Monthly Archives: June 2011

Lighten Up! One Pound At A Time

Today I’m privileged to share with you some reflections from one of my co-challengers in the One-Pound-Challege.  A long-time yo-yo dieter, Jesse shares some tips that have been working for him during the One-Pound-Challenge.  Hopefully you’ll be inspired by his successes and find some inspiration and useful help in what he’s learning along the way.


One-Pound Challenge

I joined the One-Pound Challenge with a bad attitude.   I still hadn’t lost the five pounds I’d put on TWO winters ago (on top of already being 15 pounds overweight). Then, I was pretty sure I’d put on another 10 lbs. this past winter (which turned out to be true). I was avoiding the scale because I knew it would bring bad news. I finally weighed myself after several days into the Challenge.


What appealed to me about this Challenge is the emphasis on slow weight loss through baby steps that I’m adopting as permanent habits and lifestyle changes. Over the past 15 years, I’ve spent countless Spring seasons trying to lose 10-40 pounds before summer, at which point I would then get back to my “normal” habits. This time, I want to be sure I lose my extra weight permanently, even it takes me six months, one year, or even longer to lose it all.


So far I weigh myself nearly every day, and mark the weight on a bodyweight chart (this PDF is a good one).


In looking at my progress on the chart, I focus on the lowest weight I achieve during the week, always hoping to hit a “new low” that is a pound less than my previous low. I have lost 9.5 pounds in 10 weeks! However, this monitoring method occasionally de-motivates me, as I have sometimes gone well beyond a full week without reaching a new low.


I feel like I am making permanent progress toward a healthy weight, since my lifestyle feels very sustainable. It’s very cool to have lost this weight during a 10-week period that included Easter, a two-week family vacation, several falls off the bandwagon, and some great meals and desserts every week.


What’s Working For Me the best is the One-Pound-Challenge suggestion to make small, permanent changes to my eating habits that I can live with forever, which will eventually bring me to my ideal weight. Here are the keys that have been helpful to me so far:


Pleasure: I’m trying really hard to enjoy each aspect of life, including each bite of food. I don’t want to deprive myself of sleep, simple pleasures, and great food (in small doses).  The first few bites of food taste the best, and after that, it’s just calories. When it’s junk food I don’t truly enjoy I usually skip it; I’d rather save the calories for something that will really give me pleasure. I try to really appreciate the delight in garden-fresh fruits and tomatoes, and savor all the food I eat. I’ve learned that just a few bites of some treat are sometimes enough to satisfy me.


Herbal tea first thing in the morning. I don’t know why, but this is key for me. As a food-lover, the thought of breakfast is usually what motivates me to get out of bed. However, I’m an early bird, and if I eat breakfast at 6am, I will usually be hungry again by 9am. Now I remind myself to first re-hydrate with herbal tea, and before I know it, I’m sucked into my work for the day, and suddenly it’s 9am and time for a real breakfast that will hold me until lunch. This new habit has two advantages for me: 1) seems to help my weight loss when I start the day off well-hydrated, and 2) I’ve eliminated 200-500 calories by discontinuing what the hobbits in Lord of the Rings called “second breakfast.”


New workout plan. For the past few years, I’ve focused on moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, especially running — usually I ran 25-30 miles a week. However, I eventually discovered that it was no longer helping manage my weight … I still gained weight over the holidays and couldn’t lose it. After reading Run for Life by Roy Wallack, I changed my approach. Now I shoot for 3-2-1 each week … three 20-minute sessions of high-intensity intervals (these are painfully hard, but thankfully very short), two 45-60 minute strength-training sessions without rests (mix of hard and fun), and one long-distance session (slow enough to be endorphin-producing fun). Right now, this variety of intensity, strength, and endurance is bringing me results.


Avoiding mindless eating. I used to have five habits that led to lots of extra calories: Eating while watching a movie or DVD (now I just let myself get sucked into the film), eating while driving long distances (now I use sugar-free gum and/or decaf coffee to avoid drowsiness), eating extra helpings at a meal (now I pay full attention and savor the first helping), eating while working late (now I save any extra work for early mornings), and eating while reading (I still do this sometimes, though I’m gradually switching my oral-fix-while-reading to really good coffee or tea).


Avoiding calories after 7pm. I try to stick to this guideline because 1) it’s too easy for me to snack mindlessly in the evenings, 2) going to bed on a full stomach always gives me a rotten night of sleep and low energy in the morning, and 3) night-time eating seems to really pack on the weight for me, unless I skip breakfast the next day. It was really hard for me to develop this habit, and any time I break it, an appetite for nightly snacks plagues me the next few evenings.


Being careful with caloric beverages. Even “healthy” alternatives will have 100 calories per serving. I decided not to totally deprive myself, but to only have one or two caloric drinks a few times a week, and generally to stick with roughly 100-calorie servings.


Recovering from splurges. I don’t beat myself up when I go backwards a little, such as a late meal, a party, or an all-day holiday like Easter. With a goal of only a pound per week, I’ve learned that splurges don’t help … but they certainly don’t stop me from meeting my weekly goal. However, they do present the risk of prolonging into falls-off-the-bandwagon that last for days at a time; I’ve had two or three episodes like this during the past 10 weeks, and the sooner I “get back to basics” and start re-incorporating my baby steps, the sooner I start feeling better.


Having some events on the calendar. Even with all the above, it’s still easy for me to get discouraged or lose motivation. So I try to have some event on the calendar at least every two months that makes me want to be my best. For me, it’s triathlons and half-marathons — I enjoy them and want to be lighter, stronger, and faster at every subsequent event … but it’s not an event like a class reunion where the pressure tempts me to “diet.” The athletic events I need to be in shape for are great motivators for me to make long-term changes right now.



All in all, I’m really pleased with my progress so far and look forward to a future of continuing with my current lifestyle. I’ve found that having the goal of losing one pound per week is great for me because:

  • It’s very achievable
  • It’s motivating to think of losing a large amount of weight in the foreseeable future (for example — in 6 months, you’ll be so glad to have lost 26 pounds)
  • You can “blow” it occasionally and still meet your weekly goals
  • It’s a challenging enough goal that if you splurge, you have to get back on the bandwagon quickly to avoid missing your weekly goal.


Filed under Natural Health

Frozen Assets


I am thrilled to my toes to finally use my new burger press!  No more pre-packaged, store-bought frozen burgers for me.  In spite of having hundreds of pounds of ground beef in our freezer I have continued to buy frozen burgers.  Why?  They are simply heavenly!  I remember my Grandpa using his burger press back in the 70’s to make perfectly round burgers to pop on the grill.  I’ve taken it a step further by pressing them (I love the nifty print pressed into each burger!) and freezing them between small pre-cut squares of waxed paper.  Voila!  I can use them in my favorite grilled burger recipe:

Grill-Style Burgers on the Barbie

6 – 1/4 lb. frozen 100% ground beef burger patties

6 Tbs. steak sauce

Montreal Steak Seasoning

6 hamburger buns, (I like Kaiser buns)

softened butter

mayo (not miracle whip)


Place frozen burgers on a pre-heated grill.  As the bottom side begins to cook, flip and spread 1 tbs steak sauce around on the patty.  Sprinkle with Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Continue cooking to desired doneness.  As the burgers are cooking, butter inside of burger buns and place face down on the warming rack, or on a separate flame, turned to low.  Toast buns while burgers cook.  When burgers are done, remove one bun, spread with mayo and put burger onto bun.  Top burgers as desired with mustard, ketchup, onion, lettuce, sliced tomato and/or cheese.


These are the real deal!


Filed under Home, The Country Kitchen

Happy Gardening

Well, I realize I’ve been quiet on the blog here for awhile.  We’ve been to N Carolina for a 17 day vacation, which was great!  We swam under waterfalls, slid over top of waterfalls, hiked miles and miles and visited new restaurants and the Transylvania County Public Library (which we adored).   But we’ve been back for two weeks now, and the kids and I have been working steadily on farm stuff.


The first thing we did was renovate the newer raspberry bed.  It’s now a raised bed, enclosed with landscape timbers.  I put t-posts and wire around the perimeter to support the canes as they grow.  It looks so much tidier, and I was able to clean out all the dead raspberry plants that my, ahem, child, killed over the winter by burying the roots and shoots deeply in chicken mulch.  Let me clarify here that chicken litter mulch is wonderful for raspberries … in moderation and spread around.  If you dump it right onto the center of the crown at the soil line and pile it up in a big heap, it *will* kill your raspberries.  I have two beds of dead canes to prove it.  Thankfully, many shoots survived and by next year we ought to start getting a few raspberries out of our summer-bearing “Killarney” bed.  The ever-bearing ones survived well, as there were such a great quantity of shoots in the bed that having the main bushes die out was no great loss … except that I don’t care much for this particular variety.  They’re too tart for my tastes.  I was hoping to get such a large quantity out of the bed that we could make raspberry jam from them.  The added sugar will do the trick.  Might not have enough, now, though, for a batch this year.  We might go a-pickin’ at a nearby farm again this year.


My strawberries, on the other hand, in spite of my down-scaling the strawberry beds last year, are setting fruit in profusion.  I discovered, though, that they are plagued by some disease or fungus that rots the fruit and burns the edges of some of the leaves.  Actually, I am suspicious that the plants are suffering from both a fungus (some of the fruit rot occurs on plants without leaf burn) and verticillium wilt (the burnt edges – same disease that killed my raspberries).  I have planted garlic among them heavily, and also mixed up a bucket of water with diced garlic soaked in it and watered the garlic-water into the bed.  I expect great things.  I have planted garlic in with my fruit trees to prevent scab and other fungal maladies, and have killed off the verticillium wilt that killed off two batches of raspberries by planting garlic heavily in my raspberry beds.  (The whole idea was not mine, but my Father God’s and I give him full credit for it!)


We have finished planting the gardens … I am trying beans this year.  Not a favorite, but I thought it would be fun.  We made a teepee out of long, skinny branches for them to climb.  I think the kids will really enjoy it!  Next we started some square foot gardening beds along the north side of the pool along the path from the back door out to the animal yards.  I have a hard time growing lettuce and other things that are quick to bolt, so I thought I’d try them in partial shade … not to mention closer to the house where I can remember to water them regularly!  We’ll see if I can get some to grow!  What I was especially excited about was to give Danny and Betsy each their own square foot gardens to plant and tend.  They each have about five squares and are growing a combination of flowers and vegetables.  I was right.  They think it’s cool!  I hope their crops do well and continue to encourage their love of gardening.  Danny is well on his way to becoming the kind of gardening Dad I loved having as a child.  My Dad would delight me by showing me the peppers and things in his garden, by showing me the cold frame he had built.  Good memories.  And Danny himself has also his own patch of tomatoes which he is training to vine.  He will sell them roadside again this summer as he did last summer.


Last week my oldest girl Cecily and I spent a good deal of effort prettying up our back deck by planting flowers and herbs in pots and strategically arranging everything out there.  We also installed two good-sized trellises along the western edge of the deck to provide some afternoon shade and the beauty of clematis growing there.  I put my husband’s favorite kind of lounge chair in that little nook with a small table next to it, just right for setting books and iced tea there.  But he doesn’t seem to care about this special place we created for him.  I, however, have enjoyed many a brief respite out there, albeit covered in bug repellent, as the mosquitos are bad this year.  They leave me alone if I remember the repellent.  So all our hard work wasn’t for nought.


J. has complained repeatedly over time about not having a good place to relax in privacy with a book for awhile. “The furniture is uncomfortable”, “There is too much stuff out here,” “It’s too hot in the sunporch,” “The couch in the living room is comfortable but there are too many people around,” “The downstairs couch is comfortable but it’s dark and feels like a basement.”  The children and I then proceeded to spend all of Father’s Day morning cleaning our seed-starting paraphernalia out of the sunporch, open all of the windows so that, even if the sun heats the place, the air will move out and it should be comfortable most of the day, and I re-arranged all the furniture and re-hung the swing, lining it with thick cushions and pillows so that it would be a wonderful, comfortable, quiet place for him to steal away with a book.


I headed to the Ace Hardware where I had seen a very comfortable anti-gravity chair that would make a fine Father’s Day gift, and I proceeded to explain to Lois and Randy that J. is picky about his chairs.  Could I return the chairs (I would get two) if he didn’t like them?  Nope.  The answer was no, you can’t.  Forget that!  But I am glad their answered discouraged me from buying those chairs because it dawned on me Sunday, and has been quietly, repeatedly reaffirmed since then, that J is just picky period.  He didn’t seem interested in our second attempt to make a nice place for him to retreat to.  There may be nowhere he will be completely happy to get away and read.  So I just ordered some really nice, thick cushions with a lovely blue, yellow, and white print that makes me smile.  I will replace the worn out cushions on the two wicker chairs, and cushion the otherwise uncomfortable porch swing (so I can return the borrowed cushions to the outdoor furniture). And I have a lovely spot for sitting with my tea in the morning.  I will have to run a heater out there in winter, but if I do it on a timer it should be a well-repaid expense.


J’s other suggestion has been to put a sofa in his office, but honestly, it’s in the basement, too, and if he’s not happy spending time reading by himself on the very comfy sofa in the family room down there, he won’t be any happier on a sofa in his office.  Although I’m disappointed that my efforts to please him and alleviate his frustration at not having a good place to read by himself don’t appear to have accomplished their purpose, I’ve gotten two lovely, very useful spaces out of it… the bowery back deck with its profusion of flowers and herbs and increased privacy, and a lovely, comfortable sunporch where I was quite happy to nap yesterday afternoon.  And as an added bonus, my mind has been relieved of the burden that I am somehow responsible for my husband’s dissatisfaction.  LOL!  Such revelations are always lovely – leaving me lighter, freer, and unencumbered by the burden others would place on me if only I were willing to take it!  LOL!


So for now, I am enjoying the rest of my tea on the sunporch this morning, then I will head off to feed the horses and take a 3.2 mile run with Cecily.  I had thrown my back out and damaged a muscle in my leg last week.  After resting up I’m ready to get back out and complete my training for our July 2nd 5K race.  Have a great day!  And don’t let others encumber you with their own unhappiness!




Filed under Garden and Orchard