Monday, November 17, 2014

What's Motivating Me: Food-wise and Exercise-wise

On top of my agenda, what is motivating me food-wise and exercise-wise.

Food-wise: I am linking two very interesting articles.

One is a National Geographic article regarding what "ancestors" of different areas of the world eat. As you would suspect, what certain people eat in one country, as local food, is vastly different than what other people in a different country eat. This article is pointing out that "paleo" eating, as it is described, is inaccurate regarding what primitive people ate. Sometimes, people didn't eat meat for a long time, if meat was scarce. Also, the photos of the food varieties were inspiring--it makes you want to try new food.

Link: The Evolution of Diet

The second article  is called, "You are What Your Bacteria Eat: The Importance of Feeding Your Microbiome." This is regarding The Gut Project and feeding the bacterias that live inside you. Different people have different percentiles of different types of bacteria in their gut and in and on their bodies. Since it is such a huge amount of bacteria, scientists are now talking about feeding our bodies not just as a single organism but as a complex system of organisms. Given that certain bacteria like certain types of food, the reasoning is that you can eat in a way that encourages good gut bacteria and discourages the bad gut bacteria. The problem is that we dont' really know the optimal percentiles of each type of gut bacteria. However, there seems to be a general consensus that eating sugar and flour are a bad thing and encourages the wrong things to happen in our bodies. In any case, I've felt encourage to eat a wider variety of foods after reading this article.

Link: You are What Your Bacteria Eat: The Importance of Feeding Your Microbiome

Regarding variety, here are some of the foods I ate in the last week: butternut squash, sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, tangerine, pomegranate, soybean "nuts," peanuts, green pepper, onion, tomato, cottage cheese, beef, bacon, eggs, unflavored Greek yogurt, carrots, green beans, corn, peas, beets, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, Italian seasoning, curry seasoning, dried apricots, avocado, American cheese, milk, feta cheese, ...

Exercise-wise: I am still cautious about my knee, hurt in March, that is newly feeling so much better. My doctor told me: healing from injuries takes much longer than people think; several months longer than we think. I am still doing rehab knee exercises. But I am also slowly re-introducing exercises back into the routine. My latest re-introduction was my Warrior/Triangle vinyasa, which is a series of 5 yoga poses that flow into each other, which stretch the legs in various ways. Stretching is extreme exercise, so I proceed cautiously, not wanting to go backwards in my healing process. But so far, it's been good! I've been walking regularly with no problems either. So yes, just feeling mostly back to normal is incredibly motivational!

Other news: I'm not going to formally do January Jeans Club this year. I'm going to do it for myself mentally, as I always do, but I'm not going to be blogging about it. My reason for not doing it is that it takes too much time and energy out of this already busy holiday season. On top of everything else, It really wore me out last year. So if somebody else wants to host January Jeans Club, I'd be happy to steer people toward your blogging of it. And I'd also give you the links to last year's January Jeans Club postings--because a lot of this can be reused--you don't have to reinvent the wheel. So let me know...

Leaving you with a magical song that you definitely know:


Even my husband was singing along. :-)

Have a Delightful Day!

:-) Marion

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How Am I Keeping the Weight Off?

I've been bobbling around in this 5 pound range for a year and a half now. That is long enough to call it steady--a new weight set point, maintenance of over 65 pounds lost.

So how am I keeping that weight off? Losing the weight is one thing, but keeping it off is quite different. For one thing, keeping it off doesn't have any thrilling dynamic to it. Nobody is still saying, "Wow, you look great!" because everyone said that over a year ago. I am nothing new or exciting. People in my life have something new and shiny to focus on.

But I, personally, keep this weight, even when my attention span and enthusiasm are not at their highest. How? I believe it is a combination of things.

This weight loss was important to me. It was not a superficial change, just about looks. It was more about me mastering my own habits. It was about me overcoming excess food as a weakness. It was about me getting more positive about my life and my self, without needing excess food as an upper to balance out negativity. It is about me not living a victimized life, in which I need excess food to make me feel stronger and more comfortable. It is about people simply seeing me -- not just reviewing my weight issues as a first impression. Things like that matter a great deal to me, apparently much more than excess food that I sacrifice.

I truly enjoy my new healthy lifestyle. I am not a perfect eater, for sure. However, I do get very excited about making and eating acorn squash, toasting acorn squash seeds, eating beet salad, baking apple chips, fresh herbs, making a big pot of cooked carrots, when the split peas finally burst into creamy split pea soup, grinding fresh peppercorns over my eggs before I make an omelet, eating an avocado, my pomegranate, my new cardamom black tea, and other related healthy food fun. It took time to get to this health food happiness, but once it happened, it has saved me from temptation of many foods I should not eat, because I am truly happy eating these healthier foods.

I have learned to get excited about more fun things in life. I love working out at the gym and seeing my gym buddies, a deep happiness which made my need for excess food excitement to decrease. Every exuberant life happiness decreases the need to use excess food as superficial happiness. So sometimes, my blog posts about swing music seem to be a tangent, but I assure you, they are definitely not. Being thrilled about great songs has kept me from many fattening treats. Enjoying my dog has also kept me from overeating on many occasions. Reading great books also raises my spirits. A shopping day with great buys, whether at the grocery store or the department store, is also a mood lifter.

My weekly tools are still tremendous. My weekly TOPS meeting keeps me focused on a 7 day cycle of eating, which is not that long. The weekly weigh-ins, which I do share with anyone in the group, is all about honesty to myself in a way I can share with friends. We have little fines for weekly gains, which I think keep me more focused, when the rest of the world is vying for every bit of my attention.

My daily rules and tools are still awesome, and save me so many times. All fall, I have typically eaten either eggs/omelet and/or apples, and nothing else until late afternoon. So when people ask if I want a donut, that is not apples or eggs, is it? No. So I say no. Little patterns and rules, such as keeping a daily food journal even if I eat badly that day, go a very long way in keeping weight down. I often surprise myself when I say "No," to food that I sort of expected myself to say yes to! But that is what rules, patterns, and tools do, they save you when you lack will power, which is quite often, especially if you're exhausted with other details of life.

When people say that keeping weight off is a balancing act, I agree. It takes practice to learn how to do, and some days, it really does feel like juggling these ideas I raise in the above paragraphs. I can honestly say that I don't feel intuitive about how I eat now, especially considering that I overate for nearly 20 years of my life. I can't change that long vivid history of overeating that is the elephant in the room some days, but I do know how to happily live at a lighter weight with a more detailed sort of thinking about it.

However, I still don't know if it is possible to keep off the weight without internalizing it. At some point, this became a part of life where I am the leader of my health, depending on no other person to motivate me on a daily basis. All of the weight loss meeting leaders, diet gurus, and gym trainers are not as good of a coach as you are to yourself when something is very important to you. When it gets deeply important to you, it truly changes you. You deeply understand the value of eating less to be the person you want to be. And that happened to me. It took several years for me to evolve to my current frame of mind, with each year having me get into sharper focus about what I wanted for myself. 

So that is how I best describe how I am keeping the pounds off. 

What do *you* think? What are your approaches for keeping the pounds off? What do you do to live happily that lessens your urge to eat excess food? And any other comments and ideas that you have.

Have a Super Day!

:-) Marion

Thursday, October 23, 2014

If You Saw Me Eat Today, It Could Easily be Misunderstood....

Today, I was thinking about how I used to see a slimmer woman eating a big meal and be very jealous that she could eat like that. What kind of monster better-than-men metabolism did that lady have?!!

Tonight, I had that sort of big meal, about 1000 calories. I had a big piece of cheesy calzone. It looked like I could eat as much as I wanted! I ate like those slimmer women that I used to be jealous of!

But...what you also need to know is the context. Prior to dinner, I ate 3 apples and a fun-sized candy bar, approximately 450 calories total for the entire day before supper came. By the time we ate at 5:30 p.m., I was very hungry from not eating much all day long. I probably ate a total of 1600 calories today, which, even with the bigger dinner, is within a good calorie range for me.

We like to imagine that certain slimmer women are gorging themselves with big meals all day long. But a lot of slimmer people I know don't eat much for many hours in a row, and then eat a bigger sized meal. Anyone can fit a bigger meal into their daily diet if they eat very lightly for the rest of the day. I used to eat very lightly until a good sized dinner that during all of my college years, much like I ate today, which worked well for me.

You can eat your daily calories whenever you want, and in small meals or big meals, so long as the calories add up to be in your daily calorie range.


What do *you* think? As always, I like to hear your opinion.

Have a fabulous day!

:-) Marion

P.S. I got all 10 leaves possible for the first 2 weeks of the TOPS contest. :-)


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
Tomatoes
Bananas

Fridge
1/2 bushel of Cortland apples
Concord grapes
Red grapes
Asparagus
Romaine lettuce
4 Dozen Eggs
Orange juice
Cottage cheese
Carrots
Green Peppers
Celery
Cilantro
Lemon
Butter
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

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

Pantry
Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Onions
Garlic
Cans of beets
Cans of Black beans
Cans of Kidney beans
Almonds
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
Coffee
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
Asparagus
Eggs
Bacon
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