August 28, 2019

Overcomer (Running Movie Review) and My Tangent on Cross Country as a Sport

Overcomer movie poster

Oh. My. Gosh.

I can't even find words to describe just how grateful and thankful and humbled I am that some of you were so generous to donate prizes to my cross country team! I'd set up the Amazon wish list last month for myself so when I found something that I thought the kids might like, I could just add it to the list. It never occurred to me to make it public. I felt a little shameful mentioning it yesterday, but I'm glad I did.

And holy smokes. Amazon doesn't show me who purchased what (or any details other than that something was purchased from the wish list), so I can't thank you personally. I just want you to know how much I appreciate each and every little bit of help for these cross country incentives! The kids are going to be ecstatic and I can't wait to tell them that complete strangers bought these for them.

I want to just keep gushing about how thankful I am, but that would take up my entire post! So please know just how much your generosity means to me.

Anyway, I saw a movie the other day that I thought would be fun to write a little about on the blog. My mom's birthday was on Friday and she invited Jerry, the kids, and I to go to a movie and lunch with her and my dad. I knew nothing about the movie except that it was about a cross country coach--sounds great to me! ;)

I will not write any spoilers, so don't worry about that.

The movie is a little cheesy in the way that you can imagine a movie called "Overcomer" might be... but sometimes cheesy movies are a nice break from reality.

So here's the gist (without spoilers):

There is a male teacher/basketball coach whose team is basically falling apart because of budget cuts at the school. Coaching basketball is his passion and he's super bummed that his team is dissolving. Because cross country isn't exactly the most popular sport in school*, the funding was still there for a cross country team.

*Side note: I think that one of the reasons cross country isn't very popular in high school is because it isn't really introduced until the high school level (or maybe middle school). When I was growing up, we didn't have a cross country team--in fact, they took away GYM class for several years because of budgets.

Instead, kids play other sports and they learn that running is used as a punishment. You missed that goal? Go run a lap! You're goofing off during practice? Go run 4 laps! And so on. There are some badass cross country t-shirts that say, "My sport is your sport's punishment", which I think is awesome, haha.

Anyway, by the time the kids even learn what cross country is, they've already established themselves into other sports. Cross country never stood a chance! (I honest-to-God never even knew what cross country was until I was in 10th grade.) And when I learned what it was, I thought you had to be skinny and fast to be on the team.

Maybe it's different depending on the school, but our schools don't have tryouts for cross country. You can be slow as molasses and still run on the team if you're willing to go to practice and do the work. As an overweight non-athlete when I was in school, I was too embarrassed and scared to try out for any sport at all. If I would have known that I didn't have to try out for cross country, who knows? Maybe I would have given it a shot.

But then I wouldn't be Runs for Cookies now ;)

Anyway, this is the whole reason that Renee and I started an elementary cross country team--so that kids can learn their options and see what they like before committing to a sport in high school. Even if they decide they don't like it, at least they will learn about it.

One of the things that I think should be pointed out for us introverts is that cross country is the perfect sport for us! Yes, we are part of a team, but running is mostly solo. You compete against yourself and you can run by yourself if you choose to. That is actually the reason that I chose running for exercise over the last 10 years rather than an exercise class or something more social.

After that loooong side note, I'll get back to the film.

This coach (I forget his name, so I'll just call him "Coach") is asked to coach cross country because basketball just isn't happening. He makes the cliché jokes about not running unless he's being chased, etc., but gets talked into doing it (very reluctantly).

When he goes to the first practice, there is only one girl who shows up for "tryouts". And she has asthma. So, Coach basically feels like it's hopeless and pointless to even coach a "team", but the principal insists. He times her first 5K run (at this point, I rolled my eyes hard at Jerry because they were making it sound like a 24:00 minute 5K was "not bad" to start. My FASTEST 5K was 24:04!

The girl on the team has a bit of a troubled home life (she lives with her grandmother who doesn't have much time for her); and she likes to steal things (probably as a way of coping with her feelings).

I can't write much more about the film because I don't want to spoil it (there is more to it than just the "coach trains girl who then goes on to win the state championships"-type of feel good story). But basically, the movie then goes on to show this girl (and the coach) overcoming obstacles as she trains for an important race.

In the end, the race has a bit of a twist to it to make it unique to any other running movie I've seen. I really enjoyed it!

I will point out that it is a Christian film, so references to God, faith, and prayer are included in the film; but I didn't think they were too overbearing. I just wanted to mention it in case you aren't into that.

Overall, I found the film to be inspiring, fun, and a tear-jerker all at once. So, if you're looking for some running inspiration or you just want to see a feel-good film, I think this one fits the bill!

August 27, 2019

Finding My Running Mojo From an Unexpected Source

water bottle with love note

(While looking for a photo for this post, I came across this note that Jerry left me on a water bottle on my front porch. He used to get ice water ready for me when I was out running. I miss that!)

It's been just over two years since I decided to quit running. I wasn't sure if that change was going to be permanent or just for a little while, but I was happy with the choice at the time. And it made no difference in my weight. In fact, I lost weight--I went from 160-ish to 130-ish throughout 2017, simply from some lifestyle changes--doing what made me happy and not forcing myself to diet or exercise.

Toward the end of the year, though, I started to miss the way my body felt when I was a runner. There is something different about the way I move, my energy, my anxiety level, and even the way I breathe when I'm running regularly. Not to mention feeling in shape! After months of not running, I was getting "softer" each day.

Since then, I have made several attempts to get back to running regularly. I even trained for a half-marathon in 2018! (I did an 11-mile training run (doing all my training with Jerry, which was cool), but then didn't do the race itself--there was a crazy storm that morning, and I didn't have any desire to run in it.)

I ran a couple of times here and a few times there (maybe about 10 times in the last year?). I've just never stuck with it. It feels SO difficult getting started again. Even though I'm nearly 90 pounds less than I was 10 years ago, the running feels just as hard. That's why I haven't been following through.

When I wrote my post about my 10-year weight loss anniversary, I was actually inspired to go for a run. Looking through some of my running photos (maybe I'll do a post of my favorites soon), I had such a strong desire not just to look that way again, but to FEEL like that. To feel in great shape. And to call myself a runner.

So, that day, I ran. I ran on the treadmill, because for some reason, that is preferable to me at the moment. I started out at 5.0 mph, and after about 5 minutes, I decided that it was too fast. I thought of quitting, but then I decided to simply set my pace by my heart rate. The heart rate training I did for my fastest 10K was the best training I'd ever done, and I don't see any reason not to try it again, even though my goal is different.

My current MAF heart rate is 143 (180 minus my age--explained in the above link). That means that I'm supposed to keep my heart rate under 143 bpm for the duration of the run. That is what makes an "easy" run the actual easy pace that it should be. On that day, I had to lower my pace quite a bit--down to 4.1 at one point, which is slower than I can walk!

Anytime my heart rate got over 143 bpm (I checked it every 0.25 miles), then I would lower the speed. I finished the three miles and I felt really great, simply for the fact that I did it. And I didn't hate it! And I actually felt like maybe I could do it again.

It's been a week since then, and I've run three more times (well, four, actually, which I'll explain later):

My first run - (last Tuesday, the 20th)
Thursday, the 22nd
Saturday, the 24th
Monday, the 26th (once in the morning again in the evening; explanation below)

Katie's running stats

(The reason the first one, on the 20th, is the fastest is because I'd started at 5.0 mph instead of 4.5 mph)

Yesterday, at cross country practice, it was raining. A nice drizzle in the low-70 degree temps feels amazing for running! I did not cancel practice (I only cancel if there is lightening) and I had nearly the entire team show up.

I told them I wanted them to run the first two miles with no walking and no stopping--something that I've been pushing all summer. For some reason, the kids all think they need a water break after each 1/4 mile lap of the park, and I know they can ALL run a minimum of two miles without a break if they run at the pace I tell them (i.e. "easy").

Well, the whole team has gotten to the point where they can do it except for one boy, "L". He is a super sweet boy, but you can tell that he doesn't love running. He's a little overweight and has every excuse in the book why he can't run at practice that day. I never give in to his excuses, because I know what he's capable of.

Yesterday, I told him that if he can run the two miles without walking or stopping, then the ENTIRE TEAM will get 10 bonus points (for my points-reward system). I know that's a lot of pressure for a fourth grader who rarely does 1/4 mile without walking, but I wanted to give him some serious motivation to work hard on it.

And you know what? HE DID IT!!! I was SO proud of him I can't even describe it. He's been on the team for two years and I have never seen him so proud--it was written all over his face.

Meanwhile, I'd told my fastest runner, "A", that I wanted him to do three miles instead of two. We have a special goal for him. This is his third (and sadly, final) year on my team, and I'm desperate to help him reach his goal this year. "A" regularly comes in the top 10 of races, usually in the top 5. And it NEVER fails--there is one boy, "F" from another school, that places just seconds before "A" does. Every goddamn race!

This year, I want him to beat "F" so badly, and I want to push "A" at his practices to make it happen. He wants it, too, and his dad (also a runner) is a great motivator for him. Anyway, after "A" was done running his three miles, he wanted to stop. I reminded him of "F" and how "F" is probably running twice as far today ;)  He said he'd do another mile, and after one more lap 1/4 mile, he said forget it.

I was practically begging him to do another three laps to hit four miles, and he just didn't want to. Then I told him that if he did it, his totally out of shape coach would do it, too (even though he'd lap me at least once, haha). That was the final push for him. So, even though I'd already run that morning, I headed out in the rain to run (on the grass) for 3/4 of a mile in order to get "A" to finish his fourth mile. It was GREAT! And on my last lap, I asked all the kids to join me, so each of them got in another quarter mile.

Yesterday was my favorite practice of the year. I felt SO inspired by my team. There is "C" who is as quiet as a church mouse, and just as tiny, but super sweet and does whatever I ask of her. At the first practice, she had to take several walk breaks, but yesterday, she ran two miles non-stop, took a quick break, and then another full mile. She has the perfect running form, and I think she'll do great at cross country if she sticks with it.

There is a girl, "H", who is determined to be faster than "A" this year; and she has a good shot at it. She's fast and SUPER enthusiastic!

And I am crazy-impressed with a boy, "B", who is a newcomer this year. He actually signed up a little later than everyone else, so he was slightly behind in the beginning. He is a very sweet kid who loves to run and has an unstoppable determination. I am SO impressed with his time trial numbers. A time trial is a timed run that I like to do on the first day of practice (running their fastest mile) to compare later with other time trials and practices. It's a way of seeing improvement.

Anyway, "B"'s first time trial was 12:12. For a first-time runner, that's actually not too bad! I did another time trial four weeks later, and you know what his time was? 8:10!! He literally took over four full minutes off of his time. I would not be surprised at all if he becomes the fastest runner on the team.

This post is long. I basically wanted to write to say that I'm feeling super motivated right now to get back into running. I really hope it sticks (I'm trying not to look to far into the future) but my cross country kids inspire me so much! I can't even describe how proud I was of "L" yesterday. I think hitting that two-mile goal gave him some more confidence for the future.

As of right now, my goal is just to run three times a week for three miles each time at my MAF heart rate. I'd love to see it improve, and now that I'm feeling kind of enthusiastic about running again, I hope that I'm able to continue with it!

The reward system for the cross country team has been very helpful so far, so I am going to be completely shameless and post a link here to an Amazon Wish List just for my cross country kids. As you know, I buy the prizes out-of-pocket, and I wish I could buy more, but I can't afford my whole list, haha. So, if you feel inclined to donate any prizes for the team, the list is in the above link (hopefully that works--I've never linked to a list before).

The kids especially love novelty running socks (particularly with food or animals on them). The socks just need to be made of spandex and/or polyester (no cotton) so that they are moisture wicking. I just added some headbands for both the boys and the girls, which I think will be popular as well.

Anyway, I feel guilty for even posting the link, but because the items are for the kids and not myself, I hope it's not too shameful to ask. I have SO MUCH APPRECIATED the used Garmins that some of you have sent. The kids are learning how useful they can be, and they love hearing the beep! after each mile. Also, I don't have to hear them ask, "How much farther?" 18,000 times, hahaha.

August 22, 2019

My Cleaning Schedule (for the day, week, month, and year)

Okay, I realize this is the most boring topic of all topics, but I spent some time working on it lately, so I thought I'd share it here. As you know, I spent eight months working on my house almost every single day to give it a huge makeover, and I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. I'm still doing some tweaks here and there to the house (and of course, I love taking on new projects where I can find them).

However, after all the work I put in, I want to keep it looking its best. Rather than just winging it like I've always done, I came up with a schedule (you know I love checklists!) to keep it clean. If I do a little each day, it won't feel so daunting.

So, I wrote up a checklist for daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly cleaning. And here is what I came up with. Looking at the list, it seems like a lot for each day--but the whole routine only takes about 60 minutes spread throughout the day. I'm certainly not perfect in following this, but it's a good reference point each day.


One load of laundry
Make beds
Clean out the litter box
Wipe down counters and sinks in kitchen and bathrooms
Tidy up
Take out trash/recycling as needed
Wash dishes (load/unload dishwasher)
Quick sweep of floor


MONDAY (Master Bedroom)
Clean windows and blinds
Vacuum, including along baseboards
Dust surfaces
Rotate couch cushions
Wash bedding
Tidy closets

TUESDAY (Kids' Bedrooms)
Clean windows and blinds
Vacuum, including along baseboards
Dust surfaces
Wash bedding
Tidy closets

WEDNESDAY (Kitchen and Pantry)
Clean windows and sliding door
Wipe down cabinets and walls
Wipe down appliances
Sweep and mop
Clean oven, stove, and microwave
Quick clean out of fridge (expired food)
Tidy pantry
Wipe out trash bin
Clean pet bowls

THURSDAY (Bathrooms)
Clean mirrors
Clean bathtub/shower
Sweep and mop floors
Clean toilets
Change trash lining

FRIDAY (Living Room & Dining Room)
Sweep and mop floor
Dust surfaces
Clean windows and blinds
Clean the front door

SATURDAY (Laundry Room)
Change out litter in box
Vacuum with hose along floorboards
Sweep and mop the floor
Vacuum with hose behind washer and dryer
Vacuum lint trap
Clean the exterior door

(First Sunday) - Wipe down walls and baseboards
(Second Sunday) - Tidy and clean out cupboards
(Third Sunday) - Deep clean the refrigerator
(Fourth Sunday) - Clean/tidy the garage

Clean out gutters
Touch up or replace caulk where needed
Go through closets and donate unused clothing

I'm sure there are things I'll be adding throughout the months as I realize what I've forgotten, but this is what I came up with for now. Looking at the list makes it seem like a Cinderella-list, but honestly it's not that bad, haha. I uploaded a PDF (which you can find here) in case anyone wants to use it for inspiration to create a list as well.

Anyway, as I wrote on my last post, I actually did run on Tuesday (on the treadmill--it's too humid to have any desire to run outside). And right now, I actually feel like doing it again. So I'm going to! :)

August 20, 2019

My 10-Year Weight Loss Anniversary (and 10 crazy-cool opportunities I've had because of the weight loss)

I have been such a terrible blogger lately! It's amazing to me that I used to write every single day for a few years. I've been writing less and less frequently, and I'm starting to wonder if I'm approaching the end of the road of my blogging days; but I'll cross that road when the time feels right.

I will write a post about our wedding anniversary (similar to this post) hopefully before I'm 100 years old, hahaha.

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of when I started losing weight. It was the last day that I weighed 253 pounds. It's so hard to believe it was that long ago; but on the other hand, it's hard to remember what life was like before I lost the weight.

Some crazy accomplishments regarding my weight loss over the last 10 years:

#1. I lost a total 132 pounds at one point (February 2016). (The lowest Wednesday Weigh-In was 122, I believe; unofficially, I reached 121 at my lowest.)

before and after weight loss photo

#2. I started running--something I never thought possible. I ran 5K's, 10K's, half-marathons, and even three full marathons. WTF?!

Chicago Marathon finish photo

#3. I started writing Runs for Cookies in 2011. Here is my first post (there are some that are dated prior to this post, but I copied those over from a previous online journal I had). My blog has led to most of these opportunities.

Jerry's design for my virtual 5K shirt

#4. I was featured in Runner's World magazine, Woman's World magazine, Shape magazine, the local newspaper (twice), the morning Channel 4 news, The Today Show, The Dr. Oz Show, Another Mother Runner podcast, Half Size Me podcast (three times), Everyday Runners podcast, Run to the Top podcast, and a full-length documentary called From Fat to Finish Line that was available on Netflix (again, WTF?! CRAZY.). Here is a link to my "Press" page, which lists everything with links.

From Fat to Finish Line on Netflix

#5. I started coaching cross country (this is my fifth season). Getting kids excited about running is super rewarding, even though I am not currently a runner myself. (I have no idea what was happening in this picture, hahaha)

Cross country meet

#6. I met some amazing people--super inspiring blog readers; other bloggers; Bart Yasso (the "Mayor of Running); David Willey (Editor-in-Chief of Runner's World); Kerry Sanders (of The Today Show); Pete Thomas and Ada Wong (of The Biggest Loser); and probably a few more that I'm forgetting.
I met up with total strangers to run two Ragnar Relays, and some of those people have become super close friends. I've had meet-ups with blog readers, and I have to say, these have been my favorite people to meet! I love hearing their diverse personal stories.

Reader meet-up in Indianapolis

#7. I traveled to places I wouldn't have otherwise:

St. Louis, MO (for Purina, who sponsored a few posts in my blog)
Boston, MA (to visit a Ragnar teammate and for a Runner's World magazine series of races)
Portland, OR (to visit a blog reader-turned-BFF and to run my personal best 10K time)
Roanoke, VA (to visit a Ragnar teammate)
San Diego, CA (to run a Ragnar Relay)
Key West, FL (Ragnar Relay)
Kansas City, KS (to visit a Ragnar teammate)
Bethlehem, PA (for Runner's World magazine)
Seattle, WA (to visit a blog reader)
NYC (for The Dr. Oz Show, a BlogHer panel, and a couple of Purina events)
Indianapolis, IN (a blog-reader meet-up for The Indy Mini)
Joliet, IL (for The Warrior Dash)
Minneapolis, MN (for my first Ragnar Relay)
Cleveland, OH (for my first marathon)
Chicago, IL (for my third--and final--marathon)
Rockford, IL (to surprise my sister and run her first half-marathon with her)
Lake Cadillac, MI (for a last-minute random 10K race with Jerry)
Dayton, OH (for my RRCA certification, and to visit a Ragnar teammate)

(I have a list of all my traveling adventures and corresponding blog posts on my Travel page)

Hiking in Oregon

#8. I became an RRCA-certified running coach.

RRCA certificate

#9. I had a boudoir photo shoot--something I never would have done if not for the weight loss. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I never felt better about my body as I did during that photoshoot. You can see a couple of my (more modest) photos here and here.

boudoir photo

#10. I had surgery to remove excess skin from my abdomen after the initial weight loss. This helped not only cosmetically, but my comfort and health as well (I was getting rashes under my excess "apron" of skin, and the bouncing of my skin was very uncomfortable when running).

pre-surgery from skin removal

As a bonus (#11): While I'm currently the heaviest I've been since 2010, I am still about 85 pounds less than I was on August 19, 2009. While some may not consider that an accomplishment because of the recent gain, I am a million times healthier, happier, and more able-bodied than I was 10 years ago. I consider that a success.

current selfie

(Not saying that I don't want to drop about 20 pounds, but I don't want to downplay the fact that I've maintained such a large weight loss for such a long period of time.)

And there you have it. This list is far from complete of all the opportunities and accomplishments I've had over the last 10 years, but these are the most notable that come to mind.

Interestingly, writing this post just inspired me to run. I don't know if I'll do it regularly, but just for today, I'm going to do a short, awkward, difficult, and very slow run. Because I can :)

August 13, 2019

Rescue Pets! Before and After Adoption Photos for Transformation Tuesday

I wanted to get this up last week, but I have been working nonstop on a major project (which I'll write about tomorrow, hopefully). I've wanted to do a Transformation Tuesday post like this for a long time, and I'm excited to finally share these pictures! I asked for people to share photos of their rescue pets before and after their adoptions. I always love to see the difference that some tender loving care can do for animals who really need it.

I am a huge proponent of adopting pets from shelters and rescues rather than purchasing from breeders or pet stores. All of my pets have been either adopted from the shelter or taken in off the street. There are so many (TOO many) fantastic pets at the shelters just waiting for a loving home.

Adoption makes a huge difference in at least three ways: 1) The animal you are rescuing gets a home; 2) It opens a spot in the shelter for another animal to be placed rather than euthanized, and 3) You will feel an enormous sense of joy for helping an animal in need in the best way possible.

When Jerry and I adopted Joey, his fur was grimy and he reeked of urine. He was pretty docile and seemed a little reserved about whether or not it was okay to get excited that we were paying attention to him at the shelter. Once we took him home and gave him a bath, along with tons of attention, he was like a different dog. He was so excited!

We are SO glad that he came into our lives, and I'm pretty sure that he is, too ;)  Here is a "before" photo of Joey on the day he came home from the shelter versus a recent photo of him (four years later) after finding his "forever" family.

And here are some photos that readers have sent in of their own rescue pets! Thank you for sharing these photos--they make my heart happy :)

This is Dobby. I found her wandering down the street, starving and suffering from mange... I opened my car door, she jumped in and the rest is history!

- Meg, rescued by a dog in NC

This is Gertie the Jack Russell Terrier/Beagle mix in her cage before being adopted and then out on a long walk after we adopted her!

- Becky, Pennsylvania, Dog and Toddler Mama

We adopted Annie from a shelter nine years ago. She was about two years old and was shy, timid, and very sweet. Little did we know at the time, Annie was pregnant with 11 puppies! We kept Buddy (included in the "after" photo) and, luckily, found homes for the rest of the puppies as well.

- Debra, Missouri, Dog Mom

Seven years ago, I took in a group of ferrel kittens that had been living in the bushes being fed scraps by neighbors. I ended up adopting Razzy, who is 7 years old now, and she is the sweetest, most beautiful cat (in my biased opinion).

- Staci, Seattle, Cat Lover

We adopted our amazing pup Molly from the local humane society (emaciated, sick, and absolutely terrified) four years ago – now she's in training to pass the Canine Good Citizen test and to become a certified therapy dog to bring joy and comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools!

- Kaitlyn

This is Bella and Lulu before and after rescue. Bella had been adopted by a family and then returned to the shelter. When I adopted her, she was extremely skittish and shy and it took months to gain her trust. Someone dumped Lulu near my parents’ house malnourished, covered in ticks and suffering from mange. They’re both pretty happy pups these days and have added so much joy to my life!

- Ali, Kentucky, Animal Rescue Advocate

This is our beautiful rescue dog, Lizzie, on the day she arrived in the shelter (from Alabama all the way up to Wisconsin); and then after just three months of being in our home. She’s the happiest girl!

-Amanda, Wisconsin, obsessed with her dog

We recently rescued a baby kitty from my mom’s front yard. He had a very bad infection and a severe eye abscess when we found him, and unfortunately had to have one of his eyes removed. Now, two months later, he’s vibrant and full of life! He’s now living his best life with his three doggy siblings, and getting all the love he deserves!

—Lauren, Texas, Proud Fur Mama

P.S. We named him Squints—for obvious reasons ;)

This is Delilah, a neglected and surrendered senior doggy.  The "before" photo is from the day she became a Mr. Mo Project Dog after being dumped at a busy city shelter (clearly neglected and in pain).  The "after" is 4 weeks later--happy, safe, loved, and well accessorized!

(Mr. Mo Project is a 501(c)(3) dog rescue that gets senior dogs out of shelters and placed in forever foster homes. Then they cover the medical expenses for the life of the dog. They even have an application where you can submit a shelter dog's information who you think should be considered for a "project" dog.)

- Jeannie, forever foster mom

Thank you so much for sharing the photos of your pets. I think that seeing the before and after adoption photos speaks volumes about rescuing pets and the difference it can make (in their lives and in ours). Love these--thank you!

August 05, 2019

Touché, Dad

Now that the inside of our house is almost completely made over, there are some things I have been wanting to work on outside. My biggest is that I want a new front porch--ours is SO bad that it's probably dangerous.

Yesterday, I just had it with the loose boards moving around when I would walk on it (I hadn't fixed them because I kept thinking we'd get a new porch "soon") and I decided to screw the loose boards down. I got out my drill and started working on it.

While I was working, I glanced up and happened to notice an apple on my apple tree. It was big and red and looked perfect!

big red apple on my apple tree

First, the quick story of my experience with fruit trees...

I have always wanted an apple tree. That was one of the first things I bought when we moved in here, and I planted it in the front yard. Not even a couple of weeks later, some teenagers were walking around late at night and they ripped it out of the ground and it died. I bought another, and it started growing, but died for some unknown reason. Finally, I got one that grew for a couple of years and actually got a few apples on it!

My dad told me I should trim the ends of the branches to help it grow faster. I had no idea what that was about, but my dad has a decent garden and a cherry tree, so I just took his word. It died!

I started over again with another tree. My dad kept telling me about trimming it, and I told him never to touch my apple tree. It became a running joke between us, and he was always teasing me about the apple tree that took a decade to grow an apple, haha. Several years ago, my parents gave me a stick Asian pear tree. Asian pears are my FAVORITE fruit ever, and they are so expensive. I was thrilled!

the start of an Asian pear tree

I planted the stick in the ground, not expecting anything, but it grew. And it grew and it grew and it grew. Now, it's actually pretty big! It still hasn't flowered or given any fruit, so I must have done something wrong with it. I know you are supposed to cross pollinate fruit trees, but I didn't learn that until a few years after I had my trees.

Anyways, it was just another thing for my dad to tease me about. I have an Asian pear tree that is five years old and I've never grown a pear. This is what it looks like now; so crazy that it used to be a simple stick in the ground!

Six year old Asian pear tree

So, when I was working on the porch yesterday and I saw the perfect apple hanging from the tree, I was shocked. I got so excited to pick it before the bugs got at it!

I went over to the tree, and upon further inspection, I saw that I'd been had. Of course, it had to be my dad's doing!

Fake apple hanging to the tree by a rubber band

It made me laugh out loud, though, and then I had the idea to get him back by swapping it out with an orange. I threaded a rubber band through an orange with a crochet hook, and then I hung it on the tree. When my dad dropped my kids off a couple of hours later, he noticed a nice perfect orange "growing" on my tree, hahaha.

Who knows if I'll ever get any fruit from my trees. I do get a few apples each year, but they get eaten by bugs and birds before they even get big and ripe enough to eat.

Speaking of birds, I was nearly traumatized for life yesterday because of a bird that has been hanging around my house for a few weeks. It's a really big bird, and my kids have seen it once in a while sitting on the railing of my deck. I thought it sounded pretty cool, but I hadn't seen it yet.

Yesterday morning, Eli and I were sitting outside on the deck with some walnuts to feed the squirrels. All of a sudden the bird flew over our heads and into the tree across the alley. I was trying to get a good look when Eli said, "I think it's looking at that squirrel on the next tree". I didn't think much of that, because the bird was about the same size as the squirrel, so I didn't think it would try to hurt the squirrel.

I don't know anything about birds, but Eli told me it was a hawk. Then we saw it fly to a branch that was closer to the squirrel, who was minding his own business. I started to get nervous, and Eli asked if he should go scare it away by making noise. I said yes, and he started walking across the alley. Suddenly, I saw the hawk swoop down to the squirrel and grab it!

I panicked and instantly banged on the deck railing as hard as I could to make some noise. Almost as soon as the hawk had picked up the squirrel, he dropped it and flew off away from us. Thankfully, it did not carry the squirrel away. Still, I was horrified!

I read a little about hawks yesterday after that happened, and I saw that they may hang around bird feeders--not for the bird seed, but for the birds themselves! Since we got the bird feeder recently, I wonder if that's what attracted it. I definitely don't want it grabbing my beloved squirrels, so I took the bird feeder down. I hope I don't see it again. My squirrels are one of my biggest joys.

Anyway, any tips on growing a fruit tree? Particularly an Asian pear tree? I would love to grow my own Asian pears.

August 02, 2019


I have totally been avoiding blogging this week. And counting calories, like I'd said I was going to. And deliberate exercise, another promise. And even going out, other than for cross country.

It's not even that I'm going through a depressive episode. I was just feeling so overwhelmed that I put myself in a little bubble of avoidance. I feel like I need a time out--stop the clock, chill for a few days without worrying about all the things I'm NOT doing--and then resume life without the consequences of having fallen behind.

Does that make any sense?

On my last post, I wrote about feeling like I need to count calories again to drop some of this extra weight and feel better. I think that the extra weight is contributing to the recent avoidance. A couple of days ago, Jerry asked me to go to his softball game, and I was too embarrassed to go. The last time I went I was in great shape.

I think one of the, if not the biggest, drawbacks to being so public about my weight loss/gain/loss/gain cycle is that I know people notice it. They may not say anything, but of course they are going to notice. Ten pounds over my goal weight, I can handle. Everybody's weight fluctuates now and then. But being thirty pounds over my original goal weight makes a very big difference.

I need some new workout clothes. Mine are too small and since I haven't been running, I haven't bought anything that fits. Even getting dressed for cross country is challenging. So, I think I'll go to Salvation Army today and find a few things (mainly tops) to wear. Maybe that will help motivate me to want to exercise.

Changing the way I eat has been the hardest. I've gotten so used to not counting calories over the last few years that I find it so difficult to get back into it. I don't mind the idea of counting; I just forget how I used to take the time to plan things out. And few of the foods I used to eat appeal to me anymore. I planned out two weeks worth of dinners and their shopping lists, so that isn't the problem. It's breakfast, lunch, and a snack/treat that challenge me.

With the exercise (specifically running, which I would really love to get back into), I just can't find motivation to do it. I know that once I get in a solid routine, I'll be able to get used to it. It's the first couple of months of runs that suck, because it feels so much harder than it used to. It feels like I'll never get in shape again! When I was losing the weight nearly a decade ago, I was running faster and easier than I am now, even being thinner now than I was back then. I know that I need to be patient, put in the work, and just get it over with already.

I actually really do miss running. I never know what to say when people ask me if I still run. Sure I do... about once or twice a month. I've now taken a full two-year hiatus, and I know I want to get back to it--the desire is there--but I truly am a beginner again. There is nothing wrong with walking instead of running, but I miss the way that running made me feel. I felt strong, fit, determined and proud of myself.

I decided on a fun idea for the kids at cross country on our "long run" practices. I'm going to tell the kids that whoever can run longer than I do without stopping or walking will be able to choose a prize from my bag. I have such a hard time getting them to do even one 0.25-mile lap without stopping or walking! They are ALL capable of doing it. They will have to do it at their races. They just run too fast from the start, and teaching them to pace themselves is so difficult.

So, when they see me running painfully slow, maybe they'll see that they can keep going. I know that I can do about 3 miles (which is about 38 minutes or so for me right now) and it'll be interesting to see if any of them can match that with the motivation of a prize at the end.

Anyway, this whole post is not meant to be one giant complaint or lots of excuses. I know what I need to do and I've done it before. Like everyone else, I wish I could just blink and be back to feeling and looking my best. Since that isn't going to happen, I have to make a plan and put the blinders on. I need to go through the motions until it feels natural again. Once I start seeing results, I'll feel the determination that I need to see it through.

I do get the motivation doses several times a week, especially after each cross country practice. But it's the determination that I'm lacking. (Here is a post I wrote about the difference between the two and why motivation doesn't get you to reach your goal for weight loss.) My biggest obstacle that I have now that wasn't there before is chronic pain. The carpal tunnel, my back issue, knots in my shoulders, and an odd pain when I bend my elbows (the muscles in my forearm and upper arm just above and below my elbow). I'm also older.

When I was running regularly, I didn't have any of these physical problems except for the back pain, but that was there since I was a kid. I've been to numerous specialists about that and tried all sorts of treatments, but nothing works. However, I can deal with that as I always have. I'm just hoping that the other problems will resolve by taking better care of myself.

So, like I said, this post isn't to complain, but rather to just sort my thoughts about this avoidance that is going on. I've done it before and I KNOW that I can do it again. I would love to be able to document it here as I make progress, so another goal that I have is to write more frequently and stop avoiding it. I just never know what to write when I haven't worked on my goals.

Thank you to those of you that have said you are in the same boat. I am sorry that you are going through it, too, but it really helps to know that I'm not the only one feeling this way! I appreciate the support and kind words more than I can even express. I wish you the best as you work on this with me!

I was hoping to find some photos to share of the past week, but I really don't have much! But here are a few...

These are some of the foods I've been eating lately. I've been eating a lot of fruit (I'm obsessed with cherries right now--they are so expensive, so I rarely buy them, but they've been on sale for $1.99/pound this week.

These are my Banana Oat Bran Muffins with added blueberries, topped with Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter by Peanut Butter & Co.:

This is a chicken fajita bowl that I made when peppers were on sale:

I had a huge craving for roasted cauliflower with parmesan cheese, something I used to make when I was losing weight. I love this! (Just cut cauliflower into florets and toss with a little olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Then roast at 425℉ until it gets little brown bits on it.)

And I love watermelon season! Watermelon is one of my very favorite fruits. I am horrible and choosing good ones (they are either mushy or they are horribly underripe) so I don't buy them often. But Jerry usually has good luck, and he bought this one. It lasted all of two days in my house ;)

I went to visit my friend Spencer, who is now in hospice care at home. If you don't remember, he has stage IV brain cancer. I wanted to bring him something, but I had no idea what to bring. I ended up choosing a Red Wings Tervis tumbler (he's a big Red Wings fan) and a couple of pairs of cool socks. I thought they looked rather hipster, and since we share a love of Portland... ;)

There is a new squirrel coming around, who we've named Chip (as in Chip Matthews, from Friends) because he has a little chip in his ear (not "chip" as in microchip, but rather a little tear). He's not quite as bold as Tuck, but he is getting braver now that he knows we give him nuts.

If you remember, Eli bought me a bird feeder for Mother's Day so that the birds would quit stealing the squirrels' peanuts. Well, since we got the bird feeder, the squirrels do everything they can to eat the food from the bird feeder--including dangling by the very tips of their toes to reach the feeder. It's hilarious! So, when I saw this shirt on Amazon I just HAD to buy it for Eli. It's too perfect ;)

The squirrels are getting quite spoiled now--I recently spent about $60 on nuts for them! I got walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts all in-shell (healthier than peanuts for squirrels). We have a big jar sitting by the back door for when they come begging.

Right now, I'm going to head out to Salvation Army for some workout tops. I hope that my next post will show a little better progress!

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