Sunday, November 29, 2009

Great little thoughts for the day.....

For years, I have collected those little mini-books of quotes and inspirations that you sometimes see at or near the checkouts in bookstores. I have a slew of them. Well, for years, I used them at the church whenever I'd need filler for the bulletin or newsletter, and I still use them today .... in addition to the quotes found on the 'Net.

One such book is called Moments of Greatness by Denis Waitley. This is a gem that I've used many times over. I was re-reading it this morning before church, and these quotes especially stuck out for me:
  • "It's not what you are that holds you back -- it's what you think you are not."
  • "Self-discipline means doing within while you do without."
  • "Millions of people actually believe that they fail to reach their goals because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
I know that I tend to be a drill sergeant rather than a hand-holder. But I also am so passionate about taking care of yourself, so that you can be strengthened and nourished to really care for others. You cannot give what you do not have. If you don't have self-esteem, self-care, self-discipline, you cannot possibly give esteem, care, and discipline to others. You can't show or teach them to do it for themselves when you fail to do so for yourself. It is not selfish to take the time to plan, to set goals, to say no --- if anything, it's far more selfish to give and give and give with the assumption that "oh well, one day someone will do it for me." If that's the case, you really are blessed, but what if it's not the case? What then will you do?

You have the power within yourself to change your mind, your mindset, your plans, your goals, your meals, your time, your schedule, your life. In fact, you are the only human who has the capacity to do so. No one can make you change.

How bad do you want it?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just one day....

In the everyday, non-weight-centered portion of my world, I embarked on something I called a Gratitude Adjustment. I realized I had a crappy attitude about some things, and I needed to readjust. Either the day of my epiphany or the day thereafter, I saw a church sign that said, "Thanksgiving is one day; thanks-living is every day."

True. Very, very true, and a portion of that applies to the weight-focused realm as well. It isn't any specific special occasion that immediately puts 15 or 20 extra pounds on us. It isn't even the 6 weeks between Turkey Day and New Year's (or even that extra Bowl Week) that pads an extra 50 on our frame, although it has been said that the average American gains 17 pounds in that time. (YOW.) It's the day-in, day-out nibble here and nibble there, and the BLT's and the extra can of soda....... It's not Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day or even the Easter ham that piles it on.

So how do you get it off? Same way -- a little change here and there. Two or three little long-term, gradual changes: forgoing sweet tea for unsweetened or (even better) water; skipping the extra can of Coke; having a smaller portion but eating more slowly to enjoy it; parking a little further out at work or the mall; taking the stairs instead of the elevator; substituting healthier ingredients or lower-fat, or lower-sodium versions of a favorite.

Here's a great example of how small changes can make a huge difference. Let's say you're drinking two 20-oz bottles of Coca-Cola per day. That's 240 calories per bottle (yes, you read that correctly). 480 of your daily calories are through drinking them. Now ..... cut out just one of those bottles per day, without changing anything else -- no additional calories consumed nor expended -- and you may lose up to a half-pound per week. Now imagine how much food you could eat with those 240 calories! Let's say you cut out that extra drink, *and* decide to walk 15 minutes a day. Depending on your current weight, and the pace of your walk, you can burn maybe 65 calories. There's another 475 calories a week that you're burning with JUST the activity. That's 2155 calories per week that you're not consuming: just slightly under 5/8 of a pound this week. Now...... make it a 30-minute walk, or walking the 15 minutes at a faster pace, then maybe cutting out one snack a day or choosing a healthier option (the apple instead of the apple danish). See where that's going?

The whole point is that it doesn't take much to make a real difference. The biggest change you'll make is your outlook and attitude. Decision and determination are where the challenges lie -- in realizing that you need to make a change, and that you need to do these things for your own best interests.

So yes, Thanksgiving happened. It was a day. Christmas is coming. It's one day. The holiday parties are just one event (okay, a chain of events). But the whole point is NOT to give up. Control what you can, and stop sweating the rest. And every next meal, hop right back on the wagon. There is no need to let 6 or 7 weeks of your life sabotage you. Who's in control, you or a calendar? Is baking a tradition? Make it healthier, make fewer, don't make them at all. Are you baking because you have an event, or well, it's Christmas and I always make snickerdoodles at Christmas, and it just ..... stop. Who is in control, you or a calendar?

Fall off the wagon, but don't let it roll over you. Hop back on. Never allow a lapse to become a collapse!

It's one day. Not your life. Think smart, act smart.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Making the right choice

Pride goeth before a fall..... but while I'm still standing......

Today was a good day. I hit the gym at 5:20 AM, did 20 on the elliptical and would have gone longer but I felt a little cramping (not a pull or sore muscle but it just didn't feel right, so I took it easier). Did some legwork on the weight machines too.

Then for lunch, I had a work/lunch meeting. We met at a nearby deli with a really good grilled chicken salad. I had them take off the almonds and cheese -- just chicken & veggies. I also had a cup of their veggie beef soup; really tasty AND had blackeyed peas in it. While I don't like BEP's by themselves, they weren't bad in the soup, and gave me some extra fiber. I guesstimated the soup and salad as best I could, and had a nice, very filling 5-point lunch (at least by my best guess). By the time for my afternoon popcorn break, I was still not starving but knew I'd need something for the ride home .... and surprisingly, it didn't hold me. Normally, popcorn is just enough for me to hold me even if I decide to work out after work. But not tonight.... huh.

On the trip home, I had to stop for gas for all three tanks: my actual gas tank, my stomach, and my "caffeine" tank. I had a few extra points from today, so I went looking for .... okay, as healthy a snack as you can get at a convenience store. Around here, best of luck. So I found a Fiber One bar. I love them, but I really didn't want to invest two points in it ... especially since I was on the way home for dinner. It wasn't that I couldn't spare the points, but I didn't want to. Reluctantly though, I approached the checkout with that and my Diet Dew Code Red in hand.

And there it was. FRESH FRUIT. At the checkout. Apples -- although, YUCK, Red Delicious or Granny Smith. Yeah, those are the two easiest to find throughout the year, but really, not my favorites. There were bananas there, but I had already had one this morning. Besides, if I wasn't willing to give up two points for a Fiber One bar, then I really didn't want to for a banana. And then.... tangerines. OOOOH!!!! So I put the F1 bar back, grabbed the tangerine and paid for the goods.

YUM. It was fresh, juicy, very delicious, and surprisingly filling. But what I appreciated most about the tangerine was that I chose it. Too often, if I have to stop at a convenience store, I settle for the Fiber One bars or a protein bar where I have to break it into fourths just for 1 or 2 points (which is just a nibble)...... but it always seems that C-stores with fresh fruit (or some with ANY kind of fruit) are so far between. In my main blog, back in February, I gave serious props to Sheetz convenience stores for having fresh fruit, cut fruit, cut veggies, yogurt, etc. right there near the checkout. If we were to get a Sheetz here, I would weep with joy; the nearest one is 3-1/2 hours away. I digress....... I could have easily said, "I've got the bar, I'll just take it instead." But I realized that the tangerine would be a better choice at that time.

And truly amazing? I got the tangerine at 7:00. I just now finished dinner. I wasn't hungry enough to go heat something until 8:30. Amazing that one little tangerine accomplished that.

****

The fall? Tomorrow is our company Thanksgiving dinner. We are keeping it fairly simple this year. I'm bringing just plain corn. We're having regular vegetables, a few casseroles, and whatever desserts are being brought. I may even take my nukable sweet potato instead of having SP casserole (which I love anyway but.......). Deciding whether or not to do a quickie workout tomorrow morning, just in case. Oh my. I'm addicted, aren't I?

It's a week to go until weigh-ins start for December -- can't be too slack!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's (almost) the holiday season.....

If you're on a weight-loss program, the holiday season can be the equivalent of The Robot screaming, "Danger, Will Robinson!" So what are you going to do to handle it?

One easy thing that you can do is make your recipes healthier. There are plenty of ways to substitute ingredients to cut fats, sugars and other empty calories, or add fiber. If you are a Weight Watchers member with access to eTools, please, please tell me you're using the Recipe Builder, because (seriously) that alone is worth the price of your Monthly Pass or eTools access. If you are not a WW member, fret not -- there are online ways to tweak your favorite recipe and make it healthier.

First, try substituting lower-fat, lower-calorie, lower-sugar ingredients within a recipe. The Mayo Clinic has this great list of ingredient substitution ideas -- both for baked goods and other items as well. The Heart Center of the Rockies offers these heart-healthy substitutions. In fact, the one item where I wouldn't make any major change is butter ..... if the recipe calls for butter and doesn't say "or margarine" then I'd use a light butter in place of regular butter instead. No offense intended to margarine; it's fine on toast but not always a good substitute for butter in a recipe, due to water content.

Okay, so you have your recipe, you've found some substitutions .... but just how much of a difference do these really make? Try an online recipe analyzer. A good one to try is available at SparkRecipes.com (a division of SparkPeople) -- it's free, and also allows you to save recipes in a recipe box. You can share recipes, but with some copyright restrictions. Anyway, you put in your information by ingredients and measurements, then the number of servings, and a little nutrition label pops up. Try doing it with your original recipe, followed by the one with substitutions. You may see big changes -- you may cut calories, fat, sugars, increase fiber, etc. Or the changes may be smaller than you expect -- at which point you may consider changing portion size rather than ingredient list.

Too much trouble to analyze your favorite recipes? Try these sites that offer healthier options:
Still not sure you're up to all that? How about these tips:
  1. Exercise each day. Instead of watching the NFL, play a game of flag football. On Black Friday, do the shopping shuffle. Park far out at the mall and after every 3rd store you buy in, go take your stuff to the car.
  2. Control your portions. Do you really need a platter -- or that whole turkey leg, Henry VIII? Enjoy your food; don't inhale.
  3. WW members -- hit a meeting. Or two or three. However many you need. Friday, Saturday, maybe even Sunday if they have it. Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Go online and find a meeting near you if you're traveling. Get your support in.
  4. So you had a bad Turkey Day? Get back on track Friday. No excuses. None of this, "I'll wait till Monday." Each new day is a new opportunity; make the most of them.
But above all, remember the reason for the day -- no, not the Pilgrims, the Natives, the Lions, Packers or Cowboys. Give thanks. Think of every good thing you have going in your life -- yes, it's been a difficult year, but you are above ground and breathing; you have people for whom you care and who care about you; you have choices and freedoms, and that's more than a LOT of people in this world can say. So search your heart and be truly grateful for every gift in your life. A grateful heart is a satisfied one.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I can never prove it....

but I believe with all my heart that negative emotions really do weigh us down, physically speaking. My first night with Weight Watchers, I was shocked by how much I'd gained in just 8 weeks (from the Doc's office to then). I felt tremendous guilt, shame, despair, anger, sadness, desperation, you name it. I couldn't believe I'd let myself go so long and not cared for myself. I lost 12.2 pounds that first week, and I truly believe that a third of it was getting rid of some of those feelings.

In the same vein, positive emotions don't make us lose physical weight but they surely make us feel lighter ... and maybe we do lighten up (really!). For instance, this week, I've been working on a project that I'm calling a "Gratitude Adjustment" .... when I stepped on the scale tonight for a courtesy weigh-in, it was about a half-pound less than my actual weigh-in last week. And while I might not have physically lost weight simply because of a change in my outlook, my heart and soul surely feel better and maybe I'm a little lighter because of it.

Think about it: feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, etc. draw us inward, emotionally and physically. My former leader often talks of meeting me that first night and how I was all shelled up (so to speak), and how I've come out of that shell. Well, I don't know if it's so much me coming out of a shell than it was just getting rid of those feelings. Success bred success..... and with it, more confidence, more good feelings, etc. I know when I feel bad about myself or about "what I have done and what I have failed to do," I feel heavier and withdrawn. When I'm feeling good about myself, and proud of my accomplishments and attempts, then I stand up straighter, I breathe easier, and I could skip & hop wherever I go.....

In the book of Proverbs, it is said that a cheerful heart is like medicine ..... I think there really is something to that. A good outlook, a winning attitude breeds success, which feeds more positive emotion, which fosters more success........ a wonderful winning cycle!!!! This week, find the positive. Live in it. Enjoy your success, and strive to be happy.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Apple Butter Recipe -- ENJOY!

Apple Butter Recipe (Crock Pot)

This is the recipe that I mentioned briefly here, and on my "regular" blog (Snort! Regular.....), Meanderings and Musings.

I am not joking: this is the easiest recipe ever -- the only change I would make is that you don't need that much sugar unless you're using an extremely tart apple. For slightly tart ones (like I used), I used 1 to 1-1/2 cups of Brown Sugar Splenda. For really sweet ones, like Honeycrisps, you could omit the sugar/Splenda altogether.

Great, easy, etc. If you have really juicy apples, you may also want to extend the cooking time. In my last batch, I used Arkansas Blacks (again), and ended up letting liquid cook out for around 20 hours. I like apple butter with substance, you know! And this group of AB's were very juicy!! Some of the variables (time, sugar, etc.) can change depending on your specific tastes.

Bon appetit!

Friday, November 06, 2009

The November verdict.......

Another month free! I am up a bit (1.4 pounds over goal), and that's partly due to the incredibly good potluck last week at work, and all the leftover Halloween candy. What's important is that I'm still within range for the month. And so, now my task is to work hard to get back down to a more reasonable margin. I'm also retaining water a bit, so I'm going to have to watch my sodium a little more closely, and keep up with water intake. I've done good but I did have a couple of days where it took some doing to get in 2 liters.

***

At last night's meeting, we talked about how to control what you can during the holidays. One member mentioned accurate measuring and portion control. Generally, I have no problem with this: except at potlucks. It's still hard for me to really visualize portions of casseroles and such. Pieces of meat? I have the palm guide and the deck of cards (or checkbook for fish). Veggies & fruits? Yeah, I can visualize a computer mouse (half-cup) or a tennis ball (full cup). Casseroles? (That pop you hear was my brain exploding).

At these types of events, my chief problem in portion guessing is that I overestimate what's on the plate. Yes, I realize that this is highly unusual; most people tend to underestimate, and I have myself on occasion. But overestimating can be just as bad. For example, I might write that I had a quarter-cup of something -- but later realize that it was really 2 tablespoons and not the whole quarter-cup. Now that doesn't sound like a problem, right? I actually consumed fewer calories/points than expected. Well, yeah, it's a problem. On those days, I tend to exercise more or eat much lighter at other meals to compensate. It's simple math: I'm expending even more, consuming even less than I thought -- and yes, Virginia, you can eat too little calories and slow down your metabolism. Rut-roh, Raggy, we all know what that means: a messed-up scale reading, because the body is hanging on thinking, "Oh no, it's famine time!"

During one of my very first meetings after joining, my regular leader was absent, and the substitute leader spoke of how she took a quarter-cup measuring cup with her to all family reunions, etc. She told people, "Sorry, this may take a moment...." and she'd measure out her quarter-cup portion of food for her plate. I got the underlying message -- take a small piece of what you want and savor it -- but I may have to start actually using her trick.

Oddly enough, I can see me at potlucks with a quarter-cup in one hand and a 1 Tbsp measuring spoon in the other. I have a feeling my coworkers would be patient enough to allow me my quirk (because they know my quirks seem to work for me). My extended family is pretty happy that I've gotten the weight off ... they might snicker, but hey, let 'em.

Whatever it takes..... whatever it takes. Try every trick, every suggestion, every mind game that you need to meet your holiday goal -- whether it's "I'm going to lose weight by January 2" or "I just want to maintain" or even "As long as I don't gain 10 pounds over the holidays, I will be thrilled." (We found out last night that one study shows that the average American will gain 17 pounds between Halloween and mid-January. GASP!!!!)

My own goal is to maintain (yeah, I know, that's my goal every month) .... but really, my goal is to be at or below goal on January 2. OOH RAH!