Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Here's the skinny

     When I started this endeavor the first day of this month, I weighed in at 247 pounds. Many people are shocked when they hear that number, as I guess, I "carry my weight well."
     Now, I weigh in at 231 pounds. But, the real milestones to me are when I move down into a different 10-pound range. From the 40s, to the 40s, and I am almost into the 20s. I don't remember the last time I was in the 20s.
     My ultimate goal during the challenge is to move that weight marker from the 200 to the 150 mark. Even if I weigh 199 pounds, just one pound shy of that 200 marker, that will be success.
     Eventually, I hope to reach the 40s, again, but in the 100 rather than 200 category.
     Past the pounds, I will find out the change in my fat percentage, which I will share, too. I would share my starting point, but I don't remember what it was, so I need to find out. I know it was recorded at the gym.
     Even more exciting to me is the change in pants size. A month ago I wore a tight size 20, and I bought a pair of size 18 pants, which I donned for the first time last week, and they fit.
     Not only did they fit, but I could breathe, and I did not have to do any fancy tricks to put them on.
     Tomorrow I am going to go buy a pair of the same pants (they are so cute), but in a size 16, maybe even the next pair down, a size 14.
     It's amazing the difference a person can see in just one month. I feel so motivated for this next month.
     And, I was just thinking this morning how I cannot wait until day 100. I cannot wait to see me on May 11.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The prospect of riding and bawling in the gym

     Yesterday I finished my 520-page book, "The Time Traveler's Wife," while riding on the bike at the gym.
     The book was clever and intriguing, and the funniest thing about my reading it was as I was coming to a really sad part, I was worried about bawling my head off in the gym.
     That is a great picture, I know. Me reading and riding and bawling.
     Anyhoot, now I am reading another book of high interest to me, "How Wal*Mart is Destroying America." I will keep you posted; already today I read 35 pages; fascinating.
     I also realized that I ride on average nine miles a day. Today is my 27th day of working out, so I have cycled somewhere around 243 miles.
     If you really think about that, I could have ridden to Wenatchee and back. WOW! I cannot wait for the weather to improve and to tune up my bike to ride outside.
     Of course, I will have to leave the book home. But actually, I started thinking about that, and I might listen to books on tape when I ride.
     Speaking of road trips, I went to Cheney with a group of middle school students this past Friday and Saturday.
     Once again, I feel like I have conquered an event that normally leads me to overeating: Out-of-town traveling.
     I ate great. I made choices I am proud of, and I never felt hungry or deprived. I don't even really feel tempted anymore.
     I do have some areas I want to improve on as far as my eating goes. I want to not eat after 7 p.m. at all. That does pose a trick for me sometimes when I work out after school and have an evening engagement without time to eat in between.
     I will have to figure out how to squeeze eating in between those times, but I don't really see any crazy evening schedules on the horizon (unlike the last two weeks).
     This week I am starting a new schedule where I will work out after school instead of later in the evening, as I was doing before. When I did that I always ate afterward, usually around 8 p.m.
     I am also going to have to plan (this is the key, planning) how to make all the schedules work once Rick starts back to work next week, and the boys both start their spring sport schedules.
     I am really looking forward to this summer and all the exercising opportunities I will have without the encumbering events in my life.
     I promise one thing: For the first time in my life I see that I am a priority, and my exercising is a priority. So, I promise to plan and make everything work out.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Use it or lose it

     The old adage truly connects with our bodies: If you don't use your muscles, you lose your muscles. I am definitely feeling my muscles this week, as I have been working out harder with the weights.
     Well, at least, I have been increasing the amount of weight I am lifting. I have always been told how important weight training is, and logically it makes sense to me.
     In my renewed desire for fitness, I have been researching all sorts of women's health issues. I want to live a healthy life and prevent some ailments that may be in my future.
     According to the Mayo Clinic, regular strength training can help develop stronger bones, control your body fat, reduce your risk of injury, improve your sense of well-being and even help you sleep better at night.
     I definitely want to control my body fat, and that is happening with both my cardio and weight training. I did have my body fat percentage taken at the beginning, and I am looking forward to what it is at the end of the 12 weeks.
     Now that I am getting older I notice that I feel more at risk for injury, especially when I am playing softball or hiking or do more physically exerting activities. So, if having stronger muscles will help my body stay injury-free, I am all for it.
     I completely agree with my sense of well-being improving, as I am happier and have more energy than ever since I have been pounding the pounds.
     And, my sleep is incredible. Of course, I think it is because I am so tuckered out from a long day and from working out so hard. But, I definitely feel like I need less sleep now than before I started exercising.
     Something I am very interested in is developing stronger bones and how that will affect me. Often we look at problems in our future as just that, problems in our future. But, what if we can start solving those in our present?
     Contrary to what many of us believe, osteoporosis is not inevitable for all of us. We can make changes in our lifestyles now to help prevent it. Weight-bearing exercise is one of the steps that will help build stronger bones.
     According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 44 million women and men over the age of 50 are afflicted with osteoporosis. And, by 2020 the National Osteoporosis Foundation expects that number to jump to 61 million.
     Guess what? I will be 49 in 2020, and I could easily be one of those in that statistic. What if you are already over 50 or definitely will be in 2020?
     The foundation believes it is never too late to protect your bones, even if you are already diagnosed with osteoporosis. Get to work!
     Today, I appreciate my sore muscles.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A plan for fighting stress

     For people who know me well, today's topic fits me like a pair of pants a size too small. STRESS!
     I have always been what I consider to be a "doer" person, in that I am always going and moving. I find myself involved in many activities.
     Often people tell me that I should just say no, when asked to help. But the nurturer in me needs to be nurtured, and one of the ways I feel complete is by nurturing others. So, it's hard for me to say no.
     Besides wanting to help people, I love being busy; I love doing. That makes it difficult to say no.
     I have started prioritizing this past year and really thinking about commitments before I agree to them. That's a start, right? And, I have even graciously (although painstakingly) declined.
     So, what about everyday stress? Just as much as anyone else, I have tons of it, too. I need to manage the stress and how to deal with it when it rears its two heads!
     Since I have been exercising, I have noticed that my stress level is far lower, and my days (especially mornings) run more smoothly after my morning cardio.
     I know that is all a part of the happy hormones (endorphins) that are triggered when I exercise. Over these past three weeks, I have made a concentrated effort to do something physical when my mind or emotions are on tilt.
     I have also tried to count down or deep breathe, but those don't seem to really decrease my stress level. I am still not at that place in my life where I can just let things not bother me.
     What really stresses me out (pun intended) is what stress does to my body. Stress causes the cortisol hormone to activate, which is important in a flight-or-fight situation.
     But, long-term stress (sometimes called chronic stress) causes cortisol to be higher all the time, which causes all sorts of problems, including the deposit of fat in the stomach area (coincidentally, my problem area).
     I don't buy into the new fad of cortisol diet pills. Rather I believe that those are bandage for a much bigger owie. Instead, I think we should look to what causes and prolongs stress, and what we can do to relax.
     I am going to sleep in on Sunday. I am going to power walk between classes at least once this morning. I am calling for a massage today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Three weeks and 15 pounds later

     Three weeks! I can hardly believe it. WOW! So, today I weighed in, and I have lost 15 pounds!
     Yes, ladies and gentleman that would be three five-pound bags of sugar no longer on my body. I started thinking about that, and if I reach my goal, I will have 20 bags of sugar sitting next to me, incredible.
     As I stepped off the scale, I thought of another goal I have, one that not many people even know about. But, here goes.
     By the time I am 40 (five years from this June), I hope to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. This is long been a dream of mine.
     Although Mount Kilimanjaro is the largest mountain in Africa, standing as a sentinel between Kenya and Tanzania, it is one that can and is climbed by many people. No extraordinarily special equipment is necessary, more than crampons.
     Mount K stands right at 19,340 feet, and at least today is still snowcapped, but the glacier is definitely receding. Who knows, maybe I will blog about that experience, too.
     Thinking about visiting Africa and climbing the mountain brings me to a new realization. If, when I reach my physical goal, I have a new goal to train for something, I will remain motivated.
     I remember the first time I trained for a triathlon. I worked hard toward the goal of finishing the event, rather than losing weight.
     Recently, my friend Lorri invited my family and me to join her family in an MS walk in Wenatchee to be held in April. I immediately said yes, and we are going to participate in the 8K category.
     Not only will our families be walking together, but we will also be raising money for an important cause.
     This made me think about trying to find other events to enter that will motivate me toward an exercising goal.
     I am looking forward to signing up!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What a wonderfully long weekend

     I definitely used the extra day off to recharge my batteries. I slept a lot this weekend, including even some naps.
     I learned that I really miss not working out super early in the morning (although it felt worth sleeping in, I think).
     I noticed that when I ride the bike later in the afternoon, it feels harder than it does in the morning.
     I am sure there is a scientific or logical reason for this, but I choose to think that it feels easier in the morning because my body is not totally awake, and so I can fool it into working out for 30 minutes before it even realizes what we've done.
     I did not work out on Saturday, well, at least not at the gym. We went to Wenatchee for shopping. Mega shopping.
     I wished I would've worn a pedometer to track the number of steps, but I know that I earned my miles. Plus, I made up for it on Sunday with a longer workout.
     We spent this weekend with family and friends. It's always nurturing to reconnect with the ones we love, considering how busy everyone is during the week.
     I had a great conversation with my good friend Lori about eating. We talked about how it is all about portion control. That is definitely what is helping me to be successful. I was the queen of super size and seconds.
     We also talked about slowing down when we eat. Another major issue of mine, I don't know why. I have always inhaled my food, and I can only guess that it is related to my crazy, merry-go-round life.
     Now, I don't eat seconds. I try to savor what I am eating, I use the smaller plate for my meals, I try to eat a balanced meal without going crazy with carbs or protein or fat, just balance.
     I try to find little tricks that help me when I am hungry or craving something. I LOVE Coffee Nips. They are so yummy, and they last for so long. I first found out about them reading Susie's blog (thank you).
     (Susie Stops Smoking no longer available.)
     I am really proud that I am figuring out what works for me. I am not someone who can live by weighing my food or counting calories. That feels too cumbersome for my lifestyle.
     Originally I tried to log in my food and calories on a Web site to keep track, and quickly I realized that was just not for me.
     Instead I am listening to my body, and trying to determine what it needs. Am I really hungry? Or am I bored or upset? Am I eating because everyone else is?
     Speaking of which, a salad is calling my name right now. And, yes, my body is saying, "Feed me."

Friday, February 17, 2006

A review of the weight loss program

     I have had many people asking me what program I am using. So, I am dedicating today's blog to sharing that information.
     First, exercise. I am riding the stationary bike (and reading) for 30-40 minutes every day. I choose a program that alternates the levels of tension. This can be rather amusing, since I don't watch the monitor.
     I have several times been at a really intense part of my book, and all of a sudden I feel like I am riding straight up a hill, not just a little hill, mind you, but one reaching directly to the zenith.
     So, then I lose my place until I start going back downhill again. Ahh . . . the trials of reading and riding.
     I try to play racquetball three times a week, and I usually squeeze in at least three games when I play, which honestly does not feel like I am working out at all. My competitive streak in me doesn't sense the time I am playing, but rather senses the score only.
     A couple times a week I try to run and walk on the treadmill. Well, not run exactly, more like jog. I alternate walking for a minute and then jogging for a minute.
     Most recently I have started to walk with a colleague two days a week during our lunch. We walk uphill (no, not both ways) at a brisk pace.
     Then six days a week I am weight training. I work on a different group of muscles each day. I have four exercises per muscle group, and I complete three sets of each.
     Once I have started exercising, I realize how easy it is to squeeze it in, if I choose to make time for it.
     Food. Have I mentioned how much I love food? I am eating breakfast every morning, which I have only heard to do for my entire life, but never have before. It definitely makes a difference. I don't feel hungry all morning.
     I try to snack on something healthy in the morning and afternoon, and I eat two sensible meals at lunch and dinner. My nightcap includes some sort of treat like popcorn, Jell-O, pudding or a soymilk shake.
     I make sure I always have good snacks around for those stress or emotional eating times. The other day I did not have anything in my bag, so I chewed on a piece of gum, and it worked!
     Basically, the bottom line for my food is I am NOT counting calories. I am paying attention to what and how much enters my mouth.
     I am not eating any sugar, except natural (fruit, etc.) and some Splenda products. I have also eliminated all white flour and, at this point, I am not eating any bread whatsoever.
     Last, but most important, I am drinking tons of water. This is such a benefit (see previous water entry); it does suppress my appetite.
     What I have done is find out what works for me. I have taken bits and pieces from here and there, and I have found that my program fits my needs right now.
     I know that once I lose all the weight, I will alter my program to meet my new needs of maintaining. But, for now, I am doing exactly what I need to be doing.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

It's a thankful Thursday

     I remember watching Oprah way back when she brought out a wagon of fat for all the weight she had lost. Then I remember Oprah gaining that weight back and losing it again, and so on.
     I remember thinking, if a woman who has a personal chef and trainer at her beck and call struggles as much with weight, what about the average person like me?
     Thankfully my support team is a big one, and they are at the ready all the time.
     Of course there is Rick, my personal chef, who is a great cook (even if he grumbles that it is not a man's work), and very much into helping me eat healthy.
     The key word is helping. He is not pushy or demanding about it, but he knows what my goals are and he is willing to help me reach them.
     Then my family: Nicole, Cody and Jordan, who all help me work out, be it cardio on the court or pumping the poundage, or Patty, who is a surrogate mother and wonderful cheerleader.
     Most of my own family lives far away. They do pep me up with phone calls and e-mails, though.
     This past month my little sister donated her kidney to my grandpa. I was so inspired by her selfless gift and her courage that in my heart part of my drive for fitness is to show her how much I appreciate what she did and that I am proud of her.
     The least I can do is to take care of my own body.
     My friends are priceless. They constantly check in with me and always offer words of encouragement.
     My colleagues, who send me happy, inspiring messages or walk with me at lunch. My students, who truly believe me and tell me so!
     I find support in places that I don't even expect it. I have strangers who walk up and tell me that they are following my blog, and rooting for me all the way or are themselves inspired to workout again.
     Speaking of this blog, just having this opportunity is an incredible form of support. It keeps me honest and motivated.
     The employees at the gym are wonderful and helpful. When I am working out, I look around and realize that I have a common bond with all the other people there, and everyone is so friendly.
     I do have a support team. And, I feel fortunate. I know others who are making progress toward their health goals, but are alone in doing so. I don't know that I could be that strong.
     So, thanks to all of you who continue to help me along this journey. You know what? I feel just as rich as Oprah.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Two weeks later and 12 pounds lighter

     Two weeks! Yes, two weeks! I am even more excited about this milestone than last week! I just feel like I have such a direction and purpose.
     I have lost 12 pounds in two weeks. Only 88 to go. I know it is the easy weight that comes off first.
     Nonetheless, as I was walking through the grocery store, I stopped and picked up two five-pound bags of sugar and thought, "These are not on my body any more!"
     I find myself wanting to exercise all the time. I started walking with my co-worker, Kathleen, at lunch three times a week, in addition to my daily morning workout on the bike and my daily weight training workout in the evening.
     By the way, the book is really intriguing right now, and I find it hard to stop riding because I want to keep reading! I am more than halfway through, and I am starting to think about what my next book should be.
     I made it through Valentine's Day without a hitch! That's two tough events in three days (movie on Sunday). And, if you add those to the Super Bowl, I feel like I am starting to conquer the special events that are normally infused with food.
     Not only am I handling those events, but I am also realizing that I can have fun and enjoy myself just as much without all of the extra food weighing me down.
     It's not to say that I won't enjoy overeating and indulging on occasion. It is to say that I won't use an occasion as an excuse to over-eat or indulge.
     Thankfully my family, friends and students all know what I am trying to do, and in an effort to support rather than sabotage me, they were all thoughtful about their gifts.
     I would have to say the most unique gift I received was a bag of acorn squash and a stuffed animal from my son Cody. His friends who took him shopping didn't quite understand. I, on the other hand, was deeply touched!
     He knows how much I like them, and he said, "Since I didn't want to get you chocolate, I thought you would like these." They will be a yummy addition to dinner tonight.
     I am so thankful for all of the support from family, friends and even strangers!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Monday morning!

     OK, I admit it my enthusiasm for the alarm clock going off this morning was missing, but now that I have worked out, I feel great!
     To think I had seriously considered sleeping longer this morning after being awake with the new puppy for almost an hour at 3 a.m. What was I thinking?
     I did work out this weekend both days. I even snuck in six more racquetball games. I love the game. I do!
     Cody is still seeking his first win, but I can tell you it won't be much longer. He is much improved.
     Even when I lost against a much better player than me, I had a blast and really burned the calories. Note: I did win one of our three games, but I think he let me.
     I had one event this weekend for which I felt both dread and excitement. The movies. We took our little one to see "Curious George."
     I love the movies. I love the popcorn with tons of butter, and I always drop in Junior Mints to melt with the popcorn. I know, weird, but it is my movie tradition since I was little.
     It's not to say that once I reach my goal and I am on the maintaining phase of my life that I won't enjoy my favorite movie snack again. Of course, I will buy the small popcorn bag rather than the jumbo bucket with a free refill.
     So, I smuggled in my own little baggy of microwave popcorn seasoned to my liking (seasoning salt, garlic and oregano with a few squirts of a non-fat "butter" spray). I also had a few sugar free CremeSavers, the chocolate caramel hard candies.
     I noticed a few things as I watched the guy in the big yellow hat and his curious little monkey friend.
     First, I ate much more slowly, as I wanted to savor each piece of popcorn, since I had such a small amount. Plus, I did not want to have it all gone during the previews.
     That, for me, is half the battle. I eat so fast, that I don't even realize how much I have eaten until it is too late.
     I also realized that I probably could have eaten some of the movie popcorn, but that it is really all about good choices. No butter, smaller size, please.
     I drank my water and ate a couple of hard candies. The movie was OK but, more importantly, I learned more about choices.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Quenching my thirst

     Mark Twain said, "My books are water; those of the great geniuses are wine - everybody drinks water."
     First of all, I love this quotation for a couple of reasons. I love to read, Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors (probably my Southern upbringing and my proclivity for humor), and right now I am trying to be one of the "everybody" who drinks the literal and figurative water of which Twain speaks.
     As I wrote in my last entry, I have the actual reading down as I am riding on the bike. I am curious to see how many books I will read in this manner on my journey of many miles.
     Ironically, in today's bulletin at school the quotation for the day is, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Hmmmm.
     Moving onto the water . . . I KNOW we all know the double eight rule. Drink eight eight-ounce glasses a day.
     Recently my friend Kathleen gave me an article her chiropractor had given her (thanks to both of you), which sparked my interest in researching the benefits of water.
     I have learned all sorts of intriguing facts. Water naturally suppresses the appetite, makes you feel full - that I knew.
     However, I did not know that the overweight person actually needs more water than the thin one because he/she has a larger metabolic load. On several medical sites I found that a person should add an extra eight-ounce glass for every 25 pounds that he/she is overweight. So, that's four more for me!
     I knew that water helps us to rid the waste from our bodies. But, I didn't know that when you are losing weight you have a lot more waste.
     This is what is fascinating me most about water: Because it helps to maintain muscle tone, water also helps to prevent the sagging skin that many people encounter after losing weight.
     The bottom line is that our kidneys work hard, and if they don't have enough water in the system, then they pass off some of that work to the liver, which keeps it from functioning to its potential.
     This is especially important to people trying to lose weight because we know that the liver metabolizes stored fat into energy.
     Of course, water has many more benefits, enough that I probably could write a book.
     The major drawback of all of this water consumption is the incessant need to use the bathroom, which can be a big deal if you have a job where you can't just run to go whenever you want.
     The really great thing is that as I sat here writing this entry, I drank my entire water bottle!

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Cantaloupe lists

     Since the lists for Rick are called the "honey do" lists, I figure I will call mine after one of my favorite fruits, the cantaloupe. Ironically on Monday, I wrote down "cut the cantaloupe" on Rick's honey do list. I digress.
     So, my list.
     Today, I want to drink more water. Tomorrow, I am going to write about why.
     Today, I want to make an appointment to see a doctor, although I still haven't established care with anyone up here. Hmmmm. Maybe I will make an appointment with my doctor in Leavenworth instead.
     I want to have my thyroid tested, as I have a history of thyroid problems, and I just sort of have ignored them. By this I mean when my last prescription ran out several years ago, I just didn't bother going back to the doctor or having my blood tested again.
     Not too responsible, especially given my family history.
     I also want the doctor to check my cholesterol. I have no idea what my numbers are, and I should.
     Today, I want to thank the people around me who have supported me in my efforts to find the healthy me. I so appreciate everyone who has e-mailed me with support and advice.
     Today, I am going to try something new. I am now drinking a sugar-free hot chocolate with vanilla soy milk. Not bad.
     Today, I want to figure out what sort of vitamin I should take. It's a bit of a horror for me, because in high school we did this crazy science experiment where we cooked vitamins, and some of them were VERY gross. I might wait to choose a vitamin until my doctor's appointment.
     Today, I am going to measure myself everywhere. I have weighed in, and at the gym, they gave me my body fat percentage and measured my thighs, waist and hips.
     Today, I rode the bike again this morning, but I have discovered a new program that I call Reading and Riding. Yes, I am reading a book ("The Time Traveler's Wife" - great book, by the way), something I love to do, but often don't feel like I have enough time.
     I only read it when I am riding, which actually means I am now riding longer than before because I want to read! I am up to 40 minutes and about 40 pages a morning.
     I think that is enough for today.
     Now, I am going to go an eat a couple of pieces of that cantaloupe waiting for me in the fridge.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

If I can do this, anyone can!

     ONE WEEK! Yes, last Wednesday I signed up at the gym, started exercising, and eating healthy, and I am still alive! Not only am I still alive, but I really FEEL alive.
     I cannot believe the difference in my energy level and just overall feeling.
     I must admit I did not bound out of bed this morning at 4:30, but I did get up, and once I was moving and on my way to the gym, I felt tons better. It's just a matter of taking that first step.
     Since I started last week, I had a conversation with an important woman in my life, who feels at a low to make any changes in her own life. She told me how proud she is of what I am doing, and that she wished she could do something, too.
     She is overweight, and her body hurts all the time. She hurts too much to exercise, but the heavier she gets the more she hurts. The cycle keeps growing.
     I told her she just has to start little. Even if she sits in her chair, watches television and starts with arm exercises. Eventually she can even do leg exercises from a sitting position, which takes off the pressure of being overweight.
     The biggest message I shared with her is to take the first step. I know that once I at least start, it is far easier to keep going. That doesn't mean it is not hard going though.
     Just last night I was thinking, "Holy cow! This working out is really time consuming." SIGH.
     Then I remembered that a good friend reminded me that I did not get where I am physically in only a month, so obviously it will take time (and I should add, LOTS of it).
     This morning when I was on the bike, I started thinking about hours. As a teacher I work at least 40 hours a week.
     Getting into shape is seriously like a second job! At least a part-time job in the number of hours I need to dedicate, especially until I am at the fitness level I desire to be. Once I have reached my goal, I know that I will be able to work out less to maintain.
     Right now my schedule feels crazy. I have figured out that I actually have to give myself exercise appointments, much like if I was going to the doctor or to have my hair cut. We keep those appointments, right?
     It's amazing to me just how much I have learned about myself in one week. I look forward to what comes this week!     

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Nurturing creativity with healthy cooking

     One of my biggest obstacles in the past has been my eating. I am really proud of how well I am handling the food side of things.
     And, I feel like I am enjoying the taste of the food even more. I almost feel like my sense of taste is more sensitive or something.
     I am committed to making a true life change here. Knowing that I have food issues, which I have known all along, but never really admitted out loud or to anyone else until I started this blog.
     I don't want to settle for the easy fix. I am not lecturing; trust me, I am the last one who could stand in judgment of anyone. But, my past choices included eating meal replacement shakes/drinks or even taking diet pills. Those really are quick fixes or Band Aids.
     I do believe everyone needs to figure out what works for them, as far as eating and exercising goes. I, however, know that I want my lifestyle to change, and I want to do this naturally.
     I have always tried to nurture my creativity, and now I have found a way to do that and eat healthy, too. Yes, I have figured out that in order to really make this a life change, to always eat healthy, I have to try new things and be creative with food!
     Although I don't consider myself to be the best cook, I am pretty decent, at least my family thinks so, or maybe I should say acts so. What I cook is generally devoured and usually with everyone eating seconds and thirds.
     I didn't learn how to cook from my mom, as I was a product of the microwave generation. I do like cooking, and I definitely have a sense of adventure, so I am not afraid to try some new dish, and fail miserably.
     Just ask my brother about the curry chicken I made once, and only once!
     Last night after I worked out with my step-daughter Nicole, I told her how lucky she was that her mom raised her to love healthy foods. Nicole really does inspire me to eat better.
     I have tried new vegetables and other food because she has brought something to the house that many times I had never even seen before. I want to give to my kids what Nicole's mom gave to her, a love for good food.
     Ultimately I am learning that when I eat something that tastes good, I am more fulfilled. I know that sounds like a DUH! moment, but really what I am saying is that healthy food can taste good.
     Sometimes I have to be a little more creative to make it taste good.
     My food journey feels like I am an explorer discovering what the world has to offer.     

Monday, February 6, 2006

Today did not feel like a manic Monday!

     I really am into this exercising in the morning. I cannot believe the energy I have for the day, and what is even better, I am not so rushed in the morning.
     It's true. I used to wake up at the last possible minute, garnering every drop of sleep left, and then run around like a wild woman trying to ready myself to head off to work.
     Instead, I have been making sure everything is ready the night before, and I find that after I come home from the gym I still have 15 minutes of down time before I even need to jump in the shower.
     I never realized how nice this quiet time is, only 15 minutes. I usually find myself writing (this blog, or catching up on e-mails) or reading. The house is so peaceful, and I enjoy the reflective time I have by myself.
     Anyone who knows me knows that I go a million miles a minute all day long, and that I am almost always doing something for someone. This time in the morning really is precious.
     In addition to my workout this morning, I played some racquetball this afternoon with my son, and then heaved the weights with my step-daughter. My muscles are tired, and I am happy.
     I am definitely seeing the stress relief benefits of exercising. I feel like my stress level is much lower than normal, yet I have the same amount of potential stress in my life.
     The only thing I really don't like about exercising is the sweating. And, boy do I sweat!
     Even if I wash my face a bazillion times a day, it still breaks out whenever I first start exercising. Not only do my muscles hurt, but also I feel like one of the teen-agers I teach.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

A Super Bowl survivor

     OK. So, today is Super Bowl Sunday! Super Bowl XL, which of course reminds me of extra-large (instead of the number 40), a size of my clothes I hope to be able to garage sale this summer!
     I heard on the radio the other day that Super Bowl Sunday is only second to Thanksgiving in the amount of food consumed in one day. I am also guessing that the food at Super Bowl parties is more of the junk food variety!
     How about a completely random fact that I just know you need to know? A hot dog from the Seahawk/Panther championship game went for $1,800 on eBay.
     First, thing I thought of when I read that was not how crazy or ludicrous that was, but how yummy those dogs are, and how many millions of calories and fat grams they are. Yes, I feel a bit obsessed.
     To keep me away from the deliciously fat finger foods (including those little BBQ smokies), I have a plan! So, thanks to my buddy Kathy, I am using these little Jell-O molds to make tiny blue and green football helmets and footballs (with sugar-free Jell-O, virtually no calories).
     I am bringing both fat-free Cool Whip and the extra creamy version. I figure if I am going to do well at the party we are heading to, I need to bring some healthy choices. I also am going to plan on eating before we go, so I don't feel so hungry or so tempted.
     I have definitely started to pay attention to the hunger clock in my body, which starts screaming between 3 and 4 p.m. every day. With the Super Bowl party starting only in the early afternoon, I am going to have a good breakfast and a yummy salad right before we leave.
* * *
     OK, so the Hawks were totally cheated out of their win, as the refs made two huge mistakes, but I did not cheat at all on my eating!
     I must admit, I wanted a brownie, and the apple I brought was indeed sweet, but not the same. I also brought an orange, and a huge salad.
     At the end of the game, I noticed that many of the non-dieters who enjoyed all the snacks and food with no restrictions were feeling "bloated" beyond comfort.
     Not me! I felt great, while those around me were feeling miserable. When I returned home, I ate my sugar-free, fat-free chocolate pudding, and it tasted as good as I imagined that brownie to be.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

A brief setback for the emotional eater

     I was eager to head out last night and work out. It had been quite a stressful day, as I went to Wenatchee for Rick's surgery, and we left at 5 a.m. Long, stressful day. Well, it did not end there.
     I exercised all right, but not in the way I had hoped. We had dropped off our new puppy, a 2-month-old cream-colored Chihuahua to have him doggysat, as we did not want to leave him alone in the house all day in his carrier.
     Well, somehow he ended up missing. So, we spent our night searching in the rain near Omak High School. After spending more than a couple of hours trooping around and looking under everything, we finally went home.
     But I was unable to sleep, so Jordan and I went back down and searched for another hour. The rain stopped, and I hoped to hear his cries. Nothing.
     I returned home heartbroken. When I finally stopped crying, I realized how hungry I was. I had not eaten dinner yet, and as I was heading to the kitchen, I wanted to eat everything and anything.
     WOW! I am an emotional eater. I did eat an ice cream sandwich, sweetened with Splenda, only 110 calories and 1.5 grams of fat. OK, I admit it, I did eat two. And, I have already had one this morning.
     They do make me feel better. Why? Why does food comfort us?
     I know this sounds silly, but I am proud of myself because I could have, and normally would have, eaten a giant bowl of ice cream or maybe even most of the half gallon straight out of the container or the entire box of ice cream sandwiches. These are the little successes, right?
     Although we still don't have our puppy home, I am hopeful. We did head out this morning at first light and searched the neighborhood again, but with no luck.
     I was touched by a stranger who lives in our doggysitter's neighborhood who went out searching with us this morning. His generosity inspires me and makes me hold onto the possibility that if someone found our little Turbo, they will call us.
     I learned a hard lesson last night, too. I am an emotional eater.
     I need to have alternatives there. I know if I would not have had those sugar-free ice cream sandwiches on hand, I definitely would have eaten something far worse and probably in greater quantities.
     As much as I want to crawl back into bed right now, I will go work out today. I promise myself.
* * *
     Good news!
     After hiking around the neighborhood in the morning and again late this afternoon, I went to run some errands, and we received a call that our lost puppy was being returned! So, after getting him back, I went around and tried to find many of the signs the doggysitter and I had posted.
     I must admit, I did not exercise like I promised, but I definitely added some miles to my tennis shoes during the past 24 hours.
     I was just so relieved to have the little guy home, and I did not want to leave him. I know, any excuse to skip the gym, right? I did, however, eat really well today!

Friday, February 3, 2006

Side-splitting pain and some sore muscles, too

     No pain, no gain! I hurt.
     Besides my son taking a wild swing of the racquet, sending the whizzing rubber ball to smack me on my butt (leaving a nice bruise), my muscles hurt.
     Oh, and by the way, I did beat my 16-year-old son at two games of racquetball! I think I surprised my varsity athlete son and, to be truthful, I surprised myself, too! I love the game!
     We even played with my 25-year-old step-daughter, who had NEVER played before. All three of us broke a sweat, but more importantly, had a ball.
     Seriously, I think we burned more calories laughing during our 15-minute RB warm-up. So, this leads me to a couple of important realizations.
     In order to be successful, I really need the support of others, and I need to have fun. Of course, I know that losing weight and making a change in my lifestyle is hard and a ton of work.
     Trust me; my muscles are reminding me of that right now, as I sit here and type, because I know when I try to stand up, I am going to hurt! But, I am hoping one secret to finding what works for me was revealed last night . . . to remember to laugh.
     So far, to my amazement, I am not starving. I have to admit it takes a lot of planning on my part, which means a lot of time.
     And, I actually have noticed a heightened sense of taste. I don't know if that is just in my mind, but what I am eating just seems to taste better and stronger.
     I have noticed, however, that at certain times of the day I am ravenous, and I just want to eat. But, since I have tons of healthy snacks at any easy reach, I am able to overcome what otherwise would be a major moment of weakness.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Patience is a virtue, but not mine

     Patience is NOT my virtue!
     Last night I went to bed at 9 p.m. and, surprisingly, not hungry. But, 4:43 came early this morning, especially with a new puppy in my house.
     I slumped out of bed, wiped the sleep out of my eyes, whipped my bushy hair into what looked like a ponytail gone bad, and headed out into the dark morning.
     As I warmed up on one of the exercise machines, several thoughts crossed my mind. First, I realized that the purple onion I nibbled on last night was sweating through my body (GROSS!!), and I greatly appreciated that very few people were working out at 5 in the morning to share in this lovely smell.
     Then, while watching the news sans sound, I saw that the groundhog did see his shadow, and we have six more weeks of winter. That's half of the time for my physique challenge, and when I make it out of this, I am hoping my shadow looks totally different.
     Ahhh . . . the things that run through your mind while you are on the elliptical trainer.
     I played two games of racquetball, and much to my surprise, I still got game! Oh yeah!
     Well, I won both my matches, and the second one I actually came back from a 13-1 deficit to win 17-15. My heart did not explode like I thought it might, although it was working hard and my face was the color of a tomato.
     The bummer of things is that I definitely need to go buy new shoes. I have two blisters already.
     Part of my problem is starting with fervor, going gung ho, and then petering out. I don't want that to happen this time around.
     Oh, and my wrist and racquet arm are already sore, and it is only 6:30. So, my dilemma today is wondering how to balance the desire to work out like crazy and stay injury free.
     How do I exercise in moderation, when I really want to go for it, right now? Did I mention that another wonderful quality I possess is impatience? SIGH . . .

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

The battle of the bulge begins for Bradley

     Really, why does trying to lose weight feel like I am waging a war, much like the real Battle of the Bulge in 1944?
     Although the Germans surprise attacked the Americans, I don't really feel like my own situation is much of a surprise. I know why I am where I am, physically, and I know what I have to do to conquer this challenge.
     So, the preparations and strategy begin. First, I ate my last supper of alligator toes (fried pickles), which I did complement with a salad, trying to be good. Then we were off to the grocery store.
     My first frustration: Why is it so expensive to eat healthier? A bag of tangerines was $5, whereas a bag of potato chips was on sale for under $2. And, with as much vegetables and fruits that I want to eat, the bill was much higher than that of my normal cart filled with quick, processed foods.
     Today is the official first day that will be recorded in my personal history of declaring war. I am tying on my tennis shoes and heading to the gym to join the next flight of competitors for the physique challenge.
     I have a plan of attack. I plan to eat healthy, exercise daily (hoping for twice a day), keep an online food journal and write about my experiences.
     So, I headed to the gym, signed up and found out that I have to wait until next Monday. SIGH. Now, I could have used this as an excuse, but instead I met with a trainer and worked out.
     Tomorrow morning before even my roosters start crowing, I will leave the warmth of my bed and head down to the gym for some fierce games of racquetball.
     I really want this to work this time. To ensure my success, I am working hard to align my A-team of allies for the support I need.
     I have found workout partners, my family is helping with the eating and cooking end of things, and I even told my students at school. I appreciated all of their enthusiasm for me, and this afternoon, when I thought about wanting some chocolate, I chewed on a piece of gum instead!
     In a world that I have created, one in which I am the nurturer in both my personal and professional lives, I am finally ready to take up arms and fight for me.
     I know I will struggle, and even lose some of the battles. But, I believe I will win in the end.