Extending Our Happily Ever After

"We do! Now let's live healthy and fit!"


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Three days in and around Custer State Park!

There is so much to do here! We have to come back to do it all! No complaints from us! When I was a kid, my dad took my brother and I on a cross country trip and I remember visiting Mt. Rushmore and thinking to myself, I would like to live here one day. Well, now that I am here again… I can see why I thought that. This area of the country is truly amazing. I honestly could picture myself living here. It is gorgeous! Clean air, hospitable people and the scenery is just breathtaking!
I haven’t done much planning on this trip, so when we were in the Badlands, I tried calling for a place to stay on the night of the 3rd and 4rth of July. What was I thinking??? It took us an hour to find something, and we finally found Jack’s Campers at exit 44 in Piedmont, SD on Hwy 90. They actually sell RVs, have a store and then have full hookups in the back for $17/night. So awesome! And we have an amazing view of the hills around us. We feel totally secure. We were able to get a third night as well.
Our first day, we drove to Sylvan Lake and did the one mile loop trail around it.

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Then, we drove to Crazy Horse… The head is finished… The museum is quite impressive with lots of Indian artifacts.

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Outside, on the viewing terrace, you can see the replica of what the carving is supposed to look like, then the actual mountain carving.

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Chris and I took a bus up to get a closer look at the mountain.

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Then, we saw some sculptures outside the park. The gate was done by the family and is a representation of every living thing in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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We then drove up to Mount Rushmore… Being the third of July, they were having a Fourth Celebration… A concert with an acapella group and then the Air Force Band. Also, they swore in about 34 new recruits into the armed forces… What a special ceremony for them… At the base of the monument!

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A lady sitting in front of us was using her binoculars to take photos with her cell phone and let me try, too… These were the results… It doesn’t take much to impress me!

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Then at night, they illuminated the faces!

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Driving through the park on day two… We tried to go to the Jewel Cave, but the tours were sold out… The wildlife loop was void of wildlife…  The Needles Hwy.  Was spectacular, however!

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That is all for now, we are sitting in a Starbucks posting this, getting ready to start our third day in the park… So enjoy the pics, more to follow…
Our next couple of days are not expecting to be much… We are feeling a bit better, but we are going to start to head west and we are told that there isn’t that much to see in the middle of Montana… So we are expecting to get to my cousin’s ranch on the 8th on the west side of Montana…
Thanks for following our journey!

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Two amazing days in the Badlands of South Dakota!

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We left the city of Sioux Falls with me feeling very sick. All of us have been very run down on this trip. Possibly from the months of downsizing and the stress that brings on… With Christopher finishing off his senior year and going to awards nights and different events throughout, to my finishing off my ten year career with UPS-SCS. It was bound to leave us all a bit worn out.
We wanted to set up camp at the Missouri river for a couple of days, but those spots were full up… So we stopped there for gas and drove right on through…

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Ended up driving longer than either of us wanted to, but we were headed for the Badlands anyway, so we just got there a bit sooner. We were lucky enough to secure a spot to camp just outside the park in the small town of Interior, SD. Budget Inn campground.

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The views aren’t too bad and they have showers and laundry and water and electric for us for just $29/night.
The first night, we set up and then took a drive through the park and it truly is stunning!

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Then back to the campground for dinner cooked by us in our kitchen.

The next morning, we all took our showers, had a light breakfast, then headed out to enjoy the day. Our first stop… Wall Drug. In Wall, SD. You see billboards for wall all the way through SD on the Interstate and you just have to stop. It is on the other side of the Badlands loop, and it is a huge tourist destination. Coffee is only .05, free ice water, homemade donuts, too!… Stores galore and tons of gift shops and photos of the old west! You could stay for hours!

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We stopped for a piece of pie and the guys had some of that coffee (they have had worse, that you have to pay much more for) and I had my free water). Then it was back on the road to check out the park more.  

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Fun to see a goat! Very sure footed creatures out on this terrain!

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Bunnies, too!

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We just had such an awesome time, even found a great place to picnic lunch!

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We are ready to hit the road again. We obviously are not planning anything out… So we spent about an hour the morning of the 2nd trying to secure a spot to hook up for the third and fourth… Just wasn’t thinking of the holiday weekend.
Finally found a spot, but it is outside of Custer State Park, so we will have to drive in… We are ok with that. No bathrooms or showers, but full hookup, so big time relief in that one! We pass through Rapid City, so we are stopping for supplies and drinking water… Should be good! We haven’t been getting wi-fi, so daily posts aren’t happening, but stick around for location posts.
Thanks for reading of our travels… We are having the time of our lives, even though we are doing so without voices our coughing through it all. 😉

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Days 28-33 – 100 Day Challenge

Been such a busy week! But, I have been exercising and losing weight! 

I donate plasma now… and they actually weigh you every time you go to donate. Last friday, I weighed per their scale at 250, and the previous Tuesday at 251 (this is at the end of the day, having had lots of water, as I have to be fully hydrated)… I’m fully clothes, plus sometimes with a coat, actually, although I’m trying to lose that now. Anyway, last tuesday, it was 246, today it was 244. But, this morning, naked, I was 238. So, I’m sort of all over the place. I’m setting my Sparkpeople weight to the 238, but using the losses from the Biotest just to see how much I’ve lost from visit to visit. Regardless, it feels good to show a loss at each visit. 

Also, I was featured in my company’s website for my weight loss story… It posted today. Here is the article: 

Where Is She Now? 

Story update: UPSer loses 140 pounds…and more 
Last year, Marie Smith shared her story about her weight loss success. Since it aired, Marie has lost 10 more pounds towards her weight loss goal. During the past year, she’s faced obstacles including surgery, a car accident, and rehab. 
In spite of these challenges, Marie continues to focus on her ultimate goal of maintaining a healthy life style. 
To see her post from last year, (click here *story link to internal company website*) and check out her update below. 

As told by Marie: 

Last May, I had a total right hip replacement, which has done wonders for my health and well-being. The new hip has aligned my body so well, that now, my back has few issues and my back pain has lessened tremendously. I feel 20 years younger! 

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But, as we all know, life has a way of throwing us curve balls. A mere six weeks after my hip replacement surgery, my son and I were in a car accident. The car was nearly totaled but luckily, we were both fine. I was jostled a bit in the car and my hip took a hit. However, I got right back to therapy and worked hard. Six weeks later, I celebrated with a hike that truly tested out my new hip. 
I have used this opportunity to get back into “life” and start living it! I have become a lot more active. I get out as often as I can, and I walk as much as I can. I try to find places to hike, and I’d like to start biking. 
As for the weight – it is an ongoing struggle. I know that I didn’t get to nearly 400 pounds and stay that way most of my life because I had will power. To this day, I love food. But, through my weight loss journey, I have learned so much and what foods to eat. I know what the healthy options are and I know that my body feels better when I eat them. 
Like others in my situation, I do struggle when I don’t see the scale move towards my goal. And sometimes that will trigger an old pattern of overindulging. But then I remember to take a step back and look at the big picture. I’ve worked hard and done very well for not gaining and at least maintaining. I know I have the tools to lose the rest of the weight, and I know that I will do it. 
What really keeps me motivated is what I’ve accomplished. I’ve been surrounded by supportive friends and family from day one and I know that support is HUGE in the weight loss journey! 
Just the other day, I got this text from a friend, “I have to just say that I will always remember your words to me: If I can do it, anyone can do it. So when I work out, I remember you saying that. So don’t ever think you never inspired anyone, because you inspired me.” 

Marie’s Words of Wisdom: 
* Weight doesn’t come on overnight and it’s not going to go away overnight. 
* The best anyone can do is make those changes that will get them on the healthy track and help them live longer. 
* Definitely get active. It’s the best thing I ever did and the cleaner way of eating is so important. 
* Listen to your body, you may think it’s asking for a burger and fries, but then you are hungry an hour later. It’s only because you didn’t give it the nutrition it was really asking for! 
* start listening. You are only given one body in this lifetime… treat it right. It will do the same for you.


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Day 24 – 100 Day Challenge

Today was another good food day… I’m getting back on track! Thank goodness! I still didn’t do great with exercise, but I did walk at work today, so that’s something.

Also, I was called today by lady who ran an article on my weight loss story for our company last summer. She wanted to do a follow up story. I had told her that I really didn’t lose any more weight. We talked for a while and she wanted to know how things were after my hip replacement surgery and the car accident I had last year and told me that after all I had been through, to hear that I had maintained the weight loss and that I was still excited and focused on my journey even though I still had disappointment that I hadn’t lost more weight told her that my story is still very motivating and very relevant to what she was looking for. She said that it was “real”… not every weight loss journey was easy or full of constant successes, but it was just that… a journey.

I am still motivated to lose weight, even though I have not seen the scale get into “new weight loss” for over a year. I still challenge myself to get out and exercise, I still get up every morning and drink my lemon water and pack my lunch and go to work with the excitement of being on plan and I think it’s that energy that probably has helped me keep the weight off and not gain it all back on. I am proud of maintaining the huge loss I’ve done. I also know and have every confidence that I will reach my goal, even if it’s going to be “in my own sweet time”… it will come. At least I’m headed in the right direction! That feels amazing!

I am thrilled with my health and my energy and stamina. I could ask for more, but I’m quite happy with this!


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Days 19, 20 and 21 – 100 Day Challenge

Been a busy weekend! We had our huge Scranton St Patricks Parade weekend here. 9th biggest in the country, I believe. Anyway, it’s always a huge production here.

Friday was a normal day, Work but then I donated Plasma. That went well and was alot more relaxed than the previous Tuesday. The only concern is that later that night, I still was bleeding a bit from the needle spot… I’ll have to ask about that next time I donate. Usually when I give blood, I clot up pretty fast, so I’m not quite understanding why it’s not the same with this… size of the needle? Just not sure. Also, my iron is just borderline, but it always is… so I’ll keep having to eat the broccoli and spinach and just keep up with the leafy vegetables and such.

Saturday was parade day… I meant to walk in the parade with my son’s Marching band, but I had no idea when the parade started, so I walked downtown too early and because I only own one green shirt and it’s a short sleeve, low-cut one at that… and the day was a bit cool and windy… well, I was VERY COLD! I just figured that once I got walking, I’d be fine… but instead, I stood there, nearly 2 hours waiting for the parade to start… so just about when it did start, I opted instead to walk to the mall where my former boss was with his son and ordered a hot tea and stayed a bit warm! LOL I did, however, walk downtown, walk to the mall, walk around for the 2 hours trying to stay warm… but then he and his wife drove me to my car where I waited for my son after the parade… then drove home! OH well! I tried!

Today, we went grocery shopping for some healthy foods, got fruits for the week, our greek yogurts, some ground turkey and some canned salmon, etc. I did get some instant cream of wheat, I think that’s good for iron… so I’ll eat that the day before donation day and maybe that will help in my iron levels, too…

Ohhh, and this isn’t quite on plan, but then again, it’s mostly for my co-workers, but we do cut a bit for ourselves… back in December, a girlfriend of mine on facebook posted a 60+ fudge recipes post. Well, I started making different recipes of fudge once a month since then and taking it in to my co-workers. Well, I call it “Fudge Friday”… this Friday coming is going to be “Fudge Friday” and the fudge I’ll be making is a Mint Oreo Cookies and Cream Fudge in honor of St Patrick’s Day… (it’ll be green, of course)… so, I had to purchase the ingredients for that, too… I’ve been picking different recipes every month. Last month’s was the best thus far with a Neopolitan Fudge (strawberry, vanilla, chocolate layered fudge, pink on top for Valentine’s day) I’ve been trying to get very creative! Next month’s fudge is Banana Cream Fudge! It’s been fun, because alot of these I’ve never made before and people at work have never tasted before, either.

Anyway, This morning, I walked around our lake with this guy from work… he’s on a journey to lose weight, too. It was our first “buddy walk” together. He’s a nice guy. My son went with and did his running thing. I like that he goes up there with me, even if he doesn’t walk with me, but I love that he’s fit as well and at least we talk on the way home. The only cause of concern today was that it was very cold, temps in the low 20’s… and my lip was swollen and numb after the walk… almost as if I had been to the dentist and had a procedure done. That’s never happened before and to be honest, it’s still a bit numb and swollen now… even after I’ve typed all this. I don’t know what I could have done to have had that happen… so this is a bit odd and I guess I’ll have to keep an eye on it.


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Day 17 – 100 Day Challenge

Today was pretty uneventful… back to work.

Weather is cooling down again, which is a bit depressing after the gorgeous day we had yesterday. It rained this afternoon, poured for a bit, actually… and now it’s chilly, windy and freezing rain has started. We are expecting some snow tomorrow as well! These early months in the year are always so crazy in the Northeast, one day warm and sunny, the next, overcast and snowing! It’s just nuts!

Well, I didn’t get a video uploaded today, will have to try to upload two tomorrow.

Someone recently approached me and asked about my goals regarding my future in regards to my journey with my weight loss. I’ll speak a moment to that… and some of my friends/followers here sort of know my story already through sparkpeople.com or facebook or even my website http://www.cinnamarie.com or http://www.extendingourhappilyeverafter.com .

Back in March of 2012, I weighed 378 lbs. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t my highest weight, but since this was the start of my journey and my first official weigh in, that was what I was going by. At that moment in time, I was in a bad place physically… I was in pain most of the time. I had degenerative arthritis in my lower back and right hip and three herniated discs in my back as well. I was missing work often, due to days where I’d wake up and was just unable to move. When I’d go grocery shopping, I’d often have to find places to sit down, or end our day after one trip to the store so I could get home and rest. I couldn’t stand more than 5 minutes without sitting down to rest. All this and I was only 44 years old.

I knew that my weight was out of control and that if I wanted to live a longer life with quality, I needed to do something about it. I found a diet (17 Day Diet) that I felt would be something my husband and I could follow and we started it and the weight started to come off very quickly. It truly changed how we thought about our diet. I didn’t exercise at first, but after losing over 30 lbs, then I started walking with Leslie Sansone’s Walk Away the Pounds DVD’s. I knew they were low impact and with my back/hip issues, this was the way to go for me.

It took me about 18 months to lose 150 lbs… and then the following year, I basically maintained that loss… Last winter I did gain 32 lbs back and I’ve lost 27 of those lbs… I still have about 50-60 more lbs to go on my journey but that’s basically the story of it…

Throughout my journey, I found out that I needed a hip replacement, due to all the weight I carried for decades! This was done last May and now that degenerate arthritis in my right hip is now gone. The weight I’ve lost has truly helped the arthritis in my lower back and my herniated discs as well… and I know when the rest of the weight comes off, that will also help tremendously.

I have discovered that I can’t zumba. I can’t P90X or do Insanity. I can’t run. I can’t even do pushups or many floor exercises. I can’t do a sit up because being on the hard floor is just too much for my back… however, I do have a “Bean” (remember those from the infomercials?) and I do situps on that, or with use of a stability ball.. I just need support for my lower back. I often use the term “I am working with a broken body” when I talk of how I manage my exercise… but I do exercise and I do stay fit.

Also, I managed to lose my weight with no exercise equipment here at home or through joining a gym, although I did try joining a gym last year, but I only went for less than a month and as it didn’t add to any weight loss, I won’t count that. The only real money I put into my weight loss was the purchasing of a daily multi-vitamin (purchased at WalMart, their generic brand) and 5 Leslie Sansone videos (all under $10 a piece and not purchased all at once, they were bought throughout the journey, as rewards for weight loss and when I wanted to get a new workout).

Back to the initial thought… what is it I want to do in regards to my goals with my future, considering my weight loss? Well, I’ve been mostly inspired to help others and I have helped others. There have been facebook friends who have honestly been following me from day 1 and have also lost alot of weight and they have told me that I inspired them. I have co-workers who also have lost alot of weight and contribute that to my influence on them. I have been called, emailed and texted many times over, asking for advice from friends about what they should do, or how they should start, and I always claim to not know the answers, but I end up just giving words of encouragement and just giving a voice to the voice already inside themselves and usually pep them up and spur them on to get going in their weight loss goals. However, what is near and dear to my heart, besides always being there for my family and friends and that is way up at the top of my list… is that I’d LOVE to be able to help others that were where I was.

I’d LOVE to inspire those that are VERY overweight, who can’t move much, who have mobility issues, who don’t have the money for diet things that are out there, because they really only need to have money for REAL FOOD. They don’t need money for a gym. They don’t need money for equipment, like a treadmill. I was morbidly obese for most of my life… it’s who I was for so long, that I can relate to that person. I know what they feel, because I felt it for so many years. They feel that it can’t be done, they will never lose weight and you know what? It’s SO MUCH EASIER than they think it is, and I’m living proof.

I want them to BELIEVE in their souls that it’s not hard to lose weight… it’s hard to live in a body that doesn’t lose weight. Because, I soooo remember how hard my life was. How hard it was getting up in the morning, IF I could get up out of bed! There is no way I’m believing they can tell me that they feel AWESOME! Because I KNOW they don’t!

I feel so passionate about this… but my heart breaks, because I want more than anything to help them feel awesome! I know that they can! I want that for them as much as I wanted it for myself. I want to put that pep in their step and that smile on their face like I did with myself! It will truly change their life and not only that… it will EXTEND IT!

That is my goal for my future… That is my audience, in addition to anyone else who is inspired by my story.

My parents are the top two on this list. They taught me EVERYTHING they know about food and exercise. I NOW want to teach them everything I know about food and exercise. My parents are in Southern California. I’m here in Northeast Pennsylvania. That is my dream, I hope to make it come true in a few years.

Pic of Chris and I with my parents, followed by Chris and I from last Summer

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Been hovering… and pulling myself out of a funk…

First time in my journey… I guess it’s expected.

I’ve been in a funk. I’ve been stressed. Mostly financial. I guess we all get that. I’m so glad that I’ve done my taxes and am just now waiting. I’m waiting for that check to make things LESS STRESSFUL! The effects? Well, I eat when stressed. I wish I didn’t. I guess old habits die hard and I didn’t even think that I had any old habits when I’ve been so very good for almost a YEAR now! I thought you create NEW habits after what? 7 days? 21 days? What is that saying? Well, I guess it’s not working in this girls’ head.

So, I’ve discovered a few things about myself. I’ve discovered that I am healthier. Thank God! I’ve discovered that nearly 10 months, or 10 months (since March 19, 2012) of eating healthy and nearly 9 months of exercising religiously, have made me healthier on the inside… because, even though I have been eating things I should not have been eating (cupcakes, which is seeming to become a wierd pattern as these aren’t really things I ate in the past, but for some reason they are snacks of the “now world” I think… anyway, pizza, which I don’t feel is horrible, as I have had that throughout the diet, just not as “often” as lately, and bread)… just stuff that I haven’t really had in doses that I haven’t had it over the past 10 months. Anyway, I’ve only gained 3 lbs! I haven’t stopped eating most of the foods on the plan I follow, so maybe it’s that. I sort of have stopped most of the exercise, but not completely.. just not as intensely.

I’m thinking that maybe I have built up lean muscle, which burns calories more efficiently (I hear). Maybe, from being healthier, my metabolism is much higher, and I’m processing things much better… I’m not really sure. It’s sort of a mystery to me that I’m not being that “good” yet I’m not showing it on the scale…

However, with all that said, I’m BACK on track. So, I do hope that I’m not derailed TOO much to see my goal too far away (or rather, further, away). I guess, I can’t be “perfect” all the time (and yes, I do TRY to be, even though I do realize no one can be)… It’s the A-type personality in me. First born and all that, you know. Sort of snaps me back into reality and throws the “You are only human” saying into my mind.

Stress… I did just post something about that recently somewhere… about 5 minutes of stress allows 6 hours of a breakdown of your immunity or something like that.. then BAM… this goes and happens… and Boy, does it ever! I’ve been a bit under the weather as well… and the eating, and the feeling “in a funk”… I don’t get depressed… I won’t say that is what I was feeling… in a funk way better expresses what I was feeling. I’m a very upbeat person… but when I’m “in a funk” it’s just that I get introspective… I don’t want to talk, to post, to do much more than read, watch tv, sleep, read more…

What I was doing alot of was watching Dr Oz and Ellen shows. I love to watch Ellen, because she’s about one of the only people I feel is about as positive as I am! LOL I truly love her spirit… I smile when I watch her and I laugh when she laughs and I just GET her! She’s a beautiful person and if I could be anyone else in the world (if I wanted to be, as I like being me, actually)… but I’d want to be her. Anyway… her and Dr Oz… but his shows get a bit repetitive.. but I have been trying to gleam as much info as I can… and reading tons of books on weightloss just to see if there are any little “tweaks” or things I can use or just think about.

I found a few. I already do quite a few things that are mentioned all over that show. Have been for months. Anyway… One thing I’m going to try is the ginger tea for bloating. I already have green tea all the time, so I’m going to look for decaf ginger tea, don’t need anything caffeinated, that’s for sure… but I’ll try to find something today. Anyway, the other thing I’m going to try is Cayenne before a workout. Who’s heard of this? 200 mg taken 1 hr before a workout is supposed to help you burn 40% more calories. Really? I’ll give it a try. Jorge Cruise gave me that tip and I already use his 8 minute moves in the morning and they are soooo amazing and I totally feel them working, so I’m IN with what he suggests! Another supplement I’m going to give a whirl is CLA. Read about it in “The Eat-Clean Diet” by Tosca Reno and also again, on the Dr Oz show… we’ll see. I’m going to STOP taking the Green Coffee Bean extract… not too much really studied about it and just not too sure it’s really helping or not helping actually… I think I’m losing same rate as I always was.

I like that the CLA is more than just for the fat, but also an Anti-carcinogen and also an anti-inflammatory, so with my arthritis, I love that.

I also am going to add drinking water first thing in the morning, before I even drink my warm lemon water… which I usually have after I shower and dress… so there is usually a bit of a delay.. been reading up a bit on getting water in first thing as a bit of a benefit.

We’ll see… nothing seems harmful to try… I never like to try things that seem too drastic.. just little tweaks. Everything else I’m very happy with… just need to stop the off plan and get back ON PLAN… re-focus and get rid of the stress… that isn’t good for anyone!