Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday's coming

Tonight I came to a conclusion I've been trying to push aside for a while now, I am burnt out. I feel like I think too much, do too much, rest/relax too little and never ask for help.  But I grew up in a household where my mom volunteered herself for things and then blew up about having to do it and not getting any help.  I hated her outbursts, it made me feel guilty, but never enough to make me help as much as she wanted or needed.  I so get it now and there are times when I want to just take out my frustration on my family but it's so counterproductive to act that way.  Plus all it does is make me feel guilty for being a jerk.  And I'm only partly burnt out about house stuff, the rest is about work, not having taken any real time off since spring and working enough to have more than 120 hours of paid time off just sitting there waiting to be used,  but I even feel guilty for taking time off because it makes things harder for everyone else.  One, or maybe more, of the books I've read has said that a large part of getting over dieting and weight stuff is to learn to say no.  No to stuff you are asked to do when you are doing it out of feeling obligated instead of genuine desire; no to volunteering for stuff you don't have time for.  But what if I didn't volunteer and no one asks?  I need to ask for help, or at very least, let it be known that all I've been taking on is wearing me out and making me feel unhappy.  I think I will take some time off in January after the buzz of the holidays has fizzled like flat soda.  Quiet, peaceful, resting down-time.  I may even schedule myself a spa day.  It sounds good just thinking about it.
I am really happy that I have not caved to "emotional cravings"despite feeling stressed lately.  Today I thought about the little eyeball themed chocolates I have set out for customers  in my office.  I thought about them when group after group of kids and parents came through my department on the annual trick-or-treating event my company hosts for kids with neurological disorders.  It was extra loud and I was already edgy because a coworker asked me to do a training tomorrow and doing it would really help them out but it's something that my boss doesn't like me doing because it takes me away from my job I'm paid to do.  I said yes(again, here's where learning to say no would be helpful) and immediately started complaining in my head about it.  Oh great, that's really how I want to start my Friday, teaching a dilated 9 year old how to use contact lenses!  I saw that chocolate there and I thought about how I can have whatever I want whenever I want, and that led to me remembering how I used to shove stuff in my mouth when I was stressed, like my arm was a machine lever just repeating the movement from the bag to my mouth in rapid succession so as to not have to think or feel; just to taste, and deceive myself into thinking that stuff was "helping" me cope with anything.  Besides, it is a really low quality, waxy chocolate,  I only got it because the eyeballs on the wrappers are quite fitting for my office.  So I got through it by being aware of what my thoughts were, what the truth was ( that it was a disgusting excuse for chocolate and it wouldn't make my mood change) and figured out what I really need, a break. Once I got past that I didn't think about the  chocolate anymore.  To be honest, even when I have moments like that now, the cravings are way less powerful than they were before I stopped eating sweets.  It's much easier for me to rationalize NOT eating sugars when I haven't had them for a while.  Anyone who's done a low-carb diet knows what I mean.
When I walked out of the building at work to go home, a fresh burst of air hit me and I thought about how I spend so much time and energy on hating winter that it ruins fall for me too, and fall used to be my favorite season.  So I decided that I am going to try to find positives in the fall and hopefully I'll be able to keep it up in winter to make the season more tolerable.  My positive thought today is, I love how fresh the air smells in fall.  And as a jumpstart for tomorrow's mood, I found a nice photo to share:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Setting New Goals

So, no blog post yesterday because I got too frustrated.  I have had the Blogger app on my iPhone since forever, but with the latest update, all it does is crash.  I figured, like most apps, I could simply dump the app and download it again to see if it behaves better.  To my surprise, it is no longer in the app store.  What?  I looked and looked.  Lots of other blogging apps but not Blogger.  Owned by Google.  Again, WHAT?  I like to blog from my phone, sometimes while I'm snuggling in bed or even in the bath or on a luch break.  Yes, I can access it through the internet via my phone, but the way the screen comes up is annoying, I have to keep moving the page to see what I've typed and check for typos.  After a few attempts with a different "Blogger manager" app and the website, I was sick of gliches and typos so I gave up.  Heavy sigh.  I do actually prefer using a real keyboard, and have access to a laptop, but it's the principal of it all.  What respectable company does not have an app?  Makes me consider switching to WordPress.
I don't remember what I would have written yesterday anyway, so it must not have been that important right?  Something about how the colder weather makes my joints hurt and makes me a little blue.  It's all been said before.  I am seeking out warmer foods and donning sweaters and long sleeves, dreading the neccesity of wearing (UGH) pants and close-toed shoes. My body is such a WEIRD shape that finding pants seems like an impossible chore.  I am short and have a wide waist but my legs are thinner than the rest of me.  If they fit my waist, they are huge on the calf and I look 50# heavier, if they fit the calf, they don't come close to closing on my waist, or in general, pants are almost always too long.  I have resigned myself to the fact that I will have to go to the mall (shudder) to hit up Dress Barn to see what they have in petites.  I have always found their salespeople to be very helpful and I usually find stuff I like there.  I only really enjoy shopping if it is thrift shopping, it is like a treasure hunt and I get a rush when I find something that I like.  Anyway, it is with great disapointment that I put the pretty, feminie skirts away and bring out the black socks.  I know I have work to do to get over my prejudice of winter, especially since my husband seems to be making me feel like $hit everytime I mention living somewhere else.  Looks like I have to compromise my dream for everyone else and while I'm still hurt/bitter a little, I realize that harboring those feelings, and having my hatred toward a season that lasts nearly half the year, is only making me feel worse.  I can change that if I really work at it.  I'm not sure I'm all the way there yet.  I get cold so easily and I so detest driving in slippery conditions. It's a long-term goal I will have to work on. 
I was in a bit of a funk when I got to work today.  I open my store at 8:30 am, but my doctors and staff start seeing patients at 7:30am, so even though I am not required to be punched in until 8:15, I am usually at work earlier than that, to get stuff set up and occassionally do a touch up on my hair or put lotion on my face.  It absolutely drives me nuts when people stalk my area waiting for me to open.  HATE it.  It is like they have no respect for my time.  The lights are off, the computers aren't booted up, and some days, like today, I am rain-soaked and disheveled and I just need a few minutes to pull myself together.  But I am an accomodating person, so with a grimace in my soul, I open up and let them in.  It makes my morning feel off somehow, and it takes me a bit to get over it.  Today I decided to try and let it go because what's the difference if they are here at 8:10 or 9:10, I am going to provide the same service to them regardless.  I am just tired from not getting enough sleep last night, and I hate to say it but I feel like a cold virus is just waiting around the corner to strike.
But its not here yet and I am fighting as hard as I can with vitamins and Emergen-C.  I take probiotics and vitamin c daily to help lessen my chances of getting sick and I think it helps, I am hoping it keeps this bug at bay.  I turn into a huge baby when I'm sick, and it is usually accompanied by comfort eating.  I don't think it'll come to any of that, I just need to stay ahead of it and get more rest tonight. 
I have noticed, over the past couple days, my mood has been a little less upbeat and I have also had a few moments where I have felt the urge to eat when I'm not hungry.  I have found productive ways to avoid eating, by doing a task to keep me busy, chewing gum, or simply becoming aware that I am thinking about food but I'm not hungry.  So far, these things help.  I don't know if it'll last but it is a good start.  I figure, the longer I can go without relapsing into old, autopilot ways, the better chance I have of making lasting changes. 
I am not getting in any exercise and it's a little draining just thinking about it.  When I do get a little free time, all I want to do is sink into a hot bubble bath either to warm up, relax or help my joints and muscles ache less.  I know I am just slacking and I need to get things in order because we are moving (again) in early December.  We are staying in the same complex, but due to our noisy selves, we were offered to move to a downstairs unit.  I'd rather move than get kicked out, my kids cannot remember to walk quietly and not jump/run around with the dog.  That means giving up our beautiful vaulted ceilings and huge floor-to-ceiling windows, but it's just not that big of a deal to me.  It's not space we were using, and it will be less expensive to heat and cool.  What I'm worried about is how my good knee sometimes hurts when I'm going down the stairs.  I think it is due to a weak hip that I never nipped in the bud.  I really don't want to damage the knee because I was too lazy to do what needs to be done.  So, in the time between now and then, I am setting a goal for myself to do my hip and glute strenghtening moves I was assigned when I was seeing a physical therapist for my other knee.  She, by the way, tested how weak my hip was and her immediate exclamation was to scrunch up her face and say, "OH OWWW! You must be in so much pain!"  She told me my hip is weak on one side and my glutes are weak on the other.  What a mess I must be!  I think the bike will help too, so I better add a goal for that.  Just off the top of my head, I will start by setting a goal of lower body physical therapy training 3x a week and getting on the bike for at least 10 minutes 2x a week.  Low goals to start.  I can use the bike as warm up and cool down, or just do it for cardio.  I think I can exceed those goals, but right now my motivation to exercise is really low.  I will get some mojo once I get started.  At least for now, I have the food thing pretty much down.  Adding such a small amount of exercise shouldn't be too tricky, right? 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sunshine and Sushi

Ahhhh, that weekend was nice, wasn't it?  I sure do enjoy days off!  I used to struggle a lot with keeping my eating clean on the weekends because it felt like eating something "special" made the weekend even more enjoyable.  Now, I am finding it easier to avoid that sort of thing, mostly because I am taking joy from other sensations.  For instance, Saturday we took my sweet little dog out to the beach for the first time since we got him in April.  He is a terrier mix, so he's very reactive.  Every little blade of grass, every bird, and definitely every human he sees MUST be barked at.  So taking him to the beach during crowded summer days was not an option, even though we felt bad leaving him when he yelped with sadness at the top of the stairs when we'd all go without him.  So, this time, with temperatures MUCH cooler, we brought him along.  I think we enjoyed it more than he did, he was a little unsure about the water.  To be fair, Lake Michigan had some decent sized waves with how windy it was.  It truly felt like winter it was so cold.  Did I mention it was windy?
And even though I had a lot to do the next day, I decided to just let that go and take in the beautiful sunshine.  Even though we were cold, it was a nice time.  When we got done, we were thinking about ordering some takeout food so we could eat in the car on the way home, but I told my husband I'd rather wait the 30 minutes drive to get home, drop off the dog and eat somewhere nice.  I usually let everyone else decide where we should go because they are all way more picky about it than me, which is funny since I'm the only one who eats vegetarian and is also trying to control my carbs.  This time, when we were all trying to figure out where we'd go, I blurted out, "I want sushi!"  So we went to our favorite sushi joint in the most quaint part of town.

Isn't it charming?  We had such a nice time too.  And there was a really warm, euphoric moment when I looked at my family and felt how lucky I am course through me.  The food was so delicious, I think sushi is one of my favorite things to eat, so fresh and beautiful!  But the best parts of my day had nothing to do with food, and I didn't really think about food that much, yet I was completely content.  To me, that is a huge win!
Sunday kept me busy from start to finish, and that was OK because I somehow found the energy to keep going all day, cleaning and organizing.  I was clean all yesterday, housework kept me busy. 
This morning before work (at noon) I cleaned out the garage and balcony and got all the summer stuff stowed away for the coming coldness.  I really accomplished alot and it felt great.  I hope my energy level keeps up, I am going to have a really clean space!
Tonight's goal is to simply relax.  No stress, no chores, just down time.  It's nice when it happens.
Well, here's to getting through Monday with our sanity intact!  Hope you had a good start to the week!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Deep Sigh

I think for the first time in my life maybe, I am learning to use things other than food to comfort myself.  And maybe I'm lucky that I don't feel terrible right now, I'm not going through something rough that requires constant soothing.  For me, right now at least, it's the everyday little irritants or just simply in the changing seasons making me feel a little more tired.  In the past, I would have used junk food to try and lift me, in hopes it would give me a little more happy-energy.  I am happy to say that, besides a few glasses of wine here and there, I haven't really had the desire to turn to food for that, not that food doesn't give a sense of well-being, I would never argue that, just that since I've been eating clean (by my standards) I really don't crave the junk. 
Last night for dinner I improvised a little on my dinner because I really didn't want to have to grind the zuccini to make noodles.  Luckily, when I was at the grocery store, I predicted that might happen once or twice during the week, so I bought a few extra supplies just in case.  Last night's dinner was composed of 3 simple ingredients:
I spiced it up with a little Mexican seasoning and served it with a dash of Taco Bell Mild sauce.  It had a little kick to it, and the spices really made my body get a really awesome buzz!  I love a good food buzz!  After dinner I took the dog out.  He has recently been making the magic happen a lot quicker for me, which makes me so happy!  I really lose my mind when it takes him so long to go, so I have been praising and rewarding him everytime he's efficient.  But honestly, who am I kidding?  He's so stinking adorable I can't stay irritated at him.
After I got in, I was trying to decide if I should do some sort of workout, but my body was screaming for a little bit of down time, something that has been in too short of supply for too long.  So I took a nice hot bath, which isn't too unusual for me this time of year, but as Emeril would say, I 'kicked it up a notch' by turning out the lights, using my beachy-themed flameless candle, sipped a little sweet rose tea from my favorite Seattle mug that is still kicking from my soul-searching solo trip there in 1999, and I didn't allow myself to go on my phone or read, I just focused on unwinding; on NOT doing. 
I gave myself a lymphatic drainage massage to help clear my stuffy sinuses and ear, and just breathed in the humid air, feeling my muscles relax.  And I let out a long, deep sigh.  Man!  That felt just wonderful!  Afterword, I spent a little time snuggling my dog, laughing at Seinfeld reruns and playing a little Angry Birds.  I went to bed early and woke up feeling refreshed.  That alone is priceless, to wake up feeling refreshed.  For the first time, I can forsee the posibility to stop using caffeine as a crutch.  Before I was eating this way I was just too tired all the time to think it would ever be posible to give it up.  I'll admit I still use it as a crutch, and I'm not ready to give it up just yet, but now I know it's posible.
This weekend we are planning a day trip to a local beach that allows dogs.  It is on Lake Michigan, where the water is already wicked-cold so we won't be swimming, but it will still be nice to get out and see a few sights.  The best part of bringing the dog is, we won't be tempted to go to some greasy restaurant because he's not the type of dog who can just be left to sit alone in a car, he barks at everything!  Not that I can't have that kind of food if I really want to (or have a salad) but not having to think about it makes it that much easier.  I will have protein bars and nuts along to help keep me satisfied. 
Well, we made it to another Friday!  Hope you had a great day.  Don't forget to pamper yourself this weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

On Making Time Work; Sometimes

Yesterday's upbeat mood helped me breeze through the day, even though it was busy and chaotic from start, almost until finish.  I always feel like my mornings are super rushed, getting myself, my two sons and my dog dealt with before rushing off to work, but I am realizing that my nights are typically just as full.  After I get home, I usually am trying to help my kids with homework while trying to figure out what to eat and what to feed them, and hoping that the dog can wait to go out until homework is done,  making my dinner and either making something for the boys or helping them find something to eat, then I take the dog out, which can easily be a half hour process or more.  Usually by that time its near 7:30.  Then it's the perpetual dishes chore or fixing an issue that needs to be fixed, or...or... it just seems like there's a lot that comes up on the daily.  I don't consider myself different from anyone else in that aspect, I have been using our busy schedule to let myself off the hook from doing things that are good for me, like using the stationary bike, stretching, reading or pampering myself with a hot bath.  All of those things make me feel good, but I don't do them that often.  Well, during the deep autumn and winter months I usually have to take baths every night just to get blood in my toes.  I know it's not good for my skin to take both baths and showers, and sometimes both each day, but when my toes are white and cold I just want relief!  Man, I hate Wisconsin winters!
Anyway, last night, when I finished my tasks by 7'ish I knew there'd be time for a bath, but I knew I'd also have time to get a little biking in.  Now, I'm not going to say it was seemless, there were no less than 4 times I had to stop and get off the bike for interruptions, and I almost gave up because I just felt like the stars were not aligned and my son needed me more than usual.  But just when I was about to give up, we got his issue all taken care of and I hopped back on the bike and thought, if it doesn't happen, at least I am making a decent effort.  My legs were burning early on, at only 2-3 minutes in, but I knew that eventually my endorphins would kick in and I'd feel better.  I wanted to go longer than 5 minutes but didn't have a goal.  The longest I've gone is 4 miles, it took  me 19 minutes to complete.  This time I challenged myself to go for 5 miles, to see if I could do it.  Not only did I do it, but I did it in just over 19 minutes!  I was averaging a speed of 16MPH.  I felt really proud of myself when I was done, and celebrated with a nice, hot bath.  Afterword, I slathered my skin with my favorite body lotion:
It is so creamy, not greasy, and it stays on my skin instead of evaporating off right away.  I would have to say it is one of the material possessions I cannot live without!  I haven't found any other lotions that feel like this.  It smells like I've just been to a spa treatment and my skin feels refreshed and touchable.  So, despite some small irritations later before bed, I had a really nice night and went to bed feeling really good. 
I was not as sore as I expected to be this morning, which is great news, but I was a little stiff.  I will need to sneak in more stretching somewhere.  My muscles feel magically stronger from one bike session.  I'm sure it's all in my head, but I know if I keep at it my legs will get stronger.  The best part about the bike is that, so far as I can tell, it doesn't bother my knee so it is really sustainable, I just have to make it a priority.  I like feeling like my legs can take me wherever I need to go, instead of feeling uncertain of what I can handle anymore.  I'm young enough that I can make some positive changes in my strength, agility and stamina.  I already feel lighter and younger and slightly more graceful moving around.  What an awesome reward for taking a little extra care of myself!  I'm sure there will be many more to come. 
Friday's almost here!  Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Life is Sweet

Today was one of those super rare, lucky days where I woke up feeling awesome!  I am guessing it has something to do with my Monthly starting because I've been low on energy and a little crabby the past couple days, but not today.  I must say, though, that "crabby" when I'm eating better is a lot less edgy than when I'm not, and easier to talk myself out of.  For instance, my husband and I were cleaning up the house last night and he was unhappy with how I'd left some of my baking dishes with food on them (from making my recipes on Saturday) and normally I would have wallowed in guilt but last night I thought to myself, that was irresponsible of me, but I deserve a day off from time to time.   Beside, he was busy loading the dishwasher, which made me happy, so I just sort of said "I know I should've washed that out but I was being lazy after all that work making awesome recipes!"  And it was easy for me to let it go.  That was refreshing.  Also, the reason we were tidying up the place during the week (the horror!) is because my son has to stay after school to finish work he didn't get done, and my father-in-law is going to bring him home for us.  Normally I would have spent so much time and energy making the place as perfect as I could in the little time I had before bed.  It has been a little draining how little free time I get after work too, but instead of being stressed or irritated by it I declared out loud, "Tomorrow I am going to chill a little."  and I realized that while it isn't how I wanted to spend that time, it really is nice to have the house cleaner, and it was nice to have help! 
By the time we were done cleaning up, it was later than I like to take baths so I decided to try a new facial treatment I picked up at Target:
Since my sinuses were bothering me all yesterday, I let a hot washcloth sit on my face while I breathed in the steam, then I slathered this all over my face and neck.  It is so creamy and luxurious and WOW does it smell FANTASTIC!!!  After 10 minutes of drying I washed it away and put on some of my favorite face lotion:
My skin felt SOOOO GOOD!  I felt like I'd just been to the spa, and my skin looks amazing!  So I truly felt pampered, despite my brain whining that I didn't get to do something that I wanted to do (hot soak in the tub).  I could get used to this whole pampering myself thing.  It feels really good to know that the things I am using to make myself feel good actually help my body instead of hurting them.  This weekend I am going to go out and buy a big jar of that mud so I can give myself the spa treatment whenever I need a little lift.  I feel like it made me look 5 years younger, but maybe that's just how good it made me feel! 
Foodwise, things are smooth and stress-free.  The company bought sweet bagles and rolls from Panera as a way of showing appreciation for our work.  They were lovely and it was a sweet gesture, but I didn't eat any.  And, I really didn't want to or have to fight with myself over it, I just simply thought, Aw, how sweet and grabbed my greek yogurt from the fridge. 
It's really the little things in life, isn't it?  I don't need to eat sweets, life is sweet enough on it's own, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What's Different?

During the time I've been blogging, I have "started again" many times, and I always wondered why it was that the first time seemed easier than all the ones that followed.  True, I have had a few other attempts that were successful for a while, but most of the time, I found myself fighting even just with the idea of giving up sweets and junk, much less making it happen. 
This time feels so different from the others, both successful attempts and ones where I fell completely off.  I think the difference is that, in the past, my goal was to get to a certain weight, a certain body shape/type and look great.  Of course, in that mindset, I assumed that once I had the body of my dreams, my life would be so much smoother and happier; skinny people are always happy right?  Well, maybe not the ones who've always been skinny because they don't appreciate what they have, do they?  Laughable.  This time, I am not looking at some far-off finish line with preconcieved notions of what I'll look like, or how I'll be a fit, fabulous half-marathoner.  No, this time I just want to feel better on the daily. 
Last Saturday, when I ate a lot of the recipes I was making (which included oats and potatoes) I ended up feeling so bloated.  All the tastes, nibbles and bites during the process, I was full and beyond, and very aware of how much I dislike feeling that way.  I know part of the mentality of what I was doing was reversed, in that my body was looking for sweets and I didn't give in, so I ended up eating way more of everything else to try and quiet my mind.  It didn't work.  In the future, when I have the sweets thing totally fixed, I will allow myself to eat a small portion, slowly and mindfully, so that I can move on from the craving and feel satisfied.  I don't feel ready for that yet, but at some point, I may try to establish the kinds and amount of sugar that trigger cravings so I know what I can and can't do when a craving hits.  It's typically only 1 or 2 days a month, now that I'm off sugars.  I know I can always have one of these:
It's really creamy and indulgent and they have worked wonders for me in the past.  I try to keep to only one or two a day to prevent stomach upset and to make sure they are not too much of a crutch.  The last box I bought, I only had one, my kids had gobbled the rest up in less than 2 days. 
I have had some of these in my bag that I can use:
They are not sugar-free (neither are the fudgesicles) but low enough in sugar to not trigger cravings.  I don't have them planned in for snacks, they are there as a backup to my planned snacks, like in the instance where it is so busy at work that I can't get to the lounge to get my yogurt, or on the way home from the grocery store with my stomach already growling.  It works in a pinch and they are nicely portable.  They taste pretty good too, but now that I'm eating less processed stuff, I can kind of taste the non-food stuffs in there more than I could when I'd eat something like this while not dieting.  I look at these things as tools, and use them on occassion, but for the most part, I am having an easy time making better choices, and I feel pretty good. 
This weeks menu is a little lighter on veggies and fruit than the past few weeks, and I think that is something I need to be conscious of now that I am adding more variety into my diet.  The weather is getting cooler and cold salads just don't seem too appetizing to me, so I'll have to work in other ways to get veggies.  My dinner is zucchini 'noodles' with pasta sauce, meatless beef crumbles and green olives.  That is the most veg I'm getting all day besides the veggie stew I've been eating.  It wasn't really planned into my meals for the week, but it's a healthy recipe and is nice when I don't feel like making something.  Next week I plan on making a big pot of chili, and I like to put elbow macaroni in mine, I will seek out a wheat or other healthy version; I could leave the noodles out, but they add so much to the taste and texture. 
Maybe that's the other reason things are easier this time around, I am not holding myself to perfection because I am not genuinely following any certain "diet" I am just eating things that are better for me than others, cosistently making better choices and not being bothered by all the hoopla revolving around every little micro or macronutrient.  I am just plain eating healthier
The payoff is that I feel better, I move easier, I am not putting myself through the daily scolding in my head, I'm simply not stressing about any of it.  Maybe in some ways, I've stopped glamourizing foods, putting them on a pedistal, and started looking at them as something that can either help me feel OK/good or make me feel aweful and have health issues later on.  My body is changing, and I won't lie that it makes me happy to see and feel that, but for now, it's about keeping on an even keel so the apples don't go flying out of the applecart at the first little bump in the road.  With no magic goal or finish line waiting for me at the "end" I have all the time in the world to fix what was broken and make my choices work for me instead of making that applecart harder to push.  I wish I had some magic advice to give, and even to record here for my own reference, in case I fall off course again.  I know my body is sensitive to sugars, to a point, and once I jump on that train it's hard to get off, so I know my success will continue to involve keeping my sugar/carb intake at controlled levels from here on out.  I will not be that person who turns my nose up when my mother-in-law offers me a piece of pie at holiday gatherings, but I won't say yes to it everytime either.  I don't think it's about balance so much as it is about doing good most of the time and allowing some other stuff in from time to time.  If nothing else, it is a good way to judge how those things make me feel, and I think in time, the difference in how I feel may be a great tool in helping me say no to those things out of natural disinterest, sort of like how I can easily turn down super-spicy food without any inner conflict.  I think it's posible.  I'll let you know when I get it done!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Crazy Day Eating

Not a lot new to report on at the start of a new week.  My Monday-brain is in full effect!  I had what I consider to be a relatively successful weekend, including making 3 new healthy recipes that I found on Pinterest, Pumpkin Breakfast cookies (uses bananas as the only sweetner), Flourless Peanut Butter Bread (only 1 teaspoon of sugar in the recipe, and Beefless Stew.  The cookies were pretty tastey but kind of dry, and I was really expecting a hint of sugar in them.  Knowing I can eat a couple with my plain, grass-fed yogurt in the morning helps both aspects of the meal.  I probably won't make them the same next time.  I may add some stevia if I do.  The peanut butter bread sounded so good to me, and I really wanted it to be awesome, but it was so incredibly dry that I choked on it a few times before I just resigned to having to have a bit of water with every bite.  Not a recipe I'll be making again, but I may seek out more recipes that include peanut butter because I really enjoy it, especially when I'm eating lower carb.  I choose Crema peanut butter which has exactly one ingredient, peanuts.  The stew was pretty good.  I added some Beyond Beef crumbles to give it a beefier taste.  When I think of beef stew I think of rich, gravy-laden Dinty Moore stew.  This stew had no oil, no beef, no gravy and something was lacking.  I think I'll opt for my veggie chili next time, but with a few small tweaks I could make this stew a little tastier. 
So that was my grand adventure, cooking and baking.  I know none of the recipes were a great hit with my family as there is a bunch left of all three recipes!  I will try some new ones next week.  Maybe fish tacos for the fam with a tofu substitue for me. 
I was going through Crazy Day for me on Saturday.  Women will understand.  When the monthly is looming, and my extreme desire to put things in my mouth seems to be insatiable.  I ate a ton of the recipes while I was making them, at first justifying that it was all truly healthy ingredients.  Later that night, when I finally finished the stew and had a tiny ramekin dish full of it (despite being full already) I popped in my sons' dinner of frozen pizza and the thought of eating one more thing made me feel like I'd pop; that's when I just dismissed it as Crazy Day.  For me, it usually only lasts one day.  I survived it without eating any sweet treats because I knew that would only trigger more sugar cravings, especially on that particular day.  Much later that night I did settle in for a little quiet time with Netflix and a few glasses of wine.  I found a documentary called "From Fat to the Finish Line".  It's about a group of people who have all lost weight through running.  When I started the movie I was hoping it wouldn't reignite my old hurt feelings in not being able to run anymore since tearing my knee. It was inspirational to see the people running and how much happier and better they felt.  One of them was a former contestant on The Biggest Loser who'd regained a bunch of weight back then lost it again running.  The best part about it was how close they were as a team, the support they gave one another.  It's a cool concept.  Luckily, it didn't make me feel like I'm missing out because I can't run.  My knee was hurting just watching them run, and even when they showed clips of how some of them worked out with personal trainers, and they'd be doing Burpee's.  shudder.  My knee would be toast. 
I decided, for once, to have a relaxing Sunday. I watched movies, got a haircut (finally) and did the minimal amount of laundry I could get by on.  It felt great to relax for once.  I wish I could do more of it on the daily, but I'll settle for a Sunday here and there.  I was able to get right back to normal, sane eating Sunday, because those internal, hormone-driven munchie-cravings were gone.  I don't like feeling how I did when I ate so much on Saturday, but at least it's not because my blood sugars are on a roller coaster. 
I think the week will be smooth.  I should really try to get some exercise in at some point, but I've been really lax about it so far.  Just two half-hour potty breaks with my dog every day adds enough to my daily steps to exceed my goals!  Maybe it's time to up the ante!  Hope eveyone is having a good start to the week!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sad but Winning

Things have been humming along nicely lately, and sometimes I worry about how easy this is this time.  I really don't understand why some attempts and making healthier choices are easy and other times I am fighting the process kicking and screaming.  I have been thinking about whether or not I'm working hard enough, especially when I look in the mirror and really don't see a difference.  I have to remind myself that it's only been 2 1/2 weeks of clean eating, and I haven't prioritized exercise.  I did not start this because I want to have a smokin' bod, I started again to attempt to make healthier choices most of the time, so I can enjoy good health well into old age.  So, I call it a good start toward my goal.  I was hoping to notice a huge difference in the way my joints feel, but I don't.  Perhaps that's because the weather has been very all over the place, 70 degrees one day, 50 the next.  I am also noticing the creeping grey cloud that usually appears over my mood this time of year as well.  It takes a lot to keep it at bay; supplementing for my low vitamin D levels helps a little.  I have resorted to using Diet Coke as a crutch again, to help give me a boost of energy.  It is something I eventually want to have only on occassion, as a special treat, and not every day.  Once I am solidly in the habit of eating better without thinking about it, I will try to cut back and eventually cut it out for the most part.  It's all a process. 
Yesterday was the birthday of my friend who passed earlier this year, and despite feeling sad, then sort of feeling like I'd gotten over it, my emotional response to her husband and friend's bithday wishes to her on Facebook made me realize how I have not processed it at all.  There are days when I am driving and I see a girl in a car that looks just like her and I have to remind myself that it isn't.  I did not mourn the loss of my friend.  I am noticing more and more, that I avoid those situations that make me emotionally vulnerable.  It's like I'm restraining myself.  For what?  Out of shame?  I need to figure out why I do that.  I know my mom shamed my sister and I when we were crying unless there was a gashing wound.  Her family way was tough love and she tried to raise us the same, but all it did was hurt my feelings and make me hide or numb my feelings, not make me tougher.   No matter, I need to process my feelings about her.  I need to heal.  She would be absolutely pi$$ed off at me if she knew I was sad and suffering over her.  And I know part of what hit me so hard about it is that she was only a couple years older than me, and cancer struck so hard and the chemo was even harder on her.  Thinking about her and her family makes my heart hurt and then I feel awfully selfish and petty for throwing a mental fit inside my head about how all my clothes look awful on my hideous body.  Rolling my eyes at myself.  If anything, it is a poignant reminder of what is truly important in life, and what is pure self-created fluff!
Despite the sadness, and the frustration at my dog's refusal to fill a poop-bag unless it's on my freshly carpeted stairs (in a rental, no less), I have been able to keep my wits about me.  I still have not eaten any sweets, though there have been plenty of opportunities.  I have had great success with adding one grain and one fruit back in this week, I have had bagles and apples and am happy to report that neither is causing sugar cravings.  I still haven't gotten around to finding new recipes, and it's tough because I really do want to, but my days and nights have been so packed with the kids homework, going for walks on occassion, taking the dog out for his nightly poop-spot-picking-marathon (sometimes twice) and actually maybe getting in a little conversation or an episode of The Office with my husband before I completely zonk out.  Last night I spent so much time with the dog that my feet were nearly numb from the cold and wet, and I was fuming when I came in unsuccessful.  Really, little else pushes my buttons so much or so hard.  I am not the best dog owner apparently.  But instead of eating some garbage like I used to do, I had a strange dinner of eggs and veggie sausage with bagel and half a glass of wine, and took a long, hot soak in the tub.  I slept like a baby.  My husband, in an effort to diffuse my wrath in doggie-do times says, "Look at it this way, you just went for a half hour walk!  Cardio is done for the night!"  I think I'll keep this guy.  He drinks wine with me and makes me laugh when I'm mad. 
So, life is happening, and I'm just floating in the flow of it.  I feel pretty good about where I'm at, making healthy choices is becoming so much more natural.  I hope it continues this way for the long haul.  I don't really have an ideal weight in mind for considering myself "at goal" since this was never intentionally about weight, I am going to allow my body to get to a natural set point.  If I continue making healthier choices and sneaking in a little activity I think that is inevitable.  I like looking down and seeing less belly there.  I like feeling like I can move a little better and breathe better.  No matter what I end up looking like at any stage, I feel like those few facts above are a total win for me.  And winning feels fantastic!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Smooth and Cheeeesy

Wow! Did I ever need that weekend!  Whenever the weather changes rapidly I end up feeling tired and achey; it sure felt good to get a little extra sleep!  I am happy to say that the weekend did not trip me up in the least, in fact, I was prepared for my triggers better knowing what they are.  Friday night after work, we had an errand to run and we were all starving so we stopped at Subway.  I had a Veggie Delight on their new grain and flax flatbread.  It was pretty good and I didn't feel like I was compromising the diet or taste, so win-win.  Saturday was grocery shopping day.  I had eaten before I'd left, but by the time I was done checking out (roughly 2 and a half hours after eating) my stomach was growling hardcore.  Luckily, I'd picked up some Think Thin bars to try, so I ate one on the drive home.  When I got everything unpacked, I showed my husband the treasure I'd found:

Baked freaking cheese!  And garlic flavored to boot!  I was thinking we could warm it up later that night, but my husband decided we needed to try it ASAP so we heated a few slices and dipped them in marinara sauce.  So So good!  And, low carb so a total win of a "treat".  It was good that we had something with a little higher fat content because next we rounded up the kids and went for a day trip to Door County, our local penninsula that makes me think I am on vacation somewhere wonderful.
We went to a few small shops, then had lunch at a local famed restaurant that has been around since 1906
They are known for their (ahem!) hamburgers and ice cream treats.  It is typical Wisconsin fare, burgers of every kind, fries, that type of thing.  They had exactly one vegetarian thing on the menu, a veggie wrap (yawn) and I realize I could have had anything on the menu.  So while my family all got burgers and greasy sandwhiches, which I am sure tasted amazing, I ordered the charbroiled chicken salad.  The greens and veggies were so fresh and crisp and the chicken was well-prepared.  I felt way better eating that than I would have if I'd gone wild on grease.  My family indulged in ice cream after, and I didn't have any problem turning it down because I knew how bad it would make my stomach feel.  For some reason my stomach is a touch intolerant to ice cream.  I used to eat it anyway, back when the sugar high was all I wanted, but this time, I just felt it was not worth it.  I was in an awesome place, taking in beautiful beach scenery, and the salad made me satisfied.  Adding more food, especially one that might upset my stomach, sounded like it could easily put a damper on my day. 
After dinner we spent a little time on the beach, it was already getting cold as the sun began setting, but the view was so worth shivering through.  Then we took a quick drive through Penninsula State Park, and stopped at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse to look at it before heading home.  We have been there a million times, and knew it was "off season" but discovered the lighthouse was open for their Twilight Tour, one of only 4 nights a year that they have nighttime tours.  So we toured the lighthouse and by the time it was over it was pretty dark/late so we headed home.  It was a great time but we were all pretty tired.
Sunday for me, is never very restful.  It is a day of seemingly never-ending housework.  The one good thing about it, when I'm in my groove, I am not even thinking about food until my stomach growls.  So, Sunday was easy.  By the time my husband and I settled down to watch a show, I had a cup of herbal tea and a mini bag of Skinny Girl sea salt and lime popcorn.  I really don't like all the hulls, that's why the box has lasted me a couple weeks already and it's not even half gone.  I have it for an occassional treat when I want to crunch a little.  I did decide to bike on Sunday.  My favorite band (Green Day) just released a new album and I put on my headphones and decided I was going to see how far I could really make it instead of stopping at a mile.  I ended up biking for more than 19 minutes, which ended up being 4 miles.  That is a new record for me, and I was super proud of myself.  I knew I'd be sore from it, and I am, but it's good to know I am not stuck in five minute sessions.  Now, I just need to figure out how to get them into my day. 
The week is going super easy so far.  Yesterday I had a trigger when I went shopping at Kohl's and walked out empty-handed because everything there looked pukey on me.  Seriously, some of it was like they think if you are a 1X or 2X you must really need a moo-moo, and the designer lines like Simply Vera assume that XL is like a size 10.  I walked out reaffirming that Kohl's is not a place that "gets" people like me.  To be honest, I really didn't even like the styles.  I couldn't even find shoes or a purse there that I liked, I really wanted to buy something new, but I just couldn't force myself to like any of it.  I must march to my own little drum.  Anyway, leaving the store, I noticed myself feeling down, partly because of how aweful I looked in everything I tried on, and partly because I wanted a shiny new thing and that didn't happen.  It has been a long time since I've walked out any store with nothing in hand.  But, I realized what was happening, so when I got home and assessed that I wanted to get food because of genuine, physical hunger and not to lift my mood, I tried a little experiement with cheese, and it turned out good.  I have eating cheese crisps before and wanted to try baking some myself but didn't have time before getting ready for work, so I tried it in the microwave.  It really is just slightly overcooking cheese until it turns crispy. IT IS SO STINKING GOOD!  But I might be biased because I live in Wisconsin and I LOVE cheese!  I actually ate too much of it, but it kept me full for five hours so I think it balanced out.  Besides, I am not stressing out about how much and all that, I am just focusing on replacing awful foods like candy and cakes with a lot less awful foods.  I must say, I am eating way more veggies than I used to, and it doesn't feel like a chore.  That is a good thing. 
I am starting to notice some things thinning and tightening up on my body, and some clothes fitting looser.  One goal I want to accomplish is being able to cross my legs with ease again.  I love wearing long skirts and dresses because it makes me feel so feminine, but it's been a while since crossing my legs was simple or easy, and when I was thinner I always crossed them, it was just a comfortable position when there wasn't so much "in the way". 
Another goal I have is to find a good bunch of healthier recipes I can cook for family meals during the week.  It will be a challenge to find things that satisfy all of us and our different dietary needs, but I think I'm up for the challenge. 
Well, I don't know about you, but the weather is absolutely gorgeous today and I am hoping to spend a little time outside tonight to take in one last feels-like-summer evening before the cold sets in.  I hope your week is sailing smoothly!  Hey, tomorrow's already Wednesday, how did that happen?!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Playing with my Food

I feel like this week is flying by, and for once, I don't feel super stressed out about anything.  I think having my blood sugars stabilized is helping me manage my stress/mood much better than when I am under the influence of sugar binges. 
I am having an easy go of this little diet thingy this time and I've been really trying to figure out why some attempts are way easier than others.  I don't have the answer.  I do know that I gave a lot of thought to my health and the little annoying things I've been noticing that make me think, I'm too young for this; the aching joints, the lack of energy, the skin issues, the bloating and breathing issues...I totally get it when my elderly customers tell me that getting old is NO FUN!  While I know there are things that simply come along with age, I know there's a lot I have control over, and eating copious amounts of sugar was setting me up to have similar complaints as my customers, but at an earlier age.  It is amazing to me how quickly my energy rebounds once I get off processed sugars, like someone gave me a vitamin B shot.  And, if I stick with it, some of my aches eventually decrease as well.  But, knowing all that, I still can't figure out why it just easy to give up some of the vices I was relying on daily.  It will require deeper reflection I suppose.  I'm just really happy that it is easy for me this time.  To be honest, I really don't even think about it much, except when my stomach gets growly, which, has been happening more and more often.  I am well prepared to handle it this week, and it doesn't bother me to be hungry more, it means my body is fixing itself, I'm eating cleaner food that is easier for the body to break down and use, so my hunger signal is finally getting fixed.  Why is that good?  Because a huge portion of food and eating awareness revolves around physical hunger signals.  When I was considering starting this, I tested out the concept of eating whatever I want, exactly what I want, when I am truly hungry.  I'll be honest, I could not physically tell when I was genuinely hungry, there was so much bloat and gears working hard to try and break down whatever high-fat, high-sugar food I'd eaten, I couldn't tell what any of those little pings and gurgles were.  I was wondering if I would be able to get my hunger signal back at all after being so far off track for so long.  So, the fact that I'm hungry more does't really bother me.  My metabolism is doing it's thing.  I don't panic because I always have some nuts or yogurt around. 
Yesterday I had a luncheon for work, to celebrate my 5 year work anniversary.  I work for a health clinic and they held the luncheon at a beautiful country club, which made me feel really special!  On the way there, I was a little worried about what they'd be serving, but I told myself I'd make the best of whatever it was.  It turned out to be a lovely lunch, baked chicken breast and salmon, jullienned squash mix, wild rice and some really great salad with apple, pecans and feta cheese.  For desert there was angle food cake with fresh berries on top.  I didn't want to push my luck, so I skipped dessert and had a Diet Coke instead.  I left feeling good, spoiled, and the food was totally clean.  win-win. 
Before I started this diet, my last big craving/food of focus was bacon.  How does a vegetarian eat bacon, you ask?  I have tried a few kinds of fake bacon, but this stuff here is to die for:
I was eating BLT's for lunch and dinner before I started dieting.  Everyone at work was jealous when they smelled it.  I craved it all the time.  So I decided to try making a breadless BLT which was really a BLT SALAD!!!  Holy crap was it GOOD!!  A big bowl of lettuce ( I get the mix with iceberg, carrots and purple cabbage), some cut up tomatoes, crumble some bacon on top, add a little mayo and mix together.  It made my tongue sing!  Now, this is what low-carb dieting is about, getting creative and finding things that satisfy my palate without putting me in an early grave.  I also discovered that a little bit of natural peanut butter mixed into this:

is pretty outstanding!  It turns out all creamy and fluffy.  I guess you can say I am enjoying playing with my food lately!  I actually find it fun.  Maybe that's why it's a little easier to stick with it right now.  I'm the kind of person who needs to change my food variety up quite frequently so I don't get bored of tastes or textures, so being a little creative is a good tool.
I haven't intentionally gotten on the stationary bike at all this week (or even over the weekend) but I have gotten a little unintentional exercise this week, once while walking with my son while he played Pokemon Go, and this morning when I had to jog half a block and back (in strappy sandals no less) to retrieve my son's backpack as his bus was coming.  Even though I haven't been super motivated to exercise, it doesn't kill me when I do, and it usually puts me in a good mood.  I need to make it a priority more, the only time I can forsee it working is at night because my morning is packed as full as I want it already.  I'll figure all of that out with time.  One of the reasons I know this attempt is going well is that I am not as focused on "when I lose weight I'm going to..." thinking.  I am just putting attention on all the other stuff on my plate right now because I feel confident that I am in a good place and I can talk myself through tough spots if they come up.  I also know that I am slowly fixing pieces of my health, which makes me want to do even more. 
I did finally get a breathing test done, even though I haven't really had much trouble with it for a few weeks.  It turns out I do not have asthma, my lungs are actually better than average for the most part.  It was a huge relief to hear.  My doctor thinks my problems are due to either a vocal chord dysfunction or reflux.  Funny thing is, I have had problems with both before and though I suspected reflux for the throat cramps I'd get, I never knew it could lead to inflammation in the esophagus which can also lead to feeling like there is constantly stuff in your throat to clear out (totally me) which can further lead to feeling like you aren't breathing right.  Lightbulb moment.  The vocal cord thing is just that it malfunctions and closes when it should be open for breath.  Like automatic doors at the grocery store that kind of get stuck closed from time to time.  We decided the best way to rule out other stuff ( and avoid having a scope stuck down my throat) is to try a prescription acid blocker.  Two days in, and I already have way less stuff in my throat.  I think, if I continue to see such positive results with the acid blocker, I have no choice but to let go of my precious Diet Coke.  I have cut down considerably compared to what I once used to consume (up to 4 cans a day) and until last week I was pretty much completely off it but I figured it wasn't such a bad tool to use when dieting.  Anyway, it is a bit of a mental issue to get past and I will.  Using ice in my drinks is a trick to making it much more appetizing to me.  I'm not a huge plain water drinker, I wish I liked it more but I just don't.  I use this in my water:
There are a bunch of different flavors and they are all good.  I especially like the English Toffee, which makes me feel like I'm sucking on a toffee candy, and when I mix a few drops of chocolate in, it tastes like a Heath bar.  There is also chocolate raspberry, and one of my other favorites, coconut.  It's a nice way to make your water taste super good without added sugars or artificial sweetners. 
So tricks do work, and are important to helping keep things exciting.  Not that life is ever dull, am I right? 
So here's to everyone trying to change things up, or thinking about making changes.  Even if you are not ready to commit, keep the focus on what is important and when the time is right, things will feel a lot less challenging.  Getting off sweets really helped me stop craving them, or more accurately, using them to try and fill a place that food can never fill.  My mind is less wrapped up in anxiety about what terrible disease is lurking inside of me due to my lack of willpower and my laziness.  Even though I knew I wasn't happy living that way, it took getting out of the cycle to see it more clearly.  Thank all that is holy for self-help books and the advent of low-carb dieting.  I am finally feeling like it is the earth that is spinning and not me!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Rolling On

This weekend presented more opportunities to meet with my triggers, to test the waters on eating a little bit of carbs (not the sugary kind), and get some much needed rest. 
I've already established that coming home at night is a trigger for me, so I prep myself on the drive home, thinking about what I am going to have that is in my plan, and how good it will taste.  Friday night has, in the past, been a popular night for my family to go out to eat, but we stopped going out so much over the summer, we just could never agree on one place and by the time we thought about it for a while, everyone would sort of lose interest and go scavaging in the kitchen to find whatever sounded most palletable.  Still, Friday nights have the trigger of eating something different and tasty.  My husband had a commitment so I offered to make the kids spaghetti.  I had already planned ahead and gotten the whole grain, higher protein noodles in case my mind was playing spoiled child, but earlier in the week I'd seen a recipe for making "noodles" out of zucchini, so I figured I'd give it a try.  Now, I love my starchy carbs, but the zucchini noodles were very satisfying and easy to flavor.  It felt good to have something on-plan and still really savor it. 
Saturday I was in a bit of a funk.  In hindsite, I think I was pouting over having to go grocery shopping, and (even worse) lug all the heavy groceries up our (16) stairs.  My youngest son (11) likes to come help me shop.  He and I had gotten in a bad habbit of making a stop on the way to the grocery store, often for drinks, sometimes for snacks and lately, for breakfast, and usually by shopping day there's not a whole lot of appetizing foods left in the house for breakfast.   Well, not as appetizing as eating something else.  My breakfast was supposed to be eggs (at home) by my son absolutely hates the smell of eggs, almost to the point of making himself physically sick, so I didn't really want to do that to him, so I settled on a handful of macadamia nuts, knowing that in an hour or so, I'd be walking around the giant grocery store with my stomach growling, probably irritable and wanting to put every carb-loaded thing I could think of in the cart.  So we stopped at Subway for breakfast.  Subway is my weakness, and I don't even eat meat!  That bread and the fresh veggies are a carb-lovers dream.  But this time I decided to try my eggs in a tortilla wrap, assuming this was the lowest carb option (other than salad).  The tortilla itself was so huge I really could have taken half of it off and enjoyed it more.  It wasn't my fave, and while I was eating it, I thought how it wasn't really worth the carbs I was adding, but I knew it wasn't a big deal.  I wanted to see if I felt any different eating carbs.  I didn't notice a difference. 
After shopping, when the groceries are in the house, that's another major trigger for me, maybe the biggest one.  We have all gotten in the bad habbit of munching and nibbling on whatever snacks come into the house right away when they get there.  I allowed my son to pick out one sweet treat for he and his brother to share, and told them that they were only getting that one sweet treat, ( a package of Chips Ahoy! cookies with Reese's peanut butter cups baked in) and when it was gone, that was it.  They gobbled them up immediately, which actually made me releaved because I was really having a moment.  I adore their soft mushy texture and could smell the chocolate.  To keep myself from snaching one out of the bag, I ate some baked cheese.  Yes, the only ingredient is cheese, baked until it turns into a chip.  And it was delicious, but my brain was wanting to go off the deep end.  I kept snacking here and there on approved items, Skinny Girl lime and sea salt mini bag of popcorn, a few dry roasted peanuts, some coffee.  In the end, I ate way more calories by not allowing myself to have that cookie, but I knew if I had one sweet garbage treat it would turn into a mess with sugar cravings.  If I was going to do that, what was all last week's effort for? 
So I did my best to just relax and do enjoyable activities and eventually that feeling subsided.  My stomach was full and I was drinking a lot of water besides.  Later that evening, I ended up watching a really good movie called "Somm: Into the Bottle" about wine making around the world.  The scenery was amazing, the story was good, and by the end, I was craving a good glass of wine.  I ended up having a few glasses (yes, I know, carbs) and while it may have been more than I'd intended, I went to be feeling OK about taking a day to relax mentally and diet-wise, and still didn't go completely off the rails.  I got through it without eating processed sugars.  And Sunday was much easier to get/be on-track.  I kept busy with projects, cooking, cleaning, helping the kids get their homework done, got the dog to the park, etc.  And by the time I settled in to read a little before bed, I realized that I had had a perfectly on-plan day without any effort.  Keeping busy is definitely a great distraction.  The real take-away from the weekend is that I can eat certain carbs in moderation and not trigger cravings.  And, I can have an "off" day and still get right back on track as if it was planned.  I think it is going awesome right now.  I am so glad I decided to try again!