After Christmas Hike

This post has a bit of jumping around in it! Christmas Eve I got off work a little bit early (thanks to my very awesome boss). I got to my car and realized I had a low tire–on the way of becoming a flat tire. Blasted! Poor timing. I drove to Les Schwab and they were just closing up shop. Damn! But the guy there took one look at my tire and said it was a flat and he fixed it. It took him like 10 minutes, tops, and didn’t charge me anything. When I asked he just shrugged and said “Merry Christmas” and gave me a hug. I was SO grateful that he fixed my tire and I didn’t get stranded somewhere when everything was closed. I have always had fantastic experiences with Les Schwab and will always take my business there.

Look what I came home to!

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Aren’t they gorgeous? Anyways, Michael and I took Bella for a walk, got dumped on by sudden rain, and then had a quick dinner before our friends were coming over for the traditional Christmas movie and popcorn night! Last year we watched Die Hard. This year we watched The Ref and part of Scrooged. ūüėČ

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Our friends Erika and Charles came over. We had some yummy drinks (they had beer, I had eggnog!) and we had popcorn while we watched the movies. I love The Ref. Bella snuggled on the couch with them. It was pretty cute.

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It was great to spend time with them! I wonder what we should watch next year…

The day after Christmas Michael, Bella and I went for a hike in Forest Park. Forest Park/Washington Park is a humongous park in the middle of the city and there are so many trails you could never do them all! I wanted to do something in town as opposed to driving out to the Gorge. I chose Tolinda Ridge Trail Loop. It was out near St. Helens and the trailhead was super easy to find (just off Germantown Road). There was a small parking lot and we got a spot.

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The trail started out with a very steep incline. There was even a spot with “stairs” made out of tree roots.

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The rain lately had sogged the trail pretty badly but it was manageable. It leveled off a little bit while we hiked away from the road.

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The Tolinda trail itself wasn’t very long. It was steep and almost all uphill. We tromped through the mud and the old growth forest, and then came to a fork in the trail. It wasn’t labeled. One way lead to another trail (I’m guessing the Ridge trail) and the other way went to the Leif Erickson parking lot. We decided to go that way because I knew that there would be other trails to pick up at that parking lot. We hiked through the paved (yet still muddy) part of this trail and came across a lot of families out hiking.

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Bella did SO GOOD! I think this is the first hike we’ve done this winter. It was just another reminder that she’s getting grown up. She didn’t seem bothered by any of the strangers we came across, wasn’t scared of the little kids she met and even seemed curious. Most of the dogs we came across didn’t bother her and she didn’t bark (except for one dog that was a little yappy).

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There were a bunch of families hiking, there were a few different trail runners and we came across a few mountain bikers, too. It was a popular stretch of the park. We came across about a dozen Christmas ornaments! It was such a nice, festive surprise.

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We got to the parking lot and found the Cannon Trail. According to the sign, it was a new trail. It was another steep one and we wound through the forest on a nice trail. It was very nice, quiet trail.

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We hiked for a little while longer and came to another parking lot off-shoot and then another steep part of the trail. We decided to turn around and head back. I was doing pretty well, but my left knee had bugged me a little bit on parts of the hike. Not too bad, not enough to not hike, but I didn’t want to get too far away from the car either. My right hip also bugged me a little at one part of the trail–which was weird because I rarely have hip issues. Who knows. Maybe it was the steepness of the trail, maybe I was walking weird, maybe I’m just out of practice hiking.

We hiked back through the forest and got the Tolinda Trail again. It was all downhill from there and we finally made it back to the car. I was covered in mud up to my knees! We did about 3.75 miles in just under 2 hours. I burned 477 calories:

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Bella was absolutely filthy. (She got a bath when we got home!) It felt fantastic to get home, take a warm shower and then get into clean clothes.

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I did a little after-Christmas clearance shopping and then we had spaghetti squash for dinner. I bake the spaghetti squash for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees. I season them with grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, and the Costco non-salt seasoning. It’s delicious. I love how healthy the spaghetti squash is without the pasta guilt after. I added some turkey meatballs to the sauce, topped with fresh parmesan.

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Good, healthy, filling. Sadly, Michael ended up getting a head cold Friday night and was sick the rest of the weekend. We didn’t end up doing much the rest of the weekend but I did get a lot of stuff done around the house. Let’s hope he’s better by New Year’s!

Dairy-Free Update #3

Time for the third update.¬†I’m almost done. I can see the finish line from here!¬†You can read the first post¬†here. I encourage you to follow my progress on¬†Facebook¬†and¬†Twitter¬†as I will be posting more updates in those places.

Dairy-Free Update #1

Dairy-Free Update #2

How Am I Doing?

I’ve gotten used to the diet now. I do not miss bread or anything with gluten. I sort of miss other things like cupcakes, ice cream, and oddly enough–banana pudding. I think I’m just craving those things because I can’t have them. This just reinforces what I’ve been doing for 5 years: eating whatever I want but in moderation. Doing that keeps me from getting this crazy obsessive cravings that make me want to binge.

I wish I had something magical to report. Honestly, I still don’t feel any differently. I WISH there was something. My skin is a little better. I haven’t had any acne breakouts this month, but I don’t know if I can attribute that to going dairy-free yet.

What I can report is that Michael feels like a million bucks. He’s still eating dairy but he gave up gluten entirely. He has noticed a lot of changes and like I said in the last update, it helped his snoring. He’s sleeping much better and I’m thankful for that. He wants to continue doing the gluten-free thing long term. I can support that.

Challenges/Victories

I’m kind of sick of eating rice. I feel like I eat it every day now because it’s gluten-free and easy to make. It’s also something “safe” I can order in a restaurant. I definitely need a break from eating rice!

Something I discovered and wanted to share was an iPhone app I found. It’s called “Shopwell” and it’s a free app. You enter your requirements in it: dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, low calorie, diabetic friendly, etc etc. The list goes on. Pretty much any dietary restriction is listed. So you enter that in and then you can scan foods and it will tell you if it fits your requirements.

My requirements were gluten free and dairy free. I’ll give you some examples. I scanned my raisin box:

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It was okay for me to eat. I scanned a Fiber One Bar, which I knew I couldn’t eat, but to give you the example:

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The app recommends I avoid the Fiber One Bar because it has milk and gluten in it. It also gives better alternatives at the bottom. The app would be good to use while grocery shopping to find the better alternatives. It’s a really fun and useful app. If you have any kind of dietary restrictions, check it out.

Foods of the Week

Michael accidentally bought the UNsweetened almond milk at Costco (i.e. a case of it) and I was worried we were now stuck with like 10 cartons of something we’d hate. Luckily, the unsweetened wasn’t bad. I used it to make chocolate “milk” (how weird is it that chocolate syrup doesn’t have dairy in it??) after the gym, I drank it straight and liked it, and used the almond milk in a bowl of cereal. The sugar from the gluten-free Apple Cinnamon Rice Chex sweetened the almond milk and it was a delicious breakfast.

FSTG Chips

Michael also got some gluten free tortilla chips. We are both fans! They taste just like regular tortilla chips and are salty and crunchy and delicious. Love them! The photo above is what we got, in case you wanted to try them. We tried the multigrain flavor. The jalapeno looks pretty good to me, too.

I made two dairy and gluten free recipes this week. The first one was a fabulous dessert that I will most definitely make in the future. The second was a spicy Asian dish that was also good.

If you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, I encourage you to try it. It’s a fantastic¬†alternative¬†to pasta. Even if you aren’t gluten free, for some people pasta is a trigger food or it wreaks havoc on their blood sugar. The squash has a very similar consistency to pasta. It’s savory and satisfying and a serving is about 40 calories.

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It even LOOKS like pasta! Last night Michael and I made spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and sausage. I cut the squash in half, scooped out the seeds, and placed it face down in a dish with some water in it. I baked it at 350 degrees for about an hour. Then I scraped the insides out and it came out like spaghetti noodles.

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The sausage was less than 200 calories, the squash was around 60, the sauce was around 100 and I had a green salad on the side full of veggies. Such a great dinner! It’s been years since I’ve done spaghetti squash. I need to do it more often.

Thoughts/Observations

The most common question I got was: “Did you phase it out or go cold turkey?” I’m definitely a cold turkey kind of person. It works better for me to just DO something when I have the initial drive and fire of motivation. Phasing it out over a few weeks would have just made me lose interest and desire to try it. I also do better with specific dates. Having something like that to focus on gives me direction. I wanted to start officially on February first and end officially on February 28th because mentally it seemed like a short period of time. I think one of the reasons I failed with the Slow Carb diet was because I didn’t have any schedule in mind. I said “Oh I’ll just do it for a few weeks and see”. I¬†need¬†that specific date!

QUESTION: How long do you last on a diet before you are burned out?