Summer escapes await in the Four Corners Region

29 05 2012
Box Canyon, near Mineral Mountain in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, east of Florence, Ariz.

Box Canyon, near Mineral Mountain in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, east of Florence, Ariz.

One thing about the American Southwest is the amazing array of escape opportunities. Even though it’s summer in the desert, there’s a way to find a temperature for everyone’s satisfaction.

Several potential summer escapes are ready-to-read at Even in the summer, there’s water in the desert. Finding a waterside campsite in southern Utah may mean a little bit of a challenge, but there are those waterside campsites waiting.

Arizona has a host of camping opportunities. Many think of the desert as hot and forbidding in the summer–and they are correct. However, Arizona has a wide variety of climate zones, of which the desert is only one. In fact, I’ve been told that Arizona has all of the climate zones found in the world except arctic and tropic. Camping in Arizona provides a variety of opportunities.

One place for cool summer escapes is Angel Fire, N.M. Nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, the setting sun paints the mountain with fire colors–thus the area’s name.

These are just a few of the adventures to explore this summer…in fact, any summer, in the Four Corners.


Miracle Weight Loss: Easy Workout Works It Off

1 07 2011

You can cut your food intake is much as you want, but you are not going to effectively lose weight unless you exercise. “Oh my God,” is probably what you are thinking. Well, there are a lot of ways to exercise. One of the things I really like about the Lose It! application is that it assigns calorie burning levels to almost every normal daily activity. Walking, housecleaning, gardening, all of these count; and are necessary for losing weight. My goal was to average a minimum of 300 exercise calories per day. That’s 5,000 steps, five miles on a bicycle, or two hours of weeding.

In reality, I happened to do a lot more because my two pound a week target is a pretty high safe weight loss goal. I started weightlifting, 45 to 60 minutes a day, three days a week. I started riding my bicycle, a lot. Two to three days per week I was riding 12 to 15 miles, or one steady hour…about 600 calories. What I discovered was that dedicating 4 to 5 hours per week to exercise combined, with daily activities, started totaling up to a large number of calories burned. In addition, my cardio and body strength improved markedly.

That’s all, folks. Cutting portions and being active. It took me from February 1 to May 25 to drop my weight from 210 to 185 pounds. My waist shrunk from 39 to 35. In fact, today I wore a pair of pants with a 34 inch waist. No pills. No weird food intake. Just cutting portions, tracking what I ate, and moderate exercise: that is the miracle weight loss diet that provably works.

Total cost, $31 for the food scale. Period. The gain, my end of diet blood test showed significantly lowering in cholesterol and triglycerides, to the extent that I no longer have to take Tricor or Lipitor. My blood pressure medicine dosage has been cut in half. My good cholesterol is the highest it’s ever been. More importantly, I feel better than I have in more years than I can remember.

You can do it! If you need a cheerleader, email me or leave comments here. I’ll be your cheerleader, but I look really silly and those pleated skirts and fuzzy sweaters.

Miracle Weight Loss: Learning to Graze; Mooove Over Bad Habits (Part 2)

29 06 2011

Seriously, you can eat what you want. I ate McDonalds, occasionally, Subway, even had a weekly gelato at The Gelato Spot. But, I kept my daily calories around 1,400. Here’s how I did it. On Sunday, I would cook three meals at one time covering Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Thursday, I cooked a meal, on Friday, I ate out. That was my guilty pleasure night. Don’t forget, exercise adds calories to the day.

For breakfast, I stayed with a single portion of cereal, two percent milk, 8 ounces of 100% juice, a multi-tab vitamin, and coffee. I learned a couple of things reading portions. Some cereals use a 6 ounce serving, which is three-quarters of a cup, others use one cup, 8 ounces. I found that Lucky Charms, of all cereals used an 8 ounce serving and with milk had fewer calories than some of the “healthy” cereals. I skipped the ones with sugared dehydrated fruits, and bought fresh fruit to put on the cereal. I used my 2 teaspoons of sugar. Breakfast hovered between 300 and 400 calories. I took some fruit and Welch’s Fruit Snacks to work. Fruit, of course, is good. Welch’s has 80 calories and about 15 pieces of candy made from real fruit juice. They’re sweet, tasty, and don’t overload calories.

For lunch, I made sandwiches, occasionally took a salad with tuna. With that, I had tortilla chips and salsa, another Welch’s Fruit Snack, and another piece of fruit. In the afternoon, I usually brought pretzels, 100 calories of cookies, or crackers. The sandwiches, made with whole grain breads or flatbreads (check labels; some focaccia, pita, and flatbreads have more calories than white bread). The key was eating throughout the day, every 90 minutes to two hours. I kept my glycemic load stable, and thus avoided “hunger pain.” With quality meats, like Boars Head from Fry’s, it’s amazing to find that five regular slices are only 3 ounces. Add an ounce of real cheese, not American or Velveeta, use cheddar like Tillamook, a Jarlsberg Swiss, goat cheese, and other tasty cheeses, and the sandwich is under 250 calories. This is a daily total of close to 1,000 calories before dinner.

Dinner … it’s simple. Cut your portions in half and double your salads (halving the dressing). I had dessert every night – but I intermixed death by chocolate and gelato treats with Trader Joes Fruit Floes—all fruit and 100 calories. If you need a late night snack, water with a squirt of fresh lemon or lime juice is perfect. Find yourself needing a Big Mac fix with fries and a Coke for 1,250 empty calories – exercise is the magic bullet.

Next: Easy work out works it off

Miracle Weight Loss: Eat What You Want (Part 1)

27 06 2011

Those are those who parse sentences who will notice that I say, “eat what you want,” not “eat how much you want.” This was the biggest learning experience for me, it’s not what you eat, it’s portion control. The number of calories comprising your daily budget varies by your weight and your weight goal. I write this series from my experience, which was 1,487 calories per day. This budget is roughly 500 calories less than what the USDA lists as a typical daily calorie load, 2,000 calories. Your mileage may differ; uh, calorie intake, that is. Oh, and before I forget, always consult with your doctor before starting any diet.

Purchasing a food scale, and using it, is a strong step to good portion control. It’s not expensive; I spent less than $30 at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Using the Lose It! application, simple to determine what size portion works best your budget. I found that instead of 6 ounces chicken breast, 4 ounces was reasonably filling. I added salad to every meal and fresh vegetables. I did change my dessert habits, but I did not give up dessert. I started buying controlled calorie desserts, such as Skinny Cow ice creams and 100% frozen fruit juice bars. I did not give up my nightly one square of 85% cacao Safeway Select chocolate bar. I also learn interesting facts about breakfast. My guilty secret, Lucky Charms, with 2% milk has less than 250 calories per bowl. “Healthy” Crackling Oats has more than 300. I used to drink 12 to 16 ounces of orange juice; upon learning the calorie count I cut back to eight. 16 ounces of 100% orange juice is nearly 300 calories.

The trick is to learn and understand how many calories are generated by what you want to eat. I learned to substitute healthier, lower calorie choices. It meant changing brands, eating less of certain things (goodbye Ben and Jerry), and keeping count of what I put in my mouth during the day. It’s a shock learning that between meal snacking is what kills diets. In addition, it doesn’t matter if the choice is diet or regular, take soda off the shopping list. Switch to water and 100% fruit juice.

Next: Learning to graze. Moooove over bad eating habits.

Making the Miracle Really Work

24 06 2011

I’m sure it’s been guessed by now, that the miracle weight loss program is simply an honest-to-God, I’m going to lose weight program. No pills are going to do it for you if you don’t do it for yourself. In my case, the catalyst was twofold. First, I had an interview coming up and I couldn’t fit into my suit pants; and they were a 39 inch waist. I had never worn a pair of pants with more than a 38 inch waist, but the tailor at the Men’s Wearhouse had convinced me two years ago that at “my age” it was prudent to add a little space on the waist.

Second, I turned 60 on April 15th, and became a cancer survivor, and was starting to see age-related health problems. I was determined to take control of my health and make wellness a priority. I was determined to return to a 36 inch waist, a 34 if possible. I had no illusions, however that I would ever see a sixpack of abs.

There was one cost involved in the miracle weight loss. I purchased an inexpensive food scale. In all seriousness, I ate what I wanted, but I learned to control the portion size. In the beginning, this meant that I did go to bed hungry a few times. I found that drinking a glass of water (or two) helped offset that hunger feeling. I also found as the weeks passed the smaller portions were perfectly satisfying. I did treat myself to junk food, fast food, and desserts, as long as I generated an equal amount of exercise to burn the extra calories. You know those generous slices of that incredible Costco New York cheese cake? Burning it off takes a 22 mile bike ride averaging 15 miles per hour, a sweat-generating challenge on a mountain bike.

Next: How to keep eating what want and still lose weight

Starting the Miracle Weight Loss Program

22 06 2011

When losing weight, experts tell you to get a totem. A “totem” is something giving you special incentive or power to achieve your goal. For the miracle weight loss program, my totem was an iPhone application and its companion webpage called “Lose It!” It works and it’s free. However I was the one who had to make it work and it did.

If you have an iPhone, download the free application “Lose It!” If you don’t have an iPhone, register free on It starts out very simply, I entered my weight on February 1, 2011, 209.6 pounds. My goal was to weigh 185 pounds by my April 15th birthday. The Lose It! application will not let me project losing more than two pounds per week. Reading further on their webpage, I discovered that health experts believe that a two pound per week weight loss is a safe pace. This meant my April 15th goal was not realistic, and the application projected my target at April 29th.

Lose It! will calculate your net daily calorie intake. It doesn’t tell you what you can eat, only the total net calories you can take in. In my case, my net calorie load was 1,487 calories per day. One reason Lose It! works well as an iPhone application is because it is necessary for you to track everything edible you put your mouth. Having it with you makes it a lot easier to remember to do it because you have program with you as long as you are carrying your phone. You record what you eat and from its database thousands of foods, snacks, supermarket brands, and major restaurant meals, Lose It! dutifully displays the number of calories you just consumed.

In addition, all the exercises you do also calculate as calories burned. This includes not only traditional exercises like cycling, hiking, the gym, or yoga, it also includes calculations for the number of steps you take (use a pedometer), housework and yard work. Calories burned are added to your daily calorie load. When I worked out with weights for one hour, about 400 calories were added to my 1,487 daily load.

This is important to know when you decide to have a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, medium fries, and a medium Coke. That trio is 1,230 calories.

Next: Making the miracle real.

A Weight Loss Miracle That Provably Works

20 06 2011

“Eric, I cannot believe how much weight you lost. Look at how thin you are!” my friend Jyl exclaimed. “How much weight did you lose?”

I smiled brightly, 25 pounds. I now weigh the same amount I weighed the day I left college in 1972. It’s the result of a weight loss miracle. Google “weight loss” and there are several million entries returned. Most of them advertise snake oil, miracle cures, and alleged guarantees. Well I finally found a weight loss miracle that provably works. And I’m going to share it for free! That’s right, you can get the same weight loss miracle that knocked 25 pounds off my body and it’s not going to cost you one red cent. If it worked for me, it will work for you. And if it doesn’t, I promise to refund your entire investment. The best part is that you can eat anything you want to eat, there are no diet restrictions.

It is going to take a couple of blogs to convince you, but in the end, if you’re serious about losing weight, this is the program for you. Back in February 2011, I weighed 210 pounds and could barely benchpress 135 pounds. Today, I weigh 185 pounds, I can bench 185 pounds, and on Memorial Day I rode my bike 100 km in less than five hours. I told you this is a miracle weight-loss!

Before you take advantage of this miracle weight-loss program, you need to do a little preplanning. Weigh yourself, and don’t cheat. Round up if you have to. Decide how much you want to weigh. This is not just a number, this is the weight that you honestly and truly expect to achieve in a reasonable period of time. Now take a piece of paper, at the top of the sheet of paper in bold numbers write your current weight and today’s date. At the bottom of the same sheet of paper, write your goal weight and your target date. Be realistic, and figure about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds a week. Tape it to your mirror.

Next: Starting the miracle