Friday, September 23, 2011

How Many TimesCan You Start Anew?

The answer to that question for me is as many times as it takes. After getting through all the stressors in my recent past that were the excuses I used for not eating healthy, I found myself ready to go, willing to get back on my low-carb diet and begin exercising again but there was a problem. During the preceding couple of months, I had loaded up the house with carb-rich foods like pastas and rice. We were between paychecks as hubby only gets paid twice a month so I couldn’t go shopping for the healthier food choices I needed. So while I tried to limit my intake, anyone who knows how low-carb works knows that if you're eating carbs like pasta and rice, tit throws everything off.

Well hubby got paid yesterday and I spent over 2 hours running from store to store with a very specific list. I got all my shopping done and spent another hour putting it away. I have a 5 week low-carb menu plan all written out on, of all things, a Betty Crocker recipe wall calendar. So today I begin anew...again.

I am not terribly bothered by this reboot. I wish I done better but I know that beating myself up won't get anything accomplished except to make myself feel bad. There's no point. So with menu in hand and pantry well-stocked, I am ready to start again. I launch this latest effort from a dismal starting point of 256.6. Not the highest I've ever been but considerably higher than where I had struggled down to earlier this year.

Still with the better part of six weeks planned out and on hand, I should be able to see some considerable progress before the holidays get here. And that will give me a solid start of good eating habits going into the dreaded food-tempting holidays. I will be looking into low-carb options for some of our holiday favorites and will share them here as I find them.

Good luck with your fitness goals. It's never too late to start anew!

PS: Adde at 7:30 tonight. My first day back on the low carb wagon and I consumed just 13 net carbs and don't feel humngry in the least.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

M Is for Marching On

In a group I belong to on Facebook, I remarked a couple of weeks ago that I was putting my diet and wellness plan on hold until after Labor Day. That may not have been the smartest thing to do and I’ll admit, at the time, I was letting the future upheaval my life was about to face be the excuse I needed to ignore taking care of myself.
My oldest son, Kyle, turned 18 this summer and graduated from high school, momentous occasions in a young man’s life and that of his parents. He had announced his plans early in the summer to move out but not just out – all the way to Oregon from southern Illinois. I had plenty of time to prepare. I had already packed my daughter off to boot camp and six-year stint in the military a few years before. I was ready for this. But as the weeks slipped by and the departure drew near, I started to feel panicky. Who would look after him? How would I know he was safe? I had never gone more than a day not hearing from him and that was when he was at a sleepover. How would I survive days or weeks at a time, not knowing anything about what was happening in his life? It is his time to march on.
The traditional rite of passage in our house has been that as one child moves out, the next oldest gets to move into the “big bedroom”. So as Kyle was cleaning out his room, packing up his life and making ready to leave, Sean, the youngest, was cleaning out his room in anticipation of the big move. The house was in utter chaos.
Enter Vicky, my firstborn and the only girl, into the maelstrom. She is a single mom and struggling financially. In order to get on her feet, she approached us about moving herself and her almost2 year-old back into the house in exchange for reduced rent and help around the house. So I lose one child to the world and one comes back with a bonus. She is now ensconced in our home and the adjustment has been challenging.
I spent this past weekend, Labor Day weekend, working on the rental house she vacated so we can re-rent it. I also worked on my lesson plans for Sean as I homeschool him and we are to begin today. You see, life marches on. It does not wait for you. There is no perfect time to take care of yourself. I have realized the trick is finding out how to do it amidst all the chaos that is my life.
I weighed in at 255.9 today, a good five or six lbs. heavier than month. It could have been far worse but today, I begin to march on, again. My 50th birthday approaches and I am a long way from where I’d hoped to be but I will persevere. I will march on.

Monday, August 8, 2011

P Is for Practice Makes Perfect

When it comes to weight loss, Lord knows, I’ve had plenty of practice. I’ve been losing weight for years. The problem is I keep gaining it too. Like many of you, I have tried many different methods to control my eating and my weight. Sometimes this involved mild attempts at starvation that naturally resulted in binging when my body could no longer handle the lack of food. I have tried diets that focused a single food such as the grapefruit diet and the cabbage soup diet. I’ve tried different plans like counting calories, counting grams of fats and currently counting carbs.
I’ve also tried exercise. I am not a natural athlete. I did not come from a family of physically active people. Activity of this nature takes great effort for me. I do not enjoy the physical strain, getting sweaty (remember, I live in a moderately southern locale with no air conditioning) or the muscle pains that come from working out with a body used to a sedentary life. Still I have tried. I have used a treadmill mill vigorously for months, taken exercise classes like basic step, Zumba and aerobics. I have used a swimming pool and had partners who walked with me 3 to 4 times a week for months.
When everything is going right, I have been able to shed more than a few pounds but let something happen to upset the apple cart and I’m thrown off my game. It seems any disruption in a newly developing routine, even a couple of months into it, is an excuse to fall completely off course and revert to old patterns. Yes, practice make perfect.
However, in spite of some dietary straying this weekend due to a currently stressful financial situation (yes, an excuse – I know!), I am still determined to keep trying.
This morning I weighed in at 249.9. So, considering the bad weekend, that’s not too bad. I had my low carb breakfast, a dish I will share below, and feel ready to face the week. In addition to maintaining a strong commitment to eating low carb this week, I am pledging to exercise at least 4 times for a minimum of 30 minutes each time. Practice makes perfect.

Sausage & Egg Casserole
8 oz. bulk pork sausage
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 oz. heavy whipping cream or half & half
Break the sausage into crumbles and brown. Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and add to the sausage. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes to melt the cream cheese a bit. Add the cream and stir to keep cheese from sticking and cream from scalding. When most of the cheese is melted, add the eggs. Stir to break yolks and blend. Keep stirring until eggs are done. Serves 2
Net carbs per serving 1.5

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

O Is for OMG!

I’m overweight. There is no other way to look at it. You can’t be a woman, 5’ 6” tall and weigh well over 200 pounds and not know that you’re overweight. It is no secret to me. But I have had a few OMG moments, usually involving mirrors or photographs.
I don’t own a full-length mirror. The only mirrors in my house are in the bathrooms and they only reflect from the shoulders up. No – I didn’t have them specially designed to do that though I would if I could. They are over the sinks and that just happens to be where they are placed. This has allowed me to live in ignorant bliss about what the rest of my body looks like to the rest of the world.
I had an OMG moment recently when I used a public restroom that did have a full-length mirror. I was in total disbelief. I don’t know where I thought those 250 pounds were hanging out at but apparently they are hanging out all over because the creature staring back at me in the mirror was huge! Mammoth!
There I was, or some carnival-house-of-mirrors version of me, in jean shorts, a t-shirt and sneakers looking like a blue-clad version of the Stay Puft  Marshmallow man. There was a definite roundness to the middle of me and my arms hung in curves around my girth instead of dangling down beside me.
Lets’ not even talk about my face -that round orb with no neck that seems to begin where my shoulders leave off. Yes, I had an OMG moment. It reaffirmed to me in a way no number on a scale could that I really need to do something.
So in my continuing (and seemingly endless) efforts to shed the Stay Puft Marshmallow man, who is masquerading as me, I am still pursuing the low-carb diet. This week I tried a wonderful Spinach & bacon salad with dressing that I will share with you. Having come from the old school of “FAT IS BAD,” I was taught to trim away fat and soak up the extra grease off of my bacon. So when I read that I was supposed to use the bacon grease to make the dressing, I was skeptical but it was…OMG! Delicious!
Here is the recipe:
Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1/4 c chopped onion
4 slices bacon
2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp Splenda
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook bacon and allow it to drain on paper towel but keep bacon grease in pan. Add vinegar, pepper and Splenda to bacon grease. Stir and heat slowly until boiling. Tear spinach into salad sized pieces and toss with egg, onion and crumbled bacon.
Immediately pour on hot dressing and toss lightly.
Yields 2 servings
Total Net carbs: 5 grams per serving

Saturday, July 30, 2011

N Is for New

I think I need a new scale. I know in the early days of following a low carb diet you can see some significant weight loss but my scale said 249 this morning. I tried it three times to be sure. I just don’t feel as if I’ve lost 6 lbs. since Monday and usually I can feel that kind of weight loss. Oh well, I am not going to obsess about it.
Yesterday morning I made a new recipe, sausage and egg muffins for breakfast. I used Johnsonville Four Cheese Italian sausage because the recipe called for Italian sausage and these are my favorite kind. I loved them though the husband was unsure. He’s a little quirky sometimes. If he’s expecting a certain taste and doesn’t get it, he then judges the dish not to his liking rather than judging the dish on its own merit without expectation. He expected the typical pork breakfast sausage and when it wasn’t, he thought the dish tasted “off”. Personally, I enjoyed it immensely. The recipe calls for you to bake the eggs. I’ve never cared for the texture of baked eggs in the past but this dish really worked. Here’s the recipe:
Sausage and Egg Muffins
6 oz. Ital. sausage
6 eggs
1/8 cup heavy cream
3 oz. cheese
Preheat oven to 350. Spray large muffin pans with cooking spray. Cut sausage links and place them 2 to a tin. Mix eggs with cream, salt and pepper. Pour into tins over sausage. Sprinkle with ½ cheese, layer on remaining egg mixture and top off with cheese again. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until eggs are done.
Yields 3 servings
Total Net carbs: 2.3 grams per serving
I used 2 full Italian sausages, added 1 egg and a pinch more cheese to stretch this to 4 servings.
The bacon cheeseburger recipe I tried was less impressive and will need a major overhaul. It just wasn’t flavorful enough as written. I won’t share the recipe since in my book it was a flop. When I get it right I’ll post it.
Still getting over a summer cold that has settled in my lungs, I didn’t exercise yesterday but I have plans of doing so today. The cold seems much better this morning – it doesn’t hurt much when I take a deep breath. Also on the agenda is some house cleaning, a little time out on the riding mower before the jungle takes over and canning tomatoes.
Yes, in the 90+ degree weather, I am canning. I’m not sure why tomatoes have to ripen in the hottest time of the season but they do so I will be blanching and canning all morning. 25 lbs. will go into salsa and 25 lbs. into diced tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano. Yummy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

L Is for Low Carb Menu PLanning

I’ve been away for a while, in part because I completely fell off my plan and I really didn’t want to come here and admit it again. We’ve been hit by scorching heat for weeks. Because my home is more than 100 years old and we cannot afford to install central air conditioning, we only have window air units in a couple of rooms. The room I can use to exercise is not one of them. With temps in the 90s for weeks and the heat index well above 100, I gave up exercising. Coupled with the 4th of July holiday weekend spent out town followed by oldest son’s 18th birthday and high school graduation party 2 weeks later, I’ve managed to gain back 10 lbs. Disappointed in myself does not even begin to cover how I feel.
My husband called me from work earlier this week to say his company was starting another round of their version of “The Biggest Loser” and he decided to go for it. Since it is always helpful when your spouse is on board with weight loss plans, this got me a bit fired up again.
I spent the better part of the day researching low carb meals I could actually live with. In the past, I’ve had trouble with this because in order to make recipes taste decently, low carb meals often call for expensive, exotic or specialty items. These can be hard to find or way out of my budget. I’ve tried using Atkins Baking Mix and few other products, low carb bread. These things just don’t taste good – to me. Plus, they ARE expensive.  So I needed a menu plan I could live with and I think I’ve put one together.
It is my hope to try out these recipes and then report back here the next day on how they turned out and include any tips I discover for making them easier or tastier.
I am also starting to exercise again though moderately in the heat. Wednesday I did 32 minutes of the Wii “Walk It Out” and remembered how much I enjoyed that.
I am starting out at 255 again, as of this past Wednesday and the 2 days of low-carb & exercise has me down to 251 today (Friday). I am encouraged.

Yesterdays’ Lunch: Cucumber Tuna Boat
3 cucumbers
1 6 oz can tuna
2 hardboiled eggs, diced
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons dill relish
1 Tablespoon chopped onion
1 Teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon salt
Cut cucumbers lengthwise and de-seed. Cut a small slice off the bottom to make cucumbers lay flat. Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl to make tuna salad and spoon into cucumbers. Serve immediately.
Yields 6 servings
Total Net carbs: 5 grams per serving
This was delicious! I omitted the relish because I have never been a fan of it. I don’t generally make things where I worry about presentation for just myself but I have to say, sitting down to eat this, I felt like I had indulged. I suppose you could simply slice the seeded cucumber and mix it in with the tuna too but there’s was something fun about feeling like I had catered to myself a bit. I will be having this again today and I’m trying it out on the hubby. I don’t have 6 people to feed in my house at one sitting and I can’t afford to waste the leftovers. Whenever I make this, it will last for 2 or 3 days, depending on how many of the kids are home for lunch that day.
Today I am trying sausage and egg muffins for breakfast though there is no “muffin” involved and bacon cheeseburger with a side of broccoli for dinner. I’ll let you know how those turn out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"W" Is for Weight Loss

I know. That's a lame title for a blog post but I'm scrambling to catch up with my challenge commitments so it’s the best I can do!

If you've been following for a while now, you know my weight loss plan has hit a few bumps in the road. I waver between being disappointed with my s-l-o-w progress and being determined to stick with it. Today is a determined-kind-of-day.

Saturday, when I last weighed myself, I was a new low - 244.9. That's still a very unhealthy number but it was exciting to me. It's been more than 2 years since I was at a number like that, having peaked at 267 in December of 2009. So even though it coming off painfully slow, I remind myself that I am indeed down a smidge over 22 lbs. and that is encouraging.

I am not perfect, no matter what plan I follow or what strategy I employ. I wander off and indulge when I shouldn't, scold myself and keep getting back up on the wagon. I figure as long as I keep getting back on, and as long as the weight continues to edge downward, I'm doing ok. As my supportive husband likes to tell me, I didn't gain the weight all in one year - I can't expect it to come off all in one year either.

I have accepted the way this works for me and I feel so much less pressure for doing so. I'm sure I'll still have days where I get down on myself for over-indulging but by and large, I like myself and the path I'm on. So I'll keep pursuing my weight loss dreams. Someday I will get there.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

“Y” Is for Yes, I Can

Returning to the world challenge-based blogging, I am participating in the Z to A May blogging challenge though this time I am doing it a little differently. Last time I bit off more than I could chew by entering five blogs into the challenge and trying to keep up with each one throughout April. I made it as far as K before I was a blithering idiot. This time I entered all my blogs again but I promised myself I would guarantee a post on just one each day. If I felt like doing more, great. Hopefully this saves my sanity this month and Lord knows, I have precious little left.
Three weeks ago I started on a low carb lifestyle and did great for the first week. Then, I ran out of low carb meal options and snacks and payday was more than a week away. I did well at breakfast and most lunches but dinners got the better of me. So two weeks after my phenomenal start, I am back to where I started before low carb, a dismal 251.
I keep wondering if I can really get serious about this, if I can really do it. I know the answer is yes, I can. I just have to figure out how and why I haven’t so far. So for the rest of this week, I am going to focus on that – getting my head wrapped around this once and for all.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

“M” Is for the Pivotal Moments

I have discovered that my weight loss successes as well as my failures really come down to moments. Every day is made of dozens of these moments. How I face them determines the outcome.

Should I go through the drive-thru at the bank or park the car and walk inside? Should I put an extra spoonful of rice on my plate when no one is looking or skip it? Should I exercise for ten more minutes or call it a day? These and so many other choices come at me throughout the moments of my day.

Each one of these moments presents an opportunity for me to change my life. Every time I make the right choice, I am rewarded with self-respect and perhaps eventually weight loss. When I miss those opportunities, I am sometimes filled with self-loathing and perhaps punished with weight gain.

Sometimes I am able to recognize the hidden challenges in these moments and sometimes I am not. And even when I recognize the moment for what it is, I am weak and give in to it. Those are my moments of failure and I know it.

My challenge as I go forward is to do better in those moments my own human weakness threatens to drag me down. This seems such a somber post but as I think about this, I am convinced it is the key to making changes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

K Is for Kill the Cravings

I have talked about being a foodaholic in a previous post. Not only do I enjoy food, I sometimes find myself craving food even when I know I should not be hungry. I know these feelings occur for me when I am bored or anxious. Knowing the cause is a great first step but it is only the first step to battling the cravings.
You don’t want to wait until you’re in the middle of a craving crisis to realize you are unprepared to deal with it. If you know you have triggers and they are unavoidable, say, stress, for example, you need to be prepared. None of us can completely eliminate stress. We can be prepared for it. I know I tend to crave chocolate and chips when I’m in one of those frames of mind. I am keeping some 100 calorie packs of cookies in the pantry for when the carb-demons come calling.
I am not likely to reach for celery sticks when my brain is screaming CHOCOLATE!  Having something around that will satisfy the yearning without undermining your diet is the smart approach.
In a side note, I have recently started a low-carb diet and have experienced a radical reduction in eating impulses. I will keep you posted as to how this goes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

J Is for Junk Food

Junk food. The term is supposed credited to Michael Jacobson, director of the American Center for Science in the Public Interest who supposedly coined the phrase in 1972. It represents foods that provide little to no nutritional value or empty calories. You know – the ones we love to consume and then struggle to burn off.
Like everyone else, I love junk food. Potato chips, Snickers bars, ice cream of almost any flavor. I grew up on them. Not that we had them in the house all the time because we didn’t but that only added to the mystique. They were regarded as treats and therefore desirable. Somehow the message I got was that they were good but we couldn’t afford them all the time. Not that they bad for me so moderation was called for. Somewhere along the way this got internalized as once I could somehow afford these “treats” it was okay to eat them.
Having them in the freezer or pantry was somehow tied to status. I was earning enough money that I could afford to keep indulgent foods around. Even that wasn’t so bad except that never having learned moderation I was unable to keep them around. Whole bags of chips, packages of cookies and cartons of ice cream could disappear in record time and there often was no one else around to point the finger at but myself.
Once I realized that I was over-indulging, I tried to limit their presence in the home. Naturally I needed to still have these things for the family, I told myself. After all they weren’t the ones with health issues and food addictions. I was. Why should they suffer?
But I couldn’t stay away from whatever treats I brought home. I’d wait until the kids were in bed and I’d sit down with my bowl of ice cream, sometimes followed by a half bag of chips and indulge away. I felt ashamed and guilty the moment the last morsel was gone. I’d resolve to do better and for a while I would. But the kids would ask for something and not wanting to be a “bad” mommy, I’d get it. I’d tell myself I wouldn’t give in and sneak their treats but I knew I was lying to myself.
Knowing how I got to this point helps but I still find myself struggling with cravings for junk food. I am making better choices but I’ve decided to handle junk food differently now. I try not to keep it in the house. I don’t deprive my kids but we’ve talked about nutrition and health and what happened to me. If they want ice cream or chips, we get them when we eat out. We work moderation into the discussion and thought they are still treats, we don’t tie it into our financial budget but rather our health budget. Hopefully I can steer my kids away from the mistakes I made and I can grow stronger about resisting them while I develop better eating habits.

“I” Is for Keep It Interesting

Weight loss and maintenance is lifelong endeavor. It is for me anyway. I never had a weight problem until after my second child and then it worsened after the third. He is now 13 and I’m even bigger than I was then. So I’m pretty sure the rest of my life will be spent in losing it and working to maintain a healthy weight.

Keeping things interesting is the key. I am not one of those people who can eat a salad every single day. I cannot walk on the treadmill every day for exercise. I need variety; I need a little spice in my life. There are things I enjoy and I can eat a hamburger patty and side of green beans 3 or 4 times a week to keep up with my low-carb goals but I cannot eat it every day. If I try, I will start craving other flavors, other sensations and there I go off the path.

The same is true with exercise. I cannot spend 40 minutes or so everyday doing the same thing. I don’t have the room to set up the treadmill in front of the TV so I can watch something while I sweat. I have had to be creative when it comes to exercise. I tread once or twice a week. I try to spend an hour at least once a week doing heavy labor in support of my yard and garden. Once a week I attend a Zumba class which is the most grueling of all. The rest of the time, I indulge Wii games of the physical variety: Wii Fit Plus, Walk It Out and Personal Trainer. Together the combination seems to work for me. I feel my stamina and flexibility improving each week even if it doesn’t show up on the scale. People are always saying the scale isn’t the only way to judge progress and I’ve seen that myself.

I am working on getting my diet to the point where it has flexibility and diversity but is still manageable. This will be an ongoing challenge but, hey…it keeps things interesting.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

“H” Is for Hope

Today is the 9th day of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge and my post is about hope. Over the course of the last 9 days, I have “met” some wonderful people, fellow journeyers, who while on different journeys, share a common thread. We all have hope.
Hope that maybe we will increase our readership by participating in this challenge. Hope that someone will find what we have to say relevant, useful or simply entertaining. We hope that our posts, and our comments, touch someone, maybe profoundly, maybe more than just one someone.
My own journey, taken with baby steps, is to find a fitter healthier me somewhere inside the larger-than-life person I’ve become. I have a wonderful support group, all writers, who lift me up when I am down, kick my butt when I need it and are there for me 24/7 as I travel tis arduous road. Now, thanks to this challenge, I have something more.
I have received many comments from total strangers who can relate with the challenges I’m facing. Others have offered support and ‘Atta-girls” while others have counseled me to seek deeper answers to my many issues.
It has shown me that there is a whole wide world of people still out there, ready to reach out and lift one another, willing to care, even for a few moments about someone else’s struggles. What an amazing gift that is. And we share it so easily with one another. It makes me tremble to think what we could do for the world if only everyone could let their inner spirit reach out to others.
Anyway, before I get all sentimental and mushy, I started this post with the intention of thanking those who have read and those who continue to read. You may not think so but you give me hope. Each one of you has bolstered my spirit, improved my attitude and in some cases given me cause for reflection. You know what they say, hope springs eternal. And with readers and friends like you, I find that to be very true.

Friday, April 8, 2011

“F” Is for Foodaholic – Count Me In

My name is Theresa and I am a foodaholic. I do not say that lightly or to make fun of anyone is any kind of 12-step or other self-help program. I have the greatest respect for anyone trying to take hold of their life and their issues. I say it because it is true. Food controls my life.
I think about food probably more than anything else all day long. As the cook in the family, it is my job to think about food. I cook all the meals, plan the shopping and purchase the food. I decide what we will eat, when we will eat it and how it will be cooked. I have to think about when I need to start preparing it so it will be ready at meal time. I need to gather the ingredients and tools to make sure I can prepare that meal.
As if that weren’t enough, I have animals to take care and food to provide for them. I have my 17-month-old granddaughter five nights a week and yep, I get to feed her too.
You would think with all this food thought, I would be sick to death of it. Nope. I often find myself counting the moments until I can eat my next meal. Not because I am especially hungry but because I enjoy it.
I love planning, shopping and preparing food (except for those trying, exhausting days we all have). I can’t wait to sink my teeth into whatever it is I have planned that day. Sometimes I have to fight with myself not to have seconds.
Ever drive by those houses that have so many yard ornaments you can barely see the house anymore? That’s me with food. Now, I’m not sitting in my office surrounded by food. No, but it’s in my head and I don’t know how to get it out. Those rare moments when I’m not thinking about it is the most likely time ne of the boys will poke their head in and ask what they can have for a snack. Or my husband will call on his way home from work and ask what’s for dinner and I’m right back to thinking about food.
If I have plans to meet with friends, I often find myself focusing on what I can have to eat instead of the get together itself. I am a foodaholic.
It is by being honest and accountable that I hope to change these and other bad habits I’ve developed over the years. Some of them just stump me as to how…

“G” Is for Groceries – Are They Doing Me In?

I have been thinking about groceries and the way I shop for them. While I am on a “diet”, my family is not. I have two healthy teenage boys who can eat gargantuan amounts of food and still ask what there is to eat. My husband has a healthy metabolism and while time and gravity are beginning to creep up on him, he is still in pretty good shape, in my humble opinion.
When I plan my grocery shopping list, I work from a menu plan for the month. It includes all the meals and snacks I think we’ll consume in the next 30 days. However, my whole family doesn’t need to eat the way I need to eat. I buy them the things they enjoy: cookies, snack mixes, the occasional bags of chips and so on.
When I get home and unpack it, there it is. All the stuff I don’t need to eat: cookies, snack mixes, bags of chips and so on. I can be good for a while. Even a long a while. But then, that moment of weakness hits – late in the evening, after a terribly long day when I’m tired and stressed and I know no one is looking. That’s when their food ends up in my mouth!
I don’t want to deprive my kids. They have so far developed good eating habits and can leave the stuff alone whereas I hear it calling to me from three rooms away. How do I provide for them and torture myself? Or how do I banish the naughty foods for me without depriving them?
Before you tell me to add more fruits and such, let me say this. We already have that. My family has no problem eating carrots, celery, broccoli and a myriad of fruits. Still, they sometimes want those foods which I find addictive and would like to avoid. If those foods aren’t in the house, I won’t eat them.
So I’m asking you dear friends and readers, how do you cope with this issue?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

“E” Is for Exercise

Exercise has been the bane of my existence. All my life, the “e” word was like a curse word to me. Never naturally athletic or coordinated, I was the last one picked for teams in gym class. I wasn’t even heavy as a child – that didn’t happen until my third child. Still, even in kindergarten, I had to be taught how to skip because it didn’t come easily to me.
That’s not to say that I didn’t play. I jumped rope, played hopscotch and chased others as we played tag every chance I got. It’s probably one of the reasons I did stay thin in my youth. Once I left childhood and its required daily P.E. behind, regular exercise was a thing of the past.
As I said in my “D” post, I have always loved dancing but it hasn’t always had a place in my life. Work, marriage, kids, divorce, then more work, another marriage and another kid left little room for dancing. If here was no dancing, there was no exercise.
For years that was ok. My busy schedule and youthful metabolism did their best to keep me reasonably thin, even if I thought I looked fat. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to weigh 140 or even 150 now! Sometime after I turned 40 though, my body said that’s enough. Weight doesn’t come off like it used to. In fact it seems to leap onto me from all directions when I’m not looking.
I have tried many diets in an effort to shed the weight and the one thing I’ve learned is that for me, I need to exercise. Anytime I have had even moderate success in weight loss, it has been the result of adding some kind of exercise. You have no idea how irritating I find this revelation. Have I mentioned that exercise and I don’t get along?
Knowing that exercise is imperative to my success, it is one of the things I have been working at this year. I have not yet reached some sort of obsessive devotion to it but I am becoming more committed. Those days when I don’t exercise, I can feel it. I feel sluggish and tired. And after adding physical activity to my life and making a concerted effort to gradually bump it week after week, I feel my endurance improving.
The only advice I can give to someone who, like me, despises regular exercise is to find something you love, employ variation so it doesn’t become boring and keep at it. In the long run, the benefits far out-”weigh” the disadvantages.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

“D” Is for Determination

The definition of determination is “a decision arrived at by thought and investigation,” according to How often have I said ‘I am determined to do this,’ with regards to my weight loss? Countless times. Sometimes it is a mantra I recite daily, hourly even.
Certainly I have investigated the situation. I have looked in the mirror. I have attempted to put on clothing that has become too snug. I have stepped on the dreaded scale and seen the proof. I have compared these oh-so-scientific findings to the charts and graphs that taunt me everywhere, telling me I am overweight. The handwriting is on the wall or the computer screen as the case may be.
I have thought about it. I have focused, mused and obsessed about it. At times, my struggle to find balance in my life, a balance that allows me to enjoy eating without depravation, has been my only thought. I guess by the dictionary definition, I am determined. So why have I not succeeded?
What this definition of determination does not include is commitment. We can realize there is a problem. We can do the research, the planning and even make the decision that “something has to be done.” Until we are committed, determination alone is not enough.
I am three-and-a-half months into the New Year and have only 9.6 meager pounds lost to show for myself. While I tell others that any weight loss is good, as a means of being encouraging, for me, I am dissatisfied. With 115 pounds to lose when I started this, I could have done more by now. So though I have been determined all along, it is time to examine my commitment to that determination.

Monday, April 4, 2011

“C” is for Criticism

Those of us who are overweight deal with criticism all the time. It is not always spoken out loud but it is felt none the less. We see it in the disdainful looks of others. We feel it from those around us when we are forced to sit in tight quarters such as on buses, in movie theaters or on airplanes. And we hear the whispered remarks that the whisperers don’t think we hear as we pass by.
Sometimes we hear it from friends and family who think a tough love approach might help us. In some cases, that might be true, but I’m guessing not many. Do you have a mother who says, “My goodness, I can’t believe how you’ve let yourself go,” as she hands you a piece of cake? What about a husband who thinks he’s funny when he makes jokes about other fat people but then tells you that you are beautiful just the way you are. Does he really think you believe that?
But the harshest criticism of all has to come from within. I am dumb. I am certainly not blind. I know what I look like, feel like. I know the things I say to myself when I catch my reflection in a department store window. My thoughts scream at me when I can’t keep up with my kids or when I start panting halfway up the stairs. Criticism, whether stated or implied, can be one of the cruelest forms of communication mankind can dole out, especially when we do it to ourselves.
Fortunately, I am working to overcome the self-criticism. I cannot control the actions or words of others but I can control my own. When I am disappointed with how I look, I remind myself that I am a work in progress. I am making strides, even if they are small, every day. I am good and loving person and above all I am not defined by weight or my shape.
I hope that you will remember to be less harsh with others and with yourself. Focus on their (and your) good points and achievements. Start today and work each day to be less critical and more supportive. Before long, you’ll find your step is a little lighter and you wear a smile a little more often.
This post is brought to by the letter “C” as part of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. Have a wonderful day

Saturday, April 2, 2011

“B” Is for Breaking Bad Habits

Bad habits are what made me fat, aren’t they? I didn’t exercise enough, I ate the wrong foods. I ate too much of the right foods. I ate to comfort myself. I ate to celebrate. I ate when I was depressed. I avoided really looking in the mirror so I wouldn’t have to see the thing I was becoming. I avoided the scale because I didn’t want its confirmation that I was doing all the wrong things. Bad habits.
My baby steps involve breaking these bad habits. I try to focus on one at a time but then I find one of the others creeps up on me like a stalker in the night and I fall prey to it. Sometimes I am confronted by all of them in one day and the struggle seems insurmountable. Still, here I am, trying to break my bad habits.
Most recently I have been focusing on adding exercise to my daily life. Sometimes this takes the form of doing vigorous yard work. Sometimes it is mind-numbing time spent on the treadmill. Other times it is spent playing active games using the Wii game console. Once a week I attend a Zumba class where I am encouraged y others like me trying to change their lives.
During my pre-fat days, yard work was something I enjoyed immensely. In recent years, the attempt has become a sore reminder of how far I have fallen. In my effort to change this habit though, I remind myself of how I will be able to enjoy this again, if I just keep at it. Finding the games, classes and activities I enjoy has made all the difference.
And as the weeks of the new year have steadily drifted by, the weight slips off in tiny little increments. The best news about focusing on the lack-of-exercise bad habit is that I can feel my energy and stamina return. Everyday activities are not as taxing and actually doing the exercise is less exhausting and more rewarding. Breaking my bad habits looks like the way to go.

Friday, April 1, 2011

“A” is for Asparagus, That’s Good Enough for Me

I am engaging in a writing challenge that kicks off today known as the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge, which you can sign up for here. So today’s blog post is about asparagus.

As art of my plan to become fit, I’m always looking for ways to improve what I’m doing. I’ve always been pretty good about eating fruits and vegetables, even more so as I became an adult.

As a kid, my mom worked and when she got home, our veggies usually came out of a can: corn, peas, green beans and mixed vegetables. The rare exception was a fresh salad. Nothing against my mom, she did what most moms did back then but my sister and I were never properly introduced to the taste and health benefits of other vegetables like spinach, broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus.

I only tried asparagus for the first time about five years ago. For me, it is an acquired taste. Overcooked, it is too soggy for my tastes and cooking it just right takes a little practice. I wondered what it is about asparagus that is so good for you. Here’s what I learned:

One serving of asparagus (5 spears) provides over 60 % of the recommended daily intake of folic acid (B9) which can reduce levels of an inflammatory substance called homocysteine which in high levels can lead to heart disease.

Asparagus has no fat, no cholesterol and low sodium. It contains the vitamins A, B6, C, K, and thiamine as well as beta carotene, potassium, zinc and fiber.

Potential health benefits include improved digestion because asparagus triggers the production of friendly flora; better moods because the vitamin C and folic acid are factors in the production of serotonin and dopamine which make us feel better; its diuretic properties improve kidney function which can reduce water retention, blood pressure and urinary tract infections.

So whether you like it drizzled with a little Hollandaise sauce or sprinkle with olive oil, some garlic and a dash of salt, asparagus is great vegetable to include in your healthy lifestyle. I’m having some tonight.

How do you like to prepare asparagus?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Weight Loss Discoveries

I haven’t blogged about my weight loss efforts for a while because I’ve been yo-yo-ing for weeks now. At first I was stuck between 252 and 250. Every once in a while I’d see 249 and grow hopeful. Then it started staying at 248 to 251. I was excited whenever the scale dipped under 250 and depressed whenever it crept back over.

This pattern continued for a bit with me reminding myself each morning that my weight can fluctuate naturally a couple of pounds every day. Why can’t it just keep fluctuating downward, I wondered. I examined my eating habits and being honest with myself I discovered a couple of things.

The first is that I tend to be really good all week long, when I’m busy and have deadlines. When the weekend arrives, the picture changes. I might still have things to do but there is more freedom and latitude in the weekend. I equate weekends with relaxing, spending time with family and indulging. Yep, each weekend, I would consciously or not sabotage my efforts by eating foods I shouldn’t or too much of foods I should. I would forego any form of exercise in favor of relaxing.

Last weekend, I fought this urge. I followed my diet for the most part and I exercised on Saturday and Sunday. I did lighter workouts but the key, for me, was getting it done. For a change, I didn’t groan when I stepped on the scale Monday morning. My weight tiptoed up a couple of tenths but I could live with that. This morning came the reward. I stepped on scale, rubbing the sleep from my eyes, a yawn escaping from my mouth and peered down at the digital display. It glowed a happy little “246” back at me.

I have been teetering between 247 and 249 this last week so I know 246 won’t last. It was just the first peek. That was the second discovery I made. Against all modern advice, I weigh myself every day. This is how I hold myself accountable. History has taught me that when I avoid the scale, it is because I have allowed myself to decide to eat poorly. Avoiding the scale avoids accountability.

Whenever the numbers crept up, I was angry with myself and tried to find some action on my part that caused the increase, however slight. I wasn’t listening to myself when I reminded me that my weight can fluctuate daily. As I looked back at the log I keep, I began to see the pattern. Yes, my weight does go up and down throughout a given week. It is not yo-yo-ing in the sense that I’ve taken off a significant amount of weight and then put it back on. It is just the normal give-take of my body and overall, it has been on steady downward decent since I began this journey in January.

I am down 9.6 lbs in 12.5 weeks. That may not seem like a lot but I am pleased with it. I earned every tenth of it and I’m proud of that. I’d sure as hell rather be down 9.6 than up 9.6 or even still be where I was. Progress sometimes comes in small measure and I’m learning that its okay with me, so long as it comes at all.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fess-Up Friday - Not So Bad

My confession is that I don’t have that much to confess and I find that totally awesome. Sure I nibbled here and there, had an extra portion once or twice. Life did what it always does and swung wildly out of control. My car broke down, leaving me unable to do my outside job one day and dependant on a friend for transportation the next day. The upheaval caused me to have to switch gears and work on writing instead. While I enjoy writing, I had spent hours prepping a crock pot dinner, making lunches for my family and putting together paperwork for my outside job. I had to completely change tracks in order to be productive Tuesday, something that usually stresses me and causes me to reach for food for comfort. I managed to avoid this habit!

Wednesday, I was out with friends all day and the tress of not knowing what was wrong with my car, how much it would cost to fix and how much work I would have to do to make up that amount was killing me. Still, I didn’t get the hot pretzel I was craving or the French fries with my steak for dinner. I made it through the day well under my calorie and carb targets. However, because I was out so much, I didn’t exercise.

We had snow Wednesday afternoon and evening. By the time my daughter got off work, she felt unsafe to drive to my house and pick up her daughter. So when I awoke Thursday morning, I had an adorable little surprise still sleeping at my house. Thursday was to have been my replacement work day. Again, I had made the necessary preparations which this time included driving my husband to work so I could have his truck, a truck that rattles and thunders and makes me nervous to drive. I sound like such a psychotic but you’d have to drive this truck to understand ;).

My son stayed with the baby so I could do my job. She was still there when I got home and stayed the whole night again. I got no writing down, when I really felt compelled to write. I had learned my car was ready and would cost $487. The third day of stress and I hadn’t exercised for the last 2. The good news is I really hadn’t eaten badly.

Somehow, in spite of the stress, I made it through. And I lost a little weight! Today, I weighed in at 246.5, a 2.2 loss from Monday and a total loss of 7 lbs since January 3rd. I lost in the last 5 days than I have in single week since starting this year.

Earlier in the week, a friend asked a group of us what we were going to do to ramp things up in February and my answer was to try to pay more attention to my carb intake, to lower it. That’s what I’ve done. I’m not actually counting carbs or shooting for a particular target number. I’m just trying to make low-carb food choices. And for me, that seems to have helped.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday: Progress Report

Well, I have finished 5 weeks of my life-style change and I’m beginning week 6. So how have I done? Not too bad. I’ve lost 4.9 lbs as of today, which brings me to 248.7. My weight has wavered 1-2 lbs throughout the process but it is slowly edging its way downward.
I haven’t rechecked the measurements because, well, 4 lbs when you’re as big as me isn’t enough to make much of a difference in measurements. My clothes don’t feel any looser yet either. No point in bringing myself down.
What has improved is my endurance or stamina. I can exercise for longer periods or at higher intensities than before. When I started taking Zumba classes 4 weeks ago, I was only able to do about 30 mins worth and at less than half the intensity of the instructors. The last 2 times I went, I was able to complete the full hour and I had short bursts where my intensity matched the instructors. Overall, I’ve seen my ability to perform the moves improve each week. I go again tonight and I’m anxious to se what I can do.
Even the exercise I do at home is ramping up. When I started on January 3rd, I was happy to complete 20 minutes of exercise at each session. Now I can do 30-40 mins on my Wii Fit programs and last night I managed 45 minutes on the treadmill. Granted, it was at a very low speed (2 MPH), but my heart rate was elevated for 45 minutes, burning calories and improving my cardio-vascular performance!
I have seen the progress and I know I will get better. The weight is sluggish to come off but it is coming off at a rate of just about 1 lb per week. Of course I wish it would happen faster. I’d love for it to fall off all at once. However, I will be happy if I can continue to average 1 lb per week. By the end of the year, I could be right at 200! I never thought I’d be happy to say I weigh 200 lbs! Lol! Who knows, with a little luck, I might even break that barrier.
How has your first month gone? Got any tips to share?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Motivational Monday January 24, 2011

Well, it’s hard to feel motivated today. I’ve been “trying” to lose weight for 3 weeks now and due in large part to a nasty, persistent cold/sinus infection, I’ve managed to lose exactly two-tenths of a pound. I know, I know. Down is better than up. Still, I said in large part because during the worst of the cold, I consciously made numerous decisions to eat crap because I was sick, tired, miserable, etc. I knew better.
Today, in spite of sinuses that just won’t quit, I am determined to improve. A support group I belong to, Weight-Shedding Freelancers, has been inspirational. So many of the people in this group have shared their stories, their successes and their setbacks, that it helps knowing I am not the only struggling.
Today I have to work. It means long hours of driving in the car and little chance for movement. It is also supposed to rain a good deal of the day so no finding a place to park and go for a walk. However, tonight is the Zumba class at the library. I missed last week because I was sick. Even though I still can’t breathe, I am going to that class. I have got to kick this into gear. I will not be the only one in support group to reach the one-month mark weighing the same as I did when I started.
My goal this week is simple. I will find a way to work in some kind of exercise for at least 20 minutes every day. That’s it. No excuses. And if I don’t, please feel free to kick me in the ass.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Motivational Monday

I had such high hopes for this week but instead I went up .1 pound to 253.7. Now I realize in the big scheme of things, a tenth of pound is nothing. I also realize there will be highs and lows on this journey. It is just very discouraging to step out into the New Year this way. It’s time for some motivation.
Motivation is something I struggle with. I think we all do. Staying revved up when things are going well is easy. But when you’ve watched your portions and exercised more in a week than you have done in 6 months and scale laughs back at you, it is disheartening.
My brain is hardwired to see my disappointments, my shortcomings as failures. Failure takes the wind right out of me. Whether it is weight loss, work or some aspect of my personal life, I do not do failure well.
So I must break the pattern. But how? I’ve decided to call Mondays, Motivational Monday. I want to use today to kick off each week with something inspiring or meaningful. Whether your goal is weight loss, work-related, to quit smoking or anything else, we can all inspire one another.
I found an anonymous quote this morning, “You don't drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.” Whether the water is the symbol for bad habits, procrastination or attitude, the saying holds true. I know I hold myself back by focusing on my failures instead of my accomplishments.
This last week was emotionally trying for me. So in spite of great portion control and exercise, I indulged in chocolate binging, knowing full well it would A) not satisfy me because I was emotionally needy, not hungry and B) sabotage my weight loss plan and reaffirm that I am a failure. I am going to get out of the water.
A friend and fellow writer, Marie Anne St. Jean, came up with an idea last week. She started Fess-Up Friday on her blog and pledged to use Fridays as a way to be accountable for how she used her week to achieve her goals (or not). She also invited others to share the confessions with comments and links to their own blogs.
I am inviting you to do the same here but on Monday and with messages of inspiration. Motivational Monday will be about how we lose motivation, how we get it back, where we find and so on. Its not limited to weight loss so please feel free to link your blog here. Maybe we can create something amazing by linking up with others who are trying to find or share motivation. And in the end, if it helps us achieve whatever our goal is, isn’t that what this is all about?

Enter your Motivational links by clicking "Click here to enter":

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fess-Up Friday

Me in November 2009 at my highest weight
I love that title and I admit, I borrowed it from a friend and fellow writer, Marie Anne St. Jean. She is one of the freelance writers embarking on the weight loss journey with me. Marie Anne had this wonderful idea about using Fridays to talk about what we achieved throughout the week, whether it is personal goal, weight loss efforts, writing goals or any other type of goal we might have set for ourselves. It might even mean talking about our struggles and failures. I think it’s an amazing idea and I plan to employ it here.
I set Mondays as my weigh-in date, though, so I won’t be reporting my weight today. Many of my fellow journeyers are reporting losses for their first week and I am encouraged by all the good news. I hope I can report a loss come Monday as well.
So what have I been doing? Well, a lot actually. I am trying to keep my workouts varied and interesting. If something becomes too routine, I get bored and I’m not as likely to stay with it long term. I already owned the Wii Fit Plus exercise program and a treadmill. I added the Wii Fitness Coach 2 and Wii Zumba for this year. On Monday I attempted the Zumba beginner level, set at the shortest possible duration – 20 minutes – and it almost killed me. I think you need to already be fit to do Zumba but I am not giving up. I made it through half of the class before succumbing to fatigue accompanied strange sounds emanating from my throat as I gasped for air. I will attempt Zumba again today.

Tuesday I used the My Fitness Coach 2 program and was pleasantly surprised. After completing a profile which asked a few questions about my age, preferences and things like would I define myself as a hammock-lounging couch potato, a moderately-fit dog walker or an Olympic decathlon medalist, it created a workout program suited to my condition and goals. It lets you pick 2 areas to focus on such as weight loss, muscle toning, reducing the tummy, etc. I tried to pick them all but it limits you to 2 at a time. The workout combines stretching, toning and muscle building. Squats, knee-push-ups, marching (to warm up) and leg lifts were a few of the exercises in my routine. It offers a lot more but I’m sure I’ll be talking about the other features as I work my way through them.

Wednesday I dusted off the treadmill and walked at a speed of 3 mph for 20 minutes. Yep, I walked a mile and it felt great. I wanted to do more but didn’t want to push too hard my first week. I’m trying to learn where my current limits are again.
Yesterday I did the Fitness Coach 2 again. The routine only takes about 10 minutes once you’re familiar with the exercises. This didn’t feel like enough so I followed it with 17 mins of Wii Fit Plus aerobic exercises.
All in all, I’ve done really well with trying to fit in 20 minutes of activity each day. I didn’t make it the first day but I have since then. I think the goal is setting realistic goals. Achieving them gives me the reinforcement I need to push forward.
I’d love to hear how you’re doing. Leave a comment or link to this blog post and I will try to return the favor.

Check the list of bloggers I follow on the right. Here is Marie Anne's post about Fess-Up Friday

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back from the Past

Some of you may have followed this blog on another platform. I moved it here for convenience. So let's get down to business.

Last year I started my weight loss plan to coincide with the arrival of my first garndbaby, Baby J. She is now 13 months old and tearing up the place. She's as sweet as can be and I love her to pieces.

My thought was to get in better shape so I could be around to watch her grow up for a long time. Over the course of last year, I lost 21 pounds. Pretty good. I still have a long way to go. The holidays came I let things go. So now I'm back op to 253.6. Huge, right? That's ok, because this year I have friends to help.

Some fellow writers have joined together to support one another in our efforts to lose weight. We call ourselves Weight Shedding Freelancers. This group is amazing because all these wonderful people are sharing their stories, their weights, their measurements and their plans for a better future. It takes guts to do that and I am proud to be part of that.

Today, I opened the case that contained one of my self-selected Christmas presents.. Zumba for the Wii. I have seen Zumba classes and they are high energy and look like a lot of fun. Exercise for me has to be fun or I have a hard time sticking with it. So I dressed accordingly: sweats, baggy t-shirt, gym shoes and my hair in a pony tail. Wait - that's how I dress everyday.

Anyway, I set up my profile, selected "easy" and chose a 20 minute workout. Let me just say, ten minutes later, Zumba tried to kill me! It was fun but a bit faster than I thought a beginner lesson would be. It's all good though. I will try it again on Thursday. In between I will be doing other things to keep the monotony down.

I'll be weighing in on Mondays but blogging about what I'm doing through out the week so come back and check it out. I'll also be adding blogs for all my friends who have weight loss blogs so you can see if something they are doing might work better for you.

Check out the Wii ZUmba here. Or look for it on your platform (Playstation 3, XBox 360)

Circle 8 Anthologies Featuring my Short Stories