Monday, May 30, 2011


Today I am going to show you a little bit of one of the small islands that are in North Holland. We are going to Texel. If you look back at my last post you will see that Texel is in the North Sea~a small little group of islands known by many Europeans as a great “get away.” We will get off the Ferry and go right to rent bikes.
Let's hop on the bikes!
Texel is very rural so we will meander through a number of farm land areas.
That is the bike path on the left.

Time for a cup of coffee

Beautiful old barn.
We are approaching the beach now.
This little path goes up the dune toward the North Sea.
First we have to lock our bikes.

Above, Ellery is playing in the waves
Lots of school groups go to Texel.
They board the ferry with their bikes so they
too can bike the island
Walking path leading into the national park woods.
Bike path through the dunes.
Woods on bike path.
I will try to stay my healthy course by eating with
care and of course with lots of biking! TTFN and stay strong.
From the Netherlands, Michele

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hallo uit Nederland and Biking!

Happy Friday!
We are in our fourth day in the Netherlands.
Here is a map to help you get oriented.
The village we are staying in, the birth home of my hubby and current home of two sisters and their families, a brother and his family and hubby's father is North of Amsterdam in a village called Onderdijk. This village is not on any map I can find; just too small. However, you can get a general idea of where it is located by looking at this North Holland Province map. Look north of Amsterdam and follow the coast until you see a village called Medemblik. That is very close to where we are.

Did you know that Holland is a biker's paradise? Ready for a ride?
How about hopping on a nice sturdy Dutch bike??
Be sure to put your helmet on!
Let's start here on the bike path through Onderdijk.

We are leaving Onderdijk now.
See how the dijk goes up behind that house with the orange roof.
Onderdijk means under the dijk.
The village was built under the shadow of the
protection of the dijk from the Ijsselmeer (large lake and former sea)
We are now arriving in Medemblik.
These are some of the many canals that line the streets.
This old castle is very near the Harbor. Dates back over 750 years ago.
Now we enter the harbor area.
Some smaller boats...
Outside of Medemblik is this fine old windmill...
Now we will head back. Here are some of the wetlands that we
pass through as we loop
around Medemblik on the way back to Onderdijk.

The small Vliet (Lake) outside the village of Onderdijk.
My hubby's father used to grow his tulips on the land surrounding the Vliet.
We biked about 10 miles round trip. Just a short little ride.
Tomorrow will be a longer ride.

Have a great weekend everyone! TTFN, Michele
PS: Still tracking my food every day although more 1600 calorie days now than 1200...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Holland and Vacation!

Greetings from Nederland!!

First thanks for all the congratulatory words about the bike ride! I am totally recovered, not even sore. My hubby and I are on our annual trip to the Netherlands to see his family. This time we brought or granddaughter Ellery who is 6 to meet all of her Dutch relatives including a great-grandfather, aunts and uncles and many cousins. My hubby is the eldest of seven children so there are many new faces for Ellery to get to know. The region that he is from, Noord Holland or North Holland, is what many of us think of as quintessential Holland: canals, windmills, loads of tulips and farmers who continue to wear wooden shoes. Those shoes actually keep their feet dry as they work in the fields. Younger folks do not use them, but in the villages, one sees the older generation clomping around in them. Plus they are easy to leave outside the door when you step into your home. We are staying with hubby’s sister Lia in Onderdijk a small village along the Ijsselmeer. Across the street from the house is the dijk that holds the water back. Onderdijk means under the dijk-aptly named, don’t you think. Here are a few pictures:

From the potato field in back of Lia's house
(two story house behind the barn in the foreground)
Ellery in the potato field.
Ellery standing on the bike path in Onderdijk.
Along every road in the Netherlands is a dedicated bike path.
Standing on the bridge looking at the canal in back of Lia's house.
Lia has already found several bikes for us so that we may show Ellery the countryside around Onderdijk. So while in Holland, I will definitely keep up my exercise! Thanks for stopping by to read. Dag and tot ziens (bye and see you soon) and TTFN, Michele

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Good Morning!
I am very happy to report that I finished the 27 mile Tour de Cure! The weather made it a tough ride, however, the scenery and the camaraderie among the riders more than made up for the tempestuous weather. The first 13 miles went gently uphill following along a bike path for the first 5 miles and then up and out into the countryside of Rochester, Minnesota (meaning woodlands and farmland). About half way through the course we leveled out onto more or less flat lands with the final 6 miles a gentle down hill ride. The organizers created a great course for a ride teaming with aspiring riders (about 200).

Now the weather. I was lucky to ride about the first 8 miles with just threatening cloudy skies. Well the rain and hard wind started about mile 8 and did not let up for the rest of the course. It began lightly and turned into a torrent of rain. Cars were pulling over because they could not see. All of the riders near me watched out for each other (“Got your back”) which made me feel safe at least as safe as you can be in weather like that. The weather was the greatest challenge, not the course. I heard that we had one inch an hour of rain during that last hour of my ride and believe me it felt like it! I did the route in less than 3 hours. I can tell you that cycling shorts are the best! I may have been soaked but my rear-end was never sore.

As I faced the challenges of this ride, and yes, had thoughts about how crazy I was to be out in that weather, pumping and pumping the pedals, I ruminated. Many of you know that I did this ride as a way for me to celebrate my birthday (BD), a blessed life, a life renewed with greater health and fitness, and a way for me to give back to a worthy cause. I raised $675 from family and friends, including some of you!! Many of us weight loss bloggers are at high risk for developing diabetes, among other things. I know I am. While I rode I thought about the folks with diabetes, like my godson with Type 1, and the challenges they face each day in regulation. For me, I was challenged in the ride by the weather, not by any serious healthy anomalies like diabetes.

This ride was also a way for me to celebrate almost one year of a change in my lifestyle that has brought me many rewards, including a better understanding of the reasons behind my obesity to begin with and of course a weight loss and growing physical stamina and endurance. Most of the time I follow Marion Nestle’s advice: eat less, move more, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and go easy on the junk food. With counting calories, that is it for me.

I will never know the exact time of my ride, because my IPhone, which was tracking my time, was in my pocket. My pocket filled unbeknownst to me with water. And let’s say the iPhone drowned. Shorted out and dead, along with the pictures I took along the route. But, iPhones are replaceable. My health is not. I finished, my phone didn’t.

Which leads me to my last point: we can all do more than we think we can. I NEVER thought I would ride 20 or more miles at a time on a bike. But I can and I do. Each time you push yourself higher than you think you can go you win, your health wins, and your fitness levels win and your loved ones win. You can do it. More than you think. You can. Stay strong my blogger friends. Thank-you so VERY much my friedns for all your encouragement as I prepared for the ride. Now, time to celebrate a BD!!!! TTFN! Michele

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Final prep for the Tour

Greetings on a Fine Minnesota Spring Day!
Yesterday I finished my training for the Tour de Cure by cycling 28 miles to the St. Paul campus of the U of MN and back. For a meeting, no less. I would like to report it was a great ride, but that would be a lie. But, it was great preparation for the Tour. My chain fell off. No big deal, I fixed it and road away (greasy hands and all). What I really realized was that although I have steadily increased my mileage and my stamina, I am still an aspiring cyclist. You see there were many hills and inclines on that road, not so different from what I will face in Rochester, MN on Saturday. I huffed and puffed up those hills, but I made it all the way. The scenery was terrific, but hilly in areas. Yesterday I rode over the Ford Bridge to St. Paul and meandered along the Mississippi Road on the East River bank. Absolutely splendid biking. I am as ready as I will be for the Tour. Since signing up (late February), I have logged 347 miles on my bike. I know I can do the 27-mile road event even with rain (I trained twice in the rain). So, Tour de Cure here I come!

I had a great week tracking my food, too. I have really made it a habit, carrying along my little jot sheet with me everywhere. 6/8 days were under 1250 calories. The other two were 1400, so not bad at all.

Before I sign off, I want to acknowledge the support and encouragement that so many of you send my way by leaving comments on this blog. This past week I renewed my own efforts, especially in tracking my food, to getting healthier and getting out of this slump. Many of you shared your own experiences or offered suggestions. Thank-you for sharing in this journey with me. Your words are inspirational to me. I will be back on Saturday to report on the event. Have a great weekend everybody! TTFN and stay strong, Michele

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tracking food and cycling!

In my last post I wrote about how I had slacked off about tracking my food. Well, I have learned some very interesting things about my eating since I started back tracking. For one, I now know positively that I was over my caloric budget by at least 500 calories a day. That may not seem like much, but it is probably the exact amount needed for me to loose (500 x 7 = 3500 calories or one pound). I was eating too many calories for breakfast, so I cut out OJ and measure my cereal or oatmeal. Lunch and dinner I do okay, but where I really was in denial was about my snacking. Yep, I try to limit my snacks to 100 calories. But, I had too many of those 100 calorie snacks! Like 2-3 more than my budget allows. Plus, I had bites of this, or a cracker of that and a sip of that tasty beverage. Those little bites and sips add up to another 100 or more calories. So, I was easily over budget. Over the last 5 days I have gone from 1670 calories to about 1200. I am hoping for a GREAT weight loss at my next WI!

Cycling: I am in the home stretch as far as cycling and training for the Tour de Cure. Over the past five days I have ridden twice in the rain. Last Thursday I did twenty (20!!!) miles in light rain. On Saturday I did another 14 (!!). It may not be raining when I actually ride on Saturday, however, I wanted to be sure that I knew what it was like to be out for a long ride in the rain. Here is the evidence!

I wasn't alone on those wet trails:
Look at that roaring creek!
You can see that I am soaked in that picture, too! I ordered a NEW breathable rain jacket to wear that should shed water better than the one above on the day of the event. So, that rain practice helped me to understand what I might need for the actual event in case of rain.

Yesterday, I went out on the hills close to our farm property. Our farm is in a little river valley which makes for great training. I am pleased to say that I tackled the hill pictured below TWICE! The first time I ride on the slighter broader slope of the road. The second time I road up the steep slope of the bike path. That was tough. I have to admit I had to stop near the top to catch my breath. But, I did it!! The bike path is the steeper trail in the picture foreground.

Finally, for an after-Mother's Day pampering, my daughters and daughters-in-law and I had our toes done. Now my feet are ready for the ride, too!

How are you doing in your own tracking food, exercise or pampering yourself??
Stay strong and TTFN! michele

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

High and Low Gears

Today my ruminations will be about gears. It is a fitting analogy to where I am in my healthy and weight loss journey, as you will soon see.

High gears:
My first ever road event on a bike will occur in just 10 days. I vacillate from feelings of excitement and fear! I am excited to push myself in something physical with endurance; something that illustrates just how far I have come in these past many months where I am required to have a certain level of fitness. But as you can imagine, I am also scared to death that I won’t finish or get my still large derriere up those hills or maybe be dead last. I chose the intermediate level course for the Tour de Cure (what was I thinking?) which will take me over 32 miles with some river valley hills and some nice flats. I must complete it in 4 hours. I have been on my bike almost everyday to “train.” Plus I am doing stretches and other toning exercises to help me strengthen other parts of my body. On Monday I rode my first ever-straight ride of 26 miles in 2.75 hours. If you do the math that is a little better than 10 miles per hour. So, I am definitely on track to be able to complete the 32 miles in 4 hours. Yesterday I did another 10 and hopefully will do another ten today, too, even though it is raining. I have planned two more long rides (25-27 miles) in the next ten days.

Today I indulged my evolving cycling affections by purchasing my first ever cycling shorts- you know the kind with the deep padding on your rear-end. I will try them out later today. Not splashy, just basic black. The other thing I would like to report is that I joined the Twin Cities Bicycling Club (TCBC). They sponsor rides nearly everyday at every possible level. I am starting at level C, which means that I can maintain an average speed of 10-12 miles per hour. There was a minimal fee to join. Each ride is an additional $2.00, which to me is well worth this nominal fee. Each ride will include a TCBC senior leader who will serve as a mentor. My first ride will be on Saturday and includes a session on bike safety and riding in groups. I know already that I am going to be moving toward a road bike and soon. I already started looking online at different possibilities.

Low gear: Even though my fitness level is increasing and in high gear, what I have come to realize is that my overall weight loss regime is in low gear. I have maintained my weight loss (still about 27-28 pounds off), for the past few months, but no loss. There are many reasons for this, but most of all it speaks to a general complacency that slowly crept into my life, again. Sure I did a lot of travel in the last few months, plus there was that fire, but, now time to move onward.

To be perfectly frank: I admit to all of you that I have not been tracking my food nor counting calories with the conviction that I did in the beginning. Today I read Mallwalker’s post on weight loss struggles. Her post reminded me that I, too, believe that this time is it!! Meaning that this weight loss and getting healthy journey is my last. I need to kick my weight loss efforts into higher gear to match my fitness efforts. For me that means something as simple as logging my food and calories. That begins again, today. Today. I can do this. I know I can. That begins again, today. Today. I can do this. I know I can. That begins again, today. Today. I can do this. I know I can.

Stay strong everyone and TTFN, Michele

Monday, May 9, 2011

Food labels

Hello Bloggers!
Today’s Star Tribune features an article about food labels titled: Don’t get caught in food-label booby traps by Tony Amidor of Food Network Kitchens. He articulates 10 common traps. Here are my top picks:

Natural: Did you know that the term “Natural” is really not well defined by the FDA? Marion Nestle writes about this ambiguity, too, on her blog at this here. Amidor’s advice: when you see the word natural on the label, just ignore it.

Trans-fat-free: You should know that trace amounts of trans fat can be hidden in many foods. How do you know there are trace amounts of trans fats? Key: look for words such "partially hydrogenated" on the ingredient list.

Omega-3 fats: "Not all omega-3s are created equal. Those from flax (called ALA) don't have all the benefits (such as helping with heart health) when compared with the omega-3s derived from fatty fish such as salmon and tuna (called DHA and EPA). Knowing which types of omega-3 fats are in foods is the important part." For a closer look, check out Nestle's label on Omega-3 fats.

Reduced-fat: Many of you are probably already aware that reduced fat comes at a price: more sugar is added to many products to replace some of the flavor lost by fat reduction.

Serving size: According to Amidor this is the "most common mistake around: Thinking the calories on the label are for the entire product. Always check the serving size."

You can read the entire Amidor article here. Marion has also written extensively about labels.

Keep checking your food labels! Have a great start to your healthy week! TTFN, Michele

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!

Great week in sports for the Minnesota Twins! If you have not heard, Francisco Liriano pitched a no hitter! Only the fifth in Twins history. He had a miserable April, but May is already a brilliant month for him.

Our weather is bordering on brilliant, too. With THREE (count ‘em, 1, 2, 3) days of 60 degrees this week. For me that meant getting out on my bike. Because I am in training for the Tour I did 16 miles today. I am slowly getting stronger and upping my pace. I did that 16 miles in 86 minutes!! I hope to have a 20-mile day this weekend. My eating has been good, but not great. Good thing I burned off 725 calories today because I had a few bites of Nutella today. Good thing that Nutella is about gone, too!

We will kick off the weekend on Saturday celebrating our first grandbaby's First Communion. Hard to believe a new generation in our family is beginning all of these sacraments. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there in bloggerland! Have a great weekend and stay strong! Michele

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Seizing the moment!

Greetings on a beautiful spring day! This year spring in Minnesota is coming at a snail's pace. We had FLAKES of snow yesterday, so when the thermometer hits 60, I am out of here! First, I have to close up my computer. Ready for a bike ride???
Next, let's record our beginning mileage.
Let's ride along the creek: that is Minnehaha Creek close to my house.
Do you see the bike path leading up to the bridge?
After we follow the creek for a while we come
to the first of two lakes: this is Lake Nokomis.
Let's loop around it (only about 3 miles).

Next stop, Minnehaha Falls ( you have seen this before).
Roaring falls today!
Let's go take a break and eat some lunch by the fountain.
There are some blooming tulips here today!
And a few daffodils....
Now let's head back home, but this time we are
going to go around Lake Hiawatha.
Going around both those lakes made for a 20 mile ride today.
Way to prepare for the Tour de Cure!!
Have a great Tuesday everyone and TTFN, Michele