Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Joining a gym in the New Year???

Read this first.

It's a great article from Hope Nagy, a trainer in the Philly area, with things to keep in mind before you sign the dotted line.....

GREAT tips!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Massive Reality Check!

Last week, it caught up with me. The scale did not lie. Yuck. I just do not even want to talk about it. My clothes do not look right, I don't feel right, and this is not a feeling I like.... at ALL.

And yet, it is a great lesson: a lesson in the need to continually be vigilant. On how easy it is -- even years later -- to slip into behavioral patterns that are still ingrained deep in us, and to allow "oh, it's just that time of year" to become a reason to overdo, instead of a reason to keep watch.

Stepping on the scales was the reality check I didn't want but truly needed. Even going to the gym for four workouts last week wasn't a license to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

So what's a girl to do?

Hit the gym tomorrow morning. That's what I'm doing anyway. And Wednesday morning. Thursday too. And Friday for good measure. Oh, and on the off-chance we leave work early Friday (doubtful but I can hope), I can squeeze in an extra workout or a walk with the dog (if I were to get off early and home early enough).

Watch the foods and the portions and ESPECIALLY the sodium, if at all possible. Too much sweet, sweet-salty, and salty for me. Load up on veggies, fruits, lean proteins and way less grab-some-grub stuff.

And recognize that it didn't go on overnight, and it won't come off overnight ... but you can sure as heck try.

***

In other news, last week I had my calcium scoring scan. Nothing so far from that (given that it's the holidays), and then one more scan next week before we start the synthroid and HRT. Of course, that's if everything is copacetic with these two scans. Keeping my fingers crossed that it's all good..... Please, God, let it be.

Last week, I mentioned that a friend of mine had told me that perhaps I didn't realize how really tired I am (and I'm just thinking I feel mostly good right now): she may be on to something. Yesterday was a pretty lazy day, given that it was Sunday and Christmas. I had done midnight Mass, come home around 2:00 AM, and then fell just pretty quickly afterwards. I was up by about 7:45 AM (funny how the smell of good java will do that...) and then by 11:00 .... ZONK! down for a nap. By 2:30, POW! another short nap. I think I had another small one (10-15 minutes) around 7:00 or so, and of course, then I couldn't go to sleep until after 11:30. Up this morning around 6:45 .... meaning, 4:45 is gonna be AWFULLY cruel tomorrow. But it's for my own good!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Better late than never, huh?

I can't believe I forgot to post anything last week. The brain is fried, between holiday events, regular ol' work, doctor's visits, workouts, and oh yeah, trying to squeeze in shopping. Ha. Ha. I have ONE gift purchased. That's it. ONE. And Christmas cards? Try MAYBE this week, if I'm lucky.

And in the midst of all this, I have been following an 80-20 rule: eat healthily 80% of the time and stop obsessing about the 20% of the time when you mess it up royally. I've also kept up working out at least 3 times a week. So far? It must be working. I'm down two weeks in a row. It's not been huge amounts -- both times, less than a pound -- but it's downward progress.

What I'm discovering is that I really enjoy my workout times. Do I relish the idea of waking up at quarter till dark and then leaving no later than oh-dark-thirty to go sweat? Not particularly. But once I get there, I'm loving it. I find that I feel much better -- and better about myself -- when I get in my workouts. I feel more accomplished, and if I do the workout in the morning, I find that I have a little more energy throughout the day. Even late afternoon workouts help me sleep better.

Speaking of energy, I met with the doctor's PA earlier this week. We're going to begin one of the therapies in January ... after a couple more scans. Yes, more tests, but these are worth it. The doc's PA said, "Once you get onto this therapy, one of the nice things is that you're gonna feel like a million bucks!" So I'm thinking I feel pretty good, so holy mackerel, how much better can I feel? But as a friend told me, "You probably don't realize how tired you really are."

She's right. There are moments when I feel absolutely drained of everything. I'm too much like my dad .... we both run ourselves into a stupor, and when we sit absolutely still: BAM! out like lights. We joke, "Rest? That's for when we're dead...." Of course, most of my dad's family is of the same vein.

So can you imagine how completely dead I would feel if I were still at my peak weight?

No thanks .... even with all the struggles and health issues I've had in the last few months, I would NEVER want to be where I was 6 years ago and having to go through this. No way. I used to scoff whenever I would hear the phrase about nothing tastes as good as being thin feels..... but not so much now.

So if you are thinking about making changes, DO IT TODAY. Get a jump on all those people who are going to wait until the first couple of weeks in January. You'll thank yourself!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Gobsmacked by reality

When I was a child, I remember adults would say about people, "Hmm, guess their sins finally found them out, huh?" (especially when someone got a measure of comeuppance). I can't remember if my mother or either of my grandmothers would use that phrase as a guilt trip when they were sure I was hiding something ... heck, probably all three.

But as much as I hated hearing it, there is a kernel of truth in that saying .... and in this case, the things I didn't bother to track or care about this week showed up on the scale en masse. Nothing I could do but claim them as my own. I mean really, what other choice do I have? I made good decisions (workouts, and eating good meals, mostly), but what derailed me were those little things: not tracking, indulging in the more-than-occasional treat because "it's been a rough week"....

Well, guess what? This past week was easy compared to the upcoming week's agenda. I could easily give up this week: I have more time- and energy-grabbers than you would believe: just regular work, choir practice, a special service Thursday night, a holiday party on Friday night, a 5K on Saturday, AND a concert on Sunday. But I'm not going to wallow in it ...... no, instead, I have a plan!

A) Work out at least four times this week -- this worked for me last week, even if it meant squeezing in two workouts in one day. So the plan is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday's 5K. YAY ME! Plus I will be doing a small workout later today (just cardio, but still moving!) and maybe get in one on Friday..... nothing too

B) Plan better meals -- right now, I have 7 chicken breasts cooked and ready to use this week. I have Brussels sprouts roasting in the oven and will be roasting some sweet potato chunks as well. I have some steamed green beans I can use as well. And I have a slew of various other veggies and veggie mixes in the freezer. I have apples. I have oatmeal for breakfast if the cereal runs out and frozen lean breakfasts as well. It's all good.

C) Stress eating. Oh yeah, and I'm not even talking about the holidays. The holidays? Bah. No match for regular everyday stress. But I'm not going to allow it to derail my thinking. I have a secret weapon: Hershey's Special Dark miniatures. I'm going to allow myself one per day, most likely as lunch's little dessert.

With a plan in place, I know I will be successful!

***

Now for good news this week on the medical front..... I met with the cardiologist to review the results from my holter monitor and the echocardiogram. He was concerned because the holter shows I do have a slow heart rate overall, but the echocardiogram doesn't show any structural issues with my heart.

I actually sighed, very deeply, in relief. I had really wondered what might transpire. I knew that the very worst they could tell me was "yes you have an arrythmia and you'll need a pacemaker" ... or "you have a faulty valve and will need heart surgery." Scary concepts either way, but in my mind that was the worst they could say. So I was prepared for anything. I almost wasn't prepared to hear the good news.

Then he suggested doing a Tilt Table test. Since the heart is sound, it could be a fault in the circulatory system where my system doesn't re-balance as quickly as it should. One nice thing about Dr. M (cardiologist): he's thorough and explains things very well. So he explained how the body works to keep blood pressure even throughout the body at all times ... fascinating! I then mentioned that Dr. Y (primary care) wants to get me on certain meds for the sluggish thyroid and HRT issue. Dr. M's eyes lit up and he said, "YES! YES! Tell you what, see her again and get started on these. I'll see you again in three months and if things are looking better, I won't even bother with the Tilt Table test." In another mini-science lesson, I learned that apparently, there can be a correlation between hormonal imbalance and cardiovascular issues. WHO KNEW? (Not me, that's who!).

As much as I am not a fan of HRT, for my heart health, I'll do it.

So we'll see how things go from there!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I love it when a plan comes together!

My assignment this week was to plan for at least four days of workout from Monday through tomorrow. SUCCESS!!! I worked out Monday morning (gym - interval circuit training), and on Wednesday morning (same thing). For Thursday, knowing I'd be at home for the holiday, my thought was to walk after lunch .... but then we got the idea to take Maddox to the dog park. So we did, but unfortunately, we were the only people (and mutt) there. So after he piddled around (literally) for a while, we took him to a nearby town that has a nice square. He loved the walk, as did I ... but I felt I still needed a little more. So after dinner, I hit the exercise bike for about 15 minutes, just to add to it.

For Friday, I was also off work. I had planned to go back toward the area where I work and do a couple of things, and stop off by working out at the gym. But then I heard a note on the morning news that the downtown seasonal ice rink was opening on Friday .... and a brilliant idea hit me! You can read all about my "Lessons from the Rink" here. AWESOME workout, and I had the best time. My legs were feeling it a little this morning, and I suspect that they'll be feeling it a little more tomorrow morning ---- but not enough to stop me from going back tomorrow with my godchildren! I also did some walking afterwards - just a few blocks up and back but enough to keep the muscles going.

So what's my plan for next week? More of the same! Gym work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and throwing in some extra cardio or other work whenever I can (probably on lunch hour). And to really track well!

Oh, you're wanting the results, right? Down 4 pounds!!! :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Surviving the Whirlwind

Hello my friends -- yes, it has been too long since I posted. It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks with new initiatives at work, a quick trip to see my friends on the coast, a doctor's visit (planned), and a car in the shop (definitely unplanned).

Last week, I had a great loss. This week, not quite all of it came back. That part was not fun. And I can pretty much own it all. Between the travel, the meetings, the new work plans, and a couple of small details, my meals ended up being more guesswork than real tracking. I worked out but not quite the same plan I had wanted for my week. Sometimes you just have to roll with these the best way you can, and hope for the best.

Several of my pals and I have discussed this malaise we seem to find ourselves in on our weight-loss (or maintenance) journeys. So we have a plan for this week, based on our problem areas: one who has a weigh-in near the weekend is going to track her entire day, openly and without reservation, to keep herself accountable. Another who is having trouble getting back on the cooking track is going to plan her weekly meals on Friday and share the plan with us when we see each other this weekend. She is also asking us to hold her accountability for her cardio - so I will be texting her each evening: "Did you walk tonight?"

And as for me, I am going to bring in my exercise logs showing where I've worked out or done at least 30 minutes of activity four times this week. So that requires that I have a plan and stick to it! So M-W-F definitely for workouts, and a good walk after Thanksgiving dinner too -- and not just the "oh, let me walk Maddox around town for a while." I mean a REAL walk. One for just me!

So here is to our success this week!!! And here's to a successful start of the holiday season: remember, the food is important, but not as important as the people and the joy of the events on the horizon. Don't obsess about food so that you're a real wet blanket on the season -- and yet, don't use "it's the holidays" as an excuse to overindulge. It's all about making it work, enjoying things in moderation, and not giving up on yourself, your goals, your new life.

And in everything, give thanks!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Time to grow up

As most of you know, I have had some struggles lately. It's not just my health, but it's my mindset. I've allowed a multitude of things to become handy excuses for not paying better attention. First was the play -- "oh, I don't have time to do (this), so I'll do (that) instead." Then it was something else, and something else, and the idea of being able to indulge a little in certain things.

I even fell back into the trap sometimes after dinner of thinking, "I've blown it for today, I'll start fresh tomorrow, but in the meantime....." and just not caring. I have come too far not to care. I don't like the direction things are moving. I don't like feeling this yucky about myself and my life and my weight and my (lack of) progress -- actually, a regress. So what to do?

I'm taking the advice that a very wise woman gave me: if you don't like your life, change it. And I'm also taking up the Serenity Prayer to apply to this situation. There are things I cannot change -- I'm older, I have some health issues going on. So I accept them and leave it as is. There are things I can change -- the choices I make for what to eat, how much to eat, when to workout, what to do in a workout. I have the wisdom to know the difference, but I need a daily reminder that I am capable, that I am worth the effort, that I am a success and I need to constantly refine and hone that success -- to build on it.

And to faithful readers, I apologize for my failings. Just proof that I'm human and if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. If nothing else, maybe this will be inspiration for others to keep going, to keep trying, and to keep your guard up!

***

Now, looking for a very satisfying meal idea? One of the better choices that I made several times this summer and fall is Ruby Tuesday's Spaghetti Squash Marinara. If I did the calculations right, the dinner portion is 5 PP, and the lunch portion is 3. It's a plate full of spaghetti squash, topped with marinara sauce and sauteed zucchini. It is absolutely yummy, and paired with a good tossed salad from the salad bar, it is an extremely filling meal.

So tonight at home, I had a spaghetti squash that was calling my name. I halved it, roasted it at 450 for 50 minutes, and scooped out the flesh (okay, more "fork-ed" it out in order to get it in the strands). I set aside a one-cup serving, then added a half-cup of arribiata sauce for a kick. Divine. Just awesome. And best of all? 2 PPV.

And I still have enough squash to make lunch tomorrow. YAHOO!!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In a slightly reflective mood...

Just a few minutes ago, I was looking at pictures from my journey. Even as far as I have come, it never really ends. I think of the scene in Parenthood (the movie) where Jason Robards looks at Steve Martin and says, "There is no finish line, there is no end zone, there is no touchdown celebration." Sure there are little celebrations all along the way, and there's nothing wrong with setting a goal and reaching it.... in fact, we need to do that! But once we are there, all too often, we think, "Wahoo! We're done."

And we aren't.

But it's okay.

It's a great reminder that we're forever a work in progress, that nothing is ever really complete in our transformation, that there's always opportunity for improvement and for continuing success.

I have a birthday this week. It's a number that doesn't scare me at all.... in fact, I've always rather liked this number, not sure why, but I like it. It sounds good, something about it feels right to my soul. My life has always seemed to have a big change every 7 years, so I am going to expect one to pop up this year (it's that time). And I'm okay with that.

So one of the changes that I can do something about is the continuing re-transformation of myself. I will accept what cannot be changed, change what I can, and continually seek the wisdom to know the difference.

This week's plan: workout, 3 mornings this week. See the cardiologist as planned. And just breathe.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

There Is No Try, Only Do.

A few times throughout the last 5-1/2 years of weight loss, weight maintenance, etc. I have had a few fluke weeks -- sometimes an unexpected loss that would hold, and sometimes a weight spike that would come right back to normal the next week.

Part of me wants to think that was my week last week .... just one of those fluke things. There was no way I should have gained 4 pounds across a week, and especially given everything that happened (medically) in that week. But I also knew that there were moments I did not do well, and that was all on me. So I took my friend Angie's advice (Angie from "Successful Together"; link at right), and treated it like a Week 1. A total do-over, a recommitment moment, complete with 40 verses of "Just As I Am".... (ha!)

The result? 3.2 pounds back down!

***

Now for a quick update on the medical stuff: I met with my PCP, and while she had my lab results, she was way more concerned about the fainting episode. While the lab results may play a role in things, she doesn't want to put me on any meds .... at least not until we get the results back from the cardiology consult and/or tests. She is wondering if an arrhythmia is at play here that caused me to pass out. My pulse in her office was 55, even with a normal BP (112/80). I've heard the phrase bradycardia before, from my prior PCP too. The main thing that came out of the labwork is that I have a "sluggish" thyroid, not exactly hypoactive but not perfectly normal either. If the cardiac stuff comes back okay, then we can do thyroid meds and see where it takes me.

I'd be lying if I said, "Oh, no worries." I am a bit apprehensive. At the same time, I know that I am in good hands all the way around. So we wait and see.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The end is here.....

Not to worry, I'm not breaking out into a 10-min Oedipal song by The Lizard King himself.......

This week, I had a medical incident happen. I was at a support group meeting when I passed out cold. The docs at the ER cannot find a reason why I should have fainted. I've been trying to be more proactive about my health, and I'll get the results from some in-depth tests this coming week -- and after the incident, I'll be perhaps having more.

As you all have seen, I haven't exactly been riding the good train for self-care this summer, at least as far as weight management has been concerned. I've piddled around and not really paid attention to what I was doing, or really cared. I really do believe that nothing merely happens by accident; there is reason and order and purpose to everything in life. If nothing else, this incident serves as a wake-up call. It's time to stop snoozing and start paying attention.

So the end of Summer Joyride 2011 is here. It is past time to once again get with the program, to treat myself far better than I have been, and depending on what these various tests will disclose, I may have no other choice than to be super-vigilant.

To be honest, I am scared. But knowledge is power.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Leaves

Here we are in October, my favorite month of the year. When I was a child, it was my favorite because it was my birthday month, and I believed that all sorts of good magic was afoot in my birthday month. Nothing was bad then. The leaves fell in the yard, and if everything was good, there would be enough of a pile by my birthday to jump into.

The unabashed joy of childhood ... well, once we get into the "real" world, we know where that goes, right? It doesn't have to. There is still good magic afoot. Right now, I'm on a small break from work, just a few days but enough to try to unwind, to recharge my batteries (beyond drained), and just enjoy what is.

What does all this have to do with a health/wellness/weight-loss-centered blog?

Everything.

Because as the leaves fall in my backyard (or at least should, hopefully, soon), it is time for me to reassess, to recharge, to take stock of where I am and where I want to go. The summer was not a good one for me. I lost focus, I lost sight of things. For way too long -- and I mean WAY too long -- I have been doing things just to get to the next moment, the next hour, the next day, of just going through the motions of life. Survival instead of really living each moment. That, my friends, is no way that I want to live. It is a sad place to be, and I choose now not to live there any longer.

I am choosing to honor myself by living more fully.
I am choosing to really think things out.
Is it easy? No.
Is it worthwhile? Very.

So as I take the time this week to recharge and revitalize myself, I also want to live more purposefully. I know that my body, my soul, my entire being will appreciate the effort, and respond in kind.

No more survivalist techniques - they only work for so long. And the results are usually less than desired.

Grateful, purposeful living. That's the place I want to be.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Turning the corner....

Last weekend, I had my weekly weigh-in and WAHOO, it was down another 3.2 pounds! Holy cow - that's 5.4 pounds in two weeks, and 3 weeks since I stopped taking Premphase. Guess they weren't kidding about that "weight gain" side effect, were they? Okay, that, and getting back in the swing of working out again, and eating healthily again -- it all made the weigh-in much better.

If you haven't heard yet, Dr. Oz has a program out called "Transformation Nation" -- he is partnering with Weight Watchers to provide weigh-ins for participants, but it goes beyond just weight loss and working out. It involves telling others about the site, getting in for a physical, etc. It's a great reminder that good health isn't just weight loss and exercise but knowing your family history and being proactive about your own health. So visit Dr. Oz's website and sign up today to change your health and your life!

I took a trip this weekend to Sky Top Orchard (Flat Rock NC) for some fresh-from-the-orchard apples. They also had a few Asian pears left, also straight from the orchard and oh, my goodness, so good! If you are blessed enough to live near an orchard, then do yourself a huge favor this fall and get some fresh fruits! I plan to go back next month, when the Arkansas Blacks come in, and get ready to make my homemade sugar-free apple butter .... Christmas gifts!! (And of course, pick up some Pink Lady apples for eating!). I was lucky to get some Mutsu this weekend ... mmmm!!! I had gotten some "Paula Red" (never heard of those!) at the grocery store this weekend, and .... meh. They're a little mealy for me. I love a good crisp, nearly-break-my-incisors-off kind of apple.

With fall here, I'm also looking forward to some yummy soups and stews..... and some hearty-but-healthy casseroles with fall and winter vegetables. All sorts of good hearty squashes and root vegetables (oh, my: roasted root veggies!)..... I can't wait! Good things to put up and freeze for the winter. Hearty whole grains that are good for you and filling. Gosh, as much as I love the light tastes of spring and summer, I also enjoy the comforting tastes of this time of year.

By the way, my friend (and occasional contributor) Angie has posted some really yummy things at her blog Successful Together, including an awesome Creamed Corn Bread. I had planned to make some veggie soup last weekend, and some of the cornbread..... only the weather played a trick and it was 85 degrees! Not exactly veggie soup and cornbread weather. So we'll try again this weekend when it's not humid, and back in the 60s/70s. But she has a whole slew of new yumminess to check out!

So when you turn the corner into fall, make a healthy turn -- do something good for yourself. And most of all believe in yourself and your capabilities. Believe that you are worth every moment you invest in yourself and your health. And know that if no one else does, I am rooting for you and your success!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Still around

I apologize for being so late in posting. Last week was absolutely insane-o with rehearsals, opening weekends, and a few other things.

Short of it, I'm up -- more than I would like -- but I am making strides. I'm back to working out more often (at least so far this week), and I'm making better choices this week than I have in teh last few weeks. Best of all, I have a new primary care physician! The first thing she has done is take me off the Premphase. She said, "I'm not a big fan of it..." and I replied, "Neither am I." So two weeks from now, I will have some extensive labwork to determine various endocrine functions, including thyroid, reproductive, and insulin. Why this? I have two family members (aunt, uncle) who are diabetic, and I know that all systems work together. Nothing operates without affecting other systems. So better to know than not know. As I've said in a few other posts, I've come too far where ignorance is no longer bliss; knowledge really is power.

So I hope to have better news in the near future!!

And if you're in my area, only one weekend left to see Godspell!! Come to Clemson Little Theatre, or call them for reservations.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Sorry to Jerry Garcia...

But I'm changing one of your lyrics.....

Living on sugar, Vitamin B and caffeine,
All her friends can say is...... STOP & REST, GIRL!

Yes, it has been quite a last couple of weeks - hence, a missed post last week!

The downward trend continued last week but I'm awfully afraid this week will be a reversal of fortune. But I have been working out this week -- and *gasp* doing so first thing in the morning. Yup, for real! I've been getting to the gym around 6:00 AM, working out and getting ready and even getting to work early. And you know what I'm finding? I'm not going to bed any earlier.

I've been backsliding on my "no caffeine after 3:00" .... mostly because I don't relish the idea of falling asleep behind the wheel going from work to rehearsal. But you know, it is what it is.

All told, my goal for the next two weeks is to lose what I can, as I can. Work out whenever I can, and to just simply not sweat it. I find that when I stress over it, the weight issues just seem that much worse.

Move to a sweet groove in a happy place. Marvel at the miracles of human motion. How every system interacts so seamlessly that we don't even realize how well it works. Savor every bite, every flavor, every herb and spice that gave of itself to your experience at the table.

Life is good. Even with all the busy-ness and short spare time, I'm having a blast!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Honoring What Is Happening

This has been a rather eventful week for me -- tons of rehearsal time and a very special event at WW. We did an "Inspiration" event featuring several of us who'd lost over 100 pounds each. We had 135 people at the event -- UNBELIEVABLE!!! I got such a rush of energy from everyone, and I am in pure awe of everyone and their stories. We each had an event, a reason, a moment where we let go and realized that we needed some help....... and shared our stories, our successes, our moments of weakness. It was awesome!! I love special events like this, and I am always happy to even be a small part of them.

With the summer heat still in full swing, I've still got some of the retention issues going on... UGH. So I'm drinking my waters, trying hard not to overindulge in caffeine, watching my sodium wherever possible..... and still it didn't seem like enough. Last night was my scheduled massage, and I had a different massage therapist from usual. I was all knotted up, as poofy as the Stay-Puft man, and sorely in need (no pun intended) to have all the kinks and twists just taken out of me.

As I was being worked on in the silence, with just the soft music and lights to provide a touchstone, I felt a little embarrassed that the poor therapist had to work so hard on the problem areas. I mean, the poor fella was practically sweating trying to apply trigger point pressure on my upper back..... and the oddest thought occurred to me:

Honor what is happening in your body.

Do what? Say that again? I didn't catch it.

Honor what is happening in your body.

My body is telling me to stress less, rest more. My body is telling me it's okay to put my feet up, literally, for my health. My body is telling me that it's okay that I'm taking this medication if it is correcting an anomaly. My body is telling me that I need to let go ..... that as long as I don't let go of certain things, it cannot get rid of all that junk in me that clutters up the real me.

Honor what is happening in your body.

I am. I am going to stop trying to fight and start learning to accept. I am going to learn that I can control my food choices, my exercise routines, etc. but I cannot control all the other stuff. All I can control is how I react to what comes my way.

Strange new thoughts for a strange new world.

And how did it work for me? Down 1.2 this week. There just might be something to this after all!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A measure of success

This was an interesting week, after all the "feedback" I got last week. And it paid off this morning when I stepped on the scale and there was a loss. It wasn't a huge loss, but that's okay, it's moving in the right direction!

Did I do everything that I wanted to do, or had hoped to achieve? No. For the last three weeks or so, I have been really battling the late-night munchies. I mean, serious zombie-like forays, all after 10:00 PM. WHY? I don't know. If I knew, then I could figure out what I need to do to make it better.

In other news, my doctor is pleased so far with the results of my new medicine. So at least for the next few months, I'll be taking this daily medicine. While he may be happy, I admit that I am less thrilled. I prefer to take medicine only as needed, and it may be just a pride thing: "Nothing's wrong with me, just a speed bump." A maintenance med says (to me, anyway): "I have something ongoing, it's not just a speed bump." I know, it's crazy to think that way. But this is reality for me, at least for a while. So now I have to adjust to accommodate this new paradigm.

As Yoda would say, "Do or do not. There is no try." And so I must do. "Do not" is not an alternative for me.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Reviews: One Product, One Recipe

Product Review: Fiber One brownies

You've seen the commercial by now: the bouncer & velvet rope in the grocery store: "They were once off-limits, but now...." and the next thing you see is a bunch of already-skinny women dancing around and eating brownies.

So a couple of weeks ago, I bought a box of the chocolate peanut butter variety. One, they were on sale, and two, I was hungry, and plan-wise, they worked for me. After I checked out my cart and got my stuff in the car, I checked out one of the brownies....... And my verdict? Meh. They are not velvet-rope-worthy, but if you needed something quick and sugary then have at it.

However..... let me tell you how to not make them "meh" but something leaning more toward "wow": unwrap and heat very briefly in the microwave (I suggest no more than 15 seconds for a 1000+ watt microwave). Add 1/2 c of your favorite vanilla ice cream (I used Mayfield Creamier Church Vanilla Bean, because that was what I had in the freezer). Joy and happiness..... and MUCH tastier! With the reduced fat ice cream, it's 5 PPV (depending on your ice-cream). For Breyer's Fat-Free vanilla, it would knock it down to 4 PPV (2 for the brownie, 2 for the ice cream).

Recipe Review: Hungry Girl's Crab Rangoonies

I love the HG daily newsletter. And I love quite a few of the recipes in there. I have 2 or 3 of the HG books (I haven't gotten Hungry Girl's 300 Under 300 because I'm already overloaded with recipes and cookbooks right now). The other day, the newsletter was all in praise of wonton wrappers, and the wonderful things you can do with them....... As luck had it, I had just bought some the week before, intending to make chips with them, but this was a better idea! So I perused her list and came across Crab Rangoonies.

Back in the day, I would eat an entire order of crab rangoons from the Chinese place, along with whatever else I had ordered. My stomach, apparently, knew no bounds, and I truly shudder to think how much fat, sugar, and sodium I had consumed in that meal. While I still eat Chinese on very rare occasions (mostly due to the sodium factor), my mouth and stomach haven't seen crab rangoons in a very long time. :( Shame too because I love their ooey-gooeyness. Until.......

I finally got around to making them tonight for dinner. And may I say: they are all that, even without a bag o' chips. The recipe is fairly easy to make, though the preparation does take some time. But very, very yummy. I should have taken pictures, but I didn't think about it....

MMMM. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Seeing Daylight

I did it. Stepped up on the scale this morning and took my medicine. It wasn't as bad as it was yesterday morning. In fact, it was down 4 pounds from there..... still up four from last week (I think; I've actually lost track). So that tells me (a) there has got to be some water/fluid retention involved .... especially after having an MLD session yesterday and (b) I'm starting to see daylight.

My coworker/meeting leader did not want to write down the number on my employee weight slip. I told her to please do so anyway. The number doesn't lie. There was no excuse. No matter how bad the water retention was, I had still slipped.

And now I am picking myself up, dusting myself off, and starting all over again.

I know just what to do, and I know full well that it will take a couple of weeks to get back to normal. Heck, I want to get back to where I was before the recent "normal." And I can do it.

I have faith. I have faith that if I follow the plan as I should, I will succeed. I have faith in my ability to make good choices. I have faith in my capabilities to plan, to work hard, to succeed. I have faith that success breeds more success. That as I think, so I am.

I know I can succeed, and I know that a gentle discipline is necessary. I also know just how far I've come -- and while I cannot rest on my laurels, I can take great pride in all that I have done in 5 years.

And I know I am blessed to finally see daylight.

Friday, August 05, 2011

BOOM

That BOOM you heard around 6:00 AM Eastern time was me stepping on the scale this morning. Holy Mary, Mother of God.

Another week of the crazies. We had a death in our family (my uncle, dad's brother-in-law). If you have never seen a Southern funeral food spread, then you just have no idea. Meat-n-cheese trays, potato salads and coleslaws, fried chicken, every casserole with cream-of-something soup in it, wonderfully lovingly homemade desserts. Seriously, you just cannot believe it. Churches, neighbors, other family members: they all come to call, they come to grieve with you and they come bearing food. And usually there's nothing there that can be remotely friendly.

Add to the mix a very unexpected car repair. There went workouts, because right now, my only days are Wednesday nights. Sorry, no one could come get me until late, and working out at 8:30 PM when you have to wake at 5:00 AM .... no. It doesn't work that way. And when you have no car, you are at everyone else's mercy.

As I told my physical therapist earlier today, I'm puffed up like a tick at a dog show. Again, one of the little "side benefits" of lymphedema is greater propensity to retain fluids in high heat. Even she noticed my feet and hands are more swollen than usual. And it's not from lack of drinking water or other liquids, that's for sure. The Premphase doesn't help it either. In the wall chart you get that doubles as a biochemistry lesson, a/k/a "here's what this stuff does to you and the 400 million ways it can kill you if you have...." a couple of the side affects are "weight gain" and "increased fluid retention." I look like a frickin' sausage, so ya think?

Seven pounds up. Yeah. That's what my scale said this morning. Tomorrow's official weigh-in is going to be beyond ugly. But I'm going to own every bit of it. What else can I do? I made bad choices in bad situations, instead of doing the best I could. But no more.

It stops now. This is not the way I want to do things, I am NOT going back to what used to be. I'm smarter than that, I'm better than that, and I am not going to fail. I am done with whatever self-pity party my body and brain have decided to throw for themselves. For the mouth of the Nettie hath spoken it (Oooh, memories of Christmas music past.... begone!)

And the new beginning happened tonight. I worked late and had an errand, but I was determined to get SOME exercise in. And I did.... I did a short routine, mostly cardio, but it was something. Not perfect, but something was better than nothing! And I am taking a tour next week of a fitness place closer to work, even if it's just for a short term solution while the rehearsal schedule is in place.

And to you, bad choices, I am O.V.E.R. (Onward, Victorious, Ever-Rising) and D.O.N.E. (Diva Overcoming Negative Energies). No more wallowing, no more excuses, onto better (and smaller) things...... and true health.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Spoon and the Damage Done

(with all apologies to Neil Young)

Full disclosure: This was a week. I'd like to say I did this purposely, as an experiment, but that would be a total fabrication. I'd like to say, "I purposely had a rotten week as an example of what not to do -- of do as I say, not as I do." And I'd like to say, "I'm on HRT, and all the chemical changes are just making me into a sugar-seeking monster." While this is what happened, it surely was not done on purpose, and I can't blame Premphase for it either. It's on me, all me. Amazingly enough, only by the pure grace of God (and a good workout last night) did it not affect the scale. And I can't even do a happy dance for that, because I was fully expecting way worse, and deserved whatever I got.

Still, I don't consider myself fallen from grace or anything like that. I am not going to beat myself up over this. Throughout this journey, one thing I have learned - and am still learning - is that self-flagellation does no good. I made bad choices, but I am not a bad person. I messed up, but I am not messed-up. Big difference there. Too often, there's so much of an all-or-nothing mentality, especially with weight-loss and weight-maintenance. "Oh dear, I had one donut and I gained 3 pounds. Well, might as well go eat the other 11 KK's, I blew it." Oh come on, we've all said it or thought it. "Oh crap, I ate half the bag of chips? Damn, might as well eat the rest." And we beat ourselves up when it shows up on the scale, or we nearly kill ourselves with exercise to somehow redeem ourselves. Literally, there is a whole sermon I could go on from here, but I'm trying not to do that.

Okay, so what have I learned this week:

1. Put down the simple carbs: I gotta ease up on the carbs in general. But I especially need to steer clear of the simple, refined carbs. Prime example: I bought a reduced-fat ice cream that I thought would be tasty and yet (relatively) better for me. Given my indulging in that this week, full-fat chocolate or vanilla would have been smarter. Even as I ate it, I knew it was crud marketed as "better" and I kept shoveling it in. Not again. If I'm gonna have ice cream, I'm sticking to Breyer's Fat Free, and probably most often the vanilla. At least I can put some fresh fruit over it or even some Walden-Farms no-calorie chocolate syrup. Or one of the Torani or DaVinci coffee syrups too. Mmm, the possibilities.

2. Pick up the lean protein: No question. The nights I had protein in late afternoon or evening, the better I did. And that being said, either lean meats or an omelet. Much as I love edamame, it seems to suit me better as a snack than as the primary protein for dinner. Yeah. Ya think?

3. Clean it up: Basically, I need to get back to cleaner eating. I tried it last summer when I was really struggling and it helped tremendously. And I'm finding that caffeine and sodium are becoming real issues for me, especially the sodium in this hot weather. I tend to retain more in the summer heat, one of the little lovely parting gifts of lymphedema (and tell her what else she's won, Don Pardo!). The caffeine is just something that I'm finding I don't need nearly as much as I thought. I've cut out caffeinated drinks as much as possible after 3:00 PM, avoiding the caffeinated sodas and even trying to stay clear of tea unless it's clearly labeled "caffeine free." BTW, quick product endorsement: Tazo Zero Calorie Unsweetened bottled teas - the "Refresh" is a mint one that is soooooo good!

4. HUP-2-3-4: Making time for daily exercise. I love my workouts (yes, I actually uttered this phrase). However, apparently 3 days a week, even busting it for an hour at a time, isn't enough. So even with the crazy life I have for the next 6 weeks, I'm just gonna have to bite the bullet and do it. I am going to have to wake up even earlier and go do cardio, and save my whole-body workouts for non-rehearsal days. Now the trick will be to find a gym on the way to work, and buy a one-month pass just so I can pack a bag, shower and change there and drive on (my gym, unfortunately, doesn't offer shower space). And apparently, keep a healthy breakfast at the office too.

It's all in the planning. Yeah, planning. There's another whole sermon there. Me, who advocates it and usually lives by it, having to remind myself of the value of a good plan. But mainly, I've got to quit "Flirting with Disaster," "Living on the Edge" and "Cruisin"...... and REALLY refocus on healthier living.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thomas Wolfe Was Right....

This week, I attended (and acted as a breakout session leader) for a wellness symposium. During the main portion of the presentation, I heard a repeat of all the figures that I have known about wellness, the state of our health, etc., some of which I mentioned in last week's post. And somehow, it still manages to shock me. It is unbelievable at how much healthcare is costing our nation, in so many ways. I cannot fathom how one can hear those figures and do nothing.

The buzzphrase of my life in my 40s has been "educate and advocate" .... that seems to crop up over and over. And so it is still. This was something that I hope I passed on to the people in my group. We have to educate ourselves, and to educate each other. And once we have that knowledge then we must advocate for those who have no voice, or whose voice is unheard and unheeded.

Thomas Wolfe said you can't go home again, and he's right. Once you have knowledge, you cannot go back to ignorance. You cannot "unknow" something. Nor should you. And once you have knowledge on one area, then you will find that there is a tie-in to something else .... and you want to learn about a connecting area, and then you'll see how the web is woven..... you will want to do what you can to improve things. You will be angry and saddened and passionate. It might not be about food or health or wellness, but it will be about something that resonates deep within you and makes you a better person.

I'd like to close with a few profound insights from Margaret Mead:

1. "There is no greater insight into the future than recognizing... when we save our children, we save ourselves."

2. "Never ever depend on governments or institutions to solve any major problems. All social change comes from the passion of individuals."

3. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Don't Get It....

Wellness is a big push at most companies and that's no exception for our parent company. Bottom line is, the bottom line is being eroded by healthcare costs as a national trend. Ask any company in any field of any size. For the last two years, as part of the benefits package, our parent company has rolled out wellness initiatives including online personal health assessments (PHA's), biometric screenings, and offered a discount on employee premiums, just for taking part in those measures. There's even a nifty voluntary program where they will send you information if your screening/PHA shows an area of concern -- just information for you to discuss with your doctor and maybe a call from a wellness nurse or other employee to see if you received it, have questions, etc.

While my division does not take part in the corporate initiative (long story and not really germane) we have done a few things on our own. One wellness program in which we took part was the American Heart Association's START! program -- we did the National START! Eating Healthy Day as well as the START! Heart Walk. I'd love to see 100% turnout for both, but then again, I'd love to see a winning lottery ticket shoot forth for me too.

Our work with the AHA has led me to working on a symposium with them next week on Corporate Wellness. As a presenter, I've been reading up on wellness news. For part of my presentation, I decided to throw in a slide about "Shape of the State" .... and pulled up lots of statistics from federal and state groups, as well as private wellness foundations.

Fellow South Cacks, we are in a world of hurt. If you weren't already aware, the "F is for Fat" initiative released their studies earlier this week and the whole country's in bad shape -- literally. ONE state has an adult obesity rate at under 20%. So mazel tov, Colorado, you're doing something right! South Carolina's rank is 8th worst. That's an "improvement" over 4th in a previous year's release.... but the bad news is that other states have caught up and passed us, so it's not a real improvement.

In fact, here's the most mind-blowing statistic of all:
"Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent. Fifteen years ago, Mississippi had the highest obesity rate, at 19.4 percent, which is lower than the lowest ranking state today, (Colorado at 19.8 percent)."

And I don't get it.

I don't get why we insist on digging our graves with a spoon, tilling the soil with a fork.
I don't get why we are afraid to move an extra muscle or two except to lift 12 ounces at a time.
I don't get why we frequent restaurants and chow down a double or triple-size portion of food, and cackle at our cleverness.
I don't get why we have forgotten how much fun it was to be a kid and bike all over our town and now we won't even step off our porches to walk around the block.

You know what? I've forgotten what it was like back in the day. I've forgotten what it's like to feel drained to just breathe. I've forgotten what it's like to pile food on my plate and stretch my stomach beyond normal limits because I thought I needed it. I've forgotten what it was like to come home and just do nothing. Yes, I do too much but you know something else? I have the energy now to keep up with it - not a limitless supply (see earlier posts) but way more than I would have ever imagined.

And I don't get how I lived like that for so long. I don't get how I could have let myself just go that way. I don't get how. I don't get why.

What I get is the amazing feeling I have now. As for me, if the price of 20 more years of good life is to eat broccoli, move my butt more often, and get regular medical care -- I'll pay it!! Life is fantastic, and I'm just sorry it took me so long to realize what I squandered in my early years.

The good news is that it's never too late to stop where you are and start fresh. Every day is a do-over. For those of us who are moving within a healthier lifestyle (and keep aiming high), we know that one meal is not the downfall.... it's in the refusal to get up and keep trying.

And that's one thing I will never get.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Visualize and Attack

Many years ago, a very wise woman wrote, "If you don't like your life, change it." It took a few years after reading her book to put that advice to my life, but I finally did in a couple of areas. I continue to make changes as needed to make my life even better. As I mentioned last week, the stresses of my life are playing havoc with me. So this week, I did exactly as I'd planned to do to divest myself of some of those stresses.

The massage was great -- so good, in fact, that I bought a membership in their wellness program, entitling me to a free massage each month. My next one is in two weeks and I cannot wait. I'd love to have a weekly one, but right now, I can't be that indulgent. After next June when Pearl is paid for.... maybe! But once a month is easy enough. So that's a plus! I think what I appreciated most was just finally being able to let go for a little while and be present in that moment, to know that all I had to do was be there and allow someone else to take the controls for just a sliver of time. For a control freak like myself, that was a major milestone. To simply be. Not to do anything; just be.

For my sleep debt issue, one big step that I took this week was to forgo caffeine after 3:00 PM -- at least as much as possible. I forgot and had unsweetened tea a couple of times. Even on those nights I found myself winding down earlier, about 30 minutes on average. Hey, that means I'm getting six hours instead of five-and-a-half. And guess what? No catnaps on lunch hour either. Oh my. Imagine that. Baby steps, but important ones.

Working out more regularly this week has helped too -- and bonus points for hitting the gym on the Fourth! Besides the good that it does my body, it does my mind and soul good too. At least it's made me forget everything else while concentrating on correct form (and the routine itself!) Amazing how just being there in the moment helps this part of my life as well.

I think that's been key this week: simply being there, in the moment, when I needed to be.

Not to say I still don't have some stress..... Tuesday was crazy with early payroll and forgetting that a couple of folks were out of the office all week. DUH. I haven't yet heard back about my labwork from last week, so they will be getting a call from me tomorrow. Regardless of what the numbers may or may not say, I know that something is not right, and I am determined to find the answers. And I surely didn't like what the scale said earlier today .... kind of kvetched about that in the car on the way home tonight. But you know, really, it is what it is. And I know what it takes to succeed, and now I can let it go.

For all these things, the answer is simple: Visualize and attack.... yeah, just like in The Waterboy. Visualize what I want and go for it. Whether it's weight loss or maintenance, stress relief, time management, new workouts, you just have to visualize and attack. Picture what you want. Focus on it. Determine how you are going to make it happen. Plan accordingly. Attack. Evaluate. Re-focus. Begin again. Every moment, every day.

Are there things beyond my control? Uh, did the sun rise in the east this morning? Will it set in the west? OF COURSE. I have come to the belief that somehow the universe allows us just the amount of control that we should have and the rest lies in a power beyond us. ("Wise, but you have much to learn, grasshopper!") Yet that does not absolve us from acting upon the things that we can control -- and doing so with the best of our ability, enthusiasm, drive, and power.

Visualize and attack. Sounds like a great plan for this week. Control what the universe allows me, and quit fretting over what is not in my power and control. Yep.... it's gonna be good this week.

I leave you with a quote from Helen Keller: "So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied." POWERFUL.

Go forth and conquer!!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Moving forward and looking back...

I have to laugh, smile, and give a little thanks. Okay, a lot of thanks.

After I published my last post, a dear friend in the Pacific Northwest e-mailed me with a laundry list of information on how sleep debt can wreak havoc on the body. She's a naturopathic doctor, and believe me, I listened. I started doing some reading on my own, and she's spot on. A lot of medical information out there and research on sleep debt, sleep deprivation and how it impacts everything in your system. Add a billion pounds from the stress of the weight of the world on one's shoulder and ...... well, you'll see me.

So I have taken definite action. I have an appointment this coming Tuesday for a massage. Now I've had massage therapy before with chiropractic, and I've had a few chair massages, but it's not the same as an hour on a table. I am SO looking forward to this. I remember reading a passage in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood where Vivi is on the massage table with a million worries dancing through her head and old memories surfacing and she just cries and cries and cries while she's being worked on. I can see that happening to me .... and I won't care at all. Let the tears come if they have to.

And I took a small step this weekend. It's going to sound silly, but I revisited a piece of my past so that I could sleep in this morning. I went to a Saturday Mass at one of the parishes for which I previously worked. I ran into a lot of the people I had known and enjoyed working with for years. There was one lady in particular I ran into -- I hadn't seen her in years, but I knew she'd be there. I think about her when I drive home on a certain road. She lives in a subdivision off this highway, and I sometimes thought about just stopping by her house to say hi.... but then I always go, "Aw, no, I couldn't do that." So I saw her last night and she just couldn't believe it! I also saw a couple of parishioners there who helped me so much back in the day, when I was having a serious health issue. He is a physician (albeit not in that specialty) and his wife is a nurse (now a stay-at-home mom). When I was having health issues about 8 years ago, my coworker asked them after church one weekend what advice they would give me if I had another flare-up. His advice was spot-on, and saved me a lot of trouble in the long run. I looked decidedly differently than those years ago, when I woke up in a hospital bed to see him standing at the foot asking how I was doing. Again, not even his patient, not in his specialty, but he was kind enough to reach out. And her advice on what to do in the meantime was extremely helpful!

But even better, I ran into one of my old dear friends.... okay, a "trouble buddy." I have some wonderful friends in my life, several of whom fall into this category. There are "LifeSavers" - they are the ones you call for bail money. "Trouble Buddies" are the ones in the pokey WITH you! Yep, she and I had some adventures back in the day! We sat together, laughed together, then went out for dinner afterwards. It was so much fun! It was an evening without stress, without a care, just lots of laughs and good memories.

And yes, I slept in, at least as long as my dog would allow. Boo-Boo is a built-in alarm clock. Not that he has to go outside, just wondering why you're not up, since you're usually up by now..... and it's a beautiful glorious morning of sunshine, warm (hot) weather, and the knowledge that I can do it again tomorrow!!! (Tuesday, another story.... but we're not looking that far ahead!)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Need of An Adjustment

Every two weeks, I go to a chiropractor for an adjustment. I first used chiropractic care about 15 years ago when I had a lower back issue. I went every week for about 18 months, mostly for maintenance once the issue was cleared up. I had the same problem recur a few years afterwards during a time of great stress in my life, and so back to chiropractic care I went. I found it amazing that the issue diminished as soon as my major stressor went away.... hmm. Imagine that.

This time I go for normal maintenance.... and because my shoulders and upper back are in a constant state of tension. How much is due to the normal stresses of life and how much is due to some other things.... I don't know. I'm sure that my back and shoulders are not helped by the massive amounts of excess skin that I carry. I'm sure that it also doesn't help to have gravity affect my upper front so that I tend to "pitch forward." But a lot of it is due to just plain old stress. Imagine my surprise when my chiropractor said to me (while trying to adjust my shoulders): "You have got to let go of some of this stress...."

I couldn't say much except, "I know."

I don't talk much about the stress, except with treasured, trusted friends. Suffice to say there's been way more of it than I would like, and lately my responses to the stress have not been ideal. The worst part is the moodiness; "turn on a dime" is a good descriptor for it. Plenty of days, it doesn't take much. Part of it is what's going on with my life, and another part of it is sleep debt. Do not tell me sleep debt is not an issue. If my sleep debt were the national budget, Congress would be fighting over getting me balanced. Right now, I'm averaging 5.5 hours a night, 6 nights a week. I know there are links to sleep debt and weight control. I know that all this -- the stress, my reactions, and the sleep debt -- is not helping me keep my weight as well-maintained as I'd like. I am struggling lately, more than I would like. From reviewing my journals (yet another way tracking pays!), there isn't an issue with my food choices or the portions. So I don't know..... and if there's something that bothers me to no end, it's not having the answers.

What I do know is this: I am fighting myself, and I am losing. This is not a feeling I like. I don't like the moodiness, I don't like the tiredness, I don't like the exhaustion and exasperation I feel. I don't like me this way.

I'm not sure what the plan is right now. I'm not sure what is going to work. I have some ideas, but I need to ponder them a little more. I know there is an answer to all this. I have some ideas and possibilities, but I need to ponder them a little more before I take action.

Yep. It's time for an adjustment in a million ways. So I'm making the time on this holiday weekend to form a plan and make it work. I need to discover a regrouped, revised, refined, revitalized, reborn me. I like the sound of that.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Really Eating Us?

This week, our topic was all about recognizing our hunger signals..... how to listen to our body, and as our leader said, "honor our hunger." We have to recognize that it is there, feed it well without overfeeding, and move on. Wow.... there are so many topics there, I truly hardly know where to start.

One of the things I kept thinking about is that we need to honor our physical hunger, and yet acknowledge our other hungers.... which when unsatisfied can lead us to overeat. We can't satisfy the emotional or spiritual hunger within us, so we stuff it down with food we don't need. Many years ago, I bought a great devotional guide called Food for the Hungry Heart by Cynthia Rowland McClure, with daily thoughts, prayers, etc. At the time, I was climbing toward my heaviest weight, knowing that a lot of what she said was true -- but denying that it really applied to me. Right? I was happy. I had a full life. But I am amazed at just how much better my life is since I started this journey toward health and wholeness. There were things I was trying to pacify with food instead of with deeper introspection. I was in denial - Don't Even kNow I Am Lying.

As I reflected on the topic, I thought about a kid named Franky (not his real name) who was very close to some of my extended family. Franky was born with a slew of difficulties to overcome: congenital physical issues and limitations, as well as mental disabilities which just compounded things. Add to that one distant parent and one who was overindulgent ... it all combined to make a recipe for disaster. By the time he was a teen, he was already right around 300 pounds. Indulgent Parent would throw up hands and say, "Well, am I supposed to padlock the cabinets?" or "But Mickey D's is his favorite place...." As a teen, Franky was sent to a major children's medical facility in another state for intervention. It worked for a while, but he never seemed to be able to set limits for himself -- and the indulgent parent just couldn't face saying no to Franky.

A couple of years ago, they discovered that Franky had yet another problem: Prader-Willi Syndrome. It suddenly made perfect sense: it wasn't just Franky's mental limits giving him troubles in managing food, he truly physically lacked the control mechanism for satiety. Time between meals or snacks or mindless eating meant zero ... he was always hungry. His health, already fragile enough from his childhood situations, was shot to pieces by his girth. Sadly, it is very little wonder that he died before age 30 about a year ago. He was cremated because a casket for someone his size was way more than his family could afford.

Franky couldn't get full, physically (and in other ways too). And so many of us are the same way, never getting satisfied no matter what. The food satisfies our physical hunger but not the soul ache. As my first leader was fond of saying, "If hunger is not the problem, food is not the answer." And she was right. No hamburger, pizza, cake, pie, ice cream, popcorn, whatever will soothe a pained heart or soul .... it just compounds it by making you feel guilty for overindulging. It's okay to cry. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to say "No, that doesn't work for me" or "No, I can't do that."

Feed the true hunger. Find it and feed it tenderly, gently, slowly and just to satisfaction. Dig deep. Sure, there may be pain in the discovery, but it is far better than trying to mask it with something that isn't going to solve the issue.

And honor your physical hunger by making good choices when you do need to eat.

Live well. Laugh often. Love deep and strong.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast....

Things have been interesting in my world for these past few days. But a couple of really nice things have happened along the way too. I got in my workouts this week (YAY ME!) including the new "power routine" ... I didn't get in the follow-up cardio, but I did get in the lifting! I was pleasantly amazed that it's manageable. It's not easy, mind you, but definitely manageable. The other nice thing is that my garden has been wonderfully watered by nature this week. The storms have left some damage in their wake ... such as not having any power at work on Thursday and running off a generator, but the natural watering has been a nice side benefit!

So last night, after the WW meeting, I was sitting at Jason's Deli. I could turn this space into an ad for them, but I'll refrain. I was chowing down on a beautiful rainbow salad and thinking, "How often do we really think about the food we're eating? Do we really take the time to discover and appreciate the taste of each ingredient or the varieties of things?" For example, I always get a salad bar trip .... and I always go for the baby mixed greens as my salad base. The mesclun usually is red and green leaf lettuces, arugula, maybe even a baby chard or two. Big difference there between the arugula (spicy) and the red leaf lettuce (mild), and yet very complementary. I had yellow and red bell pepper slices -- slight differences there as well. The red is sweet, but it had a slight hint of the fire it could have contained but for a twist or two of a DNA helix.

And that's when it occurred to me that we don't really often appreciate it enough.... there's such variety of taste, texture, scent, flavor, etc. but we're usually too busy inhaling the food to consider it. I am preaching to myself. Last night, I made the time to enjoy it, but all too often, food isn't a pleasure but just fuel for the next leg of the day's journey. Today was a mixed bag: I could tell you the various things in my lunch salad, but the turkey sandwich... well, it was just your basic turkey on white (I meant to ask for wheat and forgot... ugh!). Tasty but I mainly ate it for fuel, the salad as well, but it had enough distinct things that I remembered more of it.

I get a million health/wellness/foodstuff newsletters, e-mails, etc. I've chosen to subscribe to quite a few and I enjoy reading them at my leisure (insert massive guffaw there). Okay, I skim them. One that I do enjoy reading more about is Slow Food USA. I like a lot of what they represent -- and it challenges me to really think about my food. It challenges me to slow down... not only in terms of how we get our food from farm to table, but how we get it from table to body. From stomach to brain.

We Americans are far too guilty of wolfing down our food and not really enjoying it as we should. I've just bought Dr. David Kessler's The End of Overeating ... I kind of skimmed it and am going to dive deeper into it. But one of the things that he mentions is how in many countries, meal time is rest time. Time to enjoy the company of friends and family, to savor what has been prepared (whether in your own kitchen or a restaurant). One of the things he mentions is how little other countries snack because they are satiated at meal time. I think part of that is because they take time. They allow for the 20-30 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain, "Nah, I'm good, you can stop now." How often I prepare a nutritious lunch and STILL wolf it down because I have to run an errand on lunch hour .... or I pull into a drive-through for a quick dinner because it's 8:00 PM and I'm too tired and hungry to go home and prepare something or even to heat leftovers.

Just something to consider....

And hey, Upstate peeps, did you know there's a local chapter of SlowFood USA here? Check out Slow Food Upstate.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Keeping track....

This week's topic was all about tracking .... and to help keep us on track, those of us who have been working Saturday mornings have been passing around a tracker among ourselves, to help us be more accountable.

Throughout my 5 years of being a WW member, tracking has never been a problem or issue. I would say that 95% of the time, I am a pretty faithful tracker. Even when I was following Simply Filling, I tracked to keep up with my weekly allowance, and to help me see where I needed to tweak things. During my transition to PointsPlus, tracking was utterly essential ....

For the first four years, I tracked in my journals faithfully. It has only been within the last year or so that e-Tools has become my preferred method of tracking. I'm on a computer all day, I figure I might as well take 2-3 minutes at lunch time to track what I eat (I track breakfast at home, snack & lunch then, afternoon snack & dinner at home, as well as any evening treats).

Anyway, this week was my week to take the paper journal and commit to it..... And I have been very faithful about tracking this week, both online and on paper. So what did I learn this week?

1. That holy crap, am I in a rut..... same breakfast, every morning. Of course, I have the same breakfast 98% of the time: cereal (mostly Kashi GoLean original), milk, banana, and blueberries (at least lately). Pros - it's quick, and I know the PPV. And it WORKS to keep me from snacking the minute I get to work. Cons - well, it's the same old same old. New plan: a different breakfast idea at least 2 times a week.

2. Snack rut too --- fruit in the morning, popcorn in the afternoon. Pros: it works. Cons: zzzzz. Okay, seriously, the afternoon one may not be working so well, especially when I have a late night. This week, I had a couple of late nights in a row, and it meant that one night, I went about four hours between popcorn and a real meal. It held, but I could have done much better. New plan: think of a new afternoon snack, if nothing else. The fruit works well in the morning, but I need more protein in the afternoon. Think hummus or boiled egg (which I have on hand!)

3. Exercise -- I definitely need to do more each day. Right now, I have a 2x-week interval routine, a 1x-week "power routine" but I need to do something at least 2 more times during the week. Starting this week, for the first time in 6 months, my schedule will finally ... finally ... finally stabilize. So with that in mind.... New Plan: Walk Maddox two mornings or very late evenings a week -- probably Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.

And the best part of the week's tracking: Monday and today were both incredibly harried and hurried and horrific. Monday, it seemed that everyone had a question that only I could answer, or a problem that only I could solve (I exaggerate... slightly... very slightly). Today... OMG. Do not even ask.... two words: DMV and Hacked Account (okay, that's technically 3 words - and 2 completely separate problems!). Neither day did I even think about stuffing my face with food. Didn't even consider it. Both days, I had too much on my plate (so to speak) ... food, not even part of the equation. WHEW. Not that I want all that stress -- God, no, please, not. But I like the knowledge that I do not have to turn to food. That's big.

Here's hoping this week finds you on track, back on track, planning to get on track, or even just wondering which way the track runs.....

YOU CAN DO IT!!!!

Monday, June 06, 2011

How is my garden growing?

Actually, very well!

I transplanted all the tomato plants, the orange bell pepper plant, the zucchini, and the cucumber plants to my raised bed. I am using Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Garden Soil for the raised bed; I had been using the same thing, but the "container soil" for the pots. The next things to be transplanted -- probably tomorrow night -- will be the salad greens, the broccoli, and the eggplant seedlings that survived.

The herbs are doing well, as are the berry plants (both strawberry & blueberry). I would like to get another blueberry bush.... maybe this weekend!

I will take pictures of everything tomorrow night to show off!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Guest Post: Grab and Go Breakfasts!


Good Morning! My name is Angie and I blog over at Successful Together. I am SO excited to be here with you today!! Annette is a super lady, whom I had the pleasure of meeting through our Saturday morning WW meeting in Seneca. When she asked me to do a guest post featuring Grab and Go Breakfasts, I was THRILLED!

There are a few different levels of Grab and Go breakfasts. You can start with the true grab and go's that require little to no prep, Fresh Fruits. If nothing else, these can hold you over til you can get somewhere to have a more staying breakfast. Most of the recipes and items I will feature below should be ready in under 3 minutes, or can be prepped ahead to make it even easier to get in a good meal to get your day started on the right foot (or left, if thats the direction you so choose!)

PS Pardon the wonky-ness of some of the text not matching. Just roll with it!


Breakfast Smoothies
Smoothies are super refreshing and easy to make. Most can be prepped ahead so all you have to do it throw the ingredients in the blend, mix up and go. When I first started making smoothies, they were HUGE. SO large they would keep me full til lunch. I have slowly learned how to downsize them and keep them enjoyable.


Angie's Green Monster.

1 small apple, cored and diced
1 small banana, sliced and frozen
3 stalks of kale (but just the leafy parts!)
1/2 cup milk, slightly frozen 
( i put mine in the freezer for about 30 minutes)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon of PB2
a few drops of vanilla flavoring
(just PPV from the PB2 & your Milk!)







1 Frozen banana

2 pineapple rings
1 oz 1/3 less fat Philly Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Peach Propel zero
Combine ingredients in blender and blend until 

smooth. ~3 Points+





Yellow Morning Sunshine Smoothie
Ingredients:
3/4 cup mashed butternut squash, with brown sugar & cinnamon
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen peaches
2 dole pineapple rings (canned in its own juice)
about 1 cup of water
2 Points+ (brown sugar, spray butter from the squash)



Solid Foods: Quick and Easy
Sometimes it is nice to have go to quick and easy dishes that are easy to transport. These are some of my favorites!



Turkey Egg and Cheese Sandwich
Ingredients:
2 Slices light wheat bread
1 egg
1 slice cheese
1 serving turkey deli meat ( I used Oscar Mayer)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation:
Put your bread in the toaster.
Spray a small (1-2 cup size) microwave safe container
 with pan spray. Beat egg in container, add salt and pepper. 
Microwave on high for about 1 minute. CONTAINER WILL BE
 HOT! =) Be careful when removing from the microwave. 
While toast is finishing, put the deli meat in the microwave 
for about 30 seconds. I normally will put it on a saucer 
plate in about the size and shape of the bread.
Once your toast is done, put the meat on the bread, 
top with cheese, and then turn the scrambled egg 
out on top of the cheese. Serve and Enjoy!
About 7 Points+ depending on your ingredients!


Ingredients: makes 1 serving
1/2 cup (130g) Sweet potatoes, canned in syrup, 


syrup drained, then mashed.
1/2 cup pineapple tidbits, canned in own juice, juice drained

1/4 cup quick oats
about 2 tablespoons of water
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 packet splenda with fiber

mix all of the ingredients together, stir to combine well.

Since I noticed some of the moisture cooked out yesterday,
I put a saucer over my bowl this morning before I 
heated it in the microwave to hold it in a bit. Heat in 
microwave for about 1-1.25 minutes. serve and enjoy =)

5 Points+ for all of it =)
Say hello to your breakfast with about 13% of you 

DRV Iron, 230% Vitamin A, and 55% Vitamin C.


Pineapple and Strawberry Ricotta
Ingredients:
2 pineapple rings, diced and rinsed
3 oz strawberries, stems removed, diced and rinsed
1/4 cup ricotta
1 packet splenda with fiber

Combine pineapple, strawberries and splenda in food

processor until coarse.
Top ricotta, stir and serve!
Just the Points+ from your ricotta!


Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito
Ingredients
1 flour tortilla
1 Egg (you could use egg beaters)
1 tbspoon 2% cheese
1 tbspoon salsa




LINE 2-cup microwave-safe cereal bowl with
microwave-safe paper towel.PRESS tortilla into bowl. 
BREAK egg into center of tortilla. BEAT egg gently 
with a fork until blended, being careful not to tear tortilla.
( I beat mine in a separate bowl!) 
MICROWAVE on HIGH 30 seconds; stir. (I didnt stir mine!) 
MICROWAVE until egg is almost set, 15 to 30 seconds longer.
REMOVE tortilla with paper towel liner from bowl to flat surface. 
TOP egg with cheese and salsa. FOLD bottom of tortilla 
over egg, then fold in sides.

5-6 PointsPlus Depending on your cheese! :)



Solid Food: Make ahead:
Make ahead and freeze, then just reheat and run!









Thank you Annette for having me! I hope this has inspired you to try something new! And we all know that breakfast foods are good anytime of the day!