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Archive for August, 2008

Okay, so I was scrolling through blog stats (yeah, I know, with all the work I have to do…but you know, I needed a break) and I’ve noticed that there are a few topics that are CONSTANTLY searched, and from which I get more random hits than any other. They are:

  • Do Stresstabs work?
  • Getting smaller calves
  • Eating several small meals a day

I’ve already written a brief post on Stresstabs, (I lovelovelove them, BTW) and I’ll talk about calves later (for what it’s worth, because the answer is and always will be ‘eat right and exercise’ with an emphasis on the ‘eat right’) and I do have a brief post linking to a great article on eating several small meals. But I thought it might be helpful to post something about my own experience with several small meals.

First, I have been eating this way – six meals a day – for about two years now. I started doing it (of course) to lose weight. The idea behind it is, you figure out how many calories you need to take in to lose weight and then you split those calories more or less evenly among your six meals. What that means for me is that I shoot for about 220 – 250 calories per meal, give or take. That amount will vary with your height, weight, gender and daily activity. (I will caution you not to drop them too far – you will stop losing and you will totally feel like crap. It’s just not a good idea.)

I have always had a habit (call it bad or good) of eating mindlessly. I would eat at my desk, while I read, while I watched TV…you name it. Not from hunger, but because it was just a habit. I was always snacking. Now, that is not an inherently bad thing. It was the fact that (a) I was eating unhealthy things; and (b) I was also eating three “normal-sized” meals a day; that caused me to put on an enormous amount of weight.

So I’ve taken that “problem” and turned it into a positive. I eat breakfast at a little after 6. Usually, it’s a piece of fruit or a small glass of juice, a whole-grain carb like two slices of wheat bread with Smart Balance or an Eggo Nutri-Grain waffle, and either two slices of low-sodium bacon or one or two turkey sausage links. Then, at around 9:30 or 10, it’s time for a “morning snack”. (It’s easier to think in terms of meals and snacks because that’s the way our culture runs, but in actuality they’re roughly the same size.) That’s usually a piece of fruit and some form of protein, usually cheese or peanut butter or nuts. It should also contain some good fats. Nuts are a great source of good fats, as are fish, flax seed, and spreads like Smart Balance that have Omega-3s in the formulation.

Lunch is around 12 or 12:30, and it’s generally a sandwich with low-sodium deli meat – chicken, turkey or ham – on whole wheat bread. (I buy “light” wheat bread, so it’s about 40 calories a slice.) I may add a slice of 2% cheese, or I may have a 4-oz carton of yogurt. I add veggies, like baby carrots, celery, broccoli, or cherry tomatoes, as well. Or I may have a salad. So there’s protein, complex carbs, and the all important veggies.

Afternoon snack is at about 3:30 – I try to push it as late in the day as I can, so I’m not starving by dinner time, because we eat a little late. This mimics morning snack, but it’s veggies instead of fruit, with a protein/fat mix, generally yogurt.  Yogurt doesn’t have a lot of protein, but calories generally permit me to add some nuts to this snack also.  Dinner, which generally is around 6:30, is whatever I’m making for the family, portioned to meet my calorie needs. If I’m low on calories, I may eat a little more, or a little less if I’m high (on calories. ON CALORIES). Again, it’s generally protein, a small amount of carbs, and lots of veggies.

And then I do the unthinkable – I have an evening snack. Every. Single. Night. You will hear varying advice on this – most “diets” and weight-loss advisers will tell you not to eat after 6, or 7, or 8, or whatever time they have decided is the cutoff. Personally, I have found that if I eat an evening snack, I do not experience bedtime hunger; I don’t wake up at night hungry; and I have more energy to exercise. This is important for me, because I exercise in the evenings. Evening snack is generally something a little more indulgent-feeling like sugar-free pudding or ice cream, paired again with a protein like nuts or cheese. I am all about the protein, folks. That doesn’t mean I eliminate carbs – I don’t eliminate any food category, because I don’t believe that’s viable in the long-term. But I do wholeheartedly embrace the importance of protein. And the “indulgent” item feels like dessert. So I feel more “normal”. 🙂

So that’s how it works. Now, here’s what it does. (See the Bray Fitness link above for a great illustration of why it does what it does.)

First, and probably most importantly in my case, I am always eating. So I don’t get hungry, unless and until it’s time to eat. You could literally set a clock by when my stomach starts growling – see the above times. 🙂 I also never feel deprived, or feel the need to eat out of boredom. Because chances are, by the time I have time to get bored, it’s already time to eat.  And I’m not starving myself.  I never, ever feel like I’m “on a diet” – because I’m not.  The food varies from day to day, and it’s all stuff I like, and I’m not eliminating things wholesale.  I’ve just changed the way I eat.

In order for this aspect to work, however, you really should plan your meals. Don’t say, “Oh, it’s been three hours, time to go grab a snack,” and then go stand in front of the refrigerator looking at the kids’ pizza rolls and chicken nuggets. Have things on hand that are designated for morning snacks, evening snacks, lunches, etc. It’s obviously better to go with fresh, whole foods and avoid processed crap, but a Healthy Choice meal once in a while isn’t going to hurt you. Yes, this involves a lot of thought at first, but within just a few weeks it becomes a habit that requires very little thought. You will find that you know instinctively what you should be eating, and you’ve learned about how much. (At first, though, measure. Always measure.)  And that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?  To make healthy eating instinctive?

Secondly, my metabolism never shuts down. I never, ever, get that “afternoon slump”. And by eating the evening snack and exercising in the evening, I have found that even at night, I stay steady. I wake up with more energy, instead of waking up with low blood sugar, shaking and weak and nauseous (the way I did before), and I actually do require a little less sleep. Most importantly, my body knows that it’s never going to be in a “famine” state, so it doesn’t hold on to those calories. It burns them, which means (a) I lose weight; and (b) I have more energy, all the time. (b) is probably even more important to me than (a), to be honest.

Thirdly, as I mentioned, my blood sugar stays steady. I don’t have the ups and downs I used to have all the time. This is great even if you don’t have blood sugar issues, because changes in insulin levels will absolutely prompt your body to store fat. You don’t want that.

Lastly, it gives structure and focus to my eating. I no longer eat mindlessly. I don’t sit down with a bag of chips and a plate of chocolate chip cookies to watch So You Think You Can Dance, and then by the first commercial wonder where all the food went. I don’t load up on a week’s worth of snack food that I then devour in two days. I know what I’m eating and when, and most importantly I know why. Food is fuel. I am consuming it for a specific purpose – to give my body the strength and energy to get through all that I demand of it in a day’s time, which is a lot.

That most emphatically does not mean that I don’t enjoy eating. I do. Eating is something I am never going to relegate to the category of “merely necessary”. I choose foods I like, and I combine them in ways that allow me to get the maximum enjoyment out of that small meal.

No lifestyle change is a good and effective one if you can’t do it forever. To really change means you don’t go back to the old way.  You stay with the “new normal” forever.  This is something I can do forever, because it works for me. As a bonus, not only am I healthier, I am also 50 pounds lighter, and still heading downward. And the great part is that when I do reach my weight loss goal – which I now know will happen – I don’t have to change the way or the things I eat. I’ll just adjust my calories upward, so I’m eating a little more of the same things. And that works for me, because I’m eating things I like and I’m not completely eliminating anything that I love.

That’s another important point – don’t forbid yourself foods. If you have a trigger food that you simply cannot eat without going nuts, yes, you probably need to keep it out of your house. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have it if you come across it in an outside situation, like a party. You just need to know and accept that you will never actually go and buy that food again, and that one binge is, in the end, not going to make a darn bit of difference. Because it’s true – it won’t.

If there are foods that are bad for you that you love, but they don’t trigger a binge, then let yourself have them every once in a while. If you can build them into your daily calories without seriously compromising nutrition, do so. And if you can’t – giving yourself a treat every now and again is good for you. It really is. Because remember, this isn’t “just till you lose weight” – this is forever. And you are NOT going to live without treats forever. (Really, who would want to?)  [This sort of ignores the concept of carb-induced cravings and binges, I admit – but if you suffer from those, then simple carbs are trigger foods.  You really do have to avoid them.]

One last pointer, and then I’ll shut up. Water. There is no substitute for it. A final great thing about eating six meals a day is that each meal is a reminder to drink a glass or bottle of water. If you drink an 8-to-10 ounce glass of water with each of your six meals, you’ve pretty much met your water requirement. If you are exercising a lot, you need more, of course, but it’s not that hard to drink a little extra between meals.

There are lots of other tips I could give, like prepacking your snack items and planning meals, but that’s not really what this post is about. Hit me up in the comments (as MizFit would say!) if you want more or if you want my opinions on carb-induced cravings and binges, as mentioned above, but I really wanted to give you the skinny (hah!) on the small meals.

Questions? Comments? Random observations on the state of the universe? Let me have ’em. (Well, as long as you’re polite, anyway.) 🙂

V.

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Well, happy Friday, everybody.  I am happy that it’s Friday, that’s for sure.  Even though I plan to work all weekend, at least it’ll be on my own hours and the office will be quiet and mostly deserted.  Whoo-hoo! (Why, yes, thank you, I do know I’m a little nuts.)  🙂

I’m extremely sleep-deprived today, mostly due to a little bit of excitement (?) in our neck of the woods last night.  At about 10:40, there was a massive explosion at a nearby chemical plant, resulting in a “shelter in place” until around 2 a.m.  For anyone who doesn’t know (I didn’t, till I moved here) a shelter in place basically means you can’t leave your house, you have to turn off all air conditioners and fans and seal up as much as you can to basically prevent any outside air from entering.  Suddenly, I feel so safe.

But seriously.  My house is not anywhere near the chemical plant, and to be honest we were on the far outside edge of the shelter in place range.  Fortunately, there was absolutely no air movement last night so in actuality, we probably never were in any danger.  But it does make it a bit hard to sleep, particularly when (a) you don’t know what chemical might have been released and (b) the darn cat is outside and won’t respond to your calls.  Gah.

Today we are told the chemical is not harmful and its only real hazard is flammability.  (Duh to that one – the fireball shooting 300 feet in the air was sort of a tipoff.)  We are not told what, exactly, the chemical is.  As I remarked to DH this morning, “Good thing we all trust the government, huh?”  🙂

Unfortunately, the explosion resulted in the death of one worker – a 20-year veteran of the plant – and severe burn injuries to a second.  We are praying for them and their families today, and if you have a minute, it’d be lovely of you to do the same, or just to think good thoughts if you don’t pray.  The gentleman who was killed was Barry Withrow.  We don’t yet know the name of the injured worker.

I do know the dangers of living near chemical plants.  When we moved here, I (being the clueless, happy-go-lucky idiot I am) didn’t even realize there were chemical plants in the area.  Would it have influenced my decision to move here?  Probably not.  There are hazards everywhere.  In the 11 years we have lived here, there have been three incidents with chemical plants, only one of which (this one) resulted in an actual SIP for us.  In that time, I can’t even count the number of tornadoes that have hit the area where we used to live, in Oklahoma.  And look at how many hurricanes have hit the Gulf Coast.  You pays your money and you takes your chances.  Nowhere is really safe.  But yeah, it’s a bit scary when it actually happens.  I’m very thankful it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

So it was an interesting night.  To top it off, I had a pretty massive allergy attack (don’t panic, it was prior to the explosion!) and ended up taking an allergy pill, so I’m even more groggy today.

But despite it all, I’m in a pretty good mood.  Although I am sending my family off to the cabin tonight – I won’t see them before they leave – and I am ambivalent about that.  While it will be nice to be able to work all weekend without worrying about getting home to do things there, I am going to miss them and can’t help thinking of how many weekends like this I’ve missed out on because of work.  This is not one of them – I’m staying here so Mom can reach me if she needs me, not for work – but still.   However, I will have the house to myself and when I am not actually working or over at Mom’s, I should (knock on wood) be able to get some much-needed rest.

The remainder of the weekend – what I don’t spend at work – will be devoted to finishing up my submission and query letters for my novel.  I have set myself a deadline of next Wednesday to have them in the mail, and I am committed to making it happen.  If I get no good feedback, well, at least I know I put it out there, and I can move on to something else.  But I have to try to make it happen; it’s not going to just happen to me.

That’s my thought for everyone for the day:  No one else makes your dreams come true.  You do.  Go out and do it.  Whatever it is – if it’s running a marathon, if it’s selling a book or a painting, if it’s going back to school to get your degree or landing a new job that will change your life – you have to make it happen.  Figure out what steps you need to take, do the research, and then stop thinking about it and start doing it.

Time does march on.  But there is no reason it has to leave us behind, right?  Make today the day you take that first – or next – step on the road to what you really want.

And while you’re at it – have a wonderful Labor Day weekend, if you’re in the US, and if you’re not, just have a wonderful weekend.  Hugs to the whole world.

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Good morning, my lovelies, and welcome to another glorious Thursday!  I hope you’re all doing splendidly.

It’s glorious here, I say, even though it’s massively rainy.  It needs to be, though; we’ve had very, very little rain this summer, and that’s odd for an area that eclipses Seattle for annual rainfall.  (Seriously.  Seattle?  38.25 inches.  Charleston?  44.05 inches.  I know, right?)  So it’s good that it’s currently dripping like a kindergartner’s nose in flu season.  (Yummy analogy, no?  Thought that one up just for you guys! You’re welcome.)

But my mood does not, for once, match the weather.  I feel good, I’m positive, and my neck is currently only causing me mild agony. (That will change after an hour or so at the desk, but I’m taking the good while I can.)

Last night was monthly grocery shopping night, in preparation for DH’s mom’s annual visit, so the house is chock-full of healthy food.  That always makes me feel stronger and more motivated.  I feel thin today – I’ve felt that way all week, and I have no idea why, but I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth because that motivates me, too.  I am still terrifyingly swamped at work, but I’m slowly making progress and I have a whole three-day weekend in which to clear out the inbox.  (Yeah, how crazy am I that I’m looking forward to working on a holiday weekend?  Dedication, my friends.  That’s why they pay me the big bucks.  Hah.)  I woke up today next to this really amazing, wonderful, delightful man, with whom I evidently am lucky enough to get to spend, I don’t know, the rest of my life.  Oh, and also?  These two absolutely adorable, wonderful young ladies were inhabiting my house, and evidently they are also going to stick around for a long time.  What a morning.

No, I promise, I’m not on crack.  Just, you know, appreciating freshly how very blessed I am.  Which is very, very blessed.

So today I’m thankful for nothing in particular and everything in my life.  I could list another dozen things – my job, my great boss, my wonderful friends, the fact that my mother’s health is good and steadily improving, and on and on ad infinitum.   I’m thankful for all the good that the universe sends my way, and for the lessons I learn and the strength I gain from the bad.  (And I’m extremely thankful to be once again actively working toward getting my book published, thanks in no small part to the marvelous MizFit.)

And as always, I wish for you all a beautiful, blessed day, with many things for which to be thankful.  Have a wonderful day!

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Happy Wednesday!  Hope everyone’s having a fabulous week.  My dinner with Cammy was wonderful; I will post about that later, but suffice it to say she’s as wonderful in person as she is in her blog posts.  🙂

For today’s post, I’m addressing another type of headache and ways to relieve it without resorting to medication.  (The second in my series of posts about how to minimize medications so your liver isn’t metabolizing any more than necessary.)  Today, it seemed appropriate to address sinus headaches, since I’m currently suffering from one.

Sinus headaches are caused when the membrane lining the sinuses becomes inflamed and swollen.  Sinuses, as you probably already know, are air-filled cavities, or open spaces, within the facial bones.  Unfortunately, the membranes lining these cavities are very sensitive to allergens and other substances, and can easily become painfully inflamed.  (If you have allergies, you know this all too well.)  This can lead to a very painful headache.

Sinus headaches often seem to mimic migraines (which I’ll discuss next week), in that the pain is located around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead; is often (but not always!) accompanied by congestion or nasal discharge, and increases when you bend forward.  An additional complication is that sinus pain can extend into the top and even the back of the head, if the inflammation is severe and widespread enough.  Sinus headaches, though, rarely involve nausea or vomiting or visual disturbances, and they are often bilateral instead of limited to one side of the head.  (Also, though the pain is severe, I’ve never had a sinus headache quite as bad as a migraine!  Close, but not quite there.)

An important thing to remember about sinus headaches is that you do not have to be congested to have one.  I can’t tell you how many times people have complained to me with headaches during peak allergy season, but said, “I’m not sneezing or stuffy.”  It doesn’t matter.  The inflammation that causes a sinus headache is very frequently accompanied by these symptoms – but not always.  You also do not have to have a fever.  My doctor used to question me when I told him I had a sinus infection, because I was rarely above normal temperature.  This eventually led to an MRI because he swore my dizziness and headaches weren’t sinus related.  The diagnosis?  Severe, acute sinusitis.  So there.  🙂  (However – have the MRI anyway.  You cannot, cannot be too careful with issues that close to your brain.)

Sinus headaches are often accompanied by dizziness, as well, caused by the pressure changes in the sinus cavities.  Rarely, you may have the dizziness without the headache.  Any time you have dizziness with or without a headache, even if you are sure it’s sinusitis, you should see your doctor.  You should also see a doctor if you are running a fever or if the symptoms are present for an extended period of time.  I wouldn’t wait longer than a week, personally.  There’s a good chance you’re going to need antibiotics, and if that’s the case, waiting is only going to make it harder to get rid of the infection.

With sinus headaches, you may eventually have to resort to medication.  A pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help, but probably isn’t going to do a lot.  (Ibuprofen or naproxen sodium will do a better job of reducing the inflammation that’s causing the pain than acetaminophen, in my experience.)  You may need a decongestant, but many people can’t take them due to high blood pressure or other conditions, so if you’re new to sinus headaches, again, talk to your doctor before taking anything.  Antihistamines help, and a failsafe is something like Zyrtec-D that is an antihistamine paired with a decongestant.  But always, talk to your doctor first.  I can’t say that often enough.

But if you want to deal with the headache without medication – which is what I nearly always do, any more – here are some tips.

  • Turn on the heat.  (This one is especially good if you have severe congestion with the headache.)  Take a washcloth and soak it in steaming hot water (not boiling; let’s not be silly here, we don’t want anyone burned), wring it out, and lie down with it folded across your forehead, eyes, and nose.  Keep it there until it cools, then repeat the process.
  • Ice, Ice, Baby.  While heat will help to break up the congestion and get your sinuses draining, ice is even better because it reduces the swelling and inflammation.  Take a soft icepack (such as a reusable cold pack you can buy at Target or Wal-Mart) and lay it across your forehead, eyes and nose.  This you can leave on as long as you can stand it, but it usually only takes about ten to fifteen minutes to help.
  • Alternate both of the above – heat and cold are both great, but they’re even better in combination.  Cold for ten minutes, then heat, then repeat.  A very very cool product is this or some version thereof, because it is reusable, can be heated and chilled, and is much less messy than a wet towel or washcloth.  (I can’t comment about this particular product; the one I have, I bought at Kroger, actually, but this will give you an idea what to look for.)
  • Nasal irrigation.  Cleansing the sinuses (very gently!) can be very beneficial for removing the irritants that are causing the inflammation.  I try to do this every few weeks even if I don’t have a headache.  There’s a lot of crap in the air and your sinuses will end up as the reluctant recipient of most of them.  Not familiar with this process?  Check it out here, and here.  The first link is product specific and you can take it as an endorsement if you want; it’s what I use.  But it’s certainly not the only way to irrigate.
  • Cool mist humidifiers often help by increasing the moisture in the air; this will relieve any dryness or help to thin the congestion and get it draining.
  • Facial massage.  This nearly always helps me, and it feels wonderful even if you don’t have a headache.  Start at the top of the forehead, spreading all four fingers of both hands to cover the entire forehead.  Stroke downward with a gentle but firm pressure, repeatedly.  Do this for about fifteen seconds or so, then move down to the eyebrow ridge and stroke downward and out.  Next, place your fingers over the cheekbones just below the eyes, and massage in a circular and downward motion.  Lastly, massage the sides of the nose, moving your fingers downward and out.  Again, you can do this as often and as long as it feels good.
  • Since the pain from a sinus headache isn’t always limited to the face, you can also use the whole-head massage that I described for tension headaches.  I’ve found that I generally have pain at the top of my head, just to either side of the crown, and massaging that area can be helpful as well.
  • Naturally, you want to avoid irritants like smoke, pollen, scented candles, perfumes, strong odors, and pet dander, because they are probably going to make the headache worse (if they weren’t what caused it to begin with).

These are just a few ways to alleviate a sinus headache if you want to avoid medication.  (Personally?  I generally use several of these techniques in combination – heat, cold, massage, and irrigation.)  The other problem with medication is that it tends to be very drying, so you may wind up with sinus burning and discomfort.  If you do have to use medication, I definitely recommend using nasal irrigation as well to keep the nasal cavity well-hydrated.

And last, but never, ever least – drink lots and lots of water.  Inadequate hydration will cause mucus to thicken and create congestion and pressure; if you’re drinking lots of fluids, the mucus thins and drains more easily.

As with everything else I tell you, I do encourage you to research the subject yourself, learn all you can about it, and (did I mention?) discuss it with your medical provider.  You’ll eventually hit on the techniques that work best for you, and hopefully you can minimize the number of times you have to pop that sinus pill from March to November.  🙂

And as always, I am most interested in hearing your tips.  What do you do for a sinus headache?  Or any kind of headache, for that matter?

Have a great day!

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Happy Week 34, everybody!  I hope everyone is having a great one so far.

Today’s a big emotional roller-coaster for me.  It’s the first day of school here, so ED and YD are both off to new environments.  YD is just starting third grade, so it’s not a HUGE change, but it’s always tense until we know how she’s going to mesh with the teacher.  YD is gifted and exceptionally precocious in every way, especially in wanting to be in control of everything.  (Gee, wonder where she gets that?)  So it takes patience and skill on the part of the teacher to recognize and make use of this as a good point, rather than trying to crush it out of existence.  We’ve been very lucky so far but every year we hold our breath, wondering if this will be the year that we aren’t lucky.  (Though YD is getting better every year at compressing her exuberant, open-armed and razor-minded personality into the mold that society has provided.  Which makes me a little sad but it does help her days go more smoothly.)

ED, of course, is starting a brand new high school, having transferred.  She is scared to death – I think trying to integrate into an entirely new peer group at 16 is one of the scariest things in the world.  She is very brave, and I am so proud of her for doing this.  She made a decision based on what she thought was best for her academically and in terms of her future, and she’s following through with the really hard stuff to make it happen.  She’s my hero today, even more than usual.

So I’m nervous for them.  I know they’ll be absolutely fine and after a week, it’ll all be old hat for both of them.  But I’m still nervous.

On the other hand, tonight (barring unforeseen complications!) I get to meet Cammy!  And I am so far beyond excited that I’m in a whole new universe of excited.  I so cannot wait.

And I’m stressed, because work isn’t getting any easier.  Plus my neck hurts.  But, you know, it’ll all balance out…because I get to meet Cammy!! 🙂

So.  Diet-and-exercise-wise…I’m still doing well.  Yesterday I didn’t get in much exercise, and even though it was a conscious decision to rest for my neck’s sake, I still feel uber-crappy about that.  I hate not exercising; I am afraid it will turn into a downward slide, and I want those endorphins.  Ugh.  Food wise I was pretty good though; there was a little bit of chocolate involved, but it was a little bit.  It didn’t hurt my calories.  And I will not live a life without chocolate.  So it’s all good.  🙂

Today I will be healthy.  Today I will eat my pre-packed food at the designated times, and I will work my cardio in around my schedule.  I will drink my water.  I will meditate at some point.  And most of all, I will continue to visualize myself as the slim, svelte, uber-fit Health Queen that I know I am on my way to being.  I’m all about the visualization.

Tonight, I will go meet Cammy (did I mention that?) and I will order a healthy meal and enjoy the heck out of it, and I will talk and laugh and have a wonderful time.  (Emotional and spiritual health are every bit as important as the physical, and contribute to the same, you know!)  Oh…and I will do something very scary.  I will – I WILL – pull out my manuscript, dust off the first three chapters, and get my submission ready that I have been putting off for the past I-can’t-count-that-high-without-a-calculator years.  I will stop making excuses and cowering behind my self-doubt, and I will step out of  my comfort zone and make something happen.  Thanks again, MizFit.  🙂

I hope you all have a lovely, wonderful, and exceptionally joyful day, as I intend to.  Happy Tuesday!

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Yeah…so, I was supposedly running a challenge up in here.  Hm.  That didn’t go so well, did it?  A large and profound apology to my Challenge peeps, because I completely dropped the ball.

Here’s a tip though:  When running a challenge, try to persuade your family members to refrain from having major health problems.  It probably helps.

Anyway.  The end goal of the Labor Day Challenge was to see a change.  Some change, any change, whatever change your little heart desireth.  And to make little changes each week to make that happen.

Well, with one week to go on the Challenge (almost Labor Day, people!) I must confess my progress has been spotty.  I’ve spent most of that time at the hospital or at my Mom’s, and have not been as vigilant as I’d like.  However, for the past couple of weeks I have been trying pretty hard, and I’m pretty happy with the way I’ve done.  No, I haven’t been perfect – but perfect was never the goal.  Making little changes that would lead to a noticeable change in me, was the goal.

I’ve reached it.  I’ve been doing well with food; not perfect, but well.  Progressively better, in fact.  Yesterday was a bit off-plan, but not too horrendous.  And I’ve been doing well with exercise – lots of cardio; not a lot of strength, which I do miss, but I’ve been moving a lot.  And I’ve been incorporating yoga and meditation whenever possible, which was one of my little changes.

So yesterday, I put on a pair of cargo pants I haven’t worn in a few weeks.  The reason I hadn’t worn them was that they had gotten tight – and those pants have never been that tight.  It was extremely depressing, so I stuck with other choices, mostly with elastic waists.  🙂

But yesterday, after just a little over a week of watching my food and walking regularly, I put the pants on – and they were not tight.  They weren’t falling off – but they weren’t tight.  And all day yesterday (even before putting on the pants) – and this morning – I have felt a bit thinner.

So there’s my change.  Of course I’m not calling that a win and stopping, because the LDC is just a mini-journey within the larger one.  And I want to see continuing changes.  Plus I have a week to go.  But it feels good to know I haven’t completely blown it.

That’s the good news.  Now for the bad news.

While showering yesterday, I moved my head backward to rinse my hair and experienced possibly the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt above the waist and when not in labor.  Somewhere in my upper back/lower neck region.  In the region of C-7, C-8, T-1, for those of you in the know.  Not.  Good.

I’ve been having problems with my shoulders and upper back ever since Mom went into the hospital.  Naturally, I blamed it on stress-induced muscle tension.  It was horrific for a while, then gradually got better and lately I haven’t had too much trouble with it.  But this is the first time that the pain was clearly originating in the vertebrae rather than the muscles.  Evidently there is more of a problem there than I thought.

I am now experiencing what you might call limited mobility of the upper back and neck – if, by “limited mobility”, you mean “every time I need to turn my head I resemble one of those cheesy 80’s robot-dancers”.  Which I, unfortunately, do.  About the only position that is mostly pain-free is flat on my back, with my head straight, no pillow.  FYI, you don’t get a lot of cleaning done in that position.  So there went my house-cleaning plans.  Fortunately, I got most of the really critical stuff done Saturday.

So now I’m toying with my options as to how to deal with this?  I know, I know…go to the doctor.   And of course, if it isn’t better in a couple of days, I won’t have any choice.  So cross your fingers for me that it’s better.

And as a sign of my unhealthy obsession with weight loss, my very first thought (well, after “Ow!  Holy S**T that hurt!” was “Oh, crap, how am I going to get in my arm work now?”  🙂  But there is always a way.  I just have to figure out what I can do that doesn’t hurt, and do it.  I’m still on step one.  Haven’t found anything yet.  Cross your fingers for me there, too, would you?

Right now, though, I have a distressingly large volume of work to get out so I’m ghost.  So you all have a wonderful Monday and let me know how you’re doing with small changes leading to a big one?

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Well, not really.  But sort of.

Yes, I am one of those people who will go around cleaning frantically so the cleaners aren’t disgusted by how filthy my house is.  Or I would be, if I had cleaners, which I don’t.  And it’s probably a good thing I don’t, it would definitely not save me any effort.

But I caught myself in that mindset last night.  Because ED, being the angel she is, has bought me a WiiFit for my birthday.  Well, she’s splitting the cost with Mom, but still.  It ain’t cheap.  But she refused to be talked out of it.  And ran around for an hour and a half trying to find one, finally lucking out at Toys R Us.

Of course, I told her she can’t give it to me until my birthday, which isn’t for another two weeks.  Why?  Because I’m a masochist who enjoys knowing something I desperately want is in my daughter’s closet, but I can’t have it?

Nope.  Because the thing rates your fitness level.  So this gives me time to get in better shape before I use it.

Yeah.  I need to get in shape so I don’t look bad using a product that I want because it will help me, you know, get in shape.

I never claimed to be logical.

I am extremely excited though.  I’m also walking regularly, doing my strength training not-quite-as-regularly, eating well (with very minor occasional exceptions) and feeling pretty good about this whole being healthy thing.  Now if I can just avoid the popcorn and nachos at the movies tonight, I’ll be in a good place.  (And I promise I will absolutely post a review of the WiiFit.  You know I will.  What, me, not give an opinion about something?  Please.)

This weekend, I’m going to literally be cleaning, but not because I have cleaners coming.  DH’s mom is arriving next Thursday and I always have to do a major housecleaning before she arrives.  [She doesn’t point out the dirt…but I know it’s there, and I’m always imagining criticism even if it doesn’t ever come.  I’m very insecure.  What a shock.]  Also, and more importantly, the guest room is a mess; as we’ve remodeled over the past few years, the guest room has gradually absorbed all the leftover junk because it’s the only room that hasn’t had something done to it.  So it’s time to clear it out, get the clutter from in there thrown away or packed into yard-sale totes, and then my house will be more decluttered than it’s been since…well, ever.  Once that room is cleaned out, that’s it – all the excess crap is gone.  Whoo-hoo!

So it’s going to be a very busy weekend, but I’m really looking forward to it.  DH is going to the cabin and I’ll probably shunt the girls off to Mom’s or the mall or somewhere so I can go cleaning-nuts.  I’m a little excited, which is frankly quite deranged.  But there you go.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

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