Tag Archives: Health

Adult Supervision Required in Aisle Two

I have a confession that’s a little embarrassing.  I’m 45 years old and I can’t be trusted with a box of Girl Scout cookies.

Homemade brownie bites
My homemade brownie bites

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m an emotional eater.  As it happens, I’m also a little compulsive about some things – like finishing things.  And by things, I mean boxes of cookies, containers of ice cream, bags of chips more than I mean household chores.

My son doesn’t have these food issues and for that, I am profoundly grateful.  He can take a bite or two out of a candy bar and walk away from it.  That amazes me.  I am compelled to eat the whole thing, then look for more.  I don’t know if that’s a compulsion or a sugar addiction.  In any case, don’t ask to share my Lion bar.  It’s not going to work out for you.

In my profile, I say that I’m a non-smoking smoker.  I see myself that way because, although I quit smoking six or so years ago, I smoked for the better part of 20 years.  On a really stressful day, I still feel like I could eat an entire pack – aluminum foil and all.  However, I choose not to and I make that choice every day.  If you’ve done it, you know that quitting smoking is no walk in the park.  The thing is, though, you don’t have to smoke to live.

You do have to eat to live.  Changing portion sizes, food selections and cooking methods are all well and good.  But temptation is still EVERYwhere.  I choose not to smoke; so, I can avoid smokey places, cigarette stores, situations where I once would have smoked.  I can’t avoid food.  And, c’mon, have you seen the snack aisle?!  Plus, my dieting doesn’t mean that my son should never have treats.  So, what to do?

In theory, I should be able to just NOT eat those cookies.  Um, yeah.  In reality, I swear they talk to me. “Eat me!  I’m right on top of the refrigerator.  Look up!”  As long as the bag is open, I hear them.  Ugh.  I’m fairly certain that I’m not the only adult who cannot walk past an open bag of snack mix.

The obvious solution is to stay completely away from temptation.  To do that, I’d never walk into a convenient store, Starbucks, or grocery store again.  Clearly, that isn’t an option.  I CAN just abstain from buying any treats.  Ever. For the rest of my life. Again, um, yeah.

The best snack solution is to keep lots of fruit, string cheese, yogurt, nuts and other healthful choices around.  And I do that.  I also keep 85% dark chocolate in the freezer and unbuttered popcorn in the cabinet.

However, I want to be able to enjoy ice cream, chips, cookies and the rest from time to time.  For those snacks, I’ve found a pretty workable solution. I buy single servings and I give away most of what I bake.

Skinny Cow, Edy’s, Ben & Jerry’s, and Haagen Dazs all make single serving containers (and, no, I’m not talking about pints).  We’ve all seen single serving chip bags as well as cookies at the deli.  Skinny Cow also makes low-calorie, single serve chocolate candies.  The cost per serving for treats packaged this way is higher, sure.  However, my largest concern with the snack issue isn’t my wallet as much as it is the size of the pants that wallet is in.

Move It

Black Labrador
Our Lab Trey

If you have a fat dog, you’re not getting enough exercise.

Doctors always tell you that to lose weight you have to change your diet AND exercise.  Now, let me let you in on something here: I hate to break a sweat.  Seriously.  Hate. It.  I don’t mind so much once I’m sweaty, but crossing that barrier just grosses me out something awful.  Plus, I would really rather just sit on the couch.  The sitting on the couch routine was killing me; so, it was time to adjust.

The truth is, my Labrador was a little chunky.   So, my exercise started with walking my dogs three times a week.  I started walking for 30 minutes at a moderate pace.  As the days passed, I added distance.  Then I added speed until the pups and I were walking 5 miles in 70 minutes.  The Lab and I were dragging at the end of that.  The Soup Hound was grateful for the warm up.  Nobody likes it when one of the party is that perky after such a workout.

I bought some yoga discs that I did at home once or twice a week.   I started slipping more accidental exercise – parking further from the door, taking my shopping cart all the way back in the store, that sort of thing – nothing particularly strenuous. Before I hurt my knee, I ran one day a week – 2.5 miles on the last time, I went to kickboxing three times a week, I used yard work as exercise one day a week and I went to the batting cages and driving range one day a week.  That day was a light exercise day; but, movement is movement.  It counted and it was fun.

As I told you, after I hurt my  knee, I went sedentary again.  However, I’ve joined one of those 24 gym places now and had my first workout with a trainer.  I couldn’t move afterwards.  It was discouraging.  BUT – I know that as I keep going and keep working, I will see results.

Walking, cycling and using the elliptical machines increase endurance.  Sit-ups, push-ups, and planks strengthen core and upper body.  Squats strengthen legs and rear.  These things will work.  I know they do – they did before.

The biggest challenge then – and now – is making myself go.  I can find a million reasons why I should do something other than exercise.  To be honest, I’m still struggling with that right now as I am more mobile.

What do you use to motivate yourself?

Who Is That Fat Woman?

Me and my dad on Memorial Day 2011
Me and my dad on Memorial Day 2011

I’ve had a weight problem almost all of my life; however, when I saw photos from a family Memorial Day event in 2011, I was surprised to see how big I had gotten.  In my mind, I was around a size 14.  In the real world, I was a size 20 and still going up.  Surprised as I was, I was not motivated to make any kind of real change.

Oh, sure.  I told myself I was dieting and cut out my daily Snickers bar, but that was really it.  You see, that was kind of my life-long pattern.  The Big Diet Lie, as it were.  Don’t look at me like that.  You know you’ve done it, too.  “Oh, no more lasagne for me.  I’m on a diet.”  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you scarf an entire box of low-fat cookies.  Hey, but they’re low fat.  Stop it. You know you don’t even believe that.

I had lost significant amounts of weight using both The Diet Center program and Nutrisystem when I was in my twenties.  With the Diet Center program, I cooked my own food.  Nutrisystem was just like it is now – super, super easy. I just wasn’t commited enough to myself to keep the weight off with either program.

When I made the decision this time to actually lose weight, I remembered the food list from the Diet Center program. Unfortunately, their store fronts have long gone out of business and the books are no longer in print.  So, I went to abebooks.com (my most favoritest book site) to get a copy of the cookbook and of the program guide.  The books are written by Sybil Ferguson who devised the program for her own health.  I also bought a book called Your Body Knows Best about eating for your blood type, metabolism and heritage.  I combined those two programs and came up with a group of foods that work for me.

The short description of the list is this: lots of fresh fruits & vegetables, no canned foods or premade sauces (they hide all kinds of sugar, sodium and preservatives in canned and jarred food – read the labels, they”ll scare you to death), meat-free Mondays (or just some day of the week), fish one day a week, no more than one diet soft drink a day (down from 6 or 7 cans a day!), and absurd amounts of water.  A daily multi-vitamin ensured that my vitamins and minerals weren’t all flushed out by the copious amounts of water I drank.  I also took flax seed and fish oil supplements to help curb cravings.  My body craves red meat; so, I eat it.  My dad had a calf slaughtered before it got into the meat processing system.  The cuts are leaner from this grass-fed calf (which also hadn’t been treated with all those antibiotics necessary for cattle in stockyards); however, even with fattier cuts, I just counted the calories.  A good piece of roast beef from time to time isn’t going to kill me and if it keeps me from craving worse things, then, in the balance, it’s the best move for me.

I ate three meals and three snacks a day, keeping my mealtimes as routine as possible.  For me, this regular intake of calories kept my blood sugar steady which kept me alert and hunger pang free.   I’ve read that the body often signals the need for fluid by making you feel hungry; so, if I found myself feeling peckish outside of routine meal times, I drank a large glass of water or a cup of hot herbal tea.   If the water trick didn’t work, I brushed my teeth.  That minty feeling often cut off hunger at the pass.

I do not buy sugar free cookies or candies since they actually contain sugar alcohol which, I have discovered, makes me hungry.  For 110 calories, I can have two pieces of sugar free candy and be hungry enough to gnaw off my own fist in 30 minutes, or I can have a large banana and be satisfied for two hours.  For the same reason, I rarely ate pasta or white breads.  Any bread that I ate came from the store bakery, from the farmers’ market or from my own oven.  Since the stuff sold on the shelves takes so long to mold, it scares me.  I’d rather buy from a local baker, pay a little more, put some in the freezer to keep it fresh and know that I’m reducing the preservatives in my diet.

I would estimate that the first 40 to 50 pounds were lost basically to changing food choices and habits.  It was phenomenal!  But, did you notice how an awful lot of those habit descriptions involved the past tense?  Tomorrow, I’ll tell you why.