Monday, January 31, 2011

31/365 - Upcoming Event: Mormon Helping Hands 4/30/11

Last year was the first time our entire state participated in a huge park clean-up event. We wanted to use twitter to spread the word, but the whole concept was entirely new to those putting the event together in our area.  They asked if I could help out with an explanation and a video was made. I just saw the video for the first time today and I thought I would share.

This year, on April 30th, we'll be doing another project throughout the state. I'm looking forward in participating.

Friday, January 28, 2011

28/365 - Focus is Key

I am so grateful that my goal is on my daily workout and nothing else. If my focus was on the scale, I would be discouraged. If my success was based on how my pants feel, I would have already fallen off the wagon. But since I'm not focusing on anything but the workout, I feel GREAT!!

Yesterday I put on some pants that were a little looser when I first put them on last summer. Yes, it was before they were first washed, but that's beside the point. It doesn't matter, if you put on snug clothes that were once loose, it always messes with your head.

If you've been following since the beginning of the year, you know that I haven't been focusing too closely on my eating.  I haven't been porking, but I haven't been careful either. Considering my day yesterday, I would have thrown all weight loss efforts out and binged.  But I didn't. Why? Because I reminded myself of the goal: daily workouts for 365 days in a row.  Have I been doing it? OH YEAH, every night!! Suddenly all the guilt and frustration and crud that fills your head when you feel UGG instantly left.  Hope returned and the scale and lovely pant issues faded into the back of my mind. I love my goal! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

26/365 - Easy Lunch Idea

Sometimes I get so intensely focused on what I'm doing I forget to eat. No, it doesn't happen often, but occasionally, it does. For instance, yesterday was the last day of my kids' semester.  My middle school aged son had a few things due that weren't done and we were cramming to finish. It was two o'clock and I noticed my stomach felt off.

I searched the refrigerator, no left overs were found. The cupboards didn't have anything either. (At this point in my search, I realized I needed to go shopping) So I went to the pantry.  You can always find something in the pantry. I saw a can of soup and grabbed it. 

This soup is my go to lunch when I don't have much time but need to be filled. It's certainly not a pretty soup, it's actually quite ugly.  But shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream can change that. 

Here is a link to a tasty line of soups: http://www.amys.com/ 

Monday, January 24, 2011

24/365 - Emotional eating and how I deal.

Right now, writing and working out in the evenings are the best way for me to avoid emotional eating. It's when I don't have substitutions for the behavior that I find myself doing it.  I talk about my feelings below:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

20/365 - My FAVORITE Soup of the Day

A few weeks ago, I went to my go-to Betty Crocker Cookbook searching for a new soup to add to my winter arsenal.  This cookbook has always been my favorite--obvious because it's falling apart.  I probably should go on eBay and try to replace it, but then I would have to transfer all my notes. Not fun. So, I guess I will milk out as much life as I can from it.

The following recipe was first introduced to our family about a month ago and so far, we've made this soup three times.  I double the recipe so we have enough for left overs the next day because it's just as yummy reheated.

Best part of this soup is it's low in calories, inexpensive and makes a not-so-kid-friendly, powerhouse vegetable delicious.  My hubby and I aren't big fans of Brussels sprouts either, but we both agree they are fantastic here.  The key point to remember, DO NOT OVER COOK THEM.

Throw the sprouts in at the end, just before serving. Turn off the boil, toss them in, cover and let sit for about 5 minutes.  They should be bright green.  Who going to eat  dark, mushy, ugly and over done Brussels sprouts anyway?


1 pound beef boneless sirloin steak, 1 in thick. (Stew meat works fine here)
2 cans (14 1/2 oz ea) beef broth
1/4 tea. pepper
1 cup Brussels sprouts, cut lengthwise in half
1 cup sliced shiitake or domestic mushrooms (Go with the shittake)
2 med carrots, cut into 1/2 in pieces
1 lg sweet potato, cubed (about 1 cup) (We've been substituting bottleneck squash)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tea chopped fresh or 1/2 tea dried marjoram leaves
1 tea chopped fresh or 1/2 tea dried thyme leaves

Trim excess fat from beef.  Cut steak into 1in pieces. (Unless you bought stew meat) Cook beef steak in 3 qt saucepan over medium-high heat about 10 minutes, stirring several times, until brown.  Add beef broth and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes or until beef is tender.

Add remaining ingredients. (Remember what I said about the sprouts)  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Monday, January 17, 2011

17/365 - Junk Food Day AKA Birthday Celebrations

This past weekend we celebrated our oldest daughter's birthday.  Part of our family's birthday tradition is that we let the kids choose the food menu for the entire day.  Each child has his own original palate they enjoy satisfying and it's fun to see what they come up with.  Unfortunately, it's rarely healthy.  

Breakfast: Chocolate donuts and Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Lunch: Sub sandwich with chips

Snack: Bell pepper with Ranch dipping sauce. (I may have asked the question, "Would you like to include something healthy in your day?")

Dinner: Pepperoni Pizza

Cake and Ice Cream

What was my game plan? It would be easy to eat my own special foods for the day, but that would be insulting for the kids.  They enjoy picking out the menu for the whole family and it's fun for them to eat it as a family. So to keep the peace and the spirits high, I decided to eat small portions. 

I had one donut for breakfast and I was surprised how lousy I felt. If it had been a big ol' cream filled donut, I would have understood why I felt like throwing up thirty minutes after I ate it, but it was just a small old-fashioned chocolate. Ever notice that when you've been eating healthier, your body suddenly reacts to junk food? It's also scary because junk food doesn't effect me when I'm eating a lot of it.  It's like my body gets used to it and I can rationalize it's not "so bad" because I don't feel "horrible." Substandard food trickery.

Lunch was actually pretty good.  We put a ton of lettuce in the sandwich, she said she wanted a little, so we ran with the opportunity.  A serving of chips isn't a bad thing, if you can keep from going back for seconds.

For dinner, I was running around making sure five little girls and the rest of our kids had everything they needed.  I ate two pieces and a big glass of water when everyone was settled. By the time we had cake and ice cream I was too tired for more than a sliver.

I've found that a day full of junk isn't the worst thing that can happen to your health efforts if you simply eat small portions, exercise sometime that day, and get back to healthy habits the next day. One day doesn't cause damage, it's repeating the junk food day over and over that does.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

12/365 - I'm down!!

Photo Credit
Just had to report some good news! Something I certainly wasn't expecting, but exciting none-the-less!!

Today is day 12. Up to this point, I've only focused on the exercise, not on my food intake. I also haven't been weighing myself because I don't expect a change until I tighten up my eating a bit more--no reason to cause unnecessary distress, right? But this morning, I thought I'd check it out. I was curious.

When I first looked at the results, I thought I was up 3 pounds.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed, but not terribly surprised. I've been doing the same workout since January 1st, and it's a ton easier now, I know I've built muscle. Cue the mantra: Muscle weighs more than fat. Then I realized the number in the tens column changed too. (I was only looking at the ones column) As of today, I'm down 7 pounds! A very pleasant surprise indeed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

10/365 - Sleep

yawnI am SO tired. Maybe with the freezing temperatures lately, my body is trying to hibernate after all the holiday busyness? Yesterday after church I was freezing so I curled up with a blanket and just after I reached a nice level of toastiness, I conked out for about 30 minutes.

If you know me, I don't take naps. I just don't. First, I have four children and the opportunity rarely presents itself. Second, I don't feel good after taking them and third, I have a hard time getting to sleep at night if I do.  Naps aren't appealing to me, I would rather read.

So last night, it was really weird for me to be exhausted at 9pm.  I could have crashed the moment my head hit the pillow but I had things I wanted to do before retiring for the night.  I ended up falling asleep at 11, which is still "early" for me. You can imagine my surprise when 9am rolls around this morning and I am still exhausted.  I had to pry myself out of bed I was so tired. Tired after 10 hours of sleep?!?!?

All this sleepiness got me thinking.  It's been MONTHS since I've had a regular sleep pattern.  For the last six months I've been busy writing and editing and revising and revising all while taking the crash course approach in learning about the craft.  Very rarely do I get to bed when I should--actually, it's never--and every morning at least one child wakes me up at 7 by bouncing on me or some part of my bed.  I think I am feeling a bit of the repercussions of not keeping a regular sleep schedule.

Sleep. It's just as important as food and water to our bodies and yet it's the one thing we most tend to neglect.  We live in busy times and it's easy to put off that hour of sleep so we can get more done in a day. It's okay to do once in a while when there is a deadline or something important.  But to do it on a constant basis is just abusing your body and since our body is a living organism, it will fight back.

When trying to get healthy, sleep has to be as important as exercise and eating the right foods.  Of course, if our bodies aren't getting the right nutrients, it's not going to function properly.  It also won't work right if it's lacking sleep.  A body that gets everything it needs, will work the way it was intended to.  Having a body that is working against your efforts is futile and pointless.  Take care of the body and it will take care of you.

I've learned that if I go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, my Circadian Rhythm will work with me.  I'll get the sleep I need and I will wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.  The challenge is to do it, to get into a routine. I'm going to try to work on being regular over the next few weeks. Waking up to a day that's kicking my bum has to end. It never feels good to wake up tired. Never.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

9/365 Not sure what to do about Sundays

I'm not sure what to do with my postings.  I'm thinking that I might take Sundays off from blogging, it's probably one of the most busy day of the week for me.  Sometimes I don't even turn on the computer. 

So for now, I think I'm going to be a no show on Sundays. Just because you don't see me, doesn't mean I'm not keeping up with the challenge.  :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

8/365 - Eating Habits

At the end of the old year, I always feel the need to eat all sorts of naughties so I can start the year off fresh-- only to crash and burn a week or two later.  I know this about me and I learned long ago not to fool myself into believing "This is the year."  So I don't make that as a goal for obvious reasons.

Last time I did a 365 day challenge, it wasn't until the end of February that I decided to change my eating habits.  Often times I would walk off the machine only to make myself a chocolate sundae or a huge mug of hot chocolate. (We have two birthdays to celebrate in January so there is always ice cream left over) After 50 or so workouts I finally felt motivated to work on my food choices and I started to see a change in my body shortly after.

This time I feel different. It's the end of week one and I'm feeling good. Food doesn't have a hold on me like it did during the holidays and I feel strong enough to make better food choices.  How do I know? Because I have several sources of chocolate in my house and I don't feel compelled to attack them. When I'm having a hard time with eating, no source of goodies--especially chocolate--has a chance of survival over a 24 hour period. Since the lifespan of my chocolate is two weeks strong, it says a lot about my will power.  The fact that I want to make dietary changes earlier this time means the habits I used to have aren't far off and are easily returning, like riding a bike I suppose.  Certainly motivation for creating a solid habit in hopes that one day it will be easier to stay on the road of health then to slide back into negative habits.

Now I have to admit, I haven't been chocolate free, just able to consume in rational portions. You can lose weight eating chocolate if you keep the amounts small. I've done it before and I'll do it again as I practice moderation.  To swear off chocolate entirely would be crazy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

7/365 - Keeping my perspective.

It's been seven days since I started my challenge. One week exactly. I was pondering this today and my thoughts began to go deep.

Seven days is nothing when you think that you still have 358 days left of the year.  It's also insignificant when you clump up the days, call it a week, and count 51 more weeks.  How depressing is this type of math?


I then saw someone tweet me something along the lines of, "Yay for a week of exercise" and my perspective changed.  I remember when I would make short term goals, say I was going to work out Monday through Friday and then I only got to Wednesday...and that was considered a good week too.

Perspective is funny like that. It can take a simple action and make it look one of two ways:

1. It can look hard, unattainable or impossible.
2. It can appear to be easy, highly likable or absolutely doable.

So it got me thinking.  If every goal we make for ourselves has the ability to be looked at either way, as something we can or can't do, it leaves us with a choice. Can we do it or not? Often times, I feel I don't have a choice because of circumstances. But really, if it's all about perspective, which we are entirely in control of, why not choose to see everything as doable and then go out and do it?

I choose to see 365 days as doable and my after picture as obtainable.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

6/365 - Dinner Idea

I love to cook. I also love to eat.

No new news there.

I also love getting and sharing tasty and easy meals.

Tonight we had a steak salad that was delicious and super filling. It was even low-carb.  Seasoned, seared steak, gorganzola cheese, green onions and cucumbers happily sat on a bed of lettuce.  With an abundance of flavor already present, it only needed a drizzle of real (No chemicals and fillers) Ranch dressing before I attacked it with a fork.

My husband is eating low carbs right now and since he was making dinner, we had a low carb meal.  It works well for him, so he enjoys eating this way.  In the past I've tried to eat low carb, but it just doesn't work for me, my body rebels.  I have learned that I need fewer than the mega carbs I typically eat, but enough so I can clearly think and have an energy level necessary for my lifestyle.  When I don't eat enough healthy carbohydrates, I don't function well.

I also don't think it's okay to avoid a whole macro-nutrient in our diets.  There is a reason our bodies are designed to function well when we have the correct balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Now when I say healthy carbohydrates, I'm talking whole wheat or naturally occurring carbohydrates like those found in fruits, vegetables and grains. Not the processed, nutrient-less kind so easily found in our food chain.

This salad was heavy enough to keep me full even though it was low on carbs.  I had energy for my workout and I had no desire to snack when I stepped off the elliptical. Eating low carb for a meal is good now and then, I just can't do it daily.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

5/365 - How I like to pass time on the elliptical

I used to watch TV while I exercised on the elliptical trainer. It was exciting to catch up on various shows without the guilt that I was wasting time.

Then I got bored with it.

Unlike other fitness machines, you aren't bouncing all over with the elliptical trainer, your head stays study and it makes reading a wonderful option.  Of course if I'm going fast, reading isn't going to work.  But most of the time I up the resistance and go at a slower pace.  I have read many a pages while burning calories. I have come to cherish my elliptical reading time.

I just started a new book last night, If I stay by Gayle Forman. So far it's riveting because it's a graphic account of one of my worst nightmares: a car accident.

A friend of mine did an amazing review of the book.  It's the main reason I decided to pick it up in the first place. If the book is half as good as his review, I'll be satisfied.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

4/365 The salty lies of our scales.

It felt good climbing up on the machine. I'm not as sore or stiff and the time didn't seem to drag like it did. I know it's only been four days, but it's amazing how quick my body responds to exercise.

Photo Credit
I already notice my muscles feel firmer, just a hint. But the thing for me to remember is I tend to firm up easier than I drop weight--which can be discouraging.  Why? Even if I gain muscle and loose fat at the exact same rate, the scale will go up at first because muscle is heavier than fat. 

I have a friend diligently going to the gym for an hour workout on a regular basis. The scale hasn't budged in over a week and she wants to quit. For some psychological reason we are attached to our scales. It's important to remember they don't tell the whole story and it's easy to psych ourselves out because of it. 

This is what I love about this goal, it has nothing to do with the scale or how my clothes feel.  It doesn't even consider my eating habits. Right now, my biggest and only concern is that daily workout.  As I work to change habits, I don't feel guilt if I over eat or feel a tightness in my waistband because at the end of the day, I feel good I'm building a workout habit and hitting my daily goal. For now, this is what I need, that sense of accomplishment. As time progresses, I'll be able to better focus on the other important changes I need to make with the confidence needed to make them.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2/365 - Surprised!

I'm amazed at how quickly my body got out of shape. I swear I just worked out a few weeks ago and I didn't notice anything different from the norm. Last night when I hopped onto the elliptical I did a shorter and lower resistance workout than I'm used to. The workout didn't feel bad, but I could tell it didn't feel as easy either.

By the time I finished 15 minutes, I was sweaty and breathing heavy--certainly not how I used to feel walking off the machine.  I admit, I was a bit surprised. (I mentioned I lightened the workout since it has been a bit since I last did it, right?)

Although I was surprised walking off the machine, you can imagine my shock when I started to feel sore a few hours later. Seriously? I cannot believe I got out of shape as quickly or as badly as I did.  I'm relearning that taking care of your health is a daily thing, not just when you "have a goal" or when it's convenient.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1/365 - Happy New Year 2011

As I sit here ready for the new year to begin, there are many thoughts floating around my head.

Excitement. Trepidation. Hope. Fear.

I've had weight loss successes before. I went to Diet Center (A local weight loss clinic in town) while I was in Jr. High and lost 20 pounds. I was a size 6 afterwards. After my second baby, I lost 50 pounds with Weight Watchers. I was a size 8 when I hit goal.  I have had my moment to shine and feel triumphant.  I also know it was because of a program I lost it.  As soon as I was done with the program, it slowly came back. Every time. I have learned since, that programs, for me, don't work in the long term.

In 2009, for the first time in my life, I lost weight on my own. 40 pounds of weight was gone because of my efforts. No program. No help. Just me. Success has never been so sweet. Without making an official "weight loss" goal, I finished the year pretty close to where I need to be to have a healthy BMI. I was a size 10/12 and I was happy with my body for the first time in my life.

2010 wasn't so sweet.  I started the year out strong, but slowly lost momentum. I thought about doing a 720 days of workout challenge, but decided to take Sundays completely off. It was for good reason, Sundays are a special day for me. Unfortunately, once you miss a day in a long streak, it's easy to make it two. The cycle then begins. I thought about doing another 365 day goal starting mid-year, but that didn't work. (Refer to my recent vlog where I discuss why) For me, I need to be a bit OCD with my goals or its easy for me to sabotage my efforts. I've learned this. It's how I roll.

I now end 2010 feeling like I never had a success at all. I had a very rough year, probably the toughest in my life and I took it out on myself.  Writing was a wonderful, creative escape but I stopped working out when I started to write. Sometimes it was because I didn't want to take a break from writing, but mostly it's because I forgot to workout until it was midnight and too late to do it.  (My husband needs to be up early and the elliptical is in our bedroom)  Over time, poor eating habits returned and a few pounds were found before the holiday season began.  By the time December came, I was in full blown binge mode. Right now I feel like I never made a change to begin with.

Weight loss efforts has such an ugly side. When making positive choices we are moving forward, learning, becoming better, it feels great. But once you have a weight problem caused by bad habits, those habits can so easily be found no matter how long time has elapsed. Especially when life gets challenging.  I chose to put "Journey" in the name of this blog because that is exactly what it is.  There really is no end. Constant vigilance needs to be there or we'll find ourselves in a place we don't want to be.  That dark ugly place that is so familiar.

As I sit here, my pants feel tight and my body feels flabby. I can literally feel the newly formed fat on my legs.The thought of eating any sweets right now makes my stomach turn because the over-sugared, over-fill feeling is nauseating. I'm so sick of eating right now--the idea of a week long fast sounds inviting. Actually, my body would probably benefit from a good fast too.

I'm excited for 2011. It holds promise. I also start it somewhat ticked off at myself and determined to do better. I know I can do it, I've done it before. But there is always a fear in the back of my head. What if? I'm happy to say that I have pushed my what ifs to the back of my brain and ignoring them. I plan on getting up tomorrow and ending the day on the elliptical, doing my workout. I'm not going to focus on all the things I should do better like getting up earlier, eating better, planning better, spending less time on the computer, being outside more, etc. I'm only going to focus on one thing, my work outs. I know me. If I try to do too many changes at once, I will fail. Guaranteed. But if I focus on one thing, I know I can do it.  Keep things simple and it's easier to make changes. That's my plan.