Monday, July 23, 2012
So I got up this morning, nervous about what I might see on the scale (when will I stop letting that thing intimidate me?) But I stepped on, and it was good news -- down another 6.5 lbs for a total of 17.5 lbs lost!
Phew! That made for a happy day!
Two weeks into making changes in my life, and they seem to be going pretty well! I am doing things differently than I had been just previous to this (the three biggest changes right now are measuring what I eat, entering everything into the food tracker, and getting back on track with exercising). But you know what?
It hasn't been that hard.
That is probably the biggest shock to me right now. Don't get me wrong -- there have been some struggles. On days that I don't get my exercise in right away in the morning, I have to force myself to stop procrastinating and just *do* it! The end of the day is a dandy time, too; as I start getting tired, my tummy kicks into overdrive. I know the reason it wants to be fed is because eating will allow me to be able to stay up longer, but if I give in, I will end up eating way too much and staying up much later than I should (both of which work against the positive changes I am trying to incorporate into my life). And there are the everyday stressors that come with having a family with young children, some of which really push all the buttons that would normally have me diving face-first into a bowl of ice cream.
Despite the fact that I talked in a previous blog post about how very ordinary embarking on this lifestyle has been for me, there is quite likely still some aspect of a "honeymoon" period. I keep waiting to see what is going to happen when get further into things and how I will handle significant challenges when they crop up...
Saturday, July 21, 2012
With the major diets I have gone on in my life, there has been some component of tracking food. Two of those involved writing what I ate on a piece of paper or in a booklet. That pretty much went over like a lead balloon. I would lose what I was using to record my meals. Or I would be out with friends for a night of eating and drinking, and I would forget to write what I had eaten (or couldn't remember how much I'd had of something). There always seemed to be some reason why I couldn't get that right. And if I was such an abysmal failure with the stupid tracking system, what were the chances of me succeeding with the diet? Slim to none (no pun intended) ;)
On my first go-around with Spark People four years ago, I was in a different place with my life circumstances. My husband and I had just adopted our son, the second adoption for us in less than 18 months. Going from a childless household to two kids in that short time frame was a trial by fire, to say the least. Even though I had the option of tracking my food online by that time, I found many different reasons for not doing it (and oftentimes, they were toddler- and baby-sized). So I fell away from it.
This time, however, I feel as if the food tracker has the potential to free me from that lifetime of diet screw-ups. To be sure, part of it is my attitude toward it. Instead of seeing it as a chore, I view it with curiosity and as a tool to help me decide where I want to spend my caloric allotment for the day. "I wonder what the calories and nutritional value is for X?" "I really like what I'm eating. What would happen if I had half a serving more?" I can check items out virtually before making it a reality.
It also has definitely helped me identify areas that I didn't really even know were a problem, like my sodium intake. That really was a shock to me; I don't salt anything except corn on the cob and cucumbers. Even then, we're talking an eighth to a quarter of a teaspoon of reduced sodium salt on the infrequent occasions when I have them. During those first couple days back on Spark People, I kept seeing my sodium being out of whack and knew I had to rein it in. So I tweaked what I was eating a bit and brought it down. I still need to be vigilant about it because it's so easy for my sodium level to go sky-high, but at least I know have a tool to help me do that.
And I am totally tickled about the smartphone app! It really has made tracking my meals and water intake much easier because it with me all the time. Plus, itís far more discreet than pulling out a food diary to log in my intake.
Incorporating permanent habits that are going to benefit me in the long run are challenging, but the right mindset and the right tools to implement the changes are making a considerable difference this time around.
A complete aside here: Iíve seen many of those graphics announcing ďI lost XX pounds with Spark People,Ē or ďDropped X pants sizes with Spark People.Ē Iíve looked various places on the website for them but have not been able to find them. Can someone direct me to where they are? Thanks!
(Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chumpolo/5326
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Meal planning was not even a blip on my screen for the first 20 years of my adult life. I mean, yes, I understood what it was, but I didnít make it a part of my weekly tasks. I just did what many people do Ė kept general staples in the house, came home after school or work with no clue what I would be making, and then rummaged around to see what was available. Depending on the day, if I didnít find anything I wanted, I would either do a little grocery shopping to gather some items for whipping up a meal, or I would order takeout.
It stayed this way after getting married because I was in grad school and working two jobs at the time. Graduation didnít bring about any changes because, well, old habits die hard. Plus, I think my husband and I were a little spoiled. We could just decide on a whim what we wanted. None of this silly planning stuff for us!
Becoming a parent changed this. Lack of planning oftentimes led to chaos. You know, those kids get fussy if they donít eat on time! ;) Takeout was happening far too much, so we knew we needed to change.
The problem is, menu planning is hard work and takes a lot of dedication. My husband and I would get going on it, and then it would sputter out. Some of the old plans would resurface, and weíd give it a go again. Stop, start, stop, start. About the only thing we were consistent with was not sticking to the plan.
The beginning of summer meant that my children were now home all day, and they were HUNGRY! I knew I had to take the bull by the horns and make changes that were permanent. I located the meal plans that had been scattered in various spots around the house and on the computer and put them all in one easy-to-access file. I then created a template for the weekly meal plan that included a column for identifying where a recipe was found, a column for advance preparation instructions (I also use this column for comments on changes that I want to make to the recipe), and a notes column to review a recipe.
This last column has ended up being really important; as I go through the magazines and cookbooks I have, I invariably stumble upon recipes I have made before. Iíll think, ďI remember making this! Maybe I should try it againÖĒ But then I will check back in my archives and read something like, ďVery time-consuming! No flavor. Donít make again!Ē It has saved me on more than one occasion from wasting my food and time on something that we donít want.
Meal planning is worth it for many reasons:
1) It saves time. Yes, the initial set-up can be a pain, and going through recipes can be time-consuming. However, I am now to the point that, if pressed for time, I have enough old meal plans that I can pick meals from 3-4 different weeks to create one new plan. Also, there is no more hemming and hawing about what to make or digging in the fridge and pantry to see if we have the ingredients to make something once the decision has been made.
2) It saves money. Instead of just buying a variety of items and hoping that I have everything I need for what we will eat for the week, I create a grocery list based on the meal plan. And the first few lists I made, I created them purposefully to use up the excess we had in the house of some random items. I couldnít believe how much food was just sitting on the shelves and probably would have been thrown out! Plus, we arenít going out to eat near as much.
3) It saves stress. Really, having to make the decision every day about what to eat is stressful. Pre-planning meals has taken the guesswork out of it and freed my mind to focus on other things.
4) I know I am staying on my plan. That, in and of itself, makes meal planning worth it.
Do you do weekly meal planning? If so, how do you go about it, and how does it work for you?
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
When I was growing up, meals rarely happened around the kitchen table. Only when there was some sort of family gathering (usually around the holidays) or when there was a special meal planned did we eat at the table.
There were a couple factors that contributed to this. My dad, after working all day at his job and around the house, wanted to watch the evening news. And he was hungry, so he ate his supper in front of the television. We all followed suit.
As my siblings and I got older, we participated in more after-school activities and spent more time with friends. With all the divergent schedules, it became virtually impossible to establish a set meal time. We'd grab meals on the fly or would take something to our rooms to keep us going as we studied.
The habit of just eating wherever and whenever followed me to adulthood. In college and even during the early years of my marriage, I would eat while on the computer or watching television. I never took a real lunch break at work, instead opting for eating at my desk while going through emails and working on projects.
As the arrival of our daughter neared, my husband and I sat down and talked about the importance of eating meals at the table. He agreed with that we should change how we do things here at home, so we started eating supper and weekend meals at the table. How I handled meals at work didn't change, however.
Fast forward a few years. We now had two children, and I was a work-at-home mom. With my daughter in school and my son still napping over the noon hour, there seemed no need to eat at the table, so I didnít. I grabbed bites here and there as I did laundry, prepared meal plans, and did all the other necessary household chores. Because the only truly dedicated time I had to devote to my business was when my husband was home from work, I worked during supper and my husband would bring me meals. I was eating while doing something else for nearly every meal.
The reasons this was an unhealthy habit were numerous: 1) it took me away from my family, 2) because I was distracted by whatever task I was doing, it didnít really register with me that I was eating at all, 3) with being used to being ďon the goĒ all the time, it made eating at the table boring, and 4) I perceived that I was hungry even after I had eaten (but maybe I needed the multitasking that eating and doing something else brought me?)
Since starting back with Spark People, I have made a conscious choice to eat every meal and snack at the kitchen table. No computers. No smartphones. No TV. Just my food and pleasant family conversation.
It hasnít been easy to not eat while I am preparing the kidsí meals or to look at my phone while sitting at the table. Like I said, eating is inherently boring to me. And even though it is nearing supper time and my stomach is growling a bit as I type this, I wonít go into the kitchen to bring back a little snack with me. I think this, like many of the other healthy habits I am working on, will just take some time to develop until they become second nature.
Do you feel the need to multitask while eating? Where do you normally eat your meals?
(image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02/
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Today was the first weigh-in since starting back with Spark People. I felt so many things -- nervous, excited, scared. I was wondering where all of this was coming from since, as I said yesterday, there had been an unusual calm about this all during the week. Maybe it was the *first time* weigh-in nerves.
So I stepped on the scale, looked down, and gasped. There had been a change, all right. An 11-lb. change. To make sure there wasn't a glitch with the scale, I hopped off and got back on. Sure enough, I had lost 11 lbs. the first week.
I was definitely happy to see that change. At the same time, I started thinking about what I was doing just prior to last week. We all had gone to visit my family over the July 4th holiday. Of course, all the usual fare was available in a bountiful spread. Not having preplanned anything, I partook. A lot. And it showed on the scale, in how my clothes fit, and how I felt after it was all over.
Going from that extreme to focusing more on what I am eating was bound to have a positive effect. No doubt, the exercise that I incorporated into my week helped, too, not to mention the fact that I have a lot to lose.
This morning was a big motivation booster, to be sure. But I can't help but be mindful of the fact that this is a continual process, that even if that had been the last pound to goal that I would still need to work diligently to maintain because this is something that I canít ever stop doing. Ever. Even if I had gained, I couldn't let the positive things I am starting in my life go by the wayside.
Being more tempered with how I approach this is bound to even out the peaks and valleys. Honestly, plugging ahead day after day and avoiding the emotional rollercoaster sounds pretty good.
On to Week 2! Wishing great things for all of us
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