Sunday, February 27, 2011

Beginning of the week

Green smoothie followed by 3780 strides - 375 cal - 45 mins on the elliptical.

That's how I ended my weekend. If only those 3780 strides were equivalent to the 3000 stairs that are inside Machu Picchu.

I'm going to climb 300-450 stairs at work today too. I wish that I could know how many calories I burn when I do that. The stairs at work sure FEEL like a much harder workout than the elliptical. Regardless, I'm off to work. Have a great Monday!

Friday, February 25, 2011

When will it start?

I am not losing any weight. All the green smoothies, all the food I've chosen to not eat, the stairs I've climbed, the sweat on the elliptical.... I'm not losing any weight.


I'm going to keep at it. I'm not going to give up. I'm going to climb the stairs today. I'm going to be healthy. I'm trying to achieve health rather than weight loss anyways, right? I'll just keep telling myself that and perhaps I will come to believe it instead of just know it.

On a happier note, my husband comes home this evening after travelling for basically the last three weeks. Everything is good about that, him coming home. *happy sigh.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Market

I've been buying groceries, fruits and veggies mostly, at Whole Foods. It's pretty in there. Colorful and it leaves me feeling healthy even though you still need to shop carefully in there if you want to be healthy.

One of the things I loved about living in Costa Rica was the daily process of going to the market. We mostly ate fruit off trees on the property where we lived. There's nothing better in my opinion than a fresh picked mango for breakfast. Insanely good. We bought whatever else we needed, grocery or otherwise at the markets. There was a couple of them but they were all a U shaped counter with the entrance to the store at the top of the U. There was no browsing. There was no impulse shopping. You stepped up the counter and asked for what you wanted and then they went back into the rows of stuff and brought you what you requested to the counter. It was how they managed shoplifting, but seriously - just try to image me, barely speaking Spanish at the time, trying to ask for what I wanted. I didn't live in the retirement/vacation areas of Costa Rica. I lived in a little town that didn't have much in the way of English speaking amenities. In fact, I went to the local 'bi-lingual' school, where the rich kids went, to offer to volunteer. I was lonely and thought I could trade time for some Spanish lessons. It was amazing that the teachers that spent 50% of their time teaching English could not understand nor speak with me. I ended up teaching their teachers in exchange for some Spanish instruction and it was a win for everyone. However, those initial market experiences were crazy. Thankfully the Costa Rican people have a good sense of humor and are patient. I am looking forward to getting to know the Peruvian markets and people. I love all the fresh produce and the beautiful colors. A friend of mine took pictures of the Peruvian markets when she was there and there were pig heads. I have to be honest, I am not looking forward to them.

Hopefully, I will get to visit this market in Cusco in person someday soon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Green Smoothies

I didn't have any greens today and I really wanted to go buy donuts instead of greens, but the greens won out. I told a friend I'd make her some to try, so I made two different kinds today. I'm grateful to have had a motivator to make up the green smoothies today. I think days at home will be harder than work days. Maybe because they are less structured? Regardless, I'm going to try to be healthy and productive.

These are the ingredients and the end product:

Kale, Mango and Banana

Red Chard, Blueberries and Hood River Peaches

They are really simple to make, which is good for me since I'm especially challenged in the kitchen. You put about 3 cups of filtered water in the Vita-mix and then add a bunch of greens. Mix up the greens in the water until it looks like green water(or whatever color the greens make, Red Chard makes a reddish color). Then add fruit. I prefer frozen fruit because it makes it cold and a bit slushy. You can adjust the fruit/greens ratio to taste. I prefer 1 bunch of greens with a banana and 1-2 small bags of fruit. It's about 60-70% greens and 30-40% fruit. Some people add flax seed also but I don't like the gelatinous texture with the flax. You can use any greens you want, but make sure to mix it up. You don't want to eat the same type every day.

I think they are amazing and love the way they make me feel. I'm off to clean the house and I plan to catch up on some Tivo'd showed on the elliptical today. Here's to a good day!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It was a great day!

So, Monday went well. No Sugar. Lots of green smoothies and some raw veggies and nuts along the way. I exercised on the elliptical in the morning before work and then trekked up the stairs at work 3 times. Yep, I made it up 3 times. That was a first and I was happy with myself. I even managed through the evening which is the hardest time for me.

Today I am starting my day with pilates and a smoothie from Lacinto Kale, Fresh (if that's possible here in the states)organic mango and bananas. It's really green and pretty and tastes pretty yummy.

Tomorrow I'll try to photograph the green smoothie process and offer up a couple of my favorite recipes. I also plan to make enough to take some to my friend who wants to try them.

This is my breakfast and lunch for today. Very green and good. Til tomorrow!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I have successfully quit with the caffeine. It's been about two weeks now. I am sleeping better, drinking more water and not feeling the up and down throughout the day that caffeine offers. Sugar also creates a bit of a roller coaster for me of eating, emotion and headaches. So - it has to be next.


I plan to eat a lot of these:

And walk a lot of these:

This picture is taken from the last flight, just before the 6th floor, on the second time up, standing on about stair #296. There are 150 steps up to the 6th floor. 30 between each floor. I typically go up twice so I get a total of 300 steps in total.

I am planning to have a great week and celebrate successfully kicking my sugar habit and cravings in a couple weeks. And no, I wont be celebrating with cheesecake. I'll raise up my green smoothie glass. Have a happy Monday!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Sanctuary Lodge

Happy Friday! I'm actually off work today so I can spend the day with my man who came home yesterday. I love it when he's home - it's the best. Some day I plan to spend the night with him at The Sanctuary Lodge. It is the only hotel right at the ruins and hope to stay the night there. Probably only one because it's rather spendy, but I think it would be worth it for a night, maybe two.

Here's a map showing where the Inn is relative to the ruins.

This is the entrance to Machu Picchu from the Inn.

The rooms look appealing. Some have their own private terrace. Check out the view, I could handle that.

There is a restaurant onsite as well. Your food is included with your stay since there is no where else to go to eat anywhere nearby. I have no idea if it's good food though, there is no mention of it in the reviews. Maybe it's not so good... I guess it's a good thing I'm going there for the ruins.

Here's a link to their web site. Check it out - it seems like it would be amazing to stay there.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Color of Spring

This bright green color is so pretty and yummy! My brother is doing a green smoothie as his primary meals and muching on some nuts in between. He has lost weight and feels great. Can I do it?! Is it sustainable? Do I care right now? I just want some of this weight off. I will feel so much better once I start to make some progress. I can do this, yes I can! Here's to another day of smoothies and stairs! My honey comes home tonight!! Now that makes me happy happy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Well - the day started out great yesterday. I made up my batches of green smoothie, ate a healthy breakfast and packed a healthy lunch. I went off to work and drank my smoothie and ate my healthy food, drank lots of water and felt pretty good about my choices. I had a change to leave work earlier than I thought, so I didn't walk the stairs. I came home and drank more smoothie and wondered what to have for dinner. I missed my husband, who does most of the cooking around my house. I started to feel sad. Sad that he wasn't here. Sad that soon my Mom wont be here. Sad. So - my day ended like this:

Didn't make me feel any better. Gave me a headache in fact. I felt defeated and still sad. Usually when I fail myself it can take weeks to brush myself off and get back in the game.

I'm going to acknowledge that I didn't make it through a whole day yesterday and that today will be a new day. I'm going to try to be positive and see the good. My teenager told me to look at it that way after offering up a hug. So, I will. Thanks baby.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Well, I didn't sleep well Sunday night. Had a hard time going to sleep and staying asleep. So, I was late and rushed getting up. I didn't not make green smoothies yesterday. In fact, I ate relatively poor - BUT - I climbed stairs. I made it up all 300+ of them. It is so hard for me to get up the last couple flights. Shaky legs, out of breath and I'm sure I'm anaerobic at that point. I did it though. I'm going to do it again today. I'm also going to go mix up my green smoothie for today. I'm going to make it the first priority even though I'm late getting going again today. I can't wait for my man to be home. I sleep so much better when he's here. I do think there is a big correlation for me between how much sleep I get and how successful I am at healthy habits through the day. I will work on my bedtime!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Green Smoothies

Green smoothies, actually in the case of this one, purple smoothies are my new best friend. This one is kale, bananas and blueberries. It was delicious. I have been VitaMixing up two quarts and drinking them throughout the day. I am finding that I am not as hungry as typical. I have also kicked my caffeine habit over the past 4 days. I have to admit that I started out by eliminating caffeine and sugar simulaneously. It did not go well for me. I was rather grumpy and not a very good mother. So - I chose to carry on with the caffeine and I have had sugar in things (like ketchup), but nothing that was all concentrated sugar. I'm going to celebrate the success. I feel pretty good today, no headaches and more energy. I'm unsure if the lack of caffeine or the green smoothies are responsible for the energy. I'll take it though. I should have taken before and after pictures of my daughter's bedroom,but it's been an all weekend project. It feels good to get some organizing done. So, my goals for this week are:

1) keep up with the green smoothies.
2) exercise 3 times this week in addition to my 4 days of stair walking.
3) do yoga with Elleri at least once.
4) floss before bed daily
5) drink lots of water
6) clean out the laundry room.

The last one is about my mental health. When my house is organized and sorted I feel more relaxed when I'm in it. Elleri's bedroom was the biggest area of issue, the laundry is next. My closet is on that list also, maybe for next week.

Well, there it is - we'll see how I do. I'm feeling hopeful and ready.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Fountains, The Tomb, The Squares

The Fountains

To the South of the complex, between the Temple of the Sun and the Royal Palace, the area houses a series of water fountains, the only sources of the vital element for the residents of Machu Picchu. The first three water fountains or "Paqcha" in Quechua, have been extremely well sculpted. The architectural structures in this area are basically sculpted rock to which are added other decorations such as the spillway and the side walls. This beautiful finish is due to the harmony existing between the Temple of the Sun and the Royal Palace. These fountains were fed by underground water and carried via a canal to be used for irrigation of crops.

The Tomb

The enormous leaning block of stone that holds up the Temple of the Sun has a large crack in its bottom part, which has been exceptionally skillfully decorated and furnished to be later used as a tomb. It was also a site of worship and offerings to the mummified bodies of the main authorities. In the doorway it shows a carving portraying the symbol of the goddess Mother Earth. In its interior there are niches, monolithic pillars and other accessories used for religious means and to attend the mummies.

The Squares

There are four main squares at different levels, but share the characteristic of being rectangular in the classic Inca style, interconnected by sunken stairways in the parameters of the terraces. The main square is the largest, which just like the main squares in all Inca cities, had religious and social functions. The fourth open area is a square flanked by terraces with their respective access ways, similar to the 1,000 B.C. Chavin culture.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Temple of Three Windows, Main Temple, The Doors

Temple of the Three Windows

It is located West of the main square, has a large rectangular floor. Its name comes from the fact its main face has three windows and two blind bays. Together with the main temple, this is the most impressive architecture in all of Machu Picchu. The enormous polyhedrons have been carved and joined with millimetric precision. In front of the Wayrana-style construction, on the large doorjamb next to the central column that holds up the roof, there is a sculpted lithograph with carefully polished molds and flat parts.

Main Temple

The temple is located North of the Sacred Square, very near the Temple of Three Windows. It is built of three walls and is 11m long and 8m wide.

The Doors

Doors are a common sight in Machu Picchu and especially in this sector. They vary in texture, size and architectural style that set them apart from each other, although all have the same trapezoid shape. Some only have one doorjamb and lintel, and some have two. Some doors are simple and others have different security mechanisms such as stone rings, central trunks and other mechanisms which served to tie together beams to make the doors more secure.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Urban Sector, Temple of the Sun, Intiwatana and Sacred Rocks

Urban Sector

While the agricultural sector is cut short by a dry ditch, one can see a long stairway that leads to the front gate. This sector houses the most important constructions of any Inca city, where one can appreciate the talent, effort and quality of the pre-Hispanic builders, as the constructions are entirely made of granite, a very hard rock that is different from that used in Cusco. The city is U-shaped. In the northern section there is the great religious sector containing the temples, to the South there are the houses and workshops on platform terraces that Bingham called the Military Group. The main buildings in the Urban Sector are the following:

Temple of the Sun

This construction is shaped like a semi-circle and built on solid rock, an existing granite block shaped to blend with the natural curves, with a diameter of 10.50 meters (34.65 feet). It is composed of highly polished polyhedrons. There are two trapezoidal windows in this building with protruding knobs at every comer, and on the north side there is a carefully-sculpted door with bored holes in the doorjamb, very similar to the Qoricancha temple in Cusco. The Spanish historians relate there were once gold and precious jewels encrusted in the door. To the West of the temple there is a rectangular patio with nine ceremonial doorways alternating with prism-shaped studs.

The Intiwatana

There is stone located on a hill made up of several terraces. The visitor can gain access to the stone via 78 well-crafted steps. At the end of the staircase one enters an open patio with walls equally well-sculpted, and where one can see an upper platform where there is a granite rock sculpted into three steps. In the central part one can see a rectangular prism that is 36cm high and which is pointing from North-West to South-East. Its four corners are directed to the four cardinal points. The Intiwatana had specific functions: it measured time (the solstice and the equinox) by using sunlight and shadow, and also served as an altar. In Quechua, "Inti" means "sun" and "Wata" means "year", thereby giving us the meaning of a solar year observatory.

Sacred Rock

The sacred rock, located in a four-sided spot flanked by two three-sided rooms, features a monolithic rock sculpture which is 3cm (1.2 in.) high and 7m (2.77 in.) wide at its base. The pedestal, which is approximately 30cm (11.88 in.) high, resembles a feline. From another angle, It looks like the profile of a mountain near Machu Picchu. It is possible that this cluster of constructions, together with two "Wayranas", or three-sided rooms, were used for rituals. The mountains were worshiped. The stone is carved to the exact shape of the mountain. People today still go and pray to the gods of the Incas.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Agriculture, Gate and Cemetery

Machu Picchu Architecture

The citadel is divided into two sectors: the agricultural (terracing) and the urban, where there are main squares, temples, palaces, storehouses, workshops, stairways, cables and water fountains which run through both sectors, which measure 20 and 10 hectares respectively. It is clear that the architectural design was based on Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire. Machu Picchu was built according to its natural surroundings, with its constructions following the natural curves and dips and rises in the land. The archaeological excavation that took place after Bingham discovered the ruins showed the land was previously given granite foundations with little surrounding soil. The agricultural and urban sectors are split by a dry ditch, the result of a geographic fault line.

The following chapters describe the most important constructions in each sector.

The Control Gate

This is made up of a three-walled room with a view with several windows, which can be found in front of the main gateway. There is a go panorama from here of the agricultural and urban sectors and the surrounding landscape. It is a good idea to take photos from this angle as it gives the visitor a good view of the complex.

Upper Cemetery and Ritual Stones

In every Inca city, the dead were buried on the outskirts of the town, which is where in this case Cusco archaeologists found human remains. In the upper part, they also found sculpted stones that belong to the area, which indicated the Incas used the stones to make offerings to their gods. On this same piece of ground lies a granite boulder sculpted with steps. But the most striking feature is that it is pierced with a ring, the purpose of which is unknown. This ritual boulder is very similar to that of the ñusta-hispana in the Vilcabamba I ruins. In the upper part one can see a body-shaped spot as if people had been placed on their backs.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The plan for the week

I found some great information about the different areas of Machu Picchu. I tracked down some photos that show the different areas as well. I find the different areas to be fascinating, imagining what they actually were doing while the Incans lived there.

The main gate is where I can easily imagine entering the city for the summer or a vacation. I'd go back and experience it as it was just for a few moments in time if I could.

When shall we plan our trip? The time of year matters. Machu Picchu is located in a subtropical zone, or dense wood, the reason why the climate is mild, warm and damp, with an average year-round temperature of 13C during the day. There are two distinct seasons during the year: the rainy season from November to March, which is a time of heavy rains. Visitors are advised to dress accordingly during this season. The dry season from April to October brings on higher temperatures. This season is usually when people visit.

The question is to try to travel when it's beautiful and green and possibly rainy and cold - it is rather high elevation OR go when it should be sunny and beautiful but the grass may dry and brown. I'll have to give that some thought.

I'm going to share the various areas that I was reading about over the next week. The captions are largely not my words, I grabbed them from site I was reading from.

I had a good week this past week with my diet and exercise. I am going to try to get up in the mornings before work and get some exercise in and I plan to keep on walking up the stairs this week. I will continue to picture myself walking the stairs of Machu Picchu as inspiration.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Well, yesterday I went for a walk. It was lovely. A little bit of sunshine and good company makes everything good. Today I walked stairs again. My foot hurts this evening on one side and my knee on the other. It makes me wonder if I'm setting myself up for injury. Trying to haul my weight up stairs over and over. I wonder if I need to wait for that kind of exercise until I've lost a bit more weight.

My husband is talking about going to MP with me. My honey who doesn't enjoy travelling or camping. I think that's true love that he would even consider it. I wonder if he knows that we have to sleep in tents. I'm grinning at the idea of sharing a new experience with him. It sounds amazing to me. What I do know about my man is that he would climb to the top of any mountain and sleep on any surface to make me happy. It's good to be loved.

A bit of sunshine, Good friends, Wonderful man, and a couple pounds down. I'll take it.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Feeling down

So I started healthier eating yesterday. I've done okay with my choices but I'm grumpy, frustrated and craving the 'bad for me' foods. I don't want to be this person anymore. (The kind of person who cries over not being able to eat the cheesecake.) I need to work on celebrating my health and the potential health I can achieve. The cheesecake is not worth it. Nothing is worth my health. Nothing is worth not living long enough to enjoy my kids as adults or know my future grand kids.

So, why do I want the cheesecake then? I need to stay focused on this goal. The goal of getting to Machu Picchu. The rest of it must be too surreal to make a difference today in my brain. But this mountain, these ruins, I want to experience them. So, today I'm going to go exercise. I'm not going to eat cheesecake or whatever else will not nourish my body.

I love this view of Machu Picchu (The old mountain) seen from the Huayna Picchu (The young mountain). It's a different perspective that most of the pictures you see. You can climb Huayna Picchu once you are inside Machu Picchu. Only 400 permits are issued a day. It's a really steep climb and at some points there are steel cables to help you stay on the trail.

This picture is looking at Huayna Picchu from Machu Picchu. On top of Huayna Picchu is another trail that leads to the Gran Caverna and the Temple of the Moon. These are natural caves. I have no interest in caves, but I plan to climb Huayna Picchu while I'm there.