Monday, August 19, 2013
I've been largely absent from SparkPeople for the last week. Why? Because I've spent every spare moment scavenging for GISHWHES, aka Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen!
As a member of Team Average Joes Love(s) Archangels, I had some very important assignments to scavenge. Assignment #1, create a grammatically correct sentence using the first letter from the name of each team member. Show the names and sentence on your submission.
Assignment #2, photograph a statue of a famous person wearing a GISHWHES cardigan. Although I photographed Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II, it was St. Francis of Assisi that came out the best.
Assignment #3, photograph a nun in full habit going down a waterslide. I captioned it, "This is what they do to nuns with dirty habits."
Assignment #4, photograph a Storm Trooper folding laundry at a laundromat.
Assignment #5, Panhandle on a sidewalk, holding a sign that reads, "A Dragon Burned My Castle Down." Your clothing should show signs of dragon attack.
We used a perfectly good Renaissance Festival costume to clean out my friend's grill, then singed holes in it (see the shoulder?) and ripped dragon claw marks into the skirt. By the way, it was 111 degrees F when we were out shooting that photo in Scottsdale, Arizona. And it was still 111 or more, when we shot the next one.
Assignment #5, Image: You are in a cage, staring down an animal in a cage. Catch: your cage is inside his cage.
Assignment #6, Image: Release the Kraken. My friend's research showed this was a wildly popular meme some years ago. It took approximately 100 shots of two different greyhounds wearing the dragon mask to come up with a good shot!
Assignment #7, Make clothing from kale. Dragon and bear clothing.
Assignment #8, Collect screen shots of team members using the word "abnosome" and compile them into a chart. "Abnosome" is "abnormal in an awesome way."
In addition to these, I also collected over 25 photos of people hugging while holding a sign that read, "GISHWHES Hugs The World!"
This last week was insane, absnosomely fun, and somewhat sleepless! I had a total blast and it feels like something is missing, now that the project has ended.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
I've been hiking twice a week at North Mountain, in the Phoenix Mountain Preserves. A fellow SparkFriend and a local non-SP pal and I meet up at the trail head by 5 a.m. We do a few warm up exercises, then head up the mountain!
In Phoenix, daytime temperatures are hitting over 100 F every day, with some days over 110 F. If I'm going to be outside at all, it needs to be early or very brief. At 5 a.m., before the sun is up, the temps have been around 80 F. Completely tolerable, though still warm for a workout.
However, I have learned that being out hiking so early in the morning provides exceptionally beautiful views! Here's a view of the night sky, with the only lights coming from the city below.
I love seeing the dark, with just a few lights. The reality is so much prettier than the picture, you can see much more detail than my smart-phone camera can pick up. We're up near the top, when the sun peaks out from behind these distant peaks.
Arleen took my picture at the top. I'm so happy to be up on the mountain early in the morning!
On the way down, I see my favorite desert plant - a shrub called "ocotillo." That is pronounced oh-coe-tee-oh, by the way. :D In the dry season, this plant looks dead, just spiky branches with thorns. We've had a lot of rain (for a desert) lately, so it is showing its amazing "resurrection" into a leafy, green plant, covered in tiny green leaves. A little more rain, and it will burst into amazing red flame blooms at the top of each spike. I sure hope we get that rain, because I just love seeing ocotillo in bloom!
This trail up North Mtn is pretty short - about 1.6 miles round trip. On a speedy day, it is a 35-38 minute hike. On a day where I stop for photo opps, it typically takes 48-52 minutes.
Tracking hikes on SparkPeople's fitness tracker isn't too accurate. SP gives me more calorie burn for the longer hike, even though MapMyHike gives me more burn on the shorter hike of the same distance. SP's choice for hiking doesn't count for altitude change or distance, though, just minutes. This hike has 518 feet in altitude change over 0.8 mile... pretty steep!
My SparkFriend, Christine, brought headlamps for Arleen and me last week. When the nights become longer and we cannot see at 5 a.m., I want to keep making these early morning hikes and will try out the headlamps!
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Yesterday, a group of Sparkers met up at Paradise Valley Mall for an early morning, indoor *air-conditioned* mall walk. Some of us walked two miles, some three, and I hit four (because I went one extra time around with a late arrival. :D)
On the way home, HIKERBECKY and I stopped at REI so she could spend her reward points. We were both pretty hungry, so stopped to look at the power bars/snack bars. I pulled out my favorite, a "Pure Bar." (Organic, raw, made with dates & nuts, among other mostly healthy items.) Becky pulled out her cell phone, powered up "Fooducate" and scanned the bar code on my bar!
Here's what we learned:
1. Fooducate gave the item a grade of "B+"
2. It was GMO-Free (important to both of us!)
3. It is a top product in its category
4. Contains more than 16% of daily fiber
5. It is Vegan
6. The Agave Nectar used to sweeten the bar is a healthier choice than sugar as it contains less calories than sugar for the same level of sweetness; however, it equated (along with the dates to more than 4 tsp of sugar)
7. Fooducate offered a recipe for homemade granola bars that would be a healthier choice.
WOW! I had to download this app before my next shopping trip, so I did!
Then, at Sprouts, I decided to splurge on calories and treats and purchase a bottle of juice. The first one sounded good, labeled as 100% organic juice. I scanned the bar code. It received a score of "D." Huh, 100% organic juice, why a D? I read the info and discovered that manufacturers don't have to calculate "natural flavors" into the 100% ratio... interesting. So it was juice, reconstituted and had "natural flavors" added. Natural flavors, as I've learned from some of CAKEMAKERMOM's blogs, can be really bizarre stuff and not even vegetarian in some cases. Yuck! I put that bottle back and instead scanned the bar code on a bottle of Lakewood Organic Tart Cherry Juice. Much better score, a "B."
Why? Here's why:
1. Top product in its category
2. Naturally high in vitamins A & C
3. Contains only certified organic fruit juices (no "natural flavors")
4. On the downside, it was high in natural sugars with 6 tsp per serving
Although it cost $2 more, I chose the Tart Cherry Juice.
I LOVE THIS ***FREE*** Smartphone App! It will reveal the hidden GMOs in the products you're considering for purchase. It will give your foods a score and explain the score.
If you need gluten-free, however, you have to spend a few dollars for the upgrade to that app. Worth it if you have celiac disease, I'm sure!
Check out more info at www.fooducate.com/ .
Saturday, July 20, 2013
For the first year on SparkPeople, I "officially" weighed in once a week, on Sundays. Often I would weigh on other days as well. Sometimes, my weight on Friday or Monday would be 2-3 pounds lower than on Sunday, yet Sunday's weight was the "official" weight, so it was the weight I recorded.
Now, I'm a member of the "At Goal & Maintaining & Transition to Maintenance" SparkTeam. We're having a challenge where we try to stay at our goal weight for eight weeks. The allowable variance is +/- 3%. Many members use a weight averaging program and I figured I'd give it a try.
My goal is 105 pounds, which makes my "range" 101.9 to 108.2 pounds. Here's a picture of my weight averaging chart. The red points are the actual weight I recorded, the main blue line is the average, and the secondary blue line, which you see only near the end, is the average a month ago.
You'll see a few spikes downward and a few big spikes upward. One of those big spikes upward was a company party at a Mexican restaurant, which included several margaritas, with salt. Need I say water retention? Another of the large upward spikes came after dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Both times, I stayed in my caloric range for the day, yet still gained 2+ pounds. I'm assuming that the weight gain on Chinese food night came from MSG, which doesn't react well in my system.
However, you can also see that overall, I'm really on track with maintaining my target weight. If I were only recording my weight weekly, the snapshot would look much different. I'm really appreciating this averaging of daily weights as a way to track reality and trend instead of unusual spikes in either direction!
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