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Digital Running Club » Columns, Downsizing » Loops & Roundabouts

Loops & Roundabouts

I recently vacationed in Florida. Most people think of vacation time as a time for breaking the rules… eating whatever you want, staying up late, sleeping in and just having fun. In the past, I would’ve bought munchies for the road trip and gotten a large cola at McDonald’s right before leaving town. Most of my meals would’ve been at restaurants with ice cream cones in between. However, this vacation was different. I purposely chose to eat healthful meals the majority of the time and walking remained a priority.

I drove to Florida with my Aunt Melvena, and we stayed with our cousin Marilyn. Marilyn lives in The Villages which consists of lots of loops (in place of streets) and several roundabouts (in place of traffic lights). Experiencing the loops and roundabouts, I began thinking of them in terms of focusing on health while vacationing.

Instead of straight streets with sharp corners, or even dead ends, different sections of The Villages consist of loops that contain gentle curves. Whether it’s going on vacation, dealing with a stressful situation, or attending a social gathering, eating should be viewed as loops. I need to stay on course as much as possible and not let events cause me to make a sharp turn.

Most of our meals were enjoyed at Marilyn’s home. Marilyn is super healthy and is accustomed to eating healthful meals. We discussed ideals for meals and made sure that there weren’t any tempting foods in the house. For breakfast, we usually had cereal with fresh blueberries or strawberries. Once in awhile we added a few raw cashews, which I had never tried before.

Lunch typically was a large salad with all sorts of vegetables and beans. We usually had cold chicken or a hardboiled egg for added protein. I tried a variety of beans and thought that most of them tasted pretty good.

For dinner, we ate out a couple of times. Melvena and I stopped at restaurants while traveling to and from Florida as well. It was encouraging to discover that many restaurant menus have a “health conscious” section. I was able to enjoy fish and chicken without wondering how many calories I was consuming. One night I opted for pasta, but was very satisfied eating a portion of it rather than the whole thing.

As a special splurge, we went to a frozen yogurt shop twice. There was a wide variety of choices and several were low calorie or no sugar yogurts. This was a wonderful alternative to an ice cream shop!

Although I did enjoy some foods that I’m typically staying away from, for once I felt as though I was in control of my eating rather than my eating controlling me. I wasn’t fixated on food, but rather viewed eating as part of the day’s routine.

The roundabouts were very frustrating to me. I’m used to stopping at a traffic light and signaling if I need to go left or right. With the roundabouts, you yield to the traffic that’s already in the circle and then as you enter you need to quickly figure out where you want to exit so that you can be sure to be in the correct lane. More than once, I took the wrong exit – and one time I even went around the roundabout twice!

But isn’t focusing on health similar to roundabouts? When you have a plan or goal in place and you’re strategically following that plan, you understand how to stay on course or when to yield. However, if you allow yourself to veer away from the plan, it can become frustrating and sometimes difficult to get back on track, such as taking a wrong exit on the roundabout.

My 100th Mile!!
The highlight of my Florida trip was having the opportunity to meet Coach Brian Darrow, his wife Raffi, and their two daughters, Wendy and Alice. Coach Brian planned a four mile scenic walk down waterfront Coffee Pot Blvd. in St. Petersburg, in celebration of walking my 100th mile since he started coaching me. We also met up with my cousin Linda and her husband Bill, and Jodie, a friend of the Darrows.

The first mile was very enjoyable and it was the 100th mile in my health journey. There was a nice breeze since we were walking right next to the water. We enjoyed watching the herons and turtles.  Above us was a jet air show and we were being serenaded by the buzz of Indy cars from the Honda Grand Prix. At the completion of the second mile, I was beginning to feel the heat. Keep in mind, that I’ve been walking in 30 degree weather in upstate New York. The temperature in Florida was in the 80’s.

During the third mile I was getting very warm and the heat was zapping my energy. I knew that I could complete the third mile, but was concerned about walking the fourth mile. This was my first four mile walk and I wasn’t used to the heat.

Everyone was good natured about the fourth mile. Anytime I spotted the tiniest bit of shade, I announced “Shade Break” and cooled off for a few seconds. Between the temperature and the high humidity, I found it difficult to take deep breaths. At times my mind wondered if I could actually complete the walk, but I refused to give in to the doubts. If Coach Brian believed I was capable of walking four miles, then I needed to believe it as well.

I did complete the four miles! We then went to Evo’s, a healthy fast food restaurant, to continue our celebration. Wow! I wish we had an Evo’s in New York!  When Raffi said we were going for fries and milkshakes after the walk, I thought she was kidding. But Evo’s really has organic, low sugar milkshakes and air baked french fries. My real fruit berry smoothie and baked chicken tenders were wonderful! By the time we finished eating and wrapped up our chatting, I finally felt cooled off and actually felt human again. It was the toughest walk I’ve yet to experience.

Friends back home and on Facebook were super supportive during my 100th walk celebration. When I checked Facebook that night, I saw pictures that people posted while they walked along with me “virtually”, doing 4 miles at the same time in their town! They even had signs to encourage me.

Two weekends later, Coach Brian had me walk four miles here in New York. The temperature was in the 30s and I did fine. There was no need to stop, and the four miles were accomplished in a much shorter amount of time. It also helped that my friend Michele walked with me.

The trip to Florida taught me that it’s possible to be health conscious while vacationing. With some planning and open discussions regarding meals, eating healthy the majority of the time wasn’t difficult to do. Keeping up with my morning walking routine was fairly easy as well. Even though I didn’t know my exact mileage, I knew that I was getting my walks in. I enjoyed walking the loops and even had a duck join me for a portion of one of the walks!

Based on this experience, I know that making healthy choices will be a part of my future vacations. In fact, as I continue to increase my walking and losing weight, I hope to be able to incorporate some physical activities in future vacations that I’ve been too heavy to attempt. I still want to be able to free fall, fly in a hot air balloon, ride a water jet and hike a trail.

In the words of Jesse Owens:

“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.”

Written by

Barb Bergerson lives in Western New York. She has a passion for helping people and getting to know their life stories. She teaches part-time in a jail, is a church administrative assistant, and enjoys freelance writing. Barb loves spending time with her nieces, playing games and relaxing by her pond. She’s excited about focusing on her health and getting back into the game of life. Get updates on Barb's progress on Facebook.

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52 Responses to "Loops & Roundabouts"

  1. Fran Merry says:

    Bravo dear Barb! I am celebrating in my heart any of your achievements. You are amazing and we most of all have an amazing Lord who can help us to do everything through His strength! Well done!

  2. Lil Pye says:

    Wow ! You look amazing !! you are so skinny .

  3. Emily Gray says:

    So proud of you and all you have accomplished. Not sure I would have the stamana that you constintly show

  4. Amanda says:

    I was asked how much you’ve downsized and I said I’m not sure now but I can really tell in the pictures. You already look so different! Can’t wait to see you in person in just a couple weeks. Congrats again on all you are accomplishing!

  5. Great encouragement to all of us, Barb.

    We travel and eat in restaurants so much, that when we order a restaurant meal we immediately ask for a box to take half of it home. It’s too easy to just keep eating, so before I take a bite, I cut my meal in half and fill my take home box.

    Four miles and one hundred miles are a great accomplishment. Good for you!

  6. Melvena says:

    Our traveling together was fun and it was inspirational to see how well you handled the four mile walk in the heat. It was good you were able to choose healthful foods while on vacation. I am proud of you and know you will keep up the great effort you have shown.

  7. Debbie says:

    You are doing a wonderful job! You can see the results showing and by the smile on your face, I know you are feeling it! Keep going forward the best is yet to come!

  8. Marilyn Edwards says:

    What a great example you are! As you keep on “Keeping On”, I am encouraged to begin my own walking program. I am glad to know you!

  9. Karla Hills says:

    It’s so awesome you have come this far. Your story reflexs all you have accomplished! I am soo happy for you!

  10. Sandy Rowley says:

    Barb,you are doing such a great job!!!! Walking,cooking healthy and all the rest,it is a major life style change and you are doing it all.Iam very proud of you.Sandy

  11. Patti says:

    Hooray! So happy for you – setting goals and meeting them. I am inspired!

  12. Regina says:

    I am proud of all you’ve accomplished, Barb! You are an inspiration!!!!

  13. Michele Pettenati says:

    Barb, I love to read your articles. First of all, I want to say you are amazing. look at your journey. Don’t focus on numbers on a scale. You are starting to understand the benefits of eating healthy and
    exercising to be healthy. I am and emotional eater and I need to focus on eating when I am hungry and eating those foods that are, good for me. My diet is different than yours because I have food allergies. So there are foods that I just cannot eat. Secondly, where is the joy in eating? well you have already learned how to eat correctly but your food piece is so important. The joy in eating is being able to eat healthy and to feel good. Exercising is so important and you are on the road to success! Remember it is not a diet for this week…… it is a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. Stay healthy!!

    • Barb says:

      Thanks Michele for all your thoughts. It is a lifestyle change. Each time I take a walk I remind myself that I’m into this for the rest of my life.

  14. Sylvia Meyers says:

    It was neat to read about your trip. Wish I could do the walking, but with numb feet…that just doesn’t work…have come close to falling too many times. I’m happy for you and the progress you are making. I pray God will use you to inspire many others!

    • Barb says:

      Thanks Sylvia. With the numbness that I have, I think the indoor walking has helped me a lot. I’m so much more confident now with my outdoor walking. I realize that your numbness is more severe than mine.

  15. Lisa Arnone says:

    Barb, I am so proud of you and all your accomplishments. I too thoroughly enjoy reading your articles and keeping track of your journey. You are doing an amazing job. You are such an inspiration. Can’t wait for my next vist home when I can take another walk with you.

  16. April says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. I loved hearing about your trip too. You are doing a fantastic job!

  17. Sue Stern says:

    Barb, loved the part about the loops and roundabouts!! Thanks for inspiring me to get back on track!! Congratulations on your accomplishment of walking 4 miles and a total of 100 miles and taking off weight and taking a healthy vacation!!!! Love and prayers

    • Barb says:

      Thanks Sue. My next 100 mile will be here before we now it. I know walk 10+ miles a week. So in my mind, the next milestone will be when I hit the 500th mile.

  18. Cheryl Lewis says:

    Barb, I thought of you today. My daughter and I took the dogs for a walk and thought you would have enjoyed it. There’s a trail near us through the Apalachicola National Forest that was made where a railroad used to run from just over the border in Georgia to the coast haling lumber in the nineteen thirties and forties. The trail is 2.4 miles and ends (or begins) at a trout pond where there is a little park. It was a beautiful day, a little bit of a breeze, shady, and a few gentle hills to make it interesting. We walked the whole trail, around the pond and back. I wish I could have joined you when you were down here, unfortunately I was working. We’ll have to plan a walk the next time I’m home.

    • Barb says:

      Oh Cheryl, the trail sounds wonderful!!! Sounds like you had a wonderful walk! Maybe my next trip to FL I’ll have to plan a night in your area and walk the trail with you! This coming Sat. will be my first 5 mile walk.

  19. vanessa larson says:

    Good for you Barb! Those salads sound so good!!!! Sometimes health food looks better than junk food! So glad for you and all the good you are doing for your body!

    • Barb says:

      Melvena and I even had a great salad at a Cracker Barrel. It had lettuce, chicken, pineapple, strawberries and feta cheese. It makes me want to experiment more with salads here at home.

  20. Kathy says:

    Barb, I am so proud of you. I could certainly see a difference on Easter. Keep up the good work-one of these Saturday’s I will walk with you. :) !!

  21. Marsha Sick says:

    I so enjoy reading your journals…You put it all out there. I can not express in words how “happy” [for a lack of a word] I am for you. What a challenge you’ve been through and are still going through. I wish you the success you deserve. (:}

  22. Karen says:

    Barb you have become my inspiration. I have learned to push myself beyond my comfort zone thanks to you. I also love the little tips you offer up every once in a while. Thanks a billion from a fan! I am very proud of you!!!

    • Barb says:

      And I’m proud of you! I think it’s great that you’re trying some things that you haven’t tried before! Keep up the good work!!!

  23. Beckie says:

    Great article and way to keep moving forward. I can not say enough – You are an inspiration!

  24. Shelley says:

    I love how you are able to use the everyday things such as loops and roundabouts to encourage yourself and others. I look forward to reading your insights, they inspire me to strive to be healthier. I am so impressed with your progress!

  25. Matt Fanton says:

    You are such a great inspiration to a lot of people. Don’t stop letting God use you as a witness!

  26. Jackie Searle says:

    I am so proud of you, Barb!!!
    You have a gift of writing and you are very inspirational!!!
    Keep up the good work!!

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