Almost Spa Week

Well, I had declared to myself and a few friends that this was going to be a spa week. But then I found out it was National Clean Up the Clutter Week. So that is going to be the focus of this week. I am planning to still give exercise a priority this week, but at least part of it will be “functional exercise.” The relaxing, luxurious part of spa week is going to have to wait. Its a lot more fun to relax when your house has been de-cluttered, anyway. I think I’ll blame this change of heart on Shelley and her Amazing Organized Closet!

Actually, I think I changed my mind when I spent a good part of Saturday cleaning all my deck furniture and hauling it BY MYSELF back up onto the deck. Can you hear the self-pity in that sentence? Anyway, it took a lot longer and a lot more energy than I had expected. And then seeing the results of something clean and de-cluttered has spurred me on to work on a couple of other areas in my house this week.

Here’s the deck, with its new green stain on it–MLG did a masterful job of repairing and sanding and staining it. I do love the color. And I just can’t describe how fun it is to walk across the deck knowing that it is safe and secure.


Ever since I wrote my “Realtime in the Swimming Pool” post, I have been making steady progress on my goal to swim 2.4 miles. I regularly swim 100 lengths, with 40-60 length swims in between. 2.4 miles is 153 lengths. My plan is to swim this next weekend. I will decide what day to do it on depending on how I am feeling, and how busy the pool is. But you can be sure that it will be followed up with a cupcake to celebrate!!

So this week I plan to alternate days on the bike and weights, with swimming. I’ll walk a little. But Noah’s not into the walking too much (thank goodness,) and I do not enjoy walking in August. It is almost unbearably dusty around here in August.

My weight loss is so slow that its …well, I can’t think of a descriptor. Its just slow. I fluctuate between being impatient, thinking its not worth mentioning because its “re-loss,” and being unbearably proud and happy that I have been able to accomplish this. I have lost 22 pounds since last November. Just about 2 1/2 pounds a month.

My knees do feel better. I am sure the weight loss is the most significant factor. I also have kept up with my physical therapy exercises. If I slack off on them, I definitely notice it. In addition, I am taking vitamin B-12. I don’t know if it helps or if its just superstition. But I’m not gonna stop taking it. I still have pain with pretty much every step I take, but its very bearable. I had a couple of really bad days in June. So bad that I consulted my friend who has extensive personal experience with arthritis, and is also studying nutrition. Lynn reminded me that weather changes and pressure changes are one of the main culprits in arthritis flare-ups. And it just so happened that we had had a very weird weather change the days before that happened. Thanks, Lynn!

After that, I started keeping an arthritis calendar. I write down the exercise I do, the calories I consume, and if I have eaten anything different or unusual, like wheat or sugar, or just over-eating. And I write down when I have increased pain. Ever since I started it, though, I have been feeling fit as a fiddle, pretty much every day! There was only one day I was a little more stiff than usual, and that was another day we had a change from unusually cool weather to super hot weather.

Well, this got a little long-winded. Here’s some garden shots to end this on a high note.

My marigold “bouquets”:


A new pot with that lime green plant (they really do well for me, so I like them) and a pink zinnia. I’m hoping it will grow and fill out the pot. We’re working on a “layered pink look” in the garden…


And a fuchsia. Because I am silly and I grew up in the Bay Area where fuchsias grew like weeds. They like cool weather. But I can dream, can’t I?






A Couple of Good Days and a Really Bad Night

Yesterday was a terrific day.  First Spa Day.  I stayed right on track with my schedule.  Got a bit of reading done, and quite a bit of quilting done, and then took a 30 minute brisk walk with Noah.   Headed to the gym for 35 minutes on the weights and 25 minutes on the bicycle.  No Starbuck’s but came straight home with my sack of food from Vicky, and enjoyed watching the  Biggest Loser while having coffee and a Quest bar.  THEN, I put a yoga episode on the computer (from Netflix) and did 35 minutes of that!  That was just right, because it was called Healing Yoga: for Aches and Pains.  Not too strenuous, but some really good stretches, breathing, and posture reminders.  I had my dinner that Vicky had prepared.  I was all ready to dislike it–veggie meatballs with marinara sauce.  I don’t like meatballs, and I don’t particularly like vegetarian meat substitutes.  But I made myself take a bite.  Surprise yumm!  They were full of nuts!  What’s not to like LOL.  After dinner we all went for the doggie stroll.  I watched a new movie documentary “Hungry for Change.”  They had some interesting information in there.  All in all, a really great day.

I was super tired before 9pm, and I headed to bed.  AND I COULD NOT SLEEP.  Which reminded me that that movie had made a point about how important sleep was for our health.  Anyway, thought I would share some of the things I do that usually help me to have a good night’s sleep.  And then some of the things I do that probably don’t help.

Things that help me to sleep:

  • A bath or a shower before I go to bed.
  • No caffeine after 6pm.
  • Reading in bed (usually fall asleep in 5 minutes.  Not much reading gets done.)
  • Bedding not too hot and not too cold.  This one can be very tricky LOL.
  •  Sometimes I take melatonin, usually only when I am having trouble falling asleep.

Things that probably don’t help:

  • Playing games on my kindle in bed.
  • Going to bed too full or too hungry.

Oh well.   I am lucky.  I usually don’t have too much trouble sleeping.  I kind of wondered if the extra exercise had something to do with the sleeplessness.

So this morning got a bit of a slow start.  But after weighing my options exercise-wise, I decided to take an extra long walk-hike.  I’m glad I did.  Sometimes I start worrying that I won’t be able to walk long distances any more.  And I have a special hike coming up with a certain blogger known for her hiking abilities!  (more on that later.)

So now I’m off to the gym.  Not sure what exactly I’m going to do.  Mostly I just want to get in the spa and relax.  Its such a pain in the butt to get your clothes all changed and get wet and stuff though.  I AM very sure that I am going to go to Starbuck’s and relax afterwards.  So far today I’ve had Vicky’s Chia muffin–very tasty, kind of had a ginger flavor to it, a pear, and a beet, goat cheese and walnut salad.  Good eats!

Do you have any special tricks to help you sleep better?

Spa Week, Take 2

Once again I am calling it Spa Week, and once again it is not going to be a full week.  But since it starts tomorrow, I thought I’d better make some sort of a plan.  I looked up the post I did on the plans for the previous spa week, and I see that having my food made for me is going to be a great advantage.  I’ll pick up three days worth of food tomorrow morning.

What I’m dealing with the most is the persistent thought that I don’t want to spend quite as much time exercising as I did the last time.  Then I had the idea to spend some time doing yoga.  I’ve been wanting to do it for quite a while, but just haven’t taken the time to do it.  So I’m excited about that.  Then my friend reminded me that I went in the spa at the gym and liked that.  Ooh, yeah.  That would be a great treat, even if it is too cold to actually swim.  I think I’ll pick up a few things to have fun with, like one of those facial masks, and maybe some bubble bath or something.

Spa week will run from Wednesday through Saturday.  Here’s the tentative schedule:

  • 7-9am:  Morning quiet time/reading/praying/Breakfast
  • 9-11am:  Creativity practice (LOL, that’s spa code for quilting)
  • 11am-12pm:  Long walk with Noah
  • 12 pm:  Lunch
  • 1-3pm:  Gym for weights, biking, swimming, and/or spa.  Starbuck’s if there’s time.  Afternoon snack.
  • 5pm:  Yoga and stroll with dogs.
  • 6pm:  Dinner and evening relaxation

Saturday will be the end of the spa week, and if the weather is okay, I will paint my toenails in the morning, put on my sandals for the first time this year, and take a trip to see a special quilt exhibit!

Well, that still seems pretty ambitious to me, but I’ll give it the old college try.  I’m much more likely to actually accomplish something if I have a plan written down.   Off to bed to rest up for  SPA WEEK!

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.