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.....


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

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
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
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!