Unplugged and Recharged

I’m not a super girly girl.  I don’t care a lot about fashion, make-up, shopping–things that a lot of girls like.  Not that I don’t like those things (well, I really don’t like shopping), but I just don’t care a lot about them.  I mean, just take a look at the photos I post of myself!

But over the years and a couple of trips to Africa later, I’ve discovered that I do like my creature comforts.  I like warm showers, soft beds, and blow drying my hair.  I don’t like being dirty for longer than whatever activity got me dirty.

So when my CrossFit gym decided to take a camping trip, my first thought was of a whole day with no shower and sleeping on the hard ground.  But the adventure of exploring a new piece of my part of the world won me over quickly, and I couldn’t wait to go.

So last weekend I headed to Devil’s Den State Park in northwest Arkansas for a weekend of roughing it.  I was hoping that spilling ice all over the floor before I even made it out the door was not a sign of how the weekend would go.

Thankfully, it wasn’t, and I had a wonderful time.  Devil’s Den is beautiful!  We hiked up and down mountains, scrambling over tree limbs and up rocks.  I got hot and sweaty and dirty, but I loved every moment of it.

 

 

 

 

 

                  Taking my bike for a spin turned my legs to Jell-o with all the hills, but I wouldn’t have missed out on riding along a trail like this for anything!

And then soaking our tootsies in the lake, grilling chicken for dinner, watching the campfire…for the first time in weeks, I felt the stress of work and everyday life melt away.

 

The crazy thing is when I look back over the weekend, I don’t think about the streaks of dirt on my unshowered body or the miserably hard ground–the discomforts I typically associate with camping.  What I think about is how relaxing just getting away from it all was.  With no cell service in the park, there were no phone calls or texts to answer, no need to check email, no ability to scroll down Facebook lane.  There was only friends and nature.

So I came home tired but feeling recharged from a weekend of being totally unplugged.  I might have to make camping a regular activity! (Did I really just say that?!)

Talk to me:

How do you recharge?

What’s your favorite outdoor spot to visit?

Camping or no camping?

 

Comic Relief, with an Australian Accent

After a tough week of training last week and feeling tired and bit stressed out, I decided we just need to laugh today.  So no running or weight loss tips today.  Just a funny story about my first international trip.

One of my best friends is Australian.  We met when we were both living in Atlanta, Georgia quite a few years ago.  When my friend returned to Australia, we made plans that I would come for a visit.  Now there’s a perk about having international friends, uh?  And who doesn’t want to visit Australia, right?!

kangaroo crossing 001I was super excited.  I’d never traveled internationally, and here I was planning a trip to Australia.  I couldn’t wait!  And I couldn’t wait to see my friend.

The trip was amazing!  My friend lives in Tasmania, the island state south of mainland Australia, so I spent most of my time there.  We visited places like Wine Glass Bay where I discovered water as blue as magazinewine glass bay 001 photos does exist.  And then there was Cradle Mountain, the Cadbury chocolate factory where we got to sample chocolate throughout the tour (a chocolate lover’s dream come true!), penguins in the wild, and Port Arthur, an historical convict site.  cradle mountain 001Plus, I got to meet and hang out with other friends of my friend and just experience real Australian life.  Oh, and did I mention all the wallabees hopping about?!  I had the time of my life.

And then the end of the trip came, and my friend and I both got sick.  We were planning to both go to Sidney a day before my flight home, but I ended up going to Sidney alone.  I found my hotel and laid across the bed, feverish and feeling like crap but bound and determined to see the Sidney Opera House.  I mean, who knew if I’d ever make it back to Australia?  So I found a map and walked to the Opera House, which was every bit as magnificent as it looks in photos although visiting it sick and alone was a bit anti-climactic.

opera house 001The next morning (and this is the funny part) I took a cab to the airport to catch my flight home.  I still felt like crap.  My head was all congested; I felt like I was walking in a fog.  I walked to the desk to check in for my flight, wondering why my line was so short.  An airline worker saw me and asked me if “wanted a chicken.”  “A chicken?”  I thought to myself.  What an odd question to ask someone in an airport, but I politely shook my head no.  A bit later, he asked me again if I wanted a chicken.  “What’s up with this guy and chickens?” I thought to myself, feeling more and more miserable the longer I stood there.  A third time, he asked me if I wanted a chicken.  “Will you just quit with the chickens?!”  I’m thinking.  “I don’t want a chicken!  I just want to get on the airplane!”  But this time as my mental rant ended, I realized he wasn’t talking about farm animals.  He was asking me if I wanted to CHECK IN!

Oy!  Australian accents!  I’m sure my face turned all colors of red.  He probably thought I was some kind of stupid!  But when I nodded yes this time, he pointed me across the aisle to a line that was 10 miles long and had probably grown a mile while I’m over here trying to think of how to get out of taking a chicken home.

After flying 14 hours straight, I landed in LA 2 hours before I left (yeah, try to wrap your brain around that!), and finally made it home–all without a chicken.  The end.

Enjoy your day!

Talk to me:

Have you ever had an amusing misunderstanding?

What’s been your favorite vacation destination?

 

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Road Tripping!

I like taking road trips.  I like driving and seeing what’s between here and there.  There, in this case, was northern Indiana.  A lot of cornfields are going on there!

Indiana-6-2016 008I have to admit, though, that driving 14 hours straight on my way home was a bit tough on the tushy, and I was really happy to see my house.

And I was really happy to see my sweet Sunny.  I had to board him while I was away this time.  He’s only been boarded once before as a kitten for just a weekend, so I was a little concerned how he would do for nearly a week.  He was a bit stressed and sometimes agitated, I was told, but basically did fine.  Whew.  He was pretty cuddly for a while once we got home.025But taking a road trip can be challenging for a healthy lifestyle, in terms of eating, at least.  So I thought today I’d give you my tips for eating healthy while road tripping.

  1.  Take food with you.  I took an ice chest and brought along things like apples and cherries and bottles of water.  For lunches on my way to Indiana, I made salads with romaine lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, celery, baked chicken breast, and feta cheese.  I put each salad in a plastic baggie and brought along paper plates and plastic forks.  I also stuck in a jar of peanut butter because no day is complete without peanut butter.  For snacks, I brought along some raw almonds, raisins, and Lara bars.  I would stop at a park and enjoy my surroundings and a lovely healthy lunch.  One day I ate lunch on Abraham Lincoln’s family farm!116
  2. Find healthy fast food.  Well, I don’t know if there is such a thing, but at least, choose the healthiest from what’s available.  I generally avoid fast food, but facing a 14 hour drive, sometimes a girl just has to buy food.  I didn’t want to eat food I had made 5 or 6 days earlier.  And I didn’t want to stop for very long since I had such a long way to go, so I looked for places that I knew had quick and mostly healthy options.   These are my go to places when I’m in a pinch or in a hurry:
    • Subway–Choose whole wheat bread, grilled chicken, load up the veggies, skip the dressing and cheese, and you’ve got a meal for under 400 calories.  Well, that’s for my 6 inch sub!
    • Chik-Fil-A–I recently discovered that instead of just fried chicken, they now serve grilled chicken.  And you can choose fruit or kale salad instead of fries for a side.  Not a bad option.
    • Panera–I like the cup of soup and half a sandwich option.  I choose a non-cream based soup to save calories.  Then, choose whole wheat bread, turkey and veggies for the sandwich, skipping the cheese and dressing.  And of course, choose the apple over the chips!

So you may not have these restaurants where you live, but what choosing a fast food place comes down to for me, really, is finding a place that gives me as much control as possible over what I eat.  I like being able to construct my meals instead of just ordering an entrée that has who knows what in it.

3.  Assess your hunger.  If you’re like me, I get bored and tired sometimes when I’m driving so I find myself wanting to snack to keep myself busy and awake.  It’s a challenge, but I have to constantly be in tune with how I’m feeling.  Is it true hunger that’s making me want to reach for a snack?  Or do I just need to take a break for a quick walk, find some new music, or begin the alphabet game (you know, find the alphabet in order on the road signs)?  And if it’s true hunger, reach for those healthy snacks you brought with you instead of facing the temptation of gas station snacks of chips and candy.

Here’s to safe and healthy road trips!

 

Where did you go on your last road trip?

What tips for eating healthy on the run do you have?

 

Being Okay with Uncomfortable

I had a conversation with a friend a while back when the seed of doing a Spartan race was planted in my mind.  A Spartan race is a super serious obstacle course, not like the inflatable obstacles I did last week. I don’t know if I’ll ever do a Spartan race.  I have a lot to overcome in the fear category before I tackle that course, but I’m challenged by the thought of doing a real obstacle race.

As I was reading and learning about Spartans, I heard someone say that those that have gone before us were comfortable with being uncomfortable and that Spartans, too, have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It makes sense.  The obstacles have racers doing things like crawling in mud, swinging from a rope high above the ground, running in the heat, carrying heavy things.  Just being downright uncomfortable.

So I’ve been thinking about being okay with being uncomfortable on my trip to northern Indiana to visit family this week.  On the way I passed through the state of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln country.  Did you know that Abraham Lincoln served in the state house of representatives when he was 27 years old?  Here is a wax figure of what he probably looked like at that young age:

106Then, I visited a replica of the log cabin where he grew up on the actual Lincoln farm.  Talk about being uncomfortable!  Can you imagine 9 people living in this 2 room house with no indoor plumbing, electric, heat or air?

107Yeah, I was dying in my T-shirt and shorts, sweat trickling down my back, as I considered cutting my visit short so I could get back into my nicely air conditioned car.  I’m pathetic.

Then, I arrived in Goshen, Indiana where a large community of Amish people live.  The Amish, if you’re not familiar with the religion, live without electricity, indoor plumbing, or cars.  They make their own clothing (the women only wear long dresses), plow their fields with horse drawn plows, and drive horse drawn buggies for transportation. Indiana-6-2016 003 My mom was raised in an Amish family (yes, I kid you not), so seeing people in 2016 driving horses and buggies was not new to me.  But as I watched the horses and buggies go by, it reminded me of these thoughts I’ve been thinking about being okay with being uncomfortable.  Here, in this day and age, is a group of people who choose not to use modern amenities that would make their lives so much more comfortable.  They are okay with being uncomfortable, at least by my standards.

So what’s the point of being okay with uncomfortable?  As I’ve mulled it over, I’ve realized that all the growth that’s happened in my life came because I was willing to get uncomfortable.  Change is uncomfortable.  It makes us do things we don’t like or don’t want to do.  It makes us choose between sometimes impossible options.  It makes us hurt, sometimes physically or emotionally.  Let’s be honest.  Sometimes change just sucks.

But I’ve only become a runner because I was willing to get uncomfortable.  I had to push past my level of physical comfort to be able to run farther and faster.  And the muscle soreness that follows a CrossFit workout is NOT fun, but lifting heavier weights is tons of fun!

And weight loss happened because I was willing to get uncomfortable.  I had to live through weeks and months of making choices that were hard to get to the point of being able to choose healthy without a battle.  Trust me.  I know how hard, how uncomfortable, it is to stare a donut in the face and choose to eat an apple instead.  I understand the uncomfortable feeling of being exhausted from a day’s work but choosing to be active in some way instead of vegging on the couch.

I have a lot of work to do before I get to okay with being uncomfortable.  I definitely like my creature comforts, being clean, staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  I don’t like being hurt, emotionally or physically.  I don’t like standing in line; just standing there makes my back hurt.  I know; I’m a weenie.

But I do like what’s happened because I’ve faced those discomforts.  I like being able to say that I’ve run a marathon.  I like that the blisters on my hands have turned to callouses from handling barbells and hanging from the pull up bar at the gym.  I like that I can choose apples over donuts without a battle of the wills.  I like that I can even consider the idea of doing an obstacle course.  I like the changes in me that have been born from discomfort.

But, I know that I need to get a lot more okay with being a lot more uncomfortable to reach all of my goals.  If I’m ever going to go parasailing, I’m going to have to get real uncomfortable.  Oh, boy.

What fun historical sites have your visited?

What’s the most uncomfortable thing you’ve ever done?

 

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What I Ate on Vacation

So this past week, I got to spend about 5 days at the beach in Florida.  I’m not much of a swimmer and my skin does not like the sun, but I love walking along the beach, listening to the waves, watching the sunsets.  It’s a very relaxing atmosphere.

St. Pete beach 035But this was my first real vacation since I began this journey to health and losing a boat load of weight.  I was a bit nervous about how I would handle eating.  Would I be able to find healthy options?  Would I be active enough to keep up my usual calorie burn?  I didn’t want to be so caught up in the fear of gaining weight that I couldn’t enjoy myself; on the other hand I didn’t want to just throw caution to the wind.

We ate at beach front grills with names like Caddy’s and The Toasted Monkey.  Usually I like to look at menus and nutrition information before I go out to eat, but that wasn’t an option this week.  Instead, I had to rely on all I had learned about portion size and choosing the most healthy option.  To do this meal after meal would certainly test what I had learned.  How would I do?

For dinner one night, I chose grilled white fish, a healthy option, but it came with french fries and coleslaw, not so healthy options.  So I concentrated most on filling up on fish, and only eating bites of coleslaw and maybe half of the fries.  I have to say, those fries tasted so good.  I seriously cannot remember when the last time was that I had french fries.  It was hard not to eat them all, but I left the rest on my plate.

For other meals, I chose salads with grilled chicken, the dressing on the side.  When possible I chose fruit, snacked on nut and protein bars I brought from home, and just made sure to be active every day.  I ran 3-4 miles every day and then usually followed that with a walk along the beach with my friends.  Still, though, I found myself eating more white bread than I usually do (although that homemade croissant at Beverly’s for breakfast was AMAZING!), eating more french fries at John’s wedding (he had a slider bar–perfect for a beach wedding!), and just generally not eating as many fruits and vegetables as usual.  I came home afraid to step on the scales, sure that I had gained weight.

The moment of truth arrived.  I decided to see what the damage was, and the morning after arriving home, I stripped down and stepped on the scales, afraid to open my eyes.  Imagine my surprise when the number was almost exactly where it had been when I left!  I say almost exactly because it was actually almost a half pound lower, but you know, that may not be reflective of actual weight loss.

I was so relieved…and encouraged!  I had survived 5 days of eating out, eating things that I don’t normally eat and managed to maintain my weight.  To me, that just says, “You’ve figured it out, girl.”  Finally, I know how much to eat, and I can trust my judgment in making menu selections without the benefit of nutrition information.  Happy dance!

What is your recent success story in finding your healthy?

What are you struggling with in finding your healthy?

Perspectives from Uganda

December 19, 2015.  I boarded a plane for Uganda, Africa.  Uganda is a landlocked country in east Africa with a population of around 37 million people and an average life expectancy of around 53 years.  Over 7% of Uganda’s population live with HIV/AIDS.  Life in Uganda is hard, and I was going there with 4 other friends to visit a couple of orphanages and love on the kiddos.

One of our first stops was to the slums of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, where children are often left to fend for themselves.  Houses in the slums are basically rooms cut out of concrete walls–no electric, no plumbing, no furniture, no doors.  They are just holes in the wall.  We met 25 boys who all “lived” in 2 rooms that were about 10 x 10 .  Once or twice a week, rice is cooked and given to the children in the slums.  For many, this is the only meal they will have all day, or even for several days.  And it’s just rice.  Nothing else.  How many times do I complain that I don’t have anything to eat when it’s really more that I don’t want the choices that are in front of me?

360We visited both a boys’ and a girls’ home.  Many of the boys came from the slums.  Many of the girls were abandoned by their families.  I’d love to show more pictures but technical limitations won’t let me.

Perspectives change when I go on international trips, which is a good thing.  It’s easy for me to get caught up in my own little world, to develop tunnel vision, and forget that there’s a majority of the world’s population just struggling to survive every day.   Some how it makes the ants crawling over my counter tops in my comfy house where there is running water, electricity, heat and air conditioning nothing to get bent out of shape about.  Hearing these kids’ stories, seeing how they live in the slums, watching them pump water for all of life’s necessities, certainly redefines a bad day in my world.

370After all, I’m going to get up in the morning, turn on the faucet for a nice warm shower, choose from multiple options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, relax on my soft, comfy couch and when it’s time, go to a job that pays me more than enough to buy all the things I need.  I hope the next time I’m grumbling about how hard marathon training is that I remember my young Ugandan friends who pump and haul water and hoe the garden all before a breakfast of millet porridge and without a single complaint or frown.   I have no idea what hard is…