I can’t believe it’s already December 1st! I think I say this to myself every time we enter a new month. Mostly, I can’t believe that 2011 is coming to an end. It’s been an interesting year, but I feel like I’m ending it on a high note and I feel very blessed.
Anyway, a month ago today I posted my November goals. I’m glad I only set a few because it ended up being another busy month, but let’s see how I did.
My November 2011 Goals
- Get at least one more room of our house “finished” – Um, sort of? I did put a lot of stuff away when I thought someone was coming to clean our house (remind me not to buy anymore Groupons for cleaning companies) and I’ve also gotten a good start on Christmas decorating. Nothing is really ever “finished” right?
- Send out some handwritten cards – YES! I sent out the two cards I mentioned last time and I’ve also been trying to send encouraging messages to people on Facebook and via text. It’s been good and people really seem to appreciate it.
- Bake, bake, bake – I have taken this one to a whole new level. I’ve baked desserts, enchiladas, vegan meatloaf for Thanksgiving, cinnamon rolls from scratch (first time ever), and a lot more that I’m sure I’m leaving out (plus some no bake things too). Very happy with this one and want to continue.
- Homemade Christmas presents – I’m working on this one too. I didn’t get started until the week of Thanksgiving but I’ve already got one gift nearly finished and just a few more to do before December 25th, let’s hope I can buckle down!
- Rest – I haven’t taken a nap in a few weeks so I definitely need to get on this. I also didn’t do enough fun shopping/browsing but hopefully I can find some small local shops to visit this month (no malls or Target for me this time of year, too much stress). But I have been spending more time at home during the week and I’m learning to say no to things from time to time when I just don’t have the energy to be somewhere.
So, in review, even though they each required a little explanation, I would say I was fairly successful at meeting my goals for November. I could have done better but at least I made some intentions and followed through on all of them to some extent.
Now, what to do for December? Hmm…
My December 2011 goals
- Stay active during the holidays – The colder it gets outside, the harder it is for me to stay motivated to go out, get in the car and go to the gym. It’s easy when I’m at work because the gym is here, but we get a little over a week off after Christmas and being away from work (hence, off my normal “schedule”) can make staying active more difficult. But I have plenty of options to use over the break, including a temporary membership to the YMCA and a Groupon for Zumba/Yoga classes, so no excuses. Staying active to me means getting in some sort of movement outside of your normal daily activities at least a few days a week and resting when you need to as well (it’s important to recognize resting needs vs. wants, ha ha).
- Keep up with reading/listening – I see a theme here. Keeping up with the things I’m already doing now while I’m off work. In the past few months I have discovered audio books and it helped me reach my goal of reading 12 books in 2011, I’m actually on #13 right now. I buy them at a used bookstore and then sell them back to buy more, but I also live down the street from a public library, so I need to utilize that more. This will be easy to do for most of the month but I think this one will be challenging at home because I won’t be at my desk with headphones on able to listen. Perhaps I will be able to read a “real” book that week! Ha ha. Maybe that’s the real goal here, read one “paper” book. If you are interested in what I read or want to swap book ideas, find me on Goodreads. I have decided to up my goal to 24 books in 2012, eek!
- Stay happy – This one is not just for me but for all of you as well. It’s so easy to get bogged down by this time of year. The changing weather and less sunlight can be depressing, or maybe you are just stressed out by the holidays in general, or by your family and friends. Things can get kind of crazy this time of year. My friend Rob wrote a post around Thanksgiving called GrAttitude where he talked about how we “ramp up into higher gear. Guests coming over, visiting relatives, dinners to cook, houses to clean, games to watch, presents to buy, etc. The purpose of the holiday gets lost, stress increases, relationships strain…” I agree with him that our attitude really determines how things go. We can make a choice to be angry or stressed out for whatever reason or we can choose to put it all aside and give thanks to God for all our blessings. We can choose to be grateful and happy. (Disclaimer: I know this “choice” doesn’t apply to everyone, some of you are probably dealing with some very tough emotions right now, maybe you lost a loved one recently or you are just going through a difficult time in life. I just pray you are able to find joy and happiness.)
- Send Christmas cards - This is something I haven’t done in years, believe it or not. I just sort of got out of the habit and now that we know so many people I was always afraid that we wouldn’t be able to do one for everybody and then someone would get offended and so on. Another one of my goals for 2012 is to care less about what people think or at least don’t invent what I think people will think because I’m probably wrong anyway. But I plan to send a few or some, as many as I can and to write thoughtful messages in them and not just sign my name to a stack of cards (not that there’s anything wrong with that, ha ha).
- See November’s goals – I want to keep up with what I started last month. They were all good goals that I believe can apply all year long.
So what about you? What do you want to accomplish in December and the final month of 2011?
About a week ago, I suggested to a friend of mine the idea of finding online accountability for healthy eating and exercise because I knew there were a ton of free resources out there and her current in-person accountability might be in jeopardy. Before I knew it she had sent me a link to join her over at MyFitnessPal and I have been obsessed ever since. Well, not really, but you know what I mean ;-)
The site allows you to track your calorie intake and exercise expenditures based on your current weight and your goal (lose, maintain or gain) and interact with other people that you become “friends” with on the site. It’s like Facebook meets Weight Watchers! You even have a news feed :)
Since I am happy where I am and no longer own a scale, I chose maintenance and my calorie goal actually made sense (usually the ones these sites give me is too high, in my opinion). I haven’t actually been tracking calories for a long time so that wasn’t a priority for me but this site measures so more than that.
Much like the old MyPyramid (now MyPlate), it gives you a nutrient breakdown for the day and shows you where you may be lacking in some areas. Because I am vegan, I keep an eye on vitamin D and calcium since I don’t get those from eating dairy products like many people do. Also, I like to stay low on sugar because my body operates better that way.
I haven’t made any changes to my diet, but the program is definitely motivating me not to go back for a second snack at night and in the 5 days I have been tracking, I have drank more water than I have in a long time! Something about being able to “click” off another glass is fun to me and having that visual reminder is very helpful.
I am also really thankful for this site because it allows me to be part of the process that my friends are going through on their own weight loss journeys. I am glad that I can provide them with accountability and encouragement, plus they probably don’t know this, but being able to see how they are doing is very motivating to me as well. It reminds me of what I went through, how far I have come and how I never want to go back to being who I was before I made myself get healthy.
Just wanted to share this with you all. It’s a great site and I know there are many others out there like it, but this one stands out to me.
There is also an app for most smart phones. The one for Blackberry is decent, I can enter food, water and exercise on there but can’t see what my friends are doing or any of the message boards. However, the iPhone app seems wonderful for all of you who have one (I’m only a tiny bit jealous).
On Thursday, I was really feeling the need for yoga. This usually happens when I am tired, sore, stiff and just needing some time to myself to focus on realigning my body and mind. I quickly remembered that they do offer classes here at work so I checked the schedule and sure enough, there was a 4:00 class that lasted an hour. Perfect!
The teacher was new to me but I knew instantly that I was going to enjoy the class. I love how each yoga instructor brings something different, puts their own special touch on their teaching. I’ve been doing yoga for several years now (off and on) and this was the first time I had done what I will now refer to as “on the wall yoga” :)
I’ve used a wall before for balance during tree pose, before I got steady enough to do it on my own, and also for laying down poses like “legs up the wall” for relaxation. But no kidding, the entire class was on the wall! I wish I could’ve taken some photos but that would’ve been weird so I went searching instead.
We started out using the wall to work on our downward facing dog pose.
Only instead of placing our
paws hands on the floor, we were standing and placed them on the wall. We also transitioned from downward dog to plank, did some side planks, and then worked on our chatarunga, which is one of the most challenging yoga moves for me personally. The instructor said it was good to practice on the wall because some of our body weight is still in our legs and not so much pressure is placed on the wrists. This must have worked because today, my triceps are really sore!
This is what it normally looks like on the floor:
After doing this for a while, we started working on triangle and warrior II, placing the little toe side of our back foot against the wall for support and our hand for balance if we needed it. It was during these poses (especially triangle) that the instructor noticed my tendency to hyper-extend my legs. I’ve always been conscious of this but she helped show me a way to put a slight bend in the knee and engage the calf and thigh in order to get the same strengthening effect in the leg without hurting the joints. I love how I learn something new every time I do yoga!
But my favorite time of this class had to be when we did half moon pose. This is one I feel like I can NEVER do, mostly because I don’t practice it much. But I can never get my leg up very far or keep my balance very long. We started out in triangle, then turned a bit and extended the back leg up the wall. The full expression of the pose is like this:
So just picture that with that back foot against the wall and that front hand on a block and you get me :) We did each side a couple of times and eventually, when we felt comfortable, we could gradually remove the foot from the wall. It was amazing! I felt such a sense of confidence from being able to do these more challenging poses, not to mention the incredible stretching!
After all those standing poses, we finally sat down and did some bridges with our feet up on the wall.
For relaxation, we did some legs up the wall and lying down spinal twists (not using the wall) then shavasana. It felt so good do this after all that hard work:
I was so glad that I went to this class, it was meant to be. I’m definitely going to have to practice some of these poses on the wall at home. And maybe go back to this class next Thursday too :)
Yesterday, I posted about my renewed efforts to journal my eating habits in order to fight off any additional weight gain and hopefully lose what I’ve put on the past few months. In addition to eating too much, my exercise habits have been suffering terribly.
I did pretty good last week and over the weekend I did a lot of walking. I’m still going to try to move as much as possible, but as far as structured exercise or stepping foot in a gym…I’m just not feeling it right now.
I skipped the gym yesterday because I had a doctor’s appointment that took forever and I ran out of time, then today I brought my clothes but I just can’t picture it happening.
I’m sure I could talk myself into it and get a modest workout in, but I’d rather wait until I am feeling 100%. Until I am excited about it again. There is a bigger story to all of this but it’s not something I’m ready to post about just yet.
The past few days of food journaling have been great, so I’m hopeful that regular, beneficial exercise will fall back in line soon enough.
Thanks for your support :)
After the race on Saturday, I took Sunday off to rest and get my usual household chores taken care of. Then on Monday, I was too busy. Tuesday, I didn’t feel good. Somehow I haven’t exercised since last Saturday!
I’m all about listening to one’s body but I think this has gone a step further than that and I have become incredibly unbalanced.
Normally, this would not be a problem and honestly a welcome break every now and then, but this has happened two weeks in a row. My concern is not about vanity or worrying about gaining a few pounds, I know that not exercising more regularly than I have been is just not good for my health.
In fact, I was starting to wonder if the sickness I keep getting off and on might be due to the fact that I’m not moving as much as I usually do? Or have I cut back on exercising because I don’t feel good? I’ve had a sort of chicken/egg conversation going on in my head the past few days!
Last night, I felt like it was time to put my feelings onto paper and make a “plan” as to what I can do about it. Here is what I wrote:
Tuesday May 18th, 2010:
Ugh, I feel awful. Why?
- Too much food (after dinner)
- No exercise since Saturday
- Sore throat/cough/congestion
- I gotta move!
- The foods I am eating are okay, not exercising ISN’T.
Tomorrow, I will…
- Start the day off with yoga (check, thanks Exercise TV!)
- Eat a healthy breakfast and drink some tea (check)
- Take 2, 15 minute walk breaks at work (check 1 of 2, so far)
- Do yoga class at work (check) or run
- Do another short workout this afternoon (if time permits)
- Drink lots of water and tea (so far, so good, check)
- Enjoy girl’s night tonight!
Man, it felt good to write all of that out. Not only was I able to acknowledge that I was feeling bad, I was able to move on and set a plan into motion so that I won’t feel bad anymore!
As you can see, I have already met more than half of my goals for the day. They are all simple little things that add up to me feeling better. I’m all about adding up the little things :)
And I’m feeling great today…
My best friend Courtney recently started a new blog and I hope she doesn’t mind me mentioning it here. But it has really inspired me.
It’s called “Even if it doesn’t pay…” and she discusses a lot of things going on in her life but mostly how all of this has inspired her to start writing again…even if it doesn’t pay. She’s very talented!
It got me thinking about my own blogging and how I have days where I think absolutely no one cares about or reads my blogs. I even feel silly sometimes putting all this out there.
But I know that’s not true. Sometimes it’s hard though, to see how well others blogs are doing and how even though I have been blogging for almost 2 years now, mine just hasn’t taken off the way I’d hoped it would.
But this brought me back down to Earth. Numbers of page hits, readers, and stats are not why I blog. I blog because I love it!
I blog about food because I love to cook and eat, especially now that I have a healthy relationship with food again. Especially now that I’m vegan!
I love to blog about exercise because I love it! I love to run, I love to sweat, and I love the Zen that comes from practicing yoga.
I love the way my body, mind and spirit feel because of the way I live now.
And I love all of you who stop by, leave me sweet comments, and make me feel like what I do matters to someone other than myself.
So, in the spirit of my dear friend, I’m going to keep it up, with a positive focus, and have fun.
Even if no one reads it.
I just wanted to take this moment to share something with you today. You might remember, back in July, I was experiencing a slight weight gain that startled me a bit. I was also tired, somewhat unmotivated and bored with my “routine.” The summer seems to be a time of temptation for me too, with holidays, cookouts and birthday parties galore.
Once I did some investigating (thank goodness for this blog), I found that I was eating too much and exercising too much for my body. I had lost a bit of control. I also had a sneaking suspicion that some of the sugary foods I was eating were not only NOT satisfying me, but that they could’ve been increasing my hunger.
I decided to start with reducing the sugar in my diet first (checking labels, cutting back on fruit and watching “bad” carbs like baked goods and processed snacks) and I was immediately impressed. My energy was better. Food tasted better. Workouts were more productive. It’s amazing how getting a chemical out of your body will do that ;-) I also realized how carb-dependent and heavy my diet was and I made adjustments to that as well. There is nothing wrong with carbs…I just had that “pyramid mentality” of thinking I needed at least 7 ounces a day and that’s just not the case.
Then, just 8 short weeks ago today, I got really serious. I started counting calories again, though not obsessively, and I realized that I had been eating more because I thought it was what I had to do, instead of listening to my body and paying attention to my habits. Once I started tracking, I could see what days resulted in what calorie intakes and it all started making sense again. I don’t set a range for myself, I just tally up what I have for the day. I know I’m going to have to eat more on days I work out, around my menstrual cycle, and due to some other biological factors. Somedays, especially if I’m not very active, I will eat less.
But having that sheet in front of me also showed that I sometimes eat out of stress, boredom, etc. and I believe I have remedied that now. I think I might almost be a recovering emotional eater! Tracking my meals also helps me plan for the week and be super efficient at grocery shopping. I’m spending less money now and using up lots of things that have been sitting around the house for too long.
I have a very healthy relationship with calorie tracking now. I don’t try to limit my numbers or beat myself up if they go above a certain range. I just live.
And I have noticed that since I’ve been doing that, reducing sugar, and controlling portions again, I eat much less. I don’t eat out of habit or by the clock anymore. I’m not eating a certain number of calories because so and so eats that much. I have stopped comparing myself to other people, other runners, other women my age and size. We are all so different!
I eat when I am hungry, with real foods that I want to eat (not that I think I have to) which satisfy me, with an occasional “treat” (but not every day). Sometimes I don’t need a snack after dinner. Sometimes I don’t need one mid-morning. Sometimes I have a light lunch or a heavy dinner. Sometimes I’m not hungry for breakfast first thing in the morning, so I wait until I am. Nothing wrong with any of that.
On the exercise front, I have still been working out 5-6 days a week. But I’m not killing myself anymore. I still get a good mixture of cardio, weight training and yoga when I have the time. But I went from sweaty, long and intense workouts that made me want to pass out to shorter, more moderate level workouts that still make me sweat, but don’t zap my energy for the rest of the day. That don’t leave me too tired that I can’t do anything when I get home from work. That don’t make me extraordinarly hungry for the rest of the day and so on. I don’t rely on “calories burned” to determine the quality of my workout anymore. I don’t set time limits…even small bouts of exercise are effective.
Right now, the only thing that matters to me is that I am moving. That I am having fun. That I am honoring my body by giving it what it needs and not pushing it too hard. A little pushing is okay ;-) If I need to rest, like yesterday, then darn it, I will rest. There is nothing wrong with taking a day (or two) off now and then. And naps are such a good thing too!
I also weigh myself reguarly, one time per week, always on Monday mornings before I eat breakfast. I find it is a good way for me to start off the week. Whether it is up or down, it gives me the motivation to set some weekly goals, even if that is just to keep doing the same things. But this works FOR ME and I know not everyone can see it this way. In fact, I used to let a weigh in disrupt my entire week. Now, it is just a side note. I’ve even had slightly “up” weeks since I started this new “track” but I haven’t let it affect me negatively.
Well folks, it has all paid off. In the last 8 weeks, I have lost exactly 10 lbs. I am still not back down to my “happy weight” yet, but I am very happy with where I am at right now. I feel great and I feel the healthiest I have EVER been. I love my diet, my workouts, and the way my clothes fit. I love not being stressed out about food or exercise anymore. Everything seems to be back on track.
I just want to say that if there is something you are struggling with in your life, including weight, don’t give up. Don’t succumb to the stress and the pressure. Search yourself, be intuitive and find a healthy balance for you and only you. Use others as inspirations but not guides. Listen to your body and only speak to yourself positively. If you think you might need professional help, don’t be afraid to seek it out. I think it takes more bravery to do that than anything. You are worth it.
Be kind to yourselves and each other. God bless :)
Wow, you guys, I am simply amazed at how hard it is to eat vegan-ly. I haven’t gone full blown yet but I have spent the past couple of days observing the ingredients in some of the things I eat and hardly anything is vegan! It’s amazing what sneaks into some products.
Breakfast this morning was my very last Holey Donut, Banana Cream Pie. I remember not caring much for this one the first time around but I must’ve heated it right this time because the banana insides were so creamy and delicious. Unfortunately, as I read on their website, this filling has HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Bad, bad, bad.
On the side I had a Morningstar Farms sausage patty (so not vegan, contains lots of milk ingredients) and some strawberries.
Sadly, after two strawberries, they just didn’t taste good so I threw the rest away :( I don’t know if it was just that it didn’t go with what I was eating, if they were too sweet (and I’m not used to it anymore), or what. Sad though.
My walk this morning was great though. The 15 minutes really starts to fly by when you make it a habit. When I got back I munched on these, which Kashi so graciously sent me last week :)
These were so good! Not vegan but good. Haha. They reminded me of a cereal I’d had before but I couldn’t quite place it. Anyone know? I want to say Honeycombs or something like that, but I never ate those so that can’t be it. Thanks Kashi!
I would probably buy these myself depending on how far I take this vegan thing. Obviously not too far yet ;-)
For lunch, I had a “let’s use up what’s in the fridge” salad of romaine lettuce, cucumbers and pinto beans. Doesn’t sound like much but it tasted good and held me quite a while too.
On my afternoon walk, I remembered this picture I took last week of an albino squirrel on campus. They are actually pretty common (on campus) but I hadn’t seen one in a while and I know a lot of you haven’t so I tried to get a good pic with my camera phone!
He was closer to me but he kept running away from the crazy lady with the phone, haha.
For my snack, I had some more almonds.
Then I went to a meeting, left work and hit the gym for a quick 30 minute workout. I did upper body (chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps) weights, abs, and legs getting in two sets of every exercise. It was quick and simple but I definitely felt it when I was leaving!
Dinner was another “throw together what’s left in the fridge” meal…can you tell it’s almost grocery shopping day, and we’re going out of town next weekend!
This is leftover barley, mixed stir fry veggies, spaghetti sauce and Morningstar Farms veggie crumbles (the only non-vegan ingredient). I’ve made a dish similar to this before and it looks and sounds disgusting to some, but it’s so good.
I’ve successfully used up a lot of stuff in our freezer and refrigerator, yay!
After dinner had settled, I met my friend Candy for a walk at the park. It is such a cool, cloudy evening, perfect walking weather. We went three times around the track which is 3 miles, in about 45 minutes!
When I got home, I was thinking of “desserts” but what I really wanted was a “snack” and my body was telling me banana and PB, so I listened and put down the dark chocolate.
I’m 110% satisfied and content. It’s amazing what listening to your body does and giving it what it really wants and not what you think you should be having. I wish I could do this every time, but I will cherish this one ;-)
I also drank two big ol’ glasses of water because this girl was thirsty!
Time to start settling down for the night. Hooray, tomorrow is Friday and the looong weekend can begin. Have a good one everybody!
As I was checking my email this morning, I came across one from Runner’s World (I’m on their mailing list) and clicked the link to a response from “Ask the Sports Dietician” on the Time Magazine article entitled “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” which were both interesting reads. So I thought I would give you my take on it.
Basically, the author of the Time article states that while exercise is important and many Americans do it, it can also stimulate hunger which then leads us to eat more, which basically undoes the exercise we just put in to lose weight. He says “…like many other people, I get hungry after I exercise, so I often eat more on the days I work out than on the days I don’t. Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight?”
I feel like I’ve been in this same boat myself. Especially when I was a more serious runner, I would eat and eat and eat because the last thing I wanted was to “bonk” during a race or suffer from dehydration, carb depletion or any of the other horror stories I’d heard from experienced runners. Even after I backed off of my training, I somehow adopted the mentality that I had to work out everyday and burn a certain amount of calories per day in order to keep my weight under control because I knew how many calories I had to eat each day.
Turns out…as I have been exercising less the past couple of weeks, I have been less hungry and my weight is back under control. This also comes as a result of eating less sugar which has made me feel better overall. I’ve also come to appreciate the value of rest. At a time when I was putting in hour plus workouts at the gym and running/walking multiple times in one day, I was actually gaining weight! And I was tired and sore a lot of the time. And my meals never seemed to satisfy me which is why I would spend a lot of nights in the kitchen raiding through the pantry. So I think there might be at least some merit to this author’s discussion. But I think the blogger from Runner’s World is right to offer some solutions to exercise-induced hunger and find a balance between your activity and your eating habits.
I’d have to say it should be more like “Why Exercise ALONE Won’t Make You Thin.” There, that’s better.
As the author mentions, there is also the “reward” part of this, when we have a really great workout and decide that we “deserve” a special treat for being so “good.” I have seen this quite a bit in my experience. It’s something I’ve even been guilty of from time to time, especially as a runner (hello huge Panera bagels after races).
My family and I used to walk at the mall on Saturday mornings but as soon as we were done, we stopped at Starbuck’s (inside the mall) and while I ordered a coffee of some sort, another family member would get a pastry or other baked good from the case, which totally undoes the walk we just took. If walking for 45 minutes burns 300 calories and then you eat a Reduced-Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake at 290 calories (and 34 grams of sugar!), you’ve pretty much used it up. The walk was still good for your cardiovascular health, your muscles and bones but your treat took away it’s opportunity to contribute to any possible weight loss.
I’m happy to say that since the weather warmed up, we haven’t been walking at the mall much and when we have, everyone has pretty much been sticking to water or iced tea to rehydrate instead of useless calories from baked goods. However, as the Fall and Winter weather are ahead of us and we again have to retreat inside, will everyone be able to maintain this will power? I hope so.
Anyway, I hope you will read the above articles and make these determinations for yourself. It is important that we all find what works best for our own individual and unique bodies and maintain a balance so that both exercise and food are helping us reach our goals instead of becoming a hindrance.