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Join me in my Healthy Habits Challenge

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

First, I MUST thank my spark buddies who suggested I design my own challenge. It has been challenging, but I think I've come up with a good one. Still working out the details, but I put a lot of thought into it and I think it's going to be awesome.

After reading Jeanlecuy's blog about grading herself in 4 parts (25% for each component), I just knew that I had to steal/borrow her idea. My original idea was to retake the health habits quiz from the week 4 WW booklet -- it tells you which habit you need to work on -- but wouldn't you know it's the only one I don't have. I think I'm glad; I think what I came up with is even better.

So, the 4 components of my Healthy Habits Challenge:

1. Mind
2. Body
3. Spirit
4. Food

Sometimes there's some overlap -- some things could fall under both mind and spirit, for instance. But I just pick one and go with it. My idea right now is to try to come up with enough ideas for each category to keep this going for a whole year! I'd welcome any suggestions. I've written down some thoughts, but I'm definitely not up to 12 for every (or any!) category yet.

November's challenge:

1. Mind: work on new tricks with the dogs. This may seem silly, but even for the simplest tricks, there's a lot of thinking and planning. I actually did start this yesterday. We worked on doing our downs with their head down on the floor. Chester already sort of knows this, but Lola doesn't at all.

The trick to teaching tricks is the same as sparking -- break everything down into baby steps. Lots of treats (rewards). Reevaluating when things don't go as planned. And patience, patience, patience.

Now, this may seem a silly goal to you, but it's one I've only been doing haphazardly with them. So making it a goal will keep in in my thoughts.

I will aim for at least 3 sessions a week. It's hard, sometimes, because when the treats come out, the cats want in on the fun too.

2. Body: an short, extra session of strength training at least 2 times a week. Cardio is often more fun for me, so while I do my ST, sometimes it's easier to shirk it. And it's holiday season. Being Jewish helps me escape from some of it, but not all of it. I have the challenge of going to my inlaws for Thanksgiving, going to see my folks this weekend, and the really big challenge of DH having 2 weeks off between Christmas and New Year's. And oh, of course it's dark & cold, too.

3. Spirit: artist's dates! Are you creative? Then you should read the Artist's Way. In it, Julia Cameron recommends artist's dates. A 2 hour block of time each week to renew & recharge your creative side. I think they're supposed to be 2 hours, but I'll be happy if I can get one 1 hour artist date in each week.

4. Food: after photographing my food for several days, I can easily see it's seriously lacking in fruits & veggies. Well, maybe not seriously, but it's lacking. Which is sort of strange, because I love veggies, but not so strange, because they do take more work. So I'm going to aim for at least 3 veggie servings and at least 1 fruit serving at least 5 days a week. Hopefully I'll get more than that, but slow and steady really does win the race. I guess I've got to believe that, since I'm so slow!

One way I plan to get in those veggies is with green smoothies, which have become known as green monsters on the Web. It's an easy way to get in your fruits and veggies (although not quite as satisfying sometimes because it's a drink).

And I found this cool Website -- greenmonstermovement.com/ , started by one of my new favorite blogs, ohsheglows.com/ .

So now I'm thinking about rewards. Specifically 4 rewards that won't break the bank!

I'm excited. I never lost my spark or my motivation, but in hindsight, I can see that it's dimmed a bit. That I've been losing myself in all the moving stuff. It's really hard, sometimes, to remember you deserve to do stuff for yourself, when you've still got so much decluttering, unpacking, and organizing to do. But it's easier to do all the boring stuff when you're also doing stuff for yourself.


Not too many photos today; lots of repeats.

Breakfast was oatmeal. I was going to change it up today and warm up my frittata, some brussel sprouts, and a muffin, but I got caught up down here so I guess today will be oatmeal, too. Gotta make some waffles -- it's been a long time and I'm missing them!

I made some hot cocoa post-dogwalk. Yup, it's hot cocoa season, and I love it. They say chocolate milk is the perfect recovery drink, so surely hot cocoa is even better? I use Ah!laska, which is a non-dairy cocoa mix.

Lunch was the last of the mac & cheese, an apple, and 1 square Lindt Fleur de Sel chocolate. Lola has these gagging fits -- usually at night -- that last a long time, and she woke me up early the night before. So I was really exhausted yesterday.

I snacked on tea with some HV Amaranth crackers again.

Dinner was chickpea curry (from FBD -- awesome) with brown rice, a dollop of yogurt and some brussel sprouts. Then I shared a couple of Viennese chocolates with DH again.

I would call this a good day -- a bit light on fruit & veggies, but it actually did meet my goal for the day. I probably didn't need those Amaranth crackers, but I was getting hungry. In fact, I ended up eating before DH got home (very unusual) because I knew he was getting home a bit late, I was making something different for him, and I was just really hungry.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOMMA_GRIZZ 11/4/2009 8:38PM

    Sounds like a fantastic challenge! Way to go :)

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KEAKMAN 11/4/2009 5:21PM

    GREAT challenge! I like how you are incorporating all aspects of you the person! How long will it last? (or did I miss that part??)

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ME2448 11/4/2009 6:41AM

    Nice Plan

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SEKSUNSHINE 11/4/2009 5:52AM

    Sounds like you have made a great challenge and working with the dogs is awesome. Our boxer will do anything for food, the cat's just sit and watch with a look on their face like you poor pathetic thing, you do that for food?! We don't do anything and get food. Who's the smartest? I am looking forward to seeing how this all works out for you.

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ALBA06 11/4/2009 5:35AM

  WOW you really have broken this journey down into a real plan, good for you. i plan my days the night before because that is the only time i get to know where and when i need to take some of my children and what they need me for. it sounds like you really have put a lot of time and thinking into this plan and i wish you the very best, melissa emoticon

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The need for MY speed

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

One thing I didn't plan for when I went to Europe (I know, the mind boggles) was the fact that the treadmills would be in kph instead of mph. I started out a little slow, doing 3.5 kilometers in half an hour my first workout.

Then I had almost a week off before I was able to run again. They say that you lose your endurance and speed quickly if you're not running at least 3 x week, but I seem to find that I can go faster, easier when I've had some time off.

By the time I finished, I was doing 8.7 kph for my fastest interval, which I was astounded to find out was 5.4 mph! Okay, so that's still really slow by most runner's standards, but for me, it was lightyears away from my fastest interval of 4.7 mph before I left! I was very pleased.

Although I haven't registered, my plan is to do the Freihofer's 5k next June. It's apparently a big deal with elite runners & an expo. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing for my first race (oh, and it's women only).

I'd like to be able to run the entire thing, and I really like not to come in last. As long as I'm not sick, I think I can manage both of those. Maybe. I'd also like to take no longer than 40 minutes -- which might be doable. Yesterday I ran/walked 3.23 miles in 45 minutes, which is the first time I've actually broken the 5k mark, so I'm happy with that.

Now I have to figure out how often do I take a break -- it really does seem to do me good. Once a month? Every other month?

I also think I was able to run faster in Europe for a couple of reasons -- the primary one being that it was my first exercise of the day. Usually at home I'm running after I've walked the dogs, and often after I've done some other stuff around the house, too. The dogs really need their walk in the morning, and DH ain't going do it, so I'm kind of in a bind there.

I am reluctant to run outside, but I think I'll get to that in another blog.

By most people standards, I am still slow. But that's okay. The only thing that matters, really, is that I'm racing against myself. A year and a half ago I couldn't run a mile. Now I can run/walk more than 2 in 30 minutes, and for me, that's HUGE.


Yup, oatmeal for breakfast again. Yesterday was still a weird eating day. Didn't sleep well last night, so I don't think I'll do my grocery shopping today, even though I really need to and have absolutely no idea what the heck we're going to have for dinner.

I had a post-dogwalk & pre-run snack of a PB spiral from the FBD (flat belly diet) cookbook.

An Ezekiel pita with half a banana, 2 tbsp PB, some honey, wheat germ, yogurt, and cinnamon. Yerba Mate Latte in my new cat/dog mug from Prague (I collect mugs). This kept me full way past lunch time, past bagging leaves for 45 minutes.

So I never had lunch. Instead, I snacked on yogurt with the other half of the banana and Kashi granola (usually I make my own, but I'm pretty happy with most Kashi products).

Only I was still hungry, so I had some coconut cocoa tea with a mini clif bar afterwards.

I've really gotten into Larabars recently, and am very excited that some googling brought up lots of recipes, so I'll be trying my hand at making my own once I buy some dates. If I ever get to the food store.

Dinner was whole wheat pasta with home made spaghetti sauce. Kind of light on veggies and fruits yet again. And dessert was one square Lindt Fleur de Sel and one square of their dark chocolate truffle bar.

Yup, I see a pattern of not enough veggies and/or fruit and not enough calcium. I used to take an awesome calcium supplement -- it was a chocolate, a real one -- but they've discontinued them! Which I found out right before our trip. I'm heartbroken!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SLIMMERJESSE 11/3/2009 9:35AM

    You're doing great on your running speed. Congrats! Way to go.

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DDHEART 11/3/2009 8:30AM

    I finally am getting over to check out blogs and I have been enjoying catching up....looking at your photo food log, I am reminded to pay a bit more attention.....problem, after Ive been eatin and drinking in a "vacation mode style" I find I have a lot of cravings....and yes, a lot of it has to do with the water consumption and fatigue....yesterday was better than the day before, today will be better than that etc. etc.

I am proud of your running progress and especialy proud that you found out about treadmills on vacation (you could have been a slug and never learned about the mpk vs mph) You can do the5k.....what a great goal to be working toward! emoticon

Thanks for being one of my cheerleaders when I finally got back to posting on SP.....it really makes a difference to know that friends are rooting for you!

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SEKSUNSHINE 11/3/2009 6:55AM

    You know it doesn't matter how fast someone else goes, or what they think of your speed. Bottom line are you happy with it? That is all that matters. You know your body and you know you. Listen and it will give you the answer. I do my best with early morning exercise or maybe I should put it this way, first thing in the morning exercise. Didn't want you to think you had to get up at 4 am! LOL!!! Keep up the good work!

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Knowledge is power

Monday, November 02, 2009

I firmly believe that. In all areas of our lives. For instance, I just realized that I got up an hour earlier than I needed to -- because my husband hasn't changed his clock yet (I would have done it for him if I knew how). It would have been really nice to know that so I could have stayed in bed a bit longer!

So to be powerful, you've got to know yourself. I know, for instance, that I don't do well traveling if I don't bring food with me. I know that I need a good breakfast to start my day -- so yes, I'm willing to give up precious space to lug around protein bars, oatmeal, single serving packets of peanut butter, nuts, and dried fruit. Even a blender bottle!

I know that when I go out to eat, I don't want a simple grilled fish and steamed veggies most of the time. I want something I don't normally good -- usually something that's not all that great for me.

I know that I'd rather have dessert than an appetizer when I go out to eat -- sometimes. Altho sometimes I'll go with an appetizer because I've got a healthy dessert at home. And sometimes I don't need either.

I know that I'd rather sit and knit all day long, but my pedometer tells me I need to move more. It's really a great little reminder to move.

I know that if I don't drink enough water, I get hungry AND tired; never a good combination. Which is why I drink almost half my water before I take the dogs out for a walk in the morning.

I know that despite the fact that I love vegetables, I still often fall short on them because they take work. Chopping, sauteeing, roasting -- it all takes time. Which is why baby carrots appear so frequently in my food -- they're grab and go. I don't even have to cut them up!

And I know that if I'm not very careful on vacations, or during the holidays, it's really, really easy to pack on the pounds. Probably not a whole lot at one time -- a pound here, 2 pounds there. But before you know it, you're 40 lbs overweight because you just didn't pay attention. Or more. I need to pay attention. And I'll admit it: sometimes I'm tired of paying attention. Some days I want to eat whatever I damn well please.

But the truth is I'm not really tired of it, because I like how I look. I definitely have more energy. 2 years ago, all the walking I did on vacation and all the raking I've done since I've been back would have killed me. I see how tired it makes my husband. Poor guy can barely move, but that's because he IS so sedentary. Of course, it wasn't a vacation for him, either; it was work. But he still doesn't get that my strength training isn't just about looking good -- it's about having the muscle you need to get through your days without being exhausted.

I know a lot of things, but I'm always learning new stuff, too. What do you know?


Yesterday's breakfast was my reese's cup oatmeal. I really do love it so much that I could eat it every day, but I do eat other things occasionally, too. I want to do some baking this week -- going to visit the family this weekend -- it's starting already!

I need a snack in between breakfast and lunch. I know I should have had something like some fruit and nuts, but it wasn't what I was in the mood for. I had some Health Valley amaranth crackers (they're good!), a slice of dried pineapple, and coconut cocoa tea.

Lunch was leftover white pizza with baby carrots. I love veggie pizza, but unfortunately I really love white pizza too. It is loaded with calcium due to the ricotta, at least. Someday maybe I'll be able to be satisfied with just one slice.

Not pictured: an apple for dessert.

Dinner was home made mac & cheese with roasted brussel sprouts. the mac & cheese also has a lot of calcium, so at least I got my calcium in. It's also got some butternut squash in there (even DH likes it!), and I use whole wheat elbows. So yes, a bit of an indulgent day, but not terrible. And I did do an hour of raking.

Dessert was shared chocolates with my husband again. Only I was still a bit hungry, so I had one square of Lindt's Fleur de Sel chocolate, too.

We're still a bit light in food in the house. I probably should do some food shopping today, but will probably wait til tomorrow.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STARTSPARKING 11/3/2009 4:19AM

    Yes, knowledge is power... Ignorance is NOT bliss. Neither is denial. Lately I've been hiding my head in the sand and not listening to my inner voice. I haven't been taking very good care of myself. I needed to read your blog today.

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MOMMA_GRIZZ 11/2/2009 7:04PM

    Knowledge is power - you are absolutely right. And we certainly learn a lot on this journey :)

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KEAKMAN 11/2/2009 2:07PM

    A local radio station had a slogan a few years ago of which your blog reminded me: knowledge is power - become a tyrant!

I love that notion, and coupled with your blog, it really fires me up - knowing myself makes me all-powerful, and that is a good thing. (as long as I don't start thinking that means I can boss my DH around!)

I keep seeing you and others eating brussles sprouts and I want to try them but am too big of a sissy.....would you fly out here and whip me up a batch, if I promise to love them (or at least pretend really good!)?

I have been craving mac and cheese - and now you ate it! Butternut squash - how much and how did you prepare it? (see - I told you that your photo meals give me ideas!)

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DIY Challenge/Food blog

Sunday, November 01, 2009

As I've written, I'm taking up the challenge from my spark buddies and creating my own challenge. And part of that will be a photo record of what I ate. I am still in the pondering stage of how often. Every day? 5 days a week? Weekends only? It takes time to photograph every meal, prep those photos, and blog them. But there's something about having your food out there in living color that really brings it home to you even more than writing it down.

Originally I thought maybe I'd do this on my now-dead cookbook maven blog (which will be revived . . . someday). But I'm thinking for now SP may be the place. Feel free to comment. I may ignore it, or I may take it to heart, but either way, comments are welcome. And this will be just one part of my challenge.

Breakfast was my reese's cup oatmeal (1 tsp dark chocolate chips & 2 tbsp peanut butter mixed with 1 serving rolled oats -- you probably won't "see" this often, but it will be listed a LOT. Double chocolate mate tea. And there's the Naturally More peanut butter I use.

An unpictured snack: a Jocolat Larabar.

This is an unusual lunch for me. Bagel with Tofutti cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon) with baby carrots. The lox is very nutritious, but the bagel not so much. Yes, I could get myself a wheat bagel, but this is something I only do once in a while. I guess we'll see, huh? It sure did keep me full for a long time, and I left a few bites of bagel over.

Not pictured were the 2 chocolates I shared with my husband. We bought a pack of chocolates in Vienna -- supposedly tourist's favorites -- so we've been sharing that. So basically one chocolate.

The starter for my dinner. A simple salad with a cut up apple, pecans, and home made vinaigrette dressing. I realized that I was pretty woefully short on both veggies and fruit today.

The main course: a frittata with onions and asparagus. I froze these leftovers before I left, and they didn't taste quite as good. I was still hungry after dinner, so I had a Simply Well chocolate pudding, which I've been counting as calcium but since it only has 10% of the daily recommended amount, I guess I really can't. It does have probiotics in it -- and the cats & dogs sure think it's yogurt (but can't have any since it's chocolate). I was STILL hungry, so I had a dark chocolate covered biscuit.

Okay, not a stellar day of eating, but not terrible, and certainly an improvement on the day before. I didn't have any Halloween candy at all. We only had 7 trick or treaters -- a far cry from the hordes we used to get in Austin (of course it did rain). I came down here to find the leftover candy, so I put that away in a drawer. I certainly don't need to look at it (DH will probably bring it into work tomorrow) and the dogs don't need to get into it, either.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STARTSPARKING 11/3/2009 4:22AM

    I like seeing your meals in photos! emoticon Thanks for sharing, and good luck with your challenge. emoticon

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SUNNY89 11/1/2009 9:30AM

    Very neat idea to stay on track and focused. Thanks for sharing.

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KEAKMAN 11/1/2009 9:22AM

    I like your challenge! (it will give me ideas for MY meals! I am still loving Reese's Oatmeal in the mornings)

And if seeing your food in living color helps you to be more aware of it, that's great. My only concern is that you don't let your meals get cold being the photographer! But now that you've photographed your oatmeal, you don't have to do that again, so that will be good....

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Raking leaves on a windy day

Saturday, October 31, 2009

That's what weight loss is like. Oh yeah, I got some of the raking done yesterday -- and yes, it was a windy day.

It's hard work. Raking is hard work on the best of days, but even harder when it's windy (sort of like trying to type this message with a 14 lb cat trying his darndest to attach himself to me). You see all your hard work swirled away by the wind.

And yet, when all is said and done, you are left with piles of leaves and a sense of accomplishment.

We don't always have control over our weight loss -- or even our eating (or lives) for that fact. Yesterday I had a rare "bad" day of eating where I craved chocolate right after breakfast, and just sort of grazed for most of the day. I finished off the last third of my brownie, plus a vitabrownie, and couple of dark chocolate covered cookies, too. I ended up with yogurt, a banana, a little granola, and a few chocolate chips for lunch because that's what I wanted. But then rounded it off with a nice healthy dinner.

Thankfully, I don't have days like this too often. Usually they come around TOM, but that is past -- I'm guessing it's because I'm still not getting quite enough sleep, still waking up too early, but I'm slowly getting back into my natural sleeping patterns. And then we change time tonight! And we already changed time in Europe. Life is just weird sometimes.

So maybe I won't take off my 1.8 lbs so fast, or maybe I will. That's okay. I did what I needed to do. I also walked the dogs, twice, and ran and raked leaves for 45 minutes.

And as so many of you suggested, I am working up my own personal challenge. I'll share it, of course, when I figure it all out, and I may need a little feedback, too.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KEAKMAN 10/31/2009 5:14PM

    Great analogy! Where does the "jumping in the pile of leaves" part come in??! emoticon

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MOMMA_GRIZZ 10/31/2009 11:15AM

    Raking leaves is hard work - good for you! Reminds me that I have to get out there too :(

You'll get back into the swing of things, quickly I'm sure, it's hard with all the different time zones you've been through but it will come back. Have a great weekend!

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EOSTAR_45 10/31/2009 10:27AM

    Good for you for getting out and doing some raking. It is great exercise. I am one of those people though who actually enjoy raking or maybe I just enjoy working outside:-) Yesterday, the wind raked the leaves for us and put them right outside the backdoor. By the end of the day, we had to climb over the hill to get into the house :-)! But that's okay, it will make raking even more easier today when I get off. All I will have to do is just bag them.

Have a great Saturday!!

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SEKSUNSHINE 10/31/2009 6:34AM

    You got it, all the feedback you want. Have a great Saturday! FYI I just let the wind blow the leaves to the neighbors yard, he hates them. He mows all year long, winter time to chop them up, he's is obsessed!

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