Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Greetings from Exteter!
I wrote before about the travel I am privileged to do because of the professional work I do, plus remember I am on sabbatical. This time I am at the University of Exeter in southern England at a conference from the European Association for Learning and Instruction. I will present two papers, one on Wednesday and the other on Friday. Exeter and the area around here is beautiful and quaint: rolling hills, winding roads and of course everything English. Enjoy a few pictures!
One of the old squares at night
Close up of a beautiful old building
A view from campus of the hills and countryside
Beautiful old trees on campus
Clock tower
In case you were wondering: YES! I am still tracking my food (even the tasty beverages at the pubs!). I so far have not done any cycling, but I tell you, walking up and down the hills to different sessions is burning some calories. My pedometer for today says I walked 3 miles.
Cheerio my friends!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Final Slimmer This Summer Update

178. Those are my NEW numbers! That means that I lost 8 pounds on the Slimmer This Summer challenge. 178. My accumulated total loss is now 35 pounds since June 26, 2010. I am HALF way to my “dream” goal.

For me losing that 8 pounds means that I finally broke through a stall that seemed to go on forever. From January all the way to June 17, 2011, I did not record any loss. Since June 17, I posted another 4 pounds lost. I have worked incredibly hard for those 8 pounds, too. Incredibly hard. Here is what I have done:

Moving more: You can see in my cycling mileage accumulation that I am up to 757 miles biked. I started logging into the Daily Mile in late May. That means I rode over 250 miles each month. Besides biking, I made a practice in May, June and July of tackling stairs, too. I consistently climbed 400 or more stairs at least three times a week.

Eat less: On May 13th I started logging my daily food intake. Throughout the 12 weeks of this challenge, I averaged 1450 calories per day. I started the STS challenge with a goal of 1250 calories. I soon learned that this was simply not enough calories for me with my level of exercise, so I increased it a bit. During the STS challenge, I traveled to the Netherlands/France, a son was married, went to a number of sporting events, birthday parties, picnics, concerts, and other celebrations and regular events. I tracked my calories through it all. The only time that I did not track was 5 days when we were gone to my son’s wedding in WA state.

Ruminations on the weight loss: I am happy that I lost weight during this challenge. But here is the deal: eight pounds is not a lot for twelve weeks. Again, I worked incredibly hard. I was not perfect, but, I was pretty darn good. Better than I have ever been. Really and truly. I am encouraged that I lost weight, but discouraged that it required so much effort. I learned that my caloric window for losing is very, very narrow.

Most of you know that a pound of fat is equal to about 3500 calories. To lose a pound a week you need to have a caloric deficit of 500 calories over seven days. I am learning that this simple math does not work for me. For whatever reason, (mainly I think this is my age), I can not lose more than .75 pound per week at the most with vigorous exercise and careful monitoring of my calories. I wish it was not so, but, it is. Again, I am happy that I lost eight pounds. I am. I am a slow loser. It will take me at least another year to shed that other 35 pounds. You should also know that I am going to check in with my doctor about my track record so far, just because.

But, here is what I really want you to know: (my list of my CAN dos, one for each pound (!!))
1. I cannot remember when I last weighed in the 170’s. Honestly I cannot.
2. Physically I am stronger and more fit. Sometimes I surprise myself with my increased stamina. I can bike 10 miles with ease.
3. I can easily go to the MN State Fair and budget fair foods into my daily allotment: that would be ONE corn dog and half a Dairy Barn Blackberry malt.Trust me. I did just that.
4. I can go to a professional sporting event and eat healthy.
5. I can go to a birthday party or other family event and not overeat cake, even ice cream or frankly most everything else. Ditto for weddings (two!).
6. I can wear a belt. I have not worn one in years, but two days ago, I grabbed one because my pants would not stay up.
7. I can find something to eat that is healthy on almost any restaurant menu. “Garden salad for me, please, dressing on the side.”
8. I can wear a swim suit and not feel like I want to hide.

To Mir and Debbie: thank-you for hosting this challenge. The Slimmer This Summer challenge gave me an added boast and motivation to stay the course. Thank-you for your encouragement and support.

To all of my Slimmer This Summer friends: if you are still here: you rock! It takes time, determination and inspiration to really stick to something for twelve weeks. Lifestyle changes are not easy. Thank-you for sticking with me. I thank each of you for your encouragement.

To all of you weight loss bloggers: here is hoping you each find success in the coming weeks on your journey to be healthy and fit. I thank each of you for your support, too. Stay strong and TTFN,

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Apples and STS updates

It’s the beginning of apple season in Minnesota! One of my favorite apple varieties is a Honey Crisp apple followed closely by a Haralson. Both apple varieties are hybrids developed through research at the University of Minnesota. Our countryside is doted by apple orchards selling all things apple and seasonal. I stopped last week at one of my favorites. While at the check out I could not help but notice a very large man with a number of apple sweets, including Carmel apples. This man was tall and plainly morbidly obese. He exited the shop heavily and I could easily see ambulating was difficult for him. A few moments later I was out in the parking lot loading up my apples into my car when I saw him in his car, chowing down on his Carmel apples. Eating in his car along the side of the parking lot. Alone. Scarfing them down. Alone. Probably not even tasting them. Alone. I could feel his desperation.

I will carry that sad image with me for a while. Like many of us, I have been in his shoes. Not necessarily scarfing down carmel apples, but other things. It was not the time to talk to him, but I wish I could. If I could I would tell him that there is hope. I am proof of that and so are many of you. It is a hard road, with no short cuts. But, it can be done. Eat less and move more. It can be done. But, I also realized as I left that apple barn that I have slowly developed a more normalized attitude about eating. I still crave certain foods, but because I eat a few of them here and there and always count them into my caloric budget, I never feel the urge to binge or to scarf those same foods down. I have come a long way. Many of you have come along, way, too. He can, too.

Now for my second to the last Slimmer This Summer update:

Weight loss:
No weight loss to report. I will weigh in this week, Thursday August 25. I am excited!

Tracking food: Yes, each and every day. I averaged 1400 calories each day. That works well with my average of 10 miles per day of biking.

Move more: I did not make my goal of 85 miles per week, but did log 58. Most of my miles have been in that hilly area around where our new cabin is. I will get in another 10 miles today.

Blogger love: I continue to do this. I am happy for many of the STS bloggers who report their successes, whether in weight loss or fitness. It all counts. But more importantly are the new life style habits that are being forged. Those new habits will continue long past the conclusion of this challenge.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Have a great start to your week! TTFN, Michele

Friday, August 19, 2011

A new place to gather

Happy Friday!
Today's post has really nothing to do with my weight loss journey, rather something else that has been part of my life this year. I wrote last week that we have acquired a cabin. Many of you who have been reading my blog are aware that our beloved farmhouse was a total loss to a fire (struck twice by lightening) on March 22. It is now almost 5 months since that fire. It was a process to go through to get beyond the grief and emotions and exploring what to do next and then making a decision about what to do. In the meantime we looked at rebuilding (way TOO expensive) and finally decided to look for a very different property for our family. I wrote about this process more on my other blog, if you would like to read more.

Our cabin is on a very small, spring fed lake in NW Wisconsin. Topographically the area is hilly and heavily wooded. The hills will make for great biking challenges for me for years to come. The area features very sandy soils because of the glacier remains from millions of years ago which means that there are many sandy bottomed and spring fed lakes. This cabin is totally different than the farm. First of all it is in a coniferous/deciduous biome rather than the prairie/deciduous biome of Mankato. Most of the furnishings were part of the deal, so we did not have to buy hardly anything which is great for folks who lost basically everything from a home. It will be a new place for our family to gather and to celebrate. I know that for certain. There are three bedrooms, all large so we can accommodate many people. It has a great room type kitchen, living and dining room with a large fireplace. It is in a very, very quiet area of Northern Wisconsin. Did I say quiet???

Out of the ashes of our farmhouse fire came this opportunity for us. We will retire here when the time comes. In the meantime, we know we are privileged and fortunate, yet, with the fire, I do not think we will ever take our cabin for granted. Enjoy a few pictures.
A glimpse of the cabin and the woods.
Our dock on the lake.
One of the best places to gather is our screened in porch which
is a great asset in an area known for flying critters!
Looking out the porch screen to the lake.
We are on a small point.
Hubby on first canoe trip with some of the grandbabies.
Just some of our bikes!
Thanks for stopping by and spending part of your day with me. Have a great weekend! Stay strong in your journey! TTFN, Michele

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Greetings from a beautiful sunny Minnesota!

When I came back from our trip to Washington state, I envisioned three different posts about my experiences there: our trip to Olympic National Park, the wedding of our son, and lastly some rumination about it all. This will be the last post about our trip: ready for some ruminations?

It was a nearly perfect trip. I got a speeding ticket. Let me explain: on the day of our rehearsal lunch we ended up staying behind at the venue to finish up a little business. Our DIL's father lent us his car (a large SUV) to drive back to Fort Worden. Since most of the people were from out of town, we as the grooms’ parents, hosted a little gathering Friday afternoon. Our guests were counting on some simple road signs to direct them to our quarters at the officer’s housing, which we forgot to set up!! We zipped over to Safeway to get some poster board and markers. Now we were running late. I started to envision people getting lost and frustrated which led to my distraction while driving that large SUV. That SUV is of course a potentially speedy vehicle. I was nailed going about 35 in 25 MPH only blocks away from our little gathering. I was not paying attention to the speedometer, so immersed in thinking about our gathering, the bride, and THE SIGNS that were not up. I was driving along, but my mind was elsewhere, not on my driving. As I sat there giving the officier my license and the car’s registration my mind started to whirl about all the things that were going on, including the simple fact that our son was getting married the next day. Immediately I caught myself thinking about excuses: excuses that would some how get me off the hook. But, I was at fault, for crying out loud: I HAD been speeding. Caught red handed. Dang it!

My little speeding ticket is an analogy to my obesity. For years, I was too distracted by my life (kids and their events and lives, grandbabies, my career, aging parents) to really be present and see what was right before me: I was not healthy and was closing in on being morbidly obese. Plus, I used all of my life events to create a zillion excuses of why I could not care for myself right now, well...because there was always tomorrow, once this last “big event” was over. You name it, I had an excuse for why I could not focus on my own health until whatever day. Sitting alongside the road waiting for that officer to finish writing my ticket, I was amazed at how quickly my mind went to creating excuses, instead of just taking ownership of what I had done: speeding. It was the same with my obesity, until I stopped making excuses, I was not able to take ownership of my own obesity, let alone start to look at what I was going to do about it.

It was a great wedding. I am so happy for our family and for us as parents to welcome our new DIL. I am also very proud of how far I have come in my own journey to take care of myself and really take ownership of my obesity. That was just a speeding ticket. It was dumb to speed, just like it was dumb to overeat and allow myself to become so out of shape. I am not proud of that speeding ticket, nor am I proud of my obesity. I am proud of the fact that I finally took my obesity by the reigns and finally looked at all those excuses for what they really were: excuses. That's it. Excuses. How about you? Have you gone beyond your excuses, yet??

Have a great day and stay strong!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Brief update for STS

Hello All,
This is just the briefest of updates. Summer is just too short here in Minnesota! I am currently playing at our new cabin with the grandbabies: more later this week!
Slimmer This Summer Challenge update.
Weight loss:
No weight loss to report. I plan to weigh in again on August 24. But, I can feel a difference in my clothes!!

Tracking food: Yes, this is still going well.

Move more: Biking is up to 69 miles this week. I will get in one more ride today, so should be over my goal of 85 miles.

Blogger love: Yes, I did spread lots of love last week. This week will be a bit more minimal, but I will be reading!!

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Have a great start to your week! TTFN, Michele

Saturday, August 6, 2011

STS Update!

Slimmer This Summer Challenge update.
I am happy to report today that I bounced right back to eating well and exercising after my return from the wedding and vacation. Here is my Slimmer This Summer Update:

Weight loss:

No weight loss to report. I plan to weigh in again on August 24.

Tracking food: I picked up tracking again on Wednesday. I returned Monday night, so gave myself one day off before getting back at it. Since I restarted tracking calories per day have averaged about 1500, a little high, but you will see that I have been hard at cycling this week.

Move more: You can see by my mileage tracker that I have logged many miles this week. As of today 117 miles, although to be fair 35 of that was on vacation, putting 82 miles for Tuesday through today, Saturday. Our bike season is at its peak right now thus I am taking advantage of every possible moment. This week I completed two-twenty mile rides and for the first time joined the Twin Cities Bike Club (TCBC) on a 30 mile ride.

TCBC is a voluntary organization that hosts rides every day of the week for riders at various levels with "C" being the lowest and "A" being the highest. I am at a "B/C" level meaning I can keep the pace of B (13 MPH average) but where our rides average about 11 MPH (level C is 10 MPH average). Average is the key word here. Our range for the ride I went on was 8 (hills) to 17!! I made it the whole way, too! I was in the rear on our last few miles but I stayed with the pack and leader the first 20 miles or so. It was a lot of fun, plus, I learned some good safety tips for stopping with straps on my pedals. Here are pictures of the falls (Camden Falls) where we rode, plus a group picture of the 8 of us. I plan to do at least one ride a week with this group from now until the end of biking season.

Blogger love: Yes. I checked in on all of you this week, plus, I even checked in on some of the June Boomers (Alan's challenge) to see how they were doing. I was surprised at how many of the original Boomers are no longer blogging. With the STS, I only checked those who posted on Debbi's page. Of those, most are doing very well in meeting their goals. Getting healthy and fit is hard and takes time. Stay with us, you are worth it!

No big plans for the weekend for me except cleaning up and tackling some more organizational tasks. Hope to catch a movie this weekend, too! How about you? Any plans for the weekend?

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Have a great weekend! TTFN, Michele

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wedding pictures and WA State, Part 2

In my last post I shared with you some of the pictures with an overview of our trip to Washington State and Olympic National Park and Port Townsend. Today, I am happy to share with you some of the pictures of our son’s wedding. These are pictures that I took, or someone else, not the “official” photographer’s photos. Come join me while I share one of our family's precious life events.

The festivities started with a shower for the bride on Thursday. When the women of my family arrived, we got this glimpse of the bride peeking out at us from the hotel. It is one of my favorite moments and set the stage for so many wonderful interactions between the two families and all of the guests.
On Friday, my hubby and I hosted a rehearsal lunch at
the Clam Cannery in Port Townsend. This was the setting!!

My son, Sean, and his bride, Anne, were married on their property in
Port Townsend. They will eventually build a home here.
Here is a glimpse at the preparations:
The runner making a walkway through the forest.
We all stayed at Fort Worden in PT. There was an old gas station that
made for a great backdrop for pictures of the groomsmen, groom and our family before the wedding. Their wedding had a slight prohibition/twenties theme.

My hubby and I with our six grandbabies!
Owen, age 6!
Hann, age 4.
All six dressed and ready to go!
The flower "chaos" as it was called.
Here comes the bride!

Wedding vows
A newly married couple!
The get away truck!

The pictures do not covey the depth of pride I felt at the way our son and daughter-in-law planned this wedding, including the service. It was beautiful and poignant. Something unique that they did was to have the officiant share with all of us what it was about their partner that made them certain he or she would be the one for life. In addition, they found a way to thank all the parents for their role in creating a partner who they so loved. We are so very happy that they found each other. Life is good.

Thank-you for reading. Have a great weekend and stay strong in your journey to better health!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Back! STS update and WA State, part 1

Hello Everyone Out in Bloggyland!!

I am back from an absolutely terrific trip to Washington State and our youngest son’s wedding. I am going to break the story of our travel into three blog posts. This one will be about our trip to Olympic National Park and Port Townsend, the next post will be about the WEDDING (still have some photos to upload) and the final one will be some ruminations on it all.

Port Townsend, WA: My hubby and I and our son Jacob and his wife Jenn and their three children started our Washington experience by first traveling around the Puget Sound to Port Townsend (where my son has property) and west to Olympic National Park. Our son is a boat builder and is working for the summer as an instructor at a boat school. He and his new wife will eventually make Port Townsend their home. Here are a few pictures of the scenery around PT.
Hubby and our son gazing at the Sound in PT (above).
Another view of PT (below).
Fort Worden Lighthouse (below)
PT at sunset
Olympic National Park: We stayed for four days in the Sol Duc Valley, which is in the northwest corner of the park and features old growth forest, subalpine lakes, and snowy peaks. The Sol Duc River serves as a key highway for coho salmon, running through the valley and ascending to the lakes and headwaters in the surrounding mountains. Sol Duc is also famous for a series of mineral hot springs which were very close to our cabins. Each day we hiked on the well marked trails, starting with a trail that wound up to the Sol Duc Falls.
Sol Duc River below
Sol Duc Falls
More of the trail
Relaxing after our first hike
On the second day, we did our major hike, a 5.2-mile hike to Mink Lake with a 1400 foot elevation gain. We kept a steady, but slow pace with the three kids along. We stopped along the trail for snacks and to view all the wonderful invertebrates. Here is one of the many foot bridges we crossed on this hike.
The kids were really troopers, completing their longest and most difficult hike ever.
Mink Lake in Olympic National Park
Baby came, too!

Here I am walking across a small creek
On our last day, we meandered over to Lake Crescent and down to Hurricane Ridge. The scenery here is just breath taking as you can see from these few photos. Wild lupine is one of my favorite flowers, so you can imagine my delight to see it blooming throughout the mountains. Here is a view of Lake Crescent.
Views from Hurricane Ridge

Wild lupines below!
Olympic National Park is a jewel of a place to visit and a genuine treasure of our national park system. If you have not been there, I would encourage you to put it on your “must see” list. The pictures I included here represent a fraction of the natural beauty of this park.

Slimmer This Summer Challenge update.
I was on vacation last week, plus we had the wedding, but I am happy to report I did really well.

Weight loss:

No weight loss to report. I plan to weigh in again on August 24.

Tracking food: I tracked my food for the first four days. Each tracked day averaged about 1350 calories. Starting on Thursday and through Sunday I stopped tracking because it was the wedding. We hosted a number of events that included food. At each, I was careful to include salads or fruit, however, I also ate in moderation the other wedding event foods. I never once binged or overate on any of these foods. I feel really good about my food choices and feel that I will have no problem getting back to tracking each and every day this week.

Move more: As you read above, I did several hikes in ONP totaling about 10 miles. I believe I was in the best shape ever for the hikes that we did. I was happy with my pace and best of all was only a little sore at the end of the day. While stair climbing is not mountain hiking, I do think it prepared me for some of the switch backs we climbed on hike 2.

What you do not know is that I rented a road bike (!!) from the Broken Spoke in PT once we were settled in at Fort Worden after our ONP excursion. I put about 35 miles on that bike during the 4 days we were in PT for the wedding. There was no odometer on that bike so I am estimating my mileage. PT is hilly!! I had to walk my bike each day up a few of the steepest hills, but each day saw me getting better at them.

Blogger love: Not last week since I was gone. But, I will be checking in on you all soon!

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Have a great start to your week! TTFN, Michele