Struggles during this Pandemic Year

We’re experiencing our fair share of struggles during this pandemic year. Traveling the US isn’t how we envisioned spending 2020, but most people are experiencing life they didn’t expect to experience also. So here we are! Noelle here, by the way. Earlier this Spring, as we began to wrap up the sale of Steve’s parents’ home, car and leftover possessions in Colorado Springs, we realized that we didn’t really have a plan for what was next.

Discussing our options for the year

We talked about many options, hoping that SE Asia would open back up so we could resume our adventure there. We also talked about getting jobs, but that was a fairly short discussion! :) Ultimately, the purchase of our Artic Fox 990 truck camper (and Dodge Ram) opened the door for travel within the US. We discussed driving up to Alaska and visiting friends and well, Alaska! But that didn’t seem to be a realistic option, so we’re checking out some National Parks and pretty much any “Historic Site Ahead” that we come to.

I think it’d be fun to choose a day where we stop at every roadside attraction we come to. We may still do it, although I don’t think we’d travel very far. Ha! As if that matters, since yesterday we drove a couple hours before stopping, and today we only drove an hour and a half. Yeah, we’re already taking the slow road.

Continuing struggles during this pandemic year

I think, in previous posts, we’ve eluded to the fact that this has been a hard year. Emotionally, mentally, physically. We’ve both experienced periods of depression and grief. I say that, knowing it’s hard for all of us, in the whole world. It’s a weirdly collective sadness, yet there are also so many joys. My sister is doing this year of gratitude thing on Facebook and Instagram. I don’t think she could have chosen a better year to daily and mindfully choose something to be grateful for. There are many reasons for gratefulness, like now having the opportunity to be traveling the US during a Pandemic. When else would I be able to write a post about that? :) Here’s my sister and her husband during a recent trip home. We had ourselves a crab boil!

Weight struggles during this pandemic year

One thing I’ve battled with over the past decade really, but especially this year, is my weight. I used to run… a lot. Then I went through a phase, where I ate a lot and quit running. I’ve done a ton of growth (haha, no pun intended!) since then, but I still struggle with eating as a form of solace. Not the best option…but it’s where I’m at. As I’ve aged, it’s harder and harder to take the weight off. It basically just stays. We’ve been hiking so much the past few weeks and Steve has lost six or seven pounds. I lost two, but then it came right back. So frustrating. My increased weight adds to my overall emotional struggles during this pandemic year.

I got some bloodwork done while we were home and for the first time ever, I have pre-diabetic A1C numbers. That’s just bullshit, right there. But it sure got my attention. So, I’m committing to more exercise. Ask me how I’m doing sometime, okay? And tell me how you’re doing. What is working for you to keep weight off during this time?

Missing my grands!

Adding to my struggles during this pandemic year is being so far away from our grandkids. Their lives change so much during these stages and I’m missing out. We try to stay in touch via text and Facetime but it’s just not the same as being together. We’ve had the pleasure in these past couple months of spending a lot of family time and that’s been fantastic. But definitely choosing to travel has its costs. Being away from grandchildren is a pretty huge cost, pandemic year or not.

Our family has been blessed in that no one has contracted Covid-19. I feel beyond grateful for our collective health, even while I feel concerned that it’s looming out there. Covid and an election year are a lot all on their own. The death of my dad (as I post this it’s his first birthday on the other side), the aging of Steve’s parents & prolonged separations from family have simply amplified my feelings of sadness. So yeah, I’m eating more. It’s adding weight, so I get depressed and eat some more. What a crazy circle.

How I’m moving forward

So what am I doing about turning around my struggles during this pandemic year? Well, first of all, I’m telling you. I’m owning how hard it’s been and admitting the need for some accountability and support. I said it up above, but I seriously mean it…leave me a comment and tell me how you are. Or shoot me an email. I want to hear how you’re getting through this year. I want to hear your struggles and your successes.

We’ve begun incorporating more meals from the South Beach Diet. I don’t like the term diet, because of all it implies, but South Beach works well for us. It has some similarities to keto, but it offers more of what seems to me to be a long term way of eating. We followed it a few years ago and both felt great. Steve lost a lot of weight, I lost a little, but we both felt really healthy.

A little help from our friends

Here’s a picture of us sporting our new necklaces from our good friend, Patrick. Mine is a Herkimer diamond and Steve’s is a carnelian. According to, “Herkimer Diamond is a high vibration and powerful crystal known as the “attunement stone.” Herkimer Diamond unites the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, multidimensional states with consciousness to create wholeness of being.” And according to, “A stabilising stone, Carnelian restores vitality and motivation, and stimulates creativity. It gives courage, promotes positive life choices, dispels apathy and motivates for success.” I’d say that’s some powerful positive energy right there! Thank you, Patrick!

We’ve also been stopping in our travels to visit friends along the way, which definitely boosts our spirits. What a blessing to stop in places to share special birthdays, wonderful meals and great laughter! We’re so grateful to everyone who has opened their homes to us.

Time for some exercise

The last month saw more exercise for us as we made our way along Northern Washington & Idaho and around Montana. We hiked just about everyday, which has been great for my mental health as well as physical. Just being outdoors is a boost!

We bought a yoga mat (to replace the ones in storage that we can’t find) and plan to start a regular yoga routine again. I’ve done it off and on for years, and love it for many reasons. Mainly I love shavasana at the end of the practice…hahaha! It’ll be interesting how we work this out, as there’s really only floor space inside the camper for one of us to work out at a time. We plan to head to the Southern US soon, so perhaps we can take our practice outdoors, but we’ll see. I’m curious how this will work!

Hiking to combat emotional and physical struggles during this pandemic year.
HIking for health and peace of mind

Another way, I’m hoping to move out of my funk and into better health, is that I’ve downloaded a Tabata app. There’s a seven minute work out including jumping jacks, wall sit, push ups, crunches, step-ups and squats. I’ll start it next week, or the next, but at least I’ve downloaded the app. Does that count?

Finally, my Fitbit app has added a “track your mindfulness” section. I used to meditate daily, but haven’t been habitual in the past couple years. I use the Insight Timer app, it’s a great one, if you’re looking for some assistance in being more mindful yourself. They’ve also recently added some yoga courses, and I’ll check those out soon.

And here’s a puppy picture, just for fun. Aren’t they adorable? Puppies always make everything better!

e during struggles during this pandemic year
Sandpiper & Genevive

Keeping it real with my struggles during this Pandemic year

So, I’m definitely experiencing some difficulties this year. Pandemic related, election related, weight related, grief related and missing family related. People tell us regularly that we’re “living the dream” and I believe we are, living our dreams. However that doesn’t negate that my struggles are real this year. That your struggles are real. All the great Instagram photos are just that…great photos. But they aren’t always the whole picture. This post kinda seems like I’m rambling, but I’m just trying to keep it real and to put my feelings out there. I’ve told you about diarrhea on the trail and Bangkok belly, might as well tell you when I’m feeling a little blue as well…


  1. Briget

    Hi Noelle! Briget here – I commented a bit in 2019 but have been mostly lurking (and enjoying!) since then. But your comments about weight and pre-diabetic A1c got my attention. See, I was diagnosed with T1 diabetes 20-something years ago, when I was in my mid-40’s. Believe ME, I understand the weight struggle. Predisposition to diabetes makes it farking HARD. And the best advice I can give you is to Watch. Your. Carbs. Cutting back on/being careful about eating carbs has helped, both with weight control and with keeping my blood sugars level, more than anything else. Including exercise, although exercise absolutely helps to keep sugars level, quite apart from all the other benefits.

    Bone up on carb-y foods info and carb counts of your favorite foods (quick tip – if it’s white, it’s probably high carb. Think bread/pasta/sugar/potatoes.) Exception to the white rule is dairy. Most dairy is low carb (high fat, but low carb. For diabetics, the carbs are what counts. You can exercise off the fat, but the carbs will screw you in the end.) And – if you want dairy, eat the high fat stuff. It goes into your bloodstream more slowly, plus they mostly make the low/no fat stuff taste better by adding sugar.

    Hope this helps. I know first hand how frustrating it is to deal with the cessation of the ability to lose weight. Grrr.

    • mcgarveysan

      Hi Bridget!
      Thanks for continuing to lurk! :) We appreciate it. I’m also glad for your comments about carbs, as that seems to be a huge weakness for me. Our oldest daughter is Keto and I don’t know how she does it! She’s an excellent carb counter, for sure. I keep finding reasons to postpone tracking my food, but all the comments and my youngest son have encouraged me so I started again. I know that’s the biggest game changer for me, actually being aware and making conscious decisions about what I’m eating. I also agree with eating the high fat dairy instead of the low/no. When Steve was in cardiac rehab, they stressed the differences in how foods are made to have reduced fat and it really was not encouraging at all. It is frustrating to not take weight off quickly. I stayed really thin, kind of naturally till about 41, then no more. But I’ve also allowed myself to become pretty lazy about eating appropriate sized portions, instead opting towards the super-sized. So, I’m ready to make some changes and to cut myself some slack also. Thanks for your support!

  2. Lynn Heislein

    Hi Noelle – This hit me hard and I’m now I’m crying. I’m crying because today my mom passed away by herself in Oregon this morning and I cancelled my trip from Reno at Thanksgiving to see her. I’m crying because my boyfriend and I have been separated across the Canadian border for 9 months. I’m crying because I’m working from home and can’t see my clients or co-workers and am craving. I’m crying because my birthday trip to India had to be postponed. I’m crying because I’m really feeling sorry for myself and the toll this year has taken on everyone, and I’m crying because my Oregon Ducks are not playing very good football (ok, maybe I’m not crying about that and the UW game could be cancelled this weekend so we can’t lose another game).

    But for each of those things that is making me sad, there is something to be grateful for – I still have a job that I can do from home, a warm home full of holiday decorations (going all out this year), beautiful trails in the area to hike and snowshoe, the ability to zoom with my boyfriend, friends and clients, and I’m even cooking more (though that adds to the midsection). Instead of going to India, I’ve visited parks in Utah and Arizona, revisited my old stomping grounds along the Umpqua Highway (pre-fire), checked out new trails further afield to avoid the Tahoe crowds, and have been doing lots of purging.

    I wouldn’t say that I’m a particularly spiritual person, but with the stress of COVID and the elections, and a free subscription to the Calm app, I started 10 minutes of meditation and listening to sleep stories at night. I have to say that has helped; I’m sleeping deeper and longer and reaching less to comfort food. I was pretty good about walking 3 or 4 miles each day in the neighborhood, but admit as the days are getting shorter and colder, that’s getting harder. Looking forward to ski season to burn some calories.

    I guess what I’m saying, so many of us are fighting the same battles and it helps to know we are not alone. Thanks for sharing.

    • mcgarveysan

      Oh Lynn,
      My heart goes out to you! I’m right here with you! I’m so very sorry about the passing of your mom. I can’t even imagine how hard that would be, not being with her. Just know I’m giving you a virtual hug. You understand my feelings of sadness being separated from loved ones, friends, family, coworkers. Even though our circumstances are different, the isolated & lonely feelings are the same. It is such a hard year. And I’m glad you reached out so that we’re in this together. I friended you on FB, btw, is that too stalkerish? Anyway, thank you very much for sharing your struggles with me. I appreciate your vulnerability and openness.
      However, we’re an OSU Beavers family, so well, there is that…
      India is on my bucket list, and you know we had to cut our travels abroad short to return home during Covid, so I totally get the feelings of sadness for missing out on the adventure. It sounds like you are filling your time with more “local” hikes and I’m glad for you in that. It sure changes my outlook when I’m outdoors.
      Have you been trying to cook some Indian cuisine? I love this website: She does cook vegan, but I’ve been known to add a little chicken or shrimp to some of her recipes. They’re easy to follow. I loved her website so much, that I bought her cookbook. We love a good curry and she has some great recipes. Hopefully you’ll still get to enjoy the trip at some point.
      I’ve tried the Calm app too and like it as well. I’m glad it’s helping you to have deeper and longer sleep. That’s so very important, isn’t it?
      We are all fighting the same battles and it does help knowing we are not alone. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and in my meditations. I wish you peace and I wish your mom to be at peace. Thank you very much! Hugs.

  3. Cheryl

    Hi Noelle,

    Thanks for sharing your feelings, joys and struggles. You are not alone. Many are having a tough time especially this year for a lot of reasons! With respect to your weight, my advice is, be gentle with yourself. Beating yourself up emotionally probably doesn’t help. You are smart to recognize that you are stress/emotionally eating at times. It’s not unusual, pandemic or not! I’ve done the diet thing too, and what drives me crazy is that eventually you have to stop a diet and go back to…what? “Normal” eating? As I got older, I struggled with my weight too and was convinced that it was impossible to lose weight after a certain age. But that’s not true. I learned that when I put less food in my mouth, I lose weight. Yes, I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek, but in some cases, it is about portion control. I also learned that I don’t want to restrict myself from eating the things I love- science indicates that when we restrict ourselves from those things, we eventually overeat them and gain the weight back! What supports me with weight loss is being super conscious about what I put in my mouth- tracking every bite for a few months helped me to learn how much I was actually eating and what I was eating. I didn’t stop eating foods I love, but ate a little less of them. I weighed myself literally every day so I learned that when I ate that amazing burrito for dinner, I did gain weight, so the relationship of what I was eating and how it impacted my weight became clearer over time. I also learned to anticipate splurges, and when I knew I wanted to eat a lot of something super yummy but high calorie, I ate less of other things before and after that day. Finally, I have learned to ask myself as I open the refrigerator door, “Does your body need fuel or are you eating because you are ____ (insert emotion- stressed, bored, angry, etc.)?” Sometimes the answer was, “I am eating because I am stressed” and for that moment, that was okay. I’d enjoy the food, not beat myself up, and ask myself what I wanted to adjust over the next day or so to account for that stress eating. Learning to be kind to myself about my eating habits helped me not go off the deep end when I overate. It is easy to say, “I just ate those two donuts and I’ve blown my diet, so I’m a failure at this so I’m not even going to try anymore.” That is fatalistic thinking that is just not helpful.

    About exercise–it has tons of benefits (duh, right?!) and I always thought it was diet and exercise that causes weight loss. It’s not. You can sit on your tail all day and not do a lick of exercise and if you eat less, generally (assuming no underlying health issues) you will lose weight- even if you are older. That was a surprise to me.

    Hang in there.

    • mcgarveysan

      Hi Cheryl. Thanks for your comment! I really like the question at the fridge door about why you’re eating. That’s important. I used to do something similar and will try to remember that in the future. I can’t remember if I said it in my post, but using the My Fitness app and tracking all my food was eye opening for me previously. I actually did lose weight and cared more about my choices when tracking it. I’ll start doing that again. I agree about not being fatalistic in the approach of “well I ate that, so it’s all off”. I’m pretty good about recognizing my choices were maybe not the best and then starting again. Of late (meaning the last couple years), it seems that I just don’t stick to my resolve for more than a few days. I’m a work in progress. :)

      We recently watched an interview that Oprah did with Matthew McConaughey where he talked about losing weight for the movie, Dallas Buyers Club. He said three weeks into his “diet” and exercise he hurt his ankle (or something) and could not exercise. He still lost weight at the same rate, so yeah, that is surprising that weight is almost all about food intake.

      Thanks for reaching out! It’s good to hear from you!

  4. Marilyn (Clive)

    Hello Noelle,
    Marilyn here. Please look us up if you come through North TX. I have struggled with type 2 diabetes for years. Nutritionist taught me: eat a bit 2 hrs after each meal. The best plate has a grain & a protein. Know serving sizes and buy pre-packaged for portion control.
    In April, decided if life was ending (politics & pandemic) I would be strong again. Just like that I was walking 1 mile in 30 minutes, 5 days a week. It was great: til I couldn’t stand. 3 months later I had a stress fracture and have been not walking for 3 months. Then Covid came to Thanksgiving dinner. Clive tested positive but no symptoms. Moral of story: your awareness and desire to change will do you good. I committed to my routine for 30 days and then I had muscle memory! And it became routine.
    Thanks for being open and sharing with your life.

    • mcgarveysan

      Hi Marilyn! I sent you an email…I think. Serving sizes are seriously where I go wrong, as we actually do eat fairly healthy. I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s good for me, if it’s way too MUCH for me. :) I was so happy to see you just start walking and then bummed to hear about the stress fracture. It’s a common hiker issue, so at least you’re in good company! Sorry to hear about your unwanted Thanksgiving guest, but glad Clive is not experiencing symptoms. That part is a relief! I hope the rest of your family is well. We’ll definitely look you up if we head through your area. It would be nice to see you…well without the Covid part! Big hugs to you both.

  5. Colleen

    I just began reading “Peace is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh. I mean JUST. Like, five minutes ago. While I was propping up my crappy, not-getting-better right knee replacement, hoping to minimize the swelling for the day. A day when I have to go to work, which I don’t want to do, but I will… I’d rather stay home and breathe and read and pour love into my crappy, not-getting-better knee.
    I had a very interesting conversation with my physical therapist the other day. We have many interesting conversations. He’s a gem of a human being! Anyway, our conversation was about suffering and trauma. We can easily minimize our suffering, pain and trauma by comparing it to others who we view as suffer more, having more pain or experiencing more trauma than us. When really, our suffering, pain and trauma is only relative to our suffering, pain and trauma. No one else’s. Just ours. While you may be “living the dream”, your suffering and pain are still real. They are no less or no more than someone else’s.
    Noelle, I think you are on the right track – amplify peace in your life. Pour love into your hard-to-lose-weight body. inject more forms of solace to replace the eating for solace. Rather than view it as a struggle, try to view it as Peace is Every Step.
    Thanks for the props to Patrick for the necklaces – it will bring him joy and make him smile
    Much love!!!

    • mcgarveysan

      Hello beautiful! I’m sorry to hear that your knee is still being its stubborn self. I was sure hoping that it’d be cooperating by now. On the positive side, it sounds like your therapist is a gem! I hadn’t really thought about suffering, pain and trauma just as my own, as I do tend to minimize it in comparison to others. I’m also obviously viewing things as struggling rather than Peace is Every Step. When we swung through home, we picked up some of our favorite books from storage. I got Hanh’s No Mud, No Lotus, so I guess instead of driving it around I need to read it again. It’s all about acknowledging suffering in order to transform it. Thanks for the reminder! I’ll also pick up the one you’re reading. I do love the way he simplifies life.
      We do love the necklaces and are so appreciative of the friendship and love that Patrick put into the stones. You two are a blessing to us. Much love back at you.


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