Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Little Contest...but BIG renewal of my eating values

It's sort of funny how deja vus happen in life, this one in particular. Last week in TOPS, we started the not-so-famous Leaf Contest, a contest that I started 2 years ago in the first week of October 2012, which incredibly changed my eating habits. So it is very fitting that we are doing the same exact contest 2 years later down to starting the first week in October.

The 8 week contest involves 40 leaves, 5 of which can be achieved each week: 1) food journal each day, 2) drink 8 cups of water each day, 3) exercise 3 times per week, 4) attend a weekly TOPS meeting, and 5) lose weight that week. The person who gets the most leaves wins, providing that the person won at least 3 pounds. Even if someone loses more weight, the person who gets most leaves for process wins. So that makes it a very fair contest, no matter what weight a person starts out at for the initial weigh-in.

In 2012, I seriously worked this contest to get consistent with my eating. My biggest food goal was: consistency. No more big overeats or binges. That was more important to me than winning the contest.

I started consistently food journaling at the beginning of October, 2012, and have continued ever since. (So, yes, this is my 2nd Foo-jou-versary!) At first, I really didn't want to!!! I felt lazy or some similar feeling, but just kept going. This initial persistence allowed me to discover that food journaling is the solution that people should pay thousands of dollars for because food journaling is that incredible. Seriously. People who food journal lose weight and tend to keep it off. I've seen it over and over and over at TOPS.

Also during that first contest in 2012, I forced myself to eat within calorie range each day. If I felt super grumpy or stressed out, I did not allow myself to overeat. During those overly emotional days, I started to find non-food solutions to all types of emotions. By the end of the contest, I had 8 full weeks of handling emotional eating under my belt.

For those of you who read my blog back then, you know this...In 2012, I won the $10 contest. I also won 2 months of best loser--$5 bucks for each month. I also won $10 for being the best quarterly winner in my weight range. I possibly won a few bucks beside that too.

But the big thing I won was self-respect and a bunch of pounds off--plus a new understanding about how to keep them off.

Since that contest in October 2012, keeping at a good weight has been so much easier. So this October 2014, I am enjoying this contest a lot. It's a renewal of all of the values I had when we first did this contest. It will lead me the very best way into the tri-holiday season.

So, while writing this, I'm making baked apple chips in the oven. And I'm looking forward to many squash and so many delicious healthy foods that fall offers, that I can eat while kickin butt at this contest. I'm pretty sure that I will get all 5 leaves tonight at the meeting.

What do *you* think? How are you doing food-wise during the beginning of this tri-holiday season? And anything else you'd like to comment about.

Have a Beautiful Fall day!

 :-) Marion

Monday, October 6, 2014

Healthy Food Currently in My Home (A Big List)

Sometimes, people don't know what types of foods to eat if they want to switch over to a healthier diet, so today I am going through my fridge, freezer, kitchen countertop and pantry to give you a list of healthy foods that I'm eating right now.

Healthy foods I have in my home right now:

Kitchen countertop
5 Acorn squash
2 Cantaloupe

1/2 bushel of Cortland apples
Concord grapes
Red grapes
Romaine lettuce
4 Dozen Eggs
Orange juice
Cottage cheese
Green Peppers
Honey mustard
Yellow mustard
Deli mustard
Various salad dressings
Siracha sauce
Chili garlic sauce
Soy sauce
Feta cheese
Shredded Swiss cheese
Sharp Cheddar cheese
American cheese
Parmesan cheese

Frozen mixed vegetables
Frozen broccoli
Frozen pineapple
Frozen chicken breasts
Frozen fish fillets

Sweet Potatoes
Cans of beets
Cans of Black beans
Cans of Kidney beans
Peanut butter
Cans of tuna
Plain oatmeal
Olive oil
Split pea soup mix
Unsweetened ice tea mix
Hot cocoa packs
Green tea
Green/Lemongrass/Coconut tea
Masala chai tea
Apple spice chai tea
Pumpkin spice tea
Strawberry herbal tea
Large containers of Crushed red pepper, Minced garlic, Italian seasoning, Bay leaves, Sesame Seeds, Curry, Garlic Salt

I put cheese on my "healthy" food list. I eat shredded cheese on salads, and a slice of cheese melted into vegetables. I guess I view it as "healthy" in the sense that it helps me like healthy food more. I view butter that way too. I also made a list of sauces that we commonly use for cooking that make us like healthy food more.

Yes, we also have other unhealthy food in our home too. As I have previously explained, my kids and husband eat what they want. I've actually listed some of the questionable food in previous years. However, if you have a good set of healthy food, it's a lot easier to eat in a healthy way even if there is unhealthy food and treats in your home. 

An example of a healthy meal we had yesterday (with no refined sugar or flour):

Corn on the cob with butter and seasonings
Red grapes

What do *you* think? Hopefully, the list gave you some ideas for different healthy foods to eat. What are *you* eating that is healthy?

Have a Wonderful Day!

:-) Marion

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Little Happinesses -- Plaid Ankle Pants, Used Books, Grasshopper Shoes, Pandora, etc...

More of my little happinesses to share and give you ideas:

1. Regarding little happinesses: I've been ordering gently used books in very good condition from Amazon.com for 1 cent plus $3.99 postage and handling. So I'm getting a book I really want for $4 total. (Depending upon popularity, some are obviously more expensive than $4.) It is super fun to see the package on the table when I get home from work. And, yes, I try to keep a favorite book in my purse whenever possible. If you haven't ordered used books, you are really missing out. This is super fun and very affordable. The selection is amazing! Even old, out of print stuff is often available.

2. Freshly ground black pepper is incredibly much better than the already ground pepper in the container. Teen son wanted this, and boy, did all of the food we sprinkle the freshly ground pepper taste so much better! Even my cheese omelet tasted incredibly much better.

3. I recently purchased plaid ankle pants. I have always wanted plaid pants but used to be overly concerned that plaid could exaggerate the rear end, if you know what I mean. But I got navy blue plaid pants and they look great and are very fun to wear. I also have a plaid jacket that matches it, to make a plaid suit. Some of my happier clothing buys lately. I also got burgundy ankle pants, which are surprisingly versatile as a basic color!

4. This summer, I purchased some clearance loafers from Grasshoppers, which is Keds' sister company. Basically, these are nice looking wool-y dark gray tasseled loafers with Keds-like rubber sneaker bottoms (which are not obvious, since the sides are matching gray). So they are very flat, cushioned, have great traction on the bottom (like Keds sneakers)-- feeling great for my knee for work.

5. I listen to Pandora when getting dressed in the morning. For those who don't know this, Pandora allows you to make your own unique "radio station" based upon your favorite singer, band, or orchestra. Then, you can specialize it by adding other similar singers, bands, and orchestras into the mix. You can "thumbs up" certain songs, which I believe makes them get played more often, and "thumbs down" other songs, which I believe makes them played less often. Then Pandora also throws in similar songs in the mix too. I often learn of new favorite songs and musicians from Pandora's mix-ins. As many of you know, music is one of my most favorite "0 calorie treats."

6. I've been trying to get more done. I've been reading Cal Newport's blog about efficiency, which is very interesting, if you want to get more efficient with writing, work, school classes, or any similar type of work that requires better focus. I believe that most of these types would work for anyone for all sort of reasons why we need to get more done.

What do *you* think? Do you like this sort of post. If yes, let me know! Maintaining weight has a lot to do with living a good life without excess food, so I count these types of posts into that category. :-) 

Have a Splendid Day!

:-) Marion

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Marion's Update: Fitbit Zip, Apples; Squash, Martini Radio, ....

Here is my update for how I am doing health- and fitness-wise:

1. My knee is definitely much better than a few months ago. No more soreness. The little leg twirls are doing their rehab magic. I'm gradually adding yoga back into my fitness routine, a little bit more per week.

2. Fitbit. My middle daughter bought me a Fitbit Zip this summer. I've been wearing it since the end of July. Currently, I have not been taking walks but still average about 2.5 miles per day of just walking in my house, office, and various daily shopping trips. Yesterday, I ended up walking over 3.5 miles, with Saturday shopping. I am not trying to up my walking right now, as I'm letting this knee, newly feeling great, to take priority over all fitness.

3. We bought 20 pounds of McIntosh apples from the apple orchard last weekend. I am very pleased to see husband, teen kids, and myself all eating at least 2 apples per day.

4. It's soup and squash season. I've already purchased spaghetti squash, acorn squash, and split pea soup mix...and I can't decide which I should eat first!!! Dilemmas, dilemmas...of the best sort. I also baked fish lately, which was super tasty.

5. I am still within 5 pounds of my lowest weight this year. I'm still doing food journaling and all of the other tools and strategies that I talk about on this blog. They work for me, which is why I recommend them to you!

6. I have the presentation for TOPS on Tuesday. I'm thinking about the topic of "Quick Forgiveness" with a football analogy.

7. Yesterday, I just found a new FM radio station called "Martini Radio," which plays everything from Frank Sinatra to jazzy Billy Joel songs. Soooo Yay! (If you don't know about my affection for swing/big band/jazzy music, press the Pinterest button on the upper ride side of this blog to go investigate/listen to my awesome music finds.)

8. My husband and I are going to a friend's party tonight. I'm planning on wearing my new plaid pants and jacket, hair done, etc.... No, I'm not planning on eating the decadent food there.

Now I am off to make lemongrass/coconut green tea. Or apple chai tea. Hmmm.....

What do *you* think? I have a LOT of random stuff up here today. I can't wait to see what you say. :-)

Have a Delightful Day!

:-) Marion

Monday, September 8, 2014

Plan Little Happinesses For The Entire Day

When I used to binge and overeat all day long, I used food throughout the day as little happinesses. Each excess serving of food I ate, whether by smidgens, second helpings or binges, provided a chemical zing in my brain. They made my brain feel happy.

So when I decided to lose weight, I realized that I had to learn other ways to get happy. I had two main plans of attack for being happy without excess food:

1) Develop a better perspective about my life. I really worked hard to see my life as not being a crisis. Most awful things that happen to me also happen to other people. They are, in fact, common. So whenever I felt the urge to do emotional eating to soothe my nerves, I told myself, "My life is not a crisis," and "I can handle this situation." What also helped is knowing that terrible and annoying things had happened to me in my life before, and I had survived them completely intact. Eventually, I did start seeing my life as normal, not as exceptional situations that deserved emotional eating.

2) Find new and better sources of little happinesses that did not involve excess food. I still wanted my brain zings throughout the day, so I decided to deliberately plan little happinesses to happen during each part of the day.

Here are some of my little happinesses throughout the day:

1) A hot bath or shower;
2) Morning coffee or tea;
3) Choosing a shirt, pants, and/or outfit that I really like:
4) Choosing a necklace;
5) Spritzes of my favorite perfume/scent;
6) Soft cushion-y socks and favorite shoes;
7) Eating a cheese omelet, with several bites going to my dog;
8) Mint gum to chew at work;
9) Accomplishing quality work at my office;
10) Listening to swanky big band music while cooking and washing dishes;
11) Yoga and balancing exercises that make my body feel artistic;
12) A walk with my favorite little doggy;
13) Conversations and laughs with my kids and husband;
14) My husband and I watching a favorite television show together;
15) Giving a complement or opening the door for someone;
16) Taking care of indoor/outdoor plants;
17) Reading a chapter or two of a great book;
18) Playing an internet game;
19) Connecting with a good friend via email, blog, or Facebook;
20) Applying sparkly polish to my toes.

Since I changed my eating habits, I have greatly learned to appreciate many little joys of life. My life feels of much higher quality than it did when I depended on food to provide the brain zings.

I encourage you to make a deliberate plan for little happinesses to happen throughout your daily life. Make a list of little thing you really enjoy and start to incorporate more of them into each day. Your life will get more delightful, and you will have less and less reasons to eat excess food.

What do *you* think? What are your favorite little happinesses?

Have a Fun Day!

:-) Marion

Friday, September 5, 2014

How Exercise Affects Weight Loss (...after much experience and long thought)

As most of you know, I've been going to the gym since January 2007. I adore fitness and working out. Given this experience, I'd like to discuss the subject of how exercise affects weight loss.

Firstly, I like to say that before I started working out in 2007, I was overweight and had very little mind-body connection. I hardly thought about how my body looked or felt at all. I rarely looked in a full-length mirror, did not go clothes shopping very much, and almost never weighed myself.

But after I started working out on a regular basis, I remembered my body! I newly experienced my range of motion, full wing span, deep breaths, powerful strength, and lovingly stretched out muscles. I began to feel much differently about my body.

These new daily thoughts about how profoundly better my body felt were on my mind quite often. I attribute these body thoughts to helping me lose weight. It's contradictory (and nearly impossible) for your mind to be wanting wonderful things for your body, exercise-wise, while wanting terrifying things for your body, food-wise. My exercise coming together started to pull my eating into alignment.

I often thought, I just worked out at the gym this morning, why wreck that with a fattening doughnut?

Without watching my food very well, I lost some amount of weight and got to size 12. While I was not eating very carefully, I was always thinking about being healthy. I was choosing apples more often than candy because I now appreciated my body.

So I was size 12 for a few years while working out at the gym nearly every day. I did get stronger and more skilled at the gym during those years. I bench pressed 160 pounds and learned to do headstands. I got leaner too because muscle is smaller per pound than fat. However, I did not keep losing more weight from vigorous daily exercise. Everyone in the gym saw how I tried to exercise away bad eating habits, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn't do it.

When people say that weight management is 70% food-related and 30% exercise-related (and some put this ratio at 80% food-related and 20% exercise-related), I agree with this ratio, regarding intake and output of calorie consumption. Most people cannot out-exercise a bad diet. Being a smaller size is mostly about reducing your food/calorie consumption.

However, I would be very wrong to omit this fact: Had I not started to seriously exercise, I would have never handled my weight. Exercise open the mental door to me being receptive to dealing with my weight.

The gym's influence got me down to size 12. Then, when I finally dealt with my remaining eating issues, I was able to slim down to size 8.

So what level of importance do I place for exercise when trying to lose weight? It's huge. Exercise won't burn off all of the calories of a poor diet, but it will get you in the right frame of mind to begin a healthier diet, which in turn, will help you lose the weight.

What do *you* think? Do you agree? I hope this provides insight to people who are wondering about what combo of diet/exercise they have to do to lose weight.

Have a Super Day!

:-) Marion

Thursday, September 4, 2014

You're Going To Have To Say "No" A Lot

To get overweight, we lived in an environment that encouraged us to overeat. We live in an all-you-can-eat-buffet society. Gone is the shame of overeating. Everyone feels too many pressures in a high-paced culture, so nobody blames you for food indulgences, otherwise known as "comfort food," consumed on a daily basis. In fact, one of the main connectors to our favorite people is often as "food buddies." We celebrate our successes with food. Likewise, we drown our frustrations and mental exhaustion with food, often in the company of our closest friends and family members.  

Given this situation, you're going to have to say "no" a lot in order to lose weight. You may say it in a nicer way like, "No, thanks!" or "I can't right now," or "I'd rather not." But however polite or cheerful you say it, you're going to end up saying no in more situations than you can imagine. And, at first, it will be much more difficult than you think because you aren't just convincing yourself to not eat the food, you're also telling your closest people that life is going to change in a big way.

When I first got very serious about losing my weight, I realized that my family living around me in my home was equally serious about eating whatever food they wanted. They were also intent on me being part of their food interactions. Eating out is considered a cherished weekly type of celebration and togetherness for families. They wanted this interaction with me. All family members eating favorite food indulgences together is an easy non-confrontational way to connect.

Enter me and my cause to lose weight. All of a sudden, these restaurant celebrations seemed threatening to my goals. The "politeness" of a family member repeatedly asking if I wanted second helpings of food started to make me nervous because I had many years beneath my belt of saying yes to those extra helpings.

To lose weight, I had to become more individualized about how I ate. When I first explained to my husband and kids that I did not want to eat out at a restaurant, they found that somewhat insulting. They partially viewed it as a rejection of them, not just the food. But I knew that I had trouble eating in restaurants, so why even tempt myself. At home, I asked them to not buy my favorite ice cream and candy.

For a few months, family members continued to ask me to overeat with them in various situations, including at home and restaurants. I kept saying no. Soon this bothered everyone in the family. Everything about eating was going smoothly for years until I decided to lose weight. All of a sudden, I was going off on my own tangent, very unfamily-like. My closest food buddies, namely my husband and kids, started having less good times with me. This was hard, but I had to stick this out.

During this frustrating time, I did have people who supported my change to healthier eating. My two oldest daughters, as adults, told me to keep going no matter what. I also had my weekly weight management group who understood my frustrations and listened intently to my situation, which helped me persist week after week to keep saying no. 

Hard rules of saying no gradually become habits. I wish I could tell you that it only takes 30, 60, or 90 days to form new habits. I found it took me over six months of saying no to indulgent food before I formed individualized eating habits that felt normal and automatic, rather than strictly forced rules.

But something good happened along the way. My family gradually got accustomed to my new way of eating. They eventually accepted the following:

--They got used to me eating an apple out of my purse, while others ate take-out burgers in our car.

--My husband finally realized that it was my personal freedom to eat when I wanted, or to not eat at all. Sometimes I did not feel like eating out, but just wanted a diet soda alongside others eating at a restaurant. 

--Family members gradually accepted that I was going to bring at least half (or more) of my restaurant food home--every single time. Eventually, they quit looking at me funny when I did that.

--They understood that I was going to eat differently for most meals at home. Often, I was eating a sliver of pizza with a big bowl of green beans while the rest of the family had huge slices of pizza. Eventually I ate this way without anyone asking me whether I really preferred thick cheesy pizza more than a bowl of green beans.

Our family life came back to a new version of normal, with me at a lower weight. However, this took almost a year of saying no before that fully happened. But it did happen. As I got stronger about eating well, I could relax and have more fun with my family.

So stick it through. Healthy eating to get to a good weight is a huge lifestyle change. But it does get easier. It just takes a lot of no's and enough time for people around you to adjust.

This may sound discouraging, but I also want to remind you that each and every "no" to unhealthy food is a loving "yes" to a healthy body. We need to say "yes" frequently to the cause of our own healthiness. 

What do *you* think? Was it difficult to get your family to adjust to your new way of eating? How about your "food buddies?" I think this is a topic that makes it hard to lose weight that is not discussed enough.

Have a Marvelous Day!

:-) Marion