Saturday, March 30, 2013

My DHC challenge today was to find a nature photo and immerse myself into it. This photo is actually my desktop image. I see and enjoy it every day and it bring back such wonderful memories. It was taken of my mare, Mouse, and her foal, Danny, who was just 24 hours old and becoming familiar with all the joys of this world and the pesky irritating aspects, like flies. Even today, nearly three years later, I remember that weekend in vivid detail, much like this photograph. It is a memory that I cherish. I'd never experienced any sort of birth before and the foal had a leg tucked in when he first tried to arrive. At the time it was very traumatic. My vet was out of town and I had to call a friend to help me. After it was all over and my friend had calmed all of my worries about the foal, assuring me he was perfect and everything had gone just as it should, she asked me, "Wasn't that just the most magical experience? Wasn't it wonderful?" I answered, "No! It was traumatic and frightening." She said, "Just wait." Even across the phone lines, I could hear her smile and she was right. A few hours later, he was on his feet and getting acquainted with his mother. The beauty of the love and adoration and obvious pride in her eyes as she continually stared at him melted my heart. It was magical, it was beautiful, it was wonderful and I still tear up a bit and my heart swells when I remember that day.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Another Monday

Okay, I'm vowing to myself to get back on the straight and narrow this week. I've been fighting a mental battle with myself for weeks now and instead of losing weight like I'd planned and certainly wanted to, I've gained. That being said, despite the indulgences, I managed to incorporate lots of new healthier habits in there while I struggled along so it wasn't all backwards movement, I did progress on some fronts. I've been eating far more natural with a minimum of processed foods. That's not only good for dieting because you aren't taking in all of those hidden baddies, like sat fat and chemicals you can't pronounce, but it is necessary for me dealing with the celiacs. You know what? I'd have to say it is necessary for all of us to avoid those bad things...so there! ;-) I'm also doing my best to drink more water and less diet cola....that is soooo hard for me. I'm becoming aware of my sugar consumption even if I haven't cut back in that area yet. I also have incorporated a lot of other healthy foodstuff in my diet like ev coconut oil, maca powder, and pomegranate seeds. So, all in all, I think healthy gains out weighed the pounds gained. And now, I start a new week with new habits and concentrate on saying goodbye fat pounds!
 Cartoon of a man bypassing cupcakes and carrying a shopping basket filled with produce.

So, I'm including this article by, Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D., a social psychologist and author of, Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals. Link to original article in Psychology Today.


1.    Get Specific.  Very Specific.
One of the most common mistakes we make when trying to reach a goal is not being specific enough about what we want, and what we we're going to do to make it happen.  We say things like "I want to lose some weight" - but how much exactly do you want to lose?  Studies show that it is much easier to stay motivated when we have a very specific end point in mind, and can know at any moment exactly how far we still have to go.
Next, make sure you think about the specific actions you'll need to take to succeed.  Don't just say "I'll eat less."  Less of what?  And how muchless?   Don't just say "I'll save more money each month."  Decide exactly what will you spend less on to make that happen.  The more detailed you make your plan, the more likely you are to actually stick to it.

2.    Embrace this Fact: It's Going to Be Hard.
People will tell you that it is important to stay positive and be confident in order to reach any goal, and that's perfectly true.  But there's an important difference between believing you will succeed, and believing you will succeed easily.  When you are tackling a difficult challenge, like losing weight or stopping smoking, you will be much better off if you accept the fact that it's not going to be smooth sailing.   
Studies show that people who are realistic about what it will take to succeed naturally plan more, put in more effort, and persist longer in pursuit of their goals.  They expect to have to work hard, so that's exactly what they do.
For example, in one study, women in a weight loss program who believed that it would be hard to resist the temptation of snack foods lost 24 pounds more than women who believed they could easily ignore the allure of doughnuts and potato chips.  Because they accepted that it would be hard, they avoided being anywhere near tempting foods, and were much more successful because of it.

3.    Willpower is Like a Muscle.  Plan What You'll Do When It Gets Tired.
Research shows that your capacity for self-control is very much like the muscles in your body - it can grow stronger with regular exercise.  But just as well-developed biceps sometimes get tired and jelly-like after too much use, coping with the daily stresses of career and family can exhaust your supply of willpower.  When you tax it too much at once, or for too long, the well of self-control strength runs dry.   It is in these moments that the doughnut wins.
If you've spent all your self-control handling other challenges, you will not have much left at the end of the day for resisting bad habits.  So it's important to think about when you are most likely to feel drained and vulnerable, and make a plan to keep yourself out of harm's way.  Be prepared in advance with an alternate activity or a low-calorie snack, whichever applies
.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gratitude

The DHC challenge for today was all about showing gratitude. I do this all of the time. My mother used to tell me not to save my flowers for the dead because they can't appreciated them. She told me to tell people we love them, we are proud of them, we admire them while they are alive and that lesson stuck. I've reached out to old friends, old teachers, people I've worked with and even the occasional stranger and complimenting them, saying thank you, saying I love you always seems to put a smile on their face. Recently, I've had several people in my life who are dealing with cancer. Many of them are terminal while others will be dealing with the cancer and will "have" it for the rest of their lives. I'm hoping that some of them will beat this awful disease and live very long, healthy lives after this battle is over. Each and every one of them is my hero and I regularly tell them how proud I am of them. I watch them handle this with such grace and with so much faith and courage far more than I could probably muster in the same situation. I am very proud of all of them and I'm prouder still to call them friend, to call them sister, to call them my adopted "cyber" brother. For a while, as one after the other received this horrible diagnosis, I truly struggled with why this was happening to so many people I cared about. Awful as it sounds, I think I was feeling sorry for me. Then I realized what a blessing each of them was to my life and how inspiring their strength and overwhelming faith was and I thanked God and thanked them all for being a part of my life. They've given me far more than they've ever taken.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Coconut Oil

My coconut oil arrived yesterday and I've already sampled some in a fruit and veggie shake. I ordered two bottles, one for consumption and the other for topical use. You have to scoop out some of it and warm it by massaging it into your palm before applying it to your face. It has the consistency of bees wax. I put some on my face and particularly on the celiacs rash on my nose and this morning it was much better. I think I'm going to like this stuff. My friend Gary asked his doctor about it yesterday and the doctor said it was wonderful and so many health benefits. My friend Gary told him that he wanted to fry Twinkies in it. haha....I don't know if the doctor got the joke or not.

Here is a list of just a few of the many health benefits of coconut oil:




12 Health Benefits of Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil
1. Thyroid-stimulating
2. Gets candida in check
3. Lowers cholesterol
4. Helps with weight loss
5. Helps keep diabetes in check
6. Reduces heart disease
7. Helps with gastrointestinal malabsorption diseases
8. Supports the immune system
9. Good for the skin
10. Nourishing for the brain
11. Ancient medicine
12. Speeds Recovery


Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-tasty-coconut-oil-recipes-their-benefits.html#ixzz2ODx1zHbw

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

DHC Challenge for today: Share 1 way you could update or bring back a tradition you used to enjoy.

There are several but mainly this challenge has made me think back to a time when we had traditions and enjoyed them. I don't know what's going on with me lately. You'd think life would get easier as you age, that you'd be wiser and more relaxed, that you'd actually appreciate each precious moment spent with loved ones more. But somehow, life has gotten more hectic, time speeds by faster, and things that use to bring joy are now just a burden. I've been under some stress lately...can you tell? haha Anyway, I'd like to bring back not only a few of the traditions we had several years ago but the lifestyle that allowed us to occasionally slow down and enjoy time together. Something as simple as our daily bike rides or walks or always having Chinese take out for lunch on Saturdays and lingering enjoyably over those lunches. Sunday drives were nice, too. When Steve's dad was alive, he'd spend each Sunday with us and after lunch, we and the dog, Fred, would go for long rides. Our trips were usually to an area Wess remembered from his childhood and he'd tell us how much it had changed and share memories from his youth. He'd had a stroke and wasn't able to enjoy so many of the activities he used to do so he really seemed to relish those rides and so did we. Looking back, they were a precious gift not only to him but to us for the time we shared with him and also with Fred, the funny dog who kept us all entertained on those rides and is now, also gone. We were busy then, too but we seemed to have time for not only the people, creatures and activities that we cared about but also for each other. Now, it seems I have no spare time but I seem to accomplish nothing. It's time that we started setting time aside to have those lunches, take those walks, and spend time with each other and those who are important to our lives. I was thinking this morning about my mother, who will have been gone for 23 years this week. I still miss her but I am grateful for the times we spent together and all of the wonderful memories I have. I need to be making memories again and not just passing time. Sorry for this downer of a post; this challenge really caught me at the wrong or maybe the right time. I hope that my post isn't just depressing but hopeful and I'm hoping that it will inspire us all to start living every moment and spending some time concentrating on what is really important.

I woke up this morning and realized that, for the first time in 23 years, Mama's birthday had passed without me realizing it. I realized this only after I heard someone talking on TV about how they thought of their life as before a loved one's death and afterwards. I recognized myself and my life instantly. I also realized and recognized something else, how Wess's death changed Steve. Both of our lives seemed to have gone into a downward spiral after Wess died 12 years ago and it has taken me this long to realize that Steve was the one keeping my head above water for all those preceding years after Mama died. He kept me going and when he stopped moving forward, too, we both sunk. I had all of these thoughts right before opening my email and finding this challenge from DHC. I'm sure this isn't what they had in mind but it did make me think and hopefully, it will pave the road for me to change and start moving forward again.....or at least treading water, lol I also thought of all of those new projects I took on to make money that ended up just costing money and getting us farther and farther in debt...the source of most of my current stress. I realized that, although I kept getting ideas, having dreams and attempting to start something new, I kept forgetting the most essential ingredient for success of any new venture, me. I wasn't committing myself to those ventures, I was putting in very little real effort other than planning and spending money trying to buy success and I wasn't investing my time and energy. It's no wonder that I failed. I'm hoping that finally realizing this will help me to start moving forward again. I've been staring at all of these trees that have turned into prison bars for so long but now, I think I finally see the forest.


It's odd but I think most people have some event in their lives that change their lives forever and I think with many, it is the death of someone dear to them. There are other things that have become clear to me this morning. I had a lot of resentment toward Steve during those years after my mom passed. I never really voiced it but I felt like he was controlling me and that he'd made it so that I had to rely on him. Looking back, I see that wasn't his intention at all. I did need his support and help and I only resented that fact and not him. I think I owe him not only a thank you but an apology.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Coconut Oil

A few months ago, someone mentioned coconut oil to me. They claimed it was extremely healthy, healing to the body and boost weight loss. I didn't even bother to research it because the only thing I knew about coconut oil was that it was what made theater popcorn so bad for you for so many years. Then today, my friend Jacki sent this article to me. I trust Jacki and know that she's always been extremely health conscious. So, I read this article and it changed my mind entirely. Turns out that the coconut oil I was familiar with, the bad kind, is hydrogenated. The good kind is extra virgin coconut oil. I just ordered a quart to try of the edible kind packaged in glass and a container of the topical kind to use as a skin cream. I'm excited because if you read the article you'll find that there are all sorts of health benefits to extra virgin coconut oil. http://www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2010/02/weight-loss-wednesday-coconut-oils-role


The DHC challenge for today:

Name a sport or exercise you'd like to learn or take up again.

There are several because I use to be quite active and now I'm so out of shape. I'm going to start with just fitness walking. Then a friend has invited me to Zumba classes. Those look like a lot of fun! Of course, I want to start riding my horses again. That would be good for both them and me. And despite what Dr Phil says, riding is a workout. It might not be as strenuous as really aerobic exercise but it doe work your muscles. Also, I used to be an avid biker. We biked religiously, every single day and on weekends, we'd go to the mountains and do sixty miles in a day.....of course that's 30 miles up the mountain which took hours and 30 miles back down the mountain which took 20 minutes, lol. I said early in the year that I want to start running and run at least a 15k but my knees and ankles are in such bad shape from past injuries that I don't know if they'll allow me to do that. Still, if I can't run, I may try to conquer another skill that I never learned in my youth, swimming. I'm terrified of the water. There is a very embarrassing incident where we went snorkeling and my snorkel mask broke (of course mine would.) I was flailing around and yelling for help only to open my eyes and realize that I was just a few feet from shore...and an audience of two amazed people....and in just a few feet of water. That is what fear does to you. I'd also like to start going to the mountains and hiking again. I really enjoy that but it's so unsafe for a woman alone so I'll need to find some friends who'd like to do that, too. So, there are lots of activities I would like to do anew or again. I'd better get busy. :) 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

It's Saturday and Sunny....

I should feel better but I'm off to a slow start. I think I was making up for lost sleep. I didn't wake up until 9AM! It looks as if Steve fed the horses for me before he left which they are probably happy about. The good news, I actually do feel pretty great today despite my groaning as I rolled out of bed so late. Healthy eating, consuming more fruits and vegetables is leaving me with more energy. I did have a major slip yesterday but I will not record it here or any where else because I'm too ashamed of myself. Let's just say that I broke the first cardinal rule of both losing weight and saving money....I went shopping on an empty stomach. By the time I and the rest of my otherwise healthy fare got home, I'd consumed a lot of one particular junk food along with a diet cola...which I'm also trying to give up. The diet Dr Pepper is hard because I'm extremely addicted to them. If I don't have them when I crave them, I get a head ache, lethargic and just down right mean.

Today's DHC challenge:

See if your cereal has at least 3 to 5g fiber, 3g protein, and less than 13g of sugar per serving.


This is sooooo ironic.......just yesterday, my friends told me that I needed to stop eating granola with my morning yogurt because granola is extremely bad for you. According to all of them...yes, there were many of them jumping on the warning wagon......it is one of the worst foods you can eat. So, I checked out my granola and found 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of fat and only 4 grams of sugar and the best thing, not only was the ingredients list short but all natural! So I don't guess I'll be giving up my granola after all. :))....happy, happy, joy, joy....I do like my granola and yogurt. Oh, I also checked out my yogurt because I buy the fruit on the bottom kind and I had no idea what they put in that "fruit." True I probably should start buying only plain and flavoring it myself but I can't seem to give up all convenience food...I've already had to give up most because of the celiacs. What caught my eye immediately was the coloring used in the yogurt...I know why they need any coloring at all is the question...but they'd used tumeric which is very good for you instead of yellow dye number five or whatever. So, even though I thought yogurt, granola and black coffee was just a quick, easy breakfast for me, it is nice to discover that it also is not only not so unhealthy but actually pretty good for me....yay!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tally

I still haven't given up on doing that diet I talked about but I've decided that any sort of cleansing, liver boosting diet should be used only occasionally. It's like my friend Gary told me yesterday, detox diets should be used as a boost to your regular diet not carried on for long lengths of time. That doesn't mean that I shouldn't include the healthy habits that I learn from those diets gradually into my "life plan." For example, the green tea and lemon is a healthy and body cleansing drink to have each day. The protein shake full of healthy vegetables and fruit is a quick, filling and energizing meal anytime I'm pushed for time. I certainly need more water and if I could just make myself do it, a glass before and during each meal is a good idea. Beets and other fruits and vegetables are not only nutritious and give sustained energy but aren't just diet food. I feel so much better when I eat more fruit and vegetables. Yesterday, I had a salad for lunch with a little turkey, chopped up plums and walnuts and it was delicious. Then for dinner, we ate vegetarian again: a similar green salad just without the turkey, purple rice again (really getting to be a new favorite!), and topped the rice with a veggie mix of baby bellas, onion, garlic and crispy snow peas. It was delicious and left my tummy feeling better than it has in the last six months! I did have a celiac episode after all of the chocolate I slipped up and devoured on Wed. but it has passed and I'm trying to get more in touch with my body. It's time I did this, changed my diet and lifestyle, not for how I look to others but for how I feel inside. I've been obsessed and embarrassed by my size for a long while but that has not helped me to lose one ounce. Concentrating on how eating right makes me feel, lighter, more energized and certainly without the pain and time loss caused by the celiac reaction, that should be motivation enough and hopefully, weight loss as an extremely nice side effect.

Okay, I'm going to keep updating this post all day long...which I do realize will mess up my email feed thingie.....with what I eat and then, at the end of the day, I'll tally up and see just what I am consuming. I know, from past experience, that keeping a food diary keeps me honest and accountable. It's also just good to realize exactly what you're putting into your body. I keep saying that I'm not eating enough to be gaining the weight I've gained lately but maybe it's not how much but what, I'm eating that's causing the problem. If I make myself aware, I will also think twice before eating something that I'd rather not show up in a public forum....like half a bag of chocolate kisses.

Breakfast:
black coffee
low fat Greek yogurt, fruit on the bottom, pineapple
simply granola...three handfuls which I'll measure later...I'm thinking somewhere between a quarter and half cup

Lunch:
Mixed greens salad
one plum, chopped
handful of walnuts
Annie's Natural Tuscan dressing
glass of lemon water

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I want to say something about the Dr OZ cleanse/detox diet that I've posted below, I've done detox diets before. They do make you feel much better, they make you feel physically and often mentally "lighter", and they can also kickstart weight loss. My only problem with the ones that I've done before is the length of time you are supposed to restrict yourself in this way. It's usually at least two weeks. In my experience, I've lost a tremendous amount of weight this way in a short time period...as much as twenty pounds!...but after two weeks of extreme changes to my diet and lifestyle, I'm ready to get back to my old hedonistic consumer ways and put those pounds right back on...and most likely replace those toxins in my body that I just shed. Dr. Oz's program is only three days long and that, in itself, makes far morse sense to me and seems far more doable and far more likely to actually initiate change in my diet and lifestyle that will last. I probably won't start this diet this week....Sunday is St Patty's day after all and I have a tradition of making and enjoyably consuming the required corned beef and cabbage....but next week I think I'll head to the grocery store with this shopping list and start on a short three day journey to better health and wellbeing.

From the Dr Oz website, a three day cleanse & detox diet
Yesterday was a busy day, in which, I accomplished only a fraction of what I set out to do. Still, as sluggish as I've been this entire winter, I say that accomplishing anything in a day is progress. I was a very bad girl with the diet. It all started when I decided to step on the scale at 5:30 in the AM and be shocked awake by what I saw....a three pound increase since last Friday!!! I did pretty well after that sticking to the restrictions and limits of my diet but that was mainly because my cupboard was getting a bit bare and choices were limited to low fat and calorie offerings. Later, after a dreaded trip to the dentist, I stopped at the grocery store to restock on healthy and decided to indulge myself in some chocolate kisses (only on the shelf chocolate that I know of without gluten...besides they were on sale) reasoning with myself that, if I'm going to gain while dieting, I might as well eat what I want. I know, I know, that is probably terribly faulty reasoning but it was only one day and I plan to freeze the remaining kisses hoping that will keep me from just mindlessly consuming the whole bag in one sitting. No time to sit today anyway...although I am right now, ha...since I have to make up today for what I didn't finish yesterday. I will say that I'm not giving up on this diet and attempt at changing my lifestyle to one far more healthy. When I was younger, I never gave up but as I grew older, I found occasionally admitting defeat was a bit freeing. That in itself became a hard habit to break. Now, I have a new philosophy, don't give up, give in or otherwise quit, instead, regroup and reevaluate. You don't have to give up your goals just because you chose the wrong path to reach them. You just need to choose a new path.

My friend, Gary, just sent me the most interesting and informative note about detox diets. What he says makes a lot of sense and explains why, in the past, I've always gained back the weight lost after long lasting detox diets, "I guess it's the medical background in me, but I regard detox diets pretty much the way I do taking a round of antibiotics, or any other drug.A drug is any substance that produces physical and /or chemical change in us.That leads us to the conclusion that food is the drug that we're all addicted to.Some drugs will heal you, and others will kill you.This holds true for our food! In medicine, when someone needs a steroid, usually it's given in a "burst" fashion, meaning you take , say, 3 pills for 2 days, then 2 pills for 2 days, then 1 pill for 4 days, then 1/2 pill for 2 days, then quit.Most detox diets are bursts or jolts like that.I've checked, and the foods of the detox diets are beneficial cause they have high chemical concentrations of certain drugs/ chemicals.Trouble is, give an arthritic a burst of steroids and they feel great, then OK, then just like before.Same with detox diets.Unfortunately all drugs have a limited duration of action.Detox is a great kick start to a good diet, but good diet, done consistently, is what will be a lot more beneficial! Speaking of good diet I've got to improve mine! Trying really hard to improve my diet and increase my exercise during this 4 weeks prior to surgery, but thus far I'd have to give myself a C-! So, guess I'm writing this to me more than anyone else!"
I'm beginning to realize that diet, like anything else in life, is an ongoing project. My goal should not be to lose weight or even to get fit but to find balance in my life and hopefully, those other two things will be happy and natural results of that balance. I was just thinking that life is a lot like riding a horse, if you're tense, stiff and constantly worried about being perfect, you're going to be bouncing all over the saddle and feel totally out of control but if you just relax and go with it, you feel as if you become one with your horse and your ride is totally enjoyable. It's time I learn to relax and enjoy the ride.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Waste Not Want Not and NO Waist

I'm up a pound this morning and feel yucky! What's that about? The weather is warming and that makes it a great time to get back outside and walk. I find it easier to exercise when it actually involves doing something, like walking. It's harder for me to watch a dvd every day and move along with it than it is to get out and walk and think and observe the beauty of the world. So, that's the current plan, WALK....and I hope I can walk off a few pounds! As for where that extra one I gained came from, I'm blaming cheese. I've read that a little bit of cheese is a good thing on a diet but there is always the case of too much of a good thing and that was the case with me yesterday. I was here alone and working on the computer which always occupies my mind until my stomach start growling and I grab the first convenient food in the frig to fill it. I have other healthy food here; I have to start remembering them before I have a garbage can full of waste and a waist the size of a garbage can!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

FINALLY!!...Photos :-)

I paused long enough, before devouring this meal, to take a photo of it...as promised. :)
My absolute favorite vegetarian meal:

1) Saute baby bellas, chopped garlic (lots and lots since you can never have enough garlic in any dish, IMO;-) and onion in olive oil until the mushrooms are nicely browned and the onion transparent. I also season all of this with McCormack's Tuscan seasoning mix.

2) Add baby spinach and stir until just wilted.

3) Serve over steamed purple rice (another absolute favorite--sooo much flavor!

I add gluten free soy sauce(Tamari) to mine but my husband, Steve, likes to eat his just as served.

I also added a salad on the side of mixed greens, dried cranberries and chopped walnuts.

I think the mushroom and spinach dish would also be good with pinenuts added but I didn't have any on hand tonight. 

My DHC challenge for today was to remember, with all five of my senses, a success from my past. The need to use all five senses explains the overuse of descriptive terms, adjectives and adverbs, lol. You have been warned so read on at your own risk. ;-)

I've been off my horses for well over a year now and both they and I have put on the pounds. I've shared with all of you before about my fall seven years ago and how it scared me to the point of panic attacks and hyperventilation every time I had to get on a horse. It keeps creeping in and the last time I attempted riding alone, here and on my own horses, I ended up taking an hour preparing and five seconds backing out, unable to get in the saddle again. I made excuses but the truth was, the fear was still there. I thought I'd killed it but I'd only buried it deep and locked it away but the tricky demon managed to slip out again. So, on this beautiful day, I might not be riding but I hope to soon literally be back in the saddle and to do that, I'll remember that triumphant day when all my fear slipped away and when I realized that all of the things I constantly worry about could happen but so far they haven't and through all the accidents and close calls I've been through, I've miraculously emerged unscathed. With the exception of a few bumps, bruises, the worst damage I've done was a few broken ribs and that is miraculous because the accidents I've had, on horse, on bike, and in a car, most likely should have killed me. It's always seemed as if an angel was watching over me and I am one of those crazies who very much believes in angels. So, today, in preparation for my next horseback ride, I will remember the day that I realized that all my worry was not only for naught, it wasn't warding off anything and was actually causing me more trouble and pain. It was a warm, sunny Autumn day. I spoke with my dear friend Huston as I drove to the barn where I was going to take my first ride in a long time. I came into the barn to see my horse tacked up and waiting on me. I led him out to the arena where several others were already riding and working....a situation which would have sent me into a panic before, thinking of all of the train wrecks that could possibly happen but today, I actually welcomed the distractions, they would be a test for me. I smell the horse, that sweet smell of hay and sunshine. I look into its gentle, brown eyes and we size each other up. I hope I convey to my horse that it can trust me and I trust it. I take a handful of rough mane in left hand, I put my right hand on the smooth, cool leather of the saddle seat, I put my foot in the stirrup and give a little hop, pushing up on my right arm and vault myself into the saddle. There is a feeling of security as I seat myself  firmly into the curve of the saddle and feel the horse beneath me. I start off slowly, circling the horse by pushing against his side with my leg while my hands gently massage the bit in his mouth the way my trainer, Brandy McDonnell, has taught me to warm up and become acquainted with my mount. Then we take off at light jog. I look where I'm going, I feel the horse's steps beneath me and listen to the rhythm of his hoofs striking the ground. I use a light hand and the pressure of my legs to guide him around the arena while staying in control and keeping him steady in gait. Then, when I know that we both are comfortable with each other, I squeeze my legs against his sides and speed up the gait finally pushing with my inside leg as I cluck and move him up to a rocking canter. I feel like I'm flying, I'm elated, I'm in control and I'm having fun. As the cool breeze of our movement pushes my hair back, the saddle squeaks a bit in rhythm with the horse's hooves, and I move with him. I'm overjoyed, not just to be riding again, but because I'm riding with confidence that even my trainer notices and is amazed by. My senses seem more alive, I'm aware of coolness of the air on my skin that contradicts the warmth of Autumn sun. I feel every ripple of muscle as the horse moves beneath me and although I keep my hands light, I feel our connection through the reins and the bit in his mouth and through my body touching the horse, using all of my muscles, all of my body as a voice to communicate with the horse. There are other riders around me, other noises and distractions on the working farm but all I hear is the sound of my horse, all I see is what lies before us, the view between his ears. The hour ended far too soon and I reach over and pat my horse's smooth, silky neck to thank him before I dismount. I hit the ground and stir up some dust and I walk my horse back into the barn where I untack him and brush down his sweaty body, thanking him with an apple treat before I lead him back to his stall. He's grateful for the snack but has no idea how grateful I am for the milestone he helped me to jump that day.
As I walked to truck to leave, the sunshine on my skin felt warmer and everything looked brighter because I was so happy. As soon as I was seated in my truck, I called my friend Huston again. I excitedly described my entire ride to him and he said something that made my heart swell and feel as if it were going to burst out of chest. He said, "I always knew you could do it. I had faith in you and I believed in you even when you didn't believe in yourself." He doesn't know it but I started to cry. My lips were smiling a smile so big it made my face hurt while the warm, salty tears streamed down my cheeks. That was the last time I was able to speak to Huston for a very long time. He had a major stroke exactly a week later. He survived that stroke and many small ones that followed and recently a broken hip. He is such a strong man and truly my hero. He's not able to carry on the long conversations we once had and I miss that so much but I will forever be thankful for the hundreds of talks we had and all of the wisdom he's shared with me. I am also eternally grateful for those words he spoke to me on that day that I returned to riding. Those words are what's going to give me the courage to ride again....and very soon!

I had another epiphany during my morning prayers. I'm not ready to talk about it yet but it was profound and inspiring and life changing and I feel as if God has been trying to tell me this for a long while and I finally, quite literally woke up and listened. Below is a story of how that epiphany continued through the words of my sweet friend, Gary. Gary is struggling with pancreatic cancer and is facing a dangerous surgery next week so I hope you all will remember him in your prayers. He is the kindest person I've ever met and such a truly Godly man. He was a minister until the cancer forced him to stop but his faith is always an inspiration to me. 

I posted all of the above on my Facebook page, Journey to Wellbeing, Health and Fitness. I recently set up this page so that people who were trying to change their lives for the better, like me, could share recipes, fitness tips and also triumphs and stumbles. So far, we only have seventeen members and I'm the only one who ever talks but we all know that I talk enough for the other sixteen most days. After I posted today, my dear, dear friend, Gary Keith Riggs, wrote the following and it touched my heart and soul so deeply that I had to share it with all of you:

"Huston's not the only one who believes in you. I do too.

Once many years ago, in Illinois, my late sister Missy was taking lessons from a world class equestrian.From me leading her and a pony around, thru barrel racing, then on to hunter jumper- I had seen her skill, and love of horses grow.That day something went wrong.I was watching her there in an indoor arena, but not closely.Suddenly I realized that she was upside down, caught in a stirrup, and her head and helmet were taking a beating by the nervous and still in motion horse.Instinctively I started to run towards her, but her instructor grabbed my arm and said to stand still and calm down.After an eternity long few seconds the horse stopped, and she freed herself.It was a situation where I had no control.Neither did Missy! Or the horse.God had enough control for all of us.Our control is illusory, His is complete."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Just thought this was cute and I've always said that we Southern girls can smile so sweetly while telling someone to go to hell that they'll thank us and ask us for directions once we're done. ;-) 

DAY 8...or is it ONE???

Day one of week two or...considering how badly I misbehaved last week....just day one. The scale showed a tiny change in the right direction this morning but I'm just happy not to have gained after my "adjustment" period last week. Yogurt for breakfast and my tummy wasn't feeling great afterwards so I decided that I wanted something warm and comforting for lunch. I first reached in the freezer for the sweet potato fries but then remembered that I had leftover rice in the fridge and Steve was home for lunch to day. I decided to make a yummy and healthy, vegetarian lunch instead and the only thing that wasn't fresh and unprocessed was the salad dressing...because I have't figured out how to make a good tasting fat free version. I saute'd mushrooms, garlic and onion in olive oil with a Tuscan blend seasoning. Added spinach and gluten free soy sauce at the end (okay, so that's processed too :) and put it on top of steamed purple rice with a salad of mixed greens on the side. It was delicious if I do say so myself. ;-) I probably used too much olive oil but I will work on that problem later. Wish I'd taken a photo of this one because it looked as pretty as it taste.

Friday, March 8, 2013

DAY 7 and NEW BEGINNINGS

Okay, the scale revealed no change this morning which is actually a good thing because I rebelled enough this week that I really should have seen a gain instead of a loss. Before you judge me, let me judge myself. This is typical behavior for me when faced with change, I fight it every step of the way. It's as if I have a split personality and there is part of my psyche telling me that I can do this and I'll soon be as svelte and energetic as I was twenty-two years ago while another side of me, the evil twin side, keeps telling me that the sacrifice isn't worth it, I'm bound to fail and so I might as well give into temptation now because if I continue to listen to the other side of me, I'll soon be living in misery without the food that has brought me so much pleasure and comfort. The "good" side is far more logical though. It gently explains to me that those comfort foods have truly not brought me that much pleasure or comfort and in fact, end up making me feel quite miserable. While the "bad" side screams and kicks and bites in protest, its opposite reminds me of how I use to feel when I was at a healthy weight and exercising daily. I was energetic, I was joyful and involved in my life like I haven't been in years. Then it reminds me of how I felt about myself, accomplished for losing weight and getting in shape, in control of my life again (at least to the point any of us are in control of our lives actually), and using my body to show off clothes not clothes to mask my body (as much as a tent can mask an elephant hidden inside.)

I start WEEK TWO tomorrow, day eight and I think I'm finally ready to get serious about this diet, this lifestyle change. I was shocked when I took a look at the yogurt I've been practically living on and discovered that it contains not only fat but saturated fat! Does all yogurt have saturated fat or have I just not been reading the labels as religiously as I should? I plan to start the food diary that I've been promising to start this week so that I know exactly what I'm putting into my body. Also, I plan to start moving. The weather this weekend is supposed to be spectacularly beautiful and warm. So, I'm hoping to not spend all of my time indoors cleaning and painting but a lot of the day outside, playing with my horses and walking. I don't think I'm going to make that run in Knoxville that I was hoping to but maybe I could aim for one in the Fall. That would be far more realistic. And as soon as I feel fit enough to keep up with everyone else without passing out or having a coronary, I'm going to start attending those Zumba classes that my neighbor (country neighbor which is measured in miles not blocks), Yvonne Hicks-Bright was telling me about.

So, I'm putting last week's stumbles and fails behind me and I'm looking forward and going to do my best to live in the moment and cherish and enjoy each precious second of this life.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gluten Free Diet...Truly!


This is the diet I try to follow but I need to do it even more religiously than I already do. I did stumble last week when I stopped at a restaurant and ordered a chicken salad expecting it to be grilled. When it arrived breaded, I ate it anyway. I did this against my better judgement. I was hungry and after a year, I was so tired of the gluten ban. I have paid for this for over a week and I wonder just how much damage I did to my villi. I truly wonder if it also isn't why, indirectly via a weakened immune system, I feel so badly today. Anyway, the following is taken from an article about the tiny amounts of gluten that the government regulations allow even in so called "gluten free" foods. So, they put a group of people who thought they'd been eating gluten free but still were experiencing symptoms on this extremely pure diet:

"Six of the people included (including the three with negative blood tests but ongoing intestinal damage) met the criteria for refractory celiac disease at the start of the study. Nonetheless, the researchers hypothesized that they didn't have refractory celiac disease at all; instead, the trace gluten commonly found in processed foods (especially grain-based products) was preventing them from healing and feeling better.

For three to six months, the study subjects ate only fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, poultry and fish, eggs, unflavored dairy products and rice. They were allowed to have oil, vinegar, honey and salt, and could drink 100% fruit and/or vegetable juice, Gatorade, milk or water.

At the end of the study, 14 out of the 17 had responded to this diet, which the researchers dubbed the "Gluten Contamination Elimination Diet," and five of the six who had met the criteria for refractory celiac no longer did."
DAY FIVE: Another day of not feeling well but it has nothing to do with the diet. The diet seems to actually be giving me more energy than usual and longer sustained energy throughout the day. No, nearly three months later and I'm still blaming the flu from December. I got bronchitis from it in January and it feels like it's back. I'm aching all over, hurting in my upper chest, itchy throat and cough...and I just feel like a slug. Ughhhh.....So, what do I do? Probably eat too much....well, no probably to it. I had yogurt at 4AM, oatmeal at 8AM and I just finished off some gluten free lentil crackers and cheese. The cheese is obviously full of fat and calories but those crackers are, too. I'm beginning to think that anything labeled "gluten free," "fat free," or "sugar free" will make up for what's been taken out in some other unhealthy way. Still, when I feel bad, I resort to unhealthy eating habits and junk food and the crackers were the only junk food in the house. I'm going to try my best to eat healthy the rest of the day and start fresh tomorrow....when, hopefully, I'm feeling much better.
The DHC challenge for today was to take ten deep breaths. Good day for this challenge. When I wake up like I did this morning, unable to breath, choking, aching all over but especially in my upper chest and shoulder, I tend to panic and when I have a panic attack, I tend to hyperventilate. Since hyperventilation is basically being totally unaware of your breathing, I try to counter with the slow, deliberate, deep and totally conscious breath that I learned years ago in yoga. It's been years since I practiced yoga and I doubt I could do a downward dog today but I do still remember the controlled breathing that brings balance and relaxation.
Speaking of exercise, a friend invited me to the two zumba classes that she takes each week. It is at Philadelphia School on Mondays and Wednesday at 4:45PM and at Blairland Church in Loudon on Mondays and Thursdays at 6:30PM. I'm going to do my best to start going but I'm afraid that I'm going to have to get in shape to get in shape! So I may start working out here for a few weeks before I join the class.

Monday, March 4, 2013

DANCING TO THE GRAVEYARD!

I watched the Footloose remake this morning and it made me feel so old. It seems that I remember the original making me feel old, too, and I was in my early to mid-twenties then. And, although the actors in the original were my age playing teenagers, I don't think I ever remembered being that young and carefree even then. Still, there is something to be said about the major case of "don't cares" that you acquire with age. You don't care what anyone thinks of you so you in turn don't care if they think you look a fool dancing or singing or riding a horse or trying anything new. You don't have anyone to answer to anymore but yourself and no one to ask you if you'd jump off a cliff just because your friends do and sometimes, you can see the merit in jumping off that cliff even without peer pressure motivation. Often though, there are things that we care more about than we did in our reckless youth, like breaking bones and twisting already sore joints. We also don't seem to have the energy to even attempt the reckless things we didn't attempt in our younger days just because someone told us we couldn't. So, although age is a coin with two sides to it, I've decided to take control of its toss somewhat by at least attempting to get in better shape this year by working out and eating better. I'm only four days in and have already slipped up by eating that T-bone I shouldn't have had....ah heck, who's going to tell me not to eat it and it was darn well worth every luscious and juicy bite! But I keep moving forward even if it is at an age slowed pace. I know I'll never be able to dance with spry energy of those kids in Footloose but I can dance with just as much joyful abandon. I'm fifty-seven years old (although for you younger folk, it never feels like it and you constantly wonder how the h*ll you got here and where the years disappeared to.) Who knows how many years I have left? If I'm lucky, maybe thirty to thirty-five max. So, today I made a decision to not just mindlessly shuffle through those remaining years but to dance joyfully all the way to my grave. 

DAY FOUR: Okay, I slipped yesterday but the temptation for the "rare" steak was just too much for me. My will weakened and I gave in......and, if I'm being honest, it was worth it! Still, it hurts to see the scale keep climbing up and up. I would ask what is wrong with me because this didn't start with the diet. I'd lost a good ten pounds by the first of 2013 and managed to lose a few more up until about a month ago. No, I did not indulge in Valentine's Day candy. I would have but the Celiacs means that I'm restricted to just gluten free chocolate which means hardly any since most chocolate surprisingly contains soy sauce which in turn contains wheat. So, since nothing about my diet or activity level changed, I have no apparent cause for the sudden and rather rapid weight gain...I'm up the ten pounds and then some! Considering yesterday's indulgence, I really wasn't expecting a change, in the good direction, on the scale this morning and I didn't get one. You'd think that expectation would lower the disappointment level but it doesn't. Still, I'm going to keep going and try not to slip up again and also try to be patient with my body and let it adjust. I cleaned out my office a few weeks ago and moved everything to the new "den." There are boxes piled up to the ceiling in that room, while I clean, paint and rearrange furniture in here. Today's goal is to finish up this room (at least for now because I do have more changes planned as soon as Steve has time to help me with some of the heavy lifting that I can't manage on my own.) and clear out the "den"....it has, for over twenty-five years, been our master bedroom so I'm still having a hard time calling it anything else much less, den, TV room, study. I'm hoping that, once the room is clear of its current clutter, I have room to exercise. I know from past experience that I just can't get the weight loss ball rolling without exercise. Outside, it's been too cold or too wet or a combo of both for the last few months for me to walk or run or even work with my horses which tends to be a pretty good work out. I have tons of exercise tapes and dvds as well as exercise channels on the roku to work out with but I think that I'm not in good enough shape to start there. I recently purchased a walking workout dvd and I think that is where I'll begin and I'm hoping to make that start tomorrow morning. Once I start working out, I think that the number on that scale will start moving in the right direction. Since the basement is still under re-construction, I will move our weight bench and elliptical into the "den" temporarily and then probably to the dining room temporarily after that room is repainted and finished until I can move them and their brother and sister exercise machines down to their permanent home in the basement. By that time, I hope that I'm an exercise machine, too, ha...and doing those workouts in clothing several sizes smaller!
I hope everyone's week is off to a great start. I'm beginning to feel the joy of possibility again. This morning started with yogurt and granola and then my second meal was oatmeal and fruit. That is probably way too much grain for a diet but I had the oatmeal made and forgot to turn the crockpot on last night so it wasn't ready piping hot for both Steve's and my breakfast at 4AM. Instead, I had a small bowl at 8AM. The next two meals will be a salad and a protein/fruit/veg shake and dinner might be a shrimp curry on purple rice. I don't know if that last is on the diet but it's what's on the menu until I go to the grocery store again tomorrow.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

DAY THREE: Woke up feeling yucky this morning, sore throat, pain in chest and congestion, but still sticking with the plan despite the fact that my weight was UP again this morning!...I know, I know....there is a reason I'm only supposed to weigh once a week. Yogurt, granola and black coffee (how I always take it) for breakfast and organic carrots and Greek yogurt with ranch dip mix with water for first snack. Probably too much salt in the dip mix but it was good and otherwise healthy. Will most likely have vegetable soup for lunch and hope it will help me to feel better. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

DAY TWO: I think I did a pretty good job of sticking to the plan yesterday. It's still going to take some time before this is all running like clockwork. I did drink water, just not as much as was suggested. I did eat several small meals instead of three big ones but I do need to set an alarm on my phone so that I know when I should eat. I kept getting busy and drifting past my meal time by an hour or two, ha. I also made the fatal mistake of sitting down after dinner last night and I did not get back up. That means that I have not yet tallied my calories from yesterday. I'm so afraid that I'll be over the amount because I added walnuts to my salad but I'm trying to heal my body at the moment and walnuts are excellent for doing that...but they are very high in calories and fat. I did have plenty of energy and hope I do again today because it promises to be another busy one. I also made the mistake of getting back on the scale this morning and that was discouraging...two pounds up!!! What's going on with my body lately? I'm hoping whatever it is that this cleansing diet will fix it. Lastly, the rest of yesterday's menu: Breakfast, protein shake and banana, Snack, yogurt and granola, Lunch, yogurt and organic carrots (and some gluten free crackers that I shouldn't have had), Dinner, green salad  with chicken, cranberries and walnuts and a fat free, all natural dressing. I also ended up giving in and eating about 5 tortilla chips which I also shouldn't have done but cold turkey with my one junk-food indulgence is very difficult...also had a little diet Dr. P. with the five chips and considering how I usually slurp those down, my small serving was a good thing....and a way to help ward off the headaches I usually get when I try to stop them cold.

Friday, March 1, 2013

DAY 1 ~ March 1st

Well, the first day of the month seemed like as good a time as any to start my new diet. I feel a bit like Bridget Jones except this is the life of a wandering, wondering fifty-something instead of a thirty-something. My life does not revolve around ciggies, vodka and a revolving door of bad relationships with bad boys. Instead, it circles around my horses, my house, my work, my weight and aging body. Yes, my husband was not included in that list and no, that is not because he doesn't count in my life, he counts very much, thank you. But, after nearly forty years of marriage and over forty years together...by one anyway...if we haven't worked out all the kinks in our relationship by now, we never will. Not to say that we can't still get under each other's skin or that we don't know where each of our emotional buttons lie but we care enough and are kind enough not to push them very often these days. Now, our younger years were far different and would probably have made for much more exciting and stimulating reading but these days are far more comforting and appreciated. So, expect the daily diet and exercise diary and tales of the exploits of my horses but don't expect an edge of your seat thrill ride. That's just not where I'm at right now. I am still searching for the same things in life at fifty-seven as I was at thirty-seven, balance, peace, fulfillment, accomplishment....I'm just doing it all at a slower pace.

So, today starts the diet. I weighed in at a whopping 207.8 pounds. I am ashamed to admit that but if I work hard, maybe I can show a big change by April 1st. The day has started off with a protein shake consisting of protein powder (of course), beets and beet juice (supposed to supply incredible energy), frozen blueberries, half a pomegranate (seeds), two teaspoons of maca powder (supposed to have all sorts of healthy benefits including an increase in the female libido...those women past fifty will know why that's important), pomegranate juice and water. I had a banana with that and in the future, I may add more vegetables in the form of spinach, cucumbers and avocados. As for taste, make it cold enough and add a banana and you won't care too much but honestly, it wasn't bad. I found the taste nice and refreshing... now the smell, that's another matter but since I passed menopause my olfactory sense is working on hyper-power and odors I once found pleasant are now off putting to say the least. The odor of the maca powder is somewhere between cucumbers and ocra but I think I can bear it once a day.

I won't be adding up my calories until the end of the day. This week is just to get myself and my body in the swing of things. The first week, you have small meals every three hours to stimulate your metabolism and keep it operating at full capacity. You also are supposed to drink a glass of water before each meal and during each meal. That, I forgot to do this morning but I will remember it at the next one which is in about an hour. I should also start my exercise this week but I'm still cleaning out the clutter in the house....I'll cover that another time....but I hope I can soon start at least walking for thirty minutes to an hour every day. Weigh in is just once a week. My weigh in day will be Friday. And  so, for now, that's it. I will check in and add to this post at the end of the day to let everyone know just how well I stuck to the plan.

Yahooo! Here we go......I have a feeling it's going to be a very bumpy ride. :)