Monday, January 09, 2012
It's hard to believe I've gone almost a week without a word here. So, what's new? Let's see.
Grocery shopping - the big shopping trip of the month - happened in the past week. That's always fun. NOT! Seems like I always forget to buy something on the list, leave the list home, or find out that something should have been on the list that wasn't on it. True to form, it was the should have been on the list category this time. Luckily, it was pretty simple - eggs and mushrooms - staples in this house that I buy more than once a month. How they didn't make this list is beyond me.
In an attempt to better seal the plastic covering over the upstairs windows, I thought I was quite bright and used my son's weight bench as a step stool to reach the top of the window casing in his room. Oops. It is not very balanced sitting on the thick carpet in his room. Although I could tell it was moving a little, I continued with the job figuring my balance was pretty good and I could handle it. Yeah. Right up until the seat of my baggy pants got caught on part of it. In trying to get free, I ended up tipping over- the bench and I were lying on our sides on the floor. Pants ripped (new cleaning rags now), but other than that the bench & I are fine; and I know next time not to stand on it & expect to stay upright.
I got a haircut the same day that I went to a care conference regarding my mother's care at the nursing home. Mom did not like the haircut, but everyone else did. It isn't exactly what I want, but it needs to grow some more to have what I am imagining. The stylist I've gone to for the past few years seems to think my idea is a good one. It just requires a longer waiting game.
Today, I walked 7.5 miles, but that's because the weather was unbelievably nice for January in the U.P. Tomorrow is supposed to bring more of the same, so maybe I'll get back out and do it again! I do love my Yak Tracks! I wonder how many miles a pair of them can survive. My first pair lasted 3 years, but I have to admit that I didn't walk the distance that I do these days on a regular basis and I know I avoided the hills back then.
And, today I learned that the Healthy Weight Journal that I participated in last summer - the beginning of my successful journey last year - is starting up earlier this year. They are hoping that by using cooler weather months they will have better participation. Last year it was a 12 week summer program and people found
"better" things to do with their summer evenings than participate in the program by attending a free session with a trainer and nutritionist once a week. I just found out that the 2012 start date will be in mid-February.
I am excited and yet not. I'm excited that they're offering the program again. I am looking forward to being involved. But it is a community competition and my participation may be detrimental to my community's chances of winning. I'll have to wait and see how they are scoring this challenge. Last year, weight loss was one of the categories. Since I am now at a weight that I choose to maintain, my participation will not benefit the team in pounds lost. But the other categories had to do with cups of fruits & vegetables eaten and minutes of physical activity. In those two categories, I usually kick butt. Guess I'll just have to wait and see what the challenge is going to be this time around.
I do have to say that I know that without the challenge last year, I would not have found SparkPeople. The challenge taught me how valuable accountability was and how important a support system is to the chance of success when making lifestyle changes. My own success was directly impacted by both the challenge and SparkPeople. My success at maintenance is still in large part due to SparkPeople. I don't have a lot of friends in the area. My family, for the most part, does not live locally... and most of them are not interested in becoming healthier anyway (unless by healthier we mean seeing more doctors and taking more prescriptions). Without the support found through SparkPeople, I cannot say for sure whether I would have even reached my current weight. My thanks to all of those who have written blogs I've read, commented on my blog or Sparkpage, cheered me on, etc.; but also to those who put all of this together - the website, the countless articles, videos, recipes... We are all healthier SparkPeople because of all of you!
Tomorrow, we are going to make a Mediterranean fish soup recipe that my son found. I've never eaten fish in a soup before unless you count clam chowder. I have no idea whether either of us will like it. Both making and eating it will be... an adventure.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Ok… Monday was definitely not an adventure unless you count the amount of snow shoveling that had to be done! This was our 3rd or 4th winter storm warning of the season, but it was the first one that actually provided a sense of “winter”. Winds at 25 mph, gusting up to 50 mph and lots and lots of snow! I pretty much stayed indoors except to occasionally go out and clear the walkway so that I wouldn't have to move it all at once. After a while, I finally created a little wind tunnel and the wind kept the walkway clean for me.
Today, though… today was truly an adventure; even if it didn't start off that way! I did my basic cardio and strength training this morning. I visited my mother at the nursing home. I had a delightful lunch and conversation with my youngest son. And then I went to the local youth center for a few hours to help supervise activities.
Today I was reminded of how wonderfully fun it can be when you are an 11-16 year old! It’s been about 10 years since I spent time with groups of young people for any real amount of time. I've spent a little time the past couple of months getting to know the kids at this center, but this was the first day back at school after the holidays and therefore, the first day the center was open in a couple of weeks.
When they started having “pillow fights” with the old bean bag chairs, the director made them stop because they were “loud”. Ok… I admit, the shrill teenage girl giggle/scream is a little annoying. I remember being glad when my daughters were past that point and how thrilled I was that teen boy noises were much easier for me to handle. (I know - everyone does not agree with me.)
Since pillow fights were out, they decided that it would be fun to pile up the bean bags and dive into them. The director wanted to veto that too, but, with my encouragement, we all ‘promised’ that they would stop when the younger children arrived (middle & high schoolers arrive about an hour and a half before the elementary age students) and she hesitantly gave in to our pleadings. I mean, really… how bad could it be?
Well, diving into the beanbags got boring pretty fast. So they set up a bit of an obstacle course that ended with a leap over a chair into the beanbags. Some were just a simple dive over the chair and some did back flips… Very exciting… and slightly unnerving for me – all I could think was that I was the one that thought this would be great fun for them… and with each chair leap, I wondered if this would be the one that misjudged the distance and would crack their head on the leg of the air hockey table nearby. Of course, it never happened… thank goodness!
But it got me to thinking. At what point do we suddenly start to fear having fun? Is it when we realize (or when too often it has been pointed out to us) that we might get hurt? I watch these young people and am amazed at how agile some of them are. But I also see some in the room that are already settling into the sedentary lifestyle choices. They watch, but they do not want to participate… and I wonder why. Have they already been convinced that playing hard is too dangerous? Or that being less agile than others makes them less willing to try? And how can we (as adults) encourage them to continue to be active and daring?
The center has one of those balance boards – the kind that is a wooden board that balances on a cylinder. Some of the older kids are really good at keeping their balance on it. Some of the college student volunteers have actually fallen pretty hard trying it the first time. Of those, some laugh it off and others are pretty embarrassed. And some of the college volunteers won’t try it (because they don’t want to fall and/or be embarrassed).
A few of the younger elementary students wanted to try it out back in early December. I remember hearing people tell them not to try it because they’d fall & get hurt. Really? But it’s ok for them to walk across the top of the jungle gym outdoors? I have to say that seeing them perched rather precariously 10 feet off the ground makes me more nervous about a fall than 8 inches off the padded floor does! So I would take them one at a time… holding both of their hands as they got the feel for how to balance on the board… then just keeping my hands out and open… available for them to grab onto if they felt like they might fall.
This afternoon, I watched in amazement as one of those elementary students got onto the balance board and then proceeded to carry on a conversation – complete with arms moving expressively – all the while maintaining her balance on the board. Her self-confidence is developing nicely! And I found myself impressed by something so simple.
The adventure of the day was not my own… I experienced adventure through the eyes of people at least 40 years younger than I am. And I was reminded that there is no reason to refuse to try something that looks “too difficult”. Most of all, I saw through these younger people how much fun you can have if you are willing to try something new.
This is the winter I will learn to snow shoe. What are you willing to try that is "new" to you?
Sunday, January 01, 2012
I am so glad that yesterday was still last year so it didn't count toward days I intended to be “happy healthy and relaxed” and treating life like an adventure. I was grumpy, ate weird stuff all day long, and was stressed out. I’m not going to go into it beyond saying that, thanks to a totally unrelated Facebook post by an old friend in the evening, I finally was able to get past what was bugging me. Sometimes just the right answer to a nagging question comes from the most unexpected source; but if you aren't paying attention, you might miss it!
It’s been a fairly quiet New Year’s Day as holidays go, but I like it that way. I have plenty of time to organize my thoughts and make plans for the week ahead. The adventures of today were pretty light, actually. Perhaps this was by choice on my part… to provide me with a relaxing day to start the year.
I finally finished knitting the hoodie for my youngest grandson and started on the one for his big brother. If you knew how quickly I can usually accomplish this and how long this one took me, you’d be asking me what kind of holiday vacation I’d been on for so long!
I received a call from a former employer who had some side work that he was hoping I could do (he knows I've been bored). The really great part was that I actually remembered that today is his birthday and he & his wife both really love for people to acknowledge it. At least yesterday’s junk food was out of my system by the time he called so I could wish him a happy birthday! Such a little thing to remember, to wish someone ‘happy birthday’ when you know they are hoping people remember. Personally, I would prefer if even my family would forget mine, but we are all different.
I did manage to get in some exercise today… even shoveled a little snow. For those who live in regions that get a lot of snow, did you know that shoveling can count as a cardio workout on the fitness tracker? Guess it makes sense… if you have to do much of it, you know it really is quite a workout! I can hear the wind blowing outside as I am writing this and am ever so grateful for a home that is pretty well insulated. We’re in the middle of a winter storm warning – not a lot of snow yet, but winds at about 25 mph with gusts nearing 50 mph. As long as the power stays on and trees don’t start falling, I’m ok with it!
Feeling a little bored as dinner was almost ready (and needing to use up some won tons rather than throw them out because of the upcoming expiration date on the package), I tried out a new-to-me recipe for mini pumpkin pie pockets made with won tons. I think next time I'll just mix up the filling and bake up won ton chips to dip in it… but honestly, I’d be happy to just eat the filling by itself! We love crab rangoons and there’s a baked recipe we tried (my son loves it) from SparkRecipes. I should have gone with my first thought for using up the rest of the won tons and made up a different version of the rangoon that is more dessert-like. Sorry – I’m not going to tell you what is in it yet because there are still enough won tons left to try it out… and I still have a couple of days before the expiration date.
If the dessert recipe is good, I'll let you know in the next blog. Until then, be happy, healthy and relaxed!
Friday, December 30, 2011
There is no doubt in my mind… 2011 has been the best year yet for me. It is hard to imagine how I can possibly make 2012 even better. Oh, there have been individual events or days in my life that were “the best” (birth of each child, for example)… and there have been some pretty rotten things going on in 2011 (unemployment probably tops that list). But on the whole, the year itself has been the best.
2011 is the year that I went from having an obese BMI to having a healthy BMI. That’s right. After over 20 years of obesity (with a few weeks here & there where I actually dipped into the overweight range), I have managed to reach a healthy BMI and, as if that wasn't enough, I have maintained that weight for over 6 weeks - through both Thanksgiving and Christmas !
So, I've been trying to think of how 2012 can become the best year yet – instead of just being a close second best. A full time job would be nice, but I don’t think it would trump 2011’s accomplishments. I don’t buy lottery tickets or frequent the casino, so winning the jackpot is probably not going to happen.
How about spending the next 52 weeks at a healthy weight? That sounds fantastic and is definitely on the list of goals for the year. But there has to be more to life than that to make it “the best” year yet.
Then I saw the sign on Facebook today – “Make your life an adventure” it says. Hmm… Make my life an adventure? I can do that. I think I can do that. How do I do that?
So 2012 is the year of the adventure. I’m not quite sure how yet. With mother in the nursing home and feeling like I really need to be here for her this year, travel or moving away are pretty much out this year. But I’m pretty sure I can find adventure here as easily as anywhere else! An adventure… let’s see…
Can you tell I am thinking as I key these words in? Wait a minute… life IS an adventure! The problem is that we have become so complacent that we no longer see it that way. As children, I’m pretty sure most of us knew subconsciously that vital truth about life. In growing up, we seem to forget the importance of adventure and begin to focus on the day-to-day “importance” of careers, bills, social obligations, and so on.
So this is how 2012 (and potentially each following year) becomes the best year yet. This is the year that I begin again to face life as an adventure rather than just something I must go through.
So… what do I have planned? Not a lot yet. I just came up with this idea while I was at the computer this afternoon. I am putting together a cookbook for my daughter & daughter-in-law for their birthdays in January. That in and of itself promises some adventure – some recipes are of my own creation, some I've altered that were old family favorites (even Gram’s grinder soup) – with thoughts and memories attached to them. For example, our family version of taco casserole was created one day when there really wasn't enough of any one thing to feed everyone without a trip to the store so we made up this casserole that ended up being more than enough to serve a couple of the children’s friends dinner with our family. Every time after that when someone would ask me to make it, I would laugh a little inside… if only they realized like I did how that recipe came to be, they might not have enjoyed it as much as they did! Putting together a project like this cookbook is a new learning experience for me. I am sure there are little details that will confuse, frustrate and/or surprise me.
I was gifted with a pair of snow shoes during the summer of 2011. I have never put on snow shoes in my life, but plan to learn not only how to put them on, but how to use them in the next couple of months… as soon as there’s enough snow on the ground (though if we could have a winter without “enough” snow, I would not complain and would happily wait another year to learn). That adventure will undoubtedly provide a great deal of laughter to anyone who is around the first time I try it. Trust me… I am not a very coordinated person. I am so klutzy & uncoordinated; I avoid group cardio sessions for fear of knocking someone else over!
And now I have the idea. Each and every day will be an adventure in life. I can't guarantee I'll blog about my adventures each day. I hope to be way too busy being adventurous! But I will blog about every day at some point!
If you have ideas for me to try out, let me know. Keep in mind the climate here is not conducive to most outdoor activities for many months of the year. They cannot be costly or involve travel at this point. And I’m not sure I’d be willing to try the polar bear plunge (though if someone wanted to fund the entry fee and provide the transportation to/from the lake, I might consider it just because it has traditionally been a pretty good fundraiser for our local Special Olympics).
Likewise, if you have committed to being an adventurous soul in 2012, please share your adventures with me! We'll make 2012 the year the adventures begin again!
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
As the New Year is about to begin, I find myself wondering what will come my way in 2012. I’m starting this year just as unemployed as I was when 2011 began… but that may be the only similarity.
I spent the first few months of 2011 hibernating – as grumpy bears tend to do in the bitter cold winter months – pretty much living in sweat pants and sweat shirts. When my son’s college graduation came along at the end of April, I found myself having to admit that the real reason my coat did not fasten was NOT that I was wearing a hoodie underneath for warmth. Even without the hoodie, it didn't close. So I decided it was time to try to lose weight… again.
I started slowly… all I really wanted at that point was to not have to buy new clothing and a new coat for winter. If I could just get back into the clothing & coat I owned. In late June, I was doing pretty well. I had lost some weight and clothing was starting to fit again. My friend who works at the local newspaper called to tell me about a “healthy weight challenge” that the paper was co-sponsoring for 12 weeks. She knew I was working on my weight, but her real reason for suggesting I get involved was that it would force me to spend time around people again on a regular basis. There were weekly classes with a nutritionist and weekly group sessions with a personal trainer… and it was all FREE. So why not sign up? What she didn't realize at the time is that I have a very competitive personality. I’m not at all athletic, just highly competitive… about almost everything – even knitting! I jumped at the opportunity.
I really didn't think I would enjoy the group trainer sessions. I’m not all that coordinated. I didn't know what to expect. I also didn't expect to gain a lot from the nutrition classes. I've done my research online and in books… I've been cooking and creating recipes for many, many years. Imagine my surprise when I found myself looking forward to working with the trainer! And the nutrition sessions WERE beneficial – I learned some things, but I was also able to question some of the information and share thoughts and ideas. This was actually fun for me! Who would've thought that I’d have fun and lose weight?
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on whether we’re talking from a health standpoint or a financial one), I found my competitive spirit taking hold of me as I passed from obese to overweight. I’d done that a few times before and then quit. This time around though, I was motivated to keep going. I found myself wondering if I could actually get close to the “healthy” weight range this time. And, I found myself needing new clothing… on my budget! I've always loved thrift stores and a good bargain. Summer 2011 was the summer of “the bag sale” for me. Thank goodness our local thrift store has them! A bag of clothing that fits for $3? Sounds great to me! I became a regular there – bringing bags of one size clothing to the donation door, then going inside to scope out what was available in the next size down & hoping it would still be there on bag sale day.
As summer was coming to an end, so was the challenge. I knew I needed to find a new source of accountability… and a way to track what I was eating and the amount of activity I was getting. I was so close to the “healthy” weight borderline that I did not want to give up and “settle” for being overweight again. When the end of challenge celebration came along, I was within 7 pounds of breaking that barrier. Although my community did not “win” the challenge, I learned that, from all 4 participating communities, I was the individual who had lost the most weight.
Thank goodness I found the SparkPeople website before the end of the challenge! During the final week or two, I was logging activity and foods eaten double – once for the challenge and then again on SparkPeople website… trying to make sure that they were similar enough that I could follow it. Easy Peasy!
I reached the “goal” weight I’d set a week after my 53rd birthday – a week before Thanksgiving. I guess it made sense to have to try to maintain the loss through the holidays – but to have to endure another winter as well? Man, I hope I am up for this! I did not put in all this effort just to spend the next 4 months regaining weight!
Besides, I have turned over all of my clothing that is larger than a size 4 to the thrift store. I am really glad they finally had a couple of fall/winter bag sales or I would have nothing to wear! Seriously, there is NOTHING in my closet that was there a year ago.
Well, except that coat that I couldn't fasten in April. I can’t bring myself to part with it. Besides, it makes my son and I laugh if I put it on now. The “new” coat is a Small (women’s) and, well, if they’d had an extra small at the thrift store, it would be a better fit for me.
That’s ok, though… winter wind chills here can sometimes get down to 40 below or colder. I'll just put a hoodie under the new coat… and make sure that I can still zip and snap it completely closed all winter!
With the support & guidance available through SparkPeople – Easy Peasy!!!
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