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.

 

Low Carb Love Affair

A few weeks ago I shared the story of my lifetime of dieting, and I promised to write about the healthy changes I’ve made.  Since this morning I visited the wellness nurse and can now report I have lost 45 lbs. since taking charge of my health at the end of March, it seems like a good time to fulfill that promise!
After years of looking askance at the claims of low-carb enthusiasts, and being absolutely sure that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, I am now a convert.  I won’t bore you with the latest science because you can google as well as I can.  Let’s just say it makes sense to me, and that the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the lack thereof.
Like I wrote before, I am a diet expert, and this is the easiest diet I have ever been on.  If you want to get healthy, and lose weight, and feel good, and never be hungry, this is the diet for you.
I had to make a couple of major changes that were very difficult for me.  The first one was giving up cereal.  I loved cereal, and I not only ate it for breakfast every morning, I also had a bowl right before bed every night.  When I first decided to make healthy changes, but before I met with the wellness nurse, I went out and bought a lot of very healthy whole grain cereals, only to find out at my first appointment that pretty much all cereal is too high in carbohydrates for it to work in a low carb diet.  I was EXTREMELY attached to that evening bowl of cereal and it was hard to get past that but I did.
The other super hard thing was coffee.  Coffee is fine on a low carb diet, but not when it’s full of sugar.  So I started by cutting the number of cups per day rather than cutting the sugar!  Slowly (one week at a time) I cut the sugar by .5 tsp until I could drink it with nothing but cream.  This was huge!
I now cook exclusively with butter, olive oil, and coconut oil.  Remember when coconut oil was bad and canola oil was good?  Well, forget that.  I don’t even use Pam (or the generic equivalent) anymore.
Giving up bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice is not hard in the sense that I crave and want those things and feel sad about them but rather in the sense that they are ubiquitous and seem almost necessary!  So I have a few substitutes:  low carb bread that you can get at Kroger for an occasional sandwich (about twice a week); low carb wraps (also from Kroger) that can be used in lieu of hot dog buns, or to make burritos; low carb sandwich thins for hamburgers or black bean burgers; and mashed cauliflower with cheese instead of mashed potatoes.  I’ve heard of some pasta and rice substitutes that I haven’t tried yet, but mostly I just have given those up for now.
Someone asked me the other day if I still go out to eat and the answer is yes, absolutely!  Eating out is easy on this diet.  At American restaurants order steak, chicken, or fish and substitute broccoli for the customary baked potato and take the complimentary bread home to your kids.  At Asian restaurants get meat and veggies and just eat a couple of bites of the rice.  If you must go to Italian restaurants, get a non-pasta entree.  At Panera Bread or the like, get salad and soup instead of the sandwich.
It can be a little daunting to remember what is low carb and what is not, but if you have an iPhone you are in luck!  Yes, Siri can count your carbs for you.  And of course before long you will more or less know, just like you know how many calories or points or fat grams are in things after awhile when you follow those kinds of diets.
On a typical day I eat two scrambled eggs and coffee for breakfast.  I have hummus with vegetables, or apple slices with peanut butter, or handfuls of nuts for snacks most of the time.  And you are encouraged to have two or three snacks (and lots of water) each day, to keep your metabolism moving.  For lunch I try to go heavy on vegetables.  For supper I focus more on the meat.  I am eating all the things I have avoided my entire dieting life, and it turns out that these are the things that make you feel full and satisfied.  I AM NEVER HUNGRY.
Now that I basically know how many carbs most things have in them, I don’t really count them.  Supposedly I’m allowed to have about 40 a day, but my philosophy is just to try to avoid them as much as possible so that if I need to go over ever (this happens sometimes when we are eating out at a church function or some other place where the menu is not under my control) it will sort of even itself out.  So unlike other diets, there is nothing to count or write down (although that might be useful if you are having problems staying on track) and no meal plans to follow.  THIS IS EASY.
Will I eat this way forever?  Not exactly, but probably in a modified way.  For example, I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that whole grains and beans are bad.  So when all my numbers are below where they should be, and I have lost all the weight I want to, I will likely reintroduce these items occasionally.  I do still eat small amounts of beans and brown rice even now.
Below are some examples of easy, delicious, and lower carb meals I have been enjoying.
Tuna salad made with actual mayonnaise, pickles, onions, cucumbers, celery, and tomato:
Food Tuna Salad
Tomatoes, black olives, olive oil, and brown rice:
Food brown rice olives feta
Tomato, fresh basil, and mozzarella:
food tomato basil mozzarella salad
Salad with artisan lettuce mix, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, feta cheese, and Green Goddess dressing:
salad
Have you ever tried low carb eating?  Any other life-change success stories to share with us in the comments?

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: Anderson School Trails

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I’m going to call this particular section of the Urban Wilderness the Anderson School Trails, because the official designation of “Private Land Easement” isn’t useful in locating these charming trails geographically.  The privacy, however, is part of the charm–it’s like a delightful secret that these land owners have been kind enough to share with the rest of us.
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Above is the sign at the Anderson School access to the trails.  You can start here, on what is fancifully named the Lost Chromosome Trail, or you can park at the other end, which is a little harder to find.  It’s located on Burnett Creek Road, and you will have to cross that road to get to the trail.  We’ve been here twice so we’ve done both.
There’s a little bit of everything along these trails.  Water:
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AS 3Meadows:
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Wildflowers:
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There are some surprises, too.  Both man-made:
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And natural:
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We’ve knocked out the Lost Chromosome and Chicken Coup trails and part of Chain Ring, and still have ACDC and MCR to go.  Someone was having fun when they named these trails.
And you’ll have fun walking on them!  Give it a try this weekend.
Click on the links below for more of my walking adventures!
Walking in Knoxville
Walking in Downtown Knoxville
Walking in West Knoxville I
Walking in West Knoxville II
Walking in South Knoxville I
Walking in South Knoxville II
Walking in South Knoxville III

Walking in West Knoxville

So, a few weeks ago I was telling y’all that I once had planned to write a blog called “Walking in Knoxville,” and that I planned to incorporate that idea into this blog, because eclectic.  I had really meant to chronicle each or my walks separately, but I’ve been walking so much (about which more later) that I had to choose between walking and writing.
What I have therefore decided to do instead is to share pictures and descriptions of several walks at once.  Knoxville readers may learn about some new places to visit.  The rest of you can enjoy the view (and see why Knoxville is such an awesome place to live!).
I want to keep walking regularly and I don’t want to get bored, so Emily and I have been walking somewhere different every time we go.  Since we live in Northwest Knox County, that’s mostly been in West Knoxville, just because it takes too much time to drive elsewhere on a weekday. (Yes, it seems ridiculous to me also that we drive somewhere to walk.  But walking up and down this street and around a couple of cul de sacs is not going to keep me motivated.)
The first five pictures below were taken at The Cove at Concord Park.  It’s pretty there, nice for picnicking, and not bad for walking if you don’t mind retracing your steps (the loop isn’t very long).

Cove 1
Emily looks out over the water

Cove 4
Staircase to nowhere – I haven’t researched this place but obviously it was once privately owned

Cove 2
Cove 3
Cove 5
Snowballs in full bloom

Another day we were aiming for the Parkside Greenway and ended up more or less accidentally walking on the Grigsby Chapel Greenway in Farragut instead.  What a nice surprise!  It’s paved; some of it is wooded; and all of it is beautiful.  It runs through neighborhoods of fancy apartments, upscale condos, and fine homes, many with gardens right by the trail.  One part of it is specifically set aside to showcase native trees.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures that day, though, because I was worn out!  Because we got on this trail by accident we did not know that it was over two miles long, and it’s not a loop.  We didn’t make it quite to the end due to fear of storms.  We are going to park at St. John Neumann (below) one day next week and finish it up.  That was another special feature of this trail–it goes right past a prayer path/garden which was a nice detour for us.
Grigsby Chapel 1
If you are a Knoxvillian who enjoys walking at all, you won’t need me to tell you about the park pictured below.  Lakeshore Park may be the most popular place in Knoxville, with its 2.5 mile (I think) paved loop trail that offers river views on one side and children playing baseball on the other.  If you aren’t from Knoxville you might be interested to know that this park is on the former grounds of an insane asylum, and most of its buildings remain (it having been still in use as a psychiatric inpatient facility until very recently).
I’m not as fond of this walk as so many others seem to be because it has killer hills.  Also I’m just tired of it.  But it’s a reliable option for people who are not so easily bored.
Lakeshore Park
Lakeshore
Much prettier but not as practical for serious fitness buffs is Melton Hill Park, which I had visited earlier on that same day. (Yes, I did walk about four miles that day!) Well, to be fair, the paved loop isn’t very interesting, but there are two miles or so of trails through the woods.  We only attempted a bit of that, and will return when hills and climbing seem less daunting (actually, that’s already getting better!).
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Overlooking the Clinch River

 
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Redbuds by the river

 
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Start of one of the wooded trails

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Wildflowers

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Another visitor to the park

 
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On another day, we hit the tried and true Third Creek Trail, known to those of us growing up in the 70s as “The Bike Trail.”  Yes, it was the one and only back in the day, and is still both immensely popular and one of the best, winding along Third Creek through forests of hardwood and bamboo, connecting Bearden to Tyson Park and connecting with the Neyland Greenway to make a path for walking all the way to downtown and the river.
We parked at the Bearden end of the trail, which is accessible in several locations, and since we didn’t have time to do the whole thing, took the spur up to Kingston Pike and walked back along the road, getting a nicer view of the churches and fine homes that line it than is available while whizzing by at 40 miles an hour.
I’ll no doubt revisit this old favorite many times this summer and perhaps post more pictures since I didn’t take too many that day.  One thing I especially love is that there are blocks places naming the people who granted the land for each section of the trail, giving a little glimpse into Knoxville history as you walk along.
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A bird nesting in a pavilion at one of the trailheads

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Old school playground behind one of the churches–just see all that fun and dangerous stuff outlawed elsewhere!

This next set of pictures were taken at the Turkey Creek Greenway, not to be confused with the one that goes through the Turkey Creek wetland and then runs behind the shopping center next to the Interstate.  This is the one that begins at Anchor Park, a much-enjoyed favorite of ours when the big kids were toddlers–and then crosses Turkey Creek Road to access the neighborhoods on the other side.
Turkey Creek 1
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A heron takes flight

 
Turkey Creek 4
Crabapple blossoms

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Glimpse of an old barn

I mentioned the Cove at Concord Park up above, and we’ve also tried the trails at the main part of Concord Park on the other side of Northshore.  There’s nothing paved there, and you have to watch out for bikers, and then there are those pesky hills.  There are several trails to try so we will probably give it another visit when we are in better shape.
Concord Park
View of the golf course and water near the end of the trail

Finally, we took a quick trip to the other Turkey Creek Greenway, the Knoxville one.  This is a paved trail that runs through a wetland and then along the side of the Interstate.  Talk about extremes.  For you non-Knoxvillians, the greenway is a concession granted by the developers who turned most of the wetland into an upscale shopping/entertainment destination several years back.
Wetland 1
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Lately we’ve been walking in South Knoxville and I look forward to sharing those adventures with you too.  Where do you like to walk?  Tell me in the comments!