Archives for posts with tag: goals

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It has been really hard finding the time to update my blog, hopefully it will get a little better when the kids are back in school and I have a bit more alone time…we’ll see. Anyway, this week was okay I guess, the scale did not tip in my favor, but I am surprisingly chill about it. It occurred to me this afternoon while I was doing some yardwork (where I do a LOT of soul-searching) that I haven’t addressed a subject that is very integral to losing weight and/or being healthy: mental stress.

These last few months I have been under significant mental stress. I ended up having to quit my full time job after months of being bullied and harassed by a coworker. My husband, myself and both of my kids lost our insurance coverage and with only one source of income are having to work very hard to make ends meet. My husband was transferred to a different work location and his boss makes extreme, sometimes even ridiculous, demands of him. I had major surgery that took over a month for me to fully recover from. My mom was laid-off from her job. My only brother got married and at the last minute I had to drop out of his bridal party due to financial reasons. Things have just been tough. Really tough.

In March things were so bad at work that I was literally breaking down into tears on a daily basis. I finally had enough and decided to get help so I started seeing a therapist. I was embarrassed and scared to go the first time but now going is something that I really look forward to. I go for an hour and sit and just talk about what is stressing me out. She asks me a few questions, sometimes she gives me a small goal to shoot for, but for the most part she just listens. When I lost my insurance I couldn’t go see her every other week anymore. I had a little bit of money in savings that I have used to continue seeing her once a month, and now every other month because I know it is so important to my well being to continue.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my friends. In general, my friends are really good people with really kind hearts and I enjoy spending time with them. However, this year in particular, I have felt very alone. My parents and my husband do an amazing job of listening and encouraging, but sometimes I really just need a friend. When you have friends to talk to you don’t put as much stress on your family and a lot of times friends can offer you fresh “outsider” perspectives that can be really helpful. However, most of my friends, if they can find time for me, they are so distracted or just seem uninterested. Try talking to a friend about fertility problems when she can’t stop playing peek-a-boo with her baby for even 30 seconds. Try talking to a friend about your struggles to lose weight when she can’t stop joking about how fat her size 2 body is. It’s frustrating.

After my surgery I was stuck on the couch at home for an entire week and not a single friend called or came to visit me. I got a few texts here and there, but that was the extent. It was the longest, loneliest week of my life. I had moments where I couldn’t help but wonder if my friends just didn’t care. Every year there is a 10-12 day period during the summer when my kids are gone and I’m utterly depressed without them. My friends are nowhere to be found then. Again, those feelings come creeping up making me think that my friends don’t care.

The good thing about my visits with the therapist is that she has taught me to question everything and not take things at face value. I know that my friends do really care. I am a giver and a lot of my friends are takers. There is nothing wrong with that, it is just a fact. I am a good listener and a lot of my friends love that about me and confide in me, maybe forgetting that I too have concerns and struggles to talk about. I still adore these friends and look forward to spending time with them.

The point that I am (very slowly) getting to is that I have come up with another goal for myself that will assist my mission to overall good health. I want to reach out and make more friends. I want to find others that are like myself and will be supportive to me reaching my goals. I encourage others to do the same. A good support system is vital to achieving goals of any kind. I am going to work on finding or strengthening friendships that have more give AND take. 🙂

Here’s to a healthier me and you!

 

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Let me start off by saying that after one week of calorie counting and other healthy adjustments the scale showed a two pound improvement yesterday. Yay! Now, how do I keep it going in that direction? I really think the answer is quite simple: whole foods. For almost two months last year I decided to eat only whole, unprocessed foods. It was the greatest I had felt in my life and the results were so dramatic that everyone around me took notice.

Honestly, I’m not positive what got me started on the whole foods kick but I think part of it was an article that I read about The Biggest Loser contestant, Tara. The article talked about her struggles with keeping her weight in check after leaving the show. She started seeing a therapist where she discovered she had a food addiction. The very basic idea is that the chemicals, preservatives and fake sugars in processed foods are highly addictive and eating even small amounts of them can start a downward spiral into wanting more and more. This article really resonated with me. I have felt myself stuck in that vicious cycle many times before. So what can you do to avoid the cycle? Stop eating processed junk, simple enough.

I did a lot of research on what eating “whole foods” meant and came up with about a thousand variations on the same theme: eating foods in their simplest form. My more detailed interpretation includes to not eat anything you can’t pronounce because it likely was generated in a lab. When buying something I check for an ingredients list with five ingredients or less, with few exceptions. I try to stay away from added salts and sugars. Basically I try to eat as fresh as possible. Again, there are a lot of interpretations out there but these are the guidelines I have chosen to follow.

Shopping was a little time consuming at first because I had to check the label on everything and I was forced to try a lot of new foods I’d never even heard of before. I spent some time at fancier stores such as Earth Fare and Whole Foods but bought most things from good old Food Lion. After all, I was trying to be healthy, not go completely broke. The biggest surprise for me when shopping at Whole Foods was that they, like all other grocery stores, have a lot of processed foods on their shelves. A lot of their items did not coincide with the idea of “whole foods.” The take away here is that regardless of where you are shopping you still must read ingredient labels!

For the two months that I ate only whole foods I felt fantastic. I slept better at night and had more energy during the day. Headaches and migraines that had plagued me for years…totally gone. I had no cravings for junk food. My skin was clearer and prettier. I dropped down to the lowest body weight I had been in almost 10 years. And to be completely honest…I wasn’t counting calories. At. All.

If eating whole foods is such a miracle, why did I stop? Why are others not jumping on board? Well, I guess because it isn’t easy. When you are working and raising a family and taking care of your home it is very time-consuming. Most whole foods can’t be zapped in the microwave super fast and you pretty much can’t find it in a drive-thru line. If you want to make cookies, for example,  you have to make them from scratch. Most whole foods can be expensive. Eating out at restaurants or even at other peoples homes can be difficult. When I fell off the wagon it was holiday time. Lots of unhealthy, rich food abounding, little time for planning, stress to the max.

If you try you can always come up with more reasons why you shouldn’t do something. But, if you really want something, such as good health, you will do everything in your power to obtain it. I lost sight of my goal then but I am ready and willing to work hard and achieve my goal again. My goal for this next week is to eat only whole foods. I will plan, be prepared and hold myself accountable. Here’s to a healthier me and you!

The most challenging thing about writing this blog, for me, is trying to figure out where to begin. I have so much that I want to share but I don’t want to overwhelm any potential reader. I started this blog for two main reasons: a source of accountability for myself and also as a way to help others who want to improve their health through weight loss, eating healthy and exercise. 

I do not have a degree in nutrition but I can offer advice based on what has worked for me and also from information I have read. To get things rolling I am going to give you a list of pros and cons of some plans and tools that I have found useful over the years.

  • Weight Watchers: Pro – very popular, online version is user friendly, big support system through either making friends on their website via message boards or in meetings in person. Cons – expensive. You have to pay to go to meetings and/or pay to use the online version and it isn’t cheap. You CAN NOT use the plan without paying for at least one, even if you see points values listed on foods at the grocery store. Also, the plan is constantly changing and updating to new versions which can be very hard to keep up with and confusing. ~My Experience~ I have used Weight Watchers at least twice, once using meetings and then the online version later. I had pretty good results with both but ultimately could not afford the plan. It is definitely a great jumping off point for beginners.

  • MyFitnessPal: Pro – it’s a totally free online calorie counter and progress tracker, it is very easy to use, can be customized to how much weight you want to lose and how quickly, has a huge database of foods available to choose from, you can scan items into the database using your smartphone and you can have the program send reminders to your smartphone to log your meals. Cons – If you look up something basic such as “boneless, skinless chicken breast” you will probably come up with a list of 500 items and some can vary greatly in calories, you can’t always trust the calorie counts you see listed (it’s best to check behind sometimes), the list of workouts is pretty vague and can be confusing when tracking workouts. ~My Experience~ I use My Fitness Pal consistently and enjoy it. I have no excuse not to use it as the app is on my smartphone, iPad and can be accessed via computer. The program sees all calories as calories and doesn’t necessarily encourage you to make smarter/healthier choices, so that part is up to you. Overall I like it and know lots of people that use it.

  • Hungry Girl: Pro – her recipes are usually very quick and easy to make, she offers swaps for popular restaurant foods, sign up for her emails and they are delivered to you free daily, she offers some free recipes on her website, she alerts you to new healthy items being offered in stores so you can keep an eye out for them. Cons – she uses a LOT of pre-packaged, processed foods. ~My Experience~ As you can see I don’t have much bad to say about Hungry Girl. In general I enjoy her ideas, recipes and attitude. But, I don’t like using fat-free cheeses and sourcreams, etc. My family does not approve of the taste and usually I don’t either. When you sub with a low-fat cheese, for example, your nutritional stats in general do not look nearly as impressive as hers. Occasionally I come across recipes that I really don’t like, but have also found many that are excellent. I would use her recipes as fillers, but not use them for every meal. I have never been let down by any of her shakes or swappucino’s (as she calls them.)

  • SkinnyTaste: Pros – The website is pretty, informative and easy to navigate. All of her recipes are free and neatly categorized. She uses all whole food ingredients and serving sizes are generous. She provides very detailed cooking instructions and takes lots of pictures along the way. She also recommends items to pair with the recipe to create an entire meal. Cons – None. ~My Experience~ This website is pretty amazing, I just discovered it a few months ago and have easily made 20-30 recipes of hers. Every single recipe was delicious and definitely does not taste like typical “diet food”. The only problem here is the temptation to over-eat some of these recipes because they taste so good so make sure you put the extras away immediately! Another plus is that my husband has enjoyed all of these recipes as well. 🙂

 

My goals for this week are to use MyFitnessPal to keep track of calories daily, to eat mostly whole foods meals and less processed junk, to drink more water and to get 30 minutes of exercise daily. I will try to post updates throughout the week. Here’s to a healthier me and you!