Thursday, February 09, 2012
Even before February arrived I began to think about which of my 12 good habits I wanted to add to my day and something kept leaping out saying "Pick me! Pick me!" Then, at my check-up, my doctor took me off blood pressure medicines and handed me a sheet of paper that listed the things that help keep bp low and I was surprised to see that, after weight loss, meditation was the best thing I could do to keep my pressure healthy. Meditation! Which is, to me, the same activity as prayer.
Which was #12 on my list of 12 - here it is from that January post:
"12. Pray. Take a little time to step deep into myself, deliberately, and touch base with what's really important. "
And though I have always done this - often, for long stretches at a time I have only done it 'as needed'. As if one doesn't need this all the time. In fact, with prayer (or meditation or whatever name you are more comfortable using) all the other things I want in my life will come much easier and stay much longer. So Wednesday I began with a quiet 30 minutes in the dimly lit living room all alone in the soft quietness. I don't always have a chance to do this in the morning before I go to work, since some mornings around here are very noisy or very busy. But on those days, the moment I get to the library I tell my staff I am not to be interrupted for 15 minutes, go into the library meeting room and have my quiet soft prayer time. My goodness - what a difference that makes to my day. I can't believe how productive I can be following that quiet 15 minutes - and the effect lasts all day. As the evening approaches, though - I often find I need a prayer boost - just before I go home or once I'm there. And since there are no rules about limiting my prayer time - I can get that extra kick of joy and calm and love to carry me through the evening.
So. It's a joy. It's fun. It's beneficial. It's better than chocolate!
And towards the end of the quiet prayer interesting insights often bubble up to the surface. Insights like what else I may have learned during the buffet restaurant buffet my diet took 2 weekends ago? Understand, I didn't beat myself up about it but I did do some deeper digging - because I promise you - I will find myself in buffet restaurant again and I'd like some armor.
As I mined that situation for nuggets of wisdom I suddenly realized that ... it is okay for me to pay the buffet price - in this case $31 - and have only a bowl of soup. I remember the moment when I thought "I can't just pay $31 for a bowl of soup" and the immediate thought to follow was "I'll just have to eat the whole buffet". WRONG. Of course, it would have also been okay to ask if there was a cheaper option - a salad bar only option or a menu I might have ordered from, but if there had been no choice in the matter - it is alright for me to buy a $31 bowl of soup. That's what I'd really wanted to have and I was under no obligation to justify the purchase price by eating food I didn't even want.
And no - I am not going to make a habit of eating expensive soup - but I needed to understand that under particular circumstances ... I am worth it. The soup may not be worth it - but I am.
And so are you.
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
First the bitter - then the better.
No. I don't plan to fill today's post with cliches and truisms but these two mantras? I'm holding on to them tightly because I need 'em. The bitter is that I way (way way) overate this weekend and I paid the price for it with a gain that wiped out the entire month of January's gentle valid losses. 3 lbs down and 3 lbs up. Worse than that - it took 3 weeks to go down 3 lbs and one weekend to gain it back. I am not happy to admit this - in fact it's really really hard to admit it. I'm not proud. I'm not excited. I'm not delighted.
I am also not defeated.
And for some of that particular win I must thank the girls who competed last Saturday night in the U.S. Figure Skating Championship. All evening I watched them go out on the ice in their lovely costumes, cheered on by their coaches, family, fans, and do incredible acrobatic feats while balancing on thin blades of metal. More than half of them slipped and fell too, and in nanoseconds they were back up on their skates and twirling into a leap and turn as if the tumble had never happened. It was the most amazing thing to watch - these graceful powerful athletes going down and popping back up. Had only one of them fallen I might have just thought "oh poor thing" and forgotten about it - but maybe 4 or 5 of them went down and then up - enough times to make me think there was a lesson in it for me. A lesson about failure and winning and stumbling - because these 9 women are all winners. Maybe not the top winner but you tell me if you'd say "no thank you" to the offer of being good enough to compete in the U.S. Nationals. In anything!
Yeah. I thought so.
This month has been a particularly challenging month for me at work. Fun, mind you, but challenging, scary, taking me so far out of my comfort zone I almost quake every morning - but so exciting I can't wait to get to work either. As often happens when my work life gets very demanding, my personal life shifted too - again - all to the good - but not all to the easy. And Somebody, who is retired and who had just enjoyed 2 weeks of my undivided attention, began to push for a continuation of that same attention, just when I was in need of quiet weekends of down time to recharge the batteries. The plea for me to spend more time evolved into a suggestion to run off to the beach for the weekend and I agreed. Beaches are my idea Shangri La - any time, any season, I am good for a trip to the beach.
But once I yielded to one bit of pressure it was easy to yield to more - especially food pressures. I don't really think I endure an unusual amount of family pressure to overeat - but there is some - and it was in full force this weekend. "It's a vacation" (huh? really? 2 days?) "I want to eat at the seafood buffet" (oh gawd - temptation hell!)
I need say no more - you know what happened.
As I lay in bed Saturday watching those girls leap and twirl and spin and fall and get up and leap again I began to process their example and make it my own. Granted, the girls who fell didn't take the top prizes. But each one was a winner in my eyes. And I'm not in a competition. I'm just trying to be the best, the healthiest, I can be. I may have exceeded my caloric limit for the week - maybe even for two weeks - but that doesn't mean I couldn't bounce back up and skate on. I did so on Monday - and the damage wasn't as bad as it could have been. I could have gained back more than I'd lost. But I have looked at the fall of last weekend long enough. I realize I did not explain my needs well enough to Somebody to make him understand that I really want to weigh less. Who knows. Maybe that can't be done. But what I know I can do is to say "NO" next time I'm put under pressure to do the companion dining thing. And even if we get into a struggle about it - I also know that my Somebody really does want good things for me. It's not deliberate sabotage - it's deliberate juvenile delinquency. Beaches make him feel like a teenager but they aren't going to make me eat like one! LOL
So. I am on my guard. I'm taking that lesson away with me. Thanks, U. S. National skaters.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
I have tracked my eating faithfully now for 3 weeks. This means I get a reward - which is nice. In fact, the reward can be found here:
s2h.com/step a pedometer that generates a code every 10K steps. You can cash in the code for a reward.
But back to the talking paper. Because I can't believe how much difference writing - with a pencil - onto a small piece of paper - makes in the food choices I make. I am fully aware of the mnemonic effect of writing with pen or pencil. As a dyslexic child I became an utterly focused listener and an avid note taker. The notes might be illegible upon re-reading (my particular brain burp is to use all letters that are circles with tails, i.e. b d g p q - indiscriminately) but the act of writing helped imprint information into my brain. I did okay in school - and look at me now - I am Queen of All The Books - at least, in the minds of the 10K people who live in my community.
hmmm. sorry for being all over the place today - must be the moon in trine with Saturn and Mercury ...
So - about that talking paper - I am using the WW little hand-out tracker - it's about 3" x 5" or maybe even a little smaller and it has 7 pages in it. It's interesting how holding that paper in my hand, looking at the day's total as I contemplate what I will have next can really make me change my mind. "You've already eaten 3 slices of bread today - do you really want another?" it seems to ask me. "You've eaten your daily total of points - if you eat more now you won't have the extra points to celebrate your mother's birthday" it warns.
Sometimes I say "yes. I want more" and sometimes I think 'Oh. no. I don't really want more - at least, I want to lose weight more than I want to eat that ice cream". The little booklet doesn't scold. It doesn't point a finger in derision. It just asks me to think about it first - and that is really helping. Best of all - since I began tracking what I eat - I've lost that little frisson of anxiety that used to follow me around all day. "Did I over eat? Will this bite halt the weight loss? Oh la - I forgot about the popcorn we had with the movie last night". I don't wonder any more. I know. It's right there on the little piece of paper.
Nice, huh? A little nudge towards thoughtfulness, less low level stress and oh yeah! a weight loss. Right - the scale went down again this week. Plus a reward. how cool is that?
So - in an exuberant mood I want to share a recipe I got from the Jan/Feb issue of Weight Watcher's Magazine - because my gosh this was good and the left over was a perfect breakfast.
1 package frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup fat free ricotta cheese
4 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
1/4 cup snipped fresh dill
1 large egg slightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
10 sheets of frozen phyllo dough thawed
preheat oven to 375
mix all but the dough together first
in a 6 cup casserole or a deep dish pie plate spray with cooking spray
layer 4 sheets of dough cris-crossing to cover bottom of the dish, spraying each sheet first
pull the edges of the dough up to form a rim around the dish
pour in the other stuff
spray each phyllo sheet and crumple loosely and put on top of mixture
bake for 30 minutes
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I began week 3 of my January habit yesterday after a nice healthy weight loss taken at the WW meeting. I'd been creeping up by ounces for 3 weeks and though I let "The Holidays" take the blame for most of that, it was hard to shirk my responsibility last week, when "The Holidays" were over and I had been writing down every bite the previous week. Time will tell if I can get a handle on all the small steps that keep me going in the wrong direction but already I have learned one thing.
It is often not how much I eat - but what I eat. Because the big difference between last week when I went and this week when I went was the amount of flour products I consumed and ... I confess - the number of WW raspberry ice cream bars I had after dinner.
I really love soup and I've made a number of delicious, low fat, vegetable filled, protein rich soups over the past 2 weeks but the first week I had them with lots of crackers and this week - with fewer. counted out, measured, tallied crackers - enjoyed slowly.
As for the ice cream bars - well. I try to not buy WW products because they are expensive, quite tasty, easy to substitute for other more needed foods, and often with the same nutritional value as standard products. But their raspberry ice cream bars are the exception. The ice cream is as rich as I want it to be (don't bother to offer me Ben and Jerry's. I'd be sick for a week with the richness of it) and the thin chocolate coating is amazingly delicious. Ice cream is my favorite sweet treat and I confess it - though I am not a chocoholic - I also don't feel the day has come to an end without a taste of it. There may come a day when I want to erase this from my store beliefs, but it hasn't arrived yet and I have no intention of rushing it either. No other brand of chocolate covered ice cream exactly matches the desert taste I'm looking for so that's what I buy.
I also don't like the out of control feeling that I can't stop eating something. I do want to eradicate THAT from my life. And many a day I've gobbled down 2 of those babies after dinner. Torn between two almost opposing desires, I've chosen to keep the ice cream bars in the house, to limit myself to only one per day, and to really truly savor and enjoy that one treat.
So - watching exactly what I am eating is fitting neatly into my life. In fact, I'm still enjoying it enough, still curious enough about the process, to carry me through week 3 of my January Good Habit project. I once lost all the weight I needed to lose by tracking and kept it off about a year by doing the same. But I grew bored with the process, let it slide and welcomed back a bunch of pounds. Duh. This is not unfamiliar territory - it's just nice that it's also friendly.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Those who know me know I love me some New Year's Resolutions. I love making them and I love looking back to see if I kept any. Usually, during that week between Christmas and New Year, sometimes even earlier, little ideas percolate in my brain, nudging me towards that Oz of Perfection that, though I laugh and tease about it, I believe all of us are journeying towards.
This year was a little different. For the first time in a long time I wasn't chafing with dissatisfaction about myself, my health, my body, my house, my work. Not that there isn't room for improvement or progress or movement - just that - this year I was in a really happy good place. I didn't want to make any grand changes. Who would - when standing in a really happy good place? I just wanted to make some little changes - some 'start small', baby step, trim tab shifts. And I wanted it to feel positive - to feel enriching. I wanted to add some good habits to my life.
Those infamous "They" say that it takes 21 days to create a habit and as I got to thinking about 2012 and how many good habits I might want to add and it suddenly hit me - I could add one good habit a month and I'd have 12 for 12. The cuteness of the thought - because I do realize it's a little slogan-ey - tickled me. Actually finding 12 things turned out to be something of a challenge since they had to be small enough to be things I'd want to do every day yet important enough to matter to my life.
The ground rules were that I could play around with any of these habits at any time, but each one was to be the star of its own month. Each one would be given a full 30 days of constant attention. And they did not have to be all about weight and health. Each month I could chose the habit that either appealed to me the most, or that seemed the most necessary to concentrate on. If - during the year - some Other Better Habit revealed itself to me I could swap it out for one still on the list.
So. Here are my 12 for 12 in no particular order:
1. Food Tracking
I know this is good for me. I know it's important. I know this is the next step I have to take to get rid of this last 12 lbs. I don't HATE tracking food - but I haven't made the effort to do it. This is the First Good Habit I'm working on.
2. Wear a pedometer and get those 10K steps
10K steps, 4 activity points, whatever you want to call it - what I'm aiming for is building into my life more movement - I move - but not enough.
3. Drink 6-8 cups of water every day
I live where the tap water is absolutely delicious. Even at work!! So tell me why I forget to do this? Idunno - but I do. Good habit to get into
4. The Charles Schwab list at work
At least he's the one credited with the idea - you list the top 5 things you need to do tomorrow. Prioritize that list. Then - do those 5 things first, every day, even if you do nothing else. If there is something on that list you did not do today, it becomes the top item on tomorrow's list. The key here is you do it every day. I've diddled with this and know it works - but - I've not been consistent with it.
5. Read my 5-year play every morning - because it is so durn easy to forget what I'd planned to do until it's review time and then I have to confess to all the things I failed to do! (a corollary to this is - have each of my staff read it at least once a week too - but that's another list)
6. Compliment someone on my staff EVERY DAY 6
I really like the people who work for me - and they deserve to know it. Also - in order to compliment someone you have to look at what they're doing - and when you do you often notice strengths they have that could be used in other areas of the workplace. People get tired of doing the same thing all the time but they always love being asked to do what they do well. Take advantage of strengths to enliven their day while you enrich the workplace!
7. Read some fiction every day. I love stories - I run a library for goodness sake! But I have grown so weary of what's popular in fiction these days that I have quit reading it. One more snarky woman struggling with her dysfunctional family and looser weak man ... ugh. Still and all - I don't like it that I'm so ignorant about current fiction. Time to at least dabble in the subject.
8. Draw 20 minutes a day. I will never get any better if I don't practice every day
9. Select a big life goal - a big personal thing - and take one step towards it ... every day.
I want to take a boat up a fjord in Norway? How would I go about it. What step could I take today that would get me there?
10. Ditto at work - Select something from the 5-year Plan and step one step closer to achieving it - or to realizing it's not the goal we wanted to achieve and getting it out of the plan.
11. Clean the kitchen every night. I am a morning person and am often really tired at night. It's easy to get up at 5 and clean the kitchen - but seeing a dirty kitchen first thing in the morning starts my day off with a tiny bit of ugliness. How about starting it off with something pretty instead?
12. Pray. Take a little time to step deep into myself, deliberately, and touch base with what's really important.
And there you have them. All are things I sort of do or do now and then or do once in a while. But just think how lovely 2012 would be if I made them daily habits. Mmmm Mmmm. My My My. Yes. Just think!
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