Charting My Weight – Gaining Perspective

A friend, Tish MacWebber, manages the blog Trust Your Gut. This past week, I have been a guest blogger and am glad to share the post HERE. Just click and have a look at “Charting my Weight – Gaining Perspective.” The post looks at my learnings from over 40 years of weight charting. All my best … Alexandra

From sheep to windmills

This week, I continued my exercise program, making the trip from Insch to Fyvie to the north. My three-greats-grandmother, Jane Cooper, once lived in Fyvie, according to the 1851 Census of Scotland. She lived there with her husband (my three-greats-grandfather), John, an older man named George (84 years old) who may have been her husband’s father (and my four-greats-grandfather), and eight children, at least some of whom were hers.

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DateDistance (Minutes)From/To
Feb 2720Insch to Fyvie
Feb 2920on the way to Fyvie
Cumulative Distance
(Since Dec 30)
290

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As I cycled north from Insch towards Fyvie, I saw lots of sheep, which made me think of spinning.

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And, as I thought of spinning, what should I see but a windmill farm, all of the blades spinning.

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Then, since spinning makes me think of balls of wool, I loved seeing these ‘balls’ (bales) of hay.

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Next time I cycle (spinning), I should reach Fyvie.

My best to all of you!

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Alexandra

Cycling through Scotland: What has changed since my ancestors lived there?

As I continue to travel virtually with Street View and cycle on my stationary bike through the countryside of Scotland where my three-greats-grandparents once lived, I ask: What has changed?

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DateDistance Traveled (minutes)From/To
Jan 2020Auchleven to Keig
Jan 2220Auchleven to Keig
Jan 2420Keig
Total Distance since Dec 30, 2021 250 minutes

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My three-greats-grandfather, John Clark, was born in Keig in about 1793, according to his military record. Between 1851 and 1861, he emigrated from Scotland to Nova Scotia, Canada. But modern Keig looks very little like a 18th century village. Keig today is a series of relatively modern houses along a asphalt country highway.

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There is one old church and associated cemetery, down a short side road. The church was built in 1834, before my relatives left Insch for Canada, so they may have known this church.

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They may also have known the much older church ‘nearby’ which the 1934 church replaced. To see some photos of the remains of this old church, see https://canmore.org.uk/site/18056/keig-old-parish-church-and-burial-ground

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There are maps of the old layout of Keig. The Ordinance Survey of Scotland (First Series) done in 1856 shows what has changed in 160 plus years. It is fun to follow the 1856 roads on the modern map and see how old farmsteads have survived (often rebuilt) until today. To see this old map, visit

https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/maps/sheet/first_edition/1856-95sheet76

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So what is the same? The landscape probably has not changed and John Clark would recognize the terrain of the flat valley and distant hills. The course of the River Don and the Keig Burn are basically the same. The road pattern of 1956 is still visible on the landscape, although some roadways have fallen into disuse and some new roads have been built. The crossing of the River Don is at the same location. Curiously, the 1856 map shows the old church closer to the river and does not show the 1834 church. A landmark known as Castle Forbes is on both 1856 map and the modern map. A ‘stone circle’ marked on modern maps is not noted on the older map.

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Comparing old and new maps is one aspect of genealogy I enjoy. It gives hints about how much has changed and about what would still be familiar if my ancestors traveled forward through time.

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Enjoy your own exercise routine!

Alexandra

stationary cycle and virtual travel

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DateDistance (Minutes)from/to
January 1120Insch to Auchleven
January 1320Auchleven
January 1520road to Keig
January 1720road to Keig
January 1920road to Keig
cumulative total (since Dec. 30/21)190

Continuing on my virtual travel in Scotland while on my Stationary Bike at home: this week I cycled every second day and increased my time to 20 minutes per session. Travel in the country side is very much like travel here in New Brunswick.

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Along the road are plants that seem familiar. This is probably a relative of our fireweed.

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Along the road are plantations of what I think must be Christmas trees. Acres and acres of Christmas trees.

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Back Burn near Auchleven

Crossed a couple of streams, called Burns.

Occasionally I see forested areas and I love the older, bigger trees. Perhaps some were there in the 1700s when my ancestors lived here.

On Friday, I will reach Keig, a possible birthplace of my third great-grandfather John Clarke.

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Stay well,

Alexandra

virtual tour: Insch Scotland

I’ve had fun looking around the streets of Insch, Scotland for three days of biking.

DateDistance (minutes)from/to
Dec 3015
Jan 115
Jan 315Insch
Jan 515Insch
Jan 715Insch
Insch to Auchleven

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Insch is a residential village, full of older homes. I saw an old church and graveyard, and lots of tree-lined streets. The main river flowing through the village is The Shevock. There is a castle ruin (Dunnideer Castle) south of Insch.

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The 15 minutes of cycling goes very fast when you are busy looking around a town!

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Dunnideer Castle ruin

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Next biking will be on the way to Keig, Scotland, by way of Auchleven.

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All my best,

Alexandra

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virtual biking in Scotland

When I am stationary cycling, it is always a challenge to alleviate boredom. Of course, I can read or edit, but sometimes my eyes are tired, or the light is not quite right. By far the best activity during biking is to take a virtual tour of any countryside. In the past, I have cycled through France, Cornwall, Southern Ireland and northern New Brunswick. All virtually, using Google and Street View.

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This time I decided to tour a part of Scotland. My third great-grandmother, Jane Cooper (1799 to 1887), came from Scotland. She married my third great-grandfather, John Clark (1793 to 1855?), from Insch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1822. I have never been to Scotland, so I thought I’d use this biking tour to bike the roads they may have once walked.

I decided to start my tour in Insch, Scotland and after a look-around there, work my way to Kaig, Aberdeenshire and north to Fyvie, Aberdeenshire (I have found a military record showing John Clarke was born in Kaig, southwest of Insch; I also found the 1851 Census for Scotland, listing Jane’s birthplace as Fyvie, Aberdeenshire).

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Today I started in Insch, biking to the edges of the village. The countryside is rural, agricultural, not that different from the area where I live.

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In Insch, the charming stone and wood construction I’ve seen elsewhere in England dominates. A great way to start my tour.

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Off I go!

All my best to you in your wellness journey!

Alexandra

posting after a hiatus

I haven’t posted to this site in a long time, but I have, to me, interesting news about my health and weight. I recently weighed myself after a long absence from the scales. In August 2021, I weighed 223 pounds. On December 31, 2021, four months later, I weighed 214, a loss of 9 pounds. If you read other posts in this blog, you will find that I have had a life-long problem with weight. I last weighed 214 in 1980 when I was 26 years old.

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So how did I lose this weight? I have continued my efforts to lose weight but I have also had a number of health problems that have contributed to the weight loss. In April, I was diagnosed with a cancer associated with the salivary gland. The prognosis for this type of cancer is good, so I began treatment by having the gland and associated lump removed. Then, to reduce the likelihood of recurrence even further, I underwent five weeks of radiation therapy.

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During the radiation, I was monitored closely by my team since undesirable weight loss is sometimes a result of the treatment. By the end of the treatment, in August, I had lost only 2 pounds. For the first time in my life, they clapped when I did not lose weight.

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However, since then, a couple of results of the loss of a salivary gland have contributed to my eating less. First, my taste was strange for a short time, perhaps two months, after the radiation treatments ended. I still have problems with the taste of cold sweet things, removing popsicles and ice cream from my diet. Second, I have lost my appetite, perhaps also a result of the lower saliva. Working with food to prepare it has become a distasteful activity and my husband says I eat only a small amount compared to past days.

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There is another contributor to this puzzle. I am a Type 2 Diabetic and take several medications including insulin. My sugars have been under good control since I started taking a medication called Forxiga. This medication is associated with some weight loss and certainly contributed to an initial loss when I started taking it a few years ago. It may be that the medication is still contributing to some of my weight loss.

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Weight loss can be bad for someone my age, especially if the loss is of muscle rather than fat. I definitely have some muscle loss due to a lot of sitting around in the hospital during my treatments. When I came home, for example, I noticed climbing stairs was no longer easy. I am happy with the weight loss since less weight will help my diabetes and my arthritis, but I have to take steps now to improve my muscle status.

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For this reason, I have recommenced my program of stationary biking. I did a lot of stationary biking from 2015 to 2018, but then I became involved in other uses of my time. My goal now is to do 15 minutes of stationary cycling every second day until it becomes a little easier for me. Then I can consider increasing the time or frequency.

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For that reason, I will start to post my experience with the biking. Being accountable helps me realize my exercise goals.

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Until next time, take care of yourself!

All my best,

Alexandra

Scheduled ‘me’ time

Lately, mostly due to various problems with arthritis, I find myself managing my pain with ‘avoidance.’ I still do my stretches and biking each morning, but the rest of my day is about minimizing movement. Short term gain (no pain) for long term pain (loss of flexibility and muscle tone). Not a good approach.

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So, I am trying to build some activity into the later parts of my day. At 4:00 every day, I am giving an hour to my health. One of the actives will be to get outside and walk. I have a deck system with four sets of stairs, so a circuit involves exercising muscles to keep my knees strong, a key piece of arthritis management.

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You can see by the pile of leaves at the bottom, this set of stairs hasn’t been used enough!

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Other things I can do during my ‘me hour’ (some exercise, some wellness time):

1. Research a health topic I am interested in and do an information page in my scrapbook. Perhaps do a blog post!

2. Do 20 minutes of yoga. I have a program to follow or, for variety, I can tape a program from TV.

3. Get weighed. We have a very good quality doctor’s scale but it is in the basement so I don’t weigh myself too often.

4. Do a set of weights for my arms, to keep them strong and help accelerate my metabolism.

5. Foot and nail care.

6. Read or do any sedentary activity on my exercise ball.

7. Take a walk outside, including my deck-stair circuit.

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Another deck stairway ready for my circuits.

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All my best,

Alexandra.

Still biking …

Last time I reported on my stationary biking, I was using Street View (Google Earth) to travel the roads of County Cork in Ireland. I travelled a long way with this method of motivation.

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I have since found a new way to motivate myself and track my progress. I use the ‘earn a free coffee’ card from a popular restaurant and stickers I have rescued from unused address labels. I get quite a few cards since I drink a lot of fast-food tea.

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Each time I use my stationary bike, I earn a sticker. I put the date and the time travelled on the back of the card. When I have earned eight stickers, I get a small reward, usually a new eBook.

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Scan_20180419 (5).jpg

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Sounds like kindergarten, but for me it works to keep my motivation.

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To pass the time on my bike, I read, or edit one of my books-in-progress.

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Scan_20180419 (6)
on the back of each card, I write the date and the time spent on my bike

 

 

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If you are having trouble with motivation toward exercise, this little method might help.

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All my best,

Alexandra

meet a character in my book!

I haven’t posted in a very long time, but I have been busy. Last November, I decided to take my writing in a new direction. Since then, I have published three books, in a science fiction adventure/romance set on the planet Meniscus, far from Earth.

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My main character in these books is a young woman named Odymn. She is 28 years old and was brought to the planet Meniscus as a slave. Although she has endured hardships, she has strength and endurance and she has escaped to freedom, to live in the wilderness of Meniscus.

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Physically, she is very different from me.

I have arthritis in my knees and have difficulty walking …

Odymn is athletic, an expert at the art of parkour. Parkour is a way of moving through the landscape in a series of runs, jumps and climbs. Parkour promotes strength, flexibility and endurance.


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In knowledge, she is a bit like me.

I am a botanist and know the names of many of our local plants. I also know a lot about the edibility and toxicity of plants …

She has learned, by listening and asking questions, the names and characteristics of many of the plants on this alien planet. She has also learned, partly by trial and error, the best plants to eat and those to avoid because of toxins.

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If you’d like to learn more about my parkour-loving heroine, the books in the series are available on Amazon here.

Meniscus: One Point Five is available free at WattPad here.

All my best,

Alexandra