Friday, February 28, 2014

The Weight Loss Plateau (frustrating, but not a reason to give up)

This morning, after 2 frustrating weeks, I finally, finally got over a weight plateau!  I really hope it sticks. A few days ago I decided that I was going to do the Jillian Michaels Blast Fat, Boost Metabolism video every day(except Sunday) until getting over that hurdle.  I'll probably still do it for the next few days just for "insurance purposes."

Plateaus are not unusual, and I'm really seeing a difference in my weight loss compared to the last time I was dedicated to diet changes and exercise 10 years ago, and 10 years before that.  But, as it says in an article I'm going to share in a moment, there is a difference between weight loss and fat loss

Knowing that is really important, because it makes those numbers that won't budge a little more bearable.  Despite their stubborness, I've still seen clothes fit better in these last 2 weeks and--I'm getting more muscles and less blubber in my arms, which are being seriously worked for the first time ever.

Here is the article.  I looked up "weight loss plateau" and found this one to be the most helpful, positive, and straight-forward.  This is from and was written by


Weight Loss Plateau Facts To Keep In Mind

Before delving into some solutions to help you break your weight loss plateau, here are some important facts that you should know:

1) Weight Loss Plateaus are VERY common

If you do not experience a weight loss plateau as you approach your ideal body weight, consider yourself very, very lucky. Weight loss plateaus are to be expected as you are losing weight. Our bodies are resistant to change. A large chunk of people who reach their ideal weight have experienced as many as 2-3 plateaus lasting several weeks. Remember that if changing our bodies was easy, then everyone would be walking around with a six-pack.

2) The More Weight You Lose, The More Weight Loss Slows

This comes down to simple mathematics. Take a guy Mike who is at 230lb and loses 1% of his body weight in fat per week (0.5%-1% is a solid pace of fat loss). Mike would then lose roughly 2.3lb of fat per week. Now if he gets down to 200lb, losing 1% of fat is now 2lb, or 15% less than 2.3lb. As Mike’s weight decreases further, less weight would be lost as a percentage of his total bodyweight so weight loss inherently slows down the leaner you become.

3) Losing Weight Becomes Harder The Closer You Get To Your Ideal Weight

Not only does the pace of weight loss slow down, but your body will work harder to hold on to your fat stores the leaner you become. We are left with a sobering fact – the ability to lose more fat decreases and it becomes even harder to do so. The most common plateaus I see for guys is first around 20-22% body fat, then around 12% body fat (for those guys looking to break into single digits).

3 Steps To Break Your Weight Loss Plateau

Now that you understand the difference between weight loss plateaus and fat loss plateaus along with the basic dynamics of weight loss, here are some tips to follow to help break through the toughest plateau.

Weight Loss Plateau Step #1: Re-evaluate Your Calorie Intake

As you lose weight, not only does it become harder to lose, but your metabolism decreases. Now don’t go searching for those “how to boost your metabolism” articles – your metabolism is supposed to decrease as you lose weight.
Going back to our friend Mike, if he continues the same workout regimen at 200lb as he did when he weighed 230lb, his metabolism will be roughly 15% lower at 200lb vs. 230lb. Why you ask? He has less body mass, which means his body does not require as much energy to support a smaller frame.
That’s why every 10-15lb you lose (if you have a lot of weight to lose), you can reevaluate your calorie intake to ensure you are eating less calories than you are burning. For more, check out How Many Calories Should You Eat to Lose Weight?

Weight Loss Plateau Step #2: Control the “Calorie Creep”

My estimate is 90% of all weight loss plateaus are related to “calorie creep”, or more generally, eating more calories than you think you are eating. Combined with a decrease in metabolism from weight loss, plateaus are almost a certainty.
The calorie creep can come from mindless eating, eating out at restaurants that serve huge portions, or simply condiments like dressings, spreads, and sauces. Maybe you don’t realize that small 100 calorie bag of “healthy” chips is really 400 calories because there are 4 servings in each bag. Alcohol also goes on the calorie creep list.
The best place to start is to track your food intake if you are not already doing so. There are many great reasons to keep a food journal, so tracking your nutrition intake (even for a few days) is possibly the smartest and most important step you take to improve your nutrition.

Weight Loss Plateau Step #3: Progress Your Body, Don’t Confuse it

While nutrition is likely the culprit for the stall in your weight, making sure you are progressing the intensity of your workouts can only help improve your results.
There is a lot of hype about “muscle confusion” because of a certain exercise program that has sold over 20 million copies through infomercials. In the extreme case, choosing a different workout every time you hit the gym is not confusing your body as much as you think, but it’s definitely curtailing your results. If you want to maintain the results you have, changing things up is awesome, but not if you want to maximize your results in a muscle building, or fat loss program.
Continuity in your exercise program is more important than switching things up all the time. Without continuity, you will not be able to track improvements and make the workouts harder, which is the goal. In my BuiltLean Program, even though I switch up the workouts every couple of weeks, I keep several of the exercises and the structure of the workouts the same so that you can track changes in your strength and fitness levels.

What happens if you still can’t break your weight loss plateau?

The chances are very likely if you follow the preceding 3 steps, you will be able to break your plateau. Again, 90% of the time it’s a matter of not balancing calorie intake with calorie burn. But for those in the 10% category, here are some issues/solutions to consider:
1) Starvation Mode – The opposite of the calorie creep is not eating enough calories to help sustain your body. While your metabolism will not drop if you skip a meal, or even a few, it will drop with chronic calorie deprivation. If you are a 180lb guy eating less than 1,000 calories per day for let’s say 3 weeks, you can bet your bank account your metabolism will take a nose dive. Some studies have shown metabolism can drop by as much as 40-50%. There are a host of other negative issues with extreme starvation diets (lack of proper nutrients being one of them). If you are chronically in starvation mode, it’s advisable to up your calorie intake.
2) Calorie Cycling – If you are in starvation mode, or have just been dieting for more than a month, or two, your metabolism can and will likely slow down above and beyond the range if you were eating more calories. There is no scientific evidence supporting calorie cycling as a superior way to lose fat, but I must mention it given the large number of respected experts who support it. Furthermore, science is not exactly ahead of the curve. Alternating low calorie with high calorie days MAY prevent this starvation response from occurring (i.e. 3 days low, 1 day high).
3) Hormones – There is a large contingent of nutrition experts who describe a stall in fat loss not as a calorie in/out issue, but as a “defect in fat metabolism”. Think about an overfat woman in a developing country who barely eats any food. How can this be? There are several theories, but they most likely have to do with a hormonal imbalance that affects fat loss metabolism along with calorie burn. Hormonal issues related to weight loss are more common with women than men. What’s the solution? Unfortunately, a simple answer is not possible, other than to seek medical assistance and test your hormone levels such as adrenal, testosterone etc.
As you continue on your journey to reach your ideal weight, keep in mind that changing your body is a marathon, not a sprint (See: body change vs. maintenance). The sooner you can appreciate this, the better off you will be in the short and long term.
I hope this was a helpful overview of the true dynamics of weight loss and how to break a stubborn weight loss plateau.

What I thought about the most when reading this is how crucial it is for me to change my eating now and forever, before I get older and it gets even hard to lose.  Don't ask me why I am more motivated this time than ever before--I've done this many times and keeping it off and exercising will power has always been a struggle--but I am.  (We all know that losing is half the battle and maintenance is the other half.)  Call it wisdom with age, learning more about the nasties that the government allows in so much of our food, and wanting to live to a ripe old age like 3/4 of my grandparents, who lived healthily into their nineties.  (My dad's mom is still living and turns 96 in June.)

Anyway, plateaus can be frustrating, sometimes frustrating enough to quit all of your hard work, so I wanted to post this article and a little about my own experience to possibly help others.  I'll leave you with some inspirational thoughts that I found today.  If you're on a crusade like me, best of luck!  (Although we both know that luck has nothing to do with it, because it is dang hard work!)

I've worked so hard!  I don't want these last 2 months to be for nothing.  One week from today I turn 43 (good grief) and I'm determined that 43 is going to be the year of permanent change.  Grr! Onward and upward!  :-)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Clink! Went my ring... (and the not-so-secret Secret...)

This ring is similar to mine, but not identical. I think mine is pretty unique.
If you've seen my wedding ring, then you know it is very unique and very lovely.  (If you haven't, then just imagine a wide-banded, vintage-looking, but custom ring that is very unique and very lovely.)

This morning, while drying my hands in the restroom at the Portland Temple, it slid right off my finger and clinked its way to the floor!  Yikes.  This has never happened before.  I know we aren't supposed to get attached to material things, but my wedding ring is pretty much the most special piece of jewelry I own.  Not to mention that it took until I was 39 years old to even have a wedding ring.

In an instant of panic I remembered that I Love Lucy episode where she put her wedding ring into a balled up piece of tissue paper which Ricky threw away.  Next thing you know, they were digging through garbage trying to find it.

But, no, mine just clinked its way to the floor, nice as you please. It could've just as easily fell into the trash--with no sound at all.  What a thought!

Like I said, all of this happened in an instant--the clink, the realization of what happened, and the panicked "what ifs."

One other lady was in the restroom, an older, portly woman, who kindly said, "You must be losing weight!"

Still recovering, I said that, yes, I was.

As I made my way out, she asked me, "What's your weight-loss secret?"

I smiled, "Working out every single morning!"


She gave me a look like Working out?  I don't want to have to do that.  

I so relate with this feeling, because the idea that the tried and true methods are what really work is frustrating.  After all, I rolled out of bed this morning at 5am, fed the dog, emptied the dishwasher, and then sweated downstairs for an hour with a Jillian Michaels video before driving down to the temple.

So the secret is that there is no secret.  I've known what to do all this time, it was just a matter of doing it.

Anyway, the rest of my day was lovely and busy, mixed in with some yucky traffic on the way to Portland, and quality time later on with Hubby.

But I will keep better tabs on my ring from now on! 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homemade Almond Milk & Almond Butter...Success!

Domestic, that's me.

I cannot say that these attempts were without their bumps, but I'm happy with the results, which is the most important thing.

All but one of the pictures is from the almond milk-making process.

Here we go:

 Step 1:  Soak 1 cup of RAW almonds in water overnight.  (8 hours minimum from what I've read.)  You will notice how they become nice and plump.
Step 2:  Drain the water.  (Do not use the overnight water.  Trust me.)
Step 3:  Put the almonds and a date or 2--for sweetness--into a blender
Step 4:  Add 4 cups of filtered water.  (We LOVE our homemade Berkey water filter.  We use it several times a day.  Instructions on YouTube.)
Step 5:  Blend, my pretties, blend!
Step 6: Line a strainer with cheesecloth.  (Cheesecloth will be your new bestie if you plan to do this a lot like I do.)
Step 7:  Pour your almond/water/date mixture into the cheesecloth and the resulting liquid is your almond milk.
This recipe makes about 1 liter. 

Here is the resulting almond pulp.  Don't be mad, but I didn't keep it.  I know there are all sorts of uses for it, but I'm not quite there yet, and there will be plenty of other opportunities.

You need a food processor or a high powered blender (food processor is better.)  You need a minimum of 750-800 watts of power.  Don't attempt with less or you may burn out your appliance.  The best video I've seen to make almond butter is the one below.

This afternoon I switched over to a 750 watt Breville blender.  The least expensive of high-end blenders because my other one has always leaked (it was a regift from my brother's wedding. How do I say this nicely?  It was a terrible blender and always has been.)  The Breville, on the other hand, is amazing. 

Tried making almond butter in it using just 1/2 cup almonds to start (plus 1 date,) but was not as successful as with the almond milk because of the blender's shape, which kept tossing the almonds to the sides and keeping them there.  (I didn't soak them first, because I was impatient to try it, but I will another time.)

I got the almonds as small as I could and added a splash of almond milk to the blender mixture.  That helped, but not 100%.

Discouraged, but determined, I transferred the mixture to a small bowl, heated up 1/2 tsp of coconut oil, and added it.  Also a pinch of salt.

Here are the results.
Not as creamy as the one I bought from the store, but still very good, and the coconut oil adds moisture and a wonderful taste that the store-bought one doesn't have. (Coconut oil is my other new bestie.)

Still, true almond butter is almonds only.  Again, mine is 1/2 cup almonds, 1 date, splash of almond milk in the blender.  Blend.  Transfer to bowl. Stir in 1/2 tsp coconut oil (heated to liquid,) and a pinch of salt.

I still recommend watching the video below.  But still, not bad for the first time! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ciao to Carcinogens & Coconut Milk

Wait!  I was just praising coconut milk 2 days ago.  What happened?

So the other day I decided to bid farewell to cow's milk.  Not a minor thing for me, because I have always been a big milk drinker.  With this new goal in mind I decided to look at the milk alternatives at Fred Meyer.

This store has an awesome natural foods and organic section.  I looked at labels, focusing on calories and calcium and decided on coconut milk, the Simple Truth brand, which is Kroger's home brand.  It was so yummy!  I went through one half gallon and bought another.

Then I did something I hadn't done before, which was to look at the ingredients.  I knew it wasn't organic, but it was in the natural section of the store, so I assumed it was very natural and OK.  (You know what happens when you assume, right?  You make an a** out of "you" and "me!")

Suddenly, staring back at me, were all sorts of hard-to-pronounce words.  WHY?  Why do things that taste so good have to be bad?  Words like "xanthum gum" and "carrageenan."  I tried to ignore it.

Then I made my way to an amazing site called through a link on Facebook.  There was an article on Watch Out for This Carcinogen in Your Organic Food. Guess what that carcinogen was?  Carrageenan.  It also explained how it was allowed to even get into foods that qualify for the organic label.  Scary.

Bottom line, since the big food companies can't compete in quality with the organic ones, they are buying them, thus lowering the standards of what qualifies for organic.  Very slick and very sick.  Sometimes I wonder what the people making these decisions are eating.  Is there a food store for Monsanto bigwigs so that they get to eat healthy while they feed GMOs and pesticides to the rest of America?  Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

The thing I learned from this experience is read your labels

Armed with this new knowledge, for the 2nd time in 3 days I went on a new hunt for a new milk alternative. Fred Meyer has them in both refrigerated and non refrigerated form.  I spent a lot of time looking in both sections, amazed at some of the ingredients I was reading in "organic" products.  Unfortunately, none of the coconut milks were completely natural.  I looked at rice, soy, almond.  I also looked at calories, calcium content...and prices.  Eating healthy is not cheap!

And the winner is:
There was a vanilla option with the same amount of calories, but I decided to go plain on this first carton.  The price was comparable to other drinks/amounts of its kind.  The ingredients were easy to pronounce and, even though it doesn't have the organic label, it is non-GMO.

Be aware that NOT all almond unsweetened milks are free of the nasties I mentioned earlier.  On the contrary, many of them do have them, regardless of the appealing containers with healthy-sounding words on them. Read your labels.  

Good heavens, who would've thought that finding a decent milk substitute was as difficult as finding that perfect pair of jeans?  

One hurdle down in this quest for health.

Tonight Hubby and I are having smoothies for dinner since we had sushi for lunch.  We're using the Nutribullet, which has replaced the juicer for many reasons (perhaps a future blog post.)  Smoothies will have spinach, an apple, a banana, and some blueberries and raspberries. 100% organic and vegan (which we are not, but the smoothie is.)  Very yummy.

I will admit, this eating totally healthy thing is not easy.  There are temptations everywhere.  In the store, at the gas station mini mart, and along the road.  I'm looking upon these things as the evil saboteurs of my hour-long sweat session in the morning.  They are not going to win.  I am determined.

P.S.  FoodBabe also blasted the Vitamin Water ZERO which I have grown to love.  It has GMOs and other nasties too.  *sob!*

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Weight Loss Crusade

Yes...CRUSADE.  Not a "journey."  That word is used when someone is meandering and smelling the flowers.  "Crusade" is going into something at full force and not allowing any obstacles. 

Two weeks ago I probably would have used the word "journey," but not now. "Crusade" is the only way to describe it.

Describe what?  To describe this regimen I've been on for nearly 2 months, but which has recently taken a drastic, more powerful, turn in the last 2 weeks.

I'll back up.

Two months ago I decided to start exercising daily.  Walking my dog was more to get outdoors into the fresh air and give him a chance to move around.  But, as I've blogged in the past, my doggie is sick and won't be here after a few more months (we think--he's been doing really well, actually.)

I started to mentally prepare myself for life without a dog and began the regimen I talked about in this post.

That regimen was a great way to start.  I felt better--more powerful, more flexible and stronger.  My arms, especially, were feeling stronger--probably because I had never challenged them before.

And my eating?  That didn't change that much.  So, of course, the weight loss was slow. 

After 6 weeks I had lost a pathetic 3 pounds.

It was time to STEP IT UP.

Jane Fonda videos are great for a beginner, for someone who has a lot of weight to lose, and for an older person.  I learned a lot from her.  But I needed to sweat.

Heaven help me, I started watching the Jillian Michaels videos (on Amazon streaming, but also available on DVD) and seeing which ones I could integrate into my routine.

One day, after the first part of the Jane Fonda Walkout, I did 20 minutes of the Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones video. Oh--my--gosh...  I thought I was going to die. Seriously.

The next day I could hardly walk.  Squatting to use the potty was an experience in pain and every step came with a grunt.

I watched a few other videos and decided how to change things up.  10 POUNDS LATER, I'm really glad I challenged myself.

So, here is what I'm doing now.

M, W, F (sometimes 4 times a week):
I LOVE this video.  I end up red and sweating profusely by the time I'm done, but I feel amazing.  No more soreness, either.  There are a few moves I cannot do that I modify, which I thank the Jane Fonda videos for, but I can do most of it (not the Burpies, though--they are my Everest!)  And there are other moves I couldn't do at the beginning and I can now.

T, TH, S (or only twice a week)

I am using a 10lb kettlebell and I do the Level 1 (which is very satisfying for my fitness level, although I still have to modify a couple of the moves.) And, I have learned something about myself--I LOVE using weights.  It's like eating sushi--it just feels so good for your body!

After 30 minutes with Jillian, I go back to Jane Fonda and do the 2nd Walkout of the two on the video.  (Working out for only 30 minutes felt like cheating because I've become so used to sweating for an hour.)  It's the more intense one--one mile in 18 minutes (Intense? Some of you will say...) And after these 2 videos together I'm sweating pretty good!

Sundays: I'm doing BOTH walkouts on the video above.

Evenings (in my pajamas): I do the "Strength" section (15 minutes long) of the AM section of the AM/PM yoga.  I use 3lb hand weights.  I have tried using the 5lb-ers at the store and I'm not ready yet.  Soon, hopefully, soon.

If you read the regimen from a few weeks ago, you will see that this is a big change.  It is all part of some new goals I have for myself:

  1. I must sweat A LOT at least once every day.
  2. No sabotaging all of my hard work (enter the healthier eating.)
  3. No snacking. Just eating 3 sensible meals a day within a good span of time (every 3-5 hours.)
  4. No eating after 6pm
  5. Drink water with every meal.
  6. No more soda.  *Sigh*
  7. Enjoy the way your clothes feel, don't get too hung up on numbers on the scale. (I only weigh myself every 3-5 days--in the morning right after that first potty trip.)
And the biggest one for more cow's milk.

Ditching Dairy
Last Saturday I had an epiphany.  I looked into the mirror and noticed my skin looked great.  My skin is always giving me problems, and I'm usually scrambling on Friday and Saturday to do whatever I can to make sure my skin looks good for church on Sunday.   Thank goodness we ladies have make-up.  It covers the blotches, the extra set of wrinkles under my right eye, and my flaky forehead (snow, anyone?)

So, why did my skin suddenly look so healthy? That extra set of wrinkles under my right eye--GONE.  I have been drinking a TON of water lately, but was that the only thing?  I realized it was because I had stopped drinking so much milk.  I did it as an attempt to not drink my calories, and my skin had responded.

(Of course, I've also been eating healthier and cut out my beloved soda, but I knew it was more than that.)

The first thing I wanted to do was strangle my dermatologist, who loves prescribing creams, ointments, Prednisone and Benedryl.  NEVER had he given me dietary suggestions.  Grrr...

Then I thought about the way I have been eating and I looked up articles on cutting dairy from your diet.  There is A LOT of evidence out there on the benefits.  I have no plans to go vegetarian or vegan, or to cut out all carbs, but cutting out most dairy is something I can do if I'm going to get results like this.
Me, tonight, with no makeup.  I have healthy skin!  Enjoy it now, because I'll probably never post pictures like these again.

My Meals
Amazingly, I really haven't felt hungry or deprived for the past 2 weeks when I have really been conscious of what I'm eating.

Here are a few examples of my meals:

1 egg, 2 whites with a banana or an orange
a Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (Dave's Killer Bread--The Good Seed, Jif Crunchy, and organic raspberry spread.)
1 open face PBJ with a banana

salad with lettuce, carrots, Craisins (just few,) 5-6 croutons, and a can of crab of tuna dumped on top...sensible amount of dressing

tuna or kippers with organic Ritz crackers

can of Progresso soup with 6-8 crackers

Tonight I had:
1/3lb ground turkey patty dipped in 1000 Island Dressing (Yummers!)
and a bowl of sliced banana, a few raspberries, drizzled in some coconut milk

The meals in our house are *usually* healthy, with salmon, chicken, sometimes beef, with a veggie on the side and a salad.  For the "less healthy" homemade meals I'm just watching portions.

ALL of these meals are with water as the beverage.

And I am just estimating calories.  I'm not doing a food journal or using a fitness tracker.  (No judgment if you like or need those things--everyone is different.) If I'm extra hungry at breakfast and need 2 eggs instead of one, then I'll go a little lighter at lunch.  I'm just trying to be sensible, balanced and not gobble every meal like it's my last.

Favorite Finds
Last week Eric and I were out all day and we stopped at a mini mart for some snacks.  What to get?  I got a Vitamin Water ZERO (acai-pomegranate-blueberry) and some Special K potato chips.  A 150 calorie snack that was totally satisfying and delish?  I was so proud of me.

In the past it would have been a Pepsi (not diet--yuck) and a bag of Doritos, washed down with a Milky Way. 

I started experimenting with other flavors of Vitamin Water ZERO. (some are not 0 calories, but 110-120 calories, so make sure it says ZERO on the bottle.)  My favorites are the go-go, lemonade, and orange flavors (the last one tastes like Sunny Delight.)  After I down about 20 ounces of water during my morning sweat sessions, I treat myself with one bottle of Vitamin Water ZERO.  I'm getting more hydration, vitamins, and a little satisfaction for my sweet tooth.

Today I switched to coconut milk from cow's milk.  I've tried almond and rice milk in the past and thought I would give this one a try.  The calories are the lowest for the milk alternatives, approx 18 ounces gives you your 100% daily recommended amount of calcium, and it is creamier than rice or almond milk.  Done deal.  This is my new milk. 

My Motivating Factors
What is keeping me going?  After all, I've lost and gained around 40 pounds 2 other times in my life.  I don't want to be obsessive about my body and my eating, but I want to like what I see in the mirror.

The results I'm seeing and how I am feeling are motivating me.  I'm sleeping better.  I wake up and immediately want to go and work out in our family room.
My little weight collection. It's all I need.  Don't laugh at my twos!

Each night I lay out my workout stuff in the family room.  I rotate through 5 sets of workout wear (thank you Walmart) and a washcloth to mop up the dripping sweat each day!  At the end of the workout, I run the washcloth under cold water because I'm RED AS A BEET.  Not pretty, but worth it.

And, now that my skin is looking healthier and clothes are fitting better, I want to keep that up.  Who wouldn't?

I also love the idea of working out at home.  I don't want to pay money to a gym, have to drive there and back, work out in a room full of other people...that does not sound appealing to me at all.  I just roll out of bed, feed the dog, change my clothes, turn on the TV and start.  Sometimes I get so "in the zone" that by the time it's done I can hardly believe it.

So that is my Weight Loss Crusade.  10lbs down, 25-30 to go.  Bring it on.

Some Reading:

Great article on ways to get healthier skin HERE.

Great ways to feel better all around HERE.

12 Reasons Why You Can't Shed That Extra Weight HERE.

The Dangers of Dairy HERE.  (I don't plan to completely eliminate dairy, but I am going to be more aware of it, and cow's milk is definitely a thing of the past. And this is from the girl who can drink a gallon in one day.)

And, lastly, because it is both funny and true...

UPDATE on 2/21:
So, this morning I did the entire No More Trouble Zones video!  Yes, that was the one that crippled me after 20 minutes a few weeks ago.  Hand weights are used and there is a lot of floor work.  Some things I modified, but I did pretty well! 
I think I'm going to incorporate it into my week from now on and rotate through the 3 Jillian videos.  The Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism video is still my favorite.  I just feel so accomplished when I'm done!

This morning's breakfast:
One banana and raspberries, 1 yolk and 2 whites, and a glass of coconut milk. Probably around 350 calories.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Why Photoshop needs to be banned from magazines...

This short video is very powerful. As I think of the way I've been counting calories and exercising each morning and evening for the past 6 weeks I remind myself why I'm doing it. To get healthier? To be skinnier? Or to match up to some unattainable image?

Fortunately, I know that I'm trying to get healthier and lose a few pounds. My dieting and exercise are within reasonable limits and far from extreme. The sad thing is that when I open a magazine and see the images spoken of in this video, I still always forget about the Photoshopping that took place. Photoshop is evil. Seriously. So is the media's definition of beauty.

One of the women in the video says it best, "If you take away all of the little things that make you special, what is left?"

I have an idea...

You know those health disclaimers at the bottom of cigarette and alcohol ads?  I think there should be something like that on every Photoshopped picture, just to remind us that what we are seeing is a departure from reality.

Who is with me?

Have a great day, friends.  Embrace all that makes you unique!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Musings on Valentine Eve

Tonight on the radio I heard about a tour bus for people with no Valentine tomorrow.  It was a night of "No-mance."  The bus was going to take people throughout Portland on a night of debauchery, celebrating bitterness. Gee, that sounds fun.

Guess what?  There is nothing wrong with not having a Valentine.  Due to unfortunate circumstances and timing, I didn't have a Valentine until I was 38.   Guess what else?  I survived just fine.  No man-hating ceremonies of burning pictures and wallowing in my misfortune.  No tears and grumbling.  It was just another day, except with more chocolate and a few cute cards from students and colleagues.

There is plenty of love to share.  Love your family, love your friends.  Most importantly--love yourself.  Love what you have to offer when that right person does come along.  If they are worth it, then they deserve a happy, whole person right back.

I've been married a short enough time to still remember what it was like to be single, to see other people's lives seem to move forward in dating, marriage, kids, etc. and wonder when it would be my turn. (For Pete's sake, my younger brother married before I did.)  It wasn't especially fun, but I stayed hopeful, operating under the credo "better single than settle."  A self-respecting person doesn't settle.  There is a timeline for all of us.  And it isn't a competition.

One thing I've learned is that when the long-term right person finally does comes along, Valentine's Day is really not that important of a holiday.  When you love someone that much, and you appreciate those small moments like making breakfast together or laughing over something silly, every day is something to celebrate. 

In the meantime, live your life and be happy.  That is a choice everyone--single or not--can make for themselves.

Happy Valentine's Day, family and friends.  Find the love and pass it on.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Snow "day"...I mean "weekend!"

When I lived in California, several days of heavy rain could really interrupt everyone's plans.  Now that I live in Washington, I'm learning that several days of snow can have the same effect.

I haven't left the house since Thursday.

Our Relief Society activity was officially cancelled, although it unofficially continued on as planned.

And, here's a first for me:  our church services have been cancelled for tomorrow.  Wow.  When I lived in Utah we would trudge through the snow on BYU campus and attend church. 

But every state has its comfort zone, and snow is not within the comfort zone of this area when it lasts for several days (and weeks, which I hear it has done in the past.)

I'm thankful for our big, cozy house while this weather persists.

I'm thankful that we are stocked up on food and other necessities in the interim.

I'm thankful for my silly workout videos that keep me active when neighborhood activity has effectively shut down.  (I wish my dog would work out with me because he is obviously bored after no walks for 4 days.)

And I'm thankful that Hubby is home for the days when snow is expected to fall.

On Thursday and Friday I cleaned house and prepared for Friday night company--friends of Eric's that he has known since childhood.  We had a very fun night.

Today I finished one movie (The Song of Bernadette from 1943) and started another (Stardust from 2007.)   It was nice to hunker down in a clean house and eat yummy leftovers from last night's dinner.  Tomorrow I plan to make homemade chocolate chip cookies and spend some time reading.

The silence outside is palatable, as the only noises are the very occasional car driving by and snow falling heavily from tree branches that can no longer support it.

It's very beautiful, but I'm ready for it to melt and for life to resume as normal!

And now... a few pictures.  Not nearly as artistic as I would like, but I just didn't feel like getting wet:

"Really?  Is this all the grass that's left?"

"Feeling housebound!"

"Me no like the white stuff."

"Suddenly the rain doesn't seem so bad..."

Views out the front door...

California girls wear flip flops in all kinds of weather!

Panoramic of our street (click to see the original size.)

Backyard views--the backyard has been transformed!

Thank goodness for a breezeway to the garage.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An Update on Bailey

Many of you know that my faithful dog, Bailey, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  The news was too painful to make public knowledge when I first received it on December 12th.  The date is branded into my mind because he was given only 2 months to live.  And, yes, I cried every day for the first 5 days after hearing it.  Of course, the bad news is that the prognosis hasn't changed.  But there is good news...we are 1 week away from that grim, 2 month date and he's doing remarkably well. 

My sweet Bailey is one of those dogs that makes an impression on people, and many friends have asked to be updated on how he's doing.  I tell those who are concerned that we still go walking daily.  (This morning we walked down to the city circle to mail my February election ballot.)  His appetite is good.  He goes up and down stairs.  With the exception of a little more difficulty getting in and out of the car, the changes are hardly noticeable. (His back end just looks a little off balance because the tumor is there.)

I'm a realist, though, and I've had enough dogs throughout my life to know that when the decline happens, it usually happens fast.  In the meantime I'm grateful for all of the time Bailey is with us. He's been my canine companion since 2002 (originally the family dog who attached himself to me.) I try to mentally prepare for the future, but find it best to live in the now in this situation.

Everyone's good thoughts and wishes are appreciated.  And, yes, he's right beside me as I write this.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Exciting New Regimen

For the past 3 weeks, morning and evening, I've been engaged in a new exercise regimen.  I would love to share it because it is rare that I'm excited about exercise.  Extremely rare!

It all began at the end of the holiday season when Eric and I were at a dinner with some of his high school friends. We ended up sharing a table with the couple who owns the local yoga studio.  We discussed attending some classes, but, with Eric's schedule we've been unable to make it happen. Still, the discussion lit a spark in me.

All of us have our preferences when it comes to exercise.  Mine involve not wanting to pay a gym, devoting daily walking time with my dog, and exercising in my own home.

And we all have our vices.  Mine are chocolate, soda, not drinking enough water, and having a difficult time staying with a regimen.  If I'm in the middle of a good regimen and something interrupts it (like an illness that lasts a few days,) I have a hard time returning to it.  If the regimen is too hard, I'll really rebel.

But I did have a spark.  And my body, at nearly 43 years old, has not completely turned on me.  I'm fairly athletic, coordinated, and physically strong.  I just needed to tap into my strengths.

So I did some research with my streaming choices on Amazon, watched parts of several exercise videos with many different instructors, and spent 2-3 days refining the schedule that works best for me.  Believe it or not, but after watching some Jillian Michaels (too tough,) some Denise Austin (a voice I cannot listen to,) and some random instructors I have never heard of, I ended up coming back to the grandmama of workout videos...Jane Fonda.  Don't laugh, there's a reason she's been doing this with such success for so many years.  She's very good!

With 5 videos available, I am now using 3, rotating throughout the week.  They take about an hour in the morning and 35-45 minutes in the evening, depending on the sections I do.

The best part?  I feel great!  I feel stronger, with better posture, higher quality sleep, and my flexibility has really improved.   Pounds have started to melt away, I only eat until I'm full, and I'm drinking more water. (Eric built a DIY Berkee water filter system in our kitchen that is AWESOME and which has really helped me to drink more water.)

Here's what I do:

The Walkout.  The WHOLE thing.  Both workouts.  I end up a sweaty mess after 50 minutes, but not sore and limping for the rest of the day.  The first section is one mile in 20 minutes, the second is one mile in 18 minutes, each with a cool down and stretch at the end.  You do much more than just marching in place.  Some reviews criticized the fact that she is off beat with the music once in a while, which is true, but not a huge issue.

Some may feel that this video is too easy, but I like the fact that hand weights are involved, that it gives me a little break between the Walkout days, and I still know that I'm doing something good for my body.  Sometimes I will increase the difficulty.

SUNDAYS (in the morning)
Because Sundays are a day of quiet, meditation, and honoring the Sabbath, I do the AM sections of the AM/PM Yoga.  Terms like "heart's center" and "putting light back into the world" are perfect for the day.  The background music is quiet, the poses feel spiritual, and it is a wonderful way to begin the day.

EVERY SINGLE EVENING (starting anywhere from 8:00 to 9:30pm, depending on the day)

I do the PM section of the AM/PM Yoga video above.  The first 10 minutes are for Mobility and using your core strength and the last 15 minutes are for Relaxation, but still require concentration and strength.  The last 10 minutes are done laying on your back and I actually do them with my eyes closed, now that I know the poses.  It is very meditative.  There is also a 5 minute section at the end on Balance.  AND, for the past few days, because I love the feeling when using the hand weights, I've added the Strength section to my evening schedule too.  I used 2lb weights for 2 weeks and then switched to 3lb weights.  The difference in difficulty is significant, so I'll probably use the 3lb weights for a while.  When I do progress, my goal is to go straight to the 5lb weights and skip right over the 4 pounders.  Fingers crossed! 

Here are things I like about these workouts:
  • She is excellent at explaining the position you should be in, the part of the body where the strength should be coming from, and where you should be feeling the effects.
  • The sets, music, and background distractions are simple and minimal.  At most, she has 4 people behind her (in the morning Yoga section.)  The Walkout is only Jane.  One of the videos I looked at had 6 people behind her and it was just too much.  
  • The videos feel possible to do again and again.  If I was feeling soreness throughout the day I would not feel motivated to go back.  On the contrary...
  • ...I actually look forward to doing them!
  • And, as mentioned before, I'm thrilled with how my flexibility has improved.  It is nice to see my body responding in more ways than one!
  • My balance has also improved.  I love the "warrior series" in the yoga poses.  Warrior 1 and 2 poses are used in the AM section of the yoga video, and Warrior 3 is used in the Balance section.  Warrior 3 is not easy, but over time I'm getting better and better!
  • For someone like me who is very right hand dominant, I really like the range of motions my left arm and shoulder are engaged in with these exercises.  They are out of my comfort zone with my day-to-day duties and my left side is being challenged more than usual.
Maybe someone who reads this will find this schedule useful!  I hope so.  And if you don't have Amazon streaming, the DVDs are sold for very reasonable prices (around $6-$8.)  You will also need a good exercise mat (not necessarily a yoga mat, which is thinner,) tennis shoes, hand weights, and a sturdy chair with no arms. (I'm linking to products very similar, but not identical, to what I use.)  The chair is used for a variety of things in all 3 videos above.

Your body will thank you!  My does!