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Race Report: YOSA 5K

Monday, April 14, 2014

On Saturday, I was scheduled to do a 5K to benefit the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio. I did this one last year, though because I had bronchitis at the time, I had to walk instead of run it. The course is extremely hilly, so I'm not sure exactly why I decided I wanted to run it this year. I don't like running hills, and frankly, I haven't done any real running since August last year. I've literally run a mile three times (one in September, one in January, one in March) and a 5K once (in December). Since my surgery in January, I've done a couple 2-4 minute jogging intervals, but I did absolutely NO training for this 5K, and I knew I wasn't in good running shape. Still, I was determined to run it, or at least run/walk it. What the heck is wrong with me??

To worsen matters, I was struck by severe insomnia the night before the 5K. Severe = I couldn't fall asleep until midnight, and I woke up at 2:30 and was unable to go back to sleep. I finally got up around 5:45, had two cups of coffee and some yogurt, and hoped it would be enough to carry me through the race. My friend Stephanie (INEEDACAT9) came over around 6:30 so we could carpool together, and I drove to the event area in a kind of caffeine-fueled haze.

Once at the site, we met up with a few other Sparkers, and eventually with my stepmom, Lauren, who was running her first 5K since we did YOSA last April.


Lauren, me, Stephanie

I debated whether to try my original run/walk plan, or to just walk the 3.1 miles. My stomach didn't feel good, and I was so, so tired! But I'd told myself I would run this, and you know me. I'm stubborn and ridiculous. Seriously, I don't know what I was thinking at this point. I really ought to have just walked the stupid 5K! But I didn't. I crossed the starting line, and took off.

Right away, there was this giant uphill stretch of the course, and that got my heart rate up into the 180s. Ugh. I have no idea what speed I was running at, but I knew I wouldn't be able to sustain more than a few minutes at a time. I quickly fell into a pattern of running for 4-7 minutes, then walking 1-2. At the 1-mile sign, my HRM read 11:05. At mile 2, it read 22:36 (11:31 for the second mile). There was no 3-mile marker, of course, the run being only 3.1 miles long. I knew I was behind my PR pace - I ran a 5K in 33:43 last August during a training run - but I had no energy left to sprint to the end. Literally. I *tried* to speed up, and that lasted half a second, and then it was like my body's tank ran out of gas. Ha. It didn't help that there was a hill leading up to the finish line!


(See where the road drops off behind me? Yeah. Hill.)

Still, I managed to run about 3/4ths of the course, and considering I hadn't trained, and hadn't really run in 7 months, I think I did pretty well. I was a little disappointed in my time - 35:31, an 11:27/mi pace - until I realized that as far as official 5K events goes, that actually beat my previous best time of 35:34, even though I walked a quarter of it. So really, all things considered, I did pretty well. I came in 130th over all, 65th of all women, and 17th of women aged 30-39.

Stephanie and Lauren both did really well, too. Stephanie walked a personal best, and Lauren ran the entire 5K! Jason got this great action shot of Stephanie crossing the line:



Afterwards, we went out for brunch with Jason, my boys, my dad, and my little sister Julia. It was exactly what I needed - besides a 6-hour nap, haha. A great end to a morning that was fun despite the ridiculously unfortunate conditions. And the whole experience made me realize how much I miss running, and how much I would like getting back into good running shape (especially considering how SORE I was the next day!). I quit last August because I'd become so focused on pushing myself to perform better that it was no longer fun, and I would love to get back into it with a more relaxed attitude. We'll see. I am stupidly self-competitive. :D

Hope the rest of you had a great weekend!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DEZZIEJAMES 4/19/2014 9:30AM

    That is an awesome time all factors considered! You should be proud! You look great btw. Oh... and hate hilly courses. Especially when the giant hill leads up to the finish line.

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MAPLECANDY3 4/17/2014 11:37AM

    I think its amazing you did the race despite sleeping only 2 hours! And to think I like to skip out on exercise if I lose just an hour of sleep lol

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KONRAD695 4/16/2014 1:00PM

    I've been in the runs before. Every step seems to be painful, and the biggest challenge is mental. Great work on keeping yourself moving. That is the name of the game. emoticon

PS- if you don't know well enough to walk, you might just be a runner emoticon

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AMANDAUNBIDDEN 4/15/2014 11:47AM

    You did AMAZING lady!! Especially with all those hills! Killer!! I hate hills too with a passion. lol You look awesome in that running pic too! Great job!

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RUNMOREMILE 4/14/2014 10:38PM

  You did fantastic! With all of your challenges you still had a great time and some fun. The run/walk strategy was a good one to use. Just think of all the calories you burned and muscles that woke up (are they still letting you know that they are there? lol). I saw that you bought a new pair of running shoes. Looks like you'll have more races in the future to report on :) Have fun!

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EVER-HOPEFUL 4/14/2014 6:57PM

    emoticon

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CAROL5250 4/14/2014 6:40PM

    Great job! I wish I could learn to like running. Maybe some day. You are doing so well with all your goals. Congratulations!

Comment edited on: 4/14/2014 6:40:59 PM

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TINAJANE76 4/14/2014 5:53PM

    Hey, I think you did pretty darn well all things considered! I have enormous respect for anyone who does races--I'm a huge wimp when it comes to running!

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MJ-SHE-BEAST 4/14/2014 4:15PM

    What strikes me the most is how much like a "real" runner you look coming over that hill. Definitely. emoticon

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CRABADA 4/14/2014 2:50PM

    Great job!

Perhaps you should compete with yourself on how much you can enjoy running. Start a streak that measures how uncompetitive you're being - the minute you start to tell yourself to beat your best time, run faster tomorrow, or whatever, you "lose" and have to start your streak over. :)

xo
C.



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WENDYANNE61 4/14/2014 2:15PM

    So glad you had a good race in spite of being so tired! You look in great shape too! Congratulations.

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ARUNNINGKAT 4/14/2014 1:55PM

    You crossed the finish line and your time was good! That is always a victory in my book! emoticon And it does look like you guys had fun!

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LILSPARKIE85 4/14/2014 1:45PM

    Great job!

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DEB62BIE62 4/14/2014 1:31PM

    emoticon emoticon

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C8TSON 4/14/2014 12:21PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon It sounds like pushing yourself wasn't a bad thing at all! Great turn out--you should be very proud of yourself! I can't even run across my house (tiny house) without going into respiratory failure! LOL!!! Really, awesome though!

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MOMMACASSEY 4/14/2014 9:28AM

    I hope you do start to enjoy running again. My doctor told me that no one should run, he didn't see the point in it, etc. all after I assured him that I'd begun to run but was laying off while I was pregnant. I'm actually looking forward to getting to start up again next fall or spring... (I'm definitely not a winter runner. Cold air in my lungs is definitely not fun.)

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UNSTOPPABLEJEN 4/14/2014 9:26AM

    It looks like you guys had a lot of fun. I'm glad you had a chance to get back into running - I can tell you really enjoy it!

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April Thrifting...or, Why Scale and Measuring Tape Don't Matter

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

After a couple of bad days this weekend, I decided to get out and do my April thrift store trip. I'd promised myself one thrift store trip per month during my 35th year, and I really needed some cheap-but-fun retail therapy after those few really awful days! I had fun picking out some new skirts and tops, plus some books I've really wanted (Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings, and the first three books of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer - Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress). As usual, I took pictures to show off the new threads!


New skirt, new tank, new throw-over hooded sleeveless sweatery-type thing (what the heck else are you going to call that??). Matched it with some leggings I already had at home, and suddenly, I look ridiculously eighties-awesome.


To go with my current obsession with the Lunar Chronicles, which are dystopian YA novels based on different fairy tales, I got this very fairy-tale-princess-looking shirt, paired with this very cute ruffly skirt, and again paired it with some leggings and some awesome matching red shoes I already own. Yes!!


Only the skirt in this picture is new, but it goes well with some other clothes of mine. And this picture...well, it made me realize something IMPORTANT about the last year. According to the scale, my weight now compared to my weight a year ago is only down a couple of pounds. According to the measuring tape, I've barely lost any size, except around my belly from surgery. BUT, looking at pictures...well, I can FINALLY see why people keep telling me it looks like I've lost so much weight in the last year. These next four pictures are:

1. my highest weight of 255 lbs.
2. after I'd lost 50 lbs, at 205 lbs.
3. after I'd lost 100 lbs, at 155 lbs.
4. after I'd kept that 100 lbs off for a year, and lost roughly 2.5 more plus 2.5 of skin (at 150 lbs).




So, um, yeah. I've changed. And not just around the belly.

I can't say WHY there's such a big difference between now and a year ago. Maybe my sporadic strength training has helped, despite not really losing inches. Maybe my body has just been repairing itself and reshuffling a bit after losing 100 lbs. I don't know. But you know what? I'll take it! Heck, I don't look all that far off from my goal anymore, despite the 15-lb difference:



(And yes, that picture was posed. My then-boyfriend fancied himself an artist and photographer. Heh.)

Hope y'all are having a good week!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROLMAID 4/18/2014 9:10AM

    You look great! Gotta LOVE thrift store shopping. It's the best. NIce job on the weight loss and maintenance. Take a bow ( in a new outfit of course! LOL) You deserve it. Keep on sparking!

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SOULFISH80 4/13/2014 10:48AM

    You look so great!! Healthy and vibrant!!!! Congrats on all your hard work and amazing success. I love the outfits, they look really great on you!! Thrift shopping is the best!!!

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JACKIE542 4/13/2014 10:17AM

    emoticon You look great

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WATCHINW8 4/13/2014 6:53AM

    You look happy, nice outfit. emoticon

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LIVINHEALTHY9 4/12/2014 9:39PM

    You look fantastic and the new thrift store finds are cute!

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CORNERKICK 4/12/2014 1:27AM

  emoticon

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SUPERDAD55 4/12/2014 12:03AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WRITERWANNAB 4/11/2014 6:40PM

    You should feel good about yourself & you DO look good! Great thrift shop finds, too! Enjoy! emoticon

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CARRIELYN56 4/11/2014 6:24AM

    emoticon

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KONRAD695 4/10/2014 10:17AM

    I love your pics. I definitely see a huge change from the strength training and work outs.

My friends never saw much difference in my first 30 pounds of weight loss, but my last 10 looked to them like everything.

Super Happy emoticon for you.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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EVER-HOPEFUL 4/10/2014 7:15AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BLUEJEAN99 4/10/2014 2:22AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ROCKYCPA 4/9/2014 10:29PM

    You look great - congrats!

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TERMITEMOM 4/9/2014 9:47PM

    You look fabulous! Congratulations!

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CICELY360 4/9/2014 8:57PM

  good blog

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CLAYARTIST 4/9/2014 8:12PM

  emoticon

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JUSGETTENBY42 4/9/2014 7:52PM

    emoticon

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MICKEYH 4/9/2014 7:00PM

    Wha-oh! You looks wonderful! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MIMIDOT 4/9/2014 6:07PM

    Good job! You're looking great!


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NEWTINK 4/9/2014 4:56PM

    You have done wonderful emoticon .... The new duds are simply amazing !!!

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NONNAOF2 4/9/2014 4:15PM

  I love thrift stores!! Congratulations on your weight loss and even being able to lose a couple of pounds more! You look fantastic! :-)

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PENOWOK 4/9/2014 1:42PM

    Truly amazing!! Beautiful!

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WORKNPROGRESS49 4/9/2014 1:15PM

    emoticon

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LIVELYGIRL2 4/9/2014 1:10PM

  Your looking super! and I bet feel new and improved. So GLAD for you! emoticon

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JSEATTLE 4/9/2014 12:52PM

  I love to go to the thrift store too. Great finds and thank you for sharing your pictures. You look terrific!!

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MRSRIGS1 4/9/2014 12:34PM

    emoticon pictures and treasures!

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SUSIEMT 4/9/2014 12:28PM

    A year after my (excess skin) surgery all of the swelling has gone down and I look somewhat different and weigh the same. I agree the spotty strength training I have been doing with the help of a trainer has done wonders for me as well. Keep up the good work and the absolutely encouraging blogs!

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JIBBIE49 4/9/2014 12:04PM

    Hugs

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PARASELENIC 4/9/2014 11:41AM

    I love all of your finds! You have very strong thifting-fu. I love thrift stores, too-- they are a mainstay right now as maternity clothes is stupid and I'm growing like a toddler (pair of pants that fit last week don't fit this week)-- but I think a weekly thrift reward is a great idea.

I especially like the purple sleeveless hoodie sweater thing. The color looks great on you, and I'm partial to big, deep pockets in general.

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NEPTUNE1939 4/9/2014 10:59AM

    emoticon

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MOONGLOWSNANA 4/9/2014 10:18AM

  emoticon I love thrift stores too.

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PATRICIAANN46 4/9/2014 10:11AM

  You look emoticon !!!

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BLPRETTYGIRL1 4/9/2014 10:10AM

    I love to go to thrift stores to buy gently used clothes. Can pick up some name brands for great prices. When I get tired of it, I can donate it to a community clothes closets and they can get it for free.

emoticon Looking good. ! emoticon


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LCRUMLEY81 4/9/2014 9:53AM

  Great Post

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GOOSIEMOON 4/9/2014 9:17AM

    emoticon

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CFMOSS 4/9/2014 8:47AM

    Good job....what progress including the consistency this past year.

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DIANNEMT 4/9/2014 8:25AM

    LOTS of great changes in you and yes, thrift stores are GREAT!

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IDICEM 4/9/2014 7:47AM

  You look great!

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BARB4HEALTH 4/9/2014 7:46AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon Love thrift store shopping!

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CHERYLHURT 4/9/2014 7:44AM

  emoticon

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WATERDIAMONDS 4/9/2014 7:14AM

    You look better and, from the way you've written this blog, you "sound" better--and that's all that counts.

Well done.

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BESSHAILE 4/9/2014 6:42AM

    Well - whatever it is - you sure look great!

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SHARON7464 4/9/2014 6:16AM

    You look absolutely beautiful!

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AHEALTHYME0204 4/9/2014 6:02AM

    emoticon emoticon

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TRYINGHARD54 4/9/2014 5:32AM

    emoticon emoticon

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AMANDAUNBIDDEN 4/8/2014 11:02PM

    I love that last outfit you are wearing with the plaid skirt! So cute! And it is amazing to see the difference in pics. You look so great! And I'm gonna have to check in to those Lunar Chronicles books. They sound good.

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RUNMOREMILE 4/8/2014 9:26PM

  Love thrift shopping -- and garage sales.

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RUNNERRACHEL 4/8/2014 6:00PM

    Looking good! emoticon

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ARUNNINGKAT 4/8/2014 3:56PM

    Love your new clothes! Sometimes that is the best way to perk up and feel better!

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CRABADA 4/8/2014 2:54PM

    Amanda, you really do look so great. I'm glad you were able to do something nice and fun for yourself to counteract the hard days. I can be a wallower, so next time I'm struggling, you'll be my inspiration.

emoticon
xo, Courtney

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I WANT to exercise!

Friday, April 04, 2014

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday. All throughout this weight loss journey, my main focus has been on fitness, rather than on cutting calories. I'm a huge believer in eating at end-goal maintenance level and taking the weight off with exercise, and that has worked really well for me, even if the loss has gotten slower and slower as my body weight approaches my end-goal weight and maintenance level. Over the last few months, while I am far more satisfied with my body post-surgery, there is still a part of me that would love to finally get through these last 10-15 lbs, and I've struggled a bit with the conflict between my various goals and mindsets.

Yesterday, I was flipping through some of the food diaries of people I know on MFP. Some are people who have lost their weight through very unhealthy methods, with extreme calorie deficits (eating 700-900 calories a day, for example). While I like MFP for tracking food, simply because all the local-brand foods are in their database and make tracking so much faster/simpler, I really don't like the site/community. The tracking system lends praise toward the greatest deficit possible, even dangerous levels, and the community is...not at all supportive. Sparkpeople is SO MUCH BETTER, both in terms of health and in terms of support. And these people I know who are using MFP alone...many have fallen into the trap of eating as little as possible and never exercising at all - something that is setting them up for longterm complications and health problems.

Anyway, I was looking over some of those diaries yesterday, and I started thinking about the way I've been going at this weight loss thing. And I started thinking, well, if I stop exercising completely, and cut a couple hundred calories out of my diet so that I'm eating right around my BMR (~1625 calories per day), I should be able to lose those last 10-15 lbs much quicker. I wouldn't do what they did, cutting back to unhealthy levels. I would just cut back on fitness and change my focus to calorie restriction for the last 10-15 lbs. I considered this for all of two seconds, and then the protest slammed down in my mind:

No! I WANT to exercise!

I don't WANT to be the thin woman who is weak and has no muscle or endurance. I don't WANT to sit around all day and eat smaller amounts of food. I don't WANT to worry about how I have to eat less and less over time to maintain my loss, as I lose muscle and my metabolism slows.

I want to be STRONG. I want to be ACTIVE. I want to look - and be - HEALTHY and FIT and TONED.

And if that means I'll just have to stay right around 150 lbs instead of making it down to my ideal 135-140 lbs, then I would rather be a strong and toned and active and fit 150-pounder than lose muscle and strength and endurance by dieting my way down to the ideal. That doesn't mean I won't keep trying to get there - you all know me, and you know I NEVER give up - but it does mean that I am embracing my active, fit, strong self. I won't give up on me, on exercise, on building muscle and endurance and strength. These things are far more important than ideal weights and the last 10-15 lbs.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TINAJANE76 4/8/2014 8:54AM

    The reasons you've described are exactly why I workout (in spite of the fact that I actually don't like doing it!). Exercising, especially weight training, also makes me feel more justified in choosing to maintain at the upper end of healthy BMI range. I know all that muscle will serve me well as I get older and will allow me to continue to eat more than some of my less muscular peers. It definitely makes us look smaller too--people who don't know how much I weigh frequently underestimate my weight by 10-15 pounds, sometimes more. So, although I also sometimes toy with the idea of shooting for a lower weight, on balance, I'm happy to stay put!

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KONRAD695 4/6/2014 11:01PM

    I am so with you on this one. I am haveing arough time getting 10 pounds off, but I'm missing my exercise goals. As soon as I get back on track, the weight will move itself.

And I will not have to worry about being sick, or weak, or the lathargic corpse in the corner.

Fuel up, stay strong, and hit it hard! emoticon

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CAFFEINEPIRATE 4/6/2014 12:02PM

    THIS.

Multiplied by a billion!

I think most people have this giant misconception that weight loss involves deprivation and that under-eating is healthy. Also, I was talking to a girl at school the other day who was adamant that the upper level of our school gym was "for girls," while the bottom was "for guys" (the upper level has all the cardio machines while the weight room is downstairs). So much misunderstanding!

It is excellent that you're more focused on what you are capable of, than what the scale says at the detriment of your health.

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TANYA602 4/6/2014 10:54AM

    Oh thank you! I am so glad you decided to go this route - I think everything healthy is a combination of eating right and moving. I am just about at maintenance and once in a blue moon I gain two lbs and then lose two lbs. I eat somewhere between 1400-1900 calories a day - depending upon how many calories I burn and what day of the week it is. I used MFP for about a week before jumping back here to SP to track everything for all the reasons you mentioned. YOU are doing GREAT things! Keep working it, and know that you will lose those last pounds by doing what you've been doing. One morning the scale will jump up and surprise you!!

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ADVENTURESEEKER 4/6/2014 9:31AM

    I love to exercise! Well, maaaaaybe I don't look forward to the long runs early morning for half marathon training, but I do enjoy working out. Strength is good :)

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TRUE-NESS 4/5/2014 9:17PM

    Amen Amen Amen!! I'm so glad to finally reach this point where fitness and exercise and OVERALL health are PARAMOUNT. Like you said... who wants to be thin and weak and can barely walk up a flight of stairs without almost passing out. I love that I'm FINALLY active. It's coming off sooooooo slowly, but it is coming off. When I do everything in a balanced way... eating healthy and staying ACTIVE (whether a formal exercise or just moving much much more)... then the weight does come off. So Kudos!!

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INGBADEN 4/5/2014 9:16PM

    When I first started my weight loss process I started MFP, I found the same things you did. Very unhealthy and not supportive. I was only there for a week before I found and fell in love with sprark emoticon

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RUNMOREMILE 4/4/2014 6:44PM

  You are so right. Being healthy is so much more than your weight. Bring strong and fit is critical and exercising is the only way to achieve it.

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JULIEABIGAIL 4/4/2014 3:01PM

  remember that fitness is not just about losing weight (!), and losing weight is not about a choice to eat less OR exercise more. relying solely on one or the other will not work long-term. part of my journey on the wellness path is about striking a workable, reasonable balance, which changes from time to time. if you don't stay active and include fitness in your day, you will be missing out on a whole bunch of positives, not the least of which is aiding weight loss. i hope you can find fitness activities that you enjoy and can integrate into a reasonable, not punishing, eating regimen. i am glad you made the observation you did about yourself. also, i started out with mfp, and i still "bottom line" track calories in and calories out there because i like a few of their features i don't see on sp, but overall, i would agree that the site/community sucks. i think the targeted clientele are of a different demographic. long live sp! may you stop for a moment, take a deep breath, smile, and move peacefully throughout your day. emoticon

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THELILEA 4/4/2014 1:27PM

    CONGRATS on that realization!! I feel very similarly. For me its all about being active most of the days of the week, and keeping track of my food, so that I'm aware of it. That's what worked for me when I was really improving, and I know it can work for me again.
It always blows my mind when people are working out hard every day AND doing a calorie deficit, it's crazy! I feel ravenous and run down when I do that. It definitely catches up to me and I end up binging.
The calorie range for me that SP has is now at the top I think 1750. I feel like if I can come in most days right around there and I'm active most days it will DEFINITELY be right for to be stronger and healthy.
This week I've mostly been at 1650-1850. So, I'm figuring it out and feeling great. Weekends are always harder for me to track though...

Oh, and PS,
I've been watching on youtube these British shows about eating and weight loss. Honestly, its perplexing to me, it seems like they almost ENTIRELY focus on calorie reduction . I realize that you can't work off a bad diet, but it's bizarre how much that side of it is ignored!

Comment edited on: 4/4/2014 1:37:42 PM

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CHRISTINATODAY 4/4/2014 1:04PM

    Why cut out exercise if you like it? Do you like it?

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CRABADA 4/4/2014 12:51PM

    I agree! Even though I have a goal weight in mind, I know that if I get to a place where I feel great and am pleased with my body and clothing size, I won't be tied to that goal number.

I really like your idea about eating for maintenance and exercising more. How did you decide what your calorie range would be?

xo
C.

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ARUNNINGKAT 4/4/2014 12:09PM

    I am still struggling to find what the most effect weightloss method for me is, but I am slowly coming to the conclusion that it is exercise combined with tracking what I eat, without drastic calorie reduction. And I too, WANT to exercise! It makes me feel so much better when my body has gotten in a great workout!

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BBORDEN86 4/4/2014 11:58AM

    As someone who hasn't exercised much lately. I refuse to limit my calories so much I can't enjoy food, and I feel so much better when I exercise, even if it is just walking for the time being. I also know that if I significantly reduce calories, and don't exercise I can lose weight, but as soon as I eat normal again I'd gain it all back quickly. At some point I will have to include more exercise, and strength training. But definitely keep doing what you are doing! You are doing it the safer, healthier way. :)

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DEB62BIE62 4/4/2014 11:10AM

    Exercise is a must. Thanks for sharing.

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 4/4/2014 11:05AM

    You said it sister! There's NO reason to starve yourself, especially when you can safely and effectively reach those goals in other ways. Good for you!

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BROOKLYN_BORN 4/4/2014 10:27AM

    Yeah, me too! I envy those who can take off the pounds just through exercise.
I was already running 25 miles a week and always had a gym membership. So the advice of "just move more" wasn't going to work for me. I was also drinking only water. Now how depressing is that.
I had to face the great quantities of food I was eating. Of course, if I hadn't been active I suppose I would have had more weight to lose, so it was beneficial after all.

Enjoy your workouts!

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MOMMACASSEY 4/4/2014 10:23AM

    It's an awesome mindset--I hear you! Be STRONG!

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C8TSON 4/4/2014 10:02AM

    emoticon This is so true!!! I'm tired of the claims of "oh you don't need to exercise....blah blah blah!" I totally disagree with that. Exercise feels too darn good to the mind and body to just let it go. I think our bodies are made to function better when we get that bit of exercise. I'm so glad you came to that realization--and I think you would be absolutely miserable if you gave up exercise. emoticon and if you don't get to what is considered "ideal" for most, maybe you ARE at your ideal weight for you.

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MJ-SHE-BEAST 4/4/2014 9:52AM

    I don't know that I've ever heard of MFP, but I do like your realization that you don't want to sit around and lose out on the strength and vitality you have gained. You can't just cut calories and be healthy. Weight loss is a lot about restricting calories, but strength and overall health comes from exercise combined with a healthy diet...which you know!

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Struggling

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Friends, I will tell you the honest truth. I am really, really struggling right now, and have been since mid-March. I've tried my best to get my head above water, but it's just not happening. I made it through March - the vacation to Portland REALLY helped - but now I've crashed into April, and entered the part of the year where I am most depressed.

I despise April. For much of the country, it's a time when spring is opening up. For San Antonio, it's a return of the dreaded six months of summer. Already by the end of March, we had days in the mid-90s, and it's still up there. It's going to be a terrible summer, and since winter was already so volatile (a roller coaster of unusually cold and unusually hot days, often changing several times a week, with 50-degree swings in temp from morning to mid-afternoon), I have a feeling this summer is going to be extraordinarily miserable. I'm just not ready to let go to the only halfway decent weather we get all year, especially when this proved to be one of the warmest winters on record in south Texas, despite the handful of unusually cold days. That depression that so many people get when winter begins to hit up north? That's how I feel now, when I know my windows will be shut tight for the next six months, and I will rarely see the sun, because it's just too frickin' hot to be outside. Every fiber of my being wants to move away from here, and every summer, the NEED to get out of Texas gets worse.

I'm tired. I'm miserable. I'm depressed. I can't bring myself to care about anything. I can't get up the motivation or determination to do any of the things I want to do, and all I see in front of me is a long, miserable stretch of heat-induced oppression. I am trying, really I am, doing everything I can to stay positive. I'm trying to look forward to my writer's conference in June, to a possible vacation with my kids later in the summer. I'm trying to look on the positive side, and to stay in touch with people instead of disappearing from site for awhile like I usually do. I'm trying to keep eating healthy foods and lots of freggies and very little sugar, so as to stave off even worse depression. I also know that after April passes, the depression will ease up a little until about August, just as it does every single year.

But right now, my brain is thick with it, and I feel crushed with the burden of the next six months.

I don't know what to do, or even what help I'm asking for. I'm doing everything I can to stay positive and motivating and upbeat and optimistic, when inside I feel a bit like I'm dying. I don't know how much strength I have inside right now. Maybe all I'm asking for is some extra care and thoughts in the next month, especially if I do succumb so badly that I stop posting and interacting with people here, as I tend to do in the early summer months (ie, "spring" to everywhere else in the country...). I don't know. I just know that I need some sort of lifeline, before this crushes me and washes me away completely.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SENSORYFOODIE 4/8/2014 10:42AM

    Keep writing and connecting to others. I don't know if you do yoga, but it helps. I just moved to colder climes after 20+ years in Louisiana, so I know what you are talking about. Take care.

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TINAJANE76 4/8/2014 9:00AM

    Oh, Amanda, I'm so sorry to hear that you're struggling so badly. I experience a similar low in the winter months where I am, but just try to hold on as best I can until the weather turns. Hang in there and just keep doing the best you can given your less than ideal circumstances.
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TRUE-NESS 4/5/2014 9:38PM

    Instead of thinking of the daunting 6 months ahead, just take it ONE DAY at a time. You only need to worry about TODAY. Tell yourself that each morning. Make a plan for TODAY only. Focusing on the negative and unwanted aspects of spring for you will only send you deeper into the sinkhole. You've lived through it before and you shall again. What things have helped you in the past? What things haven't? Do what works and toss what doesn't. I'm pretty sure complaining or moping doesn't help at all. But, I could be wrong. It might help some people. It never helps me. It doesn't seem like it's helped you either so far. And, judging from the countless numbers of people who complained through the wintry weather (including myself) I'm fairly certain that the weather remains unchanged regardless. So, again, you just need spring strategies. You've been through enough springs in San Antonio to come up with something that will help you get through it. You surely can't control the weather. So, just go with it.

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JULIAINLA 4/5/2014 2:59PM

    I was thinking that it might be cathartic and interesting to put your feelings about the terrible heat into a book of sorts. Maybe title it something that resonates with you (like '6 months into the oven and back'..or ?). Maybe then you could channel it into a journey that would chronicle your struggle and maybe any epiphanies, or other experience's( both negative and positive) you have/go through along the way. ..anyway, I just thought I'd mention the idea of doing something like this...but your probably are already journaling about it.. :)
Hang in there..we are all rooting for you...

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BROOKLYN_BORN 4/4/2014 10:19AM

    Weather has such an effect on our emotions doesn't it. As others look at the pretty spring flowers and trees, I wonder how much antihistamine I'll need to survive.
Hang in there,

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MOMMACASSEY 4/3/2014 4:38PM

    emoticon I've just been looking out the window and, even though I know it's in the 70's out there, it still LOOKS like winter, here, and i'm SO ready for winter to be over.

I had it in my head y'all were planning to move back up north some time ago, not sure why. But I know that you'll pull out of this before long--you're definitely strong, and you can do it.

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JEWLEEDOTCOM 4/3/2014 9:12AM

    I could have written this. My favourite months are November through March, for exactly this reason. It is miserable and depressing to think about how the weather is only going to get hotter. I lived in San Antonio for about 6 years before moving to the north Austin area and some of the most brutal summers I ever endured were in SA (and I lived in the Outback in Australia!). Something I do this time, each year, is add Death Valley, CA to my "locations" whenever I visit weather.com. Even on the worst days of summer, it helps me to remember that at least I don't live in Death Valley. [ ;
In all seriousness though, I just wanted to tell you that you aren't alone. Heck, every summer I scout great getaway deals to places that enjoy much nicer summer weather (Seattle, for example). I may not get to escape the dog days of summer but it helps me to remember that the hot and sticky days ahead of us won't last forever.

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JEWLEEDOTCOM 4/3/2014 9:07AM

    I could have written this. My favourite months are November through March, for exactly this reason. It is miserable and depressing to think about how the weather is only going to get hotter. I lived in San Antonio for about 6 years before moving to the north Austin area and some of the most brutal summers I ever endured were in SA (and I lived in the Outback in Australia!). Something I do this time, each year, is add Death Valley, CA to my "locations" whenever I visit weather.com. Even on the worst days of summer, it helps me to remember that at least I don't live in Death Valley. [ ;
In all seriousness though, I just wanted to tell you that you aren't alone. Heck, every summer I scout great getaway deals to places that enjoy much nicer summer weather (Seattle, for example). I may not get to escape the dog days of summer but it helps me to remember that the hot and sticky days ahead of us won't last forever.

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LILSPARKIE85 4/3/2014 7:12AM

    Sending positive thoughts your way!

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ADVENTURESEEKER 4/3/2014 3:26AM

    emoticon

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CRABADA 4/3/2014 1:58AM

    Oh Pooks - so sorry you're struggling. I know that crushing feeling you described and how awful it can be. I'll send positive thoughts, love, and strength your way.

I'd also be happy to help you brainstorm fun/silly/serious/whatever ideas on how to survive the summer - things like making a different cold drink every day (strawberry lemonade, peach tea, etc.), or getting an app that plays rain sounds so you can imagine that it's cooler out, or lounging in a kiddie pool (with a slide, natch) - if you want.

Bottom line, I'm here for you whenever you need me.

xoxox
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Courtney

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RUNMOREMILE 4/2/2014 11:06PM

  Take extra time to care for yourself and continue to reach out to your friends. We are here for you. I understand...I have the blasted cold weather from October to almost May and it is depressing.

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C8TSON 4/2/2014 8:49PM

    Amanda, I completely and totally get this. Really, I do. I live north of you in Texas, but we too have already had days nearing 90. I haven't seen rain in so long, I don't even remember. I believe it has been close to a year, or maybe even more. I think just as people get depressed from too much rain and snow, others can become just as depressed if they have nothing but hot sun constantly. Even these last few years, it hasn't gotten bitter cold like normal in this part of Texas, so then we have huge problems with pests that didn't get thinned out through the winter months. And the heat....ugh. I know it's tough. I just told Justin the other day how sick I am of sunshine. It's tough, and I think everyone needs a little cold weather in their life! Just hang in there and push through. Come here to spark for a little cheering, and don't worry if you don't comment on blogs or lift others up. Everyone needs a break--take some time to rest. emoticon emoticon emoticon there's some virtual rain and snow to send your way. emoticon

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C8TSON 4/2/2014 8:49PM

    Amanda, I completely and totally get this. Really, I do. I live north of you in Texas, but we too have already had days nearing 90. I haven't seen rain in so long, I don't even remember. I believe it has been close to a year, or maybe even more. I think just as people get depressed from too much rain and snow, others can become just as depressed if they have nothing but hot sun constantly. Even these last few years, it hasn't gotten bitter cold like normal in this part of Texas, so then we have huge problems with pests that didn't get thinned out through the winter months. And the heat....ugh. I know it's tough. I just told Justin the other day how sick I am of sunshine. It's tough, and I think everyone needs a little cold weather in their life! Just hang in there and push through. Come here to spark for a little cheering, and don't worry if you don't comment on blogs or lift others up. Everyone needs a break--take some time to rest. emoticon emoticon emoticon there's some virtual rain and snow to send your way. emoticon

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MELLY3183 4/2/2014 8:04PM

    It's warming up here too, the desert stinks! I hope this feeling goes away soon. I live in AZ and hide from the sun most of the day. It just gets to be too much and I want to hide in my dark house and never see the light of day. Try to go out at night and early morning. Positive thoughts your way most def!

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GINILEE4 4/2/2014 6:53PM

    AManda, I sooo get the oppression and SAD. Depression is difficult to sum up in words but you have done an excellent job. I deal with the winter here in Canada. To be honest, I am NOT the person to help you "get over this",. This past 5 months, I left my apartment exactly 10 times. At all. DO not let this overpower you. Find a friend, or relation you can meet face to face with, once a week or so and do something cool WHatever that might be in Texas. I'm thinking spa day once in a while, pool days I really don't know what but get together with a GF and enjoy girl company. My BFF moved back to my province a few months ago and since the winter has lifted, my excitement of even a day trip with BFF is enough to get me through another week. Hang on and hang in. I will keep in touch here and hope to hear what you are trying to do for relief. love and hugs,


Gini emoticon

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NOTGVGUP83 4/2/2014 4:22PM

    I'm in Houston and I know exactly what you're thinking. Whats worse on my end is that i'm +250 lbs and going to have to deal with this crappy humidity and heat. Maybe this is why I'm so depressed today. I was complaining Saturday about how freaking hot it was. I hate sweating especially because I can't dress lighter and cute because I'm not comfortable withmyself. I really hope you can get out of this funk! You can dress lighter now that you're feeling more comfortable in your own own skin. You have a few summer events to look forward to! Keep up with the healthy eats and blogs to help your anxieties.

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MYSTERYROSE74 4/2/2014 3:29PM

    I'm in the same boat weather-wise. I live in the southern CA desert and we're getting temps in the 90s. In another month if not before we'll be over 100. Then on to June, July, August, and most of September with highs of 115 or higher. It's depressing me also. Just have to hang on and go with it though. Not much more you can do. Put that sunscreen on and drink a boat load of water.

Can't wait for October already, lol.

Terrie emoticon

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FRUM_SCRATCH 4/2/2014 3:01PM

    I feel the same way. I get angry and depressed when it's too hot and sunny for too long, sort of like reversed Seasonal Afftective Disorder. I live in an area where it is cold in the winters and then really hot in summers (last year up to 110 F) and i can't wait to get out of here. I'm sure Texas is even worse. Is there something keeping you in texas? Is there some reason why you can't move? I know from experience how hard it is to pull up stakes and start over in a new place.

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HEIDIJUNEBUG 4/2/2014 3:00PM

    Amanda, thank you for sharing this. Wow. I struggle with the heat here big time and blamed it on not being used to it, because I had never experienced heat like this before I moved here. I had no idea how badly you struggle with summers here in south Texas. It is easy to withdraw and not stay in touch when dealing with depression, so I don't blame you if you do. Just don't disconnect too long, OK? We are here for you. emoticon

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ARUNNINGKAT 4/2/2014 2:11PM

    I hear you and I am here for you! I wish I had a solution for you, but quite honestly I am working to bring myself out of a depression and am figuring out as I go what will work. It is such a day by day adventure sometimes. But I will be here for you and check in on you to see how you are doing. emoticon

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POSITIVEHOPE 4/2/2014 1:33PM

    Oh, I hear your pain. I have been reading a series of articles from SP Coach Dean that might help your situation. Coach Dean suffers from depression and writes in his blog quite honestly about dealing with his depression and gives good insights about coping on our journey. Please put his name in the search box and I'm sure you will find his blogs helpful.
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MISSB8604 4/2/2014 1:26PM

    You're not alone and are supported. Maybe try swimming? Do the best you can and don't be too hard on yourself. Keep healthy foods in the kitchen and come on Spark.

You can do this.

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MJREIMERS 4/2/2014 12:09PM

    Positive and cool thoughts are coming your way! I have a cousin in Houston, so I hear about your summers.

Is there an activity that you could do to help with the exercise and the mood? Can you use an indoor pool or join a gym?

You've come such a long way, don't loose hope! You will figure this out and come out stronger, fitter and happier! Hang in there!!!

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BUTTERFLY51599 4/2/2014 11:22AM

    I, too, hate the heat. In Memphis we have hot as Hades and humid. I just plan indoor activities and lots of pool time. Early mornings and shade bring some relief.
I will keep you in my thoughts. Perhaps you could work on a move to a more suitable environment?
You are truly an inspiration to me and I'm sorry to see you struggling.

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GOOFIERNU 4/2/2014 11:07AM

    (HUGS!) Seasonal Affective Disorder sucks, whether it's your hot, oppressive summers or my cold, dark, wet winters. I understand about feeling "stuck". Too bad we can't just pack up and move with the weather, right???

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MJ-SHE-BEAST 4/2/2014 10:58AM

    Amanda, you are just about the most determined person I know. You've overcome so much and your success has been absolutely awe inspiring and motivating. Please use that determination to get through this time. If you need to go into that place that keeps you from us for a bit, we won't like it, but we will understand. Personally, I would like to see you stand up to this as you do everything else and figure out how to make it work for you. Easier said then done, I know, but I have faith in the woman who has accomplished so much. Even if you just "tread water" as Jenn said, that's going to be a triumph because you can't drown if your head is above the water line. I know we all need the connection to be broken now and then for a short respite to regroup, but don't disconnect because some outside force has cowed you. I'm not making light of this. I know you get truly upset and depressed and feel oppressed by the heat. I just don't want to see someone who is among the strongest people I've ever met go down without one helluva fight, even temporarily. You have my love and respect. I'll keep you in my thoughts and hopes for relief. Big big hugs to you.

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SHUFFMAN126 4/2/2014 10:39AM

    I can't even imagine that, but I think I would hate it a lot too. You're doing the best thing you can do by asking for helping and recognizing your limits. Focus on the things you have to look forward to. What options are there for getting away from Texas? Sometimes working on a plan to get out of the situation that is depressing and taking small steps towards it - if it's looking at places to live or researching jobs in another area - (Like Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - Pennsylvania is a wonderful place to live, I highly recommend it, and you'd have a friend here already :) can help.

Your Spark Friends are here for you and I bet we aren't the only ones, make sure you are reaching out to those closest to you for help also.

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BLUEROSE73 4/2/2014 10:36AM

    I am so sorry to hear you are struggling. I have the winter issues. Spring is also hard on me around here, but more because it feels like it should be a renewal and a new start, and it often isn't. It's just more of the same old.

Maybe your focus for the next few months should be on taking care of you. Doing what you need/want to do to feel better. Watching what you eat is important too. Diet and nutrition has profound effects on our moods. But maybe focusing on doing things to pamper yourself. Give yourself a manicure/pedicure. Plan a long soak in a bubble bath. Plan an activity you love to do. The anticipation of that activity can often be as uplifting as doing the actual activity.

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CHRISTINATODAY 4/2/2014 10:35AM

    Sounds like you are doing the best you can. Sorry that it's so hard for you.
I think it would be very good if you can keep on posting here with some frequency. emoticon

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HEALTHYHABITGAL 4/2/2014 10:19AM

    Yes, what Jenn said. She is so right. Just try to hang in there. Make a goal to have a real live conversation with someone outside your immediate family - at least every few days, if not every day. In this age of technology, we often get even more dis-connected. I'm sure you've tried everything under the sun, as you are a very intelligent person, but maybe ask your doc for a medicine to try (If you have not already) ... get a different doctor if you need to. Just a thought.

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BBORDEN86 4/2/2014 10:16AM

    Sorry you are struggling this time of year.

I'd go stir crazy if it was hot like that here all the time. I can't stand the heat, and being stuck inside is never fun; even with a/c!

Maybe an opportunity for a move is in your future! Is Jason's job easy to find somewhere else?

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Comment edited on: 4/2/2014 10:16:57 AM

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UNSTOPPABLEJEN 4/2/2014 10:11AM

    This post is so honest and I really appreciate you being this open about how you feel. South Texas summers are brutal, bottom line. I am going to send lots of positive thoughts your way and will keep checking in on you to let you know I'm cheering for you. Even if you can just "tread water" (so to speak) for the next few months and keep up the healthy eating, that is a success. The fortitude and determination you used to get to your current state of health is going to be the very thing that will keep you going through the summer months. Just keep posting and connected! We are here for you.
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Vacation! And meeting Sparkfriends!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Last week, Jason and I traveled to Portland, while my mom came to watch the kids. Jason had a conference to attend, and I got to go along for the vacation aspect (yeah!). We were only there for 2.5 days, but I fell in love with Portland nonetheless. It was just so beautiful, and the weather was gorgeous - even though it rained two of the days we were there, it was in little spurts, and I had plenty of time to explore the city! I wish we'd had a few more days to explore!





Jason and I stayed in a cheap hotel just east of the river, in easy walking distance from his downtown conference hotel. I was amazed at how pedestrian-friendly downtown was. It reminded me of my experiences in NYC, in many ways. I walked everywhere - Powell's, the river front, the Pioneer Courthouse, and so many other little places. In my 2.5 days in Portland, I walked almost 54,000 steps, around 28 miles, and a total of at least 6 hours. One day alone, I walked 23,460 steps! I never got to officially exercise, but I spent hours and hours on my feet every day, and when I was done exploring for the day, I would go back to my hotel room, lay down, and read for a couple hours. It was amazing.

Another amazing thing about Portland: the food.



I cannot tell you how bizarre it is to go from a city that has an incredibly limited selection of restaurants who'll serve gluten-free food, to a city where nearly everywhere not only knows what gluten-free means (rare in San Antonio), but has options ready for you. Even on menus that didn't have anything marked, all I had to do was ask, and the waitstaff knew exactly what was available for me. Even the food trucks knew what gf options they had! Plus, they didn't just have awful, dry gf substitutions. I could hardly believe the kinds of bread I had there! Some sort of delicious homemade muffin-like loaf at my breakfast cafe. Seeded teff bread for lunch (above). GF pitas that tasted like naan and were so heavenly I thought I'd died. Etc. This was my first vacation since I discovered my gluten-intolerance, and I managed to get through the whole four days - including a full day of travel, with a 3-hr stopover in Las Vegas, where the only gf options were at Wendy's, UGH - without any cross-contamination. That alone makes me want to move to Portland. Immediately!

So yes, I loved the city, I loved the food, I loved the weather, and I loved the culture of Portland. Best thing about Portland, though? The fact that I had several friends there that I got to meet up with for the first time.



Greg - GHK1962 - has been a member of the San Antonio Spark team for years, despite never having lived in San Antonio. I'm not exactly sure how he found us, but apparently he really liked us, and he's been a great asset to our team. None of us have ever met him in person. I've known Greg for three years now, through Spark, and later, convincing him to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with me, and off and on through email throughout the years. At the last minute, I realized he lived close to Portland (just north of the border in Washington), and wrote to him. We weren't able to coordinate a dinner with Greg and his wife, but he volunteered to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel that first day, PLUS he gave us a guided car-tour of downtown Portland. It was so nice of him, and great to hang out even if it was only in a car and only for half an hour. Greg is just as fun in person as he is online, and just as nice, too - after dropping us off, he volunteered to pick us up and take us back to the airport on Thursday morning. What a sweetie!



On my first full day in Portland, I met up with another fellow Sparker, Cindy (FAIRHAVENQUEEN). I've only known Cindy for a few months, through the maintenance team here on Spark, but we hit it off immediately. We had lunch a few blocks from my hotel, and talked for hours. After lunch, we went on a walk up the river until the sun disappeared again and it started trying to rain on us. We didn't know each other very well when we first met up, but it turned out we had a lot in common, and I loved exchanging stories with her. It was so great to meet her and get to know her better in person!



On my last full day in Portland, I met up with a third friend who isn't a Sparker, but someone I've known for years through book blogging. Juli and I have talked through blogging, twitter, instagram, and facebook, and we knew immediately we were going to have to plan a lunch when I was here. She made reservations at a place not far from her downtown company, and met me there on Wednesday. One of the things she said during our lunch really struck me: "It's so funny meeting people in real life that you've known online for years. They're always exactly how you'd imagine them to be!" And it's really true, or at least, it has been in my experience, and I've been meeting fellow bloggers and Sparkers around the country for years now. Juli and I spent way too long talking - oops, I made her late back to work! - and we both wished she could have just taken the whole afternoon off.

So that was my vacation - lots of amazing food, tons of walking, and so many wonderful friends. I enjoyed literally EVERY MOMENT of my vacation in Portland, and was very sad to leave it. I think I would jump at the opportunity to go back, even permanently, if such an opportunity presented itself. :)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RUNNERRACHEL 4/6/2014 1:58AM

    Sounds like an awesome trip! I have never been there but it sounds like a wonderful place. How great that you got to do so much walking, enjoy gluten-free options, and meet up with fellow Sparkers!

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HEIDIJUNEBUG 4/2/2014 3:04PM

    Sounds wonderful. Reading your blog makes me want to go to Portland, too! LOL. I miss walking everywhere and I wish I lived in a place where I could do just that. The other day I saw a listing of GF restaurants and Portland had so many listed. That is wonderful. I am glad you were able to find safe options so easily. Yay! Meeting online friends in real life is awesome. I am happy for you!

Comment edited on: 4/2/2014 6:02:13 PM

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NYMORNINGGLORY 4/2/2014 8:34AM

    I'm with you, Amanda - if I could retire tomorrow it'd most likely be to Portland, OR. . ... I love the vibe of the city, the food scene, the absolute beauty, the ease of the public transportation system, and well - i could LIVE at Powell's! So glad you had such a great visit there and what a bonus that you were able to meet up with SP folks!

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MJ-SHE-BEAST 4/1/2014 6:31PM

    Meeting friends and loving the city you visit makes for the best vacations. I've done this before with a writing group and fell in love with them and with San Francisco. I'm mega-jealous of you getting to meet Greg. I miss him and his posts and hope to hear from him soon! Thanks so much for sharing this!

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BBORDEN86 4/1/2014 12:46PM

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! Good job with all the walking!!!

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BROOKLYN_BORN 4/1/2014 12:11PM

    What a wonderful trip. Although living in the South has many positive aspects, occasionally I do miss the variety of restaurants and food choices available in a big city. Walkability is a plus too,

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PEGGY11 4/1/2014 11:02AM

    What a beautiful and fun filled few days. You could not have planned anything better. Most people do not get that much enjoyment out of two weeks vacation. Good for you.

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JULIEABIGAIL 4/1/2014 3:59AM

  thank you for so enthusiastically and vibrantly sharing your story and photos, what an ideal trip, and what a sublime travelogue. i am thrilled for you, and thrilled for all of us who have the treat to peek into your vacation! emoticon

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C8TSON 4/1/2014 12:31AM

    How wonderful and exciting!!! I would love to meet some fellow sparkers! The only ones are those I already knew previous to my sparklife and found out they had accounts as well. How cool! I'm so jealous! Portland sounds like a wonderful place to go! I can't imagine actually going to a place and requesting gf without the really lost and confused look on the waiter's face. People in TX just don't understand what it is unfortunately for us. So glad you had a fabulous time!

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ADVENTURESEEKER 3/31/2014 10:30PM

    Sounds wonderful!

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MISTY_MOUNTAINS 3/31/2014 7:46PM

    emoticon Glad you had a great trip!!

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LILSPARKIE85 3/31/2014 7:16PM

    Great pictures!

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THINNYGINNY 3/31/2014 6:47PM

    What a great idea to meet up with sparkers when on vacation!!! I will have to remember that the next time my hubby has a work trip somewhere!

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TINAJANE76 3/31/2014 6:34PM

    Wow, what an awesome trip! So glad you were able to find such a variety of great gluten-free food and that you were able to meet some of your good SparkBuddies. Kind of makes me want to move to Portland too, lol!


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TANYA602 3/31/2014 6:05PM

    I'm so glad you had such a marvelous time and met up with so many friends! We've been to Portland a few times and I love it, as well. You'll have to start planning your next trip!
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MAERETH 3/31/2014 2:34PM

    Glad you had a great time!!! If you're even in the NYC area, let me know!

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ARUNNINGKAT 3/31/2014 2:11PM

    It sounds like you were in Portland, Oregon! That is pretty close to my home turf and a place I visit often. You are so right! The food options are amazing! The shopping is amazing! It is just flat a wonderful place to visit! So glad you had a good time! I love traveling with my hubby for conferences!

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DEB62BIE62 3/31/2014 1:48PM

    Sounds like you had fun.

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LITTLECYRENA 3/31/2014 1:29PM

    Ooooo I'm so jealous. I've heard it's so pretty in Oregon and I've always wanted to go. I'm really happy that you had a great trip and that you got to meet fellow sparkers and online friends. Welcome home!

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I_WILL_ROCK_125 3/31/2014 1:26PM

    Portland is beautiful wow. Glad you had a great time. Can you bring some of that beautiful weather and blooms back this way towards Michigan. emoticon

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HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE 3/31/2014 12:59PM

    That sounds amazing! I'm glad you had such a great time!

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UNSTOPPABLEJEN 3/31/2014 12:35PM

    What a cool vacation! Thank you for sharing it with us.

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RUNMOREMILE 3/31/2014 12:10PM

  How fun to meet some people that you knew online. Sounds like you had a great vacation. I've heard from others (and now you) that Portland is amazing :)

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GOOFIERNU 3/31/2014 11:38AM

    AHHHH! You were in PORTLAND? Shoot, I totally could have swam across the river to say hi. Ah, well...next time. emoticon
Glad you had a great time in our soggy neck of the woods!

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RKFRANKS 3/31/2014 10:58AM

    Glad you had a wonderful trip! How fun to meet spark friends :) Beautiful pictures!!

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OMMAMA7 3/31/2014 10:40AM

    That all sounds amazing - glad you had an awesome trip!! :)

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STARLIGHT615 3/31/2014 10:18AM

    Great job on all the walking! Its so fun to meet new friends!!! Portland is a beautiful state!!

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