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!!
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. So, it's pretty obvious what needs to happen here, right?
Fitness – Fitbit goals remain at 10,000 steps, 5 miles a day on average, and 10 flights of stairs daily on average. I will run or Zumba 3 times a week for cardio, and do strength training twice a week. I’m trying to train to run a 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 (not on average, this is a minimum!) and at least 10 cups of water a day. 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. I can do this!
Team goal – I would absolutely love for the A team to lose 2.5% of weight in total for the Fall Challenge. We can do this!
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
Measurements - Down a total of 7.5 inches:
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 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 A team, of course!
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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! 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!
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!
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