Pacific Crest Trail training hiking Oregon section

Training (We don’t use the “E” word here)

I’m looking out the window at the trees that are almost full of leaves, but not quite to their summer glory, whipping back and forth in an excited dance the wind swipes way the rain that falls around them. (by the time I finish this–there is just a calm breeze…)

It’s a tad muggy out, 76 degrees and 58% humidity but not too bad–still I wonder about what I will do for training today. Thunderstorms are predicted shortly–here in the Midwest, they can be a big deal–do I brave them anyway? After all, I can’t hide inside away from a storm when I am out on the trails.

Let’s back up a bit. If this is the first post of mine you’ve read, you don’t know my history or my goals. You can go back and get more detail, but I am 42 (almost 43!!!) and suffer from a variety of autoimmune disorders as well as struggling with weight and low energy. I have been working on doing better–staring with eating healthy followed by doing what ever I can do each day.

As I began to feel better, I decided hiking was going to be my go to activity. (Thank you Alee for planting that bug in my ear!) In fact, next summer I will hike 100-150 miles on the Pacific Crest Trial in my home state of Oregon with my 16 year old daughter (she will be 17 then). My older daughter might go as well–but I don’t know yet. Remember–I am severely out of shape, suffer from severe pain and weakness and this is HUGE deal for me. So I started small. Daily training for the next 13-14 months with local weekend hikes to prepare.

I started with just walking as far as I could, but staying close to home and in very little time have graduated to 2-3 mile walks on our railroad tracks going up and over the hump to imitate climbing (I am a flatlander out here after all).

Backpacking training, pacific crest trail, getting healthy
Walking the tracks. Some places the climb is 5 or 6 feet on each side, some are lower like here, but it gives Alee and me the opportunity to work climbing muscles in our legs ad on uneven ground. The rocks are really loose in some places adding to the challenge.

Fast forward to today–it’s stormy and I don’t have rain gear yet–it s on my list but so is pretty much everything a hiker needs because I have nothing. I also don’t have good shoes yet (this is higher on my priority list than rain gear). Is it worth going out in the weather and training? What if I get injured due to lack of proper gear? That will set me back and I don’t want that.

Stop making excuses. I know that is what is going through your mind right now, but honestly, I’m not. I actually am looking forward to training each day and these are honest, legitimate concerns I have that I am not sure how to answer. I know I need to train in bad weather because when I get to the point I can do a 5 day or 10 day hikes, or God willing, perhaps do a full hike-thru, weather won’t care if I am prepared or not. It will just come. Still, I do worry about being prepared to handle it in the safest manner possible.

That being said, my plan for tonight is to play it by ear–my iPhone is already showing that the thunder storms are coming later than originally projected. Get out there and if it seems too wet for my walking shoes to handle safely, I will stick to flat ground. If it does get bad before I get out there, I have a stairs I can climb and weights I can lift.

Everyday is a training day. No excuses–I can always do something, even on those bad days (rare now) when every movement is excruciating. Train to be healthier, train to be happier, train to meet a goal. No exercises, that word is banned from home–train, because when you are fighting autoimmune issues, every single movement you choose to make trains you to be a little bit better, a little bit stronger.

On days I can’t, I will lean on God and know that He can.

Life is good.


Whole30 Results

We made it. Wednesday was day 30 and three days later, we are more or less continuing the same eating style (I did have sushi Thursday night).

By the halfway point, the side effects of sugar withdrawals were gone and I started feeling better, and I have been able to become MUCH more active as a result of doing The Whole30.

If you recall, I did not do Whole30 for purposes of weight loss, but to feel better and battle autoimmune issues. I do however, want to share with you the side effect of weight-loss I experienced with Whole30. I did not do body measurements because I couldn’t find a tape.

Day One–Sharlene: 256 pounds
Day Thirty–Sharlene: 231 pounds
Total weight loss over 30 days for Sharlene was 25 pounds.

Day One–Alee: 207 pounds
Day Thirty Alee: 190 pounds
Total weight loss over 30 days for Alee was 17 pounds.

Not great pictures, but–as you can see, I’m still fat and I don’t care. I feel better and I can not emphasis enough that weight loss is not my goal here, but it is a happy side effect.

And Aleesha’s before and after. The day we took the before it was really stormy and the lights were out so the lighting was terrible, but you still get the picture.

As I was say, I feel really good! A month ago, it was a struggle to climb the basement stairs with laundry, and now I am doing 2+ mile hikes on uneven terrain daily, with a goal of making it to 4 miles by the end of the month. I am doing core workouts and strength training daily as well.

I sleep better, my concentration is so much better, I haven’t had a fibromyalgia flare since week one, fewer headaches/migraines, I notice my skin is less dry, and my gut does not hurt.

Would I do Whole30 again? Absolutely! Would I recommend it to others? Most definitely. What will I do now? Continue with pretty much the same lifestyle, only adding honey occasionally (I like honey mustard from time to time, and I like some honey in Zen iced tea) and allowing for the occasional cheat (I might have a glass of wine for my birthday, etc…) but limit them so I don’t get complacent. Alee plans to continue until the end of May with no changes at all.

To be honest, I like healthy food. I don’t feel cheated and when I am faced with “what do I want?” I will pick healthy food over junk. I never want to sugar detox again, but I do think doing the Whole30 from time to time with the stricter limits of zero cheats and zero added sweeteners help keep me in check.

Well, I’m off to hike! Have a great weekend!

Training Hiking Pacific Crest Trail Appalachian Trail

Training for our Next Adventure! (Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail)

Last week, Aleesha asked me if I would consider doing the Appalachian Trail (AT), or at least a section of it with her. To be honest, I had never thought about it, I mean I am a west coast girl at heart transplanted to the Midwest, so Appalachia has never really been a place I thought to visit, let a long hike.

It was a couple of days later when I saw a video on Facebook–I had seen it floating around before, but for some reason, this time I watched it (watch video here). I was watching glimpses of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and when I recognized parts of Oregon near my home town, I thought–“I can do this”! After all, I grew up in those woods, it is not unfamiliar to me, I have family close by so what a great first goal!

Aleesha still wants to the AT, and I that is now in our list of goals.

If you have read pasts posts, you know that I have health issues that make me weak, but I am working on it. I am fat (no shame here, just stating the facts) and if I tried today, the PCT would kill me!

So, last night (Sunday May 7th) it began. Alee and Me are officially in training to become backcountry backpacking warriors!

We will do some small local hikes in preparation, but our goal is to hit the PCT in late July or August of next year. I know, it sounds like a long time, but we have a lot of preparing to do, and this summer would be difficult, and I would rather wait until most of the snow is melted, so next spring is out.

So the next 14-15 months, we will work to get ready for a 5-7 day section of the trail. Keep in mind, this does not only mean that we will be training our bodies and minds, but we will also be getting gear because we have to completely outfit two people! If you backpack, you know the cost of gear–and the budget in my house doesn’t have much wiggle room.

During these next months I am also going to practice dehydrating my own pack food because I don’t want the additives in the commercially packaged stuff, and I want to be able to enjoy it at least a little. After several hours on the trail, I want to be able to refuel quickly and relax while enjoying something “home-cooked”.

So there you have it, our next adventure! Watch out world, here we come!

Whole30 Day 28

As day 28 gets closer to an end, I have compliant chili simmering on the stove and know there are only 2 days left of this challenge where I “have” to be compliant.

I am actually going to continue on with Whole30 probably through the 29th of May (It’s my birthday and I well, who knows, I might want wine).

I feel great other than my allergies which have kept me from posting. I live in a very small town stuck right in the middle of corn country and with farmers in the fields and what they spray on the fields, spring is has my eyes swollen, nose runny and lungs wheezy and looking at a computer screen outside of what I have to for work has been impossible.

So far the journey has done what I wanted, and I it is my goal to have a lifetime of healthy eating.

We have set a new goal, and I will post about that separately, but it is huge, exciting, and scary! I can’t wait!

I will post on Wednesday night with a more in depth over view of the last 30 days, what worked, what didn’t and Alee will have a post up by the end of the week. We will also have a reveal with out pictures!


Blogs I Enjoy–April 29, 2017

I need to be better. I want to share blogs I read because they deserve it. Even if it doesn’t reach a lot of readers, a shout out to those who make me smile is still a good thing.

Today I want to share Aroused. Kate (the author) shares her thoughts and poetry with her readers. Some are funny, some are thought provoking. She always takes the time to reply if you comment and I just enjoy time spend reading what she wrote.

I don’t know her story, but I know I enjoy her blog, and I hope you do too.

Whole30 What do you mean no candy?

Whole30 Day 19–Shar’s Perspective

(Feature image: Aleesha’s best friend brought over Milk Duds–really nice when we are on Whole30–and she forgot them. Aleesha’s dog patches found them and her face when I snapped the picture! “What do you mean no candy!” She looks like she is growling, but she wasn’t. I took the picture to send to the friend saying “Patches says ‘Thanks'” and this is what I got)

Day 19 is coming to an end, and that means the end is almost in sight, but I don’t think that is always a good thing, and I’ll tell you why in a bit.

I feel great, Aleesha is still not seeing the benefits aside from extra weight loss. I think one of the big things is that we had already cut out so much stuff in the months leading to Whole30, her body was already doing a lot of healing. Another thing is that I have severe autoimmune responses to things like legumes, while she doesn’t, so some eliminated items that are really helping me are not necessarily making a big difference for her.

For years she has had unexplained stomach pain, and I was hoping that this would help, it hasn’t. I fear there another, yet to be diagnosed food allergy that is causing the problem. She looks great though. I see changes from my perspective that she doesn’t see.

As for me, as I have said before, this is about feeling better, but I do have clothes that are getting too big. To be honest, when you are as fat as I have been for years, it is very hard to visually see any changes though. Get up, look in the mirror–yup, still fat–carry on with day. I am no looking to be a size 5 again, or even a size 10. If it happens it does, but not dealing with the brain fog–that is worth turning down all the “bad” food I’m offered.

So here I am–the sun setting on day 19. My tummy and my coffee cup are full, dogs sleeping peacefully at my side, and I wonder–what’s next? Aleesha plans to actually go six weeks because she is getting school credit logging and discussing everything, but she can’t wait for that cheat day. The day that, despite her allergies, she can have the sweets she so desperately wants.

I fear that day. This is not my first time kicking sugar, and I don’t want to ever have to do it again. I don’t want to become complacent to the hidden sugars in so many things, and I don’t want the brain fog to come back.

Aleesha is 16. Whether she hops back on the sugar bus or not, she has learned a lot so far, and will continue to learn about how to live a healthier lifestyle. The last think I will do to her is place restrictions on her (yes, even if it something she has an allergy to since her allergy response is not life threatening), she is old enough to make those choices on her own.

For me, I look forward to very little… honey mustard (paleo compliant) and good quality cheese from time to time. I don’t plan on being totally Paleo, for a few reasons, but my after-plan will be similar. Ultimately, I want to eat clean, with no processed sugars and not a lot of added sugars regardless. There are some things that I will have though, like butter and cheese, although not often.

So, I don’t know if the end of the 30 days is always a good thing, because what comes next? After suffering through the months (and anyone who has had sugar withdrawals knows–you suffer), do you go back to what you were doing before? How many of things that you eliminated do you dare let back in? Will one binge day undo all 30 days? Answering these questions for both me and for Aleesha will be a big part of the next 10 days.

If any one has any suggestions, I would love the input!

Digital Reflection Panel Review–Update 4/27/17

I posted in my initial review of the Digital Reflection Panel about the who, what, when, where, why and how’s.

In this post, I just want to do a quick update.

I installed the DRP box on March 9, 2017 and I was credited $25 to my account on for installation and speed bonus.

On April 3, 2017 I was credited $5 to my account for monthly meter activity (leaving it plugged in for more than 90% of the time)

On April 14, 2017, I was asked to update and install security certificates on my devices and was credited $25 to my account.

Since you can only redeem your rewards in increments of $50 and I had $55 in my account, I redeemed an award for $50 on April 16, 2017.

I redeemed a PayPal card which reached my PayPal account on April 21, 2017.

I am almost to the end of another 30 day cycle and will be credited an additional $5 and then when they ask me to update, I will get another $5 (the first few months give you more as you get bonuses).

In the nearly two months since I have had the box, I haven’t noticed it at all. However, over the last three days, my internet has been randomly getting disrupted. My ISP is sending a technician tomorrow, as they think I have a damaged cable outside, but if it does not fix the issue, I will unhook the DRP box and see if it is causing interference. I will update on that as soon as I have made a conclusion.

As long as the box is not causing the disruptions, I would recommend using it unless you do work from your home that prohibits such things. (I work from home, but I do not have this issue). You will get paid about $200 a year to do nothing but what you are already doing aside from an occasional update that takes like two minutes.

At first I was skeptical about someone gathering my information, but in reality, it is already being gathered every time I log on. At least this company rewards me for allowing it.

You can check it here. This is not a referral or affiliate link.

Whole30 Day 16

It is hard to believe it is already day 16! WOW! It doesn’t seem like that long since I was getting my meal plan ready.

One of the rules of Whole30 is not step on a scale for 30 days, but I broke that for blogging purposes. At the beginning, I was 256 lbs, and this morning I am 242 lbs. Alee started at 207 lbs and this morning she was 199 lbs.

To be honest, I don’t feel like I have lost 14 pounds, though my clothes have gotten much looser. I just don’t feel like I look any different. I think since I am so heavy, it will take a lot more before I can personally see anything.

Again–the purpose behind doing the Whole30 is not for us to loose weight but to get healthy. Sure, a side effect of getting healthy is weight loss, but we have no goal or expectations other than a healthy lifestyle. The real benefits we are seeing is more energy, healthier skin, better sleep, and less autoimmune responses.

I will post pictures of us tomorrow. My internet is being difficult and a technician is supposed to be out tomorrow to try and fix it, but uploading a photo is just not going to happen tonight.


Let’s get Physical (When you’re too weak to do much–do something)

Good afternoon! It is raining here in Minnesota, yet the birds are still are chirping, and keeping the finch feeders full is almost a full time job! I wanted to share some thoughts, ideas, etc… about physical activity (for some reason that sounds less threatening than exercise).

I might have shared it in past posts, I don’t know, but I suffer from extremely low testosterone. Yes, I know I’m a woman and that might sound odd, be we need testosterone too. My levels are so low, that when tested 6 months ago, the test could not find any. My tests read 0, none, nadda, zilch!

Now,  you might want to know why this is important, and I want to tell you! Testosterone is what we need to build and maintain muscle and it is also what gives us our sex drive. Well, for this post, I am focusing on the muscle aspect. You see, with my other autoimmune issues (such as fibromyalgia) I need all the help I can get, and I found myself so weak even folding the laundry became a task I had a hard time accomplishing.

I am told by my doctor that the normal range for testosterone in women is 30 to 95 (ng/dL) and that it is usually higher in post menopausal women. I am a woman who went through premature menopause and at 42 am post menopausal–yet my blood tests read 0 (ng/dL) for testosterone. Here is another wonderful catch–the FDA has not approved testosterone for use in women, so in order to supplement with it I have to buy this special made cream that is way out of my price range with zero insurance coverage. Yup–not gonna happen.

So, I looked up how to boost my testosterone naturally, and found that DHEA can help, so I take that, also sex and physical activity can increase it. Ok–remember that testosterone is responsible for sex drive??? So does this mean I hand my husband a note and say “it’s a perscription–engage in sexual activity 3-4 times per week or as needed to increase T-levels–and I need you to fill it”? HAHA–well, he would probably be okay with that, but you get my point.

The idea of increasing my T-levels with physical activity also seems sort of like I’m going in circles. I mean, I have gotten so weak that folding laundry makes my arms ache, but working out could increase in T-levels so I get stronger if only I wasn’t too weak to work out!! UGH!!!

So what do you do?

Like anything–Do what you can. Doing nothing will result in nothing! So, I pick up my little 5 lb dumbbells and I lift some weights. I walk, even short walks, when I can. I start parking further away in the parking lot when I go somewhere so I have to walk to just a little further. I dance when I can, even if I can’t finish the whole song.

My initial goal was to not get weaker–but now I am getting stronger. My energy is increasing with activity and healthier eating. Life is getting better. I started making changes to healthier eating months ago, but in the last few weeks have really cracked down–it has been 8 days since I was drowning in brain fog. It has been 9 days since I lay on the couch hurting so bad it took everything in me to move.

I know I’m not the only one struggling. Heck, I know I am so blessed because compared to some, I have no struggles at all! Still, I hope you are motivated to do what you can. Pass up those potato chips and grab some veggies. Instead of opening that pop, grab a water. And when everything in you is telling you stay down–get up!

Dead Sea Sole Water

Sole Water

I drink a lot of water. Long before I started my “healthier me” journey, I drank water. Friends and family will tell you the one thing I will never say no to is a glass of water. On a slow day, I drink a gallon (not counting coffee or tea).

I know, that’s great right? Yes, and no. One issue with drinking so much water is that it can flush too much out of my system. This means that I have been known to test for low sodium. This is where I learned about Sole Water (pronounced Sol-ay in case you wondering).

Sole Water is pretty simple–Take filtered water and add real salt (not the table salt junk). I use Himalayan Pink Salt. When I say add salt, I don’t mean a few tea spoons–I mean, fill a jar about 1/3 full of salt then add water to it and shake it all up. Wait a day, and add a little more salt and let it dissolve. Then, keep adding salt a little salt until it won’t dissolve anymore and you have reached supersaturation–where the water can dissolve absolutely not more salt.

Sounds tasty, right??? Well, drinking a tsp of Sole Water with 8-32 oz of water in the morning on an empty stomach helps to replace my lost salt–bonus, I found that it also helps to kill off the candida over growth I have! I was told to mix a tsp of sole water in a MINIMUM of 8 oz of water, but I can’t do it. I can not drink the salt flavored water, so what I do (and it works for me) is I take the Sole Water like medicine then immediately follow it with a water bottle full of fresh water. DO NOT WAIT TO DRINK THE WATER if you do it this way though! Within 30 seconds, my stomach will be on fire if I don’t gulp water right away–but if you are not a baby like me, mix it–it is probably better that way.

Side effects:

Within a week of this, I noticed improved skin (a healthier diet has helped my skin even more).

I used to get yeast rashes under my breasts but I don’t anymore.

My sodium levels are where they should be.

I feel more hydrated.

I have not had thrush since I started.

My bowel movements are more productive.

If you Google about it, you will find a lot of articles with tons of information. I just wanted to share my experience because it has been positive for me. I am not a health professional, and it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying any of this stuff!

Let me know if you have tried Sole Water and what you think!