Monday, October 26, 2015

Serendipity

Ever since I got that bad cold weeks ago, even after the cold was pretty much gone, I haven't felt well.  I've been dragging myself through days and nights and jobs and life.  I know darn well this does not bode well for me to be going into Daylight Savings Time with this hovering around me all the time.

Saturday morning, I got up while the house was still quiet and sat down for a cup of coffee prior to my workout.  Once again, I didn't feel like working out and did feel like I was tired of pushing myself to work out when I don't feel like it.  I do feel like I've spent all of 2015 battling it in a vicious cycle of knowing I should do it, thinking I want to do it, doing it, it sucks (my performance, the weather, whatever), I cut my workout short - or suffer through it, berate myself for sucking, skip it the next day because that day was so bad, berate myself for skipping it.  And on and on and on and on... and that's just one of the many things I feel like I've been battling.

I don't know why but for some reason, on Saturday morning, this hit me hard and as I sat sipping my coffee. I decided to really be honest with myself and acknowledge whatever I needed to in order to get myself out of this funk.

In truth, I haven't felt "well" in a long, long time - much longer than just the last few weeks. Pieces of it go all the way back to 2012 when I broke my foot.  Those things have just never been right since.

I actually had the thought, "The choices I'm making overall are not working.  I don't like myself, I don't like the way I look, I don't like the funk I seem to be spiraling further into.  I'm mostly miserable. Something has to change."

So, I sat and I thought and I thought and came up with a plan.

1.  Exercise most days.  It doesn't have to be hard or fast or anything other than a couple mile walk.  No comparing the past to right now.  Just do it and accept it for whatever it is, even if I have to pretend I've never exercised before and I'm starting all over.

2.  Find an exercise class to take a couple times a week over the winter.  Something inside, with other people involved.  To this end, I picked up the Parks and Rec magazine and looked at what they were offering.  My immediate reaction was that nothing worked with my part time job schedule.  But then I said, "Helen, snap out of it, that's an excuse.  Find something that works!"  Well, when I read the fine print, I found out that they have several classes where you can either pay $40 for two nights a week, or $25 for 1 night a week.  I picked up my lap top and signed up to start Amped Up this Thursday.  It's a floor class that starts with a cardio kickboxing element and then goes to the floor for strength training.  Because of my schedule (and the dumb holidays) I can only go 1 day a week for this session but when the January session starts, I can make sure I can do something 2 days a week.

3. Get on the scale and see what is going on from my up and down and all around eating.  Well, yes, it was a gain since the last time I weighed myself - December 31, 2014.  But it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought - 6 pounds.  That's fixable.

4. I don't have to diet but I do have to eat better. This one is interesting because in general I make very healthy, good food for us.  I cook from scratch more than anybody I know and that's the truth. We go through periods where we eat out once a week or so, but we also go through times when we eat all meals in for months.  For me, eating better is going to have to do with choosing more vegetables and choose less snack-type foods like crackers.  I love vegetables, but when I get in a funk like I have been, I choose not to eat them and instead eat crackers, pasta, rice, bread and potatoes. Those things are fine in the correction portions, which is the second part - this is also going to have to do with me eating smaller portions.  The end.

To this end, I have a friend who is doing a 100 days of healthier eating thing via Facebook.  I joined that about two weeks ago (which just goes to show you that some of these thoughts have been swirling around in my brain anyway).  She is also doing a series of mini-challenges within the 100 days.  Our first one was drink more water - easy for me most days since I mostly only drink water. Right now we are in the middle of the eat more fruits and vegetables challenge.  These challenges have been good for me, not only to bring realization to how I am eating, but also because even when I've had days that weren't "perfect" the group is supportive.  My tendency to beat on myself isn't really allowed.  That's good for me.

Also, to keep myself in check - not calorie limited - but to force myself to look at my choices, I am going to start using a food tracker again, at least for a while.

5. Drink less alcohol. There was a time when I only ever had a drink if we went out.  Then I would have a drink on the weekends.  Then it turns into a glass of wine while cooking dinner and the next thing you know, nearly every day some sort of adult beverage is being ingested. Even though it hasn't been like this every week, it's still not necessary any week, at least not for me!!  I'm feeling this is just a habit that has developed and it's stopping.  I'll be helped by the fact that I work two nights a week at my part time job and by adding in the exercise class (I never have any desire to drink anything but water when I exercise in the evenings).  I'm sure my liver will thank me.  I also know that this will help tremendously with my desire to exercise as well as ridding myself of downward spiraling thinking.

6. Be more social.  I told Mr. Helen that my goal was for us not to hibernate (unless snowstorm-bound) this winter.  We need to get out and about and I don't care if it's just to go visit parents or something.  I have a huge tendency to be a loner.  Couple that with the fact that I work all by myself at my full time job and then some nights Mr. Helen isn't home, and I am alone a lot.  I need to be out and about and meeting up with friends more, if at all possible. The new exercise class will certainly help with that.  I suspect this will be one of my hardest tasks.

After I wrote most of this blog, thanks to a Facebook share, I found this blog written by Wil Wheaton, the actor: Seven Things I Did to Reboot My Life.

It was so serendipitous I laughed right out loud.  Thank you universe for the confirmation! Read it, he says it better than I ever could.

As of Saturday, I pushed reset.  I had a phenomenal run and body weight workout.  I ate a veggie filled omelet for brunch and we were out of the house the whole day.  We got to see Little Helen and meet her for dinner because she was at Yale University speaking at a conference.  We ate out but I ate half and took the rest home.  I had one glass of Sangria and drank 12 cups of water.  I slept well Saturday night and got up Sunday and took a nice walk and did some pushups and situps.  I batch cooked food for the week and drank only water all day and night.  I slept like a rock Sunday night and had a great run this morning.  It will be a long day because I'm working both jobs, but I'll get to be social and out and about by being at the mall tonight.

So, we shall see what the next months bring.  I'm only a few days in and I already feel better and more hopeful.  I'm taking that as a good sign.

I am a commitment to refresh, recharge, reboot.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fall Frolic, Part 2

We decided to go to Sharpe Hill Winery because it's one of the Connecticut wineries we hadn't visited yet.  The winery itself is beautiful, built into a big old barn (you can see some outside shots in yesterday's post).  They also have a Zagat-rated restaurant there. While familiar with their Ballet of Angels wine (it's the best selling CT wine on the market), we had never tried any of their other wines.

Once you go inside, you go to a desk and choose what type of tasting you want (half or full) and where you want to have it. This winery is unique in that once you choose your spot, they come to your table and serve your tastings.  Sort of fascinating to watch the servers keep track of all the different clients. The inside tasting room is small, especially compared to the tasting room at Jonathan Edwards (our more local winery) but they have two outside areas with seating where tastings are done.  We chose a half tasting (6 wines, which is equal to a bit over one glass of wine) and to stay inside because the sun kept going behind clouds and it was a blustery, chilly day.

We thought the decorations and setting of the tasting room were unique - more like you were sitting in someone's home vs. a big open room.






After our tasting we decided to walk to the top of the hill as our server had told us there was a point at the top where you could see both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  The views were beautiful, even if the vines were bare of grapes!

Beginning to go up the hill

Near the top, looking back



This is the two state view, three if you count that we were standing in Connecticut

Since we had about a 45 minute drive to our next destination, I told Mr. Helen I was going to stop in the ladies room, which turned out to be a unisex facility.  I don't normally take photos of bathrooms but this one was so unique I had to!  Apologies that these are a bit blurry but I was trying to hurry since there was a line outside.


 Close up of the sink


No need for reading materials in this bathroom with all this stuff to look at!  

We left the winery and headed south to make our final stop at B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill, which you have seen before on this blog.  Honestly it's crazy to me how busy this place is now. But they've added on to the old cider mill by building a general store and now are doing hard cider and apple wine tastings so there really is no good time to go when it's not busy.  We got there around 4 p.m. and though they close at 6, there were hundreds of people in line.  So, while Mr. Helen waited in line, I walked around and took some photos.




The actual cider press is located in this building

Apples ready to go into the cider press


Cider & Apple Wine tasting Area - this building used to house a grist mill

Lots and lots of Clyde's branded goods plus Connecticut maple syrup, which I have never seen on sale here before


Pretty soon, Mr. Helen was standing on the steps of the general store so I went and got back in line with him.  The REAL reason we come to Clyde's is for their baked goods - and a cup of ice cold cider.  I wanted to get a pie but they had sold out of them by 2:00 that day. Mr. Helen loves their apple turnovers, but for me (the non-donut person), it's all about the cider donuts.  They sell them so fast you usually get them warm. Just to be open and honest, I always eat two.  Hey, it's something I do once a year!

The Holy Grail

Our adventure took us 6 hours but it was a wonderful way to spend the day.  I hope you've enjoyed it - and if you ever come to Connecticut, now you know where to go and what to do in the fall.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall Frolic, Part 1

Most every year Mr. Helen and I toodle around our neck of the woods to leaf peep when the foliage changes.  Last year we didn't get to do this due to both of us having to work when we would have gone followed by a storm that stripped the leaves off the trees.  This year, I wanted us to take the opportunity to get out but I also wanted to not drive the same old roads.

I did a little research and made plans for us to (sort of) do a big loop of eastern Connecticut driving Route 169 which is a designated National Scenic Byway.  I knew once we were in Connecticut's "Quiet Corner" we would have plenty of other back roads to choose from before we made our way home.

There are a lot of things to see and visit along this drive but hard to do in one day so we set out for a couple of specific stops and decided we'd just mosey along for the rest of the day.

The rest of this post will be mostly photos - I hope you enjoy seeing our fall adventure and I apologize in advance to all you DSLR people for my iPhone and point and shoot shots.

This is a map of our route:  starting from home we took the highway to route 169 (the left road on the map then bear right) because we wanted to start by having lunch at the Vanilla Bean Cafe.  So we drove to the left of the bottom loop then over towards the right. The mileage is correct but disregard the time, this was a 6 hour excursion. Just for perspective, Massachusetts is above the dotted line and Rhode Island is to the right.


I took some shots of the foliage along the way. As you can see it was a beautiful fall day with blue, blue skies.



Once we got off the highway and onto Route 169, we started seeing very typical New England scenes with colonial-style houses and lots of rock walls.  I took a couple photos from the truck then kept insisting we pull over!  Mr. Helen is a good sport but he does get tired of me saying, "Oh no!  That was a perfect shot and we drove by too fast."  Still, 169 was everything we hoped it would be in terms of a lovely drive and views.







In about an hour's time we were at the Vanilla Bean Cafe, a restaurant built into a 19th century barn and the only place to get lunch in Pomfret.  The food is delicious and made with all fresh ingredients but a bit overpriced.  As it's the only game in town, you can imagine the line on a perfect autumnal Saturday.  We ended up keeping our coats on and sitting outside because it was so busy!  No photos but suffice it to say our shared cup of their award winning chili and Mr. Helen's meatloaf sandwich and my roast beef and cheddar sandwich lived up to their reputation. We would to back.

After lunch we headed down Route 97 to go to a wine tasting at Sharpe Hill Vineyards, best know for their Ballet of Angels wine.  We had never been here and were looking forward to it.

Route 97 as we were leaving the cafe.



At one point we came to a stoplight and when I saw this little store's sign, I cracked up!  Then I asked Mr. Helen if he needed anything... beer? Bible? bullets? books? vegetables?  LOL!


He said he was all set and the light changed so we continued on our way and then we were pulling up to Sharpe Hill.

The buildings and grounds are beautiful - here's a preview with more to come in the next post.


This house is part of their property - not sure if someone lives here.  The area in front of the small fence is herb and vegetable gardens which they use for their restaurant.


 '
The main building and restaurant.  Mr. Helen is walking towards the tasting room door - he was done with me and my photos hahaha

The entrance to the tasting room and restaurant.

Next post:  wine tasting, winery grounds, and the holy grail.

Monday, October 19, 2015

All in the Dark

I have been looking for a new pocketbook for quite some time.  Like most women, I can be picky about my purse so it takes me forever to find something.  You know what is irritating as heck?  The fact that "designers" are making pocket books out of plastic/fake leather and still charging $200 or more for them.  Actually it irritates me that synthetic hand bags cost more than $20.  It's ridiculous.  I actually bought a couple different ones and returned them both.  Last week I was in Macy's looking for some new black slacks and walking through the accessories department, found this beauty!

This is a leather Tignanello Satchel in Walnut.  It was priced more than I was willing to pay but there was one of those 1 days sales and it was 40% off and then I had a coupon for $25 off $100 so it came all the way down to just $90 and I had that in gift cards.  Jackpot!  I love it and it also is convertible with a strap that attaches if I need to put it over my shoulder.  Perfect.

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I know I have complained both on this blog and on Facebook - and probably IRL to some people too about the ridiculous size of chicken breasts these days.  For me, chicken breasts are one place where bigger is not better so I have been on a search for reasonable sized pieces of chicken.  It has gotten so bad that even some of the all natural and/or organic ones are 8 oz. each.  Mr. Helen came on these at the commissary where he works and I finally got some on sale.  They really are perfect portions - about 4.8 oz. each so they cook down to about a 4 oz. piece of chicken.  Plus they are individually wrapped so I can freeze the bag and pull out how only how many I want. Much more reasonable.  I am willing to pay extra just to have normal sized chicken.



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Preview of what we did this past Saturday - full post on that coming up later in the week.


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Last Friday we had a beautiful sunny day that warmed up to about 68 degrees.  I left work by 3:30 but had to grocery shop, then put the groceries away and by the time I could get outside it was 5:15.  Because the sun angles change so drastically this time of year, the patio no longer gets sun by that time of day and once the sun starts to drop in the sky it's cold.  But with the cooler weekend weather forecast I was determined to sit outside figuring it would be my last chance before the freeze.  I put on a jacket and took my martini out there anyway, just to get the fresh air.  Only lasted about 45 minutes but I guess that's better than no fresh air at all.


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It did indeed get cooler all weekend long and by Sunday night even our area was forecast for a hard freeze.  I thought maybe I'd set out warmer winter running clothes just in case as I couldn't imagine the struggle I'd have this morning trying to find that stuff at 4 am.  Alarm went off and I got up and I grabbed two outfits - one winter, one what I would normally wear in fall and went downstairs to open the back door and do a temp test.  Ummmmmm okay then.  It was 27 degrees.  I put on my winter gear and turned the news on to see places in New York where it snowed 9 inches.  Well, at least I wasn't dealing with that, right?  Still dark AND cold?  Not my favorite running combo.  And I realized this morning that my runs from start to finish on weekdays are all in the dark now.  Sunrise doesn't happen for a good hour after I get home.  Blah.

Just how much is that lottery this week?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Meandering

I've been down for the count for the last week.  I worked last Wednesday at the mall and Friday morning woke up feeling "off."  Couldn't put my finger on anything in particular, just didn't feel right.  Saturday morning I woke up with a burning throat and bad post nasal drip and by Sunday I had a full blown head cold.  Whenever I get a cold I always hope it won't go into my chest as I'm so prone to bronchitis.  Thankfully that hasn't happened yet, but I have had a cough that won't let up and therefore is keeping me up at night.  I've literally been dragging myself through this week.  Probably should have taken some time off from at least one of the jobs but it wasn't in the cards.

Mild daytime temps followed by pretty cool nights have stuck around this week and the foliage is starting to turn.  Not sure we're going to have a typical foliage season but there are some pretty spots.  I have to work a breast cancer fundraiser at the mall on Saturday, but hoping that Mr. Helen and I can get out for a foliage drive and apple cider donut on the 17th.

Forecast for the first frost is up for this weekend, though I would be surprised if it happens at the shoreline. We are always milder than inland.  I still have my summer flowers out on the patio and plan to let the frost kill them.  They're still blooming a bit so I figure I'd get my money's worth!

I got my fall/winter things out and happily, the things I was wearing last year, fit this year.  But I need some new things to fill in my wardrobe, especially for work.  That always fills me with a sense of dread.  I just do not enjoy shopping for clothes in the size I am right now.  I just don't.  So, I've been putting it off but eventually I'm going to have to give up and go buy some black slacks.

Because I've been sick I haven't been eating very much and of course in my mind I wish that would lead to the elusive weight loss I've been looking for.  I doubt it though because I'm pretty sure my metabolism is slowed while my body fights this cold.

I know a lot of folks who read and comment on this blog read many of the same blogs I do, but if by chance you haven't read Debby's Chit Chat and Continuing the Conversation posts, you should do so. Some really interesting thoughts from a smart lady who lost and lot of weight and it trying to maintain that weight loss.

One thing I know for sure is that even excluding thyroid issues, my age and place in life are affecting my food consumption.  In other words, I just can't eat the same portions I used to, as well as not being able to even eat some of the foods I used to.  All of it just affects me differently now.  Don't get me wrong, I'm no angel and sometimes I barrel right on past the "full" cues simply because I like the taste of something or I'm having a food tantrum - "I want it!  I don't care, I'm eating it!"

I don't know why these types of things bother me so much but I feel like I go through this sort of self examination with each change of season.  Maybe that's how it's supposed to be?  In any case, I've been working on keeping my mind and thoughts on higher things in order not to go down the rabbit hole.

Buddha said, "All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  The mind is everything.  What we think, we become."

I think this is where working on having positive instead of negative thoughts comes into play - and that is for everything in our lives.  I read something recently where a person was complaining about a household repair and they said it in front of someone who had come up from literally nothing.  That person was surprised because their thought pattern was, "I get to clean my house! I get to fix my toilet! I get to pay a mortgage!"

Interesting perspective and one I'm working on.  I'm trying to make the thoughts my mind are consumed with mostly positive ones. What are you consumed with these days?