Mother Nature May Be Testing Me!

 

This week was a test from Mother Nature and clearly I am not happy about it. Wisconsin has been so chilly this week. Tuesday I found myself with a sweatshirt on, windows and doors all closed, and I was shivering in my own home…..AND IT”S JUNE!!!!! Now, that is not funny!!! The worst thing came when I turned on the news and heard the southwest region like Nevada, Utah, and Arizona (my favorite states to hike) were having a record heat wave. I simply wanted to cry…..like really cry:-(

Speaking of which, I actually just told my husband I was really feeling the need to hike a mountain lately. Is that odd or what? Some days I am content with the elliptical at the gym and some days I really need to push my body just to make sure I still have what it takes to do what I love. And let’s face it, there are no mountains in Wisconsin that could even come close to one in the southwest so he knew exactly where I was going with this statement. He simply looked at me when I said this and smiled. I guess that means he is not against a possible trip but then again, I honestly still can’t decide where to go back to….Utah or Arizona. We all agree, we have unfinished business in both states so time will tell where we end up. For now, I have to concentrate on our next destination….McAfee Knob and the Shenandoah National Park. Which, rightfully so, is a mountain I plan to hike and another bucket list destination I hopefully will be able to remove from the list in the near future.

For now I guess the elliptical, kayaking, and outdoor fun will have to be enough to keep me happy. Plus, after all, eventually it will get warm again here in Wisconsin….right???? Summer did officially just begin.

Here is look at what I did to increase my body temperature to a happy degree this week:

Saturday: kayaking the Chain O Lakes….paddled and swam for 3.5 hours (if you missed it read about it here)

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Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical

Monday: morning weights in the home gym, 1.5 mile walk with my daycare kiddos through a nearby wooded area.

Tuesday: home: morning weights

gym: 30 minute elliptical

Wednesday: morning weights in the home gym

Thursday: yoga at home

gym: 30 minute elliptical, weights, and stretching

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Friday: rest

After my post this past week regarding how hard it has been to remove artificial sweeteners from our daily diet, I received many questions what a daily day of food looks like for my husband. I have decided to try and document 2 days worth of food and post my findings in the near future instead of addressing each and every question. However, this may take a week or two to complete. I, for the most part, know what he eats in a day since I prepare his breakfast, pack his lunch for work daily, and dinner is eaten together. The hard part will be to remember to take a picture of the food and then find the time to write the post regarding his daily meals. Just know, I am working on it and hopefully all of you suffering with the same symptoms get as much relief as he has. Life is so much better when you feel healthy.

Have you been to either Utah or Arizona hiking?

If so, which is your favorite state?

Why?

It Has Not Been Easy To Remove Artificial Sweeteners From Our Diet

This Is A Readers Request Update:

It’s been almost two full months since my husband has removed all artificial sweeteners from his diet in hope to find relief from his apparent IBS symptoms. To see the initial start of this process read here. Today I would like to discuss the progress and how much our life has changed. As with any big change it is often easier to do as a couple than just one person. For the most part this is what we have done….completely removed artificial sweetener from our diets.

The biggest thing we needed to do was go through the items we already had in the house that contained something besides real sugar. Gosh, this was not easy and I feel we are pretty healthy eaters. However, my husband did find he was consuming much more than he thought in the form of artificial sweeteners. From something as straight forward(or though we thought) as cottage cheese to his love for candy…they all contained something besides sugar.

We needed to address his love for candy pronto. He loves his candy…..mints, chocolate, sour or sweet candy…he loves it all. And every single candy he loved was tainted with something on the no no list….and believe me the list is long….very long. So we searched hard, did some fast researching, and actually drove two hours to a store to purchase some candy made with real sugar. Yes, crazy maybe….but everyone deserves a treat here and there. We did find some great alternatives and actually now he prefers these over the old.

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Next, I needed to examine our sauces and spices. Oh my goodness, sauces are almost all artificial sweetener and it literally made me ill to know over half of what we used for condiments was tainted with this stuff. So we tossed, dumped, and went back to some of my own mixtures as a permanent fix in our diets now. From BBQ sauce to sloppy joe sauce, everything we commonly used needed to be homemade.

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Salad dressings are all made from scratch now.

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We have been experimenting with spice mixes both store bought and homemade and have found a few favorites.

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Eating out is simply a challenge. Without being able to read every ingredient in every menu item it is often not worth the risk.

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Pizza is now made all homemade with crust that is free of artificial sweetener and we have been very careful about choices at restaurants when we need to eat out. Like the week he traveled for work for instance. Only one evening did he feel bloated and sick which is actually great considering I imagined worse.

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When we are out and about I do my best to pack a picnic type lunch so we do not have to chance a mistake at a restaurant and struggle to make healthy choices on the road.

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Dessert bought from a store is completely out of the question. And since I do not enjoy baking, much less have the time to bake on a regular basis, this will be a very special treat to see dessert at our house. However, once in a great while it rains which means we can’t go outside and I get the urge to create a sweet treat for my family like this strawberry rhubarb crisp I recently made.

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He is learning to read every label on every item he consumes. I am learning to find new favorite products at the grocery store and thankfully shopping is getting a bit faster than it first was when this all began.

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He is also eating much more fresh, clean food items than ever before and is feeling better than ever. Fresh is best. And believe me, just because the product says all natural or organic does not mean it is artificial sweetener free….this was shocking to us both!!!!

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As a result he is feeling better than he has in two years. His bloating only occurs when he eats something he shouldn’t and does not catch the sweetener used. He is again enjoying vegetables and as a bonus we have both lost weight from this big change in our diets. If you find yourself bloated, miserable, and just plain tired of dealing with abdominal pain and discomfort and have found no relief, try removing artificial sweeteners from your diet. The improvement was almost immediate(48 hours) and you may be surprised to feel the same results.

 

 

My Definition Of A Successful Week

Ahhh, the weekend is finally here in a few short hours. Anyone else just need a weekend….I sure do.

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This week I really changed things up in my schedule and it has brought me some great success. For one, I began working out in the early morning in our home gym before my daycare children arrive. Summers for me are exhausting to put it mildly and by nap time I am pooped out which is normally when I would have my first workout of the day….my second being after dinner in the evenings so my husband can join me. Well, lately I have been waking up sore and quite miserable…..especially after street walking the evening before for our normal 3 miles. So Tuesday when I woke up…..I felt like &$#@, and I said to myself,”Karen, you know how to fix this…go downstairs and stretch, move, and exercise!” So I did and let me tell you…..I felt amazing the remainder of the day. And since this was such a great feeling, I did this every morning the rest of the week and have decided to continue doing so. Moving my body is always the best medicine…..how could I forget that?

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Speaking of street walking…..I have been walking for well over 10 years now on a very regular basis for three miles minimum. This is how I began my weight loss journey way back when and this is still what brings me the most peace. However, the past three years or so it is also what brings me the most pain in my joints. Let’s face it, I am not getting any younger and my joints are telling me this every single day.  After Monday evenings walk with my husband I was miserable and said to him that I do believe my days of black top/concrete exercise are over. Facing reality for some is difficult…..for me it’s more about feeling better than anything. I can walk forever on dirt/crushed gravel and wooded trails but give me concrete and I would have to say no if its any great distance. At this stage of life it’s more about heart health, stress relief, and staying healthy…..not about mileage. And lets face it, even though the street is very convenient, close to home, and requires no driving to get to to exercise….trails are all around us and they offer so much more than just joint pounding pain on a hard surface. A great example would be this trail on Tuesday evening….exercise, wildlife, and veggies….who could ask for anything more.

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My entire week in exercise ended up being this:

Sunday: gym workout on the elliptical

Monday: 3 mile street walk, weights in our home gym

Tuesday: 2 mile trail walk, 30 minute recumbent bike and weights in our home gym

Wednesday: weights in our home gym, 30 minute recumbent bike at home

Thursday: weights in our home gym, cut the lawn

(***I love lawn cutting but rarely get the pleasure since I work later than the rest of my family and I can’t start our lawn mower on my own. Today I got done working early…so I jumped at this chance to cut the lawn)

Friday: weights in our home gym

All in all it was a successful week. Workouts were great, body feels good, food journal is looking good, and meals were mostly spent eaten outside on our porch…..which means summer is in full swing. We even had the pleasure of sushi one evening right after a big thunderstorm. If that don’t spell summer….I don’t know what does.

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What’s your definition of a successful week?

How have your workouts changed over the years?

Hike, Cook, Eat, And Explore….Just A Few Of My Favorite Things

I don’t get a whole lot of down time with being a wife, mother, childcare provider, and a person that will not pass up a day outside if the sun is shining. However, there have been a few things consuming what little free time I do have.

Trip planning…..I should have been a travel agent. Although, do people even use travel agents any more???? Who knows. Anyhow, I have been working hard at planning our next adventure vacation and I am finally at a place where I can say it’s complete. I till have two places to book for the night but for the adventure part of the trip, it’s complete. Sleeping is just details anyhow…right? This vacation is going to be like no other since I am not ready to live the airline HELL again any time soon, so we are driving this one, exploring many places, and of course hiking to some of the places on my bucket list.

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Cooking….again something I have been enjoying but I know will soon become a chore for the next few months with the warmer weather. There is nothing worse than having to come in from outside to cook…uggg. Why do we need to eat in the summer time….its such a waste of good summer time hours? Anyhow, I splurged and bought a spiralizer and have been experimenting with it. My husband is a bit scared of what I may put on the dinner table in the next few weeks and our son has already said to give him notice and he will go out for dinner. Party pooper!!!

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And I have been roasting veggie mixtures like crazy and found that I LOVE roasted lemon slices on my veggies. Lemons turn to sweet slices of heaven when they are roasted. You have to try it!!!

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We are planning frantically for camping season and I could not be more excited. OK, well maybe if it were paddling season but that is still a ways away for me. Waters are still a bit chilly so why not camp instead. I placed and received my yearly order of grab and go camp meals for when the urge hits and we have no time to prepare…we just grab and go.

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I have to mention my new love…..sushi. I have had sushi in the past at a few places but this months dinner out with my brother was for sushi at an actual sushi restaurant here in Green Bay. I was nervous,excited, and a little scared to be honest. They often will serve fish eggs on many items and being married to a avid fisherman, I cannot eat fish eggs from any species. However, we easily worked around this dislike and I was amazed at how wonderful our meal tasted, looked, and I cannot wait to return. We had the chef prepare everything we ordered on one plate to share between the three of us and it was like a party in our mouth, literally!!! Look at this plate of food. I am loving these monthly dinners with my brother, he is an adventurous soul and a great foodie at that. And, I will never again have to try and figure out where to go for my future birthday dinners….without a doubt it will be out for sushi.

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That sums up my free time as of lately. I will leave you all with an end of week rainbow and a wish for a great weekend ahead.

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Back On Track With Workouts And In The Kitchen

After needing three days to recover my very sore joints from mountain hiking without any training in the Smoky Mountains….I am finally back to a normal workout routine. I eased slowly back into it and now feel better for not pushing myself too soon. I was really sore when we returned home for this trip. Here’s what my week was like:

Sunday: gym:30 minute elliptical, stretching

Monday: home: total body weight routine, mall walk 3 miles

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Tuesday: gym: 45 minutes elliptical and stretching

Wednesday: yoga and upper body weights

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Thursday: gym: 30 minute elliptical, rowing, abdominal workout, and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: gym: 45 minutes elliptical, rowing, stretching

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One of the nicest things after being away from home is eating at our dining room table. I like eating out but not every meal, every day. This is why, when we do travel, we will often make a grocery store trip for dinner and enjoy it in our hotel room instead of a noisy restaurant.

After a quick trip to the grocery store when we returned home, this is what I came up with for the week in meals.

Pot roast(thank goodness for the crock pot the day after vacation). Super easy and basically cooks itself with little preparation needed.

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Chicken potpie with biscuit topping. I used this recipe but topped it with biscuits instead of corn bread.

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By mid week I was feeling good again so I tried a new recipe, tater tot chicken and spinach casserole. Everyone agreed…..success. It was so simple and so delicious. I also made roasted broccoli and roasted whole garlic cloves to go with it.

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And one evening we had shredded chicken salads. I love meal salads and try and have them at least once a week.

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Not too bad for throwing together the meal plan and grocery list on the plane ride home.

 

Items That Help Me Survive Winter In Wisconsin

It’s no secret winter is not my favorite season. I suffer from seasonal depression and literally count down the days on a calendar until the clocks change again, daylight appears past 4p.m., and I see green grass. Once the holidays are over is when it really gets rough for me. Although, I have lived here my entire life and have found some things that I simply could not live without during the winter months. So for all of you making plans to visit us here in the midwest during the winter or for all of you thinking about moving here from a warmer climate…read on!

#1 Lotion: Once the heat is turned on and the water we shower in is turned up it’s like death to your skin. You dry out, you itch and it’s just plain rough on the skin to be out in the elements of winter.

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#2 Lip Balm: Much like our skin, our lips are every sensitive to the cold also. I have these little tubes of moisture in every little hiding spot I know…..SUV, car, pockets of all my jackets, next to the bed, in my purse, and even in my backpack if the urge would hit for a quick snowshoe hike through the woods somewhere.

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#3 Tea/Coffee etc: You may think being in a warm house you could drink anything and maybe so, but something mentally happens when it starts to snow and you literally crave something warm to drink. We here are not all day coffee drinkers but tea makes an appearance quite often during the days of winter.

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#4 Down: I will never regret buying my down bed comforter and my down winter jacket. They are the best investments I have made to help me survive winter.

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#5 Hobbies: I am not sure if you would call this a hobby but it does take my mind off the snow and the days that are so incredibly short and cold. We do jig saw puzzles during the winter months and its always a goal to see how many we can finish before the snow melts.

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#6 Memories: What once was will come again. I look back at my summer time pictures often during the winter months. They help me recall a much happier time in life and give me something to look forward to.

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#7 Exercise: You know it baby….it’s the only time I can break a sweat during the winter months. Sometimes I will workout twice a day just to feel warm.

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Are you from the midwest?

What is one thing you could not live without during the long winter months?

First Hike Of 2017

We decided to forgo the gym on January 1st. and hike since the sun was shining and I came down with some sort of nasty respiratory bug which made working out difficult the day before. Plus, my husband was dying to try out his new GPS we bought him for Christmas.

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We headed to my favorite nearby trail to see if the construction signs were removed yet and the trail had reopened. Upon arrival, I was thrilled to see it open….it had been closed for at least the last 6 months. We wasted no time making tracks in the snow since it was too cold to stand around.

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The temperature was about 20 degrees when we arrived but the winds were quite low which made this hike fairly tolerable for this time of year. The trail did have varying depths of snow cover but was still easy to maneuver through.

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It felt so good to be outside and soak up some natural sunshine. It has been weeks since I have ventured onto any trail in the area.

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Even though my toes were cold by the time we were finished, it was a great way to start the new year.

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Today we hiked the first 3 miles(almost) of many more to come this year.

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Did you do anything special on January 1st?