last six weeks of my life were incredibly intense as I navigated with my splintered family the passing of my father (new readers you can read more here). During this time, I did have more than my allotted budget of calories, but not by much. I even drank a little too much (which for me is about 3 beers at one time (yes, I am an easy drunk!)) on at least one day. I knew I was eating over my budget, and I was honestly okay with that. I NEVER felt an impulse to binge or to overeat or to stop moving forward to better health. My two new habits of planning what I eat and exercise got me through, and easily.

Now, I am not naive enough to think that I have permanently kicked my fear in the ass forever. Instead and because of the planning and exercise I do I am not afraid of my fear anymore. I have faced the fear itself and that is why I know that I am now at a turning point. This is something that I have never felt before in regards to my health and or my eating habits. When I reached my tipping point, I envisioned a path to better health. I have plowed through 9 weeks of sensible eating and exercise and weathered some pretty big emotional events all without binging or overeating. I am at and have reached a turning point, where I will not go back. I just have lost my desire (again for now) to go back to what I was and how I responded to life through food. I know I will not go back. I know I will not go back. I know I will not go back. I am different this time around, my dear friend Carolyn and my readers. It feels great to be me right now!

What about you: how you reached your turning point?
Stay strong my blogger friends, Michele