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Looking Forward, Looking Back

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

I've been challenged to visualize where I'll be in 10 years, and what I might say to my "now" self, then. That is a challenge indeed! I certainly know where I want to be: healthy, several sizes smaller, fitter, involved in all types of exercise regularly, fully connected with family and friends and helping to inspire them to reach their goals . . . . But can I believe that "me" is really out there? That's the question!

Based on past experience, I'd have to say that particular "future me" is only one possibility. What seems most likely is that I will continue in the way I have gone for the LAST 10 years: sometimes "up" and committed and doing well at becoming what I want to be, and a lot of times just managing to slip from day to day without thinking much.

So what would my "future me" want to say to my "present me"? I guess first and foremost would be to mention the necessity of mindfulness. Of living with conscious intention. Setting goals and keeping them in the forefront of my mind, and taking advantage of each opportunity as it comes along to work toward reaching those goals. That is very hard for me at present, as a full-time working mom and housewife, with all the time-consuming responsibilities that entails! But I think my future self would encourage my present self that little steps do matter, little changes do add up, and that as long as you're alive it's not too late to refocus and start again! I think Future Me would also encourage me to make time to stay connected with the people that encourage and inspire me to live better. Like Sparkpeople!

I think Future Me would also tell me that committing to change is worth it, that more can be accomplished that I am presently prepared to believe. That dreaming big is a step in the right direction, not an exercise in futility! And I think Future Me would say Thank You. Thanks for taking the time in your busy present life to make your future a priority, and to begin making the little changes needed to get there. Because "there" can be better than "present me" might dare to hope, and it's worth it!



My August Challenge

Thursday, August 01, 2013

So here it is August 1st! I find it hard to believe that summer is half over, and that I've been Sparking for three whole months now! Progress has been . . . well, inconsistent. So much coming and going, during the summer, when I couldn't access my Spark account; so many "special events" and holidays, birthdays and outings that all involved high-calorie foods . . . . But also so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the nice weather and different, fun types of exercise! And so much farm-fresh produce to enjoy!

So today, the beginning of a new month, my goal is to take a fresh grasp on my life, and get consistent about doing what I know I need to be doing. The motivation isn't hard, this time of year, especially with all the positive energy and support of the Spark community! But what's hard is consistently finding time to exercise, eat right, drink my water, and track it all daily! So my goal for the month is simple: see how long I can make my streaks in each of those areas. At least 20 minutes of exercise each day, tracking my food each day, drinking and tracking the water each day. I know if I am consistent, I'll see good results! So to make it more fun, I've decided to reward myself at the end of the month with a trip to the mall for some just-for-fun luxury items, if I can keep my streaks going all month! Wish me luck!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JOHGLO2011 8/1/2013 12:48PM

    Good luck on keeping your streaks going! One day at a time does the job. :)

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Not "You have to" but "I can"! Yes, I can!

Monday, July 01, 2013

When I started my Spark journey (a couple of months ago), I had a lot to learn about what weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle were all about. I thought I had to follow a specific diet (which had never worked, long-term, for me before), giving up all kinds of foods that I love and focusing on eating only healthy, "diet-worthy" foods. But I sure was confused about just what those magical "healthy" foods were! Only certain fruits and veggies? Maybe lean meats? Certainly not bread or any delicious baked goods! Are carbs bad? Do I have to give up everything containing sugar? And so on . . .

Imagine my joy, then, to discover that this Spark journey is NOT about deprivation! It's not about rigidly following a regimen of diet and exercise and never getting to include those comfort foods I love. It really is a journey of discovery: to discover what I can eat and do to really and truly bring about the changes in my life that I want--that I choose, not that someone else (or societal pressure) tells me I must!

I have discovered over the past weeks that I can choose from SO MANY really great-for-you and delicious foods and recipes. There's really no limit to the variety of combinations of good-for-you foods to choose from! Also, I've been learning that I can make many of my favorite comfort foods in healthier ways. I've even discovered that I can eat some of my favorite "bad" foods sometimes--and not feel bad afterwards, because it's all part of a long-term lifestyle plan. One "bad" choice doesn't mean I've ruined everything! And there are so many FUN exercise options out there that I can try!

I feel so empowered! I CAN make the changes to my lifestyle that I need to, as I learn more about where I want to go and what are the best ways to get there! I CAN have a choice each day--each hour--about how I want to work on meeting my goals, and I CAN enjoy it, too!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAT321123 7/1/2013 1:26PM

    Yay! I love this blog post! =) It's funny how "easy" a healthy lifestyle can be when you make some of those realizations.

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MRSRIGS1 7/1/2013 1:07PM

    AWESOME! emoticon

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Stress Eating

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I know, stress is bad for you, mentally and physically. I know it can derail a diet (by making you crave lots of "comfort foods" you would normally avoid, or at least eat in moderation; or it can make your metabolism less effective at burning calories you consume).

I have been under a significant amount of stress lately, and I do see that I've eaten more, and more of the "wrong things" than I would have otherwise. But I also see that I've exercised more than I would have, too. Because getting away, physically, from a stress-inducing place, is a relief, mentally; and releasing tension by working up a good sweat is a relief, physically.

But I see another stress-related problem, as well: that old not-being-able-to-sleep-because-your-mind-
won't-shut-down issue. Not enough hours of actual, stress-relieving sleep means I'm tired during the day. Being tired makes me crave sweets for quick energy, and lowers my resistance to saying NO to temptation. My rational self knows this is not a help, but my stressed-out inner me just wants immediate comfort.

So . . . I knew I had to find other ways to deal with stress. Yesterday, I did give in and just take a mid-afternoon nap. It was great! And low-calorie! And I must have been really wiped out, because napping didn't interfere with my sleep last night, either. And I found a friend to talk with about some of the stressful issues of my life, and pray together. That helped a lot, too! I think I may be on to something! So my mission for the next week is to actively look for other ways to relieve stress that DON'T include eating sweets! Ideas, anyone?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NHES220 7/1/2013 5:46PM

    Sorry, I am a little late in responding to this, hopefully this will still be helpful:
According to SparkPeople:
Here are 7 of our favorite Stress Busters, but feel free to develop your own:

1. Take a walk
Want a break from the office? Does your house feel like an insane asylum? Slip out the door and let your feet take you somewhere. Not only will walking give you the opportunity to clear your head and take a break from that hectic situation, but itís great aerobic exercise, too.

2. Call a friend
We all have someone whose voice alone perks us up. Give them a buzz, even for a few minutes. Whether with a joke or a funny story, or just by listening, they will likely put a smile on your face and calm you down. Besides, what are friends for?

3. Write in a journal
Expressing our feelings could be the best way to deal with stress. Keeping a journal is a way to capture those feelings at any moment. You donít have to worry about what others think or say, just let your pen do the work. By the time youíre done, those feelings will be on their way out of your system.

4. Play a board game
Remember these? Maybe there are a dozen stashed in your closet, waiting to be dusted off. Monopoly probably should be saved until you have a few hours to spare, but quick kidsí games like Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Connect Four, or even Twister are always good for a smile.

5. Work up a sweat
Have some pent up frustrations? Thereís no better way to get rid of them than by exercising. Pop in a workout tape, hop on your bike or grab your jump rope. Youíll be too busy working up a sweat to worry about whatís stressing you out. Picture the stress leaving your body through your pores.

6. Plan something fun
Is there a trip you want to take but never had time to get it together? Or a dinner youíve always wanted to make? Nowís the time. Not only will you take your mind off things, but youíll be spending time eagerly anticipating a great getaway or meal later. Itís a win-win situation.

7. Take a hot bath
A hot bath will initially give your body a kick, which in turn will give your mind a kick too Ė and then itíll slow both down. Add bubbles and a few candles and you have the ultimate soothing atmosphere. A rubber ducky is optional.

For me it would be taking a walk or listening to music, maybe taking a drive.

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Social Eating

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I have found, over the last couple of months of Sparking, that I'm pretty good at following my eating plan when I have time to pre-plan meals, do a complete shopping, and be home to cook. (That's an accomplishment, all in itself, for rather disorganized me!) But I have also noticed a real issue: how to handle eating properly in a social situation.

Over and over in the past weeks I've run into situations where a friend has invited me over for coffee (which I love), and has made cookies or muffins to go with it ("because I knew you were coming!"). Or a friend or family member is having a birthday or graduation or a cookout, and there is party food, and especially desserts! Or I come home from work tired, and my dear husband says, "Oh, I don't want you to have to cook tonight. Let's just order pizza!" And I find myself giving in to the temptations. To be "polite", "because it's a special occasion", or simply because "I'm too tired to think about healthy eating".

I see that I have a real need to have a plan in place for dealing for these unexpected and unhelpful events! Ways to have a plan in place so that when I arrive home from work too tired to cook, there are already healthy and easily grab-able things to eat. Ways to say to that dear friend or family member, "Thank you so much for thinking of me!", without eating the cookies or muffins, the cake and ice cream, or the barbecue and all the trimmings, too!

I think that just being more aware that I have the CHOICE to say, "No, thank you" can be a real help. And I am finding that the SparkRecipes are a valuable resource for meal and snack planning. Now I just need to work on getting the shopping done regularly, so there are always good choices available to grab when I'm coming in or running out the door . . . .

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AHALTOM 6/14/2013 11:38AM

    I have learned that having a plan is the most important lesson when developing a healthy lifestyle. Don't leave anything up to chance. If you know you're going to attend a cookout or party where there will be unhealthy choices, take it upon yourself to bring the healthy dish that you know you can pile onto your plate along with a small portion of an unhealthy dish that you really enjoy. This way you don't feel guilty. You were conscious about your health and you were able to indulge a bit too. Something else I've learned is that you have to let people know that you're serious about making changes and then stick to it. There's nothing wrong with you politely saying no to a treat or a food that you haven't planned on eating. It may be difficult at first, because you don't want to sound like a food snob or hurt someone's feelings, but will power is just like a muscle and it has to be worked in order to get stronger. Sooner or later the people close to you will catch on and respect your decisions and accommodate to you. Either they will stop tempting you with foods they know you're just not going to eat or they will take the extra step in making a healthier version for you. This concept doesn't work just for friends who like to make cookies, it works for significant others as well. Trust me. My boyfriend loves pizza and the day I left dinner up to him and he brought a huge salad for me and then a veggie pizza just in case I might want some was the day I knew I had made a break through. :) You can do it just stick to you plan.

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KAT321123 6/12/2013 2:59PM

    I think itís all about balance if you can find balance for yourself. As well as prioritizing. If you go to a friendís house for coffee, can you bring a healthy treat to share and have ONE cookie (and make sure to reduce your calories in other ways that day)? Can you let your husband know that you really appreciate him not expecting you to cook after a long day but that youíd rather find another option than pizza (our partners can definitely unintentionally sabotage our efforts)? If youíre going to a birthday party can you eat first and then just have one bite of cake/BBQ/whatever? Moderation can be hard sometimes but itís a great skill to develop.
Youíre right, though Ė social events can be tough. At work we have a potluck occasionally and Iíve taken to not bringing anything and not eating anything (I bring my lunch and eat it before or after the potluck).
As for the prioritizing, sometime it might feel like you want to prioritize ordering pizza some night, having an extra cookie, etc. Personally I think thatís fine Ė this is a lifestyle and I know Iím not going to be able to sustain perfection for the rest of my life. Tonight Iím going to a cupcake event and will probably consume 600 calories in cupcakes. Is that the healthiest choice? Nope. But itís a choice that Iím making and Iím just making sure to eat extra healthy the rest of the day to make up for it.
I realize this stuff isnít ďone size fits allĒ and that my choices may not work for you =) But just giving you my two cents on whatís worked for me!

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NHES220 6/12/2013 1:21PM

    Good for you, I know you want to be polite, but that way you just end up going over your calories and eating the wrong things! I end up doing a lot of slow cooker recipes for those days where my husband is working late or we're going to the gym and I know we won't have time to cook something later.

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