Monday, May 03, 2010
I guess vacation is officially over now (big sigh). We got home last night around 11 p.m. after a rather interesting day . . .
We met our friends for a leisurely breakfast in one of the main dining rooms, then went back to our cabin one last time to gather the things that were left there. Most of our stuff had been packed up the night before and put out to be taken off the ship by the crew, so we had just a couple of backpacks and a tote bag full of things we had bought on the trip. We met up with our friends in one of the lounges to await our turn to disembark. Since none of us wanted vacation to be over any sooner than necessary, we had opted for one of the later times for leaving, so we had a relaxing time sitting and chatting before heading off the ship for the last time. We joked with one another about pretending to 'lose' our card key so we wouldn't be able to get off; when our friend asked the person checking us out if that would be the case (no cabin key, no leaving the ship!) , he just stared at him as if he were crazy. Oh well, worth a try!
We had to fill out a Canadian customs form since we were leaving the ship in Canada, hand that in, show passport, and answer questions, then it was on to pick up luggage and finding a cab. No problem on either front there; luggage was all together and easy to find, and there was a line of taxis waiting to pick up everyone (they must love working weekends during cruise ship season, there are tons of people looking for a cab!). The driver took us to the train station and managed to pull the handle off on one side of our biggest piece of luggage. It wasn't too heavy, he just yanked it the wrong way; gotta get that fixed, I love this luggage and don't want to get rid of it.
At the Via Rail/Amtrak train station, we arranged to leave the bulk of our luggage there (for a fee, of course) while we went off to explore Vancouver. We bought day passes for the Sky Train that runs throughout the city and outlying areas and took it downtown, where we got off and wandered around, looking in various shops and then finally starting the hunt for lunch. Pizza was on everyone's mind, that's one thing we didn't have on the ship, so we started asking where to find good pizza. Someone said there was a pizza place a couple of blocks away on a particular street, so we headed off to find it. Okay, it was not two blocks, it was three, up a hill (huff, puff), and once we found the street, we had no idea which way to turn, so we randomly decided to go right. Ah, an Italian restaurant--but no pizza, and the guy refused to tell us anything about where we might find pizza. We came out of his restaurant and turned right, and voila! Pizza next door (but it didn't look good), then pizza in several shops in a row. Woo hoo, pizza by the slice--perfect! One slice was plenty big enough to satisfy me.
We were starting to get tired by then, so we headed back to find the Sky Train to ride around and see the city from a more comfortable position (seated). We hopped on and rode around, then realized it was going quite a long ways out from where we needed to be; fortunately we were on a loop, so we didn't have to go back the way we'd come. We changed to the line that would take us back to the train station and happily found a coffee stand with good coffee and seats where we could relax until time to board the train. After a time, we got our luggage back since we would have to go through U.S. customs with all of it, and as people started lining up, we joined the crowd and waited.
As we approached the desk to check in, our friends started looking for their tickets that they'd had earlier. No go--couldn't find them in a jacket, bag, or anywhere. We stepped out of the way so others could go while we helped them look--nope, nowhere to be found. That caused no small amount of stress for everyone; finally they decided to just buy another pair of tickets so they could get home. With that done, we checked in and got our seat assignments, then went through customs, checked the bags that we didn't want to keep with us, and boarded the train.
The train ride itself was delightful. We traveled down the coast much of the way, right along the water. We had big, comfy seats to ride in; a dining car with decent food and even a movie (Sherlock Holmes) if you had a headset or chose to purchase one. I didn't bother digging out my headset or buying one since we were still talking with our friends a lot of the way, but I saw enough periodically to satisfy me.
When we actually crossed the border into the U.S., customs agents boarded the train and gathered the customs declaration forms that we had already shown a couple of times before, asking the usual questions. A lady in the seat next to the four of us got a little flustered at the questions on what she had purchased and how much she had spent and all that, but she was able to satisfy the agent finally.
Our friends had left their big car with his mother and step dad so that his step dad could pick us all up at the train station. When they called their house to make sure that was still going to be okay, there was no answer at the house, so they called one of their cell phones. Surprise! Both Mom and Step-dad were coming to the train station. Oops, there went our ride--no way could 6 of us fit, so we gracefully said we'd get a cab (hoping and praying we had enough cash to do that).
We got in to the train station in downtown Seattle around 10 p.m. and collected our bags, then went to join the line of people waiting for cabs. Unlike Vancouver, there was no line of cabs waiting for fares, however. There were two games in town yesterday, baseball and soccer, so the cabs had been busy. They slowly found their way back to pick up people at the train station, though, and eventually we moved to the front of the line.
Just then, a guy in a nice town car pulled up and waved to us to come get in, he'd take us where we needed to go for the same fare as a taxi. Hubby didn't really realize the guy was not a registered taxi driver and agreed quickly--we were tired and wanted to get home. I was more than a little uncomfortable; it doesn't bode well when the guy has to move stuff around in his trunk to make room for the baggage, and then when we got in, I noticed he had a GPS unit but no meter or taxi license. It took hubby a little longer to notice all that and become uncomfortable too, but by then we were on our way and at the driver's mercy. To say that I was not thrilled is a mild understatement; I sat in the back seat thinking of all the horror stories and praying like mad that we wouldn't be robbed or worse and dumped somewhere. The guy did really take us home (obviously!), but along the way he got text messages from his son and answered them while driving, then several phone calls that he answered and chatted briefly with the handset to his ear. That got me praying that we would not end up in an accident!
When he got to our house and figured the fare, it was more than we expected or had. Now what? He offered to take us to a store to get more cash, but i suggested that hubby take our car to get cash and the guy follow him there since that would put him in a good place for going back to Seattle. No way did I want one or both of us to ride any more with him, so hubby did that, and everything turned out to be fine, although i am quite sure we were overcharged. It was late enough, however, that it really didn't matter--we made it home safely and were able to sleep in our own bed last night.
This morning was the moment of truth: did I gain, maintain, or lose weight over the course of the last two weeks of spotty food logging and literally TONS of food available at every turn? I had a wonderful time on vacation and didn't feel like I was dieting or deprived, but I tried to eat reasonably and healthy; without the instant feedback of the food tracker and other tools on SparkPeople, I really was not sure how I was doing along the way. Well, since last weighing on my home scale (drum roll, please) . . .
I LOST THREE AND A HALF POUNDS!!!
YES!!! To say I am happy with those results is a mild understatement. Shoot, I'd be happy with that kind of loss during any two week period, but while on vacation--it's better than I could have hoped for, really. I ate well and didn't feel like I was dieting at all; this whole healthy lifestyle that I have been trying so hard to develop is apparently beginning to stick. I am in no way ready to give up using the food tracker and tools on SparkPeople, but I believe I'm really going to be able to lose all the weight that I need to and keep it off permanently now. I have a whole different mindset these days, and I want to keep on developing a healthy lifestyle that's filled with physical activity and good, healthy food in reasonable quantities.
Thank you, my wonderful Spark Friends, for your encouragement and support. You inspire me more than you may ever realize, and your belief in me helps me believe in myself. If I can do this, anyone can--it IS possible to change from the inside out. We can do this together!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Vacation is almost over (boo!), so I thought it was high time that I tried to get another post done while everything is still fresh in my mind.
We have had a wonderful time cruising up the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington to Canada. The stops in San Francisco, Astoria (Oregon), and Victoria (B.C.) have been delighful. Cruising is addictive; if you've been on a cruise once, you are likely hooked for life. Being able to unpack everything once while visiting a variety of places is great. The question is, are you cruising for the places you'll visit or for the incredible food that is available all the time?
I was a little concerned that I would not be able to resist the food on board. There is an unlimited supply of food, and so much of it is not just good, it is AMAZING--and it's mostly included in the price. You want an appetizer? How many of each? Dessert? Why have just one--have two or three, they're small, and they're all so good. Calories, what calories? There's no way to be sure the calorie count of much of anything except maybe the fresh fruits and vegetables.
So how have I done? I mean, this is VACATION, this is once a year, we paid enough for it that there should be no limits . . . noooo! If I were on a diet, maybe that would be the case. I'm not dieting any more, though; I'm changing my lifestyle from being unhealthy and overindulgent to reasonable and healthy.
Without being able to get on a scale, of course, I can't say whether I have gained, maintained, or lost weight on the trip. I have, however, felt good about my choices overall. I have enjoyed some incredible meals, including desserts (black forest gateau--oh my!), but where possible I chose lighter fare, things like seafood and chicken, salads without heavy dressings, with occasional small tastes of richer foods. I have cruised before, and it was easy to get in the habit of having lots of everything, with dessert at lunch AND dinner every day, but that hasn't been the case this trip. I haven't felt deprived at all, either; if I really wanted something, I've had it, but I've tried to balance things out. If lunch was fairly big, dinner was lighter.
I have used the fitness center a few times, but I've found that on days when we visited ports, I didn't need anything extra--we took the stairs and walked everywhere. In San Francisco, I had over 13,000 steps; in Astoria, it was over 14,000. Even in Victoria today, it was almost 10,000 steps, and with all that we still plan to do this evening on board, I'll cross that number easily.
Now of course I don't mean to say that I have always made the absolute best choices possible. There was the cookie that was calling my name one day and I listened; the pasta in cream sauce that looked too good to pass up; the mini chocolate croissant that is available at breakfast EVERY MORNING. I don't have any regrets, though, or a sense of guilt over the choices I made along the way, and that is a big deal. That's progress for me, being able to enjoy food without either feeling guilty for eating something or deprived and angry because poor me, I can't have what I really want.
That is ultimately what I am working towards, making peace with myself and with food and exercise. I want to find that place of balance within where I don't feel like I am at war with the things I want to eat and the things I feel like I should eat. I crave fresh fruits and vegetables much more now; I don't have to have something sweet at every meal, although I'm sure I could go back to that without too much trouble. I love to walk these days, so I'll take the stairs nine times out of ten and have no problem keeping up with anyone else who is walking--actually, I can leave my hubby in the dust if I'm not careful because once I get started, I GO, LOL! On days where we have been at sea all day, we have made it a point to do walking laps around the ship (two and two-thirds laps equals one mile, and we do at least three laps).
The one thing I haven't done too much of that I was hoping to on this trip is run. I tried it on the treadmill in the fitness center aboard the ship, but the wave motion made it difficult, and I found myself very self conscious because of how crowded it was. It's been cool enough and again, I'm self conscious enough, that I have not gone to the jogging track to run, either. So far I haven't been able to run much more than two minutes at a time, so I don't know whether I'm just wimping out and not pushing myself hard enough or that's really all I can do at this point. I'm not going to worry about it right now, though; if I have to start from the beginning with C25K or with a more conservative plan when we get home, I will, and I will progress at whatever rate I can. I'm not going to give up; I may never be a fast runner or particularly good at running, but I'm going to run.
So I'm pretty happy with how things have gone on vacation. We have enjoyed our time on board and ashore, and it has been a lot of fun having friends on the cruise with us. We have enjoyed some great entertainment and activities on board (Second City, Oh What A Night Tribute, and a murder mystery dinner, to name a few), seen a lot of sights in port, and done a TON of walking both on board and ashore. I could easily spend another week on board if it weren't for needing to go back to work to make money to pay the bills, LOL! The one real problem I have with being on a cruise is having to limit my Internet time--I MISS being able to keep up with what's happening with everyone, so for that I will be glad to get home in a couple of days.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
We are on the transition day of vacation, going from staying in Anaheim for a few days to boarding a cruise ship in a few hours for a week long cruise up the West Coast. We have had a wonderful visit here seeing sights, visiting old haunts, and spending a day with family; now it's time to finish up packing things for the cruise and enjoy that part of vacation.
I was disappointed to discover that we wouldn't have the Internet access I had expected here. We've had some, but it's been sporadic so I haven't been able to do much on SparkPeople other than spin the wheel (gotta keep getting points!) and read a few blogs from my Spark Friends. You all really help me keep my focus when faced with SO much temptation! I have managed to get in some good exercise and stay active throughout the trip so far, and eating has been pretty good. I was only over on calories somewhat on one day if I'm anywhere close to estimating things right, but I still think I ended up with a calorie deficit because I had a nice walk/run and kept moving throughout the day. And if I can believe the doctor-style scale in the exercise room here, I am almost to the 30 pound loss mark, which was a real shocker! I'm hoping they have one of those on the ship; it provides a little sanity check to make sure I'm not underestimating portions and calories too badly.
This really is a test of how well I'm making these changes a 'lifestyle' instead of a 'diet.' Ten days of no measuring cups or spoons, no cooking on my own (other than breakfast) or having foods with the nutrition info available and plenty of opportunities to go back to the old way of eating and being a slug in terms of activity will be enough to show me whether I am really making changes for life. So far I think I'm doing well; I crave fresh fruits and vegetables still (where can I get a good, crisp salad, please?) and I take the stairs every opportunity I can. I'm not depriving myself entirely; I had dinner at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant, but I ate half and brought half back for another night, and when told pie was included with my lunch yesterday (half sandwich and salad), I ate the whole piece because it was SO good. But I would not want to have that every day, and I had spent time on the treadmill in the morning as well as walking throughout the day.
Okay, coffee is ready and bagels are toasting, so it's time to log off and shut the computer down. Thank you all for your support; you are so much a part of the changes I have been able to make and the success I've had so far!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I had a wonderful long blog all written about my weekend adventure . . . and then my computer lost it. Sigh; it's been that kind of a day!
Over the weekend I went to a women's retreat in the mountains at a rustic location with NO cell phone coverage and NO Internet access. Talk about having withdrawals, LOL! It was a wonderful time, though, with lots of fellowship and laughter and tears on the part of everyone.
I was a little concerned about how I would do with food since there are always tons of snacks out 24/7, and the retreat food is not particularly low calorie. They had healthy options available, however, so by paying attention to portions and choices, I did okay.
The best part of the weekend for me was Saturday afternoon during free time. I was determined to hike, whether anyone went with me or not. My husband had been at this retreat center a couple of months earlier, and he went hiking with a group to a waterfall; he said the hike was about 7 miles. I really wanted to see if I could do the same hike, although I had forgotten my hiking boots and just had my running shoes, so I set out to find the trail. After a bit of wandering and a false start, I finally found the trail and started off in search of the waterfall. I hiked and hiked, climbing up and down hills, scrambling over trees, and occasionally hunting to see exactly where the trail went. I crossed a couple of creeks (or maybe just one twice) on bridges (hurray for maintained trails!) and eventually came to where the trail from the retreat center met up with the Forest Service trail. Ah, maybe I was getting close! Before long, I heard water--could it be the waterfall? No, not the waterfall, but at least the river that the waterfall was on.
The trail went close to the river, then farther away, paralleling it for quite awhile. I was getting tired and beginning to wonder if I was pushing it too far--no hiking boots, no hiking stick and all alone, with no cell phone coverage if anything happened. Then I came to a steep hill that basically would require climbing up tree roots to get to the top and over; at that point I made the decision reluctantly that I had gone far enough. I'd been hiking for over an hour at that time, and of course I still had to go all the way back.
Going back, I stopped and rested quite a bit more frequently than on the way down, but it still seemed like it was quicker going back than it was going down. At one point, I heard something in the woods off a bit; it wasn't a coyote or a bird or a squirrel, it was something MUCH bigger and definitely not human. My guess from the sound of it was a bear or possibly a moose bellowing. For some reason, I found the energy to pick up my pace a little until I'd put some distance between me and whatever that thing was, LOL!
When I got back, I was hot, tired, and sweaty, but not as exhausted as I would have expected. And I wasn't even sore the next day, which surprised me. Based on the steps my bodybugg recorded (over 14,000!), I'm guessing I hiked at least 5 or 6 miles--not quite the 7 that the guys hiked, but a quite respectable hike for someone my age and size.
I marveled a little at the difference in me. A few months ago, I would have been out of breath just walking around the retreat center because it seemed like everywhere I wanted to go was up or down a hill. Instead, I was able to do a little running on some relatively flat trail and hike for over 2 hours without it bothering me a bit. I may not be quite ready to run a 5K, but I have no doubt I can walk a 5K even if it's on rough terrain, and eventually I'll be able to run one.
And now it's time to go finish packing for vacation--almost done but not quite, waiting for the last few clothes to get dry before I close things up. I wish like everything that I had scheduled to take off tomorrow, but there was no way my boss would let me add a day--she's already a little freaked because I'm leaving early tomorrow and she has so much she wants me to get done. I have a little more confidence after the retreat that I can go on vacation and enjoy myself without derailing this healthy lifestyle I've been working on. Happily I will have Internet access on vacation, though not constantly, so I won't have to go through complete SparkPeople withdrawal again, LOL! You all have become family and are part of any success I've been able to achieve on this journey; I need you to help me keep going the right direction.
Oh, I got on the scale today, curious to see how the retreat affected my weight: down about a half pound from Friday! It IS possible to have fun and still keep moving the way I need to! Woo hoo!
Friday, April 16, 2010
For the challenge this week, we are supposed to review our goals for the Spring Into Summer challenge. It happens our team, the Blue Sky Birds, just did this, so what we are doing is including what we are doing to reach those goals. So one more time, here are the goals I set for myself during this challenge:
1 .Consistently do 3 sessions of the C25K plan or some variation of it per week and sign up for my first 5K (modified from 'complete the C25K plan and sign up for my first 5K').
Because of some physical issues (knee pain and exertion headaches), I've had to scale back on my running efforts. After a couple of weeks of very minimal running workouts, I have more or less found a happy medium in both running speed and schedule, so I am happily running three times a week again. I discovered the headaches come if I'm pushing myself to run too fast or for too long, so I have to be content with keeping my speed down and gradually increasing the length of my running intervals. Totally goes against where I am in my brain, but in this case mind over matter doesn't work, I have to listen to the body God gave me. Wow, learning to listen to my body and work with it instead of against it--what a novel concept!
2. Maintain or LOSE weight while on vacation.
Ah, that's the big one still ahead of me. I start vacation on Tuesday (COUNTDOWN IS ON!) and will be gone 12 days, so cooking at home to keep things under control is not an option. It's going to be a matter of portion control and reasonable selections, but I have more confidence now that I will be able to do that. I'm planning to have FUN and ENJOY my vacation, but I don't want a couple of weeks of fun to undo what it's taken me three months or so to achieve. There 25 pounds off my body that I want to stay gone forever!
That's just part of developing a healthy lifestyle, though, isn't it? Learning to have fun without letting that become license to throw that healthy way of living out the window? I know when I'm happy with myself, I don't *need* to stuff my face with everything within reach; when I'm not, though, food has always been my comfort. I am working on changing that.
So that's what I'm doing and what my plan is. This weekend will be a little mini-test for me; I'm going to a retreat for a couple of days where I don't have control over what is being served, only what I choose to eat. Add to that no access to my food tracker (eek!) or any way of checking calorie and nutrient counts, so it should be interesting to see how I do.
I'll let you know how it goes. I'm going to miss being able to log on to SparkPeople and keep up with everyone for the weekend; you have become a part of my family in a very real sense, even though we only connect 'virtually.' Thanks for helping keep the Spark going inside me, my friends!
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