Wednesday, September 28, 2011

1000 Miles!

I hit 1000 miles cycling today!!!! I did not set out to hit that mark, but the weather was such grand MN fall weather, I could not stop. Plus, I am trying to learn some of the cycling trails in north-west Minneapolis, an area that I have not biked much. There are a number of beautiful natural areas and parks, but, many trails crisscross and it is easy to make a wrong turn (yep, I did that). Once I got to 15 miles, I knew I was going to reach the full 19 miles I needed to hit 1000 miles.

One thousand miles in 15 weeks is 66.66 miles per week. Just think of all the places one could go from Minneapolis with about 1000 miles. How about: Knoxville, TN; Dallas, TX; Butte, MT; Buffalo, NY; Denver, CO; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada or Pittsburgh, PA? I think that is way cool. I was at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and took this picture late this afternoon. I did not know that my ride today would be the cherry on top!! Have a great evening and TTFN! Michele

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Five % ruminations

Wow! You all really surprised me with all of your comments on my last post. Thanks! Many of your comments were about my challenge goal of 8 or more hours of exercise a week, something that seems out of reach for many of you for a variety of reasons. Well, here is the deal: I did not get to that level overnight.

When I started this journey (June 26, 2010), I hoped I would move more. It is actually part of the mantra from Marion Nestle that I follow (you know the eat less, move more thing at the top of this blog). I had not exercised regularly for years. Years. Not regularly. Not really. Sure I took a walk now and then, even hoped on my bike. But because I was so out of shape when I did those small physical activities, I was slow, winded and sluggish. Not to mention embarrassed. I can remember going on a bike ride a couple or three years ago with my hubby. I did not know the trails around Minneapolis like I do now. Not only did we drive to the trail (which is less than a mile from my house!!), but I could NOT make it up a small incline along a grove of trees that I now regularly fly up. I had to literally stop in the middle and could go no further. That is how out of shape I was. I started really cycling shortly after I started this journey. I worked at it slowly; adding in longer rides over greater distances over a long time. I still do not think of myself as a fast rider, but I am way better than I was.I found my groove.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to be in the biking groove. It is like a little piece of heaven to me. To be humming along on my bike on a well-maintained biking trail, with our magnificent natural world wizzing by (trees, birds, insects and yes, weather elements) is fantastic! I can feel my bike purring when I am in that groove and I am purring too (if that were possible). You see, I love being outdoors. Getting on that bike and feeling the elements of the natural world around me while I am exercising is pure pleasure. Love it. Love it.

As much as I enjoy cycling, our season is too short in Minnesota. I doubt I will be riding much past November 1. Last year, I turned to walking when the weather went south. This year I hope to include (for the first time) cross-country skiing. To me the key to moving more is finding something that I really enjoyed. I did. But, I need to do more, just like Ewa suggested. I need to include strength training in my work out regime. I plan to, although I do not know what or how right now.

But there is more that I have been ruminating about regarding those eight hours. Eight hours is less than 5% of all the hours that I am given each week (168 BTW). To me spending 5 % of my week on exercise is reasonable, sensible and a habit I hope I to continue to cultivate when I head back to my normal academic life once my sabbatical is over. Five percent is not really much when I consider the investment return I get in increased stamina, vigor and sense of accomplishment. Not much at all.

Finally, what I really want to say is that you can do it too. Maybe not cycling but something else that suits you and who you are. You can do it. You can move more. You can. So, what about you: what percentage of your weekly hours can you invest for exercise? Can you shoot for 5 percent? If not now, maybe soon???

Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Stay strong. Eat less and move more. TTFN, Michele

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall and challenge updates

Greetings on a fine autumn morning in Minnesota!
The leaves in our beautiful hard wood forests are just beginning to color. For starters enjoy a few pictures.

Challenge Updates: Let me begin by update with:
1. Track my food intake daily: I did this only 4/7 days. I definitely need to improve for next week. Tracking is key to my successful weight loss. I am not going to dwell on all the reasons I opted to not track. Suffice is to say that I am ready to get back on track!

2. Stick to under 1500 calories on average a day: I know I was over, especially on the days that I did not track. Again, better to move on than dwell on the reasons I was over.

3. Exercise, rigorously, at least 8 hours per week: All together I did 5.5 hours on my bike and 1.5 walking. One hour short is not bad. Next week: full 8 hours!

4. Weigh in every two weeks: Next weigh in is October 2!

5. Plan for eating for the big holidays and other events during this challenge, including football games, Halloween, concerts, Thanksgiving and of course Christmas: I attended a couple of great Lynx games. I ate really well: diet soda and a couple of cups of popcorn.

6. Continue to learn about what works best for me in this journey to better health, specifically losing and maintaining weight loss as we age and our metabolism slows down: I did not do much this week, but plan to look up the articles that I mentioned in this post.

7. Support and encourage other weight loss bloggers (including some butt kicking as needed): Yes, I was able to get around to most of the bloggers on both challenges. Many of you are off to a GREAT start!
You can see by my seven action points above that I did not make much progress for this challenge. However, I will try that dress on at each weigh in and let you know how it fits.

New followers: Thank-you for following me! Thanks for reading. Thanks for stopping by and spending part of your day with me. Have a great start to your week and TTFN! Michele

PS: The MN Lynx are going to the WNBA Finals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wahoooooo!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blogger love, Biking and Minnesota sports!

Blogger love: I will begin this post by spreading a little blogger love: Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for the wonderful comments and encouragement on my last post about the latest challenges that I have begun. I never feel alone in this journey, but instead feel you all right there with me.

Joy presented my blog with the Liebster Blog Award.
If you do not know Joy’s blog, you should. She has made considerable progress on her own getting healthy journey. She is truthful and inspiring in her efforts to get healthy. "Liebster" means "favorite" or "love" in German and can be presented to bloggers you love that have fewer than 200 followers. I will pass this award on to some of my favorites. I hope they will become some of your favs, too, they are all very different from each other:

Bruce has met many of his weight loss goals. His main focus now is on staying fit with running. Top notch blog.

Dawn has met with a great deal of success in her weight loss journey. Inspirational.

Ewa is post weight loss. Her blog is about being fit and healthy and always features a healthy dose of outdoor adventures.

Mike is in line to meet his goal of 200 pounds shed by the end of the year. If you do not know his honest and thoughtful blog you should.

Sharon is thoughtful and inspiring. Always.

Biking: It has been great to finally get out on my bike the last few days. I have been on Millie (my road bike) and Merel (my Dutch bike) many times. You can see by my mileage ticker that I am closing in on 1000 (!!) miles ridden since June 10 when I started logging with Daily Mile. One of my favorite quick rides is still to Minnehaha falls, about a 12 mile round trip. Enjoy a picture of the falls!
Merel is a great bike for around town, doing errands, watching the grandbabies play soccer and going to sporting events in downtown.
Speaking of sporting events: I wrote about our WNBA Minnesota Lynx last Friday. Well, you may not have heard that they made it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. I tell you these women are superb athletes, team players and fantastic role models. Their games are unfortunately sparsely attended. I predict the low attendance will change with their current record. I was lucky enough to score a couple of tickets at center court for last night’s winner takes all game. My 8 year old aspiring basketball player granddaughter, Nani, and I attended together. It was a thrilling game!

Imagine our surprise to find this person sitting in the seats right next to us. For those of you who do not know, that is our Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.I doubt Nani will be a professional athletic and probably not a professional politician, either. But, right now she has an image of some powerhouse women and understands that a high level politician is a fan and a human being just like her. Imagine that. Wow. Sometimes life is just amazing.
Game on, Ladies!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Friday and new challenges!

Greetings and Happy Friday!
We had our first frost in Minnesota over the last couple of days. It was not a killer frost in Minneapolis (we covered our delicate plants and veggies), but it is a sign that fall is on the way and winter is not far behind it.

Truth be told, it was a sluggish week for me on my getting healthy journey. I worked very hard this past summer and even over the course of our last trip to England with eating, tracking food and of course exercise. I kept up my exercise this week, but eating, not so much. My sluggishness showed up on the scale with a two pound gain from my low of 178. No regrets, but time to pick up the slack and get back on track!

The Slimmer This Summer and other challenges really helped me to maintain my mojo and of course created accountability throughout the summer. News of other challenges geared for the holidays peeked my interest this week. I will be joining Thrice Blessed's Give Yourself the Best Gift and Thursday's Child's Christmas Dress Challenge. Linking to both of those blogs will allow you to review the rules if you are interested and to even join! First my statement and action points for:
I plan to give myself a gift this holiday season. It is the gift of commitment to continue to move forward toward good health and renewed fitness by eating less and moving more. At the end of the season, my gift will be not only quantifiable in terms of pounds lost and miles cycled or walked, but will be the feeling of satisfaction and pride in my continued efforts to regain my health, even during the holiday season. To achieve my gift, I plan to adhere to the following action goals:

1. Track my food intake daily.
2. Stick to under 1500 calories on average a day.
3. Exercise, rigorously, at least 8 hours per week.
4. Weigh in every two weeks
5. Plan for eating for the big holidays and other events during this challenge, including football games, Halloween, concerts, Thanksgiving and of course Christmas
6. Continue to learn about what works best for me in this journey to better health, specifically losing and maintaining weight loss as we age and our metabolism slows down.
7. Support and encourage other weight loss bloggers.

For my second challenge I decided on one very tangible goal: to fit into this lovely little red dress by December 10, which is the date of a holiday party that I attend every year.
I bought this dress last April at a super sale to wear at one of the events around my son’s recent wedding. I knew it was too small (size 16), but, I thought it would be a perfect fit for the wedding in August. Not. Imagine my chagrin when I tried it on about a month before and realized I was not going to make it. I think losing about 10 pounds should get me into that dress. I lost 8 pounds with the slimmer this summer challenge, so I think 10 pounds is reasonable and doable over the next 14 weeks. I plan to weigh in every two weeks and post my weight on this blog. Because I am a slow, but determined weight loss loser, I am grateful that Thursday's Child accepted my variance of weighing in or demonstrating measurable accountability only every two weeks. I will post my progress toward both of the challenges every week although I will weigh in only every two weeks. My seven action points above will contribute to my proposed 10-pound weight loss. Holiday weight loss and getting healthy challenges here I come!!

What about you? Are you participating in any challenges this holiday season??

We have tickets to the first season home game for the MN Vikings on Sunday. After last week's derailment in the second half: any one want to trade a couple of tickets to the Vikes for tickets to the Lions? Or better yet, any one have tickets to the Lynx on Friday night?? Kidding aside: our Mn Lynx's women's basketball team is kicking it up, especially our own hometown girl Lindsay Whalen. A fantastic bright spot in Twin Cities sports right now.

Have a great weekend! Thanks for reading and TTFN,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pictures of Devon: Dr. Oz and health articles

Greetings on a lovely September day from Minnesota! I am back from a terrific trip to England. My hubby and I spent the last few days of our trip in Dartmoor and then Exmoor National Parks in south western England in the area known as Devon. They are both famous for their extensive open moorland and exposed granite hilltops (especially Dartmoor) called tors. They both have abundant walking, bridle and cycling trails. Because of the intermittent rain we went on short hikes for the most part with no cycling unfortunately. Here are a few pictures:
Open moor land
What image comes to your mind with the granite below??
We definitely had to get used to driving on the left hand side of the road in the UK.
We never expected the beautiful roads of Devon
would be narrow one-laners with hedgerows on either side.
Believe me they make for a tight squeeze if another car comes from the opposite direction.
How about this perspective with hubby (6'3")?
Sometimes the signs were virtually "growing" in the hedgerows!
The lovely stone walls throughout the moors and the countryside
The gate below was one of the access points to the higher moors
A friendly horse along one of our trails
The lovely medieval village of Dunster on Exmoor's border
A wonderful pub near our B & B
Village where our B & B was located
On the weight loss front, two terrific articles were published recently. Time, September 12, 2011, has an excellent series of articles on “What to eat now.” None other than Dr. Oz penned one article I found particularly illuminating. His credibility certainly was enhanced through his spots on Oprah, but many do not know that he has conducted over 5, 000 heart surgeries as a skilled cardiac surgeon. His article is filled with research based information about how food reacts in our bodies. Here are some of my favorite quotes that I think of as great tips for healthy living:

The problem isn’t that people don’t want to eat well and be well. Trust me, no one who’s ever been wheeled into my operating room is happy to be there. And the problem, believe it or not, isn’t that they doubt the wisdom of a healthy diet. More often than you think, the problem is that a lot of folks just don’t know what a healthy diet looks like~and why should they since the rules keep changing (p. 50)?

Want to get healthy? Then forget about diet sodas and low fat foods. Instead tuck in some eggs, whole milk, salt, nuts, wine, chocolate and coffee. Despite conventional wisdom, all of these foods and more can be beneficial to your body
(p. 50).

A big new study showed that over four years increased amounts of different foods (nuts vs French fries) led to different outcomes on the scale (p. 54).

Of all the changes taking place on the food front, one of the most important concerns the balance between diet and exercise (p. 52). You should be serious about exercising (p. 58). And keep in mind that we all overestimate the caloric benefits of exercise (p. 58).

Human beings are the only species in the world that has figured out how to be in complete control of its own food supply. The challenge now is to make sure the food doesn’t take control of us (p. 58).

The second worthy article appeared in the Economist, August 27, 2011 and is titled Obesity: A widespread problem. This article reports on a paper published in Lancet from Kevin Hall of the National Institute of Health (NIH). Hall proposes a new model regarding the difficulty of losing weight. This new model takes into account our bodies' shifting metabolism as we age and accounts for baseline characteristics that are different from person to person. The body mass simulator can be viewed here and is a "much more realistic assessment of what some one needs to do to get slim." I found this model particularly interesting as some one who is aging and a very slow loser.

Thanks for stopping by and having a read. Have a great start to your week. Stay strong! TTFN, Michele

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lovely Exeter

Lovely is my new favorite word. That is what they say here in Exeter for anything that is delightful, fun, fabulous, pretty, beautiful, tasty, well you get the picture. It was a GREAT conference! I feel like I just completed a graduate course in research. Your brain gets so full of all the ideas and other research. It is really lovely, and of course stimulating. I will spend the better part of the next four months writing and writing some more. For me this was an important conference to immerse my own small slice of research into an international context. Now, that is DONE!! We are on to a few days of holiday here in the south-eastern part of England. We leave tomorrow morning (Sunday) for a few days in the national parks of Dartmoor and Exmoor. I won’t have Internet access now until I get back, but will share all my lovely pictures with you when I return.

Oh, today after the conference finished we went out for cream tea with clotted cream and scones. I don’t know if you ever whipped your own cream (but you should!). I think clotted cream is when you mix whipped cream too long and it becomes very textured. It is not sweet, but tastes, well, lovely! I do not even know how many calories are in the scones and cream might, but I am tallying in 500 for one scone and that clotted cream. Absolutely lovely!

I have done well on eating. Except for last night's gala dinner, I stayed within 1500 calories every day. No biking, but walked between 3-4 miles every day. Exeter is hilly, so all those mile were up and down hills, too.

Enjoy a few pictures:
First some pictures of the Exeter Cathedral.
You can see the square around the Cathedral is full of cafes.

I have a "thing" for church ceilings.
This one is particularly beautiful.

It is a little hard to see, but that is moon and
stars painted on the ceiling below. Just breathtaking in person.
These chairs have cushions that were needle pointed by the church ladies.
They are so sweet and I bet comfy when you are sitting for a long service.
The quaint view from the
University that I looked out on every day!
Row houses built along the hilly terrain
The River "Ex." Here it is channeled
with bike paths on the edges.
Here it is natural
Another view of town
I also have a thing for old trees.
This is an English oak.
That lovely tree next to the Cathedral tower is an English chestnut.
Have a lovely weekend everyone.
Thanks for reading and stay strong! TTFN from Merry Old England!