Happy Clean New Year!

Hi all.  Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve thought of anything worth posting, but with the new year upon us, it seemed like time.

I’ve never been conventional.  I don’t make resolutions on January 1st each year. I save those for my birthday.  But this year I want to take the opportunity to get back to where I should  be.  Back to ME by eating clean, hiking and de-stressing.  Now I know that sounds rather selfish, but it really isn’t.  Caring enough about myself to eat right, exercise, go to my beloved yoga classes and generally be aware of my life is not selfish; it’s they way life should be.  Last year I not only peaked Mount Washington, but more importantly, I lowered my sugar so I’m not longer pre-diabetic, extending time with my family by many years. Eating Clean not only helps my cholesterol levels, it teaches my children what to eat when (all too soon) they are off and cooking for themselves.

I’ve always been in awe of my girlfriend, Wendy, and the incredible meals she makes for her husband Tom despite the long hours she works.  Each one is not only mouth-watering, but a reminder that good food lets people know you love them.  And there’s no doubt that’s what she creates with every meal.  Love.  I think somewhere along the line eating (and feeding) became a matter of convenience and not a matter of nourishing your family with healthy, real food.  Thankfully not everyone lost the importance!!  But for most families it became more important to sit around the table as a family than it was to cook a good meal. You could eat KFC as long as you ate it around the table together. Hmmm.  Our family doesn’t sit at the table, but we always eat together.  We don’t wait to be around the table to discuss our day or check in on each other either.  We’re not perfect by any means, but I think we’re doing pretty well.

Last weekend I picked up the Eat Clean Cookbooks by Tosca Reno (after reading two of her Eat Clean books on my kindle) and found a ton of simple, quick recipes to try.  Did I need to buy the books? No, there are hundreds of recipes on the web.  But I’m glad I did.  Everyone knows I love books 🙂  There is something fantastic about being reminded that healthy, good foods and exercise are all you need to be healthy (without having to get connected to do it).  It’s simple, it’s something that we all know, but it’s the last thing we do when we want to lose weight and get healthy.  Instead we turn to quick fix gimmicks that are destined to let us down.  Instead of brown rice and beans with a large ration of fruits and vegetables, we drink special shakes, pop pills and eliminate one food group or another.  Funny how we forget how simple it really is.  If someone promised you a longer life, a smaller waistline, better outlook on life and unlimited energy, you’d probably jump on it. Think about the “5 hour energy” drink or the other energy drinks people guzzle by the gallon.  So why do so many people still resist the simple choice of a banana over a protein bar?  Or an apple with nut butter over a bag of chips?  When did time become more important than health?  And can we reclaim our health one meal at a time?  I sure hope so!

While I’ve gotten off track the past few months, I’m back with a vengeance!  I’ve set healthy goals and spent the last four hours in the kitchen preparing for the upcoming week.  I know it sounds like a lot of time, but I enjoy it so I don’t mind. Besides, if I wasn’t doing that I’d probably just be watching TV. There’s something to be said for spending 4 hours creating food to keep you healthy.  It makes you excited about eating right!  Right now though, I’m focused.  I have 17 recipes to make for the week (I’ve gotten to 9 today).  While I was chopping, dicing, mixing and creating, I’ll be  honest–I wondered how long it would last.  How long will I dedicate 2-4 hours each weekend to cooking and preparing for the week to come?  I’m not sure.  Like anything worth having, it will take patience and I will probably skip a week here an there (and curse myself come Wednesday when I have nothing to eat).  So, to spend time preparing for the week is one of my goals for the coming year.

My two biggest obstacles with eating healthy are eating slowly and eating often.  I’m terrible, especially on the weekends.  I don’t eat anything until well after noon.  I eat much too quickly at all my meals.  These are small goals, two small steps towards my ultimate goal of being healthy. No more insulin jumps due to a confused pancreas.  No more gulping down my meals so quickly I don’t even get a chance to enjoy the flavors.  After spending so much time creating the food, it’s a shame to not truly enjoy it.

My goal for 2012:   Be the best person I can be!

Some steps towards that goal:

Backpack with the family overnight and peak at least two 4000 footers.

Return to yoga so I can get my focus back–and be able to touch my toes without pain again!

Finish the Wilmot Black Fly 5k with a better time than last year (it’s in May and it won’t be too hard to beat! I sucked last year…much like the black flies)

Run the trails behind my house each morning

Be an inspiration to others

I don’t plan on preaching in this blog.  I plan on sharing my favorite recipes, ideas, struggles and anything else along the way.  You don’t have to read them, but if you are interested in nourishing your body and soul, I’d love to have you around for the journey!

On the right path after all…

I hate when I get caught up with convention.  The past few weeks I’ve been reading all I can about running.  It began with a search for the perfect diet for a runner, then turned into a search for perfection.  My question has always been, what is the best way to get in shape by running?  What is the best diet to follow, because what I’m doing now isn’t working.  The diet is one I’ve been eating for over a year.  So the trouble must be in my running program. One books says you must run 30 miles a week.  Another says to run 60-90 minutes a day.  You must add strength training.  Do yoga.  Do interval training.  The more I read, the less I enjoyed running.

Finally, I read a blog about the importance of trail running on the soul.  Ah, it’s just so true.  Not only does trail running make you a stronger overall runner, it nurtures you as well.  At least it does for me.  I’m not knocking those who prefer the road to the solace of the woods and trails; I’m just saying give it a try.  While there are few resources out there for the trail runner right now in comparison, one thing you will find is they tell you in all the magazines, books, websites, etc. to train on the trails to become a stronger runner.  I’m already out there!

Then, after a week of rain, I finally got out for a trail run.  After trudging on the treadmill all week, it was a blessing to be in the mud again!  The hour flew by as I splashed through puddles, sloshed through mud and swatted black flies.  Ah, there’s nothing like it!  I don’t get as many miles running trail, but I certainly get the time, the intensity and more importantly, the enjoyment.  I listen to my body when I’m out there.  If I need to walk, I walk.  If I want to run, I run.  It all comes naturally and without over-analyzing what I’m supposed to be doing.

There are things in life I am better off to just accept. While it’s easy to say, it’s a struggle everyday to live by.  I may never lose these 15 pounds.  I may never be a star athlete.  I may never run a marathon.  That’s okay!  I’d rather run my trails and enjoy myself than hating every moment on the road or on a treadmill.  Sometimes I get so caught up on what I should do that I forget to do what I love. While I could spend my time worrying about how many miles and minutes,  watch my heart rate every minute,  stick to a regimented plan, I’ve decided to enjoy what I do and let nature do the rest.    I don’t care about winning a marathon or running an Ultra.  I want to be healthy, happy and enjoy life.  I want to splash through the mud and get dirty!

Mid-life Newbie

I’ve always come into things late.  Both my babies were a day late. I started college at 33.  I came upon Harry Potter in book 4. I climbed my first mountain at 43. I started running at 44.  And last night I rode a mountain bike for the first time.  Man, does my ass hurt!

There is something to be said for waiting.  I truly think I appreciate everything I do a bit more than I would have at 20.  College would have been a HUGE waste of money for me back then, I’m certain of that.  As a late-comer to running and hiking, I’m happy with slower paces.  I’m content with a slow run through the woods, pushing myself to beat my previous time, which was slow to start with.  It’s all good.  I stop long enough to soak up the morning sun for a moment or two before carrying on.  I’m not too vain to walk if I need to.  I enjoy the vistas just a little more.  It’s all good.

They say if you learn something new your brain stays fresh and active.  By brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, you can add just a little more life to those “little gray cells”.  Just think of all the benefits of learning new sports at “my age”!  Not only is my brain getting the longevity, so are my muscles.  Adding years to my life all the way around. Yay me!

Jack Packing Blankets

RANDOM JACK THOUGHTS….

As I walked up a steep piece of the trail yesterday morning, I couldn’t help think of my grandfather, Jack.  If he’d had the equipment and technology (and medical care) that is available today, he would have been hiking late into his life. I don’t think he would have ever stopped.  But plastic kneecaps, a bad hip and a pacemaker made that difficult.  Think what he could have done with the right boots, the right pack, the scientific knowledge of hiking today!  Cool thought as I trudged (happily) up my familiar trail.  How lucky we are to be alive now!!  If he could climb mountains, pack blankets and spend entire summers in the Whites with nothing more than thin boots and scratchy wool, who the hell am I to complain about anything?

Savor the Moon

The last few weeks the skies have been getting darker earlier every day.  As I drive back from yoga I have the perfect view of the moon each night as it wax and wanes through its cycle.  Tonight it was full and radiant, guiding me along the dark, dirt roads towards home.  I stopped at the top of the hill, hoping to capture its brilliance on my camera.  An impossible task, at least on my simple camera phone.  So I stared at it for a while, trying to etch it into my memories. 

Sometimes I wish cameras didn’t exist in their instant form.   Perhaps we’d spend more time looking, I mean REALLY looking at the things and/or people we never want to forget.  Instead we click and move on.  I started to think of all the beautiful things I’ve seen this summer and how many I’ve forgotten.  How many views (Carter Dome for one…it was FREEZING) I took quick pictures of so I could “enjoy later”, instead of reveling in the beauty then and there.  How many occasions do we pose for pictures more than we engage in conversation?

When I was in high school, my boyfriend was  in the Army.  We wrote letters back and forth all the time.  When I received one in his perfect writing, I relished every word because I knew it would be days and days before I received another.  I re-read it two, three times.  Now, with email and Facebook bombarding us every moment, I find myself skimming over correspondence so quickly I barely remember what I’ve just read.  Dash off a reply, receive another almost instantly. 

In a time when everything can be captured instantly for ‘later viewing’, I wonder if we don’t do the same with our relationships.  A photograph, a quick email, a text… is that truly a relationship?  No hug, no sound of their voice, no comfortable silence… even phone calls have become obsolete. 

So my suggestion is this:  Stop and drink in the beauty around you, etching it deep inside to recall another day.  Don’t count on one-dimensional photographs or videos to bring to life the beautiful things or people you’ve encountered.  Close your eyes and do it yourself.  When you have lunch with a friend you love, drink in every word, every laugh, every moment as if you won’t see them again for months, for years, for decades.  Don’t wait to miss them.  Bring them into your heart and soul every moment you can.

And savor the moon as if you’ll never see one like it again.

HHH…and big hair

It’s only Thursday, but it’s been a killer week.  Temps over 90 almost everyday this week has put a real crimp in my hiking ambitions–not to mention the poof it’s given my already full-bodied hair!  Friday I think everyone at work asked me what I’d done to it…nothing really.  That’s the problem!

But, pull it back in a ponytail and away I go.  This week has been a shambles really.  Monday [holiday for the 4th] was spent grocery shopping, cleaning my mom’s house, installing her air-conditioner and the general run-around fun.  Tuesday I did get out and get some kayaking it, so that wasn’t a bust, but yesterday I was back out shopping, this time for tank tops for hubby so he could be a bit cooler at work.  Next thing I knew it was 8:45, no dinner eaten, and the air still as hot and stiffling as at 6.  I did take the high road and get Subway instead of McDonalds, however I’m not sure that was really better…a large ham and turkey sub versus a small grilled chicken sandwich?  Oh well.  At least it had all the veggies.

This morning I struck out on my first morning hike in ages.  It was one of the hardest hikes I’ve done so far.  It’s my regular route but DAMN was it hot out there! I drank water the whole time but my energy was zapped by the time I turned around and headed back home, I was wiped.  I grabbed the luna bar I keep in my pack but still no energy.  And now I feel like I could crawl in a corner and sleep for hours! No such luck.

But, managed 2.6 miles today and 2.3 miles on Tuesday.  Have a lot of miles to make up for my 20 mile/week goal…that’s almost 4 miles a day through Sunday–if I go out again tonight. Perhaps…

Kayaking Grafton Pond- 4 miles tonight

Cole Pond-2 miles on Friday (or maybe another long Kayak with hubby…that was great!)

Bicknell – 5 miles on Saturday

Back 40 – 5 miles  on Sunday

Yeah, that should do it!  So, perhaps this week wasn’t a total wash after all!

Role models aren’t just OTHER people

This first week of ‘training’ for Mt. Washington has been a busy one!

Monday-hiking up back. 

Tuesday-kayaking on Grafton Pond.

Wednesday-hiking up to Cole Pond. 

Tonight-hiking up back to the powerlines

The best part of all of this ‘training’ is the time I’m spending with my kids. We’re having a great time and they have less time in front of the television, computer or even just vegging on the couch.  My daughter has decided she wants to start ‘running’ up back now…after only three evenings of being outside and active.  It just goes to show it doesn’t take long for a habit to take hold.  You can get in the habit of sitting down and doing nothing, or you can get in the habit of going out  hiking, running, kayaking, or even strolling.  It’s up to us to decide on the healthy habits!  And, of course, pass them on to our kids! 

I won’t lie.  I’d much rather go home tonight and fall in the chair.  I’ve had one hell of a hectic week at work and have been going in early, staying a bit late and still not getting it all done.  I’d much rather relax and veg, but I know my hike last night made my stress headache disappear.  Much better than any medication I’ve been taking!  Besides, my kids can really use the air…a few more days, weeks or months of kicking them out and getting them involved in nature, and they might just do it on their own! 

This weekend’s plans include a trip up Cardigan Mountain, a lazy day on the White River in Vermont, and a BBQ… sleep?  Optional!

Kayaking McDaniels Marsh

 

What a better way to spend my Sunday morning!  Over 2 hours and 4 miles of blissful, leisurely kayaking!  Thanks to Mandy who kept me company!  There were at least five different Blue Herons making their presence known.  One kept chasing another one around the trees!  It was great!  The sun was being lazy…never quite making it out from behind the clouds.  Probably a good thing! It would have been a HOT one!

There were also turtles, frogs and of course, beautiful flowers.  Stuff you just can’t see anywhere else.

 

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Weekend One

Of course it is of no use to direct our steps into the wood, if they do not carry us thither.  I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit…What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods? ~ Thoreau [Walking]

Today was the first weekend of my ‘training’ for the big climb.  I wanted to go on a longer loop but the weather didn’t cooperate.  I’ve been on the top of Aaron’s Ledge in the middle of a thunderstorm and it’s not fun.  I cut it down to 2 hours and 5.6 miles.  It’s the normal “long loop” that Erin and I take.  I had planned on taking a right and heading up to AL then around the rest of the mountain, down by Erin’s house and back home.  I’m figuring it would have taken an extra hour. Maybe next weekend. I’ll have an extra day with the holiday!

I did learn a few things though:

  1. This is my first time with a pack and it was fine.  It fits perfectly. However, I need to keep working on my shoulders–I found my neck was getting a little tired from the extra weight.  Nothing major.
  2. I prefer my Nalgene bottles over my camelbacks with the sipper.  And it’s hard to get the waterbottle out of the backpack…
  3. Need to take more pictures 🙂
  4. Need to work on stretching my back more…my lower back gets sore very quickly.  Yoga…yes.
  5. I don’t like my socks 😦  I gave in and washed my favorite ones…they were still in the drier when I left.  Wore a different pair and they aren’t as comfy.  My toe hurt after a little while.
  6. BUG DOPE…never leave home without it!
  7. I really, really love it out there!! But sometimes I forget to look around me and enjoy the journey…

 

Tomorrow is kayaking…

Transcendental Saunterer

HD Thoreau once said of walking, ‘No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independece which are the capital in this profession. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers.’ ~ Walking, HD Thoreau

Jack Orrok in 1923

I think there might be some truth there.  Either you love it, or you don’t.  Either you yearn to be outside in the widerness, walking-sauntering-through the peaceful land, or you don’t.  But, then again, his grandmother WAS an Orrok after all.  Perhaps it runs in our blood.  My grandfather, Jack Orrok, was an avid hiker.  He left home every summer, traveling from Dorchester, MA to the White Mountains of NH, to work on the trails.  He was born into the family; or perhaps it was just passed down to him…then me.

I’m planning my first hiking trip up Mount Washington [yes, first but not last!].  Twelve weeks from today I’ll be heading back down the mountain, my back aching, my legs sore, my heart full and my soul soaring!  I’d love to say that this has been a life-long dream, but I’d be lying.  But it has been a dream since hitting 40 🙂 

So, as I count down the days and get myself in shape I’m hoping to share even more of my favorite moments with you all!

The chivalric and heroic spirit which once belonged to the Rider seems now to reside in, or perchance to have subsided into, the Walker–not the Knight, but the Walker, Errant.  He is a sort of fourth estate, outside the Church and State and People.  ~ Thoreau

Excuses…

There was a time I made excuses not to go for a hike: too cold, too hot, raining, snowing, bugs, mud, I’m tired, I’m lazy…it went on and on.  Not that I made excuses every time, just often enough to make them seem legit.  But tonight I realized that now I make excuses to hike.  On Saturday I was stressed from all the traffic–and noise–of bike week on my way to Fryeburg.  Of course I needed a hike!  Tonight I needed to go out because it’s the solstice.  Besides, it’s Monday.  One should always start the week off right. I have a new tracking program–I should really see how many trips I can rack up.  Bugs? I need to see if this new clip on bug replent really works (yes).  Raining?  It’ll keep the bugs away and it sounds really cool on the leaves.  Hot? It’s cooler in the woods.  Cold? I never get to wear that sweater enough anyway…and they just keep coming! 

What a difference a state of mind can make… 

Someone once told me it’s all due to Karma.  Damn! I’m gonna get it right this time so that next time…next time…

Get out there and enjoy life.  You only have one shot (you won’t remember this one on the next go-round) so MAKE IT COUNT

Solstice sunset