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.


My Whole30 Experience

As I have said in my previous posts, I was not a fan of Whole30 because I hated the sugar withdrawals and I really don’t like being told “I can’t”.

I can’t:

  • have any sugar unless it is in a fruit or veggie
  • have any grains
  • have any alcohol (not that I drink–I’m 16!)
  • have honey (part of the sugar thing)
  • anything processed
  • have any dairy
  • have certain oils
  • and so forth….

The restrictions on Whole30 are hard because I accepted a challenge and yet I felt like I was put in a cage. Just the idea of “I can’t” almost becomes claustrophobic, wanting everything listed on the “I can’t”.

The funny part is, I like almost everything we ate over the 30 days. Actually, I liked everything, but some things not as much. For instance, curry I like the day it is made, but not left overs, while my mom really loves curry. Tuna steaks, I like but I don’t love. I will eat them, but probably wouldn’t crave them.

Now I am 4 days past the 30 and I am still doing it. I will actually continue on through to the 22nd for sure (I might cheat for prom) but I lost 17 pounds and I got into a pair of jeans I haven’t fit in since the 6th grade (not sure why I even still had them, but found them when cleaning my closet). For the first time in a long time I am under 200 pounds (190 on day 30) and it isn’t hard any more.

What sucks, is that I have to check everything. Food manufacturers sneak sugar in everywhere and choices I thought were healthy are packed with sugar.

Oh, I did try a sip of a Monster on Thursday, an energy drink I used to love and I had to spit it out. My taste buds can’t take the sugar anymore. I don’t know if I am happy about that or not.

Anyway, here is a bit of a summary:

First two weeks, I felt like crap. I hurt everywhere and had no energy. Headaches and mood swings all the time. Drank a lot of water to combat some of withdrawals. I don’t know if it helped, but it made me feel like I was doing something.

Week 3 was better. I still didn’t have the energy I saw my mom getting but I don’t think my energy levels were that bad to start so a boost in energy would not be as easy to see. Cravings were gone by this point and I started making meals myself and learning more on how to cook from scratch myself.

Week 4 I was pretty much the same as week 3 other than it felt like the longest week. That final countdown the last 7-10 days and I just wanted to no longer be in this “I can’t” challenge.

Even though I decided to continue the lifestyle longer, it no longer under the “challenge” and I won’t feel like I failed at all if I decide to have a cheat day. After I do have a cheat, I will go back to a paleo/keto type lifestyle because it works for me, and I NEVER want to have to go through sugar withdrawals again.

Would I do the Whole30 again? I don’t know. I hated everyday of feeling like I couldn’t even though it was still my choice. I didn’t feel like I had a choice because I made a commitment and I was going to stick it out no matter what. At this point, I want to tell Whole30 to shove it, but I like the results so I can’t.

Would I recommend it to someone else? Yes. I would tell them to understand everything about the challenge before they start though.

I guess that is all I have to say right now. 🙂

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!


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.


Whole30 Better than sweet fire chicken stir fry

Whole30 Day 14

Alee and Me has made it through day 14! The tiredness is gone and so are the cravings. We both have more energy and our sleep patterns seem to be improving some.

Alee says she is not sure she has noticed enough of a change to make it worth it. I have noticed less pain, better skin, weight loss (I think), more energy and generally just feeling better.

A have several friends who are starting Whole30 on May 1st and we are starting a Facebook support group. while I will be on day 21 then, I am hopeful I can be of help to them. I would suggest a support group if you want to try this.

Tonight we had a chicken stir fry I called “Better Than Sweet Fire Chicken” (because that is our favorite entree and Panda Express). Watch for the recipe, I will post it soon!

I will write a post about physical activity this week, and I will post some midway pictures.

Sorry for the sort update, I will try to do better!

Whole30 Days 6, 7, and 8

We are coming to the end of day 8 of Whole30. I haven’t posted a lot because there have not been any major developments. We continue on and are feeling ok.

Easter we avoided the family get-together. The Whole30 book and website will tell you that no one can tell you what to eat, but sometimes family pressure and guilt can destroy the best intentions. Knowing our family, I would feel like Eve as forbidden fruit was placed in front of me, singing a siren song, while family tells me “one piece won’t hurt”.

Better avoiding all of that than to upset someone for telling them to shove it! Instead, Alee and I worked on some meal prep for this week and we made a roasted chicken family meal that was really good.

Our two biggest struggles have been:

  1. Condiments.
  2. Not weighing yourself.

What is life without ketchup? I mean, I don’t put ketchup on everything, but if we do oven fries or hamburger patties–they just don’t seem the same without the sugar laden red wonder we all know and love.

If you consider Whole30 eliminates all added sugar, ketchup, bar-b-que sauces, and several other condiments are on the no-no list. If you are lucky enough to find a ketchup with no sugar–well, it might as well be called tomato paste, and it is not good for dunking!

We found that Primal Kitchens makes some condiments that are pretty good and Whole30 compliant. Aleesha is iffy about them because she does not like Avocado, and they are made using avocado oil and have a slight avocado taste. They also contain egg and she is supposed to limit her egg intake due to having a mild egg allergy–since the amount is negligible though, I am not having her worry too much about that. I honestly like them and would use them outside of Whole30.

Another thing we love is Franks Red Hot. It is Whole30 compliant and adds some kick to foods and helps with that dryness I associate with some things (even if they aren’t really dry). I’ve always loved Franks, and am so happy we can use it.

The last thing that has helped us with this is coconut aminos. I don’t think we would get through the month without it!

I am going to try some homemade condiments and I will let you know how they worked out later.

THE SCALE!!! Oh My–part of the Whole30 challenge is to NOT STEP ON THE SCALE FOR 30 DAYS! I am not a scale watcher. I never have been and I never will be, but when I put my jeans Monday and they fell off as I walked–I wanted to know! Never have I had a hard time staying away from that little devil, but I have. Aleesha did check hers once but she was not aware of that part of the challenge, and hey, she’s 16–we’ll let it slide.

Well, that’s all over the last few days. We’re over 1/4 done already! Life is good!

Whole30 tired and dragging

Whole30 Day 4, only 26 Days to Go!!

As day four draws to a close, I’m feeling pretty decent. A little tired (like the cat in the featuerd picture), but doing good. Managed to lift some weights so that’s even better!

Aleesha is really struggling. She wants everything she shouldn’t eat and nothing she should eat. I am reminded of that old song by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bootleg: “Take you a glass of water
Make it against the law.
See how good the water tastes
When you can’t have any at all”

There is just something about the “forbidden” that makes us want it. Add to that the detox withdrawal symptoms, and I understand exactly what she is going trough. If you’re reading this and want to give her some encouragement, that would be great!

Aside from that, not much is new. I will work on food diary post and get up tonight or in the morning for days 3 and 4.

whole30 chaos

Whole30 can go Suck an EGG!!

I am not happy. I’m moody, I feel like crap, I want those stupid frozen stuffed Dorito things that I never eat anyway! Day four of Whole30 is not my friend.

I am not quitting though. I want to do it to prove to myself that I can. I want to feel better. I want to make better choices. I want to learn a healthy lifestyle for my future.

Yesterday sucked. Our neighbor is in the hospital–she is terminal. Since the hospital is 90 miles away, her family are all out there with her, and I’ve been taking care of their dogs. I had a tanning session yesterday morning (a whole other hell I am going through) and figured I would stop by and let the dogs out before I got home.

I locked my keys in the car. I took them out of the ignition, set them in the cup holder, got out and used the arm rest on the door for leverage. The click of the locks engaging didn’t register until after the door closed.

Hello, locksmith–my name is dumb ass–

I know, it happens, blah-blah-blah…

Did I mention I feel like crap?

Headaches, muscle aches, food cravings.

Then, I was driving with my mom to town last night and I almost ran a red light. I have only been driving a year, but that is the first close call I’ve had. Still feel like crap.

Today, I went to let the dogs out. They are locked in the kitchen and had made a mess. I cleaned while they were out, filled their food and water, all was good. I let them back in, and as I was leaving, one of the dogs literally knocked me down as I as going out the door and all three dogs escaped. Still feel like crap.

Keys, red lights, and dogs have nothing to do with Whole30 but when you feel terrible, they seem worse than they are.

So days 3 and 4–not great.

I did just eat a nice bowl of chicken curry though–It was freaking good! Maybe things are looking up.