My Solstice to Equinox Streak: Thoughts, Results, New Directions

On June 21 I set out to accomplish a goal: MOVE EVERY DAY between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox.

Ste streak stewart falls start
To make sure I didn't miss the very first workout of my streak, I did this hike after work. There wasn't a ton of light at the waterfall so this pic isn't fantastic. What isn't apparent, unless you hike here often, is how the area was just decimated by our winter of heavy snows. Trees down everywhere!

So here it is, September 24, the day after the autumn equinox, and I'm thinking about how I did and what I learned and where I'll go from here.

I did 20 hikes including yesterday's, which was, while short, an epic one because there was a moose on the trail, and we had to wait for him to move before we could go around.

Ste streak end aspen grove trail
Same trail head as the June hike, but a different direction so a totally different waterfall. Early evening so still not a lot of light! This is a fun trail with several little scrambly spots and amazing views. And moose!

I'm feeling too lazy to scroll back through Strava and count my runs, but I ran about 45 times during my streak. Two of my runs were on the beach in Florida!

I did a few trail runs (three to be exact) and want to do more, but I think I need some trail running shoes and I haven't made it to the running store yet.

I went to one High Fitness class, which I really enjoyed but my knees sort-of didn't. (Squats are basically impossible for me.)

The rest of the days I did yoga or strength training of some sort.

I missed either one day or four days, I can't decide. When we were in Florida, on the days we were at Universal Studios I didn't do any other exercising besides walking around the park. I think that counts, as we went at least ten miles every day, but it wasn't all sustained, fast, high-cardio walking, so maybe it doesn't. (I know, it's my streak so my rules, but I can't help but think it was cheating.)

My results:

I lost not a single ounce, nor a millimeter of measurement anywhere.

That is, of course, super frustrating. Actually, as I sit down to write this, I find myself almost in tears over that fact. Especially because during that time, I developed a medical condition that requires me to give up chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods, citrus, coffee, tea, yogurt. Chocolate was the one indulgence I wasn't restraining myself with at all, but after my diagnosis I have had almost none (one mint brownie at our city-employee lunch, one mint brownie at my aunt's funeral, and, yes: A bag of almond M&Ms I bought when we were in Florida because I was pissed at Kendell, and it was actually that moment when I realized how much I've been depending on chocolate for my emotional stability).

So, healthier eating and more exercising for (almost) three months, and not even a pound down? Not even a half inch somewhere?

In fact, my belly is even bigger.

Yes, that makes me feel like crying. (Actually, I *am* crying.) I had my gynecologist test my blood and my levels are normal. I have an appointment next month with my GP, but I already know what he's going to say: something about how my body responds to cortisol, and how the changing levels of hormones effects belly fat. {{{shrug}}} (Cue me going off on a rant about how the medical community is skewed towards men's health, as you can be damn sure if there were a falling hormone level that made something distressing happen to men, they'd have solved the problem decades ago.)


I do still feel like I had some results, if only that I changed some of my attitudes. I learned that having a goal helps me to be more consistent. I've watched people on IG or in my running groups do running streaks and right now I can't do that. But this little goal of mine, a moving streak? It changed my thought processes and got me more dedicated to always making sure I take care of what my body needs.

I also learned that I have a LONG way to go as far as strength goes. Mostly this is because strength training is so boring to me. After I finish a run or a hike, my heart is lifted, my spirit is lighter. During a run or a hike I feel that happening. During a weight training session I'm just…bored.

But I know I need it. Especially as I've done more over the past months, I can see where I am weak. I definitely have some asymmetry going on, my lazy glutes are still lazy (I have been known to actually TALK to my glutes on a long uphill hike to get them to do something other than go along for the ride), it's hard for me to work my quads.

Clearly I'm OK with getting my cardio in. I think, knock on wood and barring any injuries, I will continue to be more consistent with cardio. So for my next streak—now that I've streaked once, I want to keep doing it—I am going to concentrate on muscle work. I will still run and hike (and hopefully do more High Fitness classes, maybe just once every other week for my knees' sake), but my goal for today until the winter solstice is to do some strength work EVERY DAY.

It's a strength streak!

Some ways I am going to accomplish this goal:

  1. Use the tools I already have. I have some weights, a couple of yoga mats, and three books with workouts in them.
  2. Actually *use* the workouts I've saved or pinned on social media.
  3. Acquire a few more tools: heavier weights and some resistance bands.
  4. I haven't decided for sure on this one, but: sign back up for Ballet Barre classes. It is SO expensive. But I loved them when I went. But I never managed to go consistently, even though I was paying for them. But I know it would help me. But I feel weird showing up by myself when everyone else seems to be friends (probably that's the real reason I wasn't consistent before). But maybe if I went consistently I would make friends? Why is this a complicated decision?
  5. Post about it. (Not every day, but more consistently than I did with my solstice-to-equinox streak.)

Also, just going to include this other goal: I am searching for a half marathon to do near the end of October or beginning of November. I haven't really pushed myself to up my miles, and I think a race would help with that. Seriously considering the Moab Trail half marathon and I can't tell if the little thrill of fear I feel at that is because I'm actually afraid or if it's just excitement at a new challenge.

Did you streak with me? How did it go? And if not, what are your upcoming fitness or health goals?

August 2019 Goals

My August goals:

Family and House:

  • Do something every week with just me and Kaleb before school starts. This week we have already gone school shopping twice and it’s been so much fun!
  • Be brave and have the conversation I need to have with one of my kids. I don’t want to reopen wounds but I also feel like there is some festering going on…
  • Go on another actual date with Kendell.
  • Get all of the lingering stuff from my mom’s house organized, boxed, and put away. (I inherited so many beautiful things from her. I just don’t have a place to put them right now.)
  • Get the kitchen painted. (I HATE PAINTING)
  • Continue working on finding somewhere new to move. This experience has been so frustrating. It is mind boggling how expensive houses have gotten here. It makes me worry about what my kids will do in the future (I mean…how can they even get started when a small starter home is $600,000??????) and it makes me feel like a failure (if I had made different choices perhaps I would’ve attained some measure of financial security) and it is emotionally draining. We found some lots a few weeks ago that would’ve been perfect, not too expensive, the right size, a view of the mountain, but they all sold in five or six days.

Health and Exercise:

  • Continue with my solstice to equinox streak: At least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
  • As the uptick in cardio has done absolutely NOTHING to help my weight, I’m going to tweak my goal a little bit: I’ll still do cardio on most days but not every day. But I am adding a muscle-strengthening goal to do some sort of muscle strength exercises every single day.
  • I’m not sure I’ll get 100 miles again this month, because we are going on our summer vacation and two of the days will be harder to run. (Walking around an amusement park would totally add to my mileage, I know, but does that really count as “exercise”?) So, I’m not going to worry about total mileage; instead I am setting the goal of lengthening my longest run to 8 miles. We’ll see how the knees do!
  • At least three hikes this month with Kendell. Four might be hard because of that vacation.
  • Have a good, long discussion with my gynecologist about hormone levels to see if she has any advice about my weight issues. If not, make an appointment with my GP.
  • Get my mammogram done.


  • Most importantly: Finish my poem and submit it.
  • WRITE MORE. On my blog but also with the goal of writing something I could submit.
  • I want to start scrapbooking again, but I don’t think I actually will this month. I want to achieve my other goals first, so for scrapbooking my goal is to do a deep, brutal purge after we get home from our vacation. If you know anyone—individuals or groups—who need scrapbooking supplies, please let me know. I want to send it off to good homes.
  • Before we leave on vacation, I want to finish Jake’s quilt and get it to the quilter. Make a good start on Kaleb’s quilt (I realized this week that I don’t have enough of the main neutral fabric, so I had to dig into the dusty corners of the interwebs to find a few more yards, and now I’m waiting for it to show up!) and keep putting together my pink & black squares.
  • Finish the book I am reading right now and then finish two others. (Stop getting distracted by my phone when I have time to read, in other words.)


What are your goals for August?

Goodbye July!

I can’t believe July is already over. We are still in the heat of deep summer here, and honestly, July isn’t my favorite month. It’s hot and almost no flowers are blooming and even the grass just seems drained.

But if July ends, then it’s August. And if it’s August, can autumn be far behind?

Time, though, moves too swiftly, so I’m trying to savor summer before it ends. I’ve tried since Kaleb got out of school, in fact, to just enjoy the days, even though they’re hot. One thing that’s helped is that this year I’ve mostly abandoned trying to wear shorts. I just never feel comfortable in them. I’ve worn a lot of dresses and a LOT of running skirts and yeah, my elephant knees are exposed but I’m just so much more comfortable this summer. I didn’t post on Instagram every day for 31 Days of Skirt, but I did actually wear Skirt Sports every day!

Heat aside, July was a pretty good month. And before I turn my calendar over to August, I wanted to write a recap.

Solstice to Equinox Streak:
I exercised every day this month, except for the Saturday I was sick. I didn’t do cardio every day; on some days I lifted weights or did resistance training for a half hour. I had a little exercise epiphany: there is almost always time. One day I went for a walk at 1:00 in the afternoon, when it was blazing hot, but I wanted to get it in. So I went to the shadiest part of a path by the river and I got it in. Several nights I did my resistance/weights at 9:00 p.m. But committing to the streak has helped so much, not just with my consistency but with my mindset about exercise. I can really do it every day. And while I have yet to see any weight come off (it actually is continuing to bulge around my belly…I have an appointment with my doctor next month because I’m so frustrated by this!), I feel like I am stronger.

I added cartwheels to my workout strategies. I know: that sounds totally weird, and is a cartwheel really a workout? Surprisingly, yes. More of a plyometric thing, but a simple cartwheel asks a lot of your upper body, your core, and your flexibility. Plus it’s just so fun! I visited for a little while one night with my niece and her daughter, who was trying to do ariels in the grass. My body totally remembers how to do them, how it’s not really about the speed you put into it but learning how to swing your arms correctly. I gave her some pointers, and she said “but you can’t do ariels Aunt Amy!” and I said “not anymore, but I can still do a pretty good cartwheel,” and she said “NO WAY! Show me! I think you’re too old!” and so when I was done holding her new baby brother I did a cartwheel for her. Never too old!


I also achieved a milestone this month that I haven’t done in two years: I had a 100-mile month. 103.7, to be exact. (To compare, I ran 90.5 in June and 75-ish in May.) And, I know: that’s not a lot to many people. Lots of runners have 100 mile weeks! But for me, it is a little reward to see my count for the month go over 100. Even last summer when I was in marathon training I never had a 100-mile month (whooping cough!). It feels like I accomplished something. Not all of those miles were running, but that’s just fine, because I also hiked a lot!

I ran a total of 50 miles (it’s actually 49.98 but I think I can round up). I had my longest run since my marathon, 6.5 miles around where I live. I had the fastest mile I’ve had in a long time, 8:48. (Again…I know that’s not fast in comparison to many runners. But it’s fast for me.) And, guess what?


Trail running

Well, maybe “took up” is too intense. I started trail running. I didn’t buy any trail running shoes so I don’t feel like I can call myself a “trail runner” yet. I was cautious and I went on very safe trails. But I just decided one day: I want to run trails too. (A longer blog post is coming on this topic.) I did two trail runs and I’m really itching to do more.

Big Springs with friends twice
My friend Wendy and I got out three times for hikes in the foothills.
Kendell and I together: Great Western Trail, Scout Falls and part of the TImponooke Trail (until the snow got too risky), Buffalo Peak, Rock Canyon, and Silver Glance Lake. We are up to 28 hikes together this year. I’m hoping we can make it to 50 but we’ll see.

I am more in love with hiking than ever. The best thing this year is the wildflowers. They’ve been amazing from all the snow we’ve had! I just wish that I were a better photographer and could capture images that communicate how beautiful they are. But instead of carrying my big camera to photograph the flowers, I have tried to focus on being present and fully admiring the meadows.

20190719_200502 wildflowers buffalo peak 4x6

I had a couple of conversations with my kids this month that helped me get rid of some unnecessary guilt I’ve been carrying for a long, long time. Well, maybe the guilt wasn’t exactly “unnecessary,” but these two conversations just helped me to see my choices in a different light. My heart feels so much lighter.

I took Kaleb to swim in a little local pond this month, with some of his friends. He loved it. I had taken him there five years ago, when he was only 9, and I had to pull up my pictures of that day. It was amazing to see how much he has changed. (Sometimes I just have to stop thinking about how utterly strange it is that Kaleb, who was the baby I waited the longest for, is becoming a person. Even though he’s been a person (by which I mean, not a baby) for a long time, it still just sometimes hits me hard. I waited and prayed for him for so long, and then, BAM, all of a sudden he’s grown up. I had a lovely time relaxing on the grass by the pond, reading, but I got so fried on my legs. Three weeks later, they are still so tender and itchy.

Kendell and I had a fun date night when we had to drive north to pick Kaleb up from Lagoon, an amusement park about 90 minutes away from us. We brought Kaleb and his friend some pizza for dinner, and then he and I went out to eat, went shopping, and then saw The Lion King. We haven’t done enough dating in the past little while. We hike together a lot but it was nice to get out and do something a little bit different.

I got to meet my two newest great nephews. I just love babies and am so happy they are here safely. I love that both sides of our family continue to grow.

While I managed to buy a lot of new supplies, I didn’t ever get around to making any scrapbook layouts this month. I haven’t, in fact, made a scrapbook layout since February or March. I’m not really sure I can explain why, but this is the longest I’ve gone without scrapbooking since I picked up the hobby in 1996. I scrapbooked as a mom with young kids, as a mom with young kids working on her degree, as a mom with young kids doing student teaching and then being a teacher. I scrapped around Kendell’s many surgeries. I scrapbooked while I stayed up late waiting for teenagers to come home from dances and jobs and dates. It’s been a central part of my identity for as long as I’ve been an adult. Kendell working from home has something to do with it, as does the process of cleaning out my mom’s house. (By scrapbooking am I just creating a huge burden for my kids to deal with when I’M dead?) Some of it is that I feel like all the pictures of my mom’s that I need to scan are hanging over me, a project that is zapping all of my creative energy. Some of it I don’t understand. I still want to make scrapbook layouts. I still shop for supplies. I just…haven’t done it.

But! I have quilted a ton. I’ve got all my scraps managed and organized. I am almost done with the quilt I’m making for Jake and then I can start the one I’m making for Kaleb. I am actually, finally sewing together all the billion half-square pink and black triangles I’ve made over the past 7 or 8 years. (I’m trying to decide…is 90x90 too big for a quilt that won’t be used on a bed? I just have so many squares I love. And I live with tall people. But on the other hand: How much will a 90x90 quilt weigh once I back it (with minky!) and add batting? Will it even be useful or just a big pain in the butt?

July has not been a great reading month for me. I’m stuck in a book with characters I like and am interested in…but the story is moving so slowly I keep putting it down for other things. But I don’t want to not finish it because I want to know what happens to them all! Maybe I need another sick day just to get through it. I am also re-reading the novel Contact, which I read about 18 times as a teenager. I was a little bit nervous about the re-read because what if my adult tastes found it lame or inane or narrow minded? But what I am discovering is just how much of my beliefs about the universe/religion/is-there-anything-after-this-life was shaped by this book. Which is really strange, but also fairly liberating.

Finally, writing. I’m continuing to work on the poem I started. There is a deadline and a place to submit so that is pushing me. I still haven’t written the perfect transition I need, but I DID dream I wrote it, and then in the dream repeated it over and over so I wouldn’t forget it when I woke up. But I don’t remember it. I want to write more—I have an essay about pie crust that’s partly formed, too.

Tomorrow I am going to write my goals for August, but right now I am going to go sit out on my back porch. I’m going to listen to the crickets and admire the scent of the summer air, which is especially delicious tonight because it rained today. I’m going to breath in this deep-summer night and try to store it up as a hedge against winter darkness.

How was your July?

Hiking to Silver Lake and Silver Glance Lake

Last fall when I was restricted to only hiking trails with not a lot of vert, Kendell and I hiked to Silver Lake. I chose it because it was listed as “easy” on many of the hiking websites and apps I use, and the elevation gain didn’t seem too bad.

Aside from the last quarter-mile, which IS steep, it was a perfect trail for my knees at that time. When I got to the lake, though, I was a little bit frustrated, because I knew that there is another lake, Silver Glance—smaller but less crowded—about a mile up the trail, but with almost 1000 feet of elevation gain in less than a mile, definitely too steep.

Now that my knees are doing better (they are not healed and not “normal” but I can do almost everything I want to do, with a few modifications and a little bit of wincing) I decided that it was time to go to all the way to Silver Glance.

20190728_125916 amy silver glance lake 6x8

We have to time this hike carefully, because it’s not easy to get to. It’s in a canyon that’s about 25 minutes from our house, and then there is a three-mile dirt road to the trailhead that takes FOREVER to get up. (It actually takes only 20 minutes, but 20 minutes of jostling and bouncing in our old truck is a long time.) We’ve almost done it for three weeks now, but other things came up that required us to be home sooner.

But yesterday was the day.

When we hiked this trail for the first time, it was at the tail end of fall. Almost all of the leaves were down and there was very little water in the streams. This time, at the height of summer after a very snowy winter, it almost felt like we were on a different trail. It was so pretty, full of all different types of wildflowers, and the water was still raging. You don’t ever get to the waterfalls you can hear, but there are two stream crossings. I love crossing water, even if I get my boots wet. (Actually….I sort of prefer it when I get my boots wet!) Right by the second crossing, Kendell saw two raccoons! I turned left after the stream and wandered for quite a while before I realized the barely-a-trail, straight-up-the-slope “path” I was following wasn’t the actual trail, and plus, Kendell wasn’t behind me, so I had to backtrack, figure out where the trail was (RIGHT after the crossing, not left), and then I started hustling because I had no idea where Kendell was. A few minutes later I heard him hollering for me, so we kept track of each other by shouting “Aim!” and “K!” (“Kendell” just doesn’t travel well) until I caught back up to him.

Wildflowers on the way to silver glance 6x8

When we got to Silver Lake, we found a big, slanted granite boulder where we sat and had a snack. For about five minutes I laid back on the rock, closed my eyes, and tried to listen and feel everything around me. The wind in the aspens, the birds, the piney scent mixed with florals…I opened my eyes and looked at the layers of colors in the cliffs across the lake…the only way it could’ve been better is if the groups of hikers around us could also be quiet!

I’d read as much as I could find only about how to get to Silver Glance. Everything I read was super vague: “find the slight trail.” Clearly there WAS a trail, as people have gone there, but once we started looking for it, I just wasn’t sure. We did a few false trails before going back to the first one I’d tried with the goal of just seeing if it petered out or not. It didn’t!

20190728_132728 taking a rest on the way to silver glance 6x8 amy

So, if you, too, want to hike to Silver Glance Lake, here’s how you find the trail. It’s not so much that the trail is “slight.” It’s that there are so many different little paths people have made. When you first get to the lake, turn right. Then look for another trail that is also a right turn. There are at least two right turns you could take (because I went up one and came down another). One is almost immediately after you turn right. The next one is just past a big white granite boulder. If you miss these and continue to move around the lake, you’ll get to a stream crossing and then you know you’ve gone too far. You want to stay south of that stream.

I was also not sure I was on the right trail because right at the beginning it curves south and I knew I needed to be going north-east-ish. But, keep going around the curve. The trail IS faint there, but push on for just two or three minutes and it gets more defined.

The trail from Silver Lake to Silver Glance is steep. And while the total elevation gain (about 900 feet) spread over a little bit less than a mile is steep but doable, it’s not a consistent uphill. You climb, climb, climb, and then you get to a flat meadow, and then you climb some more. So the climbing parts are actually more than 1000 feet per mile. You just have to settle in and realize it’s going to be hard and slow, but that’s OK.

It’s OK because it is a really fun trail. There are small boulders than kind of work like stairs. At a few different places you just walk right up the little stream of water. (I’m guessing that by the fall this is dried up and you walk up the dry bed.) The meadows have tons of large boulders that are great to sit on for a quick break and some water. And the flat parts feel so amazing to cross after you’ve pushed hard up the incline.

The BEST part about this trail, though, is the views. You have to look back to see them when you’re going up. As I usually hike in front on the uphill sections of a trail, I stopped several times at the high points and looked back for Kendell, and I loved being able to watch him ramble through the meadows with the north east side of Timp behind him. It was amazing. 20190728_130611 amy silver glance red baldy 6x8

Once we got to Silver Glance—which really is much smaller than Silver Lake!—we wandered around a little bit. I had wanted to put my feet in the water but there wasn’t a really great spot to do it there, so I kept my shoes on. The views change dramatically depending on where you go, so if you hike up to Silver Glance, spend some time exploring. The lake sits just underneath Red Baldy, and you can summit Red from here, but you have to just find your way, there isn’t an established trail.

When we were headed back down, I stopped at a spot I had seen coming up, which had white rocks and a bunch of artist’s paintbrush. This is one of my favorite wildflowers but I haven’t seen any so far this year. I was so happy to find a bunch of it all over this mountain. I asked Kendell to take a photo of me there, and just as I got into place I heard a roar and a clatter. It took me a minute to figure out what I was hearing: a rock slide! A bunch of rocks were tumbling from the tops of the cliffs behind me. I didn’t look back…I just sprinted back to where Kendell was standing. I was slightly terrified but the slide was happening at least a half a mile beyond us, so we weren’t in danger. (I couldn’t tell until I turned around to look, but in my panic mode I distinctly thought Go! You don’t have time to look!”) We watched the rock slide until it stopped and it was crazy to see those big boulders bouncing and rolling. 20190728_133043 artists paintbrush amy 6x8

When we got back down to Silver Lake, I took a quick moment to dip my feet in the water. I’ve decided that I want to do this more when I am hiking (and it’s not against the trail rules for people to get in the water). The first time I got my feet wet on a trail was when we hiked to Half Dome, and it was almost a spiritual experience. It felt like a way of putting more of myself into the landscape, and besides: it is so refreshing to chill your feet. There was a big group of hikers by the water when I first got there, but they left before I got my boots off, so for a few minutes I had my feet in the water with no one else around. It was bliss! I’m so glad we did this hike again, that I didn’t get frustrated and give up on finding the trail to Silver Glance, and that I was strong enough to make it. It was an incredible day!

20190728_123705 amy silver glance lake red baldy 6x8

Solstice to Equinox Streak: What I Learned from Missing a Day

Last week something surprising happened to me: the 4th of July arrived, and it shoved me right down into a pit of despair. Eventually this will all lead to my thoughts on my solstice-to-equinox streak, but it’s kind of a long build up, so bear with me.

Two days before Independence Day, I was talking to Kaleb in the morning before I left for work. He said, “Mom, I don’t think it’s fair, being the youngest. All of The Bigs got to have cool stuff on every single holiday. They always got to have a party at Aunt Suzette’s or at Candace & Ernie’s house on the 4th of July. They got to do fireworks and tons of fun stuff. I don’t get any of that.”

Sigh. He’s totally right. It’s not fair and it does suck. And while I pointed out the ways that being the youngest is a perk, he wasn’t having it. Because holidays should be about spending time with your family. In fact, after that conversation with Kaleb, I swear about every other post on Instagram was that quote from Erma Bombeck: “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

Kaleb got that for the first decade of his life, but things are just different now. On Kendell’s side of the family, the cousins have all started getting married and having their own families, so we are extraneous (and the black sheep to boot). On my side, I also feel extraneous; usually I can get over it but right now there is just so much tension because of the settling of my mom’s estate that it seems like everyone might need a break from each other.

At any rate, on Independence Day I went running, and Kaleb went to the water park with his aunt and his cousin. Kendell and I hung out in the house all day and contemplated how sucky it was that our water heater needed to be replaced. We all went out to dinner together (me and Kendell, Kaleb and his cousin and his aunt, plus another cousin and his wife), and then…that was it. I didn’t even go outside to watch the neighbors light fireworks because I was kind of annoyed with my neighbors.

In fact, the best part of the 4th of July was the wind storm we got. I stood outside on my porch and watched my big sycamores move in the wind, restless and unstoppable. Large branches kept crashing down, and I just stood and watched and cried. (Told you: pit of despair.)

This was surprising to me because it was unexpected. I expect that I will be sad at Christmas. But the 4th of July? I didn’t know it would be a marker: of how my family has changed, of my mother’s first year of death, of estrangement, of change. But it was.

Then on Friday Kendell and I had a lovely BUA during my lunch hour. A mean one; things were said that cannot be unsaid. I came home from work apprehensive and thinking my stomach ache and utter exhaustion (not to mention pervasive sadness) was caused by the argument, so I skipped the hike I had planned, did some sculpting exercises instead, and went to bed. Only to be woken at 3:21 a.m. with excruciating abdominal pain.

Ah. Not too tired to hike, but actually sick.

But still pretty sad.

That Saturday, I did absolutely nothing besides lie in bed with the hot pad. I read an entire book, but I felt awful. I drank Sprite with lemon and worried about fibroids and cancer and diverticulitis. I still don’t really know what was wrong—that pain took five days to finally go away completely. But the next day I had to move, so Kendell and I went hiking. We intended 4 or 5 gentle miles and ended up doing 8, but it was OK. My weird pain wasn’t too bad, it felt glorious to move my body, and we worked a few things out.

I was feeling weird about missing a day on the exercise streak because I was the one who started it, and already I missed a day. But when we got to the place we decided to turn around—a beautiful, lush little meadow between two mountain peaks—I decided to set the uncomfortable feeling down and leave it there.

It’s OK that I missed a day.

Even if I hadn’t been sick (or whatever that was), it still would’ve been OK if I missed a day. Because that was what my body needed: rest, somewhat mindless reading, bubbly sweetness. The contrast between Saturday and Sunday, of doing nothing and hiking in the blazing sun, taught me something I am struggling to put into words. It has something to do with what I wrote in my last blog post, about coming to accept my body for what it is. Exercise is not my only interest, physical fitness isn’t the only focus of my life. The softening of my body isn’t my only struggle right now. Sometimes there are other things, too, and on that weekend, for whatever reason, my body had had enough. Running couldn’t heal me that Saturday, just like if I forced a family party on the 4th of July it really wouldn’t have solved anything. I don’t know what will, honestly.

I want to keep my body healthy partly because I want to be healthy for as long as I can. Healthy and involved with my life. But just like I am working around the limitations of my body (that persistent knee pain, for example), I also have to work around the reality of how my life is turning out. I don’t love every change that has happened over the last three or four years. Like Kaleb I am sad, annoyed, and disappointed to find myself in this strange, lonely place. But sub-patella cartilage doesn’t repair itself just like my life is just my life. Kaleb’s life, too. We both have to learn how to deal with it, to work around it, to find moments when we give rest to what needs rest.

That’s what I learned from my day off from my streak: you can plan, you can make goals, you can imagine how you think things will turn out. In reality you’re not always in charge and it doesn’t go the way you imagined. Sometimes you feel bad about this, and that is a valid response. Sometimes you have to pause. But there is also the next day, when you can start again, maybe still without answers, maybe still with heartache, but refreshed, just a little—just enough—by your break to continue on finding joy in movement.

Solstice to Equinox Streak Week One: Improv!

The first week of my solstice-to-equinox exercise streak has come and gone, so I thought I would check in.

Jump shot 8x8

Let’s be honest here: doing something EVERY day is hard for me. (Except for, you know, stuff like brushing my teeth and taking showers.) I admire people who set a goal to do something every day and then actually follow through; as evidenced by my attempt to blog every day, the do-it-every-day habit seems to be anathema to my personality.

But I did learn a few things from my attempt to blog every day (which I still intend to take up again): It really does build on itself. Something is better than nothing. Planning makes the habit easier to establish. Personal weaknesses will become obvious over time.

So each week with my exercise streak, I’m just going to pay attention to what I am learning, and this week I learned the power of improvisation.

First, though, here’s what I did on my streak:

Friday, June 21: 3.9 mile hike with Kendell (Stewart Falls)
Stewart falls 6x8

Saturday, June 22: half hour of sculpting (abs, hips, and glutes)
Sunday, June 23: 8.4 mile hike with Kendell (Pine Hollow overlook)
Monday, June 24: half hour of sculpting (abs and arms), two hours of tree trimming (that should count for something, yes?)
Tuesday, June 25: 3 mile hike with Wendy (Bonneville Shoreline trail), half hour of yoga and other stretching
Wednesday, June 26: 3.7 mile run (Provo)
Thursday, June 27: 26 minutes on the elliptical, 1 mile on the treadmill, 20 minutes weight lifting (rec center)

Every single day, I’ve made a plan. And every day, I’ve changed it. Friday, for example. Fridays are my long day at work so I know I have to plan accordingly. On Thursday night I made my plan: picked out a running route, put all my running clothes in the hall bathroom, set my alarm so I could get a run in before work. Then Kendell was like, “hey, how about I exercise with you after work?” and at first we decided to do our run/walk combo on the PRT (we decide on a turn-around time, and he walks/jogs while I run and then we meet back where we started). Then I looked at some pictures from the hiking group I belong to on Facebook and I said “no, let’s hike Stewart Falls instead.”

On Saturday, I did the binding on a baby quilt, made a cake and then took it to the baby shower celebrating the baby I made the quilt for, ran errands with Kendell, made dinner. Then I saw my streak chart hanging on my kitchen door and realized I hadn’t exercised yet—at 8:30pm! Too late and too close to eating for cardio (I need at least two hours after I eat before I can exercise without feeling like I’m dying), so I did a workout on the Aaptiv apt.

Wednesday I had to adjust because the trail I drove to was closed (it’s being renovated), so instead of a run in the shade by the river, I ran in the sun after thinking “maybe I should just skip it today” but deciding to stick to my streak.

And this morning, even though I had an hour of running planned, I woke up with a headache that I threw caffeine, extra sleep, carbs, and gardening at but which wouldn’t budge until this afternoon. So I went to the gym instead.

All of which is to say: planning is necessary, but so is flexibility. Being willing to improvise when issues or other ideas come up has to be part of being consistent.

But I also learned that the streak itself will help me keep streaking, because really, if I wasn’t attempting this streaking goal, I would’ve skipped working out on Saturday, Wednesday, and today. So I feel a little bit of success and trust in myself that I can continue.

Here’s to another weak of streaking! If you’re also streaking, how is it coming for you? Or if you want to join, it's never too late, just start! HERE is some more info, along with a chart to track your progress.

Happy streaking!

My 2019 Solstice to Equinox Exercise Streak: Part 1

A few weeks ago I was watching TV with Kendell and scrolling through my photos on my phone, deleting those I didn’t need to keep. I’d not done this for a little while, so I started with January, and as I scrolled through, I started realizing: holy cow, I can watch myself getting chubbier! I hadn’t really noticed because my clothes fit very similar, but since this fall (I went back further in my picture gallery to make sure) I have grown a belly. 

But what really pushed me over the edge was this photo of me and my friend Lynne on the saddle above Fern Canyon in the Flatirons:

Amy and Lynne flatirons 20190531_130728

When I got back to our hotel, I texted the photo to Kendell, with a whole bunch of expletives and sadness and pointing out of my bulges and just generally freaking out. The weight isn’t just on my belly. It’s also above my hips and on my sides and on my face, and I made sure to circle all of the offending parts. As well as the way the skin on my hands is starting to look old for good measure.

Sometimes he doesn’t handle that kind of thing very well (he’ll make a joke instead of really listening to what is actually going on underneath my rant), but this time he was calm and kind and encouraging.

Which really reinforced the realization that I need to start working on losing some weight.

I let myself wallow in the self-hatred for a little while. I listened to my mother’s voice saying “wow, look how heavy you are.” I thought about chocolate and other treats, a litany of bad food choices to castigate myself with.

Then, a few days later, I took a deep breath. I thought: OK. This is the fact, without emotion but the objective fact: I just need to lose some weight.

I thought about all of the things I am already doing. I already exercise quite a bit. When I cook, I use healthy fats and keep an eye on sodium and sugar. I don’t drink soda very often, I very rarely eat fast food, I don’t eat potato chips. When we eat out, it’s usually at places like Costa Vida which, while not paragons of healthy eating, are at least not fried foods—and I never get the rice.

But obviously there are still some changes I need to be making.

One thing I finally did was research how I should be eating since I have hypothyroidism. (I’ve been taking medication for it since 2008 but never really received any direction as far as diet.) I got a couple of books from the library and read them, and I learned I’ve been taking my thyroid medication wrong, with not enough time after taking it before I start eating and taking my antidepressant too soon after my Synthroid. I need to get in to the doctor and have my levels tested; I think that, in January when our deductible starts over (unless something radical happens this year and we have to pay the whole damn thing again) I am also going to make an appointment with an endocrinologist if my regular doctor won’t figure out a different medication. (Something that balances both T3 and T4, not just one or the other.)

In both books, I read that people with low thyroid levels really do have a harder time losing weight. It’s not just because I’m lazy or overindulgent, although those contribute. It is harder for my body to let go of weight because of the chemical balances playing out in there. They both suggested that an hour of exercise every day is the goal to shoot for; it’s also important to focus on muscle strength.

Right now, I don’t exercise every day, and when I go running I am usually out for about 40-50 minutes. I know enough about running and about my body to know that I can’t just all of a sudden start running every day for an hour. But I’m going to make that one of my new goals: working up to running for at least an hour whenever I run. When I hike it is always longer than an hour. But I also can’t run or hike every day. So I’m going to add in a walk, and, if I am brave, a Zumba class. And some sort of weight training every single day. (Not an hour of it, but some every day.)

I also need to make some changes to my diet, but that will be its own post.

On Memorial Day, I noticed someone on Instagram was doing a Memorial-to-Labor-Day running streak. I thought that would be a great idea, but since I didn’t notice it until Memorial Day was over, the timing felt rushed.

So, instead, I am going to do an exercise streak, where I try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise (but always working toward being consistent with at least an hour) from the summer solstice to the autumn equinox.

I’m going to weigh and photography myself on June 21 (the solstice) to start. (I have been avoiding the scale since, I don’t know…October? November?) I’ll re-measure on July 21, August 22, and September 23 (the equinox). Hopefully in that time I will see some changes.

And because I am motivated by checking things off and keeping track of numbers, I made a chart. I printed mine on a piece of cardstock (double-sided) and am hanging it on my kitchen door so I can write down what I do every day. (And of course I keep track of all my runs, walks, and hikes on Strava because if it isn’t on Strava, did it even happen?)

I would really, really LOVE it if other people joined me in my streak! I’m going to use the hashtag #solsticetoequinoxstreak on Instagram (probably won’t post about it every day though) and will be giving periodic updates on my blog. Here’s the chart (it's a PDF) if you also want to play along (and let me know if you do, even if you’re not on IG or other social media places).

Download Solstice to Equinox Exercise Streak

I’m really trying to be positive and encouraging with myself during this experience, rather than working out of a place of shame or self-disgust. It’s not about winning the skinny prize. It’s just about getting myself into a healthier, happier place with my body. I hope you’ll join me!