SundayI read an article that talked about Saturday being the most dangerous day for weight management. Quite honestly, I’ve almost never had a problem with Saturday. I plan that day and it usually goes like clockwork. My problem is, Sunday. I don’t know what happens with that day. I can make it through Friday evening just fine and step on the scale quite elated Saturday morning. I use that feeling throughout Saturday and make sure I do as needed to have that same number or better on the scale for Sunday morning. Then, Sunday morning, I’m glad at how well I’ve done for the weekend. Somewhere around 4pm on Sunday, it just all goes out the window. I really don’t know what is wrong with Sunday. 

Maybe it’s because I’m anxious at the starting workweek. I suppose that would make me an emotional eater and I need to tune in to those feelings and figure out how to dial them back. 

Maybe it is residual joy from how I used to spend my Sunday’s before my weight loss journey. On Sunday, quite often, kit and caboodlemy husband and I ordered what we called the “Kit and Caboodle” which would be wings, breadsticks, a large pizza, and likely some dessert from a chosen pizza establishment. We might also get a sub or calzone. Most of the day we’d nosh on that food, watch movies, sleep off and on, have a drink or two, and then go to bed. Maybe that was how we dealt with the coming week. Again, making me think about eating as related to how I feel. 

Maybe it’s just because on Sunday, typically at 4ish, I finally have nothing to do. Dinner has been prepared for the week, my chores and errands are complete, and there isn’t anything pressing. I’m not really a person that knows what to do with “free time.” I generally go, go, go, except after 4pm on Sunday. I don’t know what this means. Am I eating out of boredom?

Frankly, I’m not sure what the problem is. I find it sad because I go up to bed about 7 or 8pm, so it’s only 3-4 hours of time during the entire weekend that makes me wake up Monday morning disappointed. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to figure out why I do this, how to stop this behavior, and make sure I wake up feeling better about myself on Monday for the workweek. I still don’t know why, but, the fact I’ve noticed this problem and am trying to deal with it, has helped me mitigate this destructive conduct. It’s my version of AA (Awareness and Acknowledgement). I’m aware there is a problem and I’ve acknowledged I need to find a resolution or stop the behavior. For now, this seems to be enough, as I watch my calories like a hawk on Sunday, eating low calorie foods, only eating if hunger and telling myself “no, stop, don’t” when I’m about to do something I will regret. For the month of August, I’ve been waking up, stepping on the scale, feeling happy about myself and starting my Monday’s off ready to tackle the world. As I enter another weekend, I feel confident that I’m on the right path and my positive journey continues.

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birthday cake

In  just a few short hours, I will be 42. I find myself wondering over the past week or so, what does that meant is 42 supposed to look like? Do I embody it? Do I even care if I’m the typical 42-year-old woman? I’ll share with you what I came up with. 

I don’t think I’m the average 42-year-old, although again, I’m not sure I even know what that is. I am me and I feel pretty good at this age. While I’m far from perfect, I have certainly matured over the years. I’ve made sure to put my health front and center. I’m even calmer when in uncomfortable situations, as opposed to arguing, yelling, or just bolting. I’m understanding in the differences of others without losing my point of view or myself. I am patient, caring, kind and open-minded. At the same time, I refuse to deal with a bunch of BS. I accept the fact that people are flawed and would rather they be upfront about things, just as I am to everyone. All of these traits came with growing up, or as I like to say, are reflective of Grown Folks and yup, I’m Grown!

At 42, I am happy. I have many more goals I’d like to accomplish and things I seem to continually fail at but overall, I can’t really complain. I can wake up on my birthday and do yoga, or cardio, or weightlifting, or bike riding and be with people I love throughout the day. My mind, body and spirit might be getting older, but intelligence, confidence and strength came with being older, so it’s not a bad trade-off.

So, what does 42 mean? To me, celebrating this birthday means I’m still here doing what I do, learning what I enjoy and being the best me I can. I’ve taken HUJ strides in changing who I am and sculpting the best version of me possible. Maybe it’s in bad form to say this, but “Happy Birthday to Me.” Or rather, as I say it with no shame and shout for the world to hear, “Happy 42nd Birthday to Me.”

Behavior

Behavior is not really a word I’ve paid much attention to until recently. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself continually pondering the question, “how do you change behavior?” Someone asked me this in reference to losing weight and honestly, I didn’t really have an answer. Oddly enough, I’ve changed many of my behaviors in life but I don’t know how I was able to do it. Maybe I was just motivated. Maybe I just had a great support team. Maybe I chanted a few good mantras along the way and decided to live by them. Maybe I just got lucky. I suppose any of these answers is true, depending on the behavior I was trying to change and that moment in my life. 

The biggest behavior that I changed that is monumental to my health is that I stopped smoking. I had a 3-4 pack a week no smokinghabit. Why did I stop? Because I knew it was a bad habit and it really made no sense that I smoked. My parents didn’t smoke, I didn’t grow-up around smokers and quite frequently, I didn’t even do it in the house because I couldn’t stand the smell. As tobacco has been proven to be an addictive substance, and I smoked for about 12 years, I would have to say I was addicted but quitting didn’t seem too hard because I had a great support system. Everyone wanted me to stop anyway. None of my friends smoked and even my father-in-law, who’d smoked for years of his life, had quit. I suppose I started smoking in college to prove I was grown. In hindsight, that seems a bit silly and I’m sure that’s another thing that helped me quit. It took me a few times to stop before it really took, but once I went a year within a cigarette, I was done and that was over 10 years ago. 

Not eating out for every meal and going to fast food restaurants is another behavior I changed, as this was crucial to losing weight. I was able to alter this behavior because there are various great tasting foods out there that are low in calorie and good for me. Moreover, I do know how to cook. Bottom line, I like flavorful food regardless of whether it is healthy, good for me, or is food categorized as a heart attack waiting to happen, and it doesn’t matter from where the food comes. Once I figured out a schedule on when to prepare home meals and found terrific tasting recipes, cooking more of my meals at home and eating that wonderful food became the new behavior. If I drilldown and examine behavior and habit, maybe they haven’t changed that much. I still eat food that tastes great; I just get the food from a different source. Additionally, I know I’m still a few pounds overweight and could stand to eat less, so overeating is still a behavior I’ve yet to conquer. 

Adding exercise to my daily routine might be the one area in which I can say I’m lucky. I just happen to enjoy working sunriseout. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a morning person and so getting up in the morning is generally not a problem for me. I see exercise like work, so this is where having a couple of life mantras come in handy too. It doesn’t matter if I want to get up and do it or not. I have to get up, it has to be done and if I like my current lifestyle, I had better get to it. For me, there is no better motivator than the truth. 

My best answer to the question of how to change behavior is to keep trying. If at first you don’t succeed… As I said, it took me a few times to stop smoking but I kept trying and finally did. Staying motivated and being true to self are helpful. One of the things I do every morning is say to myself, “Today I’m going to be a better person than I was yesterday.” In my head sometimes I think “be a better person every day, all day long.” I try to make sure my actions speak to being a better person. Sure, sometimes I fail but other times, I soar. The fact that I even try is what brings about my success and changes in my behavior.

ninja

Last Friday I surprised myself. I woke up per usual to do my 2-hour workout, which included 30 minutes on my exercise bike, 1 hour of Kenpo X (P90X’s version of kickboxing) and another 30 minutes on my exercise bike. Everything was going just fine until about 4:20, when I’m about 10-15 minutes into Kenpo X, the electricity shuts off. I looked outside and it was pitch black. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this was in the morning. All the lights were out in the neighborhood. At first, I was a bit frustrated, as I love my kick boxing workouts. Then I came to a realization – I had this video memorized. I know exactly what all the kick and punch sequences are and the count of most of them. I know Tony has us do 25 for some and 30 for others, so if I just do 30 for everything, I’d get it right. If I decided to do this from memory, the only missing element from the video would be the count for the cool-down sequence. He does running in place for about 30 seconds, jump rope for 30 seconds, jumping jacks for 30 seconds and then finishes with X-jumps (yes, this really is the recovery section of the workout). How was I going to know when to change-up every 30 seconds? It dawned on me that I could get the flashlight, shine it on the kitchen timer and use that as my clock. 

At 4:27am, with nothing but the moon lighting my living room, there I was kicking, punching, sweating and panting , dark nightlike a ninja in the darkness, doing my workout. I’m not sure if it was my stubbornness, my competitive nature or just plain will that made me go up against Mother Nature but it’s a fight I won. I didn’t need lights, the television, or Tony Horton’s voice to do my exercise. When I got to what would be the last segment of the routine, the electricity came back on and I couldn’t help but laugh. I went through the video to make sure I’d done everything, and I had. I’d even done more because many of the things I did 30 reps to should only have been 25. Oh well, more cardio for me. I finished up with the video and a huge smile on my face. Then I went upstairs, completed my 30 minutes on the exercise bike and felt quite accomplished with the day’s workout. 

If you’d have ever told me I’d be so defiant one day and so committed to my health efforts that I would complete my daily workout in utter darkness, I think I would have laughed. However, in the end, I ended up laughing, as my rebellion seemed to take me to a higher level of fitness and well-being. I realize that I never have an excuse. I can always exercise kickboxingand choose to be this better version of myself. While it was a bit scary, there in the dark, by myself, kicking and punching the air, it was also liberating. I felt alive and renewed in my conviction to health and wellness. Now, each morning, I dare the electricity to shut off; I already have a plan of action in my head if it’s a cardio day or weight-lifting day, I know how to proceed. Surprisingly, or happily, my journey moves forward, as I yet again learn something new about myself as I continue striving to be a healthier me.

happy easterWell, it’s almost Easter. On Sunday, I can fall off the wagon, as I gave up alcohol for Lent. I’ll admit, this wasn’t the hardest thing to do but it wasn’t easy. In the past, I’ve given up coffee, chocolate, and dessert, foods I consume every day. While I don’t drink every day and most times, not even every week, partaking in a sip of wine with dinner or a de-stressor bourbon after a hard day at work or a hot-toddy nightcap is something I’m able to do when I want. On those occasions, when I was unable to have my beverage of choice, I did manage to muddle through and as always, learned a few things about myself.

The challenges this Lenten season were an adult birthday party, St. Patrick’s Day and a happy hour for my husband’s new job. For the birthday party, I was fine in the beginning, as this wasn’t too long after we’d returned home from Mardi Gras. I did enough drinking on that trip to last a few weeks. However, as that evening progressed and everyone around me enjoyed a cocktail, I started wanting one. That’s when I spotted someone “drinking” that I knew didn’t drink. My husband asked her what she was drinking and she said, “A Shirley Temple,” made with Sprite, grenadine, and a squirt of lemon. I’d forgotten all about those things. Since I hardly ever drink soda pop, I figured this would be something drink with cherrydifferent and I could trick my body, at least for this event. Viola, success. I had two diet Shirley Temples with cherries and made it through the evening just fine, with calories to spare.

Then came St. Patrick’s Day, on a weekend no less. This is usually a day I go all out, with Pub Crawls, green beer, etc. (and keep in mind, I don’t even like beer). Wow, talk about struggling. I curled up on the couch the Saturday of that weekend and felt bewildered. Oh, I just wanted the pain to go away. My wonderful loving husband again came to the rescue. He Googled non-alcoholic drinks, went out to get some Vernor’s ginger ale and whipped up a virgin concoction of something that was wonderful. I have always enjoyed the soothing flavor of ginger. Ahhh, again I’d made it through tough times. There was an unconventional solution to keeping me on track and we found it. This reminded me of how I felt when I first started eating better and losing weight. There’s always a healthier alternative that will work. It’s just a matter of finding it.

The final test was last week at the happy hour to wish my husband luck at his new position. We celebrated with both old and new co-workers. The drinks were flowing and after a while, the sting from the dark roasted black coffee just didn’t work. Even the full strength Shirley Temple (as they didn’t have diet) didn’t work. I was miserable and before I knew it… the night was over. O-V-E-R!!! I’d made it. I knew if I could make it through a happy hour, 5 weeks after being stone-cold sober and just one week away from Easter’s arrival, I’d be fine and sure enough, now, I am.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m counting the hours until I drink my extra spicy bloody Mary at Easter brunch, but at least I bloody Maryknow I persevered. Oddly enough, the thing I noticed most is that I had no food cravings while on the wagon. I didn’t want to drown myself in pizza or cookies or eat half a cake. This is progress. On the down side, I wondered if the reason I didn’t crave these things is because I wasn’t consuming alcohol. Could it be that alcohol brings on these feelings? Maybe these foods wouldn’t taste as good to me without alcohol, thus I didn’t crave them. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough, but at least I’ve done the research and am now aware. I have found that knowing is half the battle and once I identify a problem, I can tackle it. I’ve already figured out my strategy for brunch and how to make it through Easter day without overdoing it. Additionally, I’ve planned the following days to carefully add my favorite beverages back to my diet, in slow rotation, so that I don’t swill everything in sight. As I frequently say to those that ask, moderation is key and I’ll be sure to intently exercise that over the next few weeks, as I raise my glass to toast you all – Happy Easter!

This has been an interestingly busy and challenging week for me, one that in the past would have meant tons of empty, sugary, unhealthy calories. I have been out of my office, away from home base, most of this week, especially in the muffinsmornings. All the meetings, conferences, or seminars I attended offered various morning treats like bagels, muffins, a wonderfully smelling apple and raisin tartlet with homemade syrup, Danishes and even fruit. The old me would have easily eaten one or two of these treats during a 3-4 hour session and I’m not talking about the fruit. Instead, this week, I relied heavily on those portal foods I’ve come to love; carefully strategizing what to eat from a calorie perspective and what will satisfy my hunger.

Tuesday and Wednesday morning, I made sure to take cottage cheese with me. While this is a perishable item, cottage cheese and yogurt low in fat seem to stay fresh in a moderate temperature environment for a couple of hours. I likely wouldn’t try this when it’s 80 plus degrees outside but with temperatures barely reaching 30 degrees and the indoor buildings not being hot, I can travel with this dairy product and eat within 2 hours. I have found these go great with Fiber One brownies, Nature Valley granola bars, Kashi bars (just pick one, they’re all so good), and of course, my Vitatops.

I also make sure to carry some almonds with me. I like the Emerald’s Cinnamon and the Dark Cocoa almonds. I tend to eat a couple of those and drink some water between my breakfast and morning snack just to get a flavor booster (and almonds are good for you, helping the good cholesterol, though be sure to eat them in moderation). I just throw a few of these in a Ziploc and carry them with me in my workbag. They really do help curve any hunger pangs or cravings for the wonderfully aromatic foods I see others eat at these events.

bars, life, pb, fiber oneMy mid-morning snack can consist of a banana, which is extremely filling and a Weight Watcher’s muffin, a Honey Nut Cheerios bar, some peanut butter crackers, a Thomas’ Cinnamon Raisin Bagel thin, or a different kind of bar than the one had with my cottage cheese. There really are numerous types of satisfying foods with which I can travel and I enjoy eating. I usually only eat many of these foods during a hectic week like this, so I welcome those flavors when the time approaches. For example, I love Honey Nut Cheerios Bars, but I don’t eat them often. So, when a week like this occurs, I’m all over those things. Yummy!!!

Thursday was another crazy busy day, but at least I did get to stop by the office during the morning meetings, thus settled down with a bowl of oatmeal, making it a nice change for the week. However, dinner was another story. My late afternoon, evening hair appointment meant no traditional dinner at home. There is a pizza place across the street from the hair shop, and some years ago, I would have easily stopped there to get a pizza. Instead, I had my home-prepared dinner meal for my lunch. As there is a refrigerator at the salon, I took a yogurt and some Lance, Whole Grain peanut butter crackers to nosh on while under the hair dryer.

Compared to the week I’ve had, Friday will just be a “boring eating day.” I’ll be in the office eating per usual and for dinner, we’re getting takeout at a place with wonderful local produce for salads and wraps. It is weeks like this that make me really look back at how my life has changed and how I’ve changed. I don’t leave my calories or foods I’ll eat in the hands of others. This really is something in my life that I can be responsible for and fully intend to be. There are so many healthier foods out there, available for whatever is needed and all I have to do is continue to be open to those possibilities. What a HUJ difference an accountable frame of mind, a list of portable foods, and a little bit of planning can make on the road to weight loss and maintenance.

heart tree bannerTomorrow is Wear Red for Women Day, as the kickoff to February and Heart Health Awareness Month. This is an important month for me as it reminds me of how my journey began. Initially, I was concerned with the number on the scale. I just wanted to lose weight and didn’t really think much about anything else. Eventually, I didn’t care about that number as much as I cared about being healthy, being a better me and making my mind, body and spirit stronger. I started thinking more about wellness, from a holistic standpoint (proper exercise, better foods, financial health, stress management, etc.), especially, heart health. 

I still consider myself young at 41, but in reality, age has nothing to do with health, wellness, various ailments and sickness. People now have all sorts of health problems, before their 40s, and with the weight I was carrying, I likely could have had such a story. I like to believe I’ve rewritten my story, at least a little bit, as I strive for a healthier lifestyle and better choices in my life. This month is a good reminder to the path I’ve more recently chosen to take and my 4 plus year journey. Tomorrow, I will proudly wear red, as I understand the importance of heart health. I recognize that making my heart stronger by exercising regularly, having a well-balanced diet, lowering my stress (through Yoga, meditation, family and friends), getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night, and increasing my immune system by getting a flu shot, eating fruits/vegetables, and taking vitamins is essential. 

As the 2011 recipient of the American Heart Association Lifestyle Change Award, I was asked to participate in our local Go Red for Women ad campaign, and I graciously accepted. Please join me in wearing red tomorrow to support the goal of saving women’s lives and ultimately, continuing to make changes for personal heart health.dispatch, wear red