Faith, Fitness, and Food: Three Quarantine Necessities

So here we are, about six weeks into this very strange time of Covid-19 quarantine, and I am a little embarrassed to admit how much I am enjoying myself, thanks primarily to faith, fitness, and food.

Alliteration is great for blog titles, but I didn’t have to work hard to come up with that one. It really describes my life for the past six weeks, and for this introvert, it’s all been good.

What I HAVEN’t found myself doing, surprisingly, is writing blog posts. And maybe that invites some contemplation on my part. But let me tell you what I have been doing instead to pass the time.

FAITH

We can’t go to Mass and that hurts.  I miss that more than anything.  But there are lots of other ways to practice our faith and I have doubled down on them all.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a whole prayer room, which is a great blessing all the time and especially now.  So I start off every morning there, and I spend an hour there every evening.   On Sunday mornings, I watch my parish‘s live-streamed Mass.  The rest of the family gets their “church” in the afternoon.  We read the readings, and since our pastor generously provides us with a copy of his homily and the week’s Universal Prayer, we read those as well. We recite the creed, say the spiritual communion prayer, sing the Regina Caeli (because Easter) and finish up with the Prayer to Saint Michael.

I take advantage of a ton of resources to make this time meaningful for me, many of which I have written about here and here.  I use Hallow and Pray as You Go daily.  I enjoyed the Pray More Lenten Retreat and the Be Not Afraid conference, which is still online and available.  And I’ve signed up for several other free Catholic conferences.

FITNESS

I wasn’t kidding myself in the past when I said I didn’t have time for exercise.  But I have time now and I am using it.  I was already pursuing some fitness goals when this started, going to the gym three days a week and walking 45 minutes most days.  Now, with the gym closed, I am doing the Jane Fonda workout (yes, the one from 1982) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.  I borrowed some weights from my next door neighbor and I do a little with those and also do some squats and push ups (girl push ups, and not very well) on what would normally have been gym days.

But what I really love to do is walk, and there is a flat paved loop trail at the park a two-minute drive away (and before you ask, there is no safe way to walk there, which is stupid).  I walk for an hour every morning after breakfast if it does not rain. (When it rains, I suffer.) To pass the time while walking loops I listen to Hallow or Pray as You Go or a Catholic talk or podcast.  On Saturdays I switch it up by walking at the track on the All Saints Parish campus while saying the Rosary.  Every afternoon at five, my next door neighbor and I do loops around the bottom half of our street (socially distanced from one another and passers-by). All told, I am averaging over 11,000 steps and almost five miles each day.  Since 10,000 steps was the goal I had set for myself, I am pleased.

FOOD

It was Lent when all this began, as you will recall, and one of my Lenten disciplines was to do a modified Whole 30.  Thus I was unable to bake tasty treats (well I could have, but I didn’t want to bake things and not be able to eat them!) until after Easter. That was a huge blessing, because by then I had developed such healthy habits that I really didn’t feel like over-indulging on chocolate and such for more than a couple of days.  I KNOW I would have turned to food for comfort if I hadn’t been so limited in what I could eat.

But here’s the thing, limited or not, I (and my family) still had to eat.  And the fact is that I had gotten WAY out of the habit of preparing seven dinners a week (let alone all those lunches and breakfasts).  I mean, I don’t think I’ve done that since about 2009 and that is no exaggeration.  John and I go out Monday nights; Lorelei has youth group at our downtown parish on Wednesdays and so we all go our own ways for dinner; and I hang out at Panera Bread alone every Friday evening.  So that leaves four dinners a week for me to come up with, tops, and there are always other things going on that lead us to eat out, or grab fast food, or order in . . . I’m sure lots of you can relate.

But for the past six weeks we’ve eaten together, at the same time every night, primarily meals that I’ve cooked, sometimes with Lorelei and/or Emily’s assistance.  I start by doing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, and I really take my time and enjoy the process.  We use Blue Apron and Hello Fresh so two nights a week the meals are planned for me, and that has been a huge blessing as far as not having to worry about having all the ingredients on hand as well.  I also schedule a regular shipment of produce from Misfits Market.  It has still been challenging to come up with a variety of meals that people will enjoy.  We have only had takeout a couple of times due to reduced income at the moment.  But despite the challenge and doing some complaining about it because it is yet another big responsibility that falls on mostly me, I am also enjoying it and don’t want to go back to how we did things before.

My faith, fitness, and food quarantine coping strategies have something in common and that is ROUTINE.  I have developed daily and weekly routines that I stick to that give a rhythm to the day. This is very satisfying and keeps me on track, not to mention sane.  I get up early every morning (although no longer before dark, which I have always hated).  I do the same things in the same order at more or less the same time every day, and because there are no longer outside commitments that schedule doesn’t get interrupted which is comforting.  I’ve created a nice balance of exercise and office work, personal pursuits and homemaking, relaxation and prayer.  This is something else that I hope I can hold onto.

As I planned this post I noticed the overlap among faith, fitness, and food.  What I am eating contributes to my fitness and my desire for fitness influences what I cook–and don’t cook–for my family.  An hour of my fitness time each day doubles as faith time.  And of course the time I spend specifically on faith in my prayer room grounds me and helps me to do all the rest of it.

I would love to hear how the rest of you are doing in quarantine.  Do you like it? Hate it? Both? Have you developed a routine or are you winging it? Is there anything you’e started to do that you want to continue when we get back to “normal”? Let me know in the comments.

Walking in Knoxville: A Guide for Hikers

Writing about hiking used to be a pretty big chunk of this blog.  Not so much lately, as I fell off the fitness wagon.  But fall is a great time for walking–it’s beautiful as well as cool.  So to inspire myself, and as a resource to any Knoxvillians or visitors, I’ve collected all my walking posts right here along with a brief description and picture for each.
Walking in East Knoxville: Welcoming Spring at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum
It’s not Spring as I am writing this but I am absolutely sure that this unsung gem will have fall foliage and flowers to delight you.  Don’t wait for Spring!
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Walking in South Knoxville
This was my introductory post of many about the 40 miles of trails in the Urban Wilderness.

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View from the Ijams River Trail

Walking in South Knoxville II: The William Hastie Natural Area
One trailhead for this section of the Urban Wilderness is in the Lake Forest neighborhood where we used to live.  We were curious and went walking back here when it wasn’t even a thing.
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Walking in South Knoxville III:  Forks of the River WMA
These are hands-down my favorite trails in the system.
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Walking in South Knoxville IV:  Anderson School Trails
These fancifully named trails that wind along an easement through private land are Emily’s favorite.
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Walking in South Knoxville V: Ross Marble Natural Area
This area features the remains of a quarrying operation, almost like exploring exotic ruins.
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Walking in South Knoxville VI:  Fort Dickerson Quarry
This place is amazing.  You will forget you are in Knoxville.
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Walking in South Knoxville VII: In the Homestretch
Fall wildflowers along the Ross Marble Quarry trails and other autumn delights.
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Walking in South Knoxville VIII: Another One Bites the Dust
It’s back to the William Hastie trails with their shady hills and wildflowers.
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Walking in South Knoxville IX:  Forks of the River
There is something for everyone in this section of trails, whether you like woods or meadows, hilly or flat, dirt or pavement.
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Walking in South Knoxville X: A Quiet Walk at the Quarry
The Mead’s Quarry trail is challenging, but it will reward you with beautiful views.
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Walking in South Knoxville XI: A Belated Fall Roundup
A collection of pictures from a variety of trails.
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Walking in South Knoxville:  Success
Another roundup of trails and pictures, including some great views.
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Walking in Knoxville:  North, South, and Further South
This one is a bit further afield with walks in Norris and the Smokies included.
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Walking in West Knoxville
This is a collection of several great places to walk in South Knoxville, suitable to all skill levels.
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A May Stroll You Must Take
If you love the smell of honeysuckle, you’ll want to do this in the Spring, but if you are an architecture fan you will enjoy it any time of year.
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Short West Knoxville Walks
These aren’t pretty (comparatively) but they are good for exercise!
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Walking in West Knoxville:  The Jean Teague Greenway
This trail has the advantage of running right through a playground, where you can abandon your kids for awhile as you walk.
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Walking in Knoxville
This showcases the Pellissippi Greenway, which is at its best when the daffodils are in bloom.
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Two Walks
Finally, this is my very first walking post, laying out a nice hike that hits the high points of downtown Knoxville.
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I’ll continue to update this post with new hikes as I write them–I have a backlog which includes Baker Creek, House Mountain, and Haw Ridge, among others.
 
 
 

Let’s Get Healthy (But We Won’t Call It a Resolution!)

There’s just something about a new year, isn’t there?  It feels fresh and new and full of possibilities.  Hence the talk of resolutions and the increase in gym membership purchases!

I am reluctant to commit to something so definite and portentous as resolutions any more.  Not sticking to them seems like failure and who needs more reasons to feel bad?

Still, I can’t deny that some of the good health habits I worked so hard to form a few years ago have become somewhat less habitual. And a new year is as good a time as any for taking stock and making some changes.  I’m still lighter and healthier and stronger than I was before my healthy journey began, but let’s just say that pie has a lot of carbs, and that we don’t hike every weekend any more.  And I’ve got a BIG birthday coming up this year (gulp!), and I’d like to feel healthier and stronger by then.

So I’m going back to the gym and walking and healthy eating, but I’m not calling it a resolution.  In case you are feeling like doing something similar, here’s what I am going to do.  For the rest of this month I am going to reshare posts I’ve written on health, low carb eating, recipes, and hiking, to help motivate myself and anyone else who could use some motivation!  If you want to see what I’m sharing, follow Life in Every Limb on Facebook and be sure to check “see first” so you don’t miss any posts.

Happy New Year and good luck to you on your resolutions or goals for the year or whatever you wish to call them!  Tell me about them in the comments, if you want.

 

Back on the (Literal) Treadmill

Y’all know I’ve made some serious efforts to get in shape to improve my health over the past couple of years.  And like most people, I’ve had ups and downs in the journey!  I haven’t fallen off the wagon completely, but we haven’t walked as often, I’ve eaten more carbs than I should, and I’ve put a few pounds back on.

I’d been saying for over a year that I was going to join the gym–specifically, the gym that is associated with my doctor’s office, and which is a five-minute drive from my house–but I never seemed to find the time.  But Emily wanted to join as well, so she was the one that finally got the ball rolling.

So she and I are now official gym members, and have experienced our first workout.  She’s not familiar with the machines, but I still remember how they all work fortunately.

I’ve been a gym member off and on since the kids were little, first at the Y, and later at the now-defunct Ladies Choice.  I know from experience that my best efforts at weight loss came when I was lifting weights as well as watching my diet.  Plus I actually enjoy doing weights!

The challenge, as always, is TIME.  I don’t have any extra time, about which more in another post, but this is important so we are going to go three mornings a week, first thing, during a time when I am generally either doing blogging tasks or working.

It feels good to get started and I will let you know how it goes.  Perhaps the additional exercise will counteract the effect of the approaching holiday cheer!

 

Short West Knoxville Walks

I spend a lot of time promoting South Knoxville trails on this blog, and rightly so, since South Knoxville to most Knoxvillians is the Undiscovered Country.  But the fact is, it isn’t the only place to walk in town.  And it’s a good thing, because I am exiled to Northwest Knox County and I don’t have time for a thirty minute drive every time I want to take a walk.  Nor do I enjoy the only safe non-driving option of walking up our very steep hill and around a couple of cul-de-sacs.  (Knox County motto:  We don’t need no stinkin’ sidewalks.)
Lucky for me, West Knoxville offers several greenways too, and I’ve written about some of them here and here.  However, some of our very nice greenways have a drawback:  they aren’t loops.  When you are in a hurry and want to do some exercise walking, loops are what you want.  I expect that’s why Lakeshore Park, with its 2.2 mile loop, is so popular.
I have found four loop trails within five minutes of my neighborhood.  Lorelei and I go walking every Wednesday–gym for her, fitness for me!  I walk with a friend every Friday.  Emily and I try to walk during the week as well as on Sunday (even though some times it’s just up that despised hill!).  And I do hope to start coaxing John on walks once it gets cooler.  Below are some of the places we go.
1.  Nicholas Ball Park
This is the closest park to our house.  It’s on Ball Camp Pike, which if I thought about it at all when I was a child I assumed referred to the fact that the nearest baseball field was located on that road.  You can read about the actual source of the name in the picture below:

photo credit: Donald Raby

As a park, this one is replete with every attribute:  a bathroom, a picnic shelter, baseball and soccer fields, a small playground, and trails.  There are two of these, one your basic loop around the soccer field, where people always seem to be having so much fun that I almost feel interested in soccer, and the other a short climb up and down a hill where you can see majestic cedar trees and a smattering of wildflowers.
Nicholas Ball
We usually do the hill trail, then do as many loops as we have time or energy for, then do the hill trail one more time.
2.  U.S. Cellular Trails
I hate to call them that, but anyway, if you park at the soccer field you can loop around the main trail and you can also shake it up by incorporating the sidewalks on the bisecting road to do some figure eights if you get bored.  And you could easily get bored if you don’t bring a friend along to talk to, because there’s not a whole lot to see!  I did catch some pretty sunset pictures there one evening:
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And got pretty close to a bunny:
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And then there’s this house which I have always loved and would pick up and move somewhere safe if I could.  I remember when Lovell Road was two lanes and this was nestled in the woods.  I dread the day when I drive by and it’s gone.
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3.  All Saints
As part of our religion curriculum, Lorelei and I attend Mass every Wednesday morning at All Saints Church, the closest Catholic church to our house, just three miles away.  Afterwards, we walk around the trails and then I let her play on the playground.  This trail offers special opportunities for prayer as well as exercise, plus flowers and interesting trees.
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There’s a bench in the area below, where I usually take a break while Lorelei plays on the playground for a few minutes.
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One section has the Stations of the Cross, which we plan to come back to pray during Lent.
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The Marian Garden:
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4.  Fort Sanders West Trail
I don’t have any pictures of this one but want to mention it anyway.  It’s a big loop that runs around the campus of Fort Sanders West.  There’s plenty of parking, or course, and it’s ideal if you are feeling motivated to exercise after a visit to your doctor.
So there you have it!  If you live in West Knoxville and thought South Knoxville was too far, what’s your excuse for not walking now?

Walking in South Knoxville 2: The William Hastie Natural Area

Years ago, when my big kids were little, any walking I did consisted of pushing a double stroller around our South Knoxville (Lake Forest) neighborhood, Emily walking at my side.  I couldn’t go very fast, but I got exercise on the hills!
Occasionally, we’d make it as far as the dead end at Post Oak Road.  This intrigued us, because where the road ended there were some rocks blocking a KUB access road, and we were very curious about that path and where it might lead.  So curious, in fact, that when the kids were old enough to go walking sans stroller, the five of us walked it to where it ended at Margaret Lane, a little road off Sevierville Pike.  Along the way we spotted a sinkhole with an abandoned car in it and the body of a raccoon frozen solid by a pond.  Ah, memories.
Needless to say, things have changed at what is now officially the William Hastie Natural Area.  Y’all, you are going to amazed at all the wild and empty land that’s back there.  I am once again so proud of Knoxville for saving this land for all of us to enjoy instead of attempting to level the hills to plant some bland subdivisions.
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That’s the sign at the end of Post Oak Road, but I wouldn’t recommend you start there.  In fact, I wouldn’t even recommend you drive down there at all if you don’t live there, because not only is there nowhere to park, it will require about a 15-point turn to get yourself out of the dead end.  Instead, you want to drive to the end of Margaret Lane, but be careful, because the official entrance includes a very narrow road.
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You’ll find these helpful signs at every trailhead in the South Loop system.  And what’s even better, there’s an app for that!  Yes, there is.  It’s called PDF Maps, and it’s free.  You are going to want to go here for instructions and how to get it.  You will show up on it as a little moving dot, so you can’t get lost!
Another tip as you start walking these trails:  there are signs marking the difficulty of the trails.  But pay no attention to these if you are walking.  They are geared toward the bikers, and the challenges to someone riding a bike are very different.  I haven’t had any trouble on trails that had the highest difficulty level.
We have done approximately half of the trails contained in the William Hastie Natural Area.  Here are a few things we saw that day:
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I just love taking pictures of paths.  I do it almost every time we go walking.
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Wildflowers are a big attraction on every path in the South Loop system so far.
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These fallen trees were near the top of the trail that leads into the View Park neighborhood.  There the trail system continues through Marie Myers Park, but that’s a story for another day.
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Emily rescued this little fellow from possible death by bike by moving him to the side of the trail.
Here’s the pond now, with no raccoons in evidence, frozen or otherwise:
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Next time, maybe I will write about the Forks of the River trails, or the Ijams trails, or maybe the ones in the private land easement near Anderson School.  There are so many!
But don’t just take my word for it, y’all.  Virtual tours are nice, but no substitute for actually being there, and reading about walking isn’t exercise.  I started getting healthy barely over two months ago.  Slight hills were torture.  I started with mile-long walks on paved trails.  Yesterday we did about four miles, in warm weather, with lots of evil hills.  I’ve lost at least twenty pounds. and there’s great satisfaction in feeling your muscles do what God meant them to do.