Sunday, February 1, 2015

52 Small Changes - Week 4 - Keep A Food Journal

Late again, and I have such a good excuse:  a cold.  When I get a cold, I get a cough, and if I have a cough and laugh, well, the result is too much coughing.  See, when you laugh at your own hilarity every other minute, wellllll....  You can see why I would avoid writing.

'Cuz I'm hilarious.  You know?  A side-splitter.  Yes, indeedy.  Mkay.  Onward!
Tell me all of your foodie secrets, my friend!
Photo courtesy of l4red0
This one is going to HURT, people.  This is you, coming face-to-face with the reality of your intake.  Self-denial is real, and I think all of us, at one time or another, have wondered how in the heck we were gaining weight without giving a thought to those liquid calories or 'healthy' protein bars.

I've seen some protein bars with calories in the 300 range, and if you are limited to 1200 calories a day, that's a quarter of your total calories for the day.  For me, I'm just not satisfied for long after one of those.  I snarf it down, and then I'm, like...NEXT!

Basically, in order for this change to work, you have to document everything.  Don't omit the birthday cake you ate at work.  It counts.  Even if you only ate half a tiny cupcake, write it down.  With this, you are being accountable to YOU.  Why lie to yourself?  It's not healthy.

So, there will be more to it than just keeping track of food and drink.  Also included will be your appetite and your physical and emotional status.

Food and drink:  include EVERYTHING.  Write these down or use an app.  I use MyFitnessPal for this.  They have portion sizes and calorie counts for lots of things, but you might have to add some of your more obscure snacks.  Be sure to accurately assign portion size.  If you drink an entire 20 ounce soda, you'll have to be faced with the reality of having had 2.5 servings!  If it's a full-sugar soda, that's almost 400 calories.  *sad trombone*

Appetite:  This is you evaluating, on a scale from 0 to 5, your appetite.  If you are extremely hunger, put a 0 down.  If you are extremely full, put a 5 down.  Brett recommends to strive for staying within the 1-4 range.  I have been a 0 before and that's when I get a bag of fast 'whatever' because I'm too starved to go home and make something healthy.  I've been a 5 before, too, and that's just pure misery.  Remember when eating raw cookie dough was a thing?  I ate some after hiking for two weeks once and still, to this day, won't eat raw cookie dough.  It was a hard lesson in self-control and stomach shrinkage.

Physical and Emotional Status:  This one might be tough, for me, at least.  Yes, yes, sometimes I eat when I'm bored, but there are times when I eat because I smelled bacon.  It's my trigger.  Also, cinnamon rolls.  There's no need for a full sentence there.  Anywho, this is the how, why, what and when of food.  It's also the before, during and after of consumption.  Keep track of all of this information and you might find that you eat EVERY time you smell bacon or EVERY time you watch Doctor Who.  You might find a food allergy.  You might find you have no control at parties.  If you bought the book, there's a Food Journal Template in the back.
I love you, Cinnamon Rolls.
Photo courtesy of LuisSolis
Included in the book are some False Hunger Triggers (FHT).  These include:
-  Lack of Nutrient Balance (drop in blood sugar?)
-  Emotional Hunger (bored, fearful, stressed, lonely)
-  Hunger Due to Sleepiness
-  Hunger Due to Thirst
Keeping this journal may help you identify times when FHTs hit and you can deal with them before attacking a bag of marshmallows.

Be sure to journal all day long so you don't forget about those little snacks.  I'll try to report back with my journal entries.  It might not be pretty.  My saving grace?  No cookies in the house.  Yay!

Happy Journaling!

Friday, January 23, 2015

52 Small Changes - Week 3 - Keep Off the Couch

How refreshing is a mini-vacation?  To take a week and just chill?  I won't say that's what happened to that missing week, because that was no vacation!  School wasn't in session for two regular school days, so that translated into one thing:  this girl got lazy.  Yep.  On the very week I was supposed to keep off the couch, I planted myself there and decided not to be a hypocrite.  It was my week to whine and complain, because I had things to complain about...namely a headache that almost rivaled the infamous DC headache of 2011* (?!  I'm very bad with dates) and local traffic.  Oh, and how cold it was.  I think it was 53 degrees one morning!  Imagine this!

So, now that I'm back to semi-normal, which is my normal, I can continue with small changes.  Hooray!

I could live on a a cat.
Photo by chriz

Just as the title says, this is the week to start staying off the couch.  I dig couches, because if I'm a bit chilly (usual occurrence), I can snuggle under a blanket and encounter bliss.  Bliss comes in many forms, such as comfortable reading, comfortable TV watching and, most beloved, comfortable nap-taking.  I swear.  Me and naps?  We're best friends.

BUT!  Since I'm obviously working on getting more sleep during actual sleeping hours, I probably won't be best friends with naps much longer...and that will help me stay off the couch.

Brett, in her book, gives a road-map for success that includes walking/taking the stairs as often as possible, taking an active lunch, taking breaks often if you sit at work and activating your TV watching (by doing all kinds of things instead of only sitting).  Have you seen those exercise plans you do based on what happens during a TV show?  Perhaps something like this:

At Penny’s door: (knock, knock, knock) Penny. (knock, knock, knock) Penny. (knock, knock, knock) Penny.

Any nerds around to verify the authenticity of this scene?  I thought so.  Anyway, if this should happen as you watch TV, you would do a squat for each knock and a push-up for each utterance of the name Penny.  Can you imagine how buff you'd be after a Big Bang Theory marathon?  As it stands, there are tons of TV show workouts available (just do a search for your favorite show(s) and workout or challenge), and how cool is this:  it's a mind-workout, too, since you have to be on your game to recognize an exercise trigger!  An added bonus?  You aren't just mindlessly stuffing your face with snacks as you sit there.  Ain't nobody got time for that!

Other helpful bits of advice are to do your own cleaning and chores, stand more often, become more active during the week and get away from the technology for a while.  As extra credit, Brett advises you to get a pedometer, or these days, a fitbit, a fitness app, or something similar that counts your steps, and try to take 10,000 steps a day.  Apply these changes liberally to your life and you'll probably have no problem sleeping at night.  Even though I took a week off from blogging, I actually started walking with a group of friends every day.  When I walk 3-4 miles with them and a mile each time I walk the dog, getting to 10,000 steps is easier than plopping on a couch.

Okay, I lied.  I'm a liar.  It's not that easy, but since sitting down for hours on end is a thing of the past, it will become easy.

Best of Luck!

* This headache made the words in my book do waves and it didn't hit full force until AFTER we'd paid for parking, so I'm mad at that headache.  Rilly, rilly mad.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Something That Might Help With Resolutions!

Small Changes, Big Year Giveaway

I'm a fan of Hayneedle.  As I'm about to build a brand-spanking-new house, I slobber on my keyboard as I design awesome interiors with Hayneedle stuff.  Sometimes Hayneedle is even more awesome and they give stuff away.  This one is appropriate for the month of January AND this blog, because it's all about...Small Changes.  Isn't that amazing?  The coinkydink is pretty surreal.

Anyhoot, this ends tonight, right before midnight CST, so get on this, quickly.  Below is the link and a list of bundles from which you can choose, should you be so lucky!  You're welcome.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

52 Small Changes - Week 2 - Get Your Zzzz's

How did everybody do with getting enough water?  Did you do anything not mentioned that helped you?  Well, keep up the good work!  Now, it's time to add the second small change.

This is going to be hard for me.  Week Two is all about getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night. I fully admit that this change is not going to be small for me.  I have tried getting eight hours, and sometimes, it just doesn't happen.  That's why...


There are times when I have hit the sack at 9 p.m. and found myself wide awake at 4 a.m.  Yes, that's seven hours, and I probably should have mathed a little better, but I thought for sure I could get an extra hour and be bubbly and full of energy the next day.  No dice.  I was a slug.  So, recently, my experiments include getting four hours here, two hours there, a couple of half-hour accidental snoozes and a few 'zone-outs' in the middle of the frozen section of the grocery store.  

These accidental naps are the worst!  My husband has prodded me after he found me sideways on the couch, or folded forward over my butterfly legs.  I've felt the Sahara on my tongue from in-the-chair, open-mouthed siestas. Once or twice (yes, once or twice), I was alarmed by a snort!  It was me.

Anyway!  Enough discussing my sleeping habits.  On to what will make getting sleep easier...and yes, I'm paying attention.

1. Make where you sleep good for sleeping.  Lighting, sound, what you wear, your sheets, the temperature and the humidity all need to be considered.  

2. Experiment with a sleep schedule.  If you can't sleep more than four hours at a time, figure out something that works for you.  We're all different, so we'll all have different needs.  Do this gradually.

3. Don't exercise too close to bedtime.  You need cool-off and wind-down time before hitting the hay.

4. Create a routine before bed.  Make it something you enjoy doing that you know relaxes you.  This should not include looking at a computer, phone or electronic game, reading a can't-put-it-down book or drinking Jolt (although those with ADHD might be able to do the last thing and still conk out easily). 

5. Avoid sugar and caffeine*.  

6. Don't drink too many spirits before bed.  It messes with REM!  Also:  Dry Mouth. The Sahara.  Xerostomia.  Look it up. 

7. Try to drop the smoking.  This was news to me:  The body starts going into nicotine withdrawal in three to four hours, so smokers tend to wake up after three to four hours.  Wow!

8. Finish eating two hours before bedtime.  It's not pleasant to awake in the middle of the night and deal with heartburn!  I can attest, my friends.  I thought I was a dragon once.

9. Stop drinking two or three hours before bed.  I hate having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  The bright lights assaulting my eyeballs, the cold floor making me whine, the's all stuff that makes me feel like I'm three years old.

Okay, that's it.  Report back, and yes, this was not posted on Friday.  I fell asleep. :-)


* Again, with the ADHD, caffeine does not apply.

Napping, and encroaching, apparently.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Challenge A Week For A Year -- Who's In?

Two birds with one stone is what I'm going to accomplish with this challenge. One is to actually complete (and incorporate) the challenges, and the other is to blog about it. That's a realistic goal, right? Please say yes.

I found a book a couple of years ago and thought it was great. So, I read it and smiled and put it aside. I'm awesome like that. The book is called 52 Small Changes by Brett Blumenthal. You make one change per week for a year and, at the end, you will at least be on the path to being more healthy and more happy (could I actually BE more happy?!). Although I probably already practice many of the changes in my life at present, I feel as though challenging myself to take note of 'the why' of each for a week is a good thing. Brett has been kind enough to make this journey a little more interesting. Check it out:  I highly recommend taking the assessment...and be honest with yourself.  You don't have to share with anyone.  Also, the tools and forms from the book are provided there.  Pure awesome.

If you want to get the book, I can make that easy for you!  As of today (Jan. 3, 2015), the Kindle version of this book is only $3.99 on Amazon.  If you like paper, that's only $7.99.

My goal in blogging about this is to present the challenge on Friday so that you, if partaking in the challenge, have the weekend to come to terms with it. For example, one challenge is to make breakfast and prepare lunches at home six days a week, and to cook dinner at home at least five days a week. You must have 'stuff' for that to happen, thus the heads-up. See how utterly amazing I am to think of these things?

Just in case you are interested in knowing the areas of change, they are as follows:
Diet and Nutrition
Fitness and Prevention
Mental Well-Being
Green Living

As it is, I'll need all the mental well-being I can get, as we'll probably be building a house at some point this year (and, seeing as how it's taken half a year to get the deed to our land, perhaps next year, as well).

With all that being said, I present the first change: Drink Up!

This is all about hydration. Figure out how much water (yes, water!) you are supposed to drink each day and do it!  Here's a great hydration calculator: 

There is such a thing as too much water, so don't think you'll get extra credit for going too far over your goal.  You do, however, need to take into consideration personal factors, such as whether or not you exercise, drink alcohol, travel, live in an arid area, are breast-feeding or are pregnant.  If you answer yes to any of those, up your intake.

Brett gives great hints as to how to reach your water goal every day, including spacing it out, drinking before you eat and setting reminders.

I've seen people wear eight or more bracelets on one arm, then drink a glass of water and move a bracelet to the other arm.

I've seen people mark their water bottles with times they should begin drinking, then continue the next hour until empty, then refill and begin again in the afternoon.

If you are having trouble, check the internet for a way that might make it easier for you!

Now, I realize it isn't Friday, but since you probably have some water around your living quarters, hardly any prep is required, but from here on out...Friday!

Here's to Small Changes!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer is coming -- and it's time to grill! Win one!

We just added a new concrete pad to our backyard. I'm thrilled, for several reasons.

1). More room to spread our patio furniture out. We have a six-person table, two chairs and a two-person glider stuffed onto a tiny square of concrete right off the back door. In addition, we have a grill and an umbrella (collapsed, and home to lizards and spiders). I can't wait to actually use more than one chair!

2). Bigger area to grill. Our current grill is a miniature. It might fit into a dollhouse, y'all. So, I'm happy to let you know that I'm in the running to win something bigger, and you can be, as well. Check this out!

3). Our grass was dead. Somehow or another, we slowly developed a beach in our backyard. Rain gutters are a joke sometimes, and our backyard area is no exception. Water continuously cascaded over our gutter, bringing with it a ton of sand, which killed the grass. It's weird. Now? We have a concrete pad. Problem solved.

So, whether I win a grill or not, I win anyway. More space for chillin' means I'm a happy camper.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Popping in to bring you a giveaway

Hi, all!

I'm just sticking my head in to present to you a great giveaway!

Here it is:

It's the Great Outdoor Giveaway.  You get to choose which package you win, should you win, and they include:  Small Spaces, Poolside and Entertaining.  Personally, I love the Entertaining package, all because of the pizza oven.  It's fab.

I promise to come back more often and avoid all conversations of health and hobble and root canal!  Until then, if you win, can I at least have the throw?  Thankee.  :-)