And Now, Back to RL (Real Life.)

I don’t think I told you ahead of time that “Spa Week” was actually only four days?  I figured that was probably the average length of a spa week, plus it was all the time I could afford to take off from real life.  Sharon asked why I wouldn’t do this in real life.  That wouldn’t be possible.  I took it seriously.  No obligations at all, just as if I wasn’t at home.  So I did not return phone calls, did not work on financial stuff (mine or my dad’s,) did not wash Noah (LOL, but its one thing I want to get done before the weather really gets cold,) and I did not work on any serious quilting projects.  I had a little embroidery quilt that I did a bit of stitching on in the evenings, but that was it.

One thing I didn’t plan for in my “schedule” was blogging.  It was fun to write down the events of each day, but blogging and loading pictures takes quite a bit of time.  Next time I’ll just schedule that in.  It was an important part of Spa Week!

So, what did I get out of Spa Week?  One thing I re-learned is that exercising a lot only makes me feel better.  Yes, I was sore, but that was a good sore, not the “I feel like crap” sore that I complain about sometimes.  Strength training is important to me as I age.  And swimming is something that REALLY fills in the gaps.  I like the exercise bike at the gym.  I don’t want to spend as much time every day as I did these four days, but I could add in more exercise to my ‘real life.’

The other thing I learned was that pre-planning a menu is really helpful to me.  Writing down two days in a row was even helpful.  Again, nothing particularly new.  I do this sometimes.  But really trying to make every meal/snack nutritious made a big difference in my total food intake.  The calorie count was between 1300 and 1500 each day. For example, after having taco soup for lunch, I would normally want something a little sweet, and I might get a piece of sugar free chocolate (60 cal) to eat.  But having a menu plan, I knew that I had an afternoon snack coming in a couple of hours, and I could wait for that.

There were a couple of times I changed the menu plan.  LIke the day I scheduled a green smoothie for dinner.  I like smoothies.  I like the idea of smoothies.  But I really like to chew my food better.  So I switched the smoothie for mashed cauliflower, veggies, chicken, and a pear.  Same amount of calories.  And about the same nutrition!  Another day, and I was not happy with this, but I learned from it.  I stopped to talk to my neighbor on my way to the gym.  She owns the local Curves.  So after I leave, she comes out to the car and hands me a package of “skinny cow” candies that Curves is giving away.  LOL.  I felt just like the contestants on The Biggest Loser.  I turned that package over and over, checked the stats.  Decided to try one.  TOO SWEET.  And then I ate the rest of them.  So I eliminated the afternoon snack, and that was that.  I was going to the gym, so I was okay.  If I had been going shopping, I might very well have been tempted to get more sugary stuff.

So sugar.  Like I said at the beginning of the week, a goal was VERY MINIMAL sugar.  When I analyzed what I ate for the week, I was a little surprised at how many things had a little sugar in them.  Like my scones have a little sugar on top of them .  Vicky’s lo-bars have chocolate chips (sugar), her red lentil and rice concoction has a tiny bit of sugar, as do her coconut cashew cookies.  One day I had some Kashi cereal, and I realized after that it was lightly sweetened.  But nothing had a large amount of sugar like regular cookies or cake.  That is what makes me crave more and more.  And also leaves me less satisfied so I need to eat more nutritious food on top of it.  Again, this is not really new information to me.  Rather it is a confirmation of what I already knew about food (as it relates to me.)  I plan to keep this minimal sugar rule.

Wheat?  Wow, that was really easy to eliminate.  I had an average of 3 grain servings a day–none wheat.  Usually only 1 dairy, 2-3 protein, and 5-8 fruits and veggies.  That batch cooking makes it easier for me to get more veggies in.  I tend to like cooked veggies better than salad.  I like salad, but the way I like it tends to be a little higher in calories than cooked vegetables.

I know you all will be interested in this.  I lost 2 pounds over these four days.  That was not really a goal for me, as I knew that increasing my exercise, and swimming more could actually increase my weight temporarily.  So that is a nice plus.

I also really liked cleaning house on Saturday and doing that batch cooking.  I am going to make this a regular routine.  I will try to control the batch size LOL.

I am going to give myself permission to have two days a week that concentrate more on exercise.  Like I have said, ‘time’ is one of the big limiters of my exercise.  So I will still be walking every day.  But at least on those two days I will get to the gym and spend a longer amount of time there.

Money saved by doing spa week at home?  For me about $1150!  Here’s the very first link when I googled ‘spa retreat,’ $800, plus at least $100 travel money, and $250 for doggie care.  Having the doggies to take care of during spa week took up time that I wouldn’t have to spend if I were at a real spa.  But they also provide that nurturing element–relaxation and fun–that you wouldn’t get without them.  Plus I get to sleep in my own bed at home!

I think this is enough blather for now.  I have a lot of catch up stuff to do today (as well as exercise LOL) and then tomorrow I leave for my annual trip to the big Pacific International Quilt Show!  I know.  My life is really very difficult right now LOL.


Mission Accomplished

One of my goals for this week was to walk all the way to Indian Grinding Rocks State Park.  Its not anything I haven’t done before, but it is something I haven’t done for quite a while.  I think the last time I did that walk was in early spring, when Lori did her challenge.  Its a 5 mile loop.  Lots of hills.  So this morning, first I tried on my Tommy Kono Knee Bands.  Wowza, those things are tight.  My knees did feel nice and secure in them, but I didn’t think a five mile hike was the way to break them in.  Took them off.  Great, now my knees felt all loosy goosey.  But we set off anyway.  This time I took my little notebook of Bible verses I have memorized.  If you don’t review them, you tend to forget.  And in fact, there were a few passages in there that I had forgotten that I had even memorized!  I’ll tell you, that is one way to make the time and distance pass quickly!  I really loved reviewing those wonderful verses.  I thoroughly enjoyed the walk TO the park.  Now, the walk home was a bit more painful.  But we made it!

Here’s an interesting sight at the park.  The Indians still use this park for annual get togethers.  I think this must be a traditional way of providing shade–just some young cedar trees and/or limbs laid across a structural support:

My good walking bud:

Some nature findings from our walks:

I found this beautiful birds nest on the ground the other day and carried it all the way home.  The structure of a bird’s nest is absolutely amazing to me.  So sturdy and strong.  Add to that that it was created instinctively by a very small creature, it is truly a miracle of engineering.  I guess that’s why a lot of artists seem to be fascinated by bird’s nests.

And today we found these really pretty acorns.  They are larger than the acorns from the trees around my house.

Lunchtime at the spa:

"California Chef's Salad"--chicken, orange segments, blue cheese, carrots, and slivered almonds on baby greens.

Sophie kept an eagle eye on my lunch.







Mr. Monk sat patiently on his bed under the desk.

Going backwards in time, yesterday I actually did 30 minutes on the exercise bike at the gym!  It helps that the Dr. Oz show came on and Paula Deen was the guest.  She tried to make some of her recipes with half the fat and half the calories.  She seemed truly amazed when Dr. Oz told her that her original recipe had something like 1200 calories in it.  Interesting…  Anyway, it kept me cycling for 30 minutes.  And then I knocked out 40 minutes in the pool!

Me and the doggies were pretty tired last night.

Today’s menu:

  • Breakfast:  2 Lobars from Vicky
  • Mid-morning (pre-walk) snack:  Cottage cheese, crushed pineapple, and walnuts
  • Lunch:  California Chef’s Salad, and sweet potato fries
  • Afternoon snack:  Blueberry scone
  • Dinner:  Taco soup and honeydew melon
  • Dessert:  Cookie dough hummus (check it out on Roni’s blog)






Okay, I’m off to the gym for a weights workout and a swim.  I can hardly wait to get it done so I can come home for my scone and afternoon coffee!

Its Official…I’m Pooped.


Me and Noah near the end of the long walk today.  (no makeup allowed at Spa Week)

We were both pretty pooped at this point.  But let me go back to where I last left you.  I believe I was on my way to the gym yesterday afternoon.  As usual, I completely forgot that the pool is closed between 1 and 3pm for physical therapy.  This turned out to be a good thing, because it forced me to go upstairs and FACE THE MACHINES.  Hadn’t been near them since before my hand surgery.  And guess what?  I had a great workout!  50 minutes.  Lighter weights than when I left off, but not bad.  I also went in the free weights room BEFORE ANY  MEN SHOWED UP and did 3 sets of 10 reps of bench chest presses with the bar–go me!  That was the true test of my left hand working.  The machines didn’t really use my palm that much.  The other thing I did that extended my workout time was to get on the stationary bike and bike for 3 minutes between each exercise.  I really like doing that, but seldom take the time to do it.  Then it was time to get in the pool.  I only lasted 20 minutes running in the pool and swimming IN THE RAIN.  Then I got in the spa–its like the carrot that gets me into the pool in the first place.  And can you believe it, the bubbles would not turn on?

Last night’s dinner (taco soup with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado added):

The obligatory candles were lit in the evening.  Haven’t quite coordinated the bath by candlelight thing yet.

Today was as bright and sunny as yesterday was cloudy and rainy!  I decided to change things up a bit, and start the walking with all three dogs.  Here’s the scene that greeted  us.

Sophie was not amused by the wet roads.

The queen prefers her paws to remain mud free.

Practicing her queenly domination.

Mr. Monk didn’t seem to mind the mud:

"Its all good."

This is about my only attempt at planting flowers this year.  These are on the back deck.

THIS is why I haven’t planted much in the front yard.  (can you see he is sitting in one of my planting barrels?)

THIS is why I can't garden in the front yard...

After taking a short walk with the little guys, we brought them home.  I took a short break and ate my mid-morning snack and headed out with Noah for the long walk.  It was LOOONNNNGGG.  But we made it.  Also, surprisingly, my legs are feeling better and better.   And that’s before I’ve even gotten those knee bands.

As soon as I hit publish, I will be off to the gym for a long swim session.  If I can make myself do it, I plan to get on a stationary cycle for about 20 minutes before hitting the pool.  And then, once again, I will be done for the day.

Here’s today’s menu:

  • Breakfast:  Gluten free blueberry scone.
  • Mid-morning snack:  Greek yogurt and granola
  • Lunch:  Spaghetti sauce over veggies, and honeydew melon
  • Afternoon snack:  Banana apricot oatmeal bar
  • Dinner:  Green smoothie, sweet potato fries, and tomatoes
  • Dessert:  Gluten free Coconut cashew cookies by Vicky






Spa photo (I’m wearing that shirt that I got that says “DO SOMETHING” for the first time!

What’s the Difference?

Just got back from the morning “Challenge Walk.”  The challenge being, how long can I walk without having to pee LOL?  Dang it.  Am I the only one for whom this is a problem, especially with the morning walks?  Anyway, the challenge was to go a bit farther today, which I did.  And the walk still only took 1 1/2 hours–go me.  The legs alternate between “oh something is loose in there,”  to “dull ache, just keep going” to “glimmer of hope, feeling as strong as I did a month or so ago!”

Started the walk a little earlier than scheduled, since it was gray outside and showers were predicted.  Around here, “showers predicted” can mean it stays gray all day, and then rains for about 10 minutes at 5pm.  I was hopeful that we would miss the rain.  No such luck.  It started raining before we turned around, so half the walk was in the rain.  It was fun.  for a while.

Noah thought he deserved a treat after walking that far in the rain.

So now I am speeding things up a bit again, and heading out the door to the gym at 12:30 instead of at 2pm.  Because today is a day you want to stay inside on the couch, with a nice fire in the woodstove.  If I wait too long, I might not make it to the gym.  But if I go early, there will be more couch time this afternoon.

I wanted to answer the question, “What’s the difference? between what I’m doing this week and my regular life.  Because I’ve asked that question myself.  Well, probably the biggest difference is time. I have an idea in my mind of how much time should be spent on exercise in  real life.  I am prepared to spend up to 1 hour a day, 6 days a week, because the NWCR says that most people that maintain their weight loss exercise an average of an hour a day.  Okay.  That’s more than I’d prefer to spend, but I’m willing to go for it.  So that means that if I go for the long walk with Noah, I skip the gym.  If I go to the gym, I limit the time there, because I still need to go for at least a short walk with Noah.  If you look at the schedule I set out, I designated 4 hours for exercise. That’s just not gonna happen in real life, retired or not.  I CHOOSE NOT to exercise that much.  And yet, I wanted to challenge myself to be disciplined about exercise.  To show myself that I indeed could take a long walk and go to the gym.  And on a day that I did that much exercise, I could still eat a very reasonable amount of food, as long as I chose carefully, and made sure it was fuel (delicious fuel, but fuel nonetheless.)  The other thing that’s a little different is “letting myself off the hook.”  By preparing all the food ahead of time, and making the decision that there would be no additional cooking or baking during Spa Week, and also doing the house cleaning on Saturday,  I freed up the time to concentrate on the exercise and the relaxing.  Its just fun to be intentional sometimes.

Menu for the day:

  • Breakfast:  Katie’s Pumpkin Bread in a Bowl  (sub’ing 1/4 cup of eggbeaters for 1/4 cup of almond milk.)
  • After-walk snack:  Cottage cheese, crushed pineapple, and walnuts.
  • Lunch:  Red Lentil and rice salad by Vicky
  • Afternoon snack with coffee (maybe at Starbuck’s?):  apple with laughing cow cheese wedge and walnuts
  • Dinner:  Taco soup and honeydew melon
  • Dessert:  Gluten free Coconut cashew cookies by Vicky

Got the results of my mammogram.  Most exciting words on the test results?  “There is evidence of interval weight loss. “  Oh yeah, baby.  Those words were music to my ears.  And for those of you who are keeping track, yes, my last mammogram was November 2004.  Oops.  Oh, and the result of my mammogram was “normal.”

I’m off to the gym!  Wish me luck.  I might even get in the pool.  Because the draw of those “tiny bubbles” afterwards is almost irresistible.

Spa Week, Day 1

Today was the beginning of spa week.  With one exception, the day went EXACTLY as planned!  For the food, I wrote out the day’s menu the night before.  My idea was to only serve myself food that  you would find at a top spa.  No junk, nothing with preservatives, no sugar free candy or microwave popcorn.  VERY minimal sugar and wheat.   Extra attention  to vegetables.  I will be using the occasional splenda…  Here’s the day’s menu:

  • Breakfast:  my blueberry scone, made with gluten free flour.
  • Pre-walk snack:  Non-fat greek yogurt with homemade granola.
  • Lunch:  Vicky’s red lentil and rice salad (LOVE) and tomatoes.
  • Colorful AND tasty!

  • After-swim snack at Starbuck’s:  Vicky’s fig bars and (here’s the indiscretion) a small mocha frapuccino (I was supposed to have coffee.)
  • Dinner:  Spaghetti sauce over veggies.
  • Dessert:  Roni’s ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip.

Noah and I took an hour and a half hike today.  Pre-medicated with ibuprofen, the legs held up fine.  Did some stretches and floor exercises when we got home.  I dilly dally’d a bit too long after lunch, but headed out to the gym and got in half an hour of running in the pool and swimming.  Once again those “tiny bubbles” felt fantastic after the swim!  After relaxing at Starbuck’s, I headed home, where I took the three dogs for a pre-dinner stroll.

Today was just the first day, and I am happy with the amount of exercise I did, and the food that I ate.  This week I won’t be doing a lot of quilting that requires creative thought–that takes another type of energy!  But I have a few projects that are ‘mindless’ and they are perfect for times like this.

And now for the final spa “activity,”  I am going to work at becoming one with the couch.

Cooking and Preparing for Spa Week

Well, you all know I like cooking better than cleaning.  So I started with the cooking.  I got out all the vegetables I was planning to use:  carrots, onion, mushrooms, zucchini and summer squash, corn on the cob, and some chopped frozen tomatoes.

I have a regular way I cook these vegetables now.  I mean, I chop and cook them in a certain order, starting with the ones that require the longest cooking time, so I can get them in the pan first, and continue chopping and adding in order of needed cooking time.  First the onion went into the pan.  I used a big onion.  Then I decided I wanted to cook two different combos of veggies, so I split the partially cooked onions into two pans.  To one pan I added chopped summer and zucchini squash, and corn cut off the cob.  To the other pan I added mushrooms, and peeled zucchini and carrots.

After the veggies were all cooked, I cleaned one of the pans quickly, and then cooked the chopped sirloin.  I added half of it to the Spaghetti sauce withBacon that I had taken out of the freezer, and the other half I left in the pan to make into taco soup.  Added the taco seasoning and some chopped tomatoes that were in the freezer and about half of the already cooked chopped veggies.  The ‘peeled’ veggies are to use with the spaghetti sauce.

And then I realized I had enough food to feed an army.  And there is only me coming to this spa week.  Fortunately, my neighbor, who has given me most of my veggies all summer, is going through a bit of a tough time right now, and she had mentioned that she isn’t cooking much these days.  Bingo!  I called her and she was happy to take some of the extra food off my hands!

Anyway, probably some of you moms and other organized people are used to cooking in bulk like this.  But I don’t do it that often.  It was really fun, and I have plenty of food for at least a week, even after giving some of it away.  It took two hours from start to finish, and that included washing a lot of dishes.

Then it was on to housecleaning and clothes washing.

I felt pretty good all day today.  Planned what I was going to eat, and stuck to it.  In the afternoon I set out for a long walk with Noah, and we made the 3 mile loop.  We took the nightly ‘Monk speed’ stroll after dinner.  All this makes for a VERY RELAXED EVENING.

Noah has to rearrange the rug before he falls asleep.

Doesn’t Sophie have the cutest little pink belly?

And last, but not least, the FACE.

Spa week starts tomorrow!  I’m planning on long walks in the morning, and gym sessions in the afternoon.  I went ahead and ordered those knee bands and paid extra for one day delivery.  I forgot to get epsom salts for the bath, so will pick those up tomorrow–its so soothing to take a bath with that.  I have scented candles, Shelley!

Turning the Day Around

I had an extra busy week (for me.)  A few too many appointments.  And out after dark two nights in a row?  Unheard of.  So today was an “at home” day.  I felt like crap when I got up.  Everything just aches.  I don’t know if its the changing weather (which I am loving)  or just some weird clinging damage that I did to (apparently) both legs.  Anyway, I just took it easy this morning.  Ooh, I tried a new recipe–most worthy!  Katie calls it Pumpkin Bread in a Bowl.  I only changed one thing–I used 1/2 cup of almond milk and 1/4 cup of eggbeaters.  I liked it so much I tried to make an “improved version” for lunch.  I tried replacing the cereal with my oatbran/flaxmeal mix.  I didn’t like this as much, but it stuck with me a lot longer.  I might experiment a little bit more.

I pulled out a big quilt that I hadn’t finished quilting before I had to take a break for my hand surgery, and did quite a bit of work on it.  And then I headed down to the gym to take a swim.  I really had to talk myself into this.  But I wanted to get a few groceries for my cooking for spa week tomorrow (ever notice how food is always the deciding factor for me?)  On the way down I started to get sad, or down.  Just a vague feeling.  Maybe because the body aches make me wonder if this is going to be the way it is from now on, or maybe just missing my dad catching up with me.  Or maybe the stars just weren’t aligned quite right.  Whatever.  But I just continued on and got in the pool and did my thing.  Nothing hurts too much in the pool.  I kept swimming until the spa cleared out.  Oh my goodness.  That spa felt so magnificent.  All those lovely little bubbles.  It felt like I was getting a special treatment on every little ache and pain in my body!   And for a while after I got out, everything felt good again.

The doggies and I all went out for a little stroll after dinner (believe me, when Monk’s along, there is no cardio effort involved.  A stroll is all we get.)  And I just made a batch of Roni’s version of Katie’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip.  I love Katie’s recipes, but sometimes they are a little calorie dense for us umm, well, those of us who DON’T have a problem putting weight on LOL.  So Roni slimmed the recipe down just a bit.   I’m going to have a bit as soon as I get done writing this blog.

And  hey!  Does everybody know about the Shape Best Blogger Awards?  Several of our friends have been nominated, but at the top of my list is BBB (Best Blog Buddy) Jill!!  Go on over and vote for her now!  Jill is the one who got me into this blogging in the first place, and we’ve been buds through thick and thin (LOL) ever since.

I’m thinking about getting these knee bands to tide me over.  My brother swears they are the best thing out there.  Anybody have any experience with this brand?