Thursday, December 24, 2009

Like ripples in a pond..............

I've frequently read of the influence of those around us on our lifestyle choices - or looked at in reverse, how our lifestyle choices can influence those around us. It's like the ripples in a pond: when you toss in a stone, and cause concentric circles to move out from the center. As I think about the changes I've made over the last year and a half, I see these influences. They are both inward to me, and outward to those around me.

My first influences and motivators were my brother, Jeff, and sister-in-law Gina. In April of 2008, they ran Nashville's Country Music Marathon. They started talking about (and following) a variety of workout programs. At the same time, I was leading a very sedentary lifestyle -hitting my highest weight ever, and realizing that this weight was affecting my health. I had borderline high blood pressure, high cholesterol, which combined with being at a BMI considered obese led me to being turned down for additional life insurance. I was floored. In my 40's, and denied life insurance?!? I knew it was time to make changes. I learned about eating clean from them, about Body for Life, Turbulence training, Chalean, Px90 and most importantly for my journey was being pointed towards Leigh Peele and her Fatloss Troubleshoot program.

Later I discovered that my cousin Chris and his wife Kalli both followed a regular strength training / cardio regime. It was nice to have another set of folks to bounce ideas off, to hear of their routines, to add more folks in my life who already lived the lifestyle I was aiming to live.

On-line support systems followed. The forums at jpfitness brought another group into my life. Folks who worked out regularly, who weighed their food, who wore the calorie tracking device, gowearfit, I'd begun to wear. I learned so much reading others' fitness logs, beginning to keep my own, reading all the questions in the Fatloss Troubleshoot section, answering a few myself. Learned of "new Rules for Lifting", New Rules for Lifting for Women". More like minded people, more good influences, more support.

At work, I discovered people into yoga, several into various forms of cycling - from road to mountain, a women about to do her first triathlon. All of these influenced my choices. Kathy, a co-worker and yoga teacher, taught me so much about body awareness, the importance of balance. The cyclists introduced me to the sport that has become a love of mine.

Twitter was next, finding interesting fitness minded folks to follow. The occasional post about my workouts, my current activities. Recently, I've been fortunate enough to meet one of my twitter "friends" and join her in a great combination cycling/strength training class. Meeting the coach of that class, a female former triathlete has been an added bonus. I'm looking forward to seeing where these two new friendships could lead me.

Then remarkably folks around me started to ask me for fitness and diet advice. Really, me? They noticed the changes (in my body and my attitude). Over time I realized I was becoming an influence on others, one of those ripples in other people's ponds.

I needed all of this, all these people and their influences to hit my first set of goals - which were to lose 60 lbs and get all those health readings in line. Both of which I did. Blood pressure is an un-medicated 120/78, cholesterol has dropped to 165 (from 248, not bad, huh?), 65lbs gone. Two half marathons completed. A whole new lease of life.

But I realize now those goals weren't enough. That I still need to lose 30-40 pounds to get my body where I want it. That I want to challenge myself to complete a triathlon, to complete those half marathons at a much faster pace, to ride a century (100 miles in a day) on my bike. So much left to do. And maybe by discussing it all in this blog, I can throw a few more pebbles in a few more ponds!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Newborn, Natchez, Noshing, Nashville, November

Our family had a little something extra to be thankful for this year - my new nephew Jack Stephen. Jack is the first child of my brother. He's named in memory of my Dad, Jack, and in honor of his maternal grandfather, Stephen. My brother was a confirmed bachelor who hit the jackpot in his mid-40's when he met his wife, Gina. Smart, fun, beautiful with an incredible family to boot. Really none of us could have asked for more. So, this year for Thanksgiving, we loaded up the car, put the bikes on the rack and set out on the 10 hour drive to celebrate with Jeff and Gina's family and new son down in Nashville. And celebrate we did.

Gina's Aunt is a great hostess and great cook. As with many great cooks, they have friends who are equally good cooks adding to the fun. What a feast we had - a foodie's heaven! Two turkeys, one oven roasted, one smoked, two kinds of stuffing - including Gina's family recipe of an italian sausage and bread stuffing that was almost addicting.

More and more food kept appearing on the tables....a couple of different sweet potatoes, the most amazing layered jello salad, several versions of cranberries, I loved the cranberry ginger chutney. Wines of the day were Pine Ridge Chenin/Vognier, Edna Valley Chardonnay, and Ponzi Pinot Noir. Blue Moon Honey Moon was available for the beer lovers. A bottle of Woodford Reserve was around. (any guesses what hubby and I were responsible for bringing). I forgot to get a picture of the dessert table - but it was equally impressive - two kinds of pumpkin pie, pecan pies. All so yummy.

Thank goodness with all that eating, we'd brought the bikes. Got in several good rides. A couple around Nashville in the Oak Hill/Belmont areas. But the most memorable was a ride along the Natchez Trace. Beautiful and challenging with the continual rolling hills.

Discovered that I'm a bit of a wimp riding over this famous bridge over Hwy 96. Heading out I stayed a decent distance from the edge. Coming back, a crosswind had blown up, and I was scared to death. Rode at almost the center of the road. Even once we got across and I got off the bike to take these pictures I never was able to stand next to the rail. Just a bit too freaked out.

The nice weather also provided an opportunity for a walk around Radner Lake.

Ended the weekend with a celebration of Mom's birthday. A great trip, wonderful meeting Jack and spending time with family. Enough to wear a guy out!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What happens in the Dells........a trip report

Another quick trip down to Glacier Canyon Lodge at the Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. If you haven't figured out by now, I like to play. Be it trips to Disney, riding my bike or heading to the waterpark, I find I'm a much saner, calmer and happier person with frequent doses of playful fun. Luckily my ten your old son is still at an age that he enjoys time spent goofing around with Mom, even if this trip did include him bringing a friend for part of the trip.

The Wilderness resort is a mega complex with three large indoor waterparks, three equally large or larger outdoor ones, not to mention the upscale adults only Sundara Spa complex, a couple of golf courses and another lodge area on the shores of Lake Delton. Obviously, a trip to the Wisconsin Dells in mid-November means sticking to the indoor parks. All three have giant water slides - body slides, tube slides and specialized slides with names like "Fantastic Voyage", "black Hole" or the "Hurricane', there's a large indoor wave pool, lazy river and interactive water fun play areas. Be prepared for lots of stair climbing. Of all the slides, "Black Hole" is my favorite with "Fantastic Voyage" a close second.

Usually I also enjoy their lazy river, but felt like this trip it just wasn't heated to an enjoyable temperature. In fact, I would say the same for the various hot tubs - really should have been hotter. Not sure what the issue was, but hope they solve. I've been to Wilderness on other winter weekends, and hope this isn't a new cost cutting measure - as it would make me question spending my playtime there in the future. While I'm criticizing this otherwise great resort, I'd also suggest making one of the hot tubs adult only or at the very least enforcing those large "No one under 6 allowed in hot tubs" signs. The hot tub picture below was taken on Friday afternoon before the weekend crowds, when the hot tubs were literally shoulder to shoulder (both around edges and in the middle) with people.

Sunday brought a sunny, unseasonably warm day, so while my Mom supervised my son and his friend in the waterpark, hubby and I went for a 7 mile walk around the Wilderness grounds and surrounding area. We hadn't brought the bikes, but still had a little chuckle around this set of signs.

Here's some outdoor shots from the walk. The outdoor parks had sad, lonely feel with their empty pools. The new, but closed Zipline tours were taunting me. I've been dying to try them. In the past when I had opportunities to zip in Hawaii or Mexico or wherever, I weighed more than the max allowed weight. Now that I comfortably make the weight limits, I still wasn't able to go. We'd been to Wilderness last July, the weekend before these zips opened, and now here we were back the weekend after they closed. Sigh. I'll have to get that bit of fun and excitement on another trip (and Hawaii and Mexico zip lines are still on the to-do list!)

Decided we must plan a grown up weekend at Sundara some day (maybe next anniversary?), I'm a spa addict and that looked awfully nice - not to mention based on all the steam rising from the surface of the water, their outdoor pool is very well heated - no cost cutting over there! As golfers (he's avid, I'm a duffer), we enjoyed walking the cart path of one of the courses shut down for the season. Lake Delton looked gorgeous - some of you may remember this as the lake that broke about a year ago, washing away a couple of huge houses. Lake has been fixed and re-filled. Loved this carved tree trunk at one of the lakeside houses

Last few pics are from our unit at Wyndham's Vacation Resort at Glacier Canyon. As I've mentioned before, I own a decent amount of points (all purchased via ebay) in Wyndham's timeshare system - as does my Mom. For this trip we had a three bedroom unit. Very, very nice. Master bedroom with the tub for two, king bed, walk in shower, second bedroom with another king, third with two queens. Nice shared bath for those two rooms. Sleeps 10 (via a hide a bed in living room). We had my son & his friend, my Mom, hubby and I. Kitchen very well equipped with service for 12, plus all the typical small and large appliances. Though honestly we ate out much of the time. Kept the fireplace going in the evening which was a cozy touch. And naturally, one section of the closed zip lines passed right by our balcony - taunting me further!

The Dells are a bit kitchy. Son finally got his trip to a Ripley's Believe it or Not on this trip and was unfortunately more fascinated and interested in reading all the signs and exhibits than I hoped would happen. We found the "resort" my parents had honeymooned at 54 years ago - a bit worse for wear. Have to say, kitchy, touristy or not, for a fun filled weekend, close to home they fit the bill. (Which is a good thing, because in late January we'll be back for one of my son's gymnastics meets - though after 4 trips to Wilderness we will be trying a new resort that trip. Not to mention hoping to get some skiing in at Cascade Mountain).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reflections on Halloween 2009

First off an observation......This blogger in training needs to do a better job of documenting things from start to finish. Sad to realize I didn't take any in-process photos yesterday...the counter covered in newspaper, 5 pumpkins in varying states of being carved, piles of raw seeds, the patterns, carving tools, carved out chunks of pumpkin, my son and I covered in pumpkin gunk. Good times. Instead just have the final outcome of Halloween 2009 at our house.

We ended up with 6 carved pumpkins, one carved the day before at day care, the rest carved on Halloween morning at home. Final tally, I'd only carved 2, son did rest. I was responsible for all the pumpkin cleaning, pulling out the slimy guts, separating the seeds from the fleshy, gooey threads that connect them to the actual fruit. And boy, did we have seeds.

Son mentioned at the day care, they'd roasted the seeds two ways, with salt and then with cinnamon sugar. Then voted on favorite, where he voted "BOTH". I've only ever done salt - somewhat evolving that to a savory garlic and herb version. Ended up splitting the seeds to to pans - on the right is the normal salt version, left is with a small bit of butter, brown sugar and common pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger). Would have to agree and vote "both"!

Trick or Treat in our town was from 5-7:30. My 10yo son had a friend spending the night, both going as versions of Star Wars clones. This was going to be the first year he trick or treated without parents, so I was a little worried, but we'd laid out the ground rules, they knew which streets they couldn't cross, where they could go. A bit after 5pm, armed with flashlights, glow sticks and candy bags they set off. The boys were back well before 7:30 - first to grab additional coats, and later cuz they were tired of walking.

I donned my Cruella costume and the dog put on his Robin costume. We had maybe 40 trick-or-treaters. Lots of comments about the pumpkins from the parents, a few little ones nervous by the talking decorations and spooky music, but overall a good time. No dalmatians tho', which would have been kinda fun!

Today it's more or less back to normal, Halloween decorations packed away, pumpkins remain, and now time to tackle the masses and masses of leaves in the yard!