Monday, April 6, 2015

True Confessions

Hello All-

It's been awhile since I've written. Too long, I know. I was enjoying writing this blog but a little daunted by trying to write every day, so when I had some bigger writing projects come up, I ended up letting go of the blog, but I want to get back to it. It helps me personally to hold myself a little accountable for how I'm doing when it comes to taking care of myself through food and exercise, but I also love being part of a community of like-minded people like you who want to take better care of themselves. I benefit and I think others benefit as well. Not sure how often I will post, but I'm thinking about two times a week or so. We'll see how it goes.

So, to start it up again, the obvious question is, "Where am I at with my food and healthy lifestyle choices?" A funny question to ask oneself the day after Easter weekend, which also ended up being one of my children's birthday weekends as well (with the requested favorite meals birthdays involve, of course), but I've asked it and so here's my true confessions:

Overall, I am doing way better than I was in 2014. I continue to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains overall. I've also eaten less sugar. I haven't managed to kick sugar out altogether, but I am a more conscious consumer overall. The good news is that through these dietary changes, I have lowered my cholesterol 30 points, which is fantastic, but I have a ways to go because it was pretty high (LDL has long been the problem).

And so while there is good news, there is also some not so good news and here it is: I have gained back some weight and while I'm frustrated with myself for that, I'm not going to wallow in my frustration over the weight gain. I do want to lose weight and I want to keep it off, but overall, I want my focus to be more on how I am feeling than how I look, and it is super clear to me after several months of more conscious eating, that I usually feel the best on the days I eat the best.

For example, before Easter weekend (when I did overindulge several times), I went for 7 days without any sweets. I had a little sugar in my wheat bread and a little maple syrup in my oatmeal, but other than that, I had no other sugar and while oddly, I didn't lose a pound, I did feel really, really good. I slept better and my moods felt smoother. My energy level was higher throughout the day.

I want more of that. With that said, after a couple of days of crazy eating this weekend, it's going to take a few days to detox from the sugar, but I'm hoping it won't be too bad...that I'll stay motivated because I know how good it feels to feel good from eating good. Stay tuned. I'll report back.

What commitment do you want to make for yourself this week, something that will have you feeling better in the next week than you feel today? I promise to eat at least at least one large green salad a day to boost my fruit and vegetable intake. You do your part and I'll do mine, and we'll both have a great week. Here's to eating good and feeling good!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is Eating the Healthiest of Us All?

Have you ever talked to someone who conveys an air of superiority about how they are eating compared to you? Or, have you ever felt smug about your own attempts at eating healthy compared to someone else?

These days, I think it’s pretty easy to fall into either of these categories because there are so many ideas, often conflicting, about how we should be eating. I have listened to people who think that dairy products should never be consumed and others who think that only a lunkhead would consume white flour or sugar on their birthday. Some people feel that the only way go is to eat completely vegan, and while maybe that is right for them, it may not be right for the rest of us.

More and more, I have seen individuals take healthy eating on a as a competition with others. At first, it starts out as a few friendly suggestions of what the other person might consider doing better, but quickly becomes a daunting list of things that makes the listener feel like a total loser when it comes to eating healthy, and ready to give up.  

My Advice: Don’t engage in the competition. Eating healthy is not about doing better than someone else. Rather, it is about doing the best for ourselves in a way that sets us up for ongoing success. 

Click HERE to see a short and hilarious comedy sketch video by Studio C about two people who are trying to outdo each other with how healthy they eat. Great for a good laugh.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Power of Making One Change

In the past, when I've set my mind to taking better care of myself, I've oftentimes tried to make too
many changes at once and ended up failing gloriously to make any real changes at all. I don’t know why I’ve persisted in doing this again and again over the years after failing at it so many times, but I get it now – that for me, trying to make too many changes at once is the perfect recipe for failure. And I don’t want to fail anymore.

With that said, a question comes to mind – is it possible to make just one change and have that change make a real impact in our lives?

The answer is yes. There is probably not a time in my life that illustrates this better than when I started taking a weight-lifting class called Body Pump several years ago

I remember that first morning well. I had just walked into the gym when my friend Debbie (who also happens to be a fitness instructor) asked if I was there to attend her weight-lifting class. I had never attended before. I was not a fitness class person, but instead of saying no, for some crazy reason, I asked what time the class started.

Five minutes later, I was setting up my weights in the class, thinking, “Okay, I’ll do it just this once,” but on that first day I realized how much more I would get out of attending that class than lifting weights on my own, so I have returned twice a week, most weeks, ever since. And I am so much stronger than I was that there is no comparison to who I was before I started taking that class and who I am now – a woman who can easily do more squats or bench presses than I care to count.

So, if you, like me, wonder if maybe the best answer to better health might be making one real change at a time instead of attempting to make many at once, give it a try. Success is very likely just up the road.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Accountability Check-In: Starting the Week with a Bang

It feels good to be eating healthier again today. I don't feel too bad about the splurges I had this weekend because, with less effort than in the past, I am back in the saddle today. It helped that I made an extra concerted effort to eat super healthy overall today.

For dinner, I kept it simple by focusing on fresh made hummus (yum) with celery and carrot sticks and broccoli as well as some fresh grapefruit. I am stuffed and satisfied and feeling terrific. And I'm looking forward to waking up tomorrow morning feeling better than I did this morning when I woke with those post-splurge cravings.

A Different Kind of Pleasure

This weekend, I enjoyed some splurges – some Finnish Chocolates, a couple of fun-size Almond Joys, and a few pumpkin chocolate chip muffins as well as about a dozen of those Valentine’s Day conversation hearts. For some, all of that in one weekend may have been considered a binge. For me, it was a giant splurge because I’ve done worse. Much worse.

I enjoyed every bit of it as I ate it, but there was a heavy price to pay this morning. I woke ravenously hungry despite the fact that I had probably consumed more calories this weekend than I had in the previous five days. It was that terrible hunger that makes me feel like I can never get enough to eat, but I knew the answer – get back to the healthiest possible eating, so I started this morning with a big bowl of oatmeal and flaxseed with a small salad on the side, and I have felt quite a bit better since.

Not long ago, when my son and I sat down to share a perfect red grapefruit as a snack, he said, “Mom, eating healthy is a different kind of pleasure,” and I have to agree. When I eat something that is delicious and nutritious, the rewards go far beyond the moments I spend eating that food. Instead of feeling that terrible hunger, I feel energized and satisfied, which makes life overall a much greater pleasure. And who of us doesn’t want more pleasure in our lives? I’m up for some. And with that Monday morning bowl of oatmeal, I’m off to a good start. 

A different kind of pleasure for sure. My mouth waters just looking at it.

Friday, February 6, 2015

No More Constant Cravings!

I am about two weeks into a much healthier way of eating overall and I feel terrific. I’m in better control of what I’m eating than I have been in a long time, and by control, I do not mean that I count every calorie or even write down everything I eat. I mean that I am focused on eating from the food groups that will do me the most good health-wise – lots of vegetables, some fruits, and then the necessary proteins and whole grains.

I haven’t written much about proteins and whole grains, but for me, they are an essential part of a healthy diet. Having some protein at each meal (though not always at breakfast) keeps my blood sugar level steady, giving me more stamina. I will often have a protein drink after I run or lift weights too as it helps me to recover quicker from the workout. 

The whole grains give me the fiber I need to feel satisfied and full and to keep my digestive system in good check. There is no one food group that does it all for us, and I’m glad I have struck for me what feels like a balanced diet with room for some splurges. 

I still experience some cravings, but they are dramatically subdued now that I am focused on eating healthier overall. And subdued is great because there have been too many times in the past when I have felt ruled by cravings. Subdued cravings feels like a big success.

Accountability Check-In 14 Hours Late

I missed writing an accountability check-in yesterday, so I'll do it now.

My husband and I attended an important event last night and didn't get home until late. I was hungry, very hungry on the drive home. I contemplated the ice cream in the freezer but chose instead to have a more benign splurge - two pieces of whole grain toast, spread with a little butter and honey. It was good. And I felt satisfied afterwards though a little guilty.

When I tried to decide if I was going to splurge or not, I thought about just going to bed hungry...that I'd be glad I did in the morning. And sometimes, that's just what I need to do, but last night, the success for me was choosing a smaller splurge instead of an all-out ice cream pig-out. Instead of being hard on myself, I'll take that success and build on it.