Friday, August 29, 2014

Baking for a Cause

First I have to say THANK YOU for all our support and sweet comments on yesterday's post. I had debated writing about it. I think I am fairly open about it in my personal life, but always self-conscious. If I am having issues, I don't want people to be thinking "ugh...there goes Anna complaining again" or "enough with the excuses."  To be fair I am not saying that at times either of those things may be true - even if I am unaware that I am doing it. Mainly, I wanted to be honest about my big picture and not have to write post around mentioning it when it is a factor.

Again, I very much appreciate how supportive you have been. I am extremely thankful I am doing as well as I am.  At this point, I probably have one of the better case scenarios as far as MS goes. I firmly believe that losing the weight and living a more active lifestyle will only improve my situation. Makes sense - if you are experiencing muscle weakness it will be easier on you if those muscles don't have to haul around as much weight.

I never really thought of my weight being a health issue until more recently. Sometimes I wonder if certain issues are MS related, weight related or age related. I am sure it is a mix of all at varying degrees.  Turns out the only one I can really change is the weight I better keep pushing forward.

On a much lighter note...this is what happened at my house last night.  I was a cookie baking fool.  WARNING:  Yummy cookie pictures ahead. I apologize if I send anyone running to the fridge/cupboard for a snack. I made the cookies for a bake sale as part of a big benefit being held for a friend's little boy fighting liver cancer I mentioned in a post in May.
He has now finished his final chemo and had surgery to remove the tumor. They had to remove 60% of his liver to get it all.  He is doing incredibly well. It sounds like this benefit is going to be an extravaganza with a celebratory flair to it :)

I love to bake/cook - especially new recipes. My husband has said on numerous occasions that I will make something he loves, but then never sees it again because I am off to the next recipe.  All four of the cookies are new recipes I found online.  I am glad to say they all turned out well...yes, I sampled.  I had my niece over and she helped me - we split a couple of cookies.  It is so much easier not to eat cookies when you know that every one you eat is one less to sell and therefore less money for the cause.
Left to Right - Dr. Seuss Cookies (Sugar), Peanut Butter/Chocolate Swirl Cookies, Smores Cookies and Cranberry Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with White Chocolate Creme.

I only made a single batch of each recipe and this is what I ended up with - a table full of goodies. 

I bagged the cookies for the bake sale - two cookies to a bag.  I wonder how they will price them.  I thought maybe a dollar a bag because I want them to make lots of money.  It is hard to know what people will pay - especially since it is a benefit. There are 60 bags ready to deliver to the sale after work today. I can't wait to see what other people made.  I promise I won't buy back my own cookies tomorrow :)

I hope you all have a great weekend planned.  We are going to meet ourselves coming and going I think. Hopefully, we will find some time to work on our shed project.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I didn't get much of a workout in yesterday. It was still quite hot and muggy in the morning. I ended up only working half a day yesterday.  Thankfully, a thunderstorm moved through in the early evening cooling things down considerably.  My husband was going to run with my niece and my sister asked if I wanted to walk with her.  I can't say that I really wanted to since I have been fighting heat/humidity induced fatigue and pain (more on that later). However, I didn't want to be left out - I will use most any excuse to hang out with my family :)

My sister and Moose

My sister brought Millie's "cousin", Moose, on our walk. Oops!  I guess I should have brought Millie :(  Moose is a Great Dane mix. He is a pretty good dog despite his issues.  He is seriously obsessed with his toys and making you throw them for him.  His tail is an issue.  Yes, his tail - in his excitement he can really wield a painful whop on your legs with that thing. When we got Millie I was a little worried that she might have similar tail issues (her tail was not docked like most Rottweilers). It has been fine though. My sister would say that it is because we are usually at Millie's head so we aren't in the tail danger zone.  She might have a point, but when Millie is looking at my husband I have been her in her tail zone. I just don't think her tail is nearly as strong or active as his :) 

To be honest, I did not enjoy the walking part - chatting with my sister, yes - walking, no.  We didn't walk quite a mile and I was done. We sat on the porch swing and waited for the runners to return.

When I started this blog I said I wanted it to be accurate representation of the my weight-loss journey, which as we all know is a reflection of our lives. Therefore, I need to be willing to share the good, the bad and the ugly.  Here goes...

This is my ugly.  In April of 2008 I woke up to find that my left arm was numb yet tingly.  Kind of like when your foot falls asleep and then starts to wake up. I thought I had just slept on it wrong.  After a day of no change, I started to get scared.  Then another day later, I finally told my sister and began the process of trying to find out what was wrong with it. I went to an urgent care clinic - pinched nerve. Went to a chiropractor - hated it!  The little voice in my head was not convinced it was a pinched nerve. Went to an ER at one of the major hospitals - possible diabetic neuropathy.  I am not diabetic.

I didn't have a doctor at the time. So, I just found one in the phone book - well, actually it was probably online.  After my first visit, she ordered an MRI.  I did my best to get info out of the MRI tech.  He ended up telling me that I seemed to have a bulging disc. Okay.  However, the actual radiology report said nothing about a bulging disc. Instead, it said possible spinal cord tumor or lesion consistent with Multiple Sclerosis. To be honest, my Googling had already made me worry about MS, but until the MRI nobody seemed to agree with me that it was a possibility.

Next step, referral to a neurologist.  The neurologist admitted me to the hospital for a three-day diagnostic adventure. It included plenty of poking and prodding - MRI, Cat Scan, spinal tap, blood tests...blah, blah, blah. I will say the spinal tap was my very least favorite thing EVER. In an attempt to minimize the symptoms, I was put on a 5-day course of IV steroids. A home health nurse trained my sister in how to attach the IV to the port they set up in my forearm. The IV phase was followed by a couple weeks of oral steroids to taper me off the IV steroids. Beware of 'roid rage!

Finally, on my birthday in 2008, the neurologist breaks the news...everything is consistent with Multiple Sclerosis...lesion on my spinal cord, a couple lesions on my brain, oligoclonal bands in the spinal fluid, physical symptoms, etc.  However, at this point, since there is only one documented episode they can not definitively diagnosis it. She recommends a "disease modifying" drug - because of course there is no cure.  The purpose of the drug is to slow progression of the disease. The medication is an injection I have to give myself every other day - not a fan!

Over time, more MRIs, new neurologist, etc. the official Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis is made.  Incidentally, it was the first time my husband (then boyfriend) took me to the doctor.  We had been dating just about 6 months.  There was lots of crying.

This is my bad.  The initial symptoms for the most part remain with me.  My arm always has an odd feeling. It is super sensitive. My hand always has a prickly sensation that distracts from my fine motor skills.  For example, the sensations make it difficult for me to identify items in the bottom of my purse (the abyss). It can be very frustrating. Additionally, I have spells of numbness in my legs.  I frequently have a significant level of pain throughout my body.

I am very sensitive to weather changes, heat and humidity. I will have episodes in which my symptoms are more pronounced - I am exhausted, I am depressed, I ache everywhere, etc. I have been spoiled by a relatively cooler summer this year.  However, the recent heat wave and ridiculous humidity have me in the middle of an episode. I am currently a bit more frustrated because I don't want it to derail my weight loss.  About the only thing I can do is to rest and wait it out.  In the meantime, exercise is tough or non-existent and when I don't feel well and/or depressed I want to eat everything...and I feel like I have eaten a little bit of everything this past week. 
I struggle with the "invisibility" of my disease. For the most part, no one can see when I am struggling. I wonder if they think I am just being lazy or making up lame excuses. Perhaps this is part of the reason I am sharing this on the blog. 

One of the hardest parts for me has been feeling like there is a cloud following me around just waiting to unleash a major storm. With MS every patient is different and it is extremely frustrating that doctors can not give you an actual prognosis.  Will I continue as I am forever or will I lose my ability to walk or even die from complications?  I remind myself that no one has any guarantees - that doesn't always make me feel better.

This is my good.  Physically, I am in a relatively stable place and my mobility is good. Despite flare ups of my initial symptoms, I have not had any major changes or significant new symptoms. My most recent MRI showed no additional lesions :)  Everyone has their challenges and this is mine. It could be SO much worse.

This is my great.  (I decided to add this because "good" just didn't seem enough.)  First, my sister was an amazing support to me during the whole dramatic phase of this ordeal and continues to be during this less dramatic phase.  Second, I found the love of my life and he didn't run away (at least not fast enough that I couldn't catch him) when he found out about my diagnosis. At 40, I had never been married and was quite convinced I would never find "the one".  The MS diagnosis seemed to seal the deal that no one would ever want me. Guess who was wrong???  Me. 

Yes, I realize that my good and my great are so much shorter than my bad and my ugly.  I think my regular readers have seen the good and the great in my day to day posts. This particular post is intended to reveal my bad and ugly.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Darkness and a Weigh In

Another weigh-in.  Down another pound :) I am definitely not complaining about a pound, but this month has been slow losing with vacation and all. "And all" is code for I need to be a better food tracker every single day.  For the most part, I am eating well, but there have been a few "slips' in there.  Maybe I've been eating a bit more like I am maintaining...hello, Anna, we still need to be in losing mode :)

I am just eager to get to the next milestone. I am now at 28.8 pounds lost...come on 30!!

I did manage to get myself out of bed and go walking this morning.  It was tough!  We had to go a little earlier than we have been getting out the past few weeks because my husband is back to work.  We have to be out the door pretty close to 5 a.m.  I was expecting to deal with darkness later in the fall.  This is what I headed out into this morning...I did not like it. Not one bit.

I altered my route a little bit.  There is stretch at the back of the neighborhood with some hills and a couple empty lots that are full of trees and brush.  I just didn't feel comfortable going back there with no light.  There are very few street lights in the neighborhood.

Not sure they helped me much.  My husband was running his usual opposite direction on the loop.  I was never quite sure it was him I was meeting until he was right in front of me. At one point I heard someone running behind me but couldn't see him until he turned down another street.  I don't know what I am going to do because morning is by far and away the best time to walk. I felt a little more comfortable on my final two blocks.

Part of the reason I like to walk in the morning is because it is cooler.  This morning, however, it was not good. I have been so spoiled by a relatively cool summer. It made me forget a little that I can't handle the heat and humidity. By the time I got home I felt awful and ended up staying home from work. I need to rethink my workout plan because I can't be missing work at the last minute. I have some workout DVDs I might have to dig out for hot days.

I got rid of the last of the yard sale stuff. I donated three smallish bags of miscellaneous stuff. And for my trouble I received this...

Any volunteers to share it with me?  I figure since it is a large I might need at least three people :)

The Hump Day Blog HopWeigh In Wednesday

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Feeling a Little Sad

Finally, after months of procrastination (and some legitimate delays) the yard sale has been completed.  I can't tell you how happy I am to have that junk (I mean, amazing stuff people must buy) out of the house.
Gathering up items for the sale was a bit emotional for me. I am very sentimental. My husband went  through his clothes to get rid of his "fat" clothes. I couldn't help but get a little choked up when the shirt he wore on our first date was tossed in the "go" pile. I struggled with giving up some of the crafting supplies. I did some beading for awhile but I just wasn't very good at it. I made some very basic things but didn't have good manual dexterity to do some of the more intricate work I wanted.  Sometimes it is just hard to move on :(

Despite the rocky road to the big pile of stuff to get rid of, yard sale day finally arrived. My husband had to work. My sister and father-in-law brought some of their stuff over too and hung out with me during the sale. 

We have been a bit spoiled with cooler temps, but Saturday may have been the hottest day of the summer (high of 99 degrees) and SO humid.  When I took stuff out in the morning it instantly became wet due to the humidity. I had debated on canceling the sale when I realized how hot it was supposed to be. I am glad I didn't.  Turns out heat doesn't not stop people from shopping!

By about 10:30 a.m. traffic had dropped off considerably.  My plan had always been to dispose of the leftovers - I didn't want it coming back into the house.  So, instead of trying to sell everything until the very end of the sale, I started putting items on a couple of the tables and marked them "free". As people arrived, I told them they couldn't leave without at least two free items :)  Some people absolutely insisted on paying for items from the free table...well, okay I will take your money. At the end of the sale, I put the free tables out by the street and went inside to try to recover with some serious A/C, ice water and lunch (I never got breakfast).  I saw a few people stop by and get take some more of the stuff.  I was thrilled to end the day with two paper boxes of leftover stuff and a small garbage bag of clothing. Turns out I can take it to Goodwill on a Tuesday in August (I think this is the last one) and get a coupon for a FREE large DQ Blizzard.

Sunday we went over to a former co-worker's house.  Every year she has a group of current and former employees over for a summer get together. She has the best back yard for entertaining.  Seriously, who doesn't want this pool??  There is a patio all around with several table and chair sets and a gazebo.  The open garage door you see goes into the back of her garage that has a bathroom/changing area.

This was the first year I got in the pool.  It is not that I think I now have such a better body and want to show it off in a swimsuit. Instead I am coming to more of a "who cares" attitude.  I wanted to have fun in the pool and my body is what it is. Okay, I was still a bit anxious about being in a swimsuit in front of my boss, but with a cute cover-up and a strategic entry into the pool I survived.

The food at the party was potluck.  Again, potlucks are a challenge, but we had decided beforehand not to sweat it. I had a little bit of everything - enjoyed it and moved on. 

Operation Shed has officially started. Since every good weight loss blog needs before, progress and after pictures.  I am sharing my poor shed's unattractive before shots. 

When I bought my (now our) house 8 years ago I planted two red bud trees.  The plan was that they would grow, provide shade, provide privacy from the church behind my property and minimize the ugliness of the old steel shed. Eight years later they have accomplished that goal.  However, I didn't really think my plan through very well...and now one of my poor redbuds must die :(

We are getting a shed that is almost twice the size of the current one so the tree in front of the shed will be in the way. When my husband first pointed that out, I almost burst into tears. We looked at putting the new shed in another part of the yard, but we kept coming back to this being the best space.  In the past two weeks I have come to terms with it. I am getting more and more excited about getting the shed as I realize the number of things cluttering up the house that will be able to move to the shed. (We don't have a garage or a basement.)

This morning my in-laws (who are the best in-laws in the land) came over to help remove one of the trees and some smaller trees/bushes behind the shed. My husband is a school bus driver and today is the first day of school.  There was no way he could be there to help.

Incidentally this is how good my husband looked on his first day of school :)  After school I asked him if any of the kids noticed his transformation.  He said it would be easier to tell me about the ones who didn't say something.  So proud of him for reaching his back to school goal!

I am thankful that my job is a little more flexible. I was able to use some personal time and to go in late. It is amazing how one tree's branches can take up so much space on the ground. Incidentally, I did not cry.

Cleaned up and ready for the next phase of the project.  My husband I will have to do some more trimming of the remaining redbud tree.  The new shed will be considerably taller so several of those lower branches on the left will have to go. However, I am determined to save as much as possible and make it a nicely shaped tree.

Millie had the best morning ever.  She likes nothing better than chewing up sticks and apparently even logs.  She ran around collecting pieces she wanted to keep for herself. Poor Millie was denied this chunk of branch. While my father-in-law and I were taking a load of branches to the farm, my mother-in-law filled Millie's wading pool with water...she loved that and made sure to take one final dip on her way in the house

Although I am feeling a bit emotional about the things that I have had to let go in the past week, I am excited about the positives things we will now have room to enjoy, I guess it is a lot like this crazy weight loss journey.  I have given up several things and gained so much.

I like the Special K advertising campaign..."what will you gain when you lose?"  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Moving Forward

I am just going to say from the beginning this is is going to sound like blogging TMI, but I promise it really isn't!  My husband and I have a double bed from the 1950's era.  I bought it from a friend - she had inherited it from her in-laws.  It is actually the same as the bedroom furniture my mom got in high school/college. I have had it for about 10-12 years (much longer than I have had my husband).  I love that bed. 

Well, several months ago it broke. For the record, I was not even home when it broke (see, no tmi).  Since then we have been sleeping on the mattress on the floor.  We have talked about buying a new bed, but can't decide what to get. If we are going to spend the money for a new bed it would be nice to upgrade to a queen size bed.  However, the bedroom in our current house is too small for a queen.  We hope to move in the not so distant future. So the dilemma - buy another double bed now or tough it out until we move and get a queen bed?  So far we have done nothing. 

Last night we were moving some stuff around for our upcoming (tomorrow) yard sale. While moving the broken bed pieces it suddenly dawned on me that my husband's father is a woodworker.  Maybe he could repair it.  Last night he came by to drop off some tables for the yard sale and we asked him. He inspected the damage and didn't seem too optimistic, but took the pieces home to his shop. 

This morning he informs me he thinks it is fixed. He had to do some gluing. As soon as the glue is good and dry we could have a bed again. I am beyond excited!!!

I think we have also had in the back of our minds that we might need a sturdier bed since we are not the tiniest people :)  In light of something my husband said the other day I am hopeful. Perhaps our poor bed will be happier when it realizes since we last slept in it, we have lost very close to a combined 100 pounds.  How crazy is that??!!? 

Even though I know how much we have each lost I didn't add it together.  My husband has lost 70.4 pounds and I have lost 27.8 - combined we have lost 98.2 pounds (seriously, that is almost 100 pounds). My husband brought this to my attention the other day when I was lamenting the fact that we didn't get much accomplished this summer. 

He replied "we've lost almost a 100 pounds - that is a huge accomplishment."  He is absolutely right!  But I was thinking more of home improvement type things at the time. The working out, extra meal planning and preparation has taken a bite out of our free time, so we didn't do home improvement this summer.

Now that we have adjusted a little more to our new lifestyle we are working on some plans to move forward with home improvement. Priority number one is to replace our shed. We don't have a basement or a garage, so storage space is at an absolute premium.  Our current shed is falling apart, way too small and all around hideous.

We have picked out a shed that we both like.  As I am preparing for the yard sale, I am looking at everything with a plan in mind - keep in house, put in shed, sell or trash?  It feels so good to have a plan. I am inspired to pare down and organize.  I can't wait to get bicycles out of the living room. 

Hurray for accomplishments and moving forward!  Have a great weekend :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Contemplating Progress

The progress pictures I posted yesterday have really gotten me thinking. After seeing the difference for myself in the pictures it made me wonder how those around me haven't seemed to notice. Is it because my husband has lost much more dramatically than I have, so they are noticing him?  It might be harder to look thinner next to a slim husband :)

Today I had to make a trip to our main office. I don't get over there more than every couple of weeks so I thought someone might "notice" because they don't see me on a day-to-day basis.  I was talking with one lady moment for a few minutes.  We got on the subject of yard sales and old clothes.  She mentioned that she has about 3 sizes in her closet to cover weight fluctuations. I thought that might be the time she said something.  She didn't.  I shared that my husband had lost weight over the summer and we cleaned out his drawers/closet and got rid of a bag full of too-big clothes.  Again, I thought that might be a point when she would say something. Nothing.

Meg (love her blog!) commented yesterday that people may just hesitate to say anything as to not offend. My guess is there real truth in that theory. I have had people ask me in the past if I have lost weight and if I hadn't, I wondered if they were being sincere or just trying to hint that I should lose weight. We are just so touchy about the subject. Being overweight seems to be the most personal sort of failure - there doesn't seem to be anyone else to "blame" for our weight (except genes and the Frito Lay company!)

Clothes are a serious issue for me. I am not much of a shopper and am not confident in my style. I tend to buy something just because it fits on my body instead of hunting down clothes that really work for me. For as long as I can remember, I have had several sizes of clothes in my closet.  I have been guilty on many occasions of buying something that I can "almost" get into.  Now that I am down to a low I haven't been to in years I am finding I can finally wear some of those items.  However, they aren't necessarily the best fit since I couldn't actually try them at the time I bought them.  I was just guessing how they would look on me.

Even though it is nice to not have to spend the extra money while I am still losing, I am looking forward to getting some new clothes not only fit, but flatter. I might need a personal stylist :)

I admit the topic of being noticed is somewhat superficial.  Ultimately, is my success dependent on whether or not those around me are praising me?  No. Is it nice to hear?  Absolutely!  Thankfully, I do have a husband and family who have been very supportive and encouraging.

And much to my surprise I found you guys. Your support and kind words have made me smile many times. I had blogged for almost a month before anyone seemed to be reading it.  Although I liked blogging from the start, it is so much more fun when you are getting to know and interact with others who "get it." A big mushy "thank you!" to you all.  

We have gone swimming a couple times this week at the gym. I am not a strong swimmer...more of a doggie paddle kind of girl. I try to alternate between running in the water and swimming.  Then I take breaks to work on abs.  It is a nice change up.

Since vacation I haven't been in my walking routine. Who knows what is going on in the neighborhood without my daily investigative reporting??? I need to get on it though because we are signing up for another 5K.  This one will benefits a humane society and you can run/walk with your dog. We haven't told Millie yet, but I know she will love it :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Weigh In Wednesday and Progress Pictures

Weigh In Wednesday Happy Weigh-In Wednesday!  I didn't weigh last week because we were on vacation, so today's weigh-in number is actually for two weeks.  I lost 2.8 pounds for a total loss of 27.8 pounds.

I am very happy with the numbers considering the vacation factor. I was prepared to have little to no loss (or even a small gain) and was mostly okay with that.  One of my main goals in this journey is to find balance. There will be vacation splurges in my life, but I don't want them to undo my hard work either.

This morning I found some old pictures that my husband and I took in April of last year.  They were supposed to be the before pictures taken at the beginning of one of our failed attempts to lose weight.  I don't know exactly what we weighed in these pictures, but I would guess we were with in 5-10 pounds of our starting weights of this (more successful) attempt.

Against all my better judgement I am posting hideous pictures of me.  But since I like the transformation aspect of them I am sharing.  I could tell that I had lost weight, but I was pleasantly surprised by the proof in the pictures.

As for the transformation I am a little bit speechless.  I am amazed at the difference losing almost 30 pounds has  made.  Looking at the pictures I am a bit surprised that no one seems to have noticed yet (at least no one has mentioned it yet).

I apologize for the terrible picture quality, towel dried hair and my mug shot faces :)

Left - April 2013 / Right August 2014

Left - April 2013 / Right August 2014

Left - April 2013 / Right - August 2014

I wasn't as surprised by my husband's pictures.  He has lost about 70 pounds so his transformation is much more dramatic.  I am so proud of how hard he has worked.  I know he has completely reversed the path he was headed down health-wise.

Left - April 2013 / Right - August 2014

Left - April 2013 / Right - August 2014
I have been thinking about goals. In the past I have not been successful when I have set specific weight loss goals. I never seem to reach them and get discouraged.  I would like to say I want to have lost "half a puppy" (37.5 pounds) by our anniversary (Sept. 25).  That would be 9.6 pounds in 5 1/2 weeks. I think it is realistic, but I will definitely have to keep my focus to get there.

I feel like I am a good place with this journey, so I am putting it out there.  My goal is to have lost 37.5 pounds by Sept. 25 :)

The Hump Day Blog Hop

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Journey Will Have Splurges

It seems like forever since I posted.  I have missed you, blog :)  We took a little vacation - road trip to Nashville, TN with an add on stop in Paducah, KY.  We had passed through both places at different times in our lives, but had never stopped either to explore. We enjoyed just meandering and stopping to check out whatever interested us. We were thrilled to have our niece and nephew join us on this adventure.

This is probably not the best thing to report on a weigh loss blog, but here is my confession. I ended up just eating pretty much what I wanted and not logging much of it.  I most definitely went over my calorie limits, but I don't think I went completely crazy. The truth is a weight loss blog is as much a life blog as anything else. I believe weight loss is about balancing it with life. So here goes...

There might have been ice cream. Notice I did choose a picture that doesn't actually implicate me.

There might have been pizza. We tried "authentic" New York Style pizza in Kentucky :)  They forgot our pepperoni, so they ended up making us another pizza and told us to keep the first.  Just what we needed.  Good thing it was our last stop before heading home, so we could take home the leftovers. We brought back almost a whole pizza to share.

There might have been a chocolate factory.  They were actually closed, but when I called the week before we went to get information they told me to call when we were in town and they would let us in. How nice is that??  We couldn't tour the factory, but got some peeks through the windows.  We watched the cocoa bean grinder squeeze the chocolate out of the beans. The owner/chef talked to us for about half an hour. Gave us lots of interesting information and...samples!  We sampled Mexican chocolate, white chocolate with salt and pepper, smores chacuterie (chocolate salami).  Olive and Sinclair - check them out.

We enjoyed our goodies, but we did manage to work off some of those calories. For the very first time in my entire life I worked out in a hotel fitness room.  There was another woman in there working out at 5:30 a.m. After reading all the great blogs lately, I couldn't help but wonder about her story. Was she on vacation and trying to keep up with her weight loss goals or was she just trying to get in some activity while traveling for work?  Either way she was wearing a cute workout outfit.  Made me think I might want to reward myself with some cute workout clothes.

I bought my husband this t-shirt a few weeks ago.  It made me smile to see him working out in it.

I think the highlight of our trip was kayaking on the Harpeth River. The river was pretty low. I only got stuck a couple of times and I was able to get free without getting out of the kayak.  There was a point on our 11 mile (yes, ELEVEN miles) kayak trip that I thought "after this I can eat anything I want!!!"

Truth be told the van/trailer had barely left us at the put in point and I almost had a meltdown. I paddled about a 100 yards and thought there is no way I was going to be able to do 11 miles. Once I got the hang of it I pulled myself together and paddled away.

Taking a break... I was the only one in our group who never got of the kayak during the 4 hour journey.  I was afraid I would tip over :)

Dodging cows.... We were a little nervous when we first paddled up to them, but they could not have cared less about us. I suspect it wasn't their first river rodeo :)

In general, I am not a big fan of snakes, but swimming snakes terrify me a little bit.  Even seeing them swimming in tanks at the zoo makes my skin crawl and my heart palpitate.  I am a decent distance from this log - zooming and cropping is the only way I could have gotten this picture.  Seriously, I can't believe I even slowed down to try to get a picture - maybe because it wasn't in the water at that very moment.

By mile 8 or 9 of the kayaking we were so ready for it to be over. My arms were killing me - even into the evening. I thought for sure I wouldn't be able to use them for days.  By the next day they felt fine. The only pain I felt was in my midsection - like I'd been doing ab work. That lasted a couple days. I didn't mind too much because it made me remember how proud I was to have completed our kayak trip. Four hours of kayaking - seriously, I did that :)

My apologies for any slow loading because of all the pictures, but I can't resist sharing some more pictures from our adventures.

First a few from Nashville.

Cumberland River - downtown Nashville.

Union Station.  We enjoyed watching the trains.  I couldn't help but think about action movies where people escape by jumping off a bridge onto the top of a train and it carries them away. We didn't try it :)
My nephew working on his "skateboard in every state goal" - 5 down 45 to go!
Only full size replica of the Parthenon.  Originally built for Nashville's Centennial celebration in 1897 it was reconstructed years later.  Buildings  for the celebration were only intended to last for about 6 months.
Athena (goddess of wisdom) inside the Parthenon.  She is 41 feet tall and covered in gold leaf.  She is holding Nike (goddess of victory)
Farmer's Market - we were not there on a prime market day but there was still plenty to choose from - we bought peaches and corn to bring home.
Not a big eggplant eater but these were so beautiful I had to get a picture.
We headed home from Nashville by way of Paducah, KY.  We chose a route that took us between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes - the area is called "land between the lakes."  We didn't have much time to explore this area - I definitely want to go back.  Next time we will have to see a little more of the water and try some sailboating. We also saw an advertisement for a sunset kayak romantic would that be??

Kentucky Lake.
Even though we didn't get to enjoy the water we did find some cool things. There are a couple super helpful visitor centers in the area. We drove through a elk and bison prairie.  Unfortunately, most of them were hiding in the trees. Turns out they are more active in the morning and evening - we were there mid-afternoon. The visitor center staff pointed us in the direction of the Nature Station.  We enjoyed visiting several native animals that were being rehabilitated or could not be re-released due to having imprinted on humans. 

We caught an owl/hawk talk.  We got a close up of several owls.
Barn Owl.
Red-tailed hawk.  They can spot a mouse one mile away than swoop in at 100 mph - poor mouse dead on impact :(
Family of red wolves.  Pup was born in May.  Father is with them too, but not pictured here.
A nice surprise on our trip was Paducah, Kentucky. Originally, we planned on spending another night in Nashville. Due to some hotel issues, we decided to spend our last night in Paducah. The riverfront was very accessible and the rivers were beautiful.

Confluence of the Ohio River (left) and Tennessee River (right).
Racing uphill from the river to the river wall - always a competition between these two.  To spare my husband's feelings I am not including a picture of the end of the race :)
The flood wall had 50 murals painted along it depicting Paducah's history.  I  wanted to photograph them all.
Mural close up - Fire Department.
If you ever get a chance to visit, we highly recommend the National Quilt Museum. The quilts are truly works of art.  So many different styles.  My husband fell in love with one based on the Lord of the Rings. This picture doesn't do it justice, but gives you an idea.

The worst part about the quilt museum was not that we were the youngest people there, but that we weren't allowed to take pictures in the gallery.  They were very clear about that.  However, this quilt was in a conference room off the lobby. I didn't realize the conference room was also off limits for pictures until after I had taken this picture...ooops!  Of course, I didn't erase it and now I am sharing.  Please don't turn me in. This quilt is made entirely of WOOD then painted. More examples of the artist's work.  Incredible!

Last stop, Metropolis, IL (home of Superman) - just across the river from Paducah. 

Final picture...try not to drool over my husband's amazing weight loss and fitness transformation. 

We had a fun adventure.  Although we didn't stick to our calories on the trip, we were pretty active. I don't think the vacation adversely affected my weight loss.  To be honest, even if it did, I know that this is the way I am going to live my life. There will be splurges, but part of me is glad though to be back in the routine.  Happy to be finding the balance.