Monday, February 28, 2011

And the winner is....

I adore movies! Although I watch movies at home, it is at a theater where I am lifted away and can leave my world behind. Like reading a great book, I am drawn into the story that is delivered via actors, writers, cinematographers, producers, and as Natalie Portman said all the “behind the scenes” people like make up artists that is multilayered, humorous, dramatic, romantic, brutal, dark, poignant, endearing, silly, tragic, fantasy, mesmerizing, hopeful, and mysterious. When I leave a theater and recognize that I was pulled in for two or so hours away from my life I know I have watched a good, if not great movie.

Beyond the glamour and glitz of what we see on the Oscar night, there are many, many stories. Natalie Portman spent over a year preparing for her role as a dancer, including losing 20 pounds; David Siedle's (73) own mother proclaimed that he would be a “late bloomer.” Colin Firth charmed us with his self-depreciation and humility. In every acceptance speech it was clear that although the awardees was carrying the statue, there was a village of folks behind the scenes that strengthened and broadened their artistic gifts. Then there are the movies themselves: stories of overcoming self doubt and physical challenges (the King’s Speech), discipline (Black Swan), triumph (the Fighter), perseverance and determination in the throes of dysfunction (Winter’s Bone), resolve and urgency (True Grit), and friendship and moving forward (Toy Story 3).

As I ruminated on the story of the nominated films and the stories conveyed to us through the varied acceptance speeches I found many parallels in my own getting fit sojourn: late bloomer (yep, that's me), preparation (is everything!), discipline (needed daily!), overcoming self doubt (I can do this!), triumph (NSV AND SV), perseverance and determination (so many months and still a way to go), resolve (I am doing this for me!), urgency (I am not getting any younger and the health risks are too grim), friendship (bloggers!) and moving forward (each and every day no matter what I do or do not do). I bet many of those descriptors fit you, too! Every day that we stay the course we are winners just like those who paraded in front of us last night at the Oscars. The difference is: this is my-your-our stories and they are real to us. Stay strong and TTFN!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!
Even with all the snow, it was a great week for exercise. I walked just under 25 miles this week, plus I was able to get in almost 5 miles of bike riding (!!!). My eating has been good, too, not perfect, but, good. This week I was determined to eat a large said at lunch. So, huge that it left me full, full, full. Besides all the veggies, I threw in a small hand full of cashews and cut up a few large olives. I love the “banquet” of taste from that mix of salad fixings (including grated up veggies like carrots) mixed with nuts and olives. Yum.

I am moving toward my eight month of my getting fit and healthy sojourn. You all know I am the slow and steady kind in weight loss and I have accepted it, for the most part. But over the last couple of weeks I have been wavering in the doldrums on and off. Loosing a bit of my determination edge and motivation. I know plenty of you are in that funk, too. You may not call it the doldrums, but as I read your rants, your “kicking and screaming” posts, or even your down in the dumps posts, I know you are there right along with me. For me, after almost 8 months, I have made progress, but still a way to go, a long way and s-l-o-w.

But here is the deal: when the going gets tough the tough get going. I don’t know who said that, but it holds true for my mission, and I bet it does for you, too. Every single day I trudge outside with all my winter’s wear on because my new habits of exercise and walking are taking root. Every time I pass up the high calories for something else, I am building my determination and resolve. Every time I try on something that did not fit just weeks or months ago, I am emboldened to persevere. I look where I am right now and NEVER want to go back to where I was at the start on June 26, 2010. Yep, this is hard and long, but I know I can do it. I am tough and I am going! The beauty of that adage, is that YOU can too!! So, rant and scream, wallow in the dumps, but what ever you do, don’t give up. You are tough. Tougher than you think. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get going, tough one!

Finally, this post is dedicated to ALL of you (Yes, YOU!!) reading today! You people ROCK! I cannot tell you how much inspiration I get from all of you as I read your blog posts or your comments on my posts. Thank-you for sharing part of your day with me!!

I want to give a special shout out to the many new followers that came on board. Many of those listed below are new to blogging and their getting healthy journey. Stop by and encourage them if you haven't already.

135 by 2012
348 to Great
A New Dawn
Lee Ann
Mer and Mo
Shabby Chick Mom
Sweet Pea

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, for all of your encouraging words and support. Have a great week end and stay strong! Michele

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Uncovering the promise of new....

Yep, time for just a few more pictures of snow!
We have a monumental amount of snow on the ground in Minnesota!
These pictures are around my neighborhood where I walked this morning.

Our back yard. You can barely see our four-foot high
fence that goes around the perimeter of the yard.
All of our plants and shrubs are nestled snug in their beds.
No kidding! Snow is an insulator to plants that have to
have terrific defensive mechanisms to survive our climate. All that snow helps.
Now, you might be a little smug thinking about the weather where you are. Chances are most of you have little if any snow. But, for me, seeing that snow means one thing: the promise of spring and new growth and life. To me all that snow signifies SPRING (!!) is coming. It is February, for crying-out-loud, so it won't be long till it melts for good. As the snow melts the plants will grow and the diversity of life that we know here will be uncovered.

I was of course bundled in my red winter coat, snow pants, hat, gloves, scarf and of course winter boots with YakTrax on my walk. It was a beautiful and warm (20 degrees F) morning. All of a sudden I found my self thinking: “If I can walk 5 (actually 5.13) miles without hardly blinking an eye, how about a little jogging?” And that is just what I did. I slowly started jogging along the side walk, more like a fast walk/jog. I was cautious at first. Even with YakTrax I was still not confident about having sure footing. No problem, though, my feet were secured and I did not slip ONCE!! Over that last mile and a half, I maybe jogged a third of it. Maybe a half mile all together. It felt great!!! Great!! A new milestone happened for me today: I am finally, and slowly, uncovering the runner within! Building up my stamina with walking is paying off. Oh, don't worry I am not going to start jogging like crazy. I can't: first C25KM program and better conditioning. But I am ready. I know I am! The promise of all that is to come as I stay the course of my getting healthy sojourn could not be any sweeter!

How about you: what promise lies just ahead for you in your own journey??

Stay strong and TTFN!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snow and exercise

Greetings on a SNOWY day!
What a difference a couple of days make. Last Friday I went out on an early morning walk around the lake near our home.
The promise of spring was in the air over the weekend. I took my bike out on Friday for about a five-mile bike ride. With an air temp at 20 degrees definitely not for the wimpy. I dressed in layers and was actually “hot.” That ride was exhilarating, and of course gets me hungry for the real bike season coming up!

Walking: I am regularly doing about 5 miles a day of walking. Most days I split it up with a three mile in the morning and the other two in the evening. I have a pedometer app on my iPhone that will help me to keep track of miles walked this year since I am in Julie’s 400-mile challenge. I never tire of trying to find interesting places to walk that are accessible right out my door. Lately I have been heading down to the Lakes area where there are some small hills. Walking up and down those Minnesota "hills" will help to prepare me for the real hills later this spring (Lake Superior Hiking Trail) and summer (Olympic National Park).

Yep. We have a ton of new snow in the Upper Mid West last night. Thirteen inches and still coming down!! According to Paul Douglas, our nationally respected meteorologist, 13 inches fell as of 10 pm Sunday evening in the Twin Cities, bringing the season total up to over 73, making this winter the second snowiest to date. Only 1982 saw more snow as of February 20 (76"). Here are a few early morning pictures, the first one right outside our front door.

So, yes plenty of the fluffy white stuff.

All that snow did not keep hubby and I from going out and taking in a movie (Another Year: Quirky, fun, and at times poignant British film about relationships). We dressed in layers, including a rain coat on top of our winter coats and hoofed it about a mile through all the snow to the movie theater! You can say we continue to embrace winter and are thank full for warm and dry gear.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods??

Stay strong and TTFN!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Summary of the week

Happy Friday!

It was a wonderful week of life.

First the anniversary: Yesterday was our 37th anniversary. We live within walking distance of several fine eateries, which on a fine nearly spring day (almost 50 degrees!) was a wonderful reprieve from the winter blahs. First off to a neighborhood café for drinks, an appetizer and some nice jazz. I sampled a wonderful blackberry Cosmo. Excellent. Next we walked about a mile to a small neighborhood Italian restaurant called Prima. We split every dish including soup, salad, pasta and a Tuscan pot roast. Delicious. I am blessed with a wonderful and full life. Anniversaries are a great way to take stock of the gifts that I have received including a partner for life. I am grateful and privileged to walk through life with him.

As our walks last night indicate, it was a wonderful mild weather week in Minnesota. It is a teaser type of weather pattern that we experience here in between the seasons. But, mild weather after such a long winter is invigorating! The snow is melting and shrinking by the day, Oh, we still have loads of it, but half of it has melted. For me the break in weather meant taking long walks (still with Yak trax). On Wednesday I did a 5 miler, Wednesday over 3 and Thursday another five. I am aiming for another five today, even though it will be back in the twenties. I can feel biking season is coming up!!!! Still a little risky for riding with the ice but I will be prepared when it is safer. We brought our bikes in for a tune up. They will be ready today to pick up. Can’t wait to ride!

Sourdough bread: Do you like sourdough bread? Thought so. So do I. It was my downfall this week. We bought freshly baked loaf from one of our favorite bakeries, Breadsmith (big mistake). I had several pieces of toast (yum) almost everyday. Eating them put me over my calorie budget each day, a fact that I admit to all of you. Time to now move forward. Actually looking back, eating that sourdough bread was kind of my least focused spell of the week and maybe even for the past many months. This blog is about honesty. No regrets. None. Factor in anniversary and sourdough bread, it was a wonderful and delicious week of foods, but time to renew my focus before I do some damage. I know I can refocus.

And here is why I know I will: This week, actually on Wednesday, I decided to try on some clothes that I had put in storage because they were too small. Some of them were new items that I bought on sale, but many of them were clothes that I outgrew. Well, I am pleased to report that they all fit! It was such a joy (!) to try these clothes on and revel in how much I have downsized to fit into them and easily. This little NSV jumpstarted me back into focus about where I am going in my fitness journey. It was once again, tangible evidence of the difference I have made it my body size these last few months. I also figured out that on Monday, February 14th, it was 98 days until my birthday in May. In seven weeks (49 days) I will be at my next conference in New Orleans: I am targeting 6 pounds less about that time. For my birthday seven weeks later: I am targeting another six pounds off. Realistic goals taking into account my history of weight loss. So, renewed focus because of some unexpected tangible evidence. I am back on track.

What about you? What has helped you to focus or renew focus this week?

Have a great weekend everyone, TTFN,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Words on Wednesday!

Michael Pollan is a name we hear frequently coupled with food. Many of you may know him from his book Omnivore’s Dilemma. He was featured in as well as other documentaries. I recently picked up his slim volume: Food Rules An Eater’s Manual. If you have not read Pollan, this may be an excellent little read. Quick. Descriptive, but, not too much. Tongue-in-check but straight forward. His website calls it: "his indispensable handbook lays out a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely, one per page accompanied by a concise explanation." I agree. It is a manual for eaters, including all of us looking to become better fit and lighter in weight. There are three sections of this book: Part I: What should I eat? Part II: What kind of food should I eat? and Part III: How should I eat? Here are some of his rules that caught my eye and are great Words for Wednesday. Enjoy!

What should I eat?
Eat food.
Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.
Avoid food products containing food ingredients that a
third grader cannot pronounce.
Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
It’s not food if it arrived through your car window.

What kind of food should I eat?

Eat mostly plants, especially the leaves.
Eat your colors.
Eat like an omnivore.
Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature.
Don’t eat breakfast foods that changes the color of the milk.
The whiter the bread the sooner you’ll be dead.
Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

How Should I Eat?

Pay more, eat less.
Eat less.
Stop eating before you are full.
Eat slowly.
The banquet is in the first bite.
Do all your eating at the table.

All quotes above from: Pollan, M. (2009). Food Rules An Eater's Manual. New York: Penguin.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quick fix or a life of health and fitness?

Happy Valentine's Day!

I read quite a few blogs this weekend and finally caught up with all of you. Several bloggers that I visited are pushing hard to lose a certain amount of weight by XX date because of weddings, cruises, birthdays, or other significant events. While these are great incentives to stay focused for the short term and maybe get into that dress or swimsuit for it we also need to think about what we will do beyond that targeted date for the long term, which is cause for today's ruminations.

This week (February 17) will mark my 37th anniversary. It is one of my greatest life gifts to have a partner to walk through life with. Hubby is from the Netherlands and in the region of the Netherlands where he is from, it is a local custom for young couples to celebrate their twelve and a half year anniversary, which is the half way marker to the big 25th. Almost 25 years ago, we did just that. To get ready for it: I went on a diet where I lost about 15 pounds in a 6-week period of time. I cannot remember the diet particulars, however part of it was eating certain foods each day. By all appearances I was successful. On our anniversary I weighed the least I can ever remember weighing, about 137 pounds. It was a great day and if I do say so myself, I looked great. We renewed our wedding vows in our church and had a splendid party with family and friends afterward.

However: although my appearance was great, looking back, I know I paid for that diet in ways that are clear to me now. You see I was so focused on being thinner by our anniversary, that I never thought about what I was going to do to maintain the weight loss. Of course, exercise was not even a part of that weight loss diet. I am guessing I was at that weight of 137 for a few months, maybe even a year. But, as I approached my 40’s I began to put on more weight each year which of course led me to my all time high when I started this journey last June of 213 pounds.

I paid in other ways too: Because I was successful with that particular diet, I began to live in a fantasy world. I now knew that I could go on this quick little diet and lose XXX amount of pounds, or so, I thought. I simply would go back to that food a day diet and presto, I would be thin, or rather lighter in pounds again. That of course never happened. Sure I could knock of 5 pounds maybe even 10, but once the event was over, back it came, plus a few extra pounds on top of it. I never really lost weight again after that anniversary celebration, until I started this current journey.

Which brings me to where I am today: I am a slow and steady weight loss loser. I probably always have been; I just did not know that until recently. My quick 6 week weight loss was just that: a quick fix. It fixed me all right for that date, but it was never a solution to my weight issues nor did it create a foundation for maintenance and leading a healthy and fit life. It took me over 25 years to learn that for me, and for many of you, too, there are no quick fixes for weight loss or maintaining your health. Sure, you might find a quick fix that works for whatever event is coming up, but you will pay for that fix in other ways.

For me, I have learned that eating less, moving more, eating lots of fruits and veggies and going easy on the junk food works. I am closing in on 30 pounds off; 3/7ths of the way to my goal. But there is more: As I continue on this journey I am learning to be sensible in food choices and reasonable in my expectations for myself. I no longer look to losing 10 pounds in a month by being on a special diet but can say based on my current history and the tangible evidence in pounds lost that in about 10-12 weeks I can shed another 10 pounds. Yes, I can target a certain weight by a certain date, but those targets are now realistic, not something out of a fairy tale.

I am sharing this little story with all of you my blogger friends, because most of you are way younger than I am. After reading your blogs this weekend, I know there are many of you that are targeting a certain weight loss by a certain date. Some of you are even trying to lose 15 pounds in 6 weeks like I did so many years ago. You might be successful which will be great, hope is that you will reconsider your goals and plan for a long term fix for you and your health. Think beyond that date to a life that is healthy and fit. Think long term. Learn from my fantasy diet fix. You can do this. You can. But that quick fix is gonna cost you.

Stay strong everyone and TTFN,

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oranges and Happy Friday!

Do you like oranges? Thought so. I sure do, too. Especially now when it is citrus season in Florida and California. How about this lovely orange that I will be eating soon?
This past week I enjoyed the most delicious oranges that I purchased at the lovely supermarket near my home. Ambrosial goodness and with only about 90 calories per orange make them a great caloric value, not to mention all the wonderful vitamin C and other nutrients bound up in every savory bite.

Because these oranges are so incredibly delicious, I am trying to be mindful of the pleasure of eating one. But there are other reasons to be mindful when enjoying fresh fruit in this northern tundra: As I ate my orange yesterday, I thought about the number of miles it was transported to finally reach my mouth. If it was produced in California, it traveled about 2200 miles; if it was produced in Florida about 1400. Lots of fuel. Plus I wondered who picked this fruit from the tree? Or was it picked with some kind of a machine? How many people actually handled this extraordinary piece of fruit before it reached me. While there are undoubtedly plenty of things to talk about around the subject of local food, food production, and food miles (link to my favorite nutritionist for her thoughts on food miles that); those topics are not something I will ruminate on today. Instead: enjoy your fruits and veggies. Chew them slowly. Be present with them. Eat them without distraction. More then likely they have come a LONG way and been touched by many to get to your table.

It has been a successful week for me! I exercised almost everyday. I walked about 10 miles and last night went out ice-skating! Each day I have tried to come in under 1200 calories. Have a great weekend my friends, stay strong and TTFN,

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

No electric scooters for me!

You all know that a couple of my themes for this year are organization and downsizing. Well last week when we were on our winter break, I took advantage of the plane ride to downsize (delete) and organize my photos on my computer. I have deleted over 1500 pictures! But, the best part was finding this picture:
That picture was taken just about a month before I started this journey. It was the end of May last year, 2010, and the last day of the semester. The picture originally included my students and other department members. What struck me as I looked at this “before” picture was just how obese I really was. Even though I have acknowledged my own denial, I still was shocked to see how heavy I was when I started. It is so obvious that my clothing does not HIDE my excess poundage and probably accentuates it. But now, flash forward to almost 30 pounds off and our recent winter break:
Some change, eh?? I am long overdue in posting pictures of my progress, so it feels great to share these with all of you! I am not sharing these simply to show you how different I am, but sharing them for another reason. When we were in Disneyland last week I could not help but notice how many electric scooters were rented by morbidly obese people. It was actually very sad to see so many people, not older people either, not able to walk or enjoy Disneyland and life because of their physical limits, more than likely due to a long history of obesity. Looking at the picture of me last summer makes it clear to me that I was also in that category: morbidly obese. My tipping point posts from last year get at what really propelled me to get started: if I did not start to take control and regain my health, I was at very high risk for diabetes, heart disease and loads of other joint and skeletal problems and other health challenges because of my weight. I also know that it would not be only me that suffered, but my family. It was that realization that my family would suffer the effects of my negligence, not just me, that propelled me into this journey. I know if I avoided making the right decision for my health in a few more years, or even sooner, it could have been me on a scooter…

But instead:
I chose a path that will lead me to good health. So, no scooters for me in the immediate future!!

What about you: do you think your own journey has steered you clear of some of the "risks" of obesity?

Before I sign off, I would like to thank-you, my blogger friends for all your support. I never feel alone on this journey because of you! Thank-you for sharing your wisdom and your encouragement.

TTFN and stay strong!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I am back from a wonderful winter break to California! The picture above of Ellery is one of my favorites from our trip. Yes, it rained a little, but a little rain did not dampen our spirits and enjoyment of wonderful and mostly warm (in the sixties) weather in Southern California. Hubby and I were accompanied by three of our sweet grandkids whom we affectionately call "the triplets." It was a joy to be really present with them on this trip. Sure, they had their squabbles, but their laughter, singing and shenanigans lightened each and every day. It was the first vacation in a long while where I put all work related activities on a back burner, except for responding to one e-mail.

We alternated a day at a Disney park with a day at the beach. If you are thinking of going to the California Disneyland resort I highly encourage you to think of late January and early February. We seldom waited more than 5 minutes in line and as a matter of fact, we walked onto most attractions. We stayed in one of the good neighbor hotels that was a short bus ride away from Disney. Here are a few pictures. First the girls in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle:
With Minnie Mouse
On one of the vehicles in Toon Town
Nani in the Buzz Lightyear Rockets
More fun!
Oma with the triplets and my favorite character, Woody!
Opa on Thunder Mountain with Owen.
Ellery's first roller coaster ride!
World of Color light and water show at night.
Time to leave Disney, money is all gone!
Huntington Beach Pier

We rented bikes (!!) for the day at the beach.

How did I do on eating and exercise, you may wonder? Good, especially on exercise, not perfect, but good. I walked most everyday. I also biked. Wow, did it feel great to get out on a bike! I had a solo ride, i.e. no kid in the trailer, one afternoon. It was exhilarating to be at the beach riding on the bike trail with the warm sun! Looking so forward to getting back on my bike for good in April or so.

As far as eating, I did keep track of my calories for the first few days, but then stopped. Instead of counting calories, I practiced eating in moderation. I ate lots of salads (dressing on the side). I once again never binged on anything; however, I did enjoy some of my favorite foods including an ice cream cone, some fudge, and one day two pieces of pizza. My goal was to enjoy our vacation, pay attention to what I ate, not go crazy, and have a few treats. Mission accomplished!

One last tidbit:
On the night that we stayed to watch the world of color the temps went down into the 40’s which was chilly. Hubby and I each bought a long sleeve shirt. I am not a big fan of large characters across my clothing, but we found two suitable shirts with a small Mickey in the men’s section. I reached for the medium and hubby said: "No. I think you are a small.” So, I tried it on and it fit great! A small men’s shirt! In the past I have on occasion bought a men’s shirt for one reason or another, but never in a SMALL!! Now that was an unexpected NSV!

Now it is time to check in on all of you! Here's to a great week everyone! Stay strong and TTFN, Michele