Lessons Learned on the Trail

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A look back at our June 2012 Yellowstone National Park & Grand Teton National Park trip journal. A common occurrence we learned when visiting the parks is that there is traffic. Throughout our trip we encountered “bear jams” or “buffalo jams” or “elk jams”…you get the idea. Anytime there were animals within viewing distance there would be lines of cars either driving slow or parked on the side of the road. We learned that first day that the early bird gets the worm. The men in my life (my husband and son) love the outdoors. They hunt,fish and everything in-between so understanding the nature of animals we would get up early and get on the road to find spots to view wildlife. Leaving early helped us escape many of the “bear jams” and allowed us to see the wildlife in the quiet early mornings or late evenings. We were able to see all the wild animals in the park multiple times while many we talked to in the park barely saw any. When we would come across traffic that was slow or stopped the kids would say…”look at the bears, look at the bears” in their best Yogi bear voice. Emily and Brady use to watch Yogi Bear all the time and there was a scene from one of the cartoons where Yogi says: “look at the bears, look at the bears, look at the bears”. After our trip she decided we needed to make t-shirts with the “look at the bears” saying on it because of all the time we spent in traffic.

Journal excerpt:

“We got up early and drove the loop and saw some cars pulled over so we stopped to see what everyone was looking at. There was an Elk and a pack of wolves. The wolves were trying to circle the elk. We sat for an hour watching the scene. The Elk outsmarted them and ran off as the wolves moved in. We then headed to Mammoth Springs to go on our first hike. We were prepared with our new handy hiking poles and took off on a 5 mile hike. (Did I say it was our first hike….ever) We hiked to the Beaver Ponds trail and the climb was pretty steep but leveled out. We were by ourselves for most of the hike. Emily and I started twirling and singing The Sound of Music song: The Hills Are Alive,  while the guys kept looking and pointing out the animal scat and tracks. We picnicked at the lake (never saw a beaver) and then hiked back out. It took us almost 5 hours to hike the trial, Mark hung in there the whole way.”

I would definitely recommend starting out on a shorter hike if its your first…

A good set of trekking poles is a must! We started out with some off brand ones that were inexpensive but learned over the years that quality does make a difference. We now use the carbon fiber black diamond poles we bought from R.E.I. Do the research when investing in your camping equipment. It does make a difference.  Those first set of poles didn’t make it through the first vacation.

One thing I haven’t talked about is the challenges that face my husband in our outdoor adventures. I have so much respect for him, and he is a good sport. It always seems we have something crazy happen to us! He always goes along with what we come up with despite the challenges. Mark was born with Cerebral Palsy and has spastic paralysis on his left side. He has always taken on challenges and doesn’t let his disability stop him. We probably should have picked a shorter hike for the first one, but he just takes his trekking poles and takes off. We hiked around 20 miles that first camping vacation and learned so much. Needless to say over the last few years we now look at that first vacation and see how “green” we were. We now look at that 20 miles of hiking from that first trip and think that’s nothing.

Blessings, Cathy

Bought The Tent and Took Off

June 25, 2012 changed the way the Foreman family would vacation forever.  We spent 2 weeks camping in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.  When we first started talking of going to YNP and GTNP I was planning the typical hotel, cabin vacation, but my son kept pitching other ideas like tent camping.  I was dead set against it because of bears and other wildlife.  After plenty of research and reading on how to camp with bears my husband and I decided to go for it.  We did the typical Texas travel trailer camping as the kids were growing up, but Texas camping isn’t the same as camping up north.  We have come along way and learned so much about how and what to bring, and do when camping.  Our first trip we didn’t know much and made a lot of mistakes, but the memories we made were the best.  Heres a snippet from the journal I kept.

“We went to Walmart and bought our groceries, tent, cooler, skillet, a roll of foil and spatula. We loaded up the stuff in our Ford Flex rental car and headed out to Yellowstone.”

Yes that is all we took with us!  Needless to say we were minimal camping!  I can’t explain the excitement as we set up our little 30$ Ozark trails tent.

Journal entry: June, 25, 2012

Emily was reading the instructions and we put up the tent. Brady was playing with the rubber mallet we had bought with the tent.  After driving the stakes in the ground he turned to Emily and said “REDNECK THOR” and swung down and the rubber part of the mallet flew off and almost hit Emily. Her response was “don’t ever do that again”.  We still laugh about that happening.

We learned so much that first year.  

  • We learned to make sure and buy matches or have a way to start a fire so you don’t have to borrow from the neighbors.
  • Invest in camp mats and leave the air mattress  at home.
  • Good sleeping bags are essential!
  • Be prepared for any kind of weather.
  • Good hiking shoes are a must along with hiking socks (merino wool is our preference)
  • If you might need it….take it!

I have decided to share the knowledge we have learned over the years camping.  Each year we have learned more and experienced do’s and don’ts and some of our stories are just plain hysterical.  Many of my friends have asked me, what do I need to do to go camping? I have decided to blog about our adventures and what we do, and what NOT to do! I hope you enjoy our adventures, and I hope it inspires you to take one of your own.

I will leave you with a snippet from my journal on our first camping vacation.

June 26, 2012, I woke up early (5:00 a.m.) and it was freezing. Brady had scooted up on our air mattress during the night.  The poor kids sleeping bags were directly on the tent floor.  I wasn’t thinking of the ground being frozen all winter. Emily was curled up in a little ball with her teeth chattering.  It was 34 degrees! Instead of breakfast (because we had forgotten matches) we dressed in the bathrooms because they were warm, snacked and drove to the gift shop.  Emily bought a fleece blanket and Brady bought a beanie hat that looked like a stuffed bear.  That night they wrapped up in double layers.  Emily wrapped her blanket around her feet and brady had his hat on.

Needless to say research the weather before you go.  Freezing that first trip made such an impression on my 12 year old son that anytime we go on a trip he is more than prepared.  He takes jackets, rain gear, shorts, swim trunks and everything in-between.

These are some of our  best memories! It has been so much fun looking back over my journals from vacation.  I am amazed at how far we have come.  Look for more about how to camp and what you need in the coming weeks.

Blessing, Cathy

Absent and in Hiding

 

Noticeably absent is what I notice first when I look back on my posts.  It has been good to go back and read where I have been and what it took to get me there.  I have been absent due to the struggle within.  I have been steadily gaining back weight for the last 8 months and can’t seem to get back on track.  I had gained about 15 pounds back and was doing the lose 5 gain 5 routine.  In January of this past year my trainer that I had for a couple years moved away and it really set me back. I am now 22 pounds heavier and I refuse to give up on me and become that old girl again.  My trainer Jared taught me how to be mentally strong and I have so much to thank him for!  Through this process I am learning that its all on me and I am strong enough to do this on my own.  Somewhere along the way though I settled and started slipping.  I started putting everything else first…wife, mother, activities…people needed me right…I still workout and meal plan but not to the degree I was before and I want that girl back! I want to be the better version of me again that is happy and balanced.  No more excuses, I am going to take back ground!  I need to fight the old me and I can do that because I know her so well!

Keeping it short and sweet tonight…

Blessings Cathy

 

tis the season…

May has been a month of parties, banquets, and gatherings.  School banquets to graduation parties and everything in-between seem to happen the month of May.  One more week of celebrations then its summer!  I always remember the quote I heard from Dr. Phil years ago “life is managed, not cured’.  How true is that when we are faced with that which we struggle with.  Last blog I talked about 4 weeks of hitting it hard and so far so good…until its party time.  No, seriously it is a daily challenge to manage this journey.  There are seasons that the daily routine becomes crazy and hectic.  I haven’t been perfect in my diet but I have managed.  I actually took my own food with me to one banquet because I knew my only options were chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and bread.  It felt awkward at first and then my sweet daughter said “mom it’s only awkward if you make it that way”.  Well turns out no one said anything, I discreetly opened my grilled chicken and salad and never looked back.  I keep going back to having a plan.  During this season of banquets I am forever asking whats on the menu so I can prepare accordingly.  Only 6 more pounds to go til my goal on June 16.  I think I am going to have to be almost perfect in my diet to get there but its do-able.

“A diamond is a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well” – unknown

Blessings and here’s to all the parties

Cathy

4 Weeks of Digging Deep

Monday started my less than 4 week major crack down on my diet.  I shared before that I have slowly let the scale move back up and I have found all the new clothes I bought after losing so much weight are snug (not going to have that).  I am going to have to dig deep and stay committed to the process for the next 26 days…We are going on our big camping vacation mid June and I refuse to buy bigger clothes just to be comfortable.  I have really cracked down on the eating and I am trying to make better choices.   I find its not the meals that get me, its the snacking or “nibbling” here and there that really add up!  My family has really been encouraging me to beat this thing and helping me stay accountable and I can’t thank them enough.  We all need a support system and some form of accountability. I have found that my family helps me in their own quirky way.  True story here….We were having dinner one night at a great barbecue place and I got a peach cobbler with ice cream to share with my daughter.  My phone goes off (we don’t use technology during meal time) and my son says hey mom your phone went off, you need to look at it…..he texted me my weight…..that cobbler didn’t taste that good after that.  He is awesome at making me laugh or encouraging me by challenging me. My daughter on the other hand encourages me by trying to eat as clean as possible with me.  I don’t see her as much since she is in college but when we are together if she sees me struggling she will lay her hand on me and just says “mom”.  She has such a sweet way of reminding me.  Through all this I have incorporated my family and I couldn’t do it without them.  One new thing that I am doing that really helps the snacking at night is walking with my husband.  Everything I do usually has a purpose.  When I am walking it’s to warm up to go run, or I am getting ready to weight train or work out, but never do I walk for just walking to enjoy my surroundings.  My husband has cerebral palsy and has a limp and we are preparing for a hiking vacation this summer in Montana.  To encourage him and help him be ready for all our crazy hikes he has been walking at night.  He is an amazing guy that lets nothing stop him.  He does move slower than most and struggles with some tasks due to lack of flexibility. We walked 2 miles tonight just enjoying each other laughing and racing each other to the driveway.  I don’t tell him enough but after 25 years of marriage he is still my rock and my inspiration. I see the things he has accomplished and I find I have no excuse but to keep trying.  I have a goal of 10 pounds in the next 4 weeks and the only way I can achieve it is by leaning on those that are walking with me in this battle.  I hope you have a source of encouragement and motivation.  Find one and reach out to those around you if not, it can make all the difference in the world.

Blessings, Cathy

You are braver than you believe,

Stronger than you seem,

Smarter than you think

and

Loved more than you’ll ever know.

-A.A. Milne

It’s not just a physical thing

This week has been tough getting back on track with detoxing from our annual church campout.  I went in with a plan and good intentions to eat healthy.  Friday night I found myself with an ice cream cone filled with goodies toasted over the fire…..and the weekend continued in all its fried food and gooey goodness.  I swear there is a green eyed monster inside me that craves sugar.  Once I start I can’t seem to stop.  Over the last couple of years I have learned so much about physical strength and toughness when working out and I know mental toughness is key during a tough workout (this week I have 2 blisters and 2 skinned knees to prove it).  I remember being on mile 10 in my first half marathon when my phone rang and it was my husband calling to encourage me.  I just wanted him to come get me or make it stop. I persurveered and the accomplishment I felt afterwards was so rewarding.  That mental toughness I had been working on at the gym had paid off (not to mention running it with encouraging friends).  I am learning I need that same mental toughness and self control when eating.  I find myself going to the kitchen nightly and wanting to graze.  It has been a habit of mine for years.  I have tried all the tools of turning the lights off in the kitchen, pictures of skinny me on the pantry door, goals on the fridge, I still graze.  It dawned on me this week that the mind is a muscle as well and it can be strengthened as well.  I may not win every battle but each time I reject that grazing reflex I am getting stronger (you know what doesn’t kill you).  My faith is playing a huge part in this battle.  God will not share his glory with anything else and He wants the glory for this work He is doing.  I am tired of being a prisoner of the past and if the girl that can do all the crazy stuff at the gym decides to take on this eating…she can do anything.  “Don’t take orders from a cookie” was on one of my motivational cards and I really took that to heart when it was followed up by “Give God your weakness and He will give you His strength”.  I don’t want to be ruled by the cravings of the flesh, I want food to take its place which is just nourishment for the body.  I have had many years of eating for celebration, stress, boredom and so on….. Each day I become mentally stronger is a day closer to putting food in its rightful place.  It says in Romans “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”.

Blessings,

Cathy

52 Reasons

I recently bought a deck of blank cards…and yes they were blank.  Several years ago during a season of being controlled by worry I made a notecards with scripture and things relating to conquering it.  I carried it everywhere and it was a great tool to break free from the bondage of worry.  I was thinking about that and decided I needed one for motivation and weight loss tips.  After researching on pinterest (a great place to get encouragement to eat healthy and exercise).   I came up with the deck of cards idea (who knew they sold blank ones on amazon).  It has been such positive reinforcement for me.  At any given time you can find one of those cards with me.  I thought I would share some of my favorites.

Overtime your tempted to react in the same old way, ask yourself…..do you want to be a prisoner of the past.

I was made for  more than to be stuck in this mountain of defeat.  Turn North! Deuteronomy 2:3

We’ll never make it to our milestones if we can’t make it through our moments.

I’m not here to be average, I’m here to be AWESOME.

Eat clean 80/20 (Still struggle with that one…)

Give God your weakness and He will give you His strength!

You’ve come to far in life to take orders from a cookie. (for years I took orders from the pantry and the cravings)

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed!

and my favorite as of today…..This is NOT how the story ends!

Not sure the story is ever over but I am learning to manage this life and the body that God gave me for his glory.

Use whatever tools you can find to motivate you!  I find I am able to fight the battle when I am positively focused on the path ahead thinking “I can do this”.  I know I would  not be able to do this without the support and encouragement from friends and family.  I have enlisted their help along the way to help keep me honest.  I will leave you with a funny one that happened last week.  The family all went to eat Barbecue and this place has the best cobbler (my weakness).  I convinced my daughter to split one with me and she said yes (after the pleading eye look).  I was enjoying my first couple bites and my phone buzzes and I of course ignore it.  My son says hey mom look at your phone, I get a puzzled look and pick the phone up.  There was a text from him with my weight……I had a choice…get mad at him for pointing that out because who is he to be telling me that…. or take it as admonishment and a gentle reminder….  You see I had been complaining about not losing weight all week and he decided to text me my weight.  I died laughing (the old me would have killed him for pointing that out).  He has been on this journey with me and knows how I struggle.  The point is do whatever it takes to reach out or come alongside someone and encourage them.  We all need reminders and something to keep us on track.  I read somewhere that it takes 4 positive thoughts to negate 1 negative one.  I now have 52 reasons and a whole lot more to wake up each day and be armed and ready to fight the battle.

Blessings, Cathy