All Posts By

Ingunn Markiewicz

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Health

The first thirty

Regarding the weightloss I described in my previous post (thank you so much for all the comments and warm, fuzzy love about that!), I should probably clarify that it didn’t just magically melt off due to hiking. I’m a firm believer in the saying that you can’t out-exercise your mouth. Those 500 calories you might burn on a hike won’t make much of a dent if you reward yourself with a giant chocolate bar afterwards (not that I would ever do that, of course, she whistles innocently).

(That said, backpacking trips and very long dayhikes did lead to weightloss for me, thanks to the combination of sustained exercise and low calorie intake, because I just ended up eating way less than I would at home. Road trips where we would camp and go backpacking were especially effective, but of course my weight would just shoot back up the second I came home and resumed my normal eating habits.)

The big change was, I think, a change in the way I saw myself. Suddenly I was out there experiencing a whole new world and my body started feeling stronger every time I climbed a mountain. That confidence boost made me respect myself enough to start taking better care of my body.

I flirted with a few things like Weight Watchers, but never lasted very long because I just loathe any sort of food tracking with every fiber of my being. So mostly I just ate healthier than before. Honestly, my diet prior to discovering hiking was so atrocious that even the smallest of tweaks gave big results, but I also learned to really love vegetables. I started reading healthy living blogs and learned that kale is a thing, and actually a surprisingly tasty thing! I discovered the joy of cooking, which in itself was a huge step up from eating french fries and Quorn nuggets and all sorts of pre-packaged junk every day, even though I smothered most things in cheese. (My affair with chocolate, however, kept burning with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.)

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I lost around 30 pounds that first year, then lost and gained the same 15 or so over and over and over and over again, depending on my state of mind. Last year, I found my preferred way of eating and (effortlessly! it’s magic!) lost 35 pounds over the course of three months before becoming pregnant, and now I’m working on the last 30 or so that it will take for me to reach a truly healthy weight. Just last week I reached the “normal” BMI range for the first time. I know everyone loves to hate BMI, but I don’t have enough muscle mass to skew the results, so I’m going to take this as a huge win.

A big difference today is that it’s truly health-motivated for me. Like a lot of women in our society, I’ve always had a strained relationship with my body and my appearance, but something about having kids has made me put much less weight (heh) on my looks. (I like to think that I’ve matured, but maybe I’m just too chronically sleep-deprived to give any f*cks.) I won’t lie, it’s fun to look at photos and see a big difference, or to be able to use the baby carrier after JK has worn it without having to loosen the waist belt (woot!), but it’s way more rewarding to be able to hike briskly uphill without getting out of breath and to finally see my cholesterol fall into the normal range.

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Health, Hiking, Me

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago, I was a totally different person. There aren’t that many photos of me from that time because, well, let’s just say I preferred to be behind the camera. Ten years ago was also 65+ pounds ago.

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I don’t remember much of my life back then, partly because – thankfully – it feels like a lifetime ago, but mostly because it wasn’t much of a life at all. I remember staying up all night because I just couldn’t sleep during those bleak, dark hours, then crawling into bed in the early morning, staying there until noon or sometimes even until JK came home from work. Almost never getting out of the house, and not for my normal homebody/introvert reasons, but due to crippling social anxiety and near-constant migraines. Subsisting on a diet of faux-meat “chicken” nuggets, fries, potato chips, Pepsi, and chocolate. Trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant, which in hindsight was a blessing in disguise, because dear lord that would have been a shit show. I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone a little baby.

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2007 was the year that changed so many things for me, all set in motion by that one backpacking trip to Shi Shi Beach, which I somehow, stepping way, way out of my comfort zone, agreed to go on. (Thank you Tom and Amy for reaching out and making it happen!) That adventure sparked a fire in me that hasn’t stopped burning since. Right when I needed it the most, along came this whole new world of fresh air, jaw-dropping views, endorphins, sunshine, and new, like-minded friends. It got me interested in life again. I set goals for myself. I felt immense pride in myself when I reached those goals. I started appreciating my body for the things it allowed me to do.

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Within a month and a half of that trip to Shi Shi, JK and I had visited Mount Rainier, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks. We went to Noble Knob for the first time, gobsmacked by the sight of Mount Rainier lit up bright pink at sunrise. Talk about finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

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Slowly but surely we hiked more and more trails, and I lost more and more weight. That fall, I couldn’t even make it halfway up the trail to Poo Poo Point because I legit thought I was going to have a heart attack, but the following summer, we backpacked to Jade Lake and the Enchantments. We started taking adventurous vacations. We got hooked on trail running. We climbed volcanoes. We finally had our wonderful babies and are continuing our life on trail, albeit a little differently these days.

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This trail hasn’t been without its fair share of setbacks (or should I say switchbacks?). I still tend toward depression if I don’t take care of myself, but it’s no longer a constant, towering presence in my life. Sometimes, back in the day, hiking itself brought out some of my old tendencies – my big depression problem of not feeling like I was good enough would come up whenever I hiked with a group of faster, stronger people (in other words, most other people). But over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the biggest reasons why I feel so happy in the mountains is because I feel competent out there. I feel like I know what I’m doing. That’s not a feeling I’ve experienced much in my life, especially now that we’ve entered the ever-changing world of parenting (does anyone feel like they know what the hell they’re doing when it comes to parenting?), so it’s more important than ever that I keep getting out there, finding myself on trail.

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Anyway, this was just a long-winded way to say, well, it’s been a great ten years, trails. Let’s have many, many more.

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Running

Scenes from the trail

Well, this winter has been very wet. And very cold. The last time we had a shitty weather year like this, I was just about ready to defect, but this time around, I am as in love with Washington as I ever was. (In fairness, that blog post was written in mid-July and now we’re only in April. Ask me again if we’re still living inside a cloud come summer.)

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(This photo is titled ‘Pacific Northwest Child Sees Sun’)

What’s changed? I’ve embraced the magic of (a) lowland forest trails and (b) trail running. It started back in 2013, when I grew tired of depending on sunny days for my mood to lift. Instead, I hit the trails on Tiger, Cougar, and the Redmond Watershed no matter what the weather or month, and learned to love the feeling of soft rain drizzling on my face. Running and hiking the same trails over and over and over again may not sound very interesting, but it feels really rewarding to see the changing of the seasons, especially these days when the trees are a little bit greener with every visit and the trails are, uhm, fragrant with the arrival of skunk cabbage. Spring is definitely running late this year, but I finally saw my first trillium of 2017 yesterday.

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First trillium of the year TMT

I’m finally able to run again after the bladder prolapse, thanks to five million kegels and a bit of structural support from my trusty ol’ Diva Cup. Sun Mountain is less than two months away, so I won’t really have the time to get into the kind of shape I had originally hoped, but I want to at least get to a point where 25K won’t feel miserable and I won’t have to walk too much of the course. I “ran” ten miles yesterday, but it included a lot of walking (and trillium photo breaks). But! I did focus on actually running the uphills, and was shockingly successful, something my thighs keep reminding me of today.

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(This photo is titled ‘Pacific Northwest Adult Sees Sun’)

I’ve spent a lot of time on the Cable Line this winter, slogging up and running a variety of longer trails back down, but lately I’ve decided I should probably focus on more runnable, rolling trails, like my favorite Shy Bear loop on Cougar Mountain or, closer to home, the Redmond Watershed.

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(Mud and ice – all in a day’s work on the Cable Line)

I also suffered another minor setback that fortunately turned out to be much less of an issue than I had originally thought – I got shingles! That was the last illness I expected I would ever end up with, but in hindsight it makes sense – almost a year of hardly any sleep and a pretty serious bout of depression can do that to you. The Norwegian word for shingles translates to hellfire, and man alive is that accurate. Luckily for me, it was really only that painful for a day and a half, and then the lesions disappeared a couple of days after that. Hopefully that means that my immune system is finally on the mend, which would come in handy since Nora started daycare three times a week and is bringing home every virus under the sun.

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(Finding beauty in the puddles)

JK is back to work now which means that from now on, most of my running will happen on my old friend, the Powerline Trail, after the kids (it still feels so unreal to use the plural form there) are tucked into bed. That means the days are getting longer, friends! In the good way, not the dreary way.

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(Drenched and happy)

I usually like to listen to upbeat music while I run, but this drizzly, muddy winter called for a more mellow soundtrack. My constant auditory trail companions have been:

These songs are so mellow that they need to be listened to on headphones, loudly (especially Jupiter) – preferably while running through the forest, enveloped in an ethereal Pacific Northwest mist.

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Nutritarian, Scrapbooking

These are a few of my favorite things…

…namely FOOOOOD and scrapbooking! This month I’ve had several opportunities to document our new food philosophy, which has been a pretty big part of our life so far this year. First up, the new Story Kit from Ali Edwards, Eat.

I obviously had to write about why I joined the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study. Since the study team sent out a surprise packet of goodies and info last week, I even have some memorabilia to go with my layout for once. You know, the way scrapbooking was intended.

The Eat kit is going to be used a lot. I keep seeing pages from the other design team members that I want to scraplift, like Pam Baldwin’s – how did it not occur to me to use one of the circles as a dinner plate between the adorable wood veneer cutlery? Genius.

This is going into my personal book, which is a 6×8 album that pretty much functions as my journal these days. It’s also the home of my One Little Word – this year I picked FLOW. More on that later.

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I’m also putting together a Week in the Life album for this spring. Ali is doing the “official” WitL the week of April 17 if you want to follow along, but I decided I would rather document this magical time when JK is on parental leave instead. (He goes back to work on Tuesday. Sob!)

Food is going to play a big part in that album too, of course. Having two adults at home most days has allowed us to spend lots of time cooking and trying new recipes. Now begins the real challenge – staying on track when we’re back in the real world.

Week in the Life

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Cabin Trip, Nutritarian

To Sequim on a whim

Earlier this year, while I was getting myself reacquainted with the specifics of the nutritarian lifestyle, I was clicking around Dr. Fuhrman’s website and noticed that he was scheduled to speak in, of all places, Port Townsend. Since we haven’t been out to that area since 2007 when we stayed in Port Townsend the night before our very first hike to Shi Shi Beach, we decided we would make a real trip out of it and, gasp, take the girls on our first vacation as a family of four.

(Side note: major LOLs at that blog post. Canned beans and soy dogs as backpacking food! Describing the trail down to Shi Shi as a cliff! Aaaw.)

Weekend in Sequim

We rented a house in Sequim (for you out-of-staters, that’s pronounced “skwim”, not “seekwim” like I thought when we moved here) and obviously chose to get there by ferry, because if there’s one thing toddlers love, it’s BOATS, plus it offers a timely break in driving that can be used to feed the baby.

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We lucked out with a house overlooking the Dungeness Spit, so after unpacking all our stuff (there’s so much stuff) and feeding Lily again, we drove a couple of minutes over to the trailhead so Nora could get some energy out on the trail and beach after spending half a day in the car.

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We’ve never bothered to go to the Dungeness Spit before because…well, to be honest, it sounded kind of lame. But it totally isn’t! It’s actually really cool – miles and miles of ever-expanding beach (with bonus views when it’s not…February) – and now we want to go back again.

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In true toddler fashion, Nora inspected every grain of sand and bit of driftwood in the first five square feet of the beach and then we had to get home for dinner, so there’s lots for us to explore yet.

Weekend in Sequim

We knew it would be hard to cook in a house that isn’t toddler-proofed while one parent has to watch the baby, so we brought pre-made dinners (lentil soup and cabbage rolls) in a cooler to make life easier on ourselves. I think this is the way to travel while the kidlings are still little! Rent a house. Bring food that needs next to no prep. Relax.

Weekend in Sequim

Once the girls were in bed, we sat down and enjoyed the last little bit of daylight in our beautiful garden, then did non-tv or computer-type things like reading books! and talking with each other! in front of the fireplace!

(This photo was actually from the morning, in case you’re wondering why the sun is in the east.)

Weekend in Sequim

In the morning, Nora had ample time to explore the house. Her favorite part was our friends in the garden, of course.

Weekend in Sequim

Then I was off to see Dr. Fuhrman while JK kept the girls entertained. I showed up crazy early since it was first come first serve, and it turned out to be a good decision even if it made me feel like some sort of insane fangirl. The room was packed! Dr. Fuhrman’s talk was really, really good, informative, and funny, and I took a bunch of notes to share with JK afterwards. Big thank you to the Port Townsend Vegan Meetup Group for arranging it!

Weekend in Sequim

Afterwards, I was nursing Lils while watching Nora suddenly and out of nowhere conquer her fear of the cargo net climbing thing on the playground, and I experienced one of those perfect, gushy, “I love my life” moments. I’m sure the combination of oxytocin and my newly re-energized, super-inspired mindset played a big part in it, but man, I just felt so lucky to have my family, to be able to bring them on a trip like this on a whim, to have a husband who supports my needs to go and do non-mom things, to have the opportunity and the means to raise our kids on all this good food…the list goes on and on. Life is good.

Weekend in Sequim

We were scheduled to go home the next day and briefly considered contacting the rental owners to hear if we could extend our stay another night (because we kept finding new stuff to do in the area), but in the end we decided that we should just come back again some time this summer for a longer vacation.

Weekend in Sequim

Buuut we couldn’t leave the peninsula without driving up to Hurricane Ridge for the first time. Srsly, ten years of hiking and this was our very first visit? For shame! We didn’t get much in the way of views, but what we were able to see whenever the clouds would part made us want to return fo sho.

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Of course I, I mean Nora, had to buy one of the exclusive Olympic Marmots they sell in the National Park store.

Weekend in Sequim

We didn’t have snowshoes or anything, so we just stayed close to the parking lot. I wandered around to help Lily sleep in the Moby Wrap, and Nora climbed up and down a little snow bank that she called “Olympic Mountains”.

Weekend in Sequim

We spent so much time taking photos and playing in the snow that a guy came up to us and said “Aaaw, is this your first time in snow?” – sheepishly we had to tell him that no, we’re actually from Norway…but I guess there’s something about seeing your kid enjoying something that brings out the overly excited n00b in all of us.

Weekend in Sequim

Since the visitor center was closed when we went to Mount Rainier earlier in the month, Lily was overdue for her first National Park passport stamp! I can’t wait to collect stamps with her in Yosemite, Zion, Virgin Islands…all of our happy places.

Weekend in Sequim

I know I talk a lot about what an easy baby Lily is, but man alive, we just cannot produce kids who will sleep in the car. The last half hour of our drive home was pure torture for everyone involved. But after a weekend like that, we weren’t going to let a little (or a lot) of screaming in stereo get us down. We survived our first vacation as a family of four! Parenting achievement unlocked!!

Weekend in Sequim