Sunday, September 7, 2014

This Week: Simply Filling

Oh joy and fun in the world of healthy living...or, as the case may be the world of healthy hoping.  Living? Not so healthy.  Reading over my posts of the last week leaves me noting: A) I have a lot of work stress right now; and B) it is affecting my health.  Who knew stress could be bad for you?  Oh, that's right - everyone.

What to do when life gets overwhelming?  Well, first, if you can find a moment, it is probably worthwhile to consider if the stressor itself can be removed, and it sometimes can.  Even if it is your job or your mother in law or your neighbors or things you think you have little or no control over.  My favorite anecdote about this is a friend whose neighbor threatened her because she removed the (illegal) lawn chairs saving "his" space on a public street in the winter time.  The forecast snow hadn't even come that day!  Anyway, loooong story short, she moved to a house with a garage.  Pretty drastic, but the point is, you do have the power to take a stand or remove yourself from situations, if you deem it necessary.

In my case, the stress of my job is cyclical because it is project oriented.  New project is assigned, I've got a schedule for delivery weeks or months in the future, and life is good.  Suddenly, its weeks or months later and I've been assigned three other projects all due on the same day, and panic begins to take over.  That's been me, and, it turns out, my "goal of the day" project doesn't work as well when I'm in this mode.

I guess, if I'm in a lets-make-lemonade-from-these-lemons kinda mood, its one of the joys of healthy living that doing the same old thing doesn't work every old time.  At least it isn't boring!

So, my new strategy (for this week) is to use the simply filling option of Weight Watchers.  For those unfamiliar, its a strategy by which one eats only when hungry, and only specific foods.  A food not on the list is tracked, and you are allowed only 49 points-worth for the week.  The first time I tried this, it was a complete and utter failure.  I cheated.  I decided low fat cheese was basically the same as non-fat; I could eat brown rice in mass quantities; and wheat chex were pretty darn close to plain shredded wheat so they were allowed.

I gained four pounds and learned that "no substitutions" applies to this plan.  I've tried it successfully since that first time, with the correct ingredients.  First thing to do:  shop.  Second thing:  Pack.  Last (hopefully):  Fagettabatit.  (That's "Forget About It" with a Brooklyn accent. Or Boston.  I'm not picky.  And I'm from neither place.)  What I mean by it is, focus on the three projects that are due on Friday, and hope that I've set myself up for mostly mindless success.

I'll try to check in with a post or two...but you may not hear from me till Saturday.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Yesterday: Refresh After Eating; Today: Walk

Yesterday's goal was to clean my palette in some way after eating a meal or snack.  Throughout the day, I did this in a few different ways, but each time the intent was to tell my brain that I should be done.  I'm told most people have hormones that do this, but mine appear to be rather soft spoken. Much louder hormones shout out, "Is that all you got, Beeatch??  Gimme some more SUGA, honey!"  and that sort of thing.

I am pleased to say that I managed to stifle these pesky hormones with giant glasses of water, pieces of gum, a layer of toothpaste, and a hot cup of mint tea.  Woo hoo!  And, what's more, I am sure 9 out of 10 dentists recommend this method!

Today I head back to work and I have a laundry list of things to do.  I think my trouble spot, once again, will be getting some activity during the day, so my goal is to walk at lunch time.  I'm not going to be too specific about this - any amount will do - because, frankly, I'm  not sure I will remember.  So, even if I forget at exactly noon, I will go, as soon as I remember.

I hope.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Yesterday: Schedule It; Today: Refresh After Eating

Yesterday's goal was to create a schedule for my day, including meals.  This tactic has worked well for me in the past, because I tend to fill free time with food.  I eat, not because I am hungry, but because I have nothing better to do.  Making a schedule, even if I do not stick to the timing minute by minute or hour by hour helps me to remember all the other things I could be doing with my time.  When this tactic really works, I even get a few things off my to-do list or spend time enjoying myself with a hobby. 

So, how did it go yesterday?  OK.  I made my schedule, did the things on it, including meal time.  In this sense I was successful.  But the underlying goal, to remain within allowable limits for caloric consumption (aka, to not eat like a pig)?  Eh.  I did mostly ok, but I ate too much at lunchtime.  I had my sandwich and salad, and afterwards I looked around and said, "Now what else can I eat?"  Then, I answered myself.  I had a bowl of cereal.  With this addition, I was very close to my allotted points for the day, at only half past noon, and I struggled to avoid going completely over the top after returning from the grocery store.

Sometimes I find it is good to look back on the challenges of yesterday in order to formulate a goal for today.  For, today is a pseudo-weekend, the much loved Monday holiday!  Yay to free time and staying in my pj's all day; nay to binging on snickerdoodles while watching multiple documentaries on Netflix.

I plan to avoid the "What can I eat next" question with a big glass of water and a stick of gum (if needed).  Initially, I decided on just the piece of gum (or a brush of the teeth), but the thought of eating an egg and toast followed closely with minty-fresh chewing gum grosses me out.  Maybe the glass of water will be enough, but I'm armed and ready, if the need for further distraction arises.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Yesterday: Pictures of Food; Today: Schedule It

Yesterday's goal was to take pictures of my food before eating it.  It's something that has been suggested by others, but not something I have ever tried.  I did succeed in following through on this goal, all for you, my loves.  I must say, I grew tired of doing this and definitely would not have stuck with it had it not been specifically tagged as my goal for the day.  So, I allowed a loophole - if it had no points, I didn't have to photograph it.  The no point foods in Weight Watchers are fruits, most vegetables, and diet soda or other items with zero calories.  The fact that I did not have to photograph something did have the effect of making it a more appealing choice to me.  If you are a fanatic facebooker or instagram person, I imagine you would not have found photos of food so cumbersome, but I think, whether you like pictures or not, this tactic does improve mindfulness.

In addition, this tactic reduces the tendency for "selective memory".  As an experiment, I attempted to remember the food I had eaten and to track it this morning.  I planned to splurge for this day, and splurge I did.  Even with attempts to eat healthy, such as picking chicken and salad for the main course, and dutifully removing the (delicious) skin, I had a staggering number of points.  I remembered these healthy choices, and a few of the less healthy ones, but I missed the smigde of bacon and pea pasta salad, a helping of chips, and one beer.  This totaled 13 points, about half my daily allowance in one day!

I will definitely have to focus on food this week.  Weight Watchers allows up to 49 points a week of splurges, and I have only 11 points remaining!

By the way, the purpose of this party was to reveal the gender of my (second to*) next family member.  My sister is having a GIRL!  I am so excited to be an Aunt to to meet my first niece in January!
* (My brother is getting married in November, so the next family member, technically, is another future aunt.)

I almost forgot TODAY's goal!  Today's challenge is that it is Sunday.  It seems to happen every week, and not that I am complaining, but, I spend many Sundays at home in my kitchen.  I work at my kitchen table, I buy food and put it in my kitchen, and I prepare food for the week in the kitchen.  As such, I eat. As soon as I think to myself, "What shall I do next?" and devilish little voice chimes in and says, "Eat something!"

So today's goal is to write out a little schedule for the day.  When I wonder what to do next, I'll look at my list, pick something, and do that thing.  I will eat, but not until it is time to eat, or I am truly and honestly hungry.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Yesterday: Eggplant; Today: Pictures of Food

Yesterday's goal was to find a recipe that uses eggplant that is easy, appealing, and not covered in cheese. I found a recipe that meets the criteria - a simple pasta sauce that doctors store bought sauce with ground chicken, peppers, and, of course, eggplant.  The recipe looks delicious and I fully intent to make it very soon.  But, I had to drive to a construction site 4.5 hours away today - and back.  It makes for a very long day and barely had the energy to whip up a Smart One TV dinner and a salad.

Today is a new day.  A new, challenging day.  I am attending a party at my sister's house, and I have yet to successfully master a party.  What can I say?  I like brownies.  I like beer.  I like to try every thing on the table.  I hover over or near the food.  I feel naked without a drink in hand.  If you can think of things that people should do when trying to stay healthy at a party, I can generally assure you, I do the opposite.

I've tried a few tactics with varied success.  I've read the (very good) advice of others.  These include things like eating the vegetables, drinking diet soda, being the helpful cleaner, offering to run or play the games, and staying away from the food table.  I've said with conviction that I would do these things, but I have yet to avoid reverting to my near frenzied state of brownie inhalation by party's end.

Today's tactic is to take a picture of each item I eat or drink.  I'm hoping this will increase mindfulness and decrease consumption.  But, we shall see.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Yesterday: Water; Today: Eggplant

Yesterday's goal went very well.  I dutifully drank my water (as I do every day) at breakfast and in the car on my way to work. These two times are habits I established years and years ago, and though I do sometimes forget my water bottle on my way out the door, I am pretty good with those two times. 

I have also worked re-filling the water bottle into my routine, though I almost always forget to drink it.  But not yesterday.  Because it was my goal of the day, I grabbed it at 12:39 when I realized I had missed most of lunch time, and went outside.  There was this weird glowing ball in a beautiful blue sky.  Fluffy white clouds drifted past the ball from time to time.  The air was balmy and 82 degrees.  Could it be sunshine?  My star(s)!  I drank my water and did not stay out for too long, but, it felt good.

I re-filled the bottle and drank it on my way home at 8:30 pm. (boo) I nearly forgot the drive home water as usual, but remembered when I was about 15 minutes into my drive and thinking about how I might manage to wait for some chicken tenders to cook without gorging myself on breakfast cereal.  (Answer: gum.)

So, score one for me!

Today's goal is to use up some eggplant from the farm share this week.  I struggle to find recipes that I actually feel like making and eating, other than ratatouille.  I'd like to have another go-to under my belt, and hopefully it won't be loaded in cheese or breaded and fried!  It is probably asking too much, but it would be really nice if my better half would eat it too...but I'll settle for something healthy and yummy (to me).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Yesterday: Something Active; Today: Water

Yesterday's goal was pretty non-specific for a reason.  I already missed one exercise goal this week, and I LIKE exercise.  The problem is my stupid job gets in my stupid way a lot.  I have several things to catch up on after vacation, and several things due on September 12.  It is not very far away. 

The pressure adds stress and I just can't seem to tear myself from my desk at lunch time.  In fact, I tend to smell the food of others or hear the microwave humming before I look up from my frenzy and see that it is 12:39.  I do the same thing in the evening and miss classes at the gym.  I have access to a treadmill - several in fact.  I also live on the border of a state park, own a mountain bike, have a Wii, and can pull any number of dusty workout DVD's from my shelf.  You'd think I could do SOMETHING.

That's what I thought too, so I made it my goal.  I DID get up and go to yoga in the morning.  That's something, right?  Well, I hoped to do more, but I guess I'll have to take it.  The real problem is stress, and yoga relieves it.  Mission accomplished...I guess.

Today's goal is to drink more water.  Specifically, to drink a full 24 oz re-usable bottle of water three times, plus water with each meal.  I have been very thirsty lately, and this causes me to eat.  Though I am technically thirsty, like many people, my brain is a little slow on the interpretation of the thirst requests.  Apparently, the body uses Greek for these requests, but the brain only speaks English.  One would think it could pick up a word here and there. 

This goal is inspired by one of the Weight Watchers members at a meeting I recently attended.  It was a "crash" meeting (one I do not normally attend), and little dings kept going off on her phone throughout the meeting. All the other members would say, "Water!" as she would sip from her bottle.  That's one method.  I'm not going to go to that extreme just yet,  but I do need to get rid of this thirst.