Archive for November, 2012

Week one of Dr. Fuhrman’s  Holiday Challenge is in the books.

The good news:   I am down four pounds.  Now I don’t normally lose that much in a week, so it’s probably water weight, combined with simply stopping the binge eating. Amazing what happens when you aren’t constantly over-eating!   It seems I can drop a few pounds by simple corrections; it’s that last 20 pounds that I tend to have trouble losing.

Having a few days off work also gave me the opportunity for several continuous days of distance walking.   I am nowhere near where I need to be, distance-wise, but I’ll get there.  No use getting another stress fracture by adding too much mileage too soon!   I’ve also started wearing my pack.  It currently weighs seven pounds, though my goal is to get to 15.  Ideally, I’d like to carry about 10 pounds on the Camino, but I will have food and water with me, so I need to plan to start each day with a little more weight.

What I learned from this past week:  I really need to plan appropriately when it comes to food.  I did great on Thanksgiving, mainly because of planning.  But not so great on Saturday and a bit worse on Sunday.   Both days I ate food that was allowed  on my program, but I ate just too much of it.

Saturday’s problem was one of timing – I ate a late breakfast due to my morning walk, and so wasn’t hungry for lunch at 11 a.m.  I couldn’t sneak in my normal salad to the 12:30 p.m. football game.  I could, however,  hide some homemade trail mix in my purse, so I took that for lunch.   Granted, it wasn’t cookies, but it wasn’t the best, most filling option.  By the time I got home, I was starving.  Combine that with being frustrated about the game (and about life in general) and I ended up over-eating  at dinner.

Sunday was not my best effort.  It was cold and I could feel a cold coming on, so no walking for me.  I had walked six days straight, so a rest day was okay.  But unfortunately I ended up eating way too many dates and almonds.  I wasn’t hungry,  I was just eating to eat.   Not. Good.

So the number one action item for this week is to plan better.  I also need to allow myself to feel all those feelings that I”m trying to stuff down:  to be sad, to be angry, to be frustrated.   Then, write in my journal.  Or move.  Or cry.   But just for this week, explore what it’s like to have uncomfortable feelings without trying to eat them away.









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While many Americans are spending the day after Thanksgiving fighting crowds at the mall, I chose a path less taken: spending several hours walking in a segment of the Duke Forest in Orange County, NC.

When I say, “less taken,” I am serious. Three hours of meandering, and not a human soul in sight!

Instead of Christmas carols, I was serenaded by the sound of gravel and fallen leaves crunching beneath my boots. Instead of viewing twinkle lights, I basked in the warm sunshine one last day before a cold front arrives.

There’s still plenty of time for shopping, so for today I’ll continue celebrating Thanksgiving. I am so very fortunate that I live in an area so many trails and parks, all free for the public to enjoy.

Hope your Black Friday is as peaceful as mine, and that during this busy holiday season, you can take time out to stop and smell the roses.


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photo courtesy of Microsoft

I’m giving myself an early Christmas present this year:  I signed up for Dr. Fuhrman’s 2012 Holiday Challenge.

The challenge, which begins today, is to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s eating guidelines for better health during the holiday season.  Those guidelines include eating a large salad every day, and eating plenty of greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries and seeds (GBOMBS).  He also recommends limiting the amount of oil in one’s diet, instead getting fats from avocados, nuts and seeds. He recommends eliminating sugar and artificial sweeteners, white flour, and most processed foods from the diet.    One can still eat meat or dairy, but he recommends that only 10 percent of one’s total caloric intake come from these sources.

I’ve been following these guidelines, on and off, for the past four months.  When I’m “good,” I feel better and have more energy.   When I’m “bad,” I feel bloated and cranky, and don’t sleep well.  I’ve been especially bad lately, using food as a crutch.  I’ve been sad and stressed, and I over-eat, basically stuffing down my emotions.   I’ve gained a good five pounds since  October, and the holiday season — with all its sweets and treats — is only just beginning.  I have to get a hold on this now!

Signing up for a challenge — and writing about it in this blog — is me publicly making myself accountable.   So for this holiday season, I intend the following:

1. To follow the eating guidelines outlined by Dr. Fuhrman.  I can do this!

2. To deal with my emotions rather than stuff them down with food.  I’ve got my journal ready to write what needs to be released.  Exercise also helps a lot.  I’ve got only six  months until my Camino, so no reason not to get off the couch and get moving!

3. To come up with a treat that doesn’t involve food.   This could be exercise, reading a good book, watching a funny movie, or taking a bubble bath.
By doing these three things, I can give myself a wonderful gift not only for this holiday but for the rest of my life: a healthy relationship with food.

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2012 holiday season!




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About a month ago, I had my dog Nanaline put to sleep. Today, I summoned the energy to bury her cremains.

I dug a hole on the right side of this baby gardenia bush and placed her ashes there. The remains of her sis, Bailey, are on the left side.


The remains of both dogs had been placed in a fancy wooden box. I threw away the boxes, preferring that their remains be able to disintegrate back into the earth. Even if I move, this yard was my dogs’ home and I’m happy with it being their final resting place.

So while I sat by the gardenia, contemplating the cycle of life, I couldn’t help but notice the fallen leaves that needed raking!

But before attempting that project, I decided it was past time to flip my compost piles.

Now is the time to admit that I’m a lazy composter. I throw sticks, leaves, food scraps and dead plants into my various piles. The rain will tamp the material down, then I add more. Once or twice a year, I’ll turn the piles.

The photo above is from one of my larger compost piles. It’s hard to see, but there’s some black gold in there!

I used a screen to separate out the already composted material from that which needs a little more time.

I then took the not-ready-for-prime-time material and placed it in a newly emptied bin.

I bagged up the compost to add to one of my beds that still awaits cover crop. My gardening work is never done!

I still have a few more piles to flip, so there will be some compost to place by the gardenia bush. And come spring, when the first white blossoms appear, I’ll once again sit by the bush, enjoy its fragrant flowers, and think happy thoughts about my dogs.

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photo courtesy of GoodReads

I just finished reading yet another book on pilgrimage.  This time, I chose a fiction book, “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.”

For those who haven’t heard about this book, Harold Fry is a retired gentleman in England who receives a letter from an old friend who is dying of cancer.  He writes a letter back to her, goes out to post the letter, and then just keeps walking.  He got this idea that if Queenie knew he was walking to see her, she would stay alive.  He could save her.  So off he goes.

Because he didn’t plan on going more than a few blocks, Harold is wearing boat shoes.  I can hardly walk across town, much less across a country, in non-walking shoes!   But Harold perseveres.  Even though he has opportunities to buy supplies, such as appropriate shoes, for his walk, he decides not to.    While I can be superstitious when it comes to sporting events  — for example, everyone knows that Duke won its 2001 national basketball championship in large part because of I wore my lucky sweat shirt for every tournament game —  I don’t think I’d be that way on my pilgrimage.   If I need new shoes, or a new hat, or mittens, I’m going to buy them!  I am all about comfort.

At some point during Harold’s walk, he ditches his credit cards and extra supplies, preferring instead to rely on what shows up along the way.  His actions reminded me of another book I read recently, in which two people walked from Rome to Jerusalem and relied on the kindness of churches and strangers to house them.  I am not that brave!  While I want to “go with the flow” and trust that the universe will provide all I need, exactly when I need it, I”m just not there yet.  I can’t imagine ditching my credit cards or knocking on strangers’ doors asking for shelter.
Harold spends a lot of time thinking about his family, his friendship with Queenie, and where things might have gone wrong in his life.   I find that my training walks allow me a similar opportunity to evaluate my life, to release the sadness I currently feel, and to really notice things around me.  I can relate to this quote from page 40:  “Life was very different when you walked through it.”

Somewhere along the way, Harold picks up an entourage, and his pilgrimage morphs into something else.  He begins to start taking care of these other folks, to change his plans and accommodate the group of followers.   Harold’s experience was a good warning to not let others co-opt my dreams.

I have read numerous books, articles and forums about the Camino and it appears there are pretty strong ideas about what makes up an authentic pilgrimage.    For example, it appears that, for many, a “true” pilgrim walks the whole way, carries everything on her back, stays in albergues with loud snorers, and suffers along the way.    I do plan to walk the entire way and carry all my belongs in my rucksack.  But I need my sleep and, as such, plan on staying at hotels or private homes most of the time.  And I certainly don’t want to suffer, though painful experiences may come up along the way.  Does that mean I’m not a true pilgrim?  Will I allow what others think of me to color my pilgrimage?  My life?  And will  I judge others because they choose different experiences?      All things to think about on my own walks.

Probably the most important thing I learned from Harold is that his hopeful exuberance and belief in what he was doing got tarnished along the way.  He got discouraged and questioned his decisions, but with some encouragement from his wife, he kept on anyways.  And in the end, it was worth it.    Good things to think about when life gets a little sad or things get a little rough.  Just keep going and it will all work out, one way or another.




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