Monday, January 09, 2012
Pretty much exactly what the title says.
I'm horribly independent. As a 6-year-old, I was shown the way I could walk to school. I walked a different way so that I did not have to put up with crossing guards telling me when I could cross. It wouldn't have harmed me to go that way, but I went a different way.
That same mindset shines through my entire life.
I do not tend to ask for help unless I've evaluated a situation and can find no other reasonable or unreasonable alternative, and even then I'll procrastinate until it's almost too late before asking.
As of January 1st, the city I live in has outlawed plastic bags from any retail store. Consumers have two choices - buy paper bags at the checkstand OR buy / bring their own reusable bag.
Okay, I'm all happy it's something "green" I suppose.
However, when I'm carrying groceries on the bus, paper just ain't gonna cut it. Anything a little damp and I seriously worry about it breaking apart on me. Paper handles just do not feel as secure as plastic that is part of the bag.
I also can't reuse the paper bags for much. They don't make good garbage bags (what I reuse plastic for all the time). Instead, I have to pay for a one-time use bag I'll turn around and put in the recycling bin. Where I already put surplus plastic bags.
Then I look at the reusable bags. Cloth versions of the paper ones. Sturdy enough. Okay. Um ... where's the simple sedate colors? No, I don't want bright red and store-branded or blue with a logo and store brand or O_o green and purple, pastel blue, or pink. *GAG!* I'm not paying $2-5 each for bags to advertise a store, especially not when I need 5 or 6 at least.
Do you know I honestly considered just taking a different bus route, adding in 15 minutes, to go to a grocery store in the next city over? That's just sad.
And I actually DID shop in another next city over today and end up with a plastic bag. A plastic bag in which I had the solution I came up with.
You see, joining the gym yesterday and the plan being that I get off my first bus at my usual transfer point and head right into the gym instead of walking home. But that means I'll be in work clothes and I'm not going to work out in dress pants and a dress shirt. I need sweats, T-shirt, and a towel. Must remember my towel. (Don't Panic!)
Ding ding! I need a duffel bag. Not only is it useful for having the change I need for the gym, it's perfect for toting the groceries in. (Already did my shopping with it tonight and it was!)
So instead of ugly and branded, I have athletic looking. Score!
And I can feel all proud that no one "made" me do something.
Sometimes I just wonder about myself.
Sunday, January 08, 2012
Weird blog title, I know.
Starting with squirrels on fences - this actually happened last weekend, when I was doing my walking on the trail for my fitness testing. Somewhere around the 3/4 mile marker, a squirrel ahead of me hopped up onto the fence that runs along the trail. He skitters along, me catching up, but instead of going up any of the trees he passes, he keeps stopping to look back at me until I'm closer, then scurries ahead again. The fence changed heights and he effortlessly hopped up to the higher one to continue this little race. Only as the 1 mile marker came into sight did the fence take a jog about two feet further away from the trail and in the process of moving on that, I got ahead of him. At which point he gave me a look and went back in the other direction.
I felt like a greyhound with one of those mechanical squirrels on the fence to pace them and was laughing as I was walking along.
Burning leaves was far less humourous. Being Winter now, most of our trees are dropping most of their leaves. (Yeah, yeah ... where I live we hit freezing temp, 32F or 0C, what seems like exactly one night a year. Trees do start dropping leaves in September, but it carries on into February before most are bare - possibly depending on the variety of tree.) It also hasn't rained much. Wind, fog, but minimal rain. And lastly, most of the city garbage, recycling and yard waste pickups are weekday mornings. This all adds up to many collections of dry leaves in the gutters.
Walking home tonight, it's a bit breezy and suddenly I see about a half-block ahead of me, a small area of flames. At the street corner of the block I'm about to cross to, the leaves in the gutter have been set aflame. Most likely culprit either a driver or pedestrian carelessly tossing aside a cigarette.
The wind is fanning it up, keeping the flames going as I get near. Small ... no more than 6-12 inches high and confined for the time-being to an area no bigger than 6 inches by 12 inches by about 3-4 inches deep. Thankfully, the wind dies down a little as I get closer, and it settles into smoldering rather than outright flames. BUT, there's dead leaves all along in the gutter on down the street. I can just see another breeze stirring it back up and sending it off toward the cars parked nearby and real trouble.
First thing I did was use my foot to clear about 4 feet of leaves along the curb in the direction of the first car. Worst case, it would really have to blow (... which I hear it doing outside now) to carry a spark to continue toward danger. Then I headed inside the grocery store that is on that corner, got one of their employees to come out and see it - and she ran off to get something to extinguish it completely. It wasn't flaming any more, but it was seriously glowing red, smoldering and smoking, which the light breeze was actually blowing toward the store at that point.
More randomity. I had thought about seeing the musical CATS with my daughter, planned to, then discovered I misread the schedule. The showings ended 1 Jan. We might go see West Side Story instead or wait for Beauty and the Beast in March. To be seen. Also hoping to add in a Sharks game, with DS if he wants to go. DDa isn't sure she'd want to see the fights.
And more. I love walking after the sun has set. I've been noticing how different buildings light up at night. One has red and blue lights together and glows a very interesting shade. Not the best pic I could have done because it's with the cell phone and a very brief stop from walking, but:
Finally, the first destination today was a fitness store. I'd made a goal to buy some dumbbells so I could do one of the Bootcamp challenges. Unfortunately, I wasn't too keen on the plain cast iron ones (poorly done - rough edges on them) or on the Neoprene ones (never liked the feel of that stuff). I also considered the price and realized that as I get stronger, I'd have to keep buying new ones. I'd have to carry them home, and over time have more and more of them to manage - even though I'd no longer need the lighter ones.
I'd written in an earlier blog that I'd decided against Bally Fitness, mostly based on the low likelihood I'd spend much time there because I use walking to get much of my cardio. What dawned on me today was that I definitely would get a use out of it for the weight machines and free weights - something I spend around 30 minutes doing at home 3 days a week right now.
So I walked from the Fitness store to a McDonald's for lunch, then from there all the way back to the Bally Fitness downtown. I got a tour of the place. (Amusingly, I was most impressed by the women's locker room. From outside, I expected it to be pretty small. Instead, there was a long room with many many lockers, then a room with sinks and a counter with hair-dryers, then the toilet stalls and a changing room and more sinks, then the steam room, then the showers - individual ones with curtains.) I've seen it from outside plenty - when I get off my first bus to walk home. It's kept really clean and spacious looking.
So I paid for my membership. Since I know I'll be using it consistently, I went with paying a lump in advance which comes out to a per-month cost I'm more than happy with.
Then I walked on home from there, coming out to a grand total of almost 4 miles walked today. And did my ST which I put off from last night because I just did not feel up to it.
Lastly, I worked out the calories for today, and made myself a stuffed peppers dinner that comes as two servings - but the totals for 2 worked out for my daily allotments. I was really hungry when I started, but now I've got about half a pepper left ... and my stomach says it is too full. Yeesh. I'll leave it counted, I guess, and put it away to finish tomorrow.
Edit: Oh, yeah - changed my "by Spring" goal, so it has been modified from getting dumbbells and other equipment to do a Bootcamp challenge to going to the gym three nights a week for my strength training. I have an appt. on Monday to work with a personal trainer (listed as ... Gaga) and then I'll have a real plan to go by.
Good night peeps.
Friday, January 06, 2012
This is one of the other blog thoughts that has been rattling around in my skull since late December. (I apologize in advance if anyone feels “fat” is a mean term to use. I used it here because I’m trying to encompass everything from chubby on up to morbidly obese in a very general way.)
Too TOO often "Lifestyle Change" is simply inserted in place of "a Diet" in comments, threads, blogs ... even a few articles make it sound almost equivalent, scary enough. For some, it has become the politically correct way for many to say they're trying to lose weight without using that four-letter word Diet. Many have heard the saying that "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results". Yet somehow calling the same old Diet actions a "Lifestyle change" is expected to produce different results.
So ... what makes a "Lifestyle Change" different from the same-old, same-old changes we might have made in past attempts to lose weight? Before I answer, I'm grabbing this off of Wikipedia as I think it's rather important to be clear on just what a lifestyle IS ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifestyle_(soc
A lifestyle is a characteristic bundle of behaviors that makes sense to both others and oneself in a given time and place, including social relations, consumption, entertainment, and dress. The behaviors and practices within lifestyles are a mixture of habits, conventional ways of doing things, and reasoned actions.
Pay attention to that: a lifestyle is the COMBINATION of the actions, not each of the specific actions involved.
What lifestyle were we living before we decided to “do something about it this time”? Probably not the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. More like “Lifestyles of the Fat and getting Fatter”.
What sort of behaviors make sense within that Lifestyle? Buying the yummy snacks we love to eat in large quantities so we always have enough. Taking daytime naps or just lounging on the couch because we’re worn out from the day. Wearing loose and baggy clothing to cover up the bulges and be comfortable.
Also, while those particular lifestyles I listed seem rather broad, our own specific case is unique to us. There are commonalities with others, but it’s not as simple as FAT. I’m a mother of adult children who no longer live with me. Some Sparkers have children, some young, some grown, their own or adopted. Some have grandchildren. Some have no children. Some are married, some are in relationships, some are single. Some are financially hitting bottom, some are struggling along, some are coasting. The possible variety is endless.
Each of those parts of our identity and circumstance help to further define the lifestyle we lead. They are all part of why a behavior “makes sense” to us.
A fat person eats more because their body genuinely needs more to fuel it. Eating more makes sense, not just as some deliberate rational decision, but because of physical necessity. That’s one commonality between pretty much all people living a FAT lifestyle.
Some fat people wear black or baggy clothing, trying to hide themselves as much as possible. They might spend as little time outside as possible to avoid people. Others wear zany colors and patterns, living life as large as they are, often trying to outshine the weight with their personality. Both parts are behaviors of a FAT lifestyle, but near opposites based on the individual.
Now back to the question of what makes a “Lifestyle Change” that isn’t just a euphemism for a Diet.
Obviously to change away from a FAT lifestyle, we have to decide on a NEW lifestyle to live. The most common one to turn to is the DIETER lifestyle:
We start to drink more water because it will help us feel fuller, help us eat less, help us lose weight. We control what we eat, when we eat, how we eat. We add in exercise, especially cardio because it burns calories, often working out more and/or harder because we didn’t control what we ate so well. We turn down cake because we’ve made a lifestyle change. We eat breakfast, with protein, because it will make us less hungry the rest of the day. We scour books and websites and ask friends for tips and advise and apply what we can. We weigh in regularly.
Nearly every action, behavior and habit is directly tied to “losing weight”, “losing fat”, “getting skinny”, or whatever words we use for not being FAT.
What happens if we goof up and fall off the wagon, dropping out those habits? We usually go right back to the familiar and comfortable lifestyle we had – FAT lifestyle.
What happens after we lose all the pounds we wanted to, fit into that dress or tuxedo, went on that vacation? We don’t need the DIETER lifestyle any more. Some people manage to switch over onto the MAINTAINER lifestyle. Many others drop right back to the FAT lifestyle because they never really thought that far ahead. In both of those cases, weight remains the major dictator of habits and behaviors.
A few find a different answer, sometimes skipping DIETER, sometimes spending time as a DIETER before something clicks.
For me, I’m aiming for a FIT lifestyle.
I drink water because my body is 80% water and loses it regularly through sweat, urine, spit, mucus, and more. I drink water because my cells are most effective fighting disease if they are properly hydrated.
I exercise because my heart and lungs are muscles and need to be maintained to continue functioning well. I exercise because I love the feeling of being able to run up a flight of stairs or walk miles without huffing and puffing.
I eat breakfast because it makes me more alert and aware, fueling my body properly to handle things in the morning (a time when I am otherwise a mindless zombie being a night owl).
I eat healthier foods because they allow my body to make necessary repairs and my digestive functions to be regular and appropriate.
I take ME time to recharge and energize because then I can deal with the more negative people or the life obstacles I face.
I’m not there yet. But I’m trying to live as though I am. All of my habits and behaviors and actions are focused on a desired level of physical, mental and emotional fitness.
I’m not living a DIETER lifestyle. I’m not planning to live a MAINTAINER lifestyle.
If my scale told me 225 for the next month, I wouldn’t get frantic about trying to lose weight by eating less, work out more, weigh myself more often, ask what I’m doing wrong. Those are all behaviors that are straight out of a DIETER lifestyle.
Instead, I’d look at what behaviors are keeping the weight on me and ask whether they fit into a FIT lifestyle. I’d also look at what other FIT lifestyle habits and behaviors I might want to add that would help. It might end up being a matter of eating less. But the reason why I’d eat less would be that I recalculated my BMR and found that my range was off. It might be a matter of removing something from my diet, such as red meat. But that would be carefully tested to see if I felt more fit doing so and could still reach my nutrition requirements.
Now, my choice of a new lifestyle may not be the same as yours. Nor will all my behaviors and actions and habits in that new lifestyle match yours.
But the next time you talk about making a “Lifestyle Change”, ask yourself what the lifestyle is that you’re trying to live – not what habit you’re changing that’s part of your current lifestyle.
Thursday, January 05, 2012
Three of my goals in 2011 were not met. Two were my December goals and one was a "by Winter" goal. Amusingly, right about the time I was doing my review of my 2011 goals, I moved into the next strategy of Stage 3 - You Can Overcome Setbacks with an action step of blogging about a single "trouble goal".
Now, first off, I didn't really consider failing to meet the three goals as a setback. I'm progressing along nicely in the overall focus I want to have. But, I definitely did learn something from the difficulty I had with these goals that I can use making better goals and deciding what I really want.
The first goal that I failed to meet was one I could tell by mid-month that I'd written poorly:
4) Increase my protein consumption
Er, increase it from what to what? I completely failed to even look at what it was on average or decide on what I wanted it to be. I only knew that I was regularly having to fill dinner or evening with something to get it to the minimum daily (60g per the SP defaults). All I knew by mid-month I felt like I wasn't really getting anywhere with it, but didn't know why it was so hard.
So, after writing that blog and calling it NOT DONE, I did some reports for comparison. My monthly average for protein in October was 78g then November dropped to 71g then December climbed to 75g. Technically I did "increase" my protein in December compared to November. It had already clicked that I needed a specific, an amount to work for. So my January goal became:
2) Push monthly average protein to 80g
So far I've gotten it over 80g every single day. I feel much better about the goal and like it's more measurable to me and am confident I'll keep it up.
The only trouble with that goal was my lack of knowing exactly what I wanted. I couldn't produce something vague.
My other two goals are two parts of the same puzzle piece:
3) More new recipes tried out - at least three
4) Be actively using whichever menu planner I've picked.
This general area has "always" been an issue for me. It isn't about weight. It isn't about eating right. It isn't about saving money. Or, at least, those aren't the driving reasons.
There's emotional crud clinging to my ability and willingness to cook. Long story as short as I can make it here, I learned to cook in a Junior High School class, enjoying it immensely. One night I spontaneously decided to create home-made pot pies, not even with a recipe, for family dinner. (Everyone was out, but due back later.) They went over quite well.
Not really. The step-mother decided it meant I was now responsible for cooking dinner every other night instead of her. For a family of 8. It immediately went from pleasure to grueling chore. And I learned how to burn, overcook, undercook, etc. until she finally gave up and banned me from the kitchen.
This is some 30 years later, and I have rarely been able to reclaim that sense of wanting to be in the kitchen for me, for the simple pleasure of cooking. Making cookies I did fine - that was a long-time habit with my kids on Saturday to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch. Anything else? Something always made it a chore.
My EX didn't help. Being Latin, one of the big complaints he had about me was that I wasn't a happy (or even unhappy, but doing the work) housewife. I worked as many hours as him, made more than him, and he wanted me to come home and cook and clean while he watched TV ... and take care of the kids too. Yeah, joy, chores and more chores.
Interestingly, what brought me to SparkPeople at all was that a Google search for a free menu planner came up with it among others. And that was also why I didn't even start anything back when I first made the account. I found the menu planner completely inadequate (still do) for what I need and want. I came back for the tracking after a fellow WOW player had mentioned some of what she does here, and am I ever glad I did. (Props to JAHCANNON for the inadvertent Sparking at the time.)
Anyway, that's the core idea behind me pushing these goals on myself. I want to get back to cooking. Now that it's finally just me that I'm feeding, it's not something I have to do because the EX is hungry or the kids are hungry. It's something I can do because I want to.
Of course, I'm trying to do it with a major obstacle that won't always exist. My current living arrangement is such that I only use microwaves (at home and at work). I only have one shelf in a refrigerator, a partial shelf in the freezer, and a shelf in the cupboard. I don't have a lot of space for kitchen utensils or containers. I don't have a cutting board and only have a steak knife, nor do I have a food processor or blender right now. Oh, and I'm trying to only prepare one serving meals at a time as there isn't really room for leftovers.
Being an oddly picky eater ... and cookbooks give me real trouble. I do not eat seafood. Tuna is the only exception. I've tried lobster, I've tried restaurant made fish. There goes the entire seafood section and at least half the soup section and a good chunk of the appetizer section. I won't touch soy in any form knowingly. I'm pretty iffy on things like cream cheese - never got into bagels, am not usually keen on cheesecake. I also don't like most sausages (something about the spices chosen), and even have trouble with pastas like lasagna that use that as the main meat. I don't like whole fruits ... it's a mental battle to bite into an apple, even if I will eat it sliced and love it as juice.
Yeah, I know, I'm weird. I will say that I don't mind trying a food I've never tried before. I'm just very specific once I taste something as to whether I like or don't like it.
In December I went through three cookbooks trying to find recipes. One was for gourmet food for one or two. I should have read it - the author is a no-red meat person who is closer to a vegetarian, but did list a few chicken recipes and quite a few fish ones. Needless to say, other than veggie soups, I didn't find much. And those required more chopping than I can do right now.
The other two were microwave, one focused on 1-2 person items and the other from the microwave manufacturer with 6-8 person meals. I did try a tomato and broccoli one with cheese topping ... and learned that I do NOT like frozen broccoli microwaved. Yuck. I'll eat my tomatoes and broccoli fresh and raw. I also reduced a sloppy joe potato recipe down to a hearty meal (and discovered that even without potato and cheese, it's good stuff).
Okay, went on a lot more than planned on that in this blog and didn't cover the meal planner side. I am actually starting to push the envelope on what I cook for myself. But I think making it a goal came too close to making it into a chore - I kept cringing every time a few more days passed and I ~HAD~ to try to read more recipes. So that is getting tossed out the window as a goal.
I want to ~WANT~ to cook, to build my skill based on core things. Learning to cook eggs in the microwave and ground beef, for example, have been really helpful and can be the basis on which a variety of things can be made (omelettes, spiced beef for meal or filling). So I'm just going to look for a website I had found at one point that was a very broad overview of how to cook with a microwave, how to experiment, which things worked or didn't and why - and learn loosely without any pressure.
(( Oh, and this is too long to really talk about the meal planner situation. But, for the way I'm tracking and eating mostly pre-made meals right now, SP's tracker is sufficient to pre-plan for specific things and otherwise just record what I eat. I will keep putting recipes and favorites into the Meal Planner software with a very long-term goal for it to be part of my kitchen when I have my own place. ))
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
So, briefly mentioned in the prior blog on Time Management was Stephen R. Covey and his "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-
Effective-People/dp/0671708635 Anyone who has read the book or listened to the lectures or attended the seminars already knows about Importance and Urgency. This is for those who don't, but may find it useful in fitting their health activities into their life (and a good refresher for me - I actually have some plans to pick it back up).
(I manually drew this just now. I actually don't remember how the original grid looked.)
Quadrant 1 is the top left square of the grid. Important and Urgent. An example here is going to work. If we don't, it generally has pretty quick consequences like a write-up, less income, or even a lost job. We can't just put it off until tomorrow.
Quadrant 2 is the top right square of the grid. Important but not urgent. An example here is the oil change on a car. If we don't get it done on time, we may not feel any consequence. It will eventually become urgent - the engine can burst into flames if the heat and running rough don't clue us in sooner - but it is easy to put off.
Quadrant 3 is the bottom left corner. Not important but urgent. An example is a child yelling "Mom!" in a store. We rush over and they tell us they want carrots with dinner instead of corn.
Quadrant 4 is the bottom right corner. Neither important nor urgent. A vacation trip goes here. Our favorite TV shows or video games or sports talk goes here.
All of them have a place in our life. Yes, even Quadrant 4. Trying to eliminate all of Quadrant 4 is as silly as saying "I'll never eat anything that isn't good for me". Quadrant 4 is often how we refresh or reward ourselves, what we want to do with our free time.
The biggest problem areas are Quadrant 2 and Quadrant 3.
Our health, physical and mental, far too often is sitting over in Quadrant 2 - being put off because more urgent things keep coming up in Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 3. (And this isn't just a procrastinator's problem. Sometimes we legitimately don't need to do a Quadrant 2 thing today. We can put off shampooing the carpets or filling out our tax forms in January. And it makes sense in January to put them off.)
The things that fill our time to the extent we can't get Q2 things done ... we'd like to think they all belong in Q1. But, no, watching the latest episode of Biggest Loser or the local sports team's games or playing our favorite video games, no matter how much we want them part of our life, our day, they are not Q1.
In fact, Q3 is guilty of sucking up a lot of our time. Every time the phone rings or the children call, we interrupt something. Many things feel urgent in our life. Emails? Gotta read 'em all. New blog posts? Ditto. News at 11, 3, 7, and 11? Can't miss what's going on in the world. Society even reinforces this feeling with ads that tell us to "buy now" and "don't delay" - everything is a rush, urgent. But much of it is not important and if we ignore the demanding voice telling us it is URGENT, we find we don't miss a lot that's important.
In the video, several of the "big rocks" representing things that fit into Quadrant 2.
One was "Planning, Preparation, Prevention and Empowerment". Over-simplified that would be making sure we are ready and able through things like goal-setting or education, and regular physical checkups.
Another was "big opportunity". That could be having savings so we could buy a house, car, move to another city, keeping our eyes on career openings ... anything so we don't see the perfect chance blow by us with no hope of taking advantage.
Another was "Sharpening the Saw". That is any sort of maintenance action. Might be literally taking the time to sharpen a saw or defrost a freezer or test a smoke alarm or it might be keeping our most indispensable tool in good shape. (What's that tool? Our mind and body, of course. We're pretty much ineffective if we're not kept "sharp".)
Now, the point of this wasn't to promote Stephen R. Covey. The time and life management skills he teaches are just tools and there are many other self-improvement tools out there to choose from, or we can even find our own methods built from pieces of what others have.
The point, going back to the big rock concept, was to think about and define for ourselves what our big rocks are - and to not limit those big rocks to only the things we think are important right this moment, but to consider the important things that aren't right there in our face demanding attention.
Until something hurts or stops working right, too many of us ignore our health. Even when we do get forced to pay attention, many of us do the bare minimum. We don't want drugs, so we drop just enough to get off them ... then stop. A heart attack scares us and we're active until it has been long enough we're comfortable again. Then right back to our normal habits.
I think the concept of lifestyle change is really about making important, but not urgent, actions into habits that we get done. Really! Will you fall over dead because you only had 1 glass of water a day? Nope. Will it make you very unhealthy over time? Absolutely. It is important, but not urgent. Will you fall over dead because you only walk to and from your car one day? Nope. Will it make you very unhealthy over time? Absolutely. Again, important, but not urgent.
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