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A Day up on the Roan (Mountain) with pics!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Yesterday we wanted to do a longer hike, so went up on the Roan to hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT). We started at Carver’s Gap at the North Carolina / Tennessee line (5,512' elevation) and headed north toward the Balds. (On this mountain, there are open grassy spaces at the tops of many of the ridges, which are called Balds). The valley below on the NC side was just starting to show fall colors, and was just beautiful with the sun shining on it.

Unfortunately, clouds rolled in just as we were parking and getting ready to start our hike. The wind up on the balds is always more than you expect as there is nothing to block it, so it can be a lot colder up there than in the parking lot, so without sun, we considered aborting our planned hike and coming back another day, but in the end decided to go. We’ve been up this trail some before, although not as far as we planned to go this time. Two years ago, we hiked up to the first bald (Round Bald), and stopped and had lunch on some big rocks up there where there is a nice view. That was all the hiking / climbing we were up for on that day, since we both weighed 60+ pounds more each and were not in the habit of exercising. I remember being really tired and out of breath when we got to the “lunch rock”. Here I am standing on the "lunch rock" and in the lower right the cars in the parking lot below where we pick up the AT.

On this day, however, we just stopped and took a picture and laughed at how we could go no further two years ago. The “lunch rock” is about ½ mile from the parking lot, although the trail has a fair bit of elevation gain on the way, as you can see. Anyway, on we went after having our chuckle about our old “lunch rock”. We still had several miles to cover before our planned lunch break on this day. We had planned to get to the top of Round Bald (5,826'), continue down and up to Jane Bald (5,807'), and then up to Grassy Bald, and then to hike another couple of miles on the AT, depending on the weather.
Here is a shot of us between Round and Jane Balds, and the highest one you can see in the background is Grassy Bald where we planned our lunch stop.

You can see how the clouds were lowering and in the open areas, it was pretty windy. Some rare sunny breaks allowed a view of the Roan Valley.

To get to Grassy Bald, you have to leave the AT and climb up a different trail. The AT continues north from that point but along the sides of it, rather than up and over the top. The trail up goes through some Rhododendron (not blooming now of course).

Then finally reaches the top of the bald, which is capped by another big rock. There is a memorial plaque to a local man who loved the mountain.

And of course, there is the inevitable USDA Cadastral Survey marker in the rock at the top.

Why is there always a rock at the top, even on the balds? And why does this one not show the elevation? I looked it up though from the number, and it is at 6,160'.

We had a nice lunch there at the top of Grassy Bald, watching the clouds rolling in and out and getting peeks at the valleys on both the NC side and the TN side. At times we were in the clouds, (which were damp and quite cold), but at least when you’re in the clouds, the wind stops. Since the clouds were lowering so much, and so damp it seemed it might rain, we decided to not go further on the AT, and once we climbed down from Grassy Bald, we just returned by the AT.

The hike was a round trip total of about 5 miles (according to my Garmin at least) and we climbed a total of about 1300 feet, (according to my Fitbit). After we got home, we did some other walking to finish out the planned distance of 10 miles for the day, and also to get the additional 20 flights of stairs (200 feet of climb) to get my newest 150 flights badge, so all in all, quite a nice day with some good exercise.

It was such a treat to know that the only reason we decided not to go further on the AT was weather, and not being out of breath or having legs too tired! Thank you Spark People for helping me to get my life back and to be able to do the things I want to do!! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LEARN2BHEALTHY 10/17/2013 6:05PM

    WOW what beautiful place enjoyed your story you are such an inspiration emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/17/2013 6:05:49 PM

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TURTLETALK 10/13/2013 7:31PM

    Looks lovely, I have to find some new places to walk!

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VONBLACKBIRD 10/13/2013 6:24PM

    This is terrific about how much you have improved. So enjoyed reading this and looking at the pictures of the AT...Thanks for sharing.

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MICKEYH 10/12/2013 10:33PM

    emoticon for sure it was much easier this time with out extra pounds! Sounds like you guys had great fun hiking. *\(^o^)/* pictures are awesome. Thanks for sharing.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BOOK-LADY35 10/12/2013 11:09AM

    So--how are you going to top this before you head back to FL (flat land)?

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RURAL3 10/12/2013 11:05AM

    great job looks beautiful

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SHOAPIE 10/12/2013 10:47AM


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TWEETYKC00 10/12/2013 10:23AM

    Wow, beautiful place. Looks like a wonderful visit.

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HOLLYM48 10/12/2013 10:21AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MOSTMOM1 10/12/2013 10:20AM

    What a fab way to mark progress!!!! I love that your stamina has increased so much; that has to be very motivating for you. And look--you climbed the Empire State Building!! WOOHOO!!!!

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SLIMLEAF 10/12/2013 9:43AM

    Excellent - well done!

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PILLYWIGGIN 10/12/2013 6:44AM

    How lovely - the beauty and also the massive NSV for you!!!
A perfect day...

I love my fitbit and have achieved my 300 floor badge this summer while walking our local coastpath - feels great to get a new badge doesnt it!!! emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/12/2013 6:46:35 AM

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DOROTHYBERO 10/12/2013 6:23AM

    Beautiful - thanks for sharing!

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ALICIA214 10/12/2013 12:49AM


Lovely pics Thank you for sharing.... emoticon

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CHRISBRYAN 10/12/2013 12:05AM

    This place looks familiar; great to have friends in high places.

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LEXONE 10/11/2013 11:43PM

    I love the NC mountains....such a beautiful place to visit and live if your lucky...we love traveling the blue ridge parkway....some gorgeous views at any given time!

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Flight Plan for Fall 5% challenge

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Here’s my plan for meeting my 5% goal in the Fall challenge:

Tracking food & drink – track absolutely EVERYTHING I put in my mouth. This has worked well for me so far this year as I’ve lost 60 pounds and is definitely the foundation for everything else. I’m currently on a streak for tracking for 294 days! Not going to break this one any time soon, LOL!

Nutrition – Sticking with the Spark diet, trying to stay within ranges for calories, fat, carbs, protein, and fiber. My calorie range all year has been 1200 – 1550, but in the last few weeks I’ve been off the reservation, so to speak, and have picked up a couple of pounds to prove it! When I was losing consistently, I was in ranges nearly every day, or if over a day here and there, I made sure to be in ranges at least on average for the week. That worked…being over on calories and fat 2 – 3 days a week has not, duh. emoticon So, it's pretty obvious what needs to happen here, right?

Fitness – Fitbit goals remain at emoticon 10,000 steps, 5 miles a day on average, and 10 flights of stairs daily on average. I will run emoticon or emoticon Zumba 3 times a week for cardio, and do emoticon strength training twice a week. I’m trying to train to run a emoticon in early December, but it depends on how my knees hold up if I can get there for this race…we’ll see.

Other – at least 7 hours a night of sleep emoticon (not on average, this is a minimum!) and at least 10 cups of water a day. emoticon In summer this is easy, so will need to focus a bit more going into cooler weather.

Weight goal – lose 5% from my summer challenge ending weight. This means I will need to lose the few I gained during the break plus 7 pounds to end at goal weight of 125. emoticon I can do this! emoticon

Team goal – I would absolutely love for the emoticon A team to lose 2.5% of weight in total for the Fall Challenge. We can do this! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DONNACFIT 10/10/2013 6:59PM


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MICKEYH 10/8/2013 9:23PM

    Great plans!! emoticon emoticon

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POLYANNA2 10/8/2013 2:51PM

    Love your positivity. And, YES, we can do this!!! All the best on the challenge!!!

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JITTERBUGJOY 10/8/2013 1:05PM


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There's still time to sign up for Fall 5% Challenge!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Fall 5% Challenge starts in a couple of weeks, so there is still time to sign up. What is a 5% challenge you ask? Well, it's 8 weeks where we compete as teams, and travel virtually to exotic destinations around the world. We earn miles for travel with fitness minutes and earn points for learning and incorporating healthy habits into our lifestyle. The overall goal is to lose 5% of our body weight in the 8 weeks' journey.

If you want to try something fun and different and work toward your healthy goals at the same time, give it a shot. I'm super glad I joined the first one in the winter of last year. I've learned new ways to live healthier in each of the three 5% challenges I've participated in, and also managed to lose at least 5% of my weight in each of them too! emoticon

Here's the link to the main team...all you need to do is join this team, and then you'll be assigned to one of the smaller teams a week or so before the challenge starts on October 12th.

Happy traveling!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CERIUSLY 9/28/2013 9:19AM

    I love reading about the success stories of 5% Challengers! Thanks for being an emoticon Leader!

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DELIA38961 9/27/2013 11:04PM

    ive joined and really looking forward to this challenge emoticon

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MICKEYH 9/27/2013 9:45PM

    We'll said. emoticon I am looking forwards to this emoticon Challenge.

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Summer 5% Challenge Wrap up – Progress & Goal Check

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Today is the final day of the Summer 5% Challenge, so I wanted to record some statistics of my personal progress during these last eight weeks:

Weight - Down 10 pounds (7%) to 132 emoticon
Measurements - Down a total of 7.5 inches: emoticon
Chest (2)”
Waist (3)”
Hips (1.5)”
Thigh (0.5)”
Arm (0.5)”
Waist to Hip Ratio - Down from .84 to .81 (still an avocado, but getting close to a pear!)
Body Fat % - Down 1.7%

I didn't meet all my exercise goals...very skimpy on ST sessions, so need to work on that, but otherwise overall I'm pleased with the results of the last 8 weeks.

I think it’s strange that with these last 10 pounds, I’ve lost 2 more clothing sizes and 7.5 more inches! I can only think that it’s a combination of exercise and just the quirky way my body stores fat, LOL! I have 7 more pounds to my (new) final weight goal (which I have changed several times through this journey), but I’m confident that this time, it is really the final one.

Throughout this year, although I’ve changed up my fitness program numerous times and tweaked my eating patterns to get to better balanced nutrition, the one thing that has absolutely remained constant is nutrition tracking. For me this is the one non-negotiable thing in my program, and I've been streaking on this one for 277 days now! Everything else can be switched around, alternated, skipped, etc. to accommodate life, but not this one thing. If I don’t do that, the rest is a waste as I won’t take long to start fooling myself about what is “eating right”, and then not get the results I want.

The 5% challenges (and the emoticon A team) have been a great help to me this year with fun new challenges, supportive team mates, and a little competition to keep it interesting. I’m very much looking forward to the break, and then to the Fall 5% challenge. I’ll be once again with the emoticon A team, of course!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MICKEYH 9/22/2013 9:26PM

    You really rock !! So proud of you and your achievement !! Job well done and way to go my dear. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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POPSY190 9/21/2013 7:37PM

    emoticon You are right about the nutrition tracker. I've failed to fill it in diligently and am now seeing the (awful) results.

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ADRIENALINE 9/21/2013 5:07PM

    That's great! Congrats!

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JMCADE 9/21/2013 4:14PM

    Great Job!

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WIZKEY 9/21/2013 4:04PM

    emoticon emoticon

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COOKINGSTARS 9/21/2013 3:07PM


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PJMOMMATO3 9/21/2013 1:15PM

    emoticon emoticon

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The Key to Success

Saturday, August 03, 2013

For Week 2 of the Summer 5% Challenge, the healthy habit we are scoring points for is tracking our nutrition. When the announcement was made about the week 2 LTGL habit, my first thought was “Great! I do this already and it’ll be easy!” Then I started thinking about why I do it and what it has meant to me and decided to blog about it today, the start of our Week 2.

On my seven month journey (this time around), as I’ve been losing weight and down-sizing, many people have commented on how good I look and ask how I did it. There are a lot of answers to this that are true, but if I had to name one thing that’s changed my lifestyle for the better and made the biggest difference, it’s nutrition tracking. Along the way, I’ve added other habits in that are also important, but for me, nutrition tracking laid the foundation for nearly all the others.

Learning all over again what I was eating in terms of nutrients was once again a real eye opener. The tracking gave me the information to begin making small adjustments in my eating patterns and habits until I was comfortable sustaining the changes and staying within recommended ranges. This came in stages:

First, the only goal was to stay within the limits of calories. This took lots of adjustments and made me start to make different choices for food. emoticon

Next I focused on getting in the recommended ranges for carbs, protein, and fat, all at the same time as staying within the range of calories. This took a number of readjustments and I had to get more creative in meal planning and food choices….exploring new recipes, reworking many of my old ones, and just trying more new foods. emoticon

Then I focused on getting 5-8 servings of freggies. By doing this, I found that some of the other imbalances in my nutrients came into line more easily, and I was less hungry. “OK then”, I thought, “this is really working, and getting easier!” emoticon

Finally (regarding eating habits), I added fiber to the tracking and worked to stay within 25-35 grams per day of fiber. Adding in the freggies earlier helped a lot with this, but I still found it necessary to make some further adjustments to diet and food choices. emoticon

For the last couple of months or so, I’ve managed to stay within all these ranges every day but a few, and everything seems to be working pretty automatically. The tracking aids my meal planning, so that if I add in a “treat” I can see quickly where I need to compensate to stick to my overall nutrition goals. Yay! emoticon This means that “treats” don’t have to make me feel bad and like I’ve failed to meet my goals, but I now have the power and tools to have them and still be on track and headed in the right direction to achieve my nutrition and other health goals.

Since I committed on this path in December, nothing has been perfect, except for this one thing. No matter what, I committed back then to tracking EVERYTHING. EVERYDAY. And I have done this, even when I wasn’t able to stay within nutrition or other targets, or even to stay on track with my exercise plans. For this one commitment, “there is no try. Only do or do not”, and I chose to DO! emoticon

My journey to a more healthy and happy me has included making a lot of changes in my lifestyle, and overall it’s been a great success. I feel better, stronger and healthier than I have in many years, and this is attributable to a combination of all the changes without a doubt. But the ONE tool that helped me to accomplish the majority of the changes was nutrition tracking, so for me, it's truly the key to success!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MYAKAYAH 9/3/2013 1:10AM

    Thanks for the comments on my blog. I appreciate the support greatly. Yeah, I walked tonight but was rained on so had to bring the exercise indoors after a half hour or so. I'm happy my fog lifted off of me so I can feel better, like myself again~ emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    I agree.

emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 8/9/2013 2:21:15 AM

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GWINNER1 8/5/2013 7:21AM

    Alie, great blog. Although I've always tracked regularly, I too have room for improvement, especially with the ranges. I usually try to make sure the calories are in line, but my carb/fat ration seldom fall the way it should. That will be what I work on in this challenge. Thanks for sharing. emoticon

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HEALTHYGRAMMY49 8/4/2013 2:53PM

emoticon me too.

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DOROTHYBERO 8/4/2013 8:26AM


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GEMLADYONE 8/3/2013 11:10PM

    To answer a question that was asked, here's some additional info (I don't mind at all sharing, especially if someone else can benefit from it).

My calorie range is 1200 - 1550 and over time on average I'm around 1350 - 1400. There are many days that I'm right at the max, but I try to be on the lower end the next day to offset it. One thing that I found early on was that I was often at the highest (barely in range) on fat, and at the same time at the lowest (again, barely in range) on carbs. From reading on here about nutrition, I learned that you need the carbs to burn the fat, so this combination is not good for weight loss (or management). That's one of the things I had to really work at adjusting so that my fat stays more in the middle, and carbs likewise. This was the hardest adjustment and I struggled with it. When I added fiber tracking, the carbs increased pretty much naturally to get the fiber in the 25-35 range. I found that what I had been doing was limited my carbs in order to fit in my high-fat treats and still stay in calorie range! Once I stopped that imbalance, everything seemed to fall into line. I think this may be what helped me avoid a plateau like so many others have hit. In the beginning, the pounds come off pretty easily, but then if you don't adjust something , it's easy to get stalled out, or at least that's what I've seen. Maybe the carb / fat balance thing is obvious, but it sure seemed to be a revelation to me once I figured it out!

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BELIEVING-N-ME 8/3/2013 9:17PM

    WooHoo on staying committed to tracking. You are doing great!

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MICKEYH 8/3/2013 7:23PM

    I know exactly how you feel right now. You are so right about sticking to tracking foods. And most of all, lots of freggies. for me, Eating them made me feel good in Side and out. Although I felt bit of deprive of eating so clean and this weekend I had to rewind myself a bit of indulgence. But I will start back healthy me coming this week. So over all, I finally feels like me again nowadays. I know that you are feeling great too. Have a wonderful Sunday my dear.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    Tracking is crucial to being able to lose weight and to keeping it off. Now that I am in maintenance I am not so rigid and faithful about tracking every last gram but I notice when I have not tracked for awhile I gradually start making poorer food choices.

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TURTLETALK 8/3/2013 1:49PM

    Wahoo, you are doing great. If I may ask, what is your calorie range and where do you usually fall within it? I have been staying pretty faithful to 1200-1500 c per day since January with much less dramatic results. My daily average over time is about 1350.

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SONYALATRECE 8/3/2013 1:11PM

You're truly spot on!

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PATRICE_E 8/3/2013 12:08PM

    Doesn't integrity feel great? I'm so proud of you for sticking to your commitment to track your food every day and for adjusting your food choices along the way. Terrific blog post!

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