Sunday, January 29, 2012

XC Skiing, week report and spend your life wisely...

Beautiful fresh snow means one thing: cross-country skiing! 
First, put on your cross-country skis.
A handy chair is helpful. 
Notice the skis are long and narrow and the 
boot clamps in only in the front to allow for smooth
running like movements as you ski.
Let’s break some trail!
Just you and your skis out here. Quiet..
A great 45 minute outdoor outing! No problem staying warm either! 

Weekly update: I rode my bike using the trainer 4 times for a total of 2 hours and about 12 miles. The bike via trainer remains challenging for me. I increased my steady pace endurance to 15 minutes without stopping. I plan to keep at it.

I had an uneven week as far as eating. I was over my calorie budget (10500) by 1500 calories for the week. I am making no excuses, but know that this red over expenditure leaves me with no weight loss to report for this week.

In other health related news: I am moving forward on one other lifestyle change: elimination of all caffeine. For years I sipped 3-5 cups of coffee throughout the morning with a couple of diet sodas thrown in during the afternoon. I am leaving all those favored beverages behind for now, and maybe forever, as I seek alternative methods of overcoming my chronic migraine headaches.Going cold turkey, too!

In the news: Wonderful piece/metaphor in the Star Tribune today about a crying baby in the audience of a speaker about to make an important point “that could change the lives of all in attendance.” The speaker was distracted and never regained the momentum to make that punch.Whatever it was. Ross Levin writes how we all get distracted by the wailings around us and spend an “inordinate amount of time paying attention to things over which we have little control and virtually have little to no long-term impact on us.” 

"What if in 2012 you said yes to something that you wanted to do but had been afraid to do? Are there things you have been putting off because you hear old wailings distracting you from creating new stories and new memories? Spend your life wisely." 

Stay strong. TTFN,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Trainer, bike events and more about me

We are warming up in Minnesota/Wisconsin. It is now about 21 degrees and I have already walked 1.5 miles with our dog. Last week I got back in the game as far as my healthy living. I would like to report that I met with good success. Tracked my food and exercised. I am confident the five pounds I gained during my three week holiday will soon be a thing of the past.

My Trainer: I am learning the rhythm of my trainer. It is not as easy as I thought it might be. Part of it is me, but some is also due to the resistance that is part of this trainer. What I think is happening is that I am becoming (or will become) a better and more steady rider. It is still hard for me to go more than 8.5 minutes without stopping. When riding outdoors, you stop momentarily and keep moving forward just due to momentum; on the trainer you don't. So, I am getting a good workout on my trainer as my sweaty body attests when I am done.

Speaking of cycling: I decided on my second bike event for this year: the Venus de Miles is on August 26  and takes place near Boulder, Colorado. Jackie is also targeting this event and it is from her that I learned about it. I have my sights set on a 67 mile course with a 2600 foot elevation change over the course. There is also a 51 mile course that would be my second choice with a 1600 foot elevation change. Riding in the Venus provides support for Greenhouse Scholars: “an organization dedicated to helping high-performing, under-resourced students reach their full potential.” But there is more: it is a ALL women’s road event and a celebration of the sister hood of cycling. It looks to be a great target for me, a worthy cause and the event itself a great deal of fun. I have already registered for my first bike event, the Tour de Cure, where I am targeting a 62 mile course that winds trough the trails of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Both events will push me forward in my fitness.  They are both a way for me to celebrate my improving health.

I was tagged once again by Marsial. I found her questions to be provocative and thoughtful which compels me to respond. Here is a little more about me:

  1. Describe how you met your spouse/significant other/love of your life (even if you are no longer with that person).
My hubby and I were pen pals starting when I was 14 and he was 15. We wrote back and forth but not regularly until we were young adults. He is from the Netherlands. When I was a mere 18, I set out to explore some of Europe, making the Netherlands one of my first stops. It was not love at first sight, but love grew over that summer. I have never looked back and he has not either. He immigrated here in 1973 and we are about to celebrate 38 years! Best thing that ever happened to me.

2.     Describe anything from your childhood you still own -- a book, a toy, article of clothing, etc. -- that you hope to pass down to someone younger, like a child or grandchild.  Why is it meaningful to you?
I don’t have anything from my childhood. But, we (hubby and I) do have some things that are precious from Holland and his family that we will pass down.  One thing comes to mind: a tile that is delft blue. It was one of many tiles that lined the mantel of the fireplace in the old farmhouse where my spouse was raised. The tile depicts a painted scene of a child carrying water buckets in a rural area. The old farmhouse was demolished many years ago to make room for new and more modern homes, thus this tile is one small reminder, just like that child carrying water of time of life and living in rural Holland many years ago.

  1. Describe your billfold or wallet.  French purse?  Clutch?  Snap or zip closure?  Color? Leather or fabric?  Why did you choose this particular wallet?

Small, leather wallets are for me. Small so I can, if desired, stick it easily in a pocket. The one I have now is coffee brown with two zipper openings. One is on the top and one is on the side. The top one holds a small leather insert that I use for modern day plastic cards such as library cards, credit cards, insurance cards and even my own academic business cards. The second small zipper pocket I use for change and folded money.

  1. Describe one extravagance you have for which you will never apologize.
I love, love a hot bubble bath.

  1. Which author do you admire so much that you have read more than one of his/her books.
There are many. I love the classics like Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Up until a few years ago, I read every book that ever came out from John Gresham.

  1. Who is your favorite newscaster and why?
I rarely watch TV news. Instead I listen to NPR or MPR or catch Charlie Rose. I adore All Things Considered, This American Life, Fresh Air and Science Friday-all NPR programs that I find informative, alternative at times and just plain good news broadcasting. I adore the style of Charlie Ross and his interviews, too.

  1. Is there a movie you once loved but years later felt you outgrew or it didn't "speak to you" anymore?  Which one?
No, quite the contrary. When our children were little and finally to bed we started watching Masterpiece Theater on PBS. Brideshead Revisited was one particular series that we both loved. We bought it a few weeks ago and now I am watching it as I get up on my bike with the trainer. I find that I still enjoy it tremendously. But it is with a different view because so much of my own life has transpired since the 1970s when it was originally on. Beautiful. Sentimental. Thoughtful. Educative. Privileged. Tolerance are all words that come to mind now as I watch it.

  1. In as much detail as possible, describe your kitchen.  Tell me not just how it looks, but how it makes you feel when you are working in it.
At our cabin I have a long galley kitchen. The long counters make it easy to do almost any kitchen task. My kitchen opens to the great room where as I work I can see my hubby, our dog or any visiting family members and share in their conversations. There is a wonderful old bar that borders the kitchen counters. Most of the time when our family is here, or even my hubby, they pull up a bar stool and we talk together. My kitchen makes me feel loved, privileged and included. I never had any fondness for a kitchen before, but this one is special. I am finding my inner cook and I adore that place.

  1. When you and life partner have a disagreement, is there a routine you follow to make up?  For example, do you talk it out OR does one of you walk out of the room OR do you both just stay quiet long enough for life to continue normally OR ?????
We usually talk it out later.

  1. If a younger person asked you, "How can you tell when you're in love?" what would you reply?
When you know that you can talk about anything with that person and want to be with that person all of the time.

  1. Have you found your "purpose in life" or are you still searching?  If you believe you have found it, describe it.
Yes, I believe I have, both professionally and personally. Professionally I work at uncovering the beauty of the natural world, especially our regional natural history, with students of all ages.  I assist teachers, whether inservice or preservice,  to become exemplary, confident and effective in science and math, but also in other areas of their teaching and learning. For me, the work I do is for the kids who are our greatest treasure. Personally, my purpose is to be the best human being possible: kind and compassionate but also a questioner and a steward. I am a work in progress and will be until my last day. 

Fun to play the tagging game. You can read more about how I passed on the tags here.  

Finally,  How about you: Are you planning any fitness or physical events to celebrate your own increasing good health this year?? Have a great week and TTFN,

Friday, January 20, 2012


Happy Friday Bloggers!

The dead of winter....
Gives us in the North Country the promise of spring and the great outdoors:
Time to work with our trainers:
While watching great old programs like this one:
What's that you say: workout done!!!!
Wow that was a fast

No excuses now, hear?? True grit for you and me! TTFN and stay strong, Michele

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Trainer Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday!
I bought a trainer today! No, not a personal trainer!
A cycling or bike trainer. Here is Millie's rear wheel clamped in (thanks, spouse!).
It is a CycleOps' Fluid 2 Trainer. 
The trainer elevates the bike a couple of inches which is
enough to make it hard for this shorty to get on. So, summon the little red step stool!
Right now I have her in my living room, but, 
I have been told that even though I am an empty nester,
we will be relocated to the "spare" bedroom.
In case you are wondering, I did my first 22 minute ride. Because my bike frame is small I can not adjust the resistance really low, which makes for a good work out (the more resistance the better the work out, right?). The beauty of this trainer is that I can adjust my work out to include all my normal bike gears as I gain stamina working through the resistance. So, I am not cycling outdoors in the winter in Minnesota, but I am cycling!! Stay tuned to see how I grow into this trainer! Stay strong and TTFN, Michele

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekend highlights and getting back in the game

Just coming off a wonderful weekend with lots to share with all of you.  

Sewing weekend: One of my daughters, two daughters in law and two granddaughters and I just finished our inaugural sewing weekend. This was a time for us to share in each other’s company while making a few simple clothing items with a little guidance from me. Besides passing on some of my sewing skills, I cooked up a storm this weekend including delicious salad and soups, but also some other wonderful foods including crusty breads and cinnamon rolls.
First sewing weekend!

Beautiful winter weather: It was a great weekend to get outside and enjoy the winter weather.  As you can see the lake was frozen which made for some great winter walking, skating and cross country skiing. We all tried out cross-country skiing and to everyone’s surprise, it was a good work out and a lot of fun. I will not say any of us are ready for the Olympic trials, but our spirits were high.
My daughter, Julianna and our dog Giovanni
Autumn and Ellery (7)
My first time on skiies

Nani (8)

Getting back in the game: It is time for me to get back in the game. I gave myself permission to take a break from my serious focus on getting healthier and fit for the past few weeks. Now that the holidays are over and my last conference travel is also behind me, it is time to start moving forward again. As I wrote above, I have cooked up a storm in the last weeks and it was not all healthy cooking. Time to get back in the game. I needed a break and do not regret the one I took. But, I end my break being up five pounds and am putting the breaks on. Back to tracking my food and staying around 1500 calories a day. For this week, I will set some walking targets (7.5 miles for the week) and at least 2 more cross country ski work outs. I can no longer bike outdoors, however, I am going to try out the trainer below at my local bike store as an alternative to outdoor biking for the winter season. From the research I have done online and with other users (thanks, Karen), I believe I will be able to hook up my road bike and continue to get a decent bike workout indoors with that device.
The information on this trainer (CycleOps' Fluid2 Trainer) states that it has a smooth "Power Band" technology that allows for distinct resistance-level changes with the large flywheel delivering a realistic road feel. It is not my first choice for exercise, but with winter in Minnesota fully upon us, real road biking is just not in the cards for me for obvious safety reasons. Besides,  I would like to be ready to reach a higher level of biking come summer. In addition,  I am hoping to do two road events this year, the Tour de Cure on June 2 and more than likely the Venus de Miles on August 26. So this trainer might be a great way for me to keep in and move forward in my biking shape. I will keep you posted as to what I think about this tool.

So, we are now starting the third week of 2012 and I am finally jumping back in. How about you? How are you doing in your own getting healthier targets for 2012??  Have a great week and stay strong! TTFN, Michele

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Us go to Florida" and tagging

Happy Friday Blogger Friends!
My hubby and I are back from my last professional conference of my sabbatical and an overall fabulous trip to Florida. I presented three papers, chaired a committee and an event sponsored by that committee and was honored to accept an award for one of my papers. Having two grandkids and their shenanigans in tow made the conference extra fun and light as you can see for yourself.
After the conference we took the boys to Disney World. 
Or as Hann, one of the four year says: "Us go to Disneyland!!"
It was magical...
and... exhausting. 
We walked 11 miles one day and 8 on another.
Good thing we rented a stroller for the tikes.
We brought two pirates home to their parents and now we are recovering!

Tagged: I was tagged by both Julie and Rochelle last week. Thanks you two! A fun way to share a little bit more about me and learn a little more from some of you, too! There are a few rules about being tagged: 

1. Post these rules. 
2. You must post 11 random things yourself. 
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post. 
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer. 
5. Go to their blog and tell them that you've tagged them. 
6. No stuff in the tagging section about "you are tagged if you are reading this." You legitimately have to tag 11 peeps! 

Here are my eleven random tidbits:  
  1. I easily find something to laugh out loud about everyday. Laughter is the best medicine! My grandbabies keep me laughing all the time. I can be one of those annoying persons who laugh alot during a movie at a movie theater.
  2. I think I could talk with almost anyone in the world. I am generally not afraid to ask questions and can do so publicly.
  3. I do not wear nail polish on my fingers. Ever. Keep my nails trim and neat. Now, my toes: I like them pretty and Polished. Orange, red and pink are my favorite colors. 
  4. I can sew almost anything, but (like Julie) can not stand to mend anything. 
  5. I iron. Yep, really.  Love the steam and the pressed fabric.
  6. I rarely watch any commercial TV. 
  7. I love a good story and believe everyone has one to share, even kids. It may be about your life, but it is interesting to me. One of my favorite radio programs is "This American Life" on M(N)PR. 
  8. It is the stories that make it easy for me to adore Prairie Home Companion. I listen almost every Saturday night, plus re-stream it regularly when I am home. 
  9. It is the story that draws me into a good movie, another form of entertainment that I adore. Right now my favorites are: Midnight in Paris, the Descendants, Hugo and the Adventure of TinTin.
  10. And it is the story that I try to describe as I write up my research into papers. I am always asking myself: What is the story here? as I deliberate over all my data. 
  11. Love post-it notes. Can not read a book without them.

Now on to  Julie's questions:

1. How did you handle a friend departing your life?
Like most everything else: move on and of course savor the memories.

2. Empty nest?
Yep, loving it.

3. am or pm workouts?
Any time and depends on season/weather since I am mostly an outdoor work out type.

4. Self employed, employed, full time, part time, retired?
Employed full time, although on sabbatical until February 7.

5. College? Not?
Overeducated (college and then some) liberal artsian graduate with a passion for the natural world of science and the patterns and language of math.

6. Treadmill or outside?

7. Favorite candy?

8. Camping or hotels?
Both. Depends on where I am. We tent camped for years when our kids were growing up. Now mainly hotels especially with conference travel. I prefer being in a beautiful natural environment in accommodations that are eco-friendly and comfy.

9. Do you make a lot of food from scratch?
Almost everything. 

10. Do you write hand write notes or just e-mails? 
I hand write notes, especially thank-yous. Love picking up master art work cards at museums or when I travel.

11. Blogging a hassle or fun or just something to do?
My own blogs are a way for me to process my getting fit journey and other parts of my life. They are helpful to me and therapeutic. 

Rochelle is next:  
1. What would the opening line of your autobiography say?
Michele lived a full and blessed life each and every day, loved her family, especially those GBS, and grew throughout her life as a good and kind human being.

2. What is your favorite alcoholic beverage - or non-alcoholic if you don't imbibe?
Love a cold, dark beer: like Old Speckled Hen or locally Schell’s Dark.

3. What is one thing that you would never want to change about yourself?
My tenacity. It has got me though a lot.

4. What is the one characteristic about other people that you simply cannot tolerate?
Chewing with mouth open...
5. Name a time when you felt extremely proud of yourself.
Pretty much right now: an award winning paper and on the road to fitness.

6. If you could relive (and make -over) a year of your life,  what year would that be and why?
I am very happy with my life so no one year would need to be relived. But, I would like to go back to one event, my son Josh's wedding (2001) only because both my mother and my mother-in- law were alive. I would like tell them at that event how much I loved them and how my life would not be the same without them. Next I have a few questions I would like to ask them....

7. Is there a particular unusual ritual or routine you do in the exact same way absolutely everyday (something other than brushing your teeth, for example)? If so, what is it?
I wear eye glasses and have a "thing" about cleaning them a certain way every day and with the same little cloth. 

8. What is a talent you do not have but wish you did?
I would like to be able to roll my tongue.

9. Build your ideal person. Fill in the blanks: I'd want the hair of Miss Piggy, the face of Jasmine , the body of Betty Boop, , the brains of the Baudelaire orphans,
the talents of Woody, the sense of humor of Roger Rabbit , and the bank account of Harry Potter. (IOW: I am very satisfied where I am at!)

10. What do you feel the worst thing is about trying to lose weight?
 The slowness of it.

11. What song best defines where you are in life right now?
The promise of the prelude from the Back Cello Suite in G major. The hope, the optimism, the brilliance (well the hope and the optimism…)

Now, passing on the tags. Loads of you have already been tagged, so I extend the tags to the following blog author's and welcome responses from ALL readers of this (my!) blog:

with these questions:
1.    Did you play a musical instrument in school? Which one? Do you still play?
2.    Do you collect things? What?
3.    What was the last sporting event that you attended?
4.    Have you ever seen brilliant night sky stars? Where were you?
5.    What would a perfect day be for you?
6.    What is one of your latest book reads? What kept you reading it?
7.    What kind of pen do you use?
8.    Apple or PC?
9.    What magazines or weeklys do you read or subscribe to?
10.  What satisfies you about the work that you do?
11.  What do you hope for yourself in one year?

I look forward to reading and learning more about all of you. Thanks for sharing a bit of your day by stopping by. Have a great weekend everyone and stay strong in your journey to be fit and healthy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Focus points for 2012

Last year I focused on three overall themes: balance, downsizing and organization. You know from my last post that I made considerable progress on all three. This year, I will continue downsizing as one of my main areas of focus. Other themes for 2012 are:  stretching myself out of my comfort zone, communication, and playing.  In what follows I will share some of my targets and goals within each of those themes.

Overall, I would like to be solidly into the 150’s by the end of 2012. When I say solidly, I mean below 155. For me that means that I will shed at least 18 pounds. To achieve this target I plan to:
  • Track my food and stay around 1500 calories a day: I know this works for me.
  • Take my measurements: I have not done this at all. I plan to take them every two months.
  • Overweight BMI: Move from the obese category to the “overweight” category by my birthday (May 22). For my height I will need to be 160 to be in the overweight category.
  • Increase my fitness with exercise: I plan to  keep up my fitness level and increase the rigor of my regime. Consistently I have exercised about one hour a day. Now that winter has set in , my main from of exercise will be walking, ice skating and snow shoeing. Returning to my academic position will challenge me to find other options for exercise time. My plan is to get in 6 hours a week of exercise even once I get back to work.  

Here are some of my distance targets for 2012 for a number of exercises that are part of my life:
  • 1850 miles biking
  • 450 miles walking
  • 8, 000 stairs climbed

I plan to ride in the  Tour de Cure (June 2) and have set my sights on the 45 mile course which is an increase of 18 miles from 2011. I do plan on entering one other road event that will challenge me in cycling whether in distance or in elevation, just not sure where or when yet (probably end of the summer).

Stretching myself out of my comfort zone: I would like to do some hiking and canoeing. I can do both, but do not feel very competent in either. With hiking I would like to go on at least one long hike with an elevation increase of 1500 feet. Canoeing: I would like to canoe across a few lakes and maybe even portage.

I am interested in stretching myself further in other areas, too. Much of this may be about learning and exploring other things but there is more. I want to embrace more of my lighter side. Like telling jokes or getting people to lighten up with laughter. I can do it and it comes out spontaneously,  I just want to do it more.

Communication: I firmly believe that really good communication is an art. I get by and most people would say I do it fine, but, I really want to work on navigating difficult conversations with people that I care about including a few that I work with.  For me part of this theme is about really listening and being present.  

Playing: For me this is about making time to just have some unfocused time to enjoy something: whether it is swimming on a hot day, spending time with my grandbabies, or enjoying the company of my husband. Playing: just messy about or hanging out with few time constraints or agendas. Every week: play, laugh and tell jokes.

I will document more about my downsizing theme on this blog and probably share more about the other themes on my other blog, but wanted you to all know my areas of focus for 2012. 

I am taking off for my very last conference of sabbatical in Florida. This is where I will accept an award for one of my papers. I am honored and excited to accept this award! I have two grandbabies and hubby with me for entertainment in Orlando after the conference finishes. Take care my friends. Stay focused and TTFN! Michele