Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's time!

Well, it's time!

I feel like I've been rushing around this week trying to get everything in order for the new year. This might be a mistake, because I tend to be so "all or nothing" and I need everything to be perfect. If I'm going to improve my life, I have to be able to not let myself freak out at everything that isn't perfect.

Today I did a lot of prep work. I've cleaned pretty much every square inch of my apartment, taken down the holiday decorations, taken my books off the shelves and wiped everything down, organized every cabinet, dumped half a bottle of Drano in my shower, did laundry. It's been a pretty intense day!

I also menu planned (which I do every week anyway) and went to Trader Joe's, which was packed. I should've known better on New Year's Eve! Our Trader Joe's in Madison is painfully small, with awful parking (my mom's lost her side-view mirror twice in that teeny tiny lot!) but there are just so many things I can't get anywhere else. Earth Balance, for one thing - I haven't been able to find it even at our hugest grocery store. I love that stuff! I also love their frozen brown rice. And their mini ice cream cones, but I didn't buy them this time around. They'd be a reasonable treat if I could stick to one, but too often I eat a ton of them at once, haha. 

Also made a trek to Target (also very busy) to pick up some stuff I couldn't get at Trader Joe's (really TJ's? You don't have ANY dried beans or barley?) because I had a couple gift cards from Christmas. In addition to some stuff I needed, I bought a bunch of stuff I don't need, like a little spa kit (exfoliating scrub, moisturizer, and under-eye cream). It makes me happy :) 

I weigh in tomorrow and I am pretty terrified. I am almost certain I am at my highest weight I've ever been. Especially after all the alcohol and food over the holidays. 

Here's my menu plan for week one! These are for dinners, obviously. Breakfast is generally the same for me... sprouted 7-grain bread (toasted) and an over-easy egg. Sometimes I'll switch it up but this is pretty typical for me. In the summer I'll add fruit that I like - pears or berries - but really the only seasonal fruits right now are citrus and I really hate most citrus fruit (my skin also reacts oddly to it.) Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before.

Veggie pad thai with snow peas and tofu (I use this recipe from Veggie Num Num with a few tweaks - it's delicious! I had to order tamarind paste online, and I'm so glad I did.)

Portobello mushroom sandwiches with bell peppers, spinach, garlic aioli and a side of  roasted brussels sprouts (my own little creation that is super delicious, I eat it almost every week now. When I make it this week, I might post it as a "recipe" since I've never really measured anything out. For the brussels sprouts, I just halve them, toss them with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and thyme, and roast them.)

Whole-wheat egg noodles with baby spinach, ricotta and herbs (a very simple recipe from Cooking Light)


Slow-cooker bean and barley soup (I've never made this one before; I try to make at least one new recipe every week. I just got a crock pot for Christmas, and I've never used one before, so I'm excited to try it out! The recipe is from the Food Network, and is here.)

Probably a sub sandwich of some kind (I spend one night a week with my Dad and it is usually Friday, and we always eat out) - usually from Jimmy John's, typically I get the veggie sub.


My fridge, currently! Blurry, I know. My favorite items - my filtering water pitcher (just changed the filter today, it tastes really good); eggs (I tend to eat an egg every morning for breakfast - I should probably cut it down to fewer days than that, but I can't help it); Earth Balance; sunflower seed butter (this stuff is sooo addicting, but it's expensive... the entire second shelf is veggies (celery, fresh herbs, broccoli, brussels sprouts, portobellos, snow peas, bean sprouts, baby carrots). I sort of unintentionally made my first week a vegetarian one, usually I make one or two meals a week with chicken but I guess just didn't feel like it this week. I usually just go through my recipes in MacGourmet (there are over 300 of them, yikes) and pick what stands out. 

I'm going to set goals for the first two weeks. 

1. Stay within calorie range 12 out of the 14 days. 
2. Avoid alcohol 100%, including cooking with it, for these first two weeks.
3. Lose 4 pounds (in the 2 weeks).
4. Log in to my Wii Fit every day to do the body test. 
5. Log at least 180 minutes of exercise in the first 2 weeks. 
6. Take my St. John's Wort all 14 days (I need to find a way to remind myself to do this, I am so bad with taking medication of any kind.)

It's going to be a rough couple weeks for me because of work. There are huge changes occurring at my work, mainly that I have to move to the other building on the 10th of January. My job is going to change, my coworkers are going to change (I believe when all is said and done, only one of my current amazing coworkers will end up working with me, and she's only part time, so I'm essentially losing a lot of my support system.) I suspect a lot of anxiety will arise, which makes it extra important for me to stay on track. Typically I'd just want to come home and have a bunch of wine, but I just have to resist that because I know it doesn't help and it just makes it all worse. 

So, here's hoping :) It all starts tomorrow! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Specific goals... continued.

So, in terms of reaching these goals... (and please note that I do brand-name-drop some stuff here; I have no motivation for this except that it's stuff I like!)

I love reading about nutrition so I usually have this department under control. I am not a saint in this department. I do sometimes eat processed foods (though, what really ISN'T processed in some way?) I don't eliminate any food groups. I focus on fruits and vegetables and whole grains. About one meal that I cook per week contains meat; otherwise I generally eat vegetarian. I eat eggs and dairy, but try not to substitute meat with a ton of cheese. I like beans and lentils. I can't restrict myself too much because otherwise I won't stick with it. I try to eat whole grains mostly but once in a while I will eat white breads (e.g. flour tortillas). I do read ingredients labels and avoid trans fats.

I use SparkPeople for my nutritional tracking. I think the reason I haven't kept up with blogs in the past is because I insisted on blogging every single day with every single thing I'd eaten. With SP I can just track it on there and leave it. I follow the nutritional guidelines that SparkPeople sets for me in terms of calories, protein, carbs and fats. I do hope, though, to maybe post on here a weekly summary of how I did that week. Hopefully that will help me keep on track. Generally SparkPeople gives me anywhere between 1300 and 1700 calories per day to eat.

I don't drink enough water. I eat breakfast every day but often don't even have a glass of water with it. When I get to work I raid the coffee pot. I kept buying water bottles but I have yet to find one that doesn't leak all over my bag. I finally just got a Nalgene that doesn't leak, and we have a great water cooler at work so I can re-fill it.

One of my challenges is that I love cooking, but it is hard for me to cook for just one person. Most meals I make serve 4. Many I can cut in half, but then that tends to leave me with leftover ingredients that I won't use in another meal before they go bad.  A lot of times I'll bring food over to my mom's and leave her with the leftovers, and I almost always eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. I do have a couple of "cooking for one or two" cookbooks.

I have way too many cookbooks so meal planning is not difficult for me. I use MacGourmet to organize my recipes and every week I meal plan before I go shopping.

So where does my difficulty lie in the nutritional department? Why do I weigh so much?  Usually emotional eating. I don't keep junk food in the house (and I live alone so that's helpful) but if I ever go out then I eat too much. I also have an "all or nothing" mentality that I need to learn how to change. Also, when alcohol is involved, then you can forget about it. Which is why I need to not drink! Not to mention all the calories in alcohol...


I go in streaks with exercise. I know how good it makes me feel. I've always enjoyed cardio more than strength training, so that's something I want to learn more about in 2012. I have a small but great collection of exercise DVDs. A couple years ago I decided I wanted to start doing step aerobics, and I'm really glad I did. I bought a step (this one) and a couple beginner DVDs. I learned the very basics from Gin Miller's "Everybody Steps" DVD (link) and then moved on to her Simply Step DVD which is a hard workout for me. Easy choreography but intense! I also have Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred as well as her Ultimate Workout 3-Pack - I'm not a big fan of Jillian and I don't like the concept behind the Biggest Loser but I do love her workouts. The cardio kickbox is a great 20-min workout for me. I also do have a yoga DVD that I don't use very often, and a great new SparkPeople 10-min workouts video which focuses on different parts of the body so I'm hoping to use that for strength training. I also got a Wii and Wii Fit for my birthday this year, and I love it. It's very low-intensity, of course, but according to my heart rate monitor the estimates that the Wii Fit gives me are actually fairly accurate. It's fun to play with and I can do it for an hour without even realizing it and I can burn up to 300 calories in that hour just playing on the Wii. 

I really enjoy my heart rate monitor, I use it every time I work out and the results have been surprising. I was actually under-estimating my calorie burning for almost every workout I was doing. The hour-long Simply Step video I mentioned had me burning 700 calories!

So, here are my specific goals for each week.
-- Stay within calorie range (determined by SparkPeople and my current weight) at least 6 out of 7 days a week.
-- For January, work out at least 90 minutes per week.
-- Drink 64 oz of water per day.
-- One day a week (Saturday or Sunday) have a "spa" day where I spend time taking care of myself - bath, lotion, relaxing.

Time for goal setting.

They say you get nowhere without goals. I've been working on my list for a while now. It's a big list. But 2012 has to get better! 2011 was really rough for me. So was 2010, actually. So, here are my goals!

Weight and general physical health
- Lose 50 pounds, or a little less than 1 lb/wk. (Actual goal weight is to lose 70 lbs, but for 2012, 50 is my goal.) 
- Exercise for a minimum of 90 minutes per week, even if it's something low-impact. I can go on big streaks where I work out quite a lot for a while but then get sore and take way too many days off. I want to not overdo it. I am going to count very low-impact, low-cardio minutes as well, at least to start off with (e.g. my Wii Fit, yoga)
- Get a physical exam by a doctor and perhaps a psychiatrist. It has been about 7 years since I had a real physical! I have a major fear of doctors without any real reason behind it aside from anxiety. I've never even met my PCP (since my insurance changed about a year and a half ago, I haven't met with her yet.)
- Dentist appointment. It's been about a year and a half since my last cleaning… no excuse for that! 

Alcohol use
I drink waaay too much! It is mainly to help manage anxiety - and of course, alcohol doesn't actually manage anxiety. I drank a lot in college and then not much after that for a while when I was unemployed, but the stress that comes with my job seems to require a drink!  But I know this is a bad road to head down on. When I drink I feel crappy and unproductive the entire following day. I know my body is telling me to stop it. So my goal isn't to cut out alcohol altogether, but I need to drink like a normal person again, which involves:
-- No drinking alone. There are other ways to deal. I don't need to have 3 or 4 glasses of wine with dinner!
-- No binge drinking (maximum 4 drinks in an evening) when I do choose to drink.
-- Finding good alternatives to calm myself down, which leads me to... 

Emotional Goals
Most importantly: alternatives to sitting around depressed and anxious. My current ideas:

Bubble bath.
Square breathing. 
Relaxation videos.
Candles! I need to buy some for my fireplace since I'm too freaked out to start a real
And, of course, exercise is great for anxiety.

Other Goals
Creativity. I really want to write more. To start with...
- work on my novel more. Or just at ALL. In January I'd like to complete at least 20 pages. Doesn't sound like a lot, but I need to get going.
- Get some canvas and paint again. Maybe look up some crafty DIY stuff online. I love crap like that but haven't been very good at it.
- I want to join some sort of social group. I'm considering looking at some of the Unitarian Universalist churches in the area after attending a really nice winter solstice event last night.

More inspiration and quotes, 'cause I need them.

"...strength and hope come not from circumstances or the acquisition of things but from the simple accumulation of active experience, from gritting the teeth and checking the items off the list, one by one, even though it’s painful, and you’re afraid." -  caroline knapp

"Whereas the truth is this: life is about adapting to trauma. Life is about finding work-arounds. Life is also about using that trauma, because the thing about broken edges is they cut. And knives are tools as much as weapons. And I think it would be nice if more literature did not reflect one Lie or the other, because I find, personally, that people are not disposable. And my best teapot is the one with the glued-together lid." Matociquala
"After the incredibly dark tunnel of grieving ... I felt a great pull toward showing some glimmers of light. That you do survive, that you do come out of grief. You're scarred, but you do connect with life and hope."
Alan Ball

"I'm just saying you only get one life. There's no god, no rules, no judgments, except for those you accept or create for yourself. And once it's over, it's over. Dreamless sleep forever and ever. So why not be happy while you're here. Really. Why not?" Nate Fisher (Six Feet Under)

Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded. - Goethe
Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew. - Saint Francis De Sales

1. Eat miso soup for breakfast.
2. Take tiny moments out of every day to move slowly, really experience your own body, your own life.
3. Don’t settle for the status quo. You don’t have to be numb. You don’t have to tolerate anxiety or busyness or overwhelm. Make your own life.
4. Breastfeed.
5. Be bold. Life’s short.
6. Move your body as much as possible. Especially between the hours of 11 and 2 when there is much-needed Vitamin D to soak up.
7. You will do everything you can to be healthy and it might not be enough. Do it anyway.
8. Love and prioritize your family fiercely.
9. Collaborate and create whenever possible.
10. Teach without attachment.

Mary Catherine Bateson

Thursday, December 15, 2011

these are a few of my favorite things is one of the sweetest blogs. This is one of my favorite post-its. I need to remember that I have to be proactive, not passive.

You'll see lots of Post Secrets from me.

i love e.e. cummings

the point

I don't know exactly what I want from this blog. But I think I need to start one. It's an idea I've toyed with for a long time, and it's my New Year's resolution to USE this!

Use it for what? Well, essentially, to help myself make my life better. Yep, this is a selfish blog!

The initial purpose was to track my primary goal for 2012 which is weight loss. This has pretty much been a mild obsession of mine since I was... well, you know, very young. I've always been overweight, but it's gotten out of hand the past couple years. Four years of college (AKA junk food and booze) followed by the most stressful job ever has led to a pretty unhealthy me. I have the same boring typical goals of everyone - lose weight, exercise more.

But to me it's more than that. I know that I only feel good when I'm working out and eating right, but I also need to learn to manage stress in an effective way!

Not only that, but I want to create more. Which is part of this blog. I've always written, always kept journals. I'm writing a novel. Not a good one, but a cathartic one. So another goal is to create more, instead of being a mindless consumer - most days, I come home from work, and after cooking dinner (my other good form of creation - I love cooking) I just loaf. I multitask while I watch television - read blogs, just consume, consume, consume. I want to create more. I had a brief love affair with some canvas and acrylics, but my ability ends at creating what one would call "abstract" art. But I know I have more in me. I can do more.

I also want to use this blog to collect. Sort of like a scrapbook (dare I say kinda like Tumblr? Ruh roh.) When I find things that inspire me, or articles, I just want to post them, and reflect on them.

This is my first post. Wish me luck.

I will be posting more specific goals, and how I plan to attain these goals, closer to January 1st. In the mean time, I'll probably just be posting stolen stuff from other places :) I started making my own little slideshow over a year ago of pictures and quotes and words I've collected... I think it's time to share.