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Motivation to ReCLAIM My Life

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I found this motivational photo on Pinterest from a post by Skinny Bitch and it really struck right to the heart of my renewed initiative to lose the weight I lost last year and have since put back on…

I’ve printed it out and taped it to my bathroom mirror. I intend to read this every day and to keep the focus on my choices throughout the day.

I’m also going back on my juice fest because I felt great getting all those nutrients and it kicked all the cravings. Those damn cravings! I’m back in the thrall of them – burgers, pizza, pasta dishes, ice cream… everything chocolate!

The veggie garden is in full swing, so there’s a lot of variety very conveniently located. I have absolutely NO excuses not to do this.

Another area I’ve been slacking off in is my exercise. Last year I dedicated myself to doing the Beachbody Power 90. Well into that, with juicing, my energy levels soared and I added the C25K program. My weight loss started slowing down, but the inches were melting off, so who cares about pounds!

I started a walking group called the Foothills Mile Markers that meets every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday morning for two reasons. One, to help keep me motivated and accountable and two, to share what I’ve learned about nutrition and fitness to help others. Oh yeah, I forgot the third reason: TO HAVE FUN!

So, Tony Horton, once again, its you and me, bay-bee. Gonna be pushing PLAY when I get back from my walk to do the Sweat Circuit and Ab Ripper. I’ll do the Sculpt Circuit Tuesday, Thursday & Saturdays.

Please, God, I want to lose this extra weight, and I know how to do that, feels like You & I have done it a hundred times. But more than that, please help me to finally make the deep personal transformation to keep it off and make it a non-issue for the rest of my life. I pledge to help others every step of the way.

 

 

Start a Walking Group

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Losing weight

is just a happy by-product of exercise,

not the end game.

There have been too many times I’ve lost weight and then once I reached that goal, I got complacent and guess what, the weight came right back, far easier than it was to take off!

Back to the drawing board for me so…  no matter what your fitness level the least expensive and highly effective way to maintain or ramp up that level is by walking.

To keep myself accountable and to help others reach their health and fitness goals, I’ve started a walking group called The Foothills Mile Markers. We’ll  meet at 7:30am every morning, Monday through Friday, rain or shine at a local fitness trail. The only time we’ll not meet is if the weather is so bad the schools close.

Everyone is welcome to join me. If you are not in my area, consider starting a walking group where you are. Here’s some tips on how

You likely already know the health benefits of walking. Here’s what else you get when you walk with others:

  • Safety
  • Socialization
  • Accountability
  • Friendship
  • Motivation

Simple 4-part fitness test

One of my intentions is to associate exercise with losing inches and gaining flexibility, strength and stamina. Therefore we’ll be tracking everyone’s progress at the start and every two weeks with this simple 4-part fitness test.

Waist Measurement: Using a cloth tape measure, measure the waist just above the hips. Record your waist size.

Sit & Reach:

  • Place a yardstick on the floor. Secure it by placing a piece of tape across the yardstick at the 15-inch (38-centimeter) mark.
  • Place the soles of your feet even with the mark on the yardstick.Ask a helper to place his or her hands on top of your knees to anchor them.
  • Reach forward as far as you can, holding the position for two seconds.
  • Note the distance you reached.
  • Repeat the test two more times.
  • Record the best of the three reaches.

Push Ups: From the toes or knees with arms straight, hands under your shoulders, see how many pushups you can do to a measured count of down, hold, up, one, down, hold, up, two, etc. Record how many you can do.

Ab Crunches: On your back with your knees bent, feet shoulder width apart, place hands sort of cupping your ears. Belly button in, exhale & contract the abdominals, keeping neck straight and raise your shoulders off the ground to a count of up, hold, down (inhale) one, up, hold, down (inhale), two, etc. Record how many you can do.

Stretching

Always remember to stretch before and after your walk to help prevent injuries. Here’s 5 easy stretches. Ease into each until you feel the tension in the muscle you want to stretch and hold until it feels looser.

  1. Calf stretch: Stand at arms length and lean against a wall or fence. Put one leg straight back and the other bent underneath you. Keep back straight and lean hips forward. Keep rear leg straight with heel on ground. Repeat for other leg.
  2. Side stretch: Stand and stretch both arms over head reaching as high as you can. Drop and rest your right hand at your hip and bend to the right while reaching your left arm overhead for a count of 10, then repeat for your left side.
  3. Torso twist: Stand with both arms out to side with elbows slightly bent. Feet should be at shoulder width or slightly wider. Twist your torso to the right and then the left, alternating back and forth slowly.
  4. Quadriceps (thigh): While leaning against a wall, reach back with your left hand and grab your right ankle. Pull your foot back and up toward your buttocks. (If this is easy, pull your foot back and up away from your buttocks.) Repeat for other side.
  5. Hamstrings (back of legs): Put your right leg out about 18 inches from your body with toe pointed up. Bend your left leg slightly. Reach down with both hands toward your right foot. Repeat for other side.

The camaraderie you experience in a walking group and the shared fitness success can help you walk your way to better health.

The Foothills Mile Markers walking group is free, but I ask everyone to chip $5 each week into a kitty. Each month half of the kitty will be donated to the Tryon Youth Center and the other half divided and rewarded as follows:

  • Most Inches Lost
  • Most Improved Fitness

Getting support from others by walking together will actually help us stick with our health and fitness goals.

Each day we show up makes winners of all of us!

4th of July

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I wrote this yesterday, but couldn’t get to my photos so I’m posting it today

4th of July, its early morning with the sun just coming up. I’ve begun taking nature walks in the morning usually going out to Tom Raymond’s Fitness Trail behind St. Luke’s Hospital.

This morning however I went for a walk right here on our 6 acres on a trail through the woods Herb & I put in about 6 years ago.

It runs in an sort of ½ mile elliptical loop from the back of the house past the blueberry hedge and into the woods. Past Mushroom Central (where the shiitake logs are kept), down a steep slope with holly, dogwood, sassafras and other trees, then beside a burbling creek through a mountain laurel lined path, back up a rather steep slope peppered with lady’s slippers in the spring, along a path where the oyster mushroom monoliths line the driveway. Cross the driveway, up the path to the grape arbor, turn and go along the asparagus bed back into the woods to loop around in back of the barn. Turn and retrace your steps and you’ve got a nice little mile walk.

This morning I took some meditative literature with me to read on a primitive log bench Herb made for me down by the creek. I easily get lost in the low chuckle of the creek and the play of light through the leaves there – it was my “get-away” spot long before Herb made the bench.

When I finished my mind journey and continued my walk, I saw two black snakes and a box turtle and found three new spots where Reishi (Ganoderma) mushrooms are growing. Herb & I have been foraging Reishi mushrooms for quite some time now. We dry them out and then grind them to a powder in a coffee grinder to add to our teas.

This is the top of a Reishi mushroom I picked to show Herb – note the shiny varnished look.

This is what the underside looks like, smooth stark white body abruptly meeting the almost purplish stem.

Two more Reishi (Ganoderma) fungi (took this photo just this morning as I didn’t have my camera with me yesterday)

Then it started getting super hot out.

Scooter (on her back) and Pippi hanging together (very unusual!) on the cool concrete in the shade

As I write this, I have a blueberry and pear custard pie in the oven that is beginning to give off a really heavenly aroma. Note: here are some photos I took of the pie later when it came out and after we’d dived into it before going to see the splendid fireworks in town.

Hot out of the oven – Blueberry and Bartlett pear pie.

Served with homemade peach ice cream – sorry, no photos, it was scarfed up as soon as it hit the plates!

I really love our place and this country. I have so much to be grateful for. Deepest appreciation to the brave soldiers that have given their all so that I could enjoy this day with Herb, his two sons Daniel & Zac and our friend Jarrod.

Happy Birthday, America, you’ve got a Grand Old Flag and long may she wave..

Lavender Farm

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Day 4 of 28 – Advanced level Turbo Jam

Provence, Hidcote and Grosso lavender plants for sate

Went to a charming 24-acre farm in Burnsville, NC. The Mountain Farm grows lavender and blueberries and raise dairy goats, llama and baby doll sheep along with miniature guard donkeys. The owners took over this farm 40-years ago with the idea of making it as sustainable as possible, pretty forward thinking for their time, eh?

They also have two large wind turbines, installed for free by a state grant, that cuts their power bill in half!

Growing many types of lavender, the Farm produces all sorts of wonderful high quality beauty products (balms, bath salts, lotions, soaps and shampoos) culinary products (lavender teas, sugars, salts, honey) and fiber products (dyed and un-dyed wools, and knitted hats and such).

Doesn’t this just lure you in?

One of the really neat features of this farm is they’ve created a 7-level labyrinth of lavender (say that 3 times!) Different from a maze, there is no puzzle to getting into or out of a labyrinth; there is only one way in to the center and one way out – it is more of a meditative exercise than a mental exercise.

Which brings me to why I’m blogging about this. I’ve grown lavender for a long time and used it in many crafty-kinds of ways, yet I’ve never used it in cooking. Now, since coming back from the farm, I’ve googled all sorts on interesting recipes using lavender.

Basically, you can substitute lavender for rosemary in most any savory dish. I found recipes for adding lavender to desserts from chocolate cake to cookies and creme brulee (wow!) as well as for making lavender salts and sugars.

Wind turbines cut the farm’s power bill a little more than half and are practically silent in operation so as not to disturb the animals in the barn.

I bought a lavender tea sampler: Love Potion, Lavender Chai, Lavender, Mint & Hibiscus and Lavender, Chamomile & Mint. The Lavender Chai this morning was really good and the whole kitchen smelled heavenly!  I like my teas to have strong flavor, especially in the morning, as well as a nice aroma and this tasted really good, very earthy but not at all bitter.

This experience just reminds me of how many things we grow are good for us and can add an extra dimension of flavor keeping us engaged and keeping eating healthy from being boring!

So now that my own lavender is in bloom, I’m going to try it in all sorts of dishes – don’t be surprised to find a new recipe with lavender in my Regular but Awesome Recipes soon!

View of the Black Mountains from the center of the labyrinth

Five Easy Tips to stay Healthy and Still Enjoy Memorial Day (or Any Holiday!)

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Its the Memorial Day Weekend. For any of you that have served or whose loved ones are serving for the benefit of all of us – thank you. I cannot but imagine the feeling  in the pit of your stomach of those with loved ones  missed, so far away.

While we Americans take time over this holiday to remember and express gratitude to our heroes, especially our fallen heroes, for their sacrifice, it may seem Memorial Day celebrations are more focused on the BBQ grill or smoker.

Those of us committed to our fitness goals can be tempted by the happy atmosphere of good friends and tasty treats so here are some tips I’m using to enjoy myself, respect the party efforts of my family &  friends and not go too far off my path.

1. Make Time for Exercise

I’m getting up each morning and doing my Turbo Jam exercises. Before getting distracted or side tracked by the people and events of the holiday, by getting my exercise done, my confidence and satisfaction will shine through and guilty “should” & “should’ve” thoughts won’t interfere with my enjoyment of the present.

I will dance every chance I get (and Susie D will be right there with me! Or I’ll organize a hike, play lawn games like croquet , organize  races or volleyball on land or in the water; whatever joy in movement I can conjure up. If nothing else, Shelby the wonder Puppy is always up for a walk!

2. Bring a Healthy Choice Dish

I make a really good summer salad that every one loves and is so easy to make its almost a sin! I have the recipe here. Having something as tasty as this makes it easy to avoid the heavy mayo-based or pasta salads that are traditional BBQ or picnic favorites.

3. Eat Healthy Before

I  make sure I don’t skip any meals before the party because I don’t want to be in hunger mode when the goodies are served.

4. Drink Sensibly

I try to drink a lot of water at parties. For me, it helps to hold hunger in check and I find I also don’t drink as much alcohol.

I’m often asked to sing and I found out a long time ago I do not sound better the more I drink!

Your best food choices can be thwarted if you forget how many calories you might be drinking. Plus, too much alcohol and you can easily give yourself permission to overindulge in food, too. One of my other tricks, especially at a bar, is I enjoy club soda with a section of lime – it looks like a gin & tonic so  no one asks why I’m not drinking.

5. Give Yourself Permission (or Halve it and Have it)

I try not to psyche myself out that there is anything I can’t have – who doesn’t rebel against “can’ts” even if they come from  ourselves! So I tell myself I can have anything as long as I halve the portion. When I can have (halve) whatever I want its easier to avoid those things altogether.

But I do not forget this is your day, soldiers and patriots

With deepest gratitude to the brave women and men in our armed forces. Thank you for my freedom.

7 Ways to Beat the Food Addictions

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Throughout the course of my generation, the US food industry has been as insidious in addicting us to food as the tobacco industry was in the prior generation.

Commercial farming is focused on producing commodities, largely three crops: corn, soy and wheat. All other fruits and vegetable are considered “specialty” crops.

Seed for the greatest percentage of the big three is patented and controlled by Monsanto. They are patented because the seed is genetically modified (GMO) to make the plant almost invulnerable to herbicides  by introducing herbicides into their very DNA. The resulting plant produced is infused with herbicide and then we are paying top dollar to eat it.

Around the globe man existed for thousands of years on wheat and soy – now they are the top allergens in children and adults. The number afflicted with allergies to “staple” foods has  doubled almost yearly since GMO foods were introduced, as has the rise in autism, yet our government agencies see no correlation…

This post by Mike Geary, The CORN, SOY, and WHEAT Monopoly is an excellent read, but I’m focusing on the following (excerpted from his blog):

By “derivatives” of corn, soy, and wheat, this means the food additives such as:

  • high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • corn oil
  • soybean oil (hydrogenated or plain refined)
  • soy protein
  • refined wheat flour
  • hundreds of other food additives such as maltodextrin, corn or wheat starch, soy lecithin, mono and diglycerides, etc, etc

It is these derivatives that are literally killing us. Not only are we constantly eating because our bodies are desperate for nutrition, HFCS and refined flours are literally addictive, as addictive as tobacco or cocaine.

Beating any addiction is hard and these 7 tips I’m going to share have been helpful to me in combating my food addiction.

1. Stop eating at junk food places

There is nothing healthy there, no matter what the commercials are telling you. Even if something is low calorie, it has no substantive nutrition. Salads are contaminated with preservatives, salad dressings are contaminated with the above derivatives. Stop. Don’t taper off, just stop.

2. Stop shopping in the center aisles of the grocery store

Most of the offerings in the center aisles are processed foods, even the canned vegetables and many packaged vegetarian foods. Be a label reader. Avoid any products with more than 7-ingredients and avoid every thing with HFCS, soy or hydrogenated anything. Avoid any product with more than 200 mgs Sodium. Take the time to read a label, it’s much quicker than sitting in the doctor’s office reading a lame out of date magazine or waiting for your prescription at the pharmacy…

3. Be accountable to someone

Find a friend or loved one to go on the journey to beat the addiction of food with you. Everything is more fun with a friend and you’ll be less likely to succumb to the call of the pasta if you are not alone.

4. Exercise

Any exercise is better than no exercise. Endorphins are released when we exercise, and endorphins makes us feel better. When we feel better we are less likely to munch. Again, get a buddy to exercise with – its more fun! My exercise buddy is my dog. If you don’t have a dog, maybe you could offer to walk a neighbor’s pet or better yet, go to your local animal shelter and help walk and socialize their dogs. A socialized and calm dog is much easier adopted!

5. Get a Bag of Tricks

Keep some distractions handy – crossword puzzle, sudoku, drawing or painting supplies, cards with words of inspiration, pictures of fashions you’d like to wear or places you’d like to go. Get you mind off the craving and engaged in something else.

6. Drink a glass of water

Aw, you knew this one was coming! When we are addicted to food, much of that food is high in sodium and dehydrates the body. Drinking a glass of water helps to nip the craving in the bud with the added benefit of helping to flush and hydrate our cells. Think water is boring? Try these recipes for water (yes, recipes…)

7. Become an Expert

The more you understand the what , how and whys of food addiction and the food industry’s involvement, the more ammunition you have to win mastery over the addiction. Read books, watch movies like Forks over Knives, Weight of the Nation, Food Matters. Once you understand the nature (or rather the lack of nature) of what you are eating and craving you just might decide to make a different choice.