Monthly Archives: May 2011

Spring-ing

We’ll be getting our tomatoes and peppers in soon.  The peas and garlic and strawberries are doing just great.  I think shallots are coming up, but I had pulled several out thinking they were grass before I realized they were little shallot onion shoots!  Hard to believe spring is finally here!  Seems like the winter kept dragging its feet about leaving.  I have managed (with the Lord’s help – as He seems to have all the best ideas) to have figured out a way to rig up a feeder for our senior horse, Lacy, that will dispense grain to her throughout the day so that when we are camping or traveling, someone can come in and take care of the animals only once a day, doing all the chores and refilling her grain feeder so she can continue to receive the amount of pelleted senior feed she needs.  This will be so valuable to us to be able to enjoy the summer activities knowing she’s being well taken care of.

The One-Pound Challenge is still going very well.  Jess has lost 5 lbs. in five weeks!  Good for him! Personally I can’t believe that I continue to look slimmer and the scale continues to go down, overall each week.  And I’m still eating cookie dough and brownies! LOL!  Just not a *lot* of cookie dough or a *lot* of brownies, and I’m not doing it every day! It’s especially helpful to me to do it with other people.  It keeps the momentum going better, I think.  Every single person who is doing this with me – even the ones who are frustrated with “slow” progress, are making progress.  Even an average of half a pound a week is still progress.  The goal here is weight and lifestyle management, not quick weight loss!  So hooray to everyone who has been reporting in their goals and progress!!!  Great job!  Keep it up, and if you need to, make a small adjustment or two.  You can do this!

There are a couple of exciting developments in our neck of the woods.  We have buds on our strawberry plants (yay!) and just today the leaves came out on the trees.  There is a soft fuzz of green all up and down our dirt road.  I love it!

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Farm Happenings and the OPC

The peas are just starting to pop up in the garden.  I am notoriously bad about not getting around to watering my garden, then being mystified that things don’t grow! LOL!  It’s one of those little things a diligent gardener must attend to.  But there they are, popping up… little baby peas.  And the strawberry leaves are growing bigger.  Our seedlings are making their way inside the sun porch, too.  Spring is such a delightful time of year!  The days of showers are offset by blue sky days full of sunshine.  Or the wind blows with insistence.  It is blowing the new season in, after all… or perhaps blowing the old, cold one away.

I have begun working with my horse again.  Saxton has remembered a great deal from last year … including the two bad habits I had been somewhat stumped on last year when we were working.  The first is that of walking off after I stop and flex him.  I was pretty sure I was doing exactly what C.A. says to do.  You flex him a million times a day as you are teaching this, and encourage him to wait for you.  If he starts to walk off without you telling him to, you flex him again.  But I would flex, he’d start to walk off, and we’d repeat.  Why it always takes me so long to pray and ask God for His wisdom is beyond me.  The foolishness of men, I suppose.

This year I remembered to pray about it right away!  And it was not long into our second mounted session that I realized how I had been reinforcing that he *should* walk off.  He was just doing what he expected he should do!  I would flex him.  And wait.  And flex him again, and immediately ask him to walk off in the hopes that he would be responding to my cue to go forward, and understand that he moves when I cue him.  Not so.  He was picking up on the “walking off immediately after the second or third flexing” part – not picking up the “move when she cues me” part.  So I have changed tactics.  I flex, wait, flex, wait. Maybe I’ll flex and wait a third or even fourth time.  Then I sit there, quietly in the saddle and do nothing.  Then I cue him to move forward.  It works beautifully!  He very quickly got over his habit of walking off, and was soon waiting for me to tell him to walk before he moves.  That’s great!

I hope you don’t think it odd for me to talk about my One-Pound Challenge.  Being overweight a little or a lot is a real challenge in our culture.  More of us are than aren’t. And the fact that, after all these years of struggling with being a little heavier than I should, and all the yo-yo dieting, yet now have put together the pieces of a satisfying lifestyle that is getting me well on my way to a healthy weight, is, to me, life-changing.  I hope those of you who are joining me in this adventure will agree, and I hope you will be thrilled with the process, the results, and ultimately, the lifestyle.

I woke up quite early this morning as I heard the front door close and a very noisy Geo Metro start up and drive away.  My Dad has been here since Friday visiting with us.  It has been such a lovely visit.  They have not all been lovely, as he is as one-track-mind as I ever was… but his mental train is running on the political happenings track, and that is a subject which, I agree with my female forebears who insisted on no talk of politics nor religion at table.  It is too unsettling!  But this visit has been superb!  All of the good things which I love about my father have been surrounding me these past four days.  But he is gone now, headed far away to his home in Indiana, and I may not see him again this year at all.

But while I lay awake after the noise of his motor had died away, I felt an odd sensation.  It was me. My body felt smaller, lighter, slimmer.  As I rested my hands on my belly, I could tell there wasn’t quite as much of me to love.  The weight loss comes in spurts.  There are days when I’m excited to have lost two pounds since my last official weigh-in day, then the next day I’m up half a pound over the previous week’s weigh-in.  If I weren’t expecting it, it would be quite frustrating.  But I know my weight will bounce around from day to day.  The ultimate goal is to see the number on the scale grow smaller over all.  And to see and feel that I am slimming down to acceptable proportions! And if you’ve taken the Challenge, that is your goal as well.  Please do not be discouraged by the daily ups and downs.  Look at your overall trend.  Many people find that graphing their weight is helpful.  It is easier to have a visual representation of the gradual decline, or an accurate assessment of steady measurements, which should tell you that you need some adjustments to your diet and exercise.

I have never been what I considered slim, excepting post-pregnancy when nursing would take all my extra fat and thensome until my babies were close to a year old.  At that point my overindulgence in my favorite vice (food) would catch up to me and I would start padding myself again.  But it is a good feeling as the pounds slowly leave, to begin to feel slimmer, and to know I will soon be able to fit nicely into some of my favorite shirts, and to know, too, that I will probably have to buy a couple new pairs of jeans, as my larger pairs are already hanging on me a little too much.

But what if you are trying and not losing weight at all?  Some of us face metabolic resistance to weight loss.  Too many diets, a genetic predisposition, or any number of factors can keep you from losing in spite of getting regular exercise and eating less food.  What do you do then?  I am not a diet or exercise expert.  Let me say that right up front.  But I do have an interest in those subjects, and a good bit of knowledge that have been helpful.  I am aware of one thing you can do to break through resistance to weight loss and change your metabolism: Interval Training.  Here’s the disclaimer:  Go get a check-up to make sure it’s alright to begin a challenging exercise program.  There, I said it!  Have I ever done it?  No.  But that’s my risk.  LOL!

What kind of interval training will rev up your metabolism?  Although you can do it with weight lifting, I’m not really going to recommend it.  I think the cardio and endurance of doing aerobic intervals is overall better for your body, and I suspect, helps lose weight faster.  But that’s just a hunch.  You’ll have to do the research yourself if you’d rather do weight-lifting intervals.  Pick an aerobic activity.  It could be swimming, skating, biking, running, speed walking even.  Anything aerobic.  In fact, I love the Turbo Jam workouts.  Chalene’s “Fat Blaster” Turbo Jam video contains four intervals.  You could make that part of your routine.  Her Turbo Fire workouts are also full of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) if you care to try those.  I’m going to take running, though, as my example.  A good plan to start with is to do 20 mins. of running total.  Begin your 20 minute run at a normal pace and every 2 minutes, you pick up the pace to a full, all-out 100% effort.  Like you’re being chased by something that wants to eat you.  In your first workouts, you do it for about 7  seconds per interval.  You should feel like you’re about to pass out or have a heart attack.  You should also get nervous because you feel like you can’t possibly breathe in fast enough or deep enough to get the oxygen you need.  This is called Oxygen Debt – and it is a good thing!  It means you are challenging your heart and lungs and muscles in a way to make your body release HGH (Human Growth Hormone) – which is ultimately what will increase your metabolism.  If you don’t have the stamina to do a full 20 minute interval workout, do 10, or 5, or whatever you can handle.  And eventually your 100% all-out effort intervals should increase in length until they last 30 seconds each.  But even if you are starting with a shorter workout and shorter intervals, you should really be challenging yourself.  If you’re not, it’s not going to help a whole lot!

 

Your best plan is to do intervals every other day, or, if you are doing some other form of exercise, do it 2-3 times a week as part of your workouts.  The more you do it, the more fat you’ll burn and the more you’ll increase your metabolism to burn fat all day long and, along with moderate eating habits, keep you slim.  You may have to work up to a schedule of doing 20 minutes of interval training every other day. That’s okay!  You are still making improvements, still burning calories and fat, and still increasing your metabolism as you work at it!

One question a lot of us have when we start doing something about our ample figures is this:  Do I have to exercise?  No, of course you don’t have to.  You don’t have to do anything.  In Mireille Guilano’s book “French Women Don’t Get Fat” she explains that French Women have an aversion to “working out” and very few of them will ever set foot in a gym.  But they do move.  They add movement to their days by walking and taking the stairs a lot more.  They look for excuses to walk or take the stairs!  But then, most of them have known how to stay slim from their youth, and don’t have a resistant metabolism to fight with.  You’ll have to see what you’re comfortable with and what works for you.

Personally, I am working toward running a 5K this summer with my daughter, and I also do Turbo Jam workouts with some of my girlfriends, as well as doing Zumba at my church.  So altogether I have eight workouts scheduled each week.  I think that is too much, and if it weren’t for the upcoming race, I certainly wouldn’t exercise as much as I am.  My ideal workout schedule would include two days of light weight lifting (I want to have some lightly defined muscles … not flab once the extra weight is all gone), and three days of interval training.  But for now it’s not quite working that way for me.

I do want to mention one very important fact.  As far as calories-in/calories-out goes, exercise is only 20-25% of the equation.  You will lose more weight dependent on the amount of food you eat than anything else.  75-80% of weight loss has to do with your food intake.  But again, the more muscle you have the more energy your body will require just to breathe and exist during the week!  And if you are metabolically resistant to losing weight for any reason, you have little choice but to exercise – preferably doing interval training.  I’d so much rather do 20 minute intervals 4 times a week and see some improvement than run an hour 5-6 days a week and see very little improvement if I were metabolically resistant!

Keep up the good work!  Continue to monitor, record, and think about your daily food intake.  Think about where you cut calories and reduce quantities of food without suffering for it.  Remember that the first few bites are the only ones you fully taste, and the more variety you have at each meal or snack, the more satisfying it is – you can alternate bites of each kind of food, slowly savoring the taste, texture and smell of each, and if you are fully appreciating each bite, you should soon find yourself thinking of the food on your plate “I wish I wanted to eat more… it looks good, but I don’t really want any.”  And you will be well on your way to managing your weight for life!

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One-Pound Challenge

How many times have you gained and lost the same five, ten, or more pounds over and over?  If you’re like me, probably enough times to make you weary!  A hormonal imbalance that took me a few months to figure out after Christmas not only padded me with the few extra pounds I often put on during the cold months, but with more pounds than I’ve ever actually seen when I’ve stepped on the doctor’s scale – except when I was pregnant.  That did not make me happy!

 

Like many of us, I have struggled to maintain a balanced weight, often fluctuating throughout the year, with my yearly struggles beginning with the autumn holidays and culminating with the spring ones when I finally realize that something has to be done before I have to go out and buy the next size up of clothes.

 

But I’ve tired of the struggle and determined that this is not a battle I want to continue to fight.  If you’re ready to be done with diets, too, won’t you join me in my One-Pound Challenge?  I’ve challenged some of my friends to make a commitment to making small changes in their eating habits that will result in losing just one pound a week.  This is not about losing the extra weight as quickly as possible so we can return to our usual eating patterns.  It is about making small changes, with the smallest amount of discomfort possible, that will ultimately help us keep our weight in a healthy balance.

 

Each of us needs to know ourselves well enough to determine where our dietary excesses lie, and how best to curb, or compensate for them.  For instance, there are foods I simply know to avoid, because I cannot eat them with any modicum of moderation.  Oreos are one.  If they weren’t so evil, I would be certain God himself had created them on the eighth day.  But as they are evil, and completely seductive, they were probably the inspiration of satan … or satan wishes he’d thought of them so he could take the credit!  I just avoid them because even one Oreo leads me into a slippery slide of gluttony, and before I know it, an entire row of Oreos has vanished, and I can’t remember eating more than four.  Sigh. So, after too many oreo induced sugar comas, I realized I should just stay completely away from them!  Similarly, General Foods International flavored instant coffees usually set off a month-long eating spree that results in five pounds I hadn’t planned on, or needed.  So I stay away from that as well.

 

If you would like to join me and commit, not to dieting, but learning to manage your eating in a way that is balanced and that feels satisfying to you while you are able to maintain a healthy weight, I urge you to take a couple steps with me:

 

1.) Record everything you eat.  Research shows that the majority of successful long-term weight loss includes recording food intake as part of the plan.  How long should you write it all down?  I don’t recommend any less than three weeks, and even then, I would urge you to consider doing it until you are absolutely certain you don’t need to do it anymore.  Maybe 3 months, maybe six months or a year.  Why?  Because it helps you see where small, not very meaningful indiscretions are adding up… to a few pounds a year maybe!  It’s easy to slip into a couple extra bites, a couple extra servings without realizing what you are doing.  Recording makes it easier to catch! And recording it for an extended period of time helps your new habits become deeply ingrained.

2.) Make small changes.  Chances are, small choices here and there have added the extra pounds to your frame.  It will be the small changes and choices that, by themselves seem almost insignificant that will change your body and your life!  Look over your food record and see where you are getting extra calories that you may be able to skip painlessly.  Calorie laden sodas or other drinks may be adding hundreds (or more!) of extra calories to your diet every day.  Maybe you are having seconds at meals when really, adding an extra vegetable or fruit to the meal would increase your satisfaction by adding variety, and you could even cut portion sizes while increasing overall satisfaction.  Or perhaps you are a nighttime snacker … eating while watching movies or reading a book.  That mindless eating can pile pounds on faster than you can say, “Popcorn and Ice Cream!” Eating earlier in the day when you can pay attention to your special treat may mean more to you ultimately, in both food satisfaction (you actually notice the treat instead of just ingesting it), and pounds lost.

I won’t suggest hard and fast changes for you here.  I do suggest you think about what eating you do that is meaningful to you, and what eating is just habitual.  It took me a long time to replace a deeply ingrained daily coffee-drinking habit, which was giving me headaches and other symptoms, with a daily hot tea habit.  But in the end, my health is better for it, and I now look forward to my morning cup of tea with great relish!  There wasn’t a significant change in calories there, but I mention it to illustrate that you can change habits that may seem impossible to you now.  Start small.  Your downfall is ice cream?  How about making it a once a week treat and really relish it.  Pay full attention as you’re eating.  Eat slowly and make the bowl last a long time.  Love fast food?  Try healthier fast food choices, like a 6″ turkey sub on whole-grain bread instead of a double cheeseburger and fries.  And eat smaller portions.  If you’re careful and savor each small bite, half a sub might even do the trick nicely!

 

Eating smaller portions is one of the easiest, most painless changes to make, and for me, along with having my treats in the afternoon (when I am prone to eating smaller quantities) instead of the evening (when I would eat large quantities without noticing what, or how much, I was really eating) has been the simplest, most positive change to make to my eating habits. After spending some time with an acquaintance who struggles with her weight quite a bit,  I noticed that, where I might eat half a sandwich and half a piece of fruit for lunch, she would eat a whole sandwich and a whole piece of fruit.  Notice that it wasn’t that she was eating a sandwich, fruit, chips, soda, and cookies… she merely had double the portion size I was having, and it was impacting her weight – she was nearly double the size of me.   I think we eat large servings because we can.  And because we don’t really notice.  We don’t notice we are eating more than we need to feel satisfied, and in fact, after the first two or three bites, we hardly notice what we are eating at all.  Then it’s gone and we feel like we weren’t satisfied.  And we weren’t!  We didn’t pay attention to enough of the food to feel like we’d eaten anything!  We may be full, but there is a difference between being full and being satisfied.

 

In her book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat,”  Mireille Guiliano does a wonderful job of explaining our relationship with food, our satisfaction with our food, and its relation to our weight.  I can’t recommend reading and re-reading her book enough!  She will tell you much more than I can in one blog!

 

3. Make sustainable changes.  My friend, do not… do not make some crazy changes for a few weeks just to shed a few pounds.  Please, please… do not do this to yourself.  It will make you happy for the few days your temporary weight loss lasts, and miserable until the next time you diet away those same pounds you’ve regained. By sustainable, I mean, eat what you love.  If you like hotdogs and ice cream, by all means, eat hot dogs and ice cream.   But eat one hot dog and a 1-cup portion of ice cream.  Just eat them slowly and pay attention to each bite. If you are distracted, pause your eating until you can give your food your attention.  If, after full reflection and immersion in your hotdog and ice cream experience (or whatever food it is you love), you still want another hotdog or another bowl of ice cream, then indulge yourself.  But don’t do it unless you are fully immersed in every single bite!

 

If you don’t have time to give your food the attention it deserves… then it shouldn’t bother you to eat something utterly good for you.  I finally figured that out myself.  If I’m too busy to really enjoy a good bologna sandwich and chips for lunch, then I should be eating plain yogurt with cut up fruit in it, and an ounce of cheese, or perhaps a green salad with just a couple ounces of cooked chicken breast on top.  It would stave off my hunger, taste palatable, and provide my body with much better nutrients than the bologna and chips.  We don’t always have time to pay attention to our food.  When that is the case with you… make it count!  Eat better, and eat less during that time.  Save the indulgence for when you have the time to savor and really enjoy what you’re eating!

4. Make a note of the changes you are implementing, review the changes and the results periodically, and adjust as needed.  Sometimes a change isn’t enough, it’s not working, or maybe you’re just not happy with the change!  You thought cutting out your daily cup of orange juice would be okay, that you wouldn’t miss it, but you really do miss it!  Then by all means, reinstate your morning o.j., and maybe lose the toast instead, or cut half of your dessert and/or a second serving of food at dinner.  Or drink a smaller glass of orange juice and make it last longer with smaller sips.  Or cut your orange juice with water or club soda so it’s more of an “orange drink” than straight juice.  This is your way of eating… it should suit you like a well tailored piece of clothing.  It should feel just right.  If it’s too uncomfortable, you’ll never stick with it, and that’s exactly what this is about… making small changes you can happily live with forever!

5. Get moving.  My good friend’s husband Jody is a very straight-to-the-point kind of guy.  He doesn’t have much patience for lengthy explanations or fancy plans.  When it comes to getting in shape and losing weight, he sums it up with four succinct words:  “Eat Less, Move More.”  And that is exactly the truth.  Forget the low-carb, low-fat, high-fiber, no-fruit… whatever special kind of diet is floating around out there.  Forget grueling workouts at the gym.  Eat less and move more.  If that means making a hard and fast rule that you will always only eat 3/4 of the food on your plate, guess what! You’re eating less!  If you always park as far away from the door as you can when you run errands, guess what!  You’re moving more.  Moving more can mean finding a sport you like and participating weekly or more often, a dance or exercise class to do with your buddies, a commitment to walk or ride your bike into town to the grocery store or library – or any combination.  Just get moving!  Yes, it’s true that more often, and more intense exercise will boost your metabolism and help you burn fat faster, but getting no farther than just thinking about it because traditional sports or gym workouts seem too hard doesn’t amount to moving more.  So walk the dog instead of letting him out, walk up the stairs every time something needs to be put away on another floor instead of piling it on the bottom step, and take a walk to enjoy the sunshine several times a week.  It will do you good!

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