Over the weekend, I posted this picture to THIH’s Facebook page and asked for guesses as to where I might be:
Most guesses were for Rome, which is not too far off … in a way. Although I have to say, despite my 26 hour trip to Paris, I think a weekend trip to Rome may be too much even for this enthusiastic traveler. Christina‘s guess of Springfield was the closest – as a fellow former East-Coast-girl-in-Illinois myself, I’m not surprised! This exotic-looking structure above is actually the Parthenon – in Nashville, Tennessee.
Here are a few more pictures:
According to Nashville Parks & Recreation, the Nashville Parthenon is the only life-size replica of the original Parthenon (in Athens). It certainly looks quite impressive, albeit not endowed with millennia of history. As I ran by, people were setting up the white tents out front for an upcoming wedding. The fact these same people were installing an enormous white elephant made entirely of white flowers at the entrance suggests Parthenon weddings are quite fancy.
Why were Peter and I in Nashville? Peter had a conference at Vanderbilt, so I packed up some work and went with him to share the driving. Nashville is 5.5 hours south of where we live, and 5.5 hours alone in a car is enough to turn the most mild-manner professor into a kitchen-appliance-loving version of the Hulk. Of course, 5.5 hours (6.5 with traffic) in a confined space with a gal who insists on listening to “Wait, Wait” instead of whatever board game
nerd podcast he currently listens to could be just as trying to said professor.
We did stop once or twice on the way, including a stop in Metropolis, IL (this pic is for you, LeQuan!):
Check out those biceps.
We arrived in Nashville a day early so we could take in a few sights (the rest of the weekend Peter attended his conference and I worked in the hotel room). This is when I gathered further evidence that I’m not a city person. Despite the diverse and sprawling nature of Nashville (seriously, you could drive an hour and STILL be in Nashville – and we did), the city felt confining to me. I apologize to the Nashville fans out there – the city is quite lovely, and in many places doesn’t even feel like a city. But it’s still too much city for me. Peter and I would rather walk with the dogs in Vermont miles from civilization rather than take in a show at the Grand Ole Opry.
Speaking of which … during our day of tourism, we visited the country music hall hoping to tour backstage, but were turned away because they were setting up for something, presumably a show. At least the outside of the hall is impressive, although the Taylor Swift song blaring over the loudspeakers sure didn’t sound like country music. No pics, sadly. Perhaps disappointment had rendered my photography arm senseless.
The best part of the day: checking out the incredible gardens at the Opryland Hotel, just a hop, skip and air-so-humid-it-envelops-every-inch jump away from the Grand Ole Opry. Seriously, if you’re ever in the area, check these out. Peter described the gardens as the “Disney of Nashville”, which is quite a compliment considering he’s tried to get us to visit Disney World since we were in college. Yes, college.
The next two pictures are rather dark; apparently I’d forgotten how to use my flash on this trip.
We visited a few other places in Nashville, including Andrew Jackson’s home The Hermitage. The only two pictures on my camera from this excursion are the following:
The picture above is Peter’s reenactment of his disappointed face when we found out the line to tour Old Hickory’s mansion was 45 minutes long. I particularly like the bright orange lanyard hanging casually from his neck.
The grounds are gorgeous, but we didn’t end up staying long. I think we were both feeling the heat and humidity at this point. According to a few locals, the conditions are much worse in July and August.
We also visited Cheekwood, an estate funded by a relative of the Maxwell coffee creator. The grounds are beautiful here as well.
Setting up for a light show:
Nice job with the flash again, Jessie.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a few food pictures. The hotel had a fridge, so Peter and I enjoyed Bircher Muesli with banana every morning.
We went out to eat once at the Loveless Cafe, which is an institution in Nashville. Friends recommended this place to us, plus the online reviews are glowing, so we were excited to try it.
That’s a lot of beige.
I may gain a few more enemies with the following statement, but here goes: I didn’t like it. The Cafe is known for its biscuits (heck, they even have a signed picture of Kenny Chesney hanging in the front of the restaurant in which he raves about the biscuits), but I found them tough and slightly cold for some reason. The rest of the food (meatloaf, pulled pork, fried chicken) was bland, despite hitting all the salt, sweet and fat spots you could ever want. Even Peter found the fried chicken lacking (although he’s particular about his fried chicken).
And that’s the truncated version of Nashville, as seen through a jaded, non-city-loving gal’s eyes.
Flower pic of the week! Peter brought this curry plant back from the aphid-chomping dead and it’s now covered in gorgeous little flowers.
Zombie curry, anyone?
Enjoy your week!
Q: Are you a city or country person?
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Today, I’d like to talk about a subject I’ve never discussed on THIH: weight. I hesitated writing this post because there’s a lot of sensitivity surrounding the subject. As I wrote in my FAQ, I feel our society has too much of a fixation on weight. For both women AND men, there exist strong external and internal pressures to look a certain way and fit within a narrow definition of “attractiveness”. These pressures may cause some to make unhealthy and/or uninformed choices that can have negative consequences on health.
In the long run, however, pretending the issue doesn’t exist in the world of THIH is perhaps not the smartest. I hope by giving my perspective as a registered dietitian, I can provide a positive example of attainable goals grounded in health.
So, why do I bring up weight now, anyway?
A few weeks ago, I stepped on a scale for the first time since early last fall. I’d been feeling a bit more tired than usual, despite getting plenty of sleep (most of the time). Knowing this, I was only half-surprised to find I weigh about five pounds above my comfortable upper limit. I checked several times over the next week to make sure, as weight can fluctuate by several pounds over the course of a few days (or even over the course of a single day) depending on what you ate and how much water you retain. Sure enough, the weight gain remained (now that is a beautiful three-word rhyme, if I say so myself).
A little background: With one exception, I’ve been within the same ten-pound weight range since I was 14 (the age I reached my full height – let’s hear it for short-to-averaged-height people!). I won’t mention what the weight range is because (a) it’s not important; rather, what’s important is I know it’s a comfortable, healthy and long-term maintainable weight range for me, and (b) I’ve mentioned my height elsewhere on this website, and I don’t want anyone to think any particular number represents an “ideal” weight for everyone of that height. I’ve received emails on this subject that make me a little sad.
My first reaction to this unexpected weight gain was to berate myself for not checking my weight more often, but then I pressed the STOP button and took a step back (take that, EASY button). I have the benefit of being a registered dietitian who encounters situations like this every day. Sometimes all it takes is a small shift in focus to help us tackle a problem with a rational mind. I also believe in the power of example. The more positive, self-empowering examples of healthy living there are out there, the better for us as a whole.
So, instead of freaking out or beating myself up over a small weight gain (both unproductive reactions of which I’ve seen), I thought I’d use this opportunity to share a little about how I approach weight loss. In other words, if I was my own client, what would I tell myself?
First of all, this type of weight gain is very common: five pounds here, five pounds there, until one day the scale reads much higher than expected. This type of weight gain is not inevitable. Regular weight checks and small adjustments over time are enough to hold it off. Even if you’ve gained more than a few pounds here and there, don’t despair. Despite how it feels, the weight gain need not be permanent.
You may ask: why can’t I be happy at the weight I am?
My answer: I would be happy at this weight – if it was the weight I had been at when I was 18 and the weight at which I felt the most healthy. It is not. Evidence suggests weight gain after age 18 can raise your risk for diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer and risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. I’m not a fan of those odds. If you recall, I also said I felt more tired than usual lately.
The next point is so important, I’ll put it in bold: I’d like to return to my comfortable weight range not because of appearance, but because of my current and future health. I am happy with my appearance. I want to feel better and live healthy.
So, what’s the plan?
My approach is simple: look for patterns in my diet that offer areas of adjustment. As with example, I also believe in the power of food journaling to help spot areas of improvement. By writing down everything I eat and drink, including amounts, time of day when eaten, where eaten, physical comfort afterward and more, I can look for anything from a too-light breakfast to a potential food intolerance.
I already eat nutritionally-balanced meals with appropriate portions (the Update Your Plate series can attest to that). What could I possibly change?
As it so happens, I already have a mini-food diary-of-sorts in Monday Munchies, the post series where I record everything I eat and drink (other than water) in pictures. A funny thing happened when I compared my Monday Munchy days to regular days: I found out I eat differently on days I record an MM. For example, I might be preparing dinner on a Monday Munchy day and want to try this and that as I’m cooking, but then I’d have to drag a camera out and that’s SUCH a pain so why don’t I skip it now because I’m a decent cook and don’t need to taste this besides I’m having dinner in fifteen minutes?
(Apparently, living inside my brain means being in the midst of a run-on sentence.)
Bonnie is totally not judging me.
Something similar happens after dinner. I’ll look for something sweet because I’m in the habit of it, when I really don’t need it. On MM days, I’ll sometimes record a dessert, but more often I won’t because again, that camera is heavy. And I’m always leaving the camera in places where I have to spend fifteen minutes looking for it (Peter can attest to this). The act of taking pictures of everything I eat was enough to make me hesitate before reaching for something. It also helped me realize I used to eat more like I do on MM days than recent regular days.
Now, I’m not going to start taking pictures of everything I eat. Recording everything you eat forever is not the point of food journaling. Rather, I’ve spotted a pattern about which I can do something. The next step is to make diet and/or exercise adjustments I can live with long-term. By the way, identifying patterns and brainstorming ways to adjust them is the perfect task to work on as a team with a registered dietitian. JUST SAYING.
My SMART Plan, to begin immediately:
(1) On weekdays, I will check myself before and after dinner to think about whether I really need what I’m reaching for. I can even think about my camera, if that helps. Sometimes the act of checking yourself is enough to help develop a sense of mindfulness about eating. This goal doesn’t mean I’ll never have a weekday dessert or after-dinner snack; it means I’ll make sure I need one rather than want one.
(2) Three times per week, I will run for at least 30 minutes (I don’t identify particular days, as my schedule fluctuates so much). Exercise is an important part of any weight-loss plan, and I include it when the client is receptive, able and doesn’t have too many goals already. I tend to exercise less in the winter (something I can work on for next year), so just the act of getting out there and running will help me achieve my goal.
(3) I will weigh myself once per week, at the same time each day. I choose Monday morning before breakfast.
There are strategies I can use to make each of these tasks easier, such as leaving out running gear the day before so that I see it immediately when I wake up, or setting an alarm for weighing. These changes are relatively small. Sometimes a client wishes to lose a larger amount of weight, or has a much larger goal health-wise; I would still set small goals like this because smaller steps are easier to follow than large, unattainable steps. Bite-sized goals, dear reader.
One final note: Like weight gain, weight loss is slow. I anticipate it will take at least 2.5 to 3 months to reenter my comfortable weight range – and I’m 100% fine with that. Slow weight loss = lasting results!
Whew! That was not easy, so thanks for reading! I’ll report back. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your week!
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