Scene while walking – January 28, 2013

First, let me be fully honest. The date is the publication date of the post and not (at least generally) the date the photo was taken. Let’s face it – I’m usually going to be out walking later and then I may put together a post for the next day. Or I may even be using a picture I took while walking quite a while ago (it’s possible!)…

What I will guarantee is that I took the photos and I did so while I was out for a walk and I probably saw a lot more stuff during that walk than I took pictures of. So I hope you’re going walking too, and taking time to enjoy all that you see.

This particular day I was walking and saw smoke and flame. Wildfire is a constant threat here, though generally not as much during winter. When I saw flames through the trees that seemed to extend quite a way I called 911 to report it. It was then I was told it was a planned burn to dispose of debris and was coordinated with our local fire officials. I expressed concern because there was a LOT of fire and only one person I could see actually tending things (and one small looking water truck). The operator took my information and I figured that would be it. Shortly after that, my phone rang. It was the fire chief calling to tell me what precautions were in place and that the fire department was regularly checking on the area.


Click to see the large image and you can spot the guy tending the fires (this will give a sense of scale) – this was perhaps 1/3 of the total area that had fires burning.

I love that I live somewhere that I get a personal call to help me be certain my neighbors are safe. (and it was all fine in the end)

It certainly made for an interesting walk that day!

Do you see what I see?

During the holidays I was gearing up to go out for my daily walk, something my husband has gotten used to me doing. This time he started to put on his shoes and I was surprised. He has some back and joint issues that make long distance walking, and certainly at the pace I do it, not truly feasible. But he wanted to go with me – so I suggested a change in route and that we walk to our local pub and then back, thus having a built-in break at a place we both enjoy hanging out. He thought that was an even better idea, of course.

So off we went. We walked a slower pace than I do alone, but probably similar to what most people would walk. Under a mile in he remarked it was further than he thought – and I was very glad I had suggested what I had! The walk to the pub by a direct route is only a bit over 1.5 miles. That’s a really short walk by my standards!

A bit later he said something much more profound.

“Things look different when you’re walking.”

Yes. They do. You’re moving slower and you have more time to notice things around you – and you can stop and investigate more closely if you want to. We live in an interesting area; it’s residential and rural simultaneously. We said hello to the steer we passed by (they watched but did not respond). We saw all sorts of birds. We saw more damage from the windstorm – many trees fallen over.

When we were ready to head home he picked a slightly longer route that involved a road I hadn’t walked on before. It has fast become a favorite – we saw goats (big goats!), chickens (also big!), and more cattle. We saw an enormous flock of birds cleaning up residual corn from a large field – when they flew together the noise was impressive. And we saw this building, which I think looks really cool.

IMG_2713Why this survived the wind when other things didn’t is a bit of a mystery (though the angled boards are likely the major part of the answer). I can’t quite make out what the roof once said and it’s possible this wasn’t a business anyway, but just a building that made money letting a business advertise on its roof in farm country. It has a story, and I don’t really want to know it. I like that it’s there. It gives me a nice feeling and I don’t know why.

I’ve decided I will try to get more pictures of the things I enjoy seeing while I walk and share them here. Sometimes I will venture out with my “real” camera in tow maybe even along with tripod (but remember, I’m on foot for many miles!), and other times we’ll be stuck with what I can manage on my cell phone (which honestly can be pretty good sometimes). I hope you enjoy seeing what I see!


Walk it off

When I was young, I was an active person. I was a cheerleader in the south, where it’s taken as seriously (if not moreso) than football. We had two-a-day practices during the summer.

(technically that one on the right is when I was in New Mexico – and now you all have proof I am a natural blonde. So, if you have comments – please type slowly.)

I didn’t actually appreciate I was a slender person until I looked back at photos from high school many years later… In college I took up martial arts, and by the time I was a senior I was taking or teaching as many as 8 classes a week. I was fit. I also collected some big-ass trophies from tournaments. I eventually threw those away, but I still have my gi and my belts. (stopped at first degree black belt, if you’re interested).


Then I went to grad school. There, my brain got the workout and my body did not – and I didn’t make the effort to change that. So, the weight started creeping up. I come from hearty genetics that says I will survive famine, I think. Over time I’d get a piece of equipment for my house, or go on a diet, or whatever – and keep relatively stable. For a while at work there was a gym onsite and a friend and I helped each other keep our commitments to working out. But then I changed jobs and moved across the country. I love my where I work and what I do, but there is no gym on site and I am simply not wired to join a gym at this point. I won’t go. I know I won’t. I have had varying kinds of exercise equipment in my home, but for whatever reason they weren’t giving the results (and I *did* use them). Weight crept up.

And up.

And came perilously close to 200 pounds. That scared me. So I tried one of those packaged food diets. The food wasn’t great, but I found some things I did like and I stuck with it. I started to lose weight and I learned a lot about portion size (gosh, I was way over-eating some foods!). I also got into a stronger habit of drinking plenty of water, which definitely matters for me. Everyone is different, of course.

After many months, I had lost 36 pounds. That was Thanksgiving 2010. I felt great. By that time I had stopped with the pre-packaged plan and was maintaining on my own. Of course, it was the holidays. My weight started to creep up and by Thanksgiving 2011 I had gained back 10 pounds – but still, it wasn’t too bad. Of course, it was the holidays again…

By early summer 2012 I was close to having regained half of what I had lost, and I was also close to deciding to get the pre-packaged food again to get back on track. About this same time, my twitter-and-real-life friend @NomdeB introduced me to FitBit:


This is a nifty little tracker that is a pedometer and much much more. It syncs wirelessly to your computer to keep a log of your activity and can also help you track your sleep patterns (depending on the version you get; you wear it on a wrist strap for that). I got mine in early July 2012. Since then, I have been quite dedicated to making sure I hit 10000 steps a day – and in fact now I push for 5 miles a day, which for me is closer to 11000 steps. I get to work early so I can park several buildings away from my office. I schedule meetings in other people’s offices so I can walk to them. I find that this also helps me mentally break from whatever task I was working on before the meeting and focus on what’s ahead while I walk there. When I am home I use MapMyWalk (a free app on my phone) and walk around my neighborhood. That is all I am doing. I walk at least 5 miles a day, cumulatively but sometimes all at once. When I travel for work I usually spend my layovers in airports walking around the terminal instead of sitting at my gate. Walking is something I do 100% for me. It is a precious gift I am giving myself every single day.

End result so far? I’ve had a net loss of about 13 pounds and dropped my body fat percentage by about 4%. That translates into losing about 15 pounds of fat and gaining about 2 pounds of muscle. And I’ve done this with zero change in my eating habits. I am not tracking calories. I am not worrying about food. I don’t go nuts, but I don’t worry either. I am sure that if I did, I could have trimmed down faster – but this is a very sustainable life for me right now.  [Note, @NomdeB also highly recommends an app called LoseIt which is a food tracker, and I’ve heard good things about it. I just don’t feel I need it. These things all depend on what motivates you – and the raw data about my activity levels is all I need.]

I don’t have a target weight – I am at a healthy weight now but it’s possible I will lose more. Since I’m not dieting I figure at some point I will stabilize based on my level of activity and how much I’m eating. I’m good with that. I’m healthy. And as for Thanksgiving 2012?

Tomorrow, I will be back where I was in 2010, except with a lower body fat percentage.

I feel great!