Tag Archives: running

#61 (25 Pounds in 101 Days)

This isn’t a diet and exercise blog.  Now for the but:  But, I do run.  Sporadically at times, but I still call myself a runner.  I was never an athlete in school.  I think I played basketball for a season in fourth grade, but I didn’t know the rules and I pissed off the people who actually knew how to play.  Although I can’t sing, I took choir in middle school so that I wouldn’t have to take a P.E. class as an elective.  I was always on the pudgy side of healthy; never really fat, but not fit either. 

Then I met dh.  We got engaged and I decided I wanted to look good in my wedding dress.  I still wasn’t a runner, but I started going to the gym and rollerblading.  I ran on the treadmill at the gym and even bought one but I HATED running on the treadmill.  I managed to get in shape and get down to 137 pounds.  I only maintained that weight for a few weeks but I settled at 141 and managed to maintain that  for several years without having to work too  hard at it.  At 5’8″, 141 is a pretty reasonable weight.  And then . . .

Bubba.  I got pregnant with Dylan.   I exercised at first but by the middle of the second trimester I wasn’t doing much.  I walked Gwen back and forth to school every day but aside from that I didn’t really exercise; I slept.  I was exhausted all the time.  I got up to 192 pounds and my feet were so swollen that I couldn’t wear shoes.  After Dylan was born I was in the 160-170 range but I still couldn’t exercise.  Dylan cried.  And cried.  And cried.  The only time he didn’t cry was when I held him.  I tried letting him cry.  I tried getting him to fall asleep and then putting him to bed; he immediately awoke and started to cry.  Pushing a baby in a jogging stroller through snowbanks isn’t a pleasant endeavor.   My weight settled at about 165 and stayed there for a long time. 

When you are 5’8″, hiding 5-10 pounds is pretty easy.  I didn’t notice when my weight started to climb.  The holidays arrived:  Halloween with its candy; Thanksgiving and its feast; Christmas with its never-ending supply of goodies.  One day I woke up and weighed 197 pounds.  Weighing more than I did as a nine-months-pregnant lady was a shocker.  I started exercising again but never managed to break 162. I dieted.  I exercised.   I had my thyroid tested.  My weight never budged.  I settled on the idea that my body’s weight meter had just reset itself and I would always weigh 162.  Then I got tired of weighing 162.  I started taking long hikes with my friend Alicia.  That seemed to help; the weight slowly started to drop and I noticed I was more toned.  I started dieting again; it dropped a little more.  I started running and it was like magic; I finally managed to get back down to 150.  I stayed there for a long time but when I stopped running regularly?  You can figure out the rest.

My weight slowly crept back up.  My clothes got squeezy.  I got tired of being too big for my clothes and feeling much older than I am.  So, I added #61 to the list and here we are.  Number 60 was added to help me meet goal #61 but losing the weight is important to me.  When I finish my 1001 days I’ll be almost forty.  That seems a long way off but it’s really just around the corner.  I don’t want to weigh 172 pounds when I’m forty.

Starting weight

The camera weighs .2 lbs. but this is where I'm starting.

Twenty-five pounds doesn’t get me back to 137 lbs., but if it gets me back into my skinny jeans (#71) I’ll be happy.

I’m not going to bore you (or myself) with weekly weigh-in posts, but I plan to achieve this goal before my 101 days are up so watch for an update before then!


Filed under 101 in 1001

Dairy Queen

Feta brined and ready for the fridge.


As a school teacher, it is easy to settle into the lazy days of summer.  For three months I hike, run, garden, cook, walk to the Farmers’ Market, take my kids to the beach and actually read grown-up type books that I enjoy.  This summer I also started canning again after a long hiatus and started making my own cheese and yogurt.  I’d make a new batch of cheese every week.  I started with mozzarella, tried feta and then moved on to hard cheeses.  After a few batches, my husband even built me a cheese press.  While each cheese has its merits, feta is by far my favorite.  I have always loved feta, so when I found out how easy it was to make,  I became even more enamored by its crumbly goodness.  

But, summer inevitably comes to an end.  When September rolled around this year, I started to panic.  Not only did I have to go back to work, but I had a class that I had to complete homework for and attend every week.  How would I keep cooking good, homemade food?  Where would I find the time to can? How would I go to the Farmers’ Market, pick berries, bake bread or make yogurt and cheese???  My life as I knew it came to a screeching halt.  I didn’t know how I was going to manage all the things I needed to do.  

At one point, I was so distraught that I would come home from work and cry to my husband.  I wanted to run away and live on a farm off the grid.  None of this had anything to do with the actual work that I do every day; I love my job.  I love working with kids and knowing that I’m making a difference.  My distress was all about my lack of time.  I needed to adjust and I didn’t know how.  

Cordon Bleu and Parmesan

Better than Zoloft.


While I’ve wanted chickens ever since I read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” last summer, part of me needed them after school started.  I researched and researched chickens.  I learned about different breeds.  I learned about how many eggs chickens lay and what color they are.  I researched ordinances  and the legality of chickens here in the city.  I spent hours researching chicken coops and chicken care.   Getting chickens was my way of running away and living on a farm without having to really run away.  Chickens weren’t a step away from the life I was living, but they were a step towards the life I want to be living.  The impact those girls had on my mental health still amazes me.  While they didn’t create any more time for me, they did remind me that there were things I could do to have the life I want.  

Where's the coffee?

Even the undead need their exercise.


Since the girls arrived in September I’ve started adding elements of my “summer life” back into my real life.  I hike three to five days a week.  I haven’t managed to keep running regularly but I did run the Traverse City Zombie run and I’m signed up to do the Turkey Trot 5k Thanksgiving morning.  I haven’t done much in the garden, but I planted a row of blueberry plants and I’ve got raspberries, grapes and soapwort waiting to go into the ground.   I may not cook a homemade “slow” dinner seven nights a week, but I try to cook a “real” dinner for my family most nights and still try to eat as much local food as I can.  I cook vats of soup on the weekends to freeze for lunches.  I even signed up for the “Dark Days” challenge to try to cook a completely local meal at least once a week.   I managed to can some tomatoes, jam and jelly and found time to can (and pick) countless apples.  I’ve made it to the Farmers’ Market every Saturday morning and a couple of Friday evenings even though I couldn’t go to the Wednesday morning markets in September.  I didn’t make it out often to pick berries, but I did get out once to get a couple quarts of blueberries for the freezer.  I’m not making my own sandwich bread, but I have been making homemade loaves three or four nights a week.  

Homemade yogurt


 It took a while before I decided that I really did have the time to make yogurt, but in hindsight, that was silly.  Yogurt is so easy; I make a quart or two a week now.  Cheese however, is a completely different story.  Cheese isn’t difficult, but it is intimidating and it takes a long time to make.  

In my mind, I just didn’t feel like I could spend that much time on one project when there are so many other things I could and should do with the time cheese takes.  So what do you do when you go to the grocery store, purchase two gallons of milk and return home to find that you already have two-and-a-half gallons of milk, in your refrigerator??  You do what anyone else would do; start a batch of cheese and a quart of yogurt.  

When I got home from the store with The Milk,  I put away the groceries and started a quart of yogurt.  That barely made a dent; I still had over four gallons of milk left in the fridge.  It was time to make cheese.  Although I’ve been wanting to make cheese for a while (and I finished the last of my feta on the first Dark Days dinner) this wasn’t a cheese made of desire, but one of necessity.  

I got out the giant pot and poured in two gallons of milk.  I turned on the stove and monitored the temperature until it reached 90°.  I put the pot in an ice bath in the kitchen sink and let it cool back down to 86°.  When the milk reached 86° I whisked two tablespoons of Brown Cow plain yogurt into it and let it rest for an hour.  After the milk rested for an hour I mixed 40 drops of vegetable rennet into the milk and left it alone until the next day.  Just like that I had eliminated half the milk in my fridge! 

feta curds

Draining the feta curds.


The next day the milk had gelled and the whey had separated from the cheese curd.  I cut the curds with my long bread knife, let them rest for 15 minutes and then drained the whey from the curds.  I hung the curds to drip for the rest of the day and put them in the cheese press.  

feta hanging

Hanging the cheese to separate the whey from the curds.


Today I removed the feta from the press, cut it into chunks and put them in mason jars filled with brined whey.  In another day or two I’ll be able to enjoy my own, homemade feta cheese again.  While it takes some time to make cheese from start to finish, it really isn’t that much work.  The recipe is from Dr. Fankhauser at the University of Cincinnati. 

The amazing thing about making cheese is how much whey you have left over when you’re done.  Two gallons of milk yields about six cups of feta cheese and a gallon and a half of whey.  What do you do with all that whey when you’re done making cheese??  Stay tuned to find out! 

Gallon of whey

What do you do with all the whey once the cheese is made?


Filed under food, frugality, urban chickens