Friday, May 30, 2014

Garden Intro

We have a small garden in our backyard.  My husband made me 5 raised beds.  Then I have two lengths of fence to support tomatoes.  This year I have also planted peas, tomatillos, beans and cucumbers by the fence so they can climb.  In the beds I have bush beans, lettuce, spinach, radishes, zucchini, jalapenos, onions, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts and a bed of various herbs. This spring has been a bit crazy and the tomatoes aren't growing as well as I would like. Tomatoes are our favorite crop.  This year I have about 8 different varieties.  I love the cherry tomatoes and have yellow, red and black (black?? we will see how those turn out).  So far I have picked lettuce, radishes, spinach and herbs. 

The fence around the garden has become a complete joke.  It was intended to keep Millie out.  Of course, she quickly learned she can hop right over it like it is two feet tall...oh wait, it is two feet tall :)  So far she hasn't destroyed anything major.  Before the fence went up she did a number on the lettuce/spinach bed, but as you can see it has recovered. I picked a huge bowl of greens this morning.

We ordered this lettuce mix and I could not be happier with it.  There are at least 6 different varieties.  So delicious!
Morning Workout
Loved the sunrise clouds in the puddles.
We got started about 5:15 am this morning. I took Millie for the first loop until my running husband caught up with us (his second loop).  We were about half way through the loop when a lady came out of her house "my Chihuahua is out there - he will bark at you but he doesn't have any teeth."  So, does that mean he try to bite me but it won't hurt??  I see nothing until a barking rat dog jumps out of nowhere.  (Sorry Chihuahua owners but I just can't do the crazed yapping of some little dogs.)  I yelled at it to go home, but it just kept circling Millie and me having a complete fit.  The woman is standing on her porch "come here Scooby."  I told Millie to sit and just tried to keep myself between the two dogs.  I think Millie thought the other dog was a freak and barely paid attention to it.  For that I was grateful!  The woman finally realized her dog was never coming and came and got it.  I had to bite my tongue...and I have teeth :)

The rest of our walk was uneventful.  My husband caught up to us and reported he had also had an incident with that Chihuahua.  Guess it had a busy morning.  I ended up walking the rest of the way by myself.  I had decided to do an extra loop to bring my distance up to 2.5 miles.  I wanted to go a little longer than usual since I didn't walk yesterday.  Not that I was punishing myself.  I thought my legs were fresher so I could push more.  Our 10K race is two weeks from tomorrow.  I am excited to see what my time will be. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Biking on the Prairie

Okay, I am not kicking myself about this like I did last week.  But this morning I did not get up to go walking. I just wanted to stay in bed a little longer.  Last week I think it ruined my day because we had only been counting calories for a couple days and I was questioning my will to do this thing.  Today I just realized I needed a little rest.

I don't want to feel like I have to workout everyday.  While in the losing phase of this journey I think I will push myself harder.  Then when I get to a maintenance phase I would like to follow the 3-5 times a week activity recommendations.  Hopefully, by then, the activity will just be fun things we have discovered that we like to do.

Unloading the bikes.  I love our bike easy to use.
Speaking of fun!  We had a great time tonight.  Since I didn't go walking this morning I wanted to do something active this evening.  We settled on riding our bikes and then debated on where to ride them...neighborhood, levee, bike trail.

Then while I was on the phone with my mother-in-law she mentioned that she was going to one of our local parks to mulch a flower bed that had been recently planted.  We offered to meet her there to help her.  We planned to get there a half an hour before her so we could ride our bikes for awhile first.  When we arrived as planned, she was already there so we mulched.  My job was to fill the buckets with mulch for the two of them to spread around the plants. It felt good to work my upper body a little.  And it felt very good to be helpful.  Many hands make light work. She was very appreciative :)

Next to the park is a prairie restoration project.  Volunteers have planted native prairie plants over several acres.  It is a beautiful place to visit.  I like to go several times throughout the season to see all the changes in the prairie.  I have spent hours there photographing the flowers and foliage. At this time the prairie plants are about a foot tall, but by summer's end many of the plants will be 4-6 feet tall. There are mowed trails  through the prairie for people to walk through and enjoy the scenery.  They hold tours and even offer golf cart rides through it for disabled people.  Such a neat project!

Off I go! No, that is not my underwear...there is a white stripe at the top of the pants.

Okay, back to the bikes.  After mulching we decided to try riding our bikes through the prairie trails.  It was so much fun. There were small hills and lots of curves.  One tight curve almost took me down!  I squealed but managed to stay upright.  My husband was like a kid...huge grin!  He is loving his new bike. I can't wait to go back.  I couldn't take my camera out on the trail because I didn't have a pocket. I guarantee I will take pockets and my phone next time. We took these pictures near the entrance with the cell phone and then left it in the car.   

We both had a great time! It was definitely a physical challenge, but we had too much fun to notice. I know we will be back soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

5 Pounds!

My schedule was thrown off a bit by a last minute field trip with my niece.  I meant to post this yesterday. 

Tuesdays are our weigh-in day.  Yesterday my weigh-in showed a 5 pound loss!  No, I am not brave enough to tell you how much I weigh.  Maybe in time when I want to brag about how much I have lost :)  Okay, here is my struggle.  I always seem to make some excuse when I have a good weigh-in.  For example, this time it is that we had gone away for a day or so right before we started and after eating out my start weight was artificially high.  Why do I do this to myself?  It is so hard for me to accept my success or compliments.  Instead of just being happy/proud of the 5 pounds I am almost looking for reasons to question it.  Honestly I was hoping to have lost 6 pounds - you know, the big fast start because I know it won't be that much per week from here on out.

I am a constant weigher.  I will weigh will myself in the morning (which I consider most accurate).  Then I will sometimes check during the day and most nights before bed.  For the record, I usually weight about 2 pounds more at night than in the morning.  The problem is when you weigh yourself constantly the progress is so slow or you fluctuate and discouragement is at your door.  Since I was a struggling with my feeling about this week's weigh-in I decided I need to try something different.  I made a pact I would not weigh myself until next Tuesday...A WHOLE WEEK!  I guarantee that will be a more difficult challenge than eating or exercising this week. I know I won't since I promised my husband, but I will be thinking about it constantly.

Last night we had our oldest niece and her fiance over for dinner.  We had been looking forward to this for days.  Yes, because we love hanging out with them.  Okay, I confess we were excited because PIZZA was on the menu. My husband could live forever on pizza and never tire of it.  However, being just the two of us ordering pizza is a bit problematic.  First, if we have a take out pizza I am not sure we would be able to eat just a couple pieces and save the rest for the next day.  Even eating just a couple of pieces of pizza takes some serious calorie budgeting.  Say we succeed in eating just a couple pieces, we still have half a pizza constantly calling us from the fridge.  If we do manage to  save it for the next day we are doing back to back days of trying to make a higher calorie dinner work in our budget.  For now, I don't think either of us are that strong.

Good news - we have options.  Last summer we discovered grilled pizza and have become obsessed.  I have done calculations after calculations and have come up with a plan that I think will work for us.  The best part of homemade pizza is having exactly what you want on it.  For example, my husband loves a pepperoni pizza with jalapenos, green olives and cilantro - not something you would find in most pizza places.  I don't want to mislead you, the calories are still on the high side for a meal.  But there is great flexibility.  Last night we both had the same amount of pizza, but since I chose to do mushrooms and basil pizza mine was almost 200 calories less than my husband's pizza.  We both thought our pizzas could not be any more delicious and we had a quantity of pizza that satisfied us and no leftovers.  And neither of went over our calories for the day!!

The bottom line is that with some planning we can have both delicious food and a healthy lifestyle.

Full disclosure - this is pizza we grilled last summer, but the size is accurate.  This time we carefully measured toppings.  I used 1/2 cup of cheese on each.  My husband used half as much pepperoni and cut each piece in half to spread the flavor over the whole pizza.

Making a Healthier Me

Team Sam!
This morning I grabbed my Team Sam t-shirt for my walk.  Sam is a brave little guy.  He is 5 years old and diagnosed a couple of months ago with Stage 4 Hepatoblastoma - liver cancer.  One Saturday night his parents took him to the ER for abdominal pain.  Within just a couple of days it was confirmed he had liver cancer - a huge tumor on his liver and smaller ones on his lungs.  The doctors said he probably only had the cancer for a couple of months but this particular cancer is very aggressive.  Sam just finished his 3rd round of chemo.  Recent scans show the tumor has reduced in size...and hopefully can be removed soon.  When I put on the t-shirt it reminded me that though this particular cancer seems to be freakishly random, I can improve my own health to perhaps prevent other diseases/conditions.  Thank you Sam for your are a tough little guy!!

The puppy hand-off
My husband and I tried a new puppy sharing plan this morning.  He left the house a few minutes before me.  Millie did great because she didn't know I was going too.  Then I was far enough behind them that she was focused on running with him.  The first part of the walk was very peaceful and I was feeling good.  I love walking with Millie but she is a bit of a distraction.  When I was finishing the loop for the first time they came up behind me finishing their second loop.  Millie went a bit nuts when she saw me  My husband said it was a bit like trying to "hold back a tornado", not my sweet obedient  pup!  Once they caught up we made the hand off.  My husband made the turn for home while Millie and I finished my second loop and then headed home.  After her run with him and another lap with me I think poor Millie was ready to head home. 

Home is in sight!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day BBQ

My husband finally bought himself a new bike.  His old (ancient) bike has had tire issues and we kept debating on replacing the tires or buying a new bike. 

This morning we rode the bikes 3 miles and then I walked a mile. Wow!  I can not believe the difference in leg use between walking and biking.  I thought it would be somewhat easier to ride since I'd been walking for several weeks.  Maybe it just would have been even tougher if I hadn't been.  Anyway, I could really feel the work in the front of my thighs.  And I could definitely feel it in my hiney...can't wait for that part to toughen up :)  I didn't have to get off for any of the small hills we rode on, but I was huffing and puffing by the time I reached the top.  Good thing I have a patient husband.  I know at some point we are going to be working at different levels and I don't want to hold him back from getting a good workout. 

After our three miles on the bike we hit the loop for a mile walk (husband ran).  My legs were less than amused.  It took awhile to get in the walking rhythm after being on the bike.  Even once in rhythm they did feel sluggish.  I supposed after the 5 mile walk yesterday and then the bike they had reason to be sluggish.  I just took it kind of easy on the walk.  

I had been a little worried about Memorial Day BBQs.  I think we have successfully navigated our first holiday.  We were careful with our calories earlier in the day but not to the point of having so many at the end that we went crazy.  The greatest victory comes in recording the calories.  You really stop and make decisions about what to eat.  For example, I love pork steak, but I chose a small piece so I would be able to "afford" dessert.  I greatly enjoyed my small (1/2 cup ice cream) sundae. 

5 Miles!

We decided on a a long walk this
morning.  Our county has some
great bike trails, which also can be
used for walking and running.
Since we have that 10K race coming
up in three weeks I wanted to check
in on our endurance building.
We chose a trail, checked the trail map and chose a destination about 2.5 miles away.  We planned to walk to that point and then back to reach our 5 mile goal. We started out strong.  Millie was a bit of a many new sights and smells.  The first couple miles seemed to be fun and games. By the time we got to our turn around our 30% chance of rain forecast became 100% chance of rain reality.  The rain was coming down very steady almost the whole way back to the car.  Thankfully, it was not cold, but about a mile from the finish we were both over being soaked, our wet dog was not the least bit worn out....we just wanted to be finished! 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Eating Out Challenge

This made me laugh.  I got up this morning a little before 5a to use the bathroom.  Then Millie started fussing that she wanted to go outside. I closed our bedroom door and took Millie outside.  Our dachshund (Zommie) was still in the bedroom.  Apparently she woke up my husband because she had been left behind.  While I am outside I see the light come on and go off in the room where Millie sleeps.  I figure my husband was just checking if I took her out.  I am outside waiting for Millie to do her business and I notice the bedroom light on and staying on.  I come back into the house to find my husband fully dressed and putting on is running shoes.  Turns out he woke up and found Millie and I gone.  He thought we went walking without him and was hurrying to catch up to us.  Funny how just a couple weeks of a routine and that is the first thought in his mind.  Not "Anna took the dog out to go potty," but "oh no they left to walk without me!!" Since he was already up and dressed we decided to head on out for a walk/run.  So much for sleeping in on a Saturday :)

The walk was mostly uneventful except for one scary moment.  I came around a curve and saw a big black dog sitting next to a driveway. It was just staring at me as though getting ready to pounce.  I moved Millie and I to the other side of the street and kept walking keeping alert.  Then the moment when I realized the big black dog was really just a car seat sitting next to someone's driveway.  Silly me!  It made me laugh though when I pointed it out to my husband the next time by and he said he thought the same thing his first time by.  Silly us!

Okay, I was super excited yesterday about how well I did at the restaurant.  Today was tougher.  My niece is looking for a wedding reception venue and we ate lunch at one she is considering.  I had a crab cake sandwich with sweet potato fries.  I will say it was very good...not just okay food that you eat cause it is in front of you...I enjoyed it. I did my best to log the calories in myfitnesspal - it cost me 820 calories. It is so hard to know calories on things you don't make for yourself.  If is is a chain restaurant you can usually find calories online.  I did plan ahead and eat light at lunch and planned a light dinner.  However, my in-laws invited us to dinner at our favorite Mexican do you resist that??  We did make a plan though.  We split one of our favorite dishes Arroz con Pollo.  They make it will lots of veggies.  Again we did our best to calculate the ingredients and logged it.

Also since I didn't know we were eating dinner out I accepted a coconut cookie from a cute little cookie shop - my niece's fiance bought us each a cookie.  Seriously a few weeks ago I would have left with way more than one...they were only 70 cents and smelled insane.  Everyone else ate theirs right away (and I am NOT judging) but I decided to bring mine home and share it with my husband.  My thought was to save the treat for the end of the day and enjoy it.  My husband decided not to split is with me.  I split it in half and had him "hide" the other half for tomorrow.  Full disclosure...this was a big cookie, so half was probably the equivalent of a normal size cookie.  I ate it slowly and savored every bite. 

Not the best day, but I will give myself a little credit for being so cognizant of what I was eating and making better choices.  I will not let the need for perfection stand in my way...sometimes good is enough.  Including extra calories earned for walking today...I have 54 calories left of my allowance.  Going to bed before I decide to eat them...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Who Gets the Puppy?

Whew!  That was a little crazy.  My husband's schedule is back to normal.  We decided we would keep getting up early so that we could workout.  Here is the problem...he run/walks and I walk...and we only have one dog.  (Actually we have an old dachshund too - I am worried it is too much for her when we walk for fitness - she is more of a stroller.)  So first we had to decide how we were going to share Millie.  We decided we would walk together to the start of the loop.  Then we would go our own pace and he would take Millie.  Then if he lapped me I would get Millie for the remainder.

There goes my puppy...and my man!
It did not go as planned.  They got about a half a block ahead of me and turned around and came back to me.  Evidently, Millie didn't want us to be separated.  My husband said "it was like running with an anchor."  She kept trying to turn around to find me.  So he dropped her off with me and ran ahead.  Then my "ordeal" began.  Millie was then trying to catch up with him pulling me along.  Once he was out of sight her nose was to the ground...I think she was trying to pick up his scent.  On the up side, I suppose I got a little better workout...I went faster and used the upper body trying to hold on.  We finally met up again and I quickly handed her off.  I think we are going to have to find another strategy.

This morning was the warmest morning since I have been doing these early morning walks  - 70 degrees!  I would like to say my "sweatiness" is from my effort, but at least some of the credit has to go to the weather.  I do miss the slight chill in the air...much more refreshing. Since it is only May I better come to grips with warmer mornings...and more sweat!

I am doing a little better today with my attitude toward the food side of this journey.  I have been using myfitnesspal for a few days and though I am staying in my calorie range I've been a bit grouchy about it.  I bought a watermelon the other day...sounded so good as the weather heats up.  I was a bit hesitant because I bought one a couple of weeks ago and it was horrible.  This one is super tasty.  I was loading up a container to take to work with my lunch.  Then I checked the calories....I had to put some back.  Eight ounces (9 calories/ounce) didn't look like much, but it was very refreshing.

A huge food victory today in our house!  We have a make again fish recipe  My husband is NOT a fish guy.  But since we have been working on our health he mentioned that he would like to try fish again and hopefully find a way to like it.  With the green light, I quickly did some research and moved on a plan.  I chose flounder since it is so mild.  Then I found a recipe on for Flounder Piccata.

I knew from experience with chicken my husband likes the lemon flavors.  I served it on quinoa with spinach on the side.  He liked it!  I am so happy to have a fish option!  If you have not checked out you need to leave my blog immediately and check it out (don't forget to come back though).  Lots of delicious recipes! 

All in all a much better day :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Back on the Trail

It was tough getting out of bed this morning.  But I kept thinking about how low I felt last night and how I didn't want to have another evening like that.  Millie and I got up and took a no regrets.  I had a hard time getting started.  I just didn't seem like my legs wanted to do it...afterwards I think they were ready for more.  I would have rounded my loop again but Millie seemed in need of a potty break and somewhere along the way I must have dropped my "pick-up bag."  I didn't want to take the chance of leaving an unwanted "deposit" for someone.

We got started about 5:30 a.m.  I learned a little something about the neighborhood on our walk.  There are several owls in the neighborhood.  They were "hooting" up a storm.  Too bad they are so elusive.  I would have loved to have seen them.  Do you think I can Google "owl calls" and figure out what kind they were just from the sound?

Today was also trash day which meant there were lots of interesting smells for Millie to investigate.  I was worried I would spend the whole walk trying to keep her attention on walking and not snooping through everyone's trash cans.  She was great.  Except for a stick she had to pick up and a garbage truck that made her a little nervous she was very focused.  I confess I almost didn't take her because I didn't want to deal with garbage situation.  I am glad I didn't leave her behind.  Funny how so many of our worries are unfounded.

Our irises are in full bloom.  When we got back to the house Millie worked on her obedience "down, stay" while I deheaded the iris.  Pretty girl!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Can I Do It?

I suppose the correct question is "Will I do it?"  I've been at this point so many times.  Happy to be getting exercise...I've never regretted a workout!  On target with calorie counting.  But fear, doubt, frustration is screaming at long will this last?  A week or two?  Then back to my same old habits?  At the beginning of every attempt I've made to lose weight and be healthy, I always tell myself this time will be different. 

Having told myself that so many times and being here yet again I feel like a failure.  Why should I believe I can actually succeed?  I love to read the success stories on people's blogs.  Is it possible that a year from now someone may be reading my blog and finding inspiration in my success? 

I promised myself I would be honest on this blog.  I wouldn't just record the good, but also the bad and even the ugly.  Tonight I am feeling a bit of the ugly.  I had planned to walk with Millie this morning...but when the time came I found excuses.  The fridge needed to be cleaned.  Okay, it did, but I am sure I would have had time after a walk.  I think this "failure" set the tone for my day.  Tomorrow Millie and I will walk first thing in the morning and see if that sets a better tone.

I am sure the rambling could go on and on.  Perhaps the best thing to do at a time like this is go to bed and start anew tomorrow. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

May Getaway

My in-laws gave us a gift certificate for a nearby lodge for our anniversary...last September.  We finally used it this weekend.  Unfortunately we could not take Millie with us since we were staying in the lodge.  However, it was at least a zillion times we mentioned to each other that we would like to go to the park on a day trip and take Millie.  She would love it!

After we checked into the lodge and before we got too comfortable, we decided we would take a hike.  I wanted a hike that made me work..feel the burn and dare I say, sweat.  The first trail we took started with a climb up some stairs...that definitely got it started. 

I will admit, I did struggle some, but I kept telling myself that this was what I wanted.  I wanted to challenge myself. When I walk around the neighborhood on my  regular routine I really have to stay focused to keep myself challenged.  It is too easy to slip into a strolling pace.  Though I wanted to push myself I also knew I had to take care of myself.  I may have used my photography as an excuse for a breather or two. See the random tree picture on the right?  I needed a quick breather!


Our half mile climb to the top was on the Ravine & Ridge trails.

When we reached the top we were treated to this sweeping view. The Mississippi and Illinois rivers converge in the area.  If you look closely you can see a barge headed up river.

It was so satisfying to reach the top!

Though the ascent was only a half mile the descent on the Goat Cliff Trail was a mile and a half.  We were no longer climbing, but  we certainly had to keep alert to stay steady on our feet.  The trail was rocky and then muddy in places.  We had to get in tough with our inner mountain goat!   By this point my knees were getting a bit sore from the uneven terrain. I have a bit of an issue going down hill, stairs, etc. I have a fear of falling.  I am hoping as I lose weight and get fitter I will feel more confident in this area. 

It was a gorgeous day for a hike.  I had my husband take a couple of pictures of me for later comparison.  Looking forward to a slimmer rear view!  I was very proud of us.  The last time we went hiking we wimped out and didn't go very far.  Even though this time was tough, I feel we both are coming into a determination we haven't had before.  We are focusing on what we are gaining, not what we have to give up.  There will be many more days like this one.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Jumping In!

When we got Millie as a 10 week old puppy, we knew there would be lots of walking and playing with her.  In the back of my mind, I thought 'wouldn't it be great if as she grew I would lose the weight she gained?'  She is almost 10 months old and that hasn't quite happened. It seems everyone trying to lose weight is looking for that special motivation that works for them. Millie has definitely helped us to be more active as a couple. We have enjoyed taking her places and watching her explore and learn about our world.

I have been thinking about this blog for some time. Yes, I would love it to document a quick successful journey to a slimmer healthier me.  However, I don't think that is quite how it works.  The bottom line is losing weight and becoming healthier is hard work...if not we would all be "slims."  This blog will  document a life and I want to be honest about the process as it happens.

Millie now weighs 75 pounds.  I need to lose about 75 pounds.  Now it is time to "lose a puppy."  There is the is the story...

My husband's work schedule recently changed.  He now leaves the house at 5 a.m.  I don't have to leave the house for work until 8 a.m.  Three hours!  I knew there was something constructive I could do with that time.  So I started taking Millie for early morning walks.  It only took a few days for Millie to realize there was a routine and began looking for me to get ready to walk.  I just pick up my walking shoes and she is urging me toward the door.  Definitely motivating!  So for the past three weeks we have been walking 1-2.5 miles 4-5 times a week.  Losing 75 pounds is a long term goal.  To keep myself focused in the short term, I have registered my husband and I for a 10K race on June 14.  I am not a runner (yet) so I am planning to walk this race.  I would like to complete the race with a 15 minute/mile pace.  This morning I walked a mile in just under 19 minutes.  I have my work cut out for me.

I feel good about my increased activity.  I am having a little more trouble getting the eating part on track.  Let's talk about that next time.