Monday, December 16, 2013
I went Nordic (classic) skiing with my friend Pat last week, and we went again today. For our first ski last Sunday, we did an intermediate (blue diamond) trail, which means it has lots of up and down. The trail provided many chances to use different techniques (herringbone uphill, snowplow and wedge turns downhill, step turns, and kick glide). The snow was delightful last week Ė this week, not so much. Today Pat aptly pointed out it was like skiing on a snow cone. It was very hard icy crust with a little melting on top Ė very fast icy conditions. It is MUCH harder to control the skis on snow conditions like today; instead of perfect powder it was what skiers call Sierra cement. The same trail that was a fun rollercoaster last week was much more treacherous and demanding today. I left our favorite blue diamond trail and did the easy (green circle) loops instead; even they were much harder than normal due to snow conditions. (The bad snow conditions are caused when the snow warms up during the day and turns slushy, and then freezes at night)
We tried a new trail back to the lodge -- it replaces the trail that is commonly called "Screamer" because it is a steep long descent to the intermediate trails
This fir tree along the trail is the perfect Christmas tree!
This picture illustrates snow layers that can cause avalanches. The hard crusty snow compacts to an ice layer. Then a big snowfall on top of it adds a lot of weight on top of the ice. On flat surfaces, the snow can suddenly drop several inches with a big WHUMP sound. But if the angle of the hill is 30-38 degrees, the snow is likely to hurtle off in an avalanche.
After a couple of hours, we had our lunch at the Nordic lodge. My eye was caught by what must be the most useless item of clothing ever created: A down mini skirt!
Then Pat found down shorts
I just can't imagine where anyone would wear a down mini skirt or shorts.
I met Pat about 12 years ago on a ski trip in Mt Assinboine; she was very athletic and fit but she hadnít skied much. She decided to run a marathon for her 50th birthday, and she trained and met that goal. On that first ski adventure, she kept up with the group but was a novice. Well, somehow that has changed. She is now a stronger and more athletic skier than me; and she is a stronger more athletic skier than all my other friends that went on the trip. How? She works at it. She moved to our city (close to snow), she skis more than I do, and she pushes herself to go farther, faster, longer.
So I have learned some good lessons from Pat!
Endurance and practice pay off big time. We CAN get better and improve our fitness no matter our age.
I have learned how to to be challenged to fitness accomplishments Ė without exceeding my abilities. Sometimes Pat will automatically go at a faster harder pace and I canít keep up. She has now learned better to match the groupís pace. But sometimes when I am with her (without a group), I have to slow down or even turn back, or I will suffer an injury from trying to go too far/too fast.
As a friend she is delightful company because she is smart, kind, and funny -- and she is always ready for an adventure.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Last week was my 3 year SparkiVersary. I have never kept up a healthy lifestyle change for such an extended period! My achievements include:
I have been drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day for 3 years.
I have had 5 fruits and vegetables every day for 3 years.
I have exercised at least 10 minutes a day for almost every day for three years. And I have exercised for at least 5 hours total weekly.
I have improved my health (cholesterol and blood sugar), and maintained my excellent blood pressure. Last year after being diagnosed with osteopenia (bone loss), I have took steps to improve bone density; I am taking calcium and vitamin D, I stopped taking Prilosec, and I added more weight bearing exercise and strength training.
I have made new friends through SP, and feel as though I have a really nice support system of on line friends. I originally joined SP with a group of seven local women at the suggestion of friend; we met regularly for a few months. By the end of six months most of the others dropped out; by the end of a year I was the only person still in SP. It took time, and it took joining groups and responding to blogs, but I now feel that I am a part of an AMAZING on line community. I see some of the other women from my original group occasionally; they are all impressed that I KEPT UP weight loss and fitness improvement!
I lost weight over the three years. However Ė recently my weight loss has stalled, and this past year I regained some weight. My size has not changed (I still have gone from a size 22 W to a size 16). This past month, I regained 8 pounds. I believe that is related to a medication that I was taking that has edema (retaining fluid) as a side effect. I have stopped taking the medication but I donít know how long the side effect will last. My ankles still show the effects of edema. (The other side effect, red burning eyes, has already stopped).
Overall I am happy with my progress. I will make some changes in my action plan after the holidays to increase exercise and lose more weight.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
I am baking cookies today for my friendís cookie exchange party tomorrow (Iím making pumpkin hazelnut bars). I am also planning my strategy for coping with temptation. At the party, everyone tastes all the cookies, then votes for each personís favorite. I will bring a small knife and eat ľ of each cookie (up to 12 different kinds, which would be 3 cookies total). Iíll cut my own cookies into SMALL portions. And I will eat a healthy meal with protein before going to the party (party is from 5 to 8 p.m.). The hosts will be serving appetizers and alcoholic beverages; but from 5-8 is a long time to go without being sure of a healthy meal. I could TOTALLY turn into the cookie monster if I donít have real food in my stomach.
Some holiday season treats are nice as guilty pleasures in small doses. In addition, there are a few treats that I buy during the holidays for the entire year. My favorites: fresh cranberry sauce (with or without orange); spiced apple cider (the real cider with no sugar added, not the packaged stuff) and Brachís Christmas tree nougats. They are good as guilty pleasures, because they are sweet but no fat and relatively low calorie Ė and they donít tempt me to binge like the cookie tray does! The fresh cranberry sauce I am freezing in small batches; the nougats will live on the top shelf of the pantry (from experience I know that the nougats will last for at least 6 months). The cider will last for months (unopened), and also lasts pretty well in the fridge after itís been opened.
Tonight I am meeting some friends at a pub, I will have a whole different set of temptations there! I hope they have good lemonade or cider. I donít need the beer.
p.s. to those of you who expressed concern about my mom, thank you! My sister (who is jointly on momís checking account) has taken the lead in informing administration about the issue.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
I had a very nice Thanksgiving visit with my family. Mom is very frail and doesnít have much appetite; it doesnít help that her nursing home now refuses to reheat coffee or soup in the microwave (itís brought from a central kitchen and it is room temperature by the time it reaches mom). The nursing aides say is a new safety regulation. They wonít allow us to reheat the food either!
My sister (currently living in Pittsburgh PA) and I met at mom for her Thanksgiving meal at noon, mom ordered extra food on her tray and we shared a light lunch. Nothing was hot. Mom resorted to eating her favorite secret stash of food (cookies and a few potato chips).
Mom fell asleep, she really can only stay awake for a couple of hours at a time. I was amazed at how much better her leg looks, the infected blown up knee is greatly reduced in size, and the leg is oozing much less. But part of the reduction in swelling is due to the fact that she doesnít really move out of bed, so the leg is always elevated. At any rate I am grateful that at least one part of her life has improved. (My mom is 94, and has been in hospice 3 times now) She sleeps much of the time.
We (siblings and I) are concerned that mom wrote a check for $500 to one of the nursing aides, who said she needed funds to visit a sick family member. The nursing aides and other staff are strictly forbidden from accepting money from residents. I donít understand how the aide could jeopardize her job like that; she could be fired. Actually she should be fired. They were all warned the last time mom gave them cash gifts. This transaction is easily traced, even though mom and the aide never discussed it with anyone. My older sister discovered the discrepancy when she balanced the checkbook. My sister is struggling with what to do; I say report it and let the employer deal with it. Itís pretty obvious that the cash drain will continue if it is not stopped. (My other sister wants to change the account to require two signatures on all checks; that would require momís consent and she is strong-willed)
My older sister hosted us for our main Thanksgiving dinner. It was excellent. I provided dessert, which worked very well despite being frozen and transported in my suitcase in the airplaneís cargo hold.
Weather was very warm and sunny! California is suffering one of the worst droughts in history and they are praying for rain (snow in the mountains). I stayed at a new hotel where the accommodations were delightful. It would make sense for me to stay at the same place as my sister, but I cannot stomach paying that much money. Itís at least $50 more per night at the place she selects. Rightly or wrongly, I add it up in my head, and I donít want to spend that much more just to sleep in the same building (and she doesnít want to downgrade from the status/luxury place). The main problem for me (at the luxury place) is that it is between the railway tracks and El Camino Real (very busy road), and there is not a nice place for me to walk from my hotel room in the evenings. (My new hotel choice has a little walking path along a creek and gardens, and the side road goes into a tree-lined residential area).
Although I met my exercise goals, I did not do well with my eating. I ate way too many sweets and too much food overall. I really noticed that my skin breaks out with eczema when I eat sugar. Plus I start to crave it. So I am working very hard to overcome the challenges of the holidays. Saturday is a cookie exchange party (I already committed to going) so I will need to eat before I go. I told my sister I would bring dessert for Christmas dinner (my mom enjoys the home-made treats also). So to reduce my sugar intake to a manageable level, I wonít bake cookies for the neighbors; I will do something non-sweet instead (roasted spiced nuts, or a floral arrangement).
Iím holding off on my weigh-in until my three year Sparkiversary on December 13, in the probably vain hope that I wonít weigh more than last weigh-in.
Hope all of you are doing well with this season of temptations! Letís keep trying to make the best choices that we can.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Last night I hosted a birthday dinner for my friend Pat. I had 13 guests, which is a LOT in my dining room. I added a small table to form an L shape dinner table (my dining room table seats 10 maximum), it had to go sideways or the table wouldnít fit in my room.
For the main course I was inspired by my recent trip to Barcelona to serve paella, the Spanish dish with rice, veggies, and a mix of seafood, chicken and spicy sausage. I made two separate large paellas, one with chicken and spicy sausage, and second one with fish, scallops, and shrimp. (Paella is usually made with all the ingredients mixed together, but I was fairly certain my guests would prefer to have the choice). I also made sangria, which turned out really well.
One guest arrived early and was very critical because my main course included shrimp; she told me shrimp are toxic bottom feeders. (BTW her objections were not based on religion, she is outspokenly anti-religious). I told her ďwell, you can eat the paella with chicken and sausage insteadĒ. She told me NO ONE should eat shrimp, they are poison!!! Which I thought was really rude. For me, shrimp are a special treat, and I was certain that Pat would love them. Even if the guest HAS strong opinions about food, it is not necessary to share negative opinions with the host who is providing the food! What was the point? Did she seriously expect me to throw out the main entrťe minutes before the other guests arrived?
Okay Iím through with my rant. It was a great party anyway, and everyone else loved the paella; I didnít monitor what the difficult guest ate but she seemed to enjoy herself and she was pleasant company for the rest of evening.
I tried a new class yesterday after Zumba, Yoga Pilates. I thought it would be gentle stretching and deep breathing that would be relaxing after Zumba; instead it was a very tough workout focused on abs, rear, and hips. I am SORE today, even though I couldnít complete all the reps. (Actually all 6 of us friends who stayed for the class are sore; no one completed all the reps). My core muscles must be made of jelly! Iíll definitely go again!
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