Saturday, October 31, 2009

My little girl's heart for God

eWe has such an amazing little brain, and can memorize and remember things so well. This has truly served her well at AWANA, a kids program that she and Lil' C go to at a local baptist church on Wednesday nights. They LOVE it!

Poppy generously takes them each and every week, which they also love. This gives the hubs and I a date night, which we truly cherish.

Anyway, here is eWe reciting her first verse from this year, John 3:16. This one was a big accomplishment for her since it was her first "longer" one, and for some reason it has stuck with her more than the others.
video

It is such a precious, precious thing for me to see them learning God's word and truly storing it up in their hearts. I know that it means something to her and isn't just head knowledge because I see her burdened already, at age 5, to share the good news with others.

In fact, many of you already know the story of how she shared Christ with her good friend on the way home from school one day last year. The little girl said that she didn't know God, and eWe proceeded to share with her how she could. It was so dear, and a pretty spot on gospel presentation. This summer they talked about it again and the little girl said that she went home and asked her mommy to help her pray to ask Jesus into her heart. I pray for this little girl regularly, and her family....

Along those same lines, eWe has taken to copying books. It's quite interesting. She actually will rewrite a whole book, and says she is doing it to give to a friend. Well, yesterday she decided to start copying a book about Jesus and the disciples so that she could give it to the same little girl she shared her faith with. She said, "I thought this book would be good to copy for her since she doesn't know Jesus all that well." I replied with a tear in my eye, "Yes, yes...I think that would be lovely."

And on a final note....yesterday she was working on her homework. She was to fill in the blank on a turkey feather made of construction paper that will go on her classroom turkey at school. It read, "I am thankful for____". Well, she came out of her room and handed it to me after writing on the blank and decorating the feather. Her's read, "I am thankful for God and Jesus."

And for that I am thankful!

Boo!

Happy Halloween, everyone!


We started our festivities with eWe's Fall Parade at school yesterday. Here's a picture of her class. She's in the middle toward the end dressed as Minnie Mouse.




Here is her class parading by. As you watch the video, you'll hear me trying to get her attention. She actually looks like she sees me, but not so much. When she finally does see me, well, just watch and see and be sure and listen for my *sigh* at the end! Ha!
video

Daddy took over and continued the Halloween fun by taking the kids to a Fall festival called BethleHEM Marketplace (apparently I say "ham" and that is SOOOO wrong in the eyes of my hubs). Ha!

This morning I awoke to the great carving of the pumpkins. The kids each got to pick the design of their choice, and Daddy got to do all the work! Both of them thought it was too gross....what? Are you my children? I LOVE getting slimy and dirty...


eWe picked the ever traditional look.










Lil' C on the other hand opted for a more modern twist of the traditional look...and if you look at his face, I think he's trying to match his new friend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stay-cation Day 4 & 5

Well, we wrapped up our stay-cation with a Tuesday full of bowling, lunch at Chick-fil-a, a hike, and playing at the park. Then on Wednesday we took eWe out of school in order to go and celebrate Lil' C's 4th birthday at Disney.













We were out the door by 6 a.m. and in the park (after driving, parking, riding the bus in, etc) by 10 a.m. ish. The birthday boy got to pick the park, and he chose Magic Kingdom. When I asked him why he said, "Because it has It's a Small World and that's my sister's favorite ride." How precious! And that he is. He is such a pure hearted little guy.

We had a great day! We left the park at 5 p.m., stopped for a quick dinner in Orlando, and then headed home with them both asleep in the car. Whew! What a fun whirlwind of a day.

Today we are decompressing.

I will stay, though, our first stay-cation was a hit. We did tons of different stuff, got a good mix of rest and play, and ended up only spending about $17/person/day for the whole 5 days. Not bad!

But, before I end today I just want to say a little Happy Birthday to my little man. He's one of the funniest kiddos I know....such a clown. He's giving, he's high energy, he sweet, and he's all boy. He is a joy to parent, and seemingly will charm all he meets. Yes, his implusive thoughlessness of his actions can sometimes drive me insane.....but, it seems a small price to pay for the priveledge of having him in my life. I need the joy and simplicity that he offers...it's good for me! Happy Birthday, buddy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Family Pics

As I mentioned a few days ago, we had our family pictures done by our dear friend, Leslie. She has just ventured out on her own in business, and is so talented. I can't wait to see how both she and her business grow!

With the start of her own business, she also started a blog. Today, she featured some of our family's shots. If you care to check them out, you can at the Leslie See Photography blog.

Can't wait to see the rest! Great work, Les!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Stay-cation Day Three

Whew, I'm exhausted! We lounged around this morning, but then headed out right around lunch.



First we hit Five Guys for some of the best burgers and of course the fun peanuts!





Then we headed to the Zoo! We've not been to our local zoo yet, so it was a fun outing. Here are some of the highlights...

Strolling through.



Posing with the pumpkins.












Up close with stingrays in the stingray encounter exhibit.


Hanging with the elephants.











Sissy and Bubby in the bamboo garden.



Riding on the gorilla.









This was a funny one. Daddy didn't tell Lil' C that the snake wasn't real. He just said, "Hey, look! Do you want to pet it?", as he lifted him up. Lil' C started FREAKING out because he thought it was real. Okay, so maybe torturing your children shouldn't be fun...but what can I say?









Lounging with the Komodo dragon.










And last but not least....playing at the play park! A great day! Wonder what tomorrow will hold????

Stay-cation

eWe has off for two days which means a long weekend. We had tried and tried to come up with a fun getaway for us, but nothing struck us just right. So, we decided to put a fun thing on the calendar for each day and turn it into a a mini stay-cation! So far, it's been fun. A good mix of relaxation and fun adventures.

Saturday we headed out on Poppy's boat with Poppy and our dear friends, Leslie and Andrew (affectionately known to my kiddos as "Tiger"). We rode up to a nearby town, docked, ate lunch and strolled around.

Somehow we also squeezed in a family photo shoot later that day, in preparation for Christmas cards, etc. Leslie is a photographer, and a great one at that. She took us down to the beach for the shoot. We haven't seen the pictures yet, but I'm so excited! Check out her other work at Leslie See Photography when you get a chance! You won't regret the detour. So, that was Saturday, day one of our stay-cation.

Sunday we went to church, grabbed lunch at home, and then headed out to the Northeast Florida Fair. In order to get in the spirit of the day, I had the kids get into their overalls. They thought it was SO fun to match one another. They kept saying, "Happy Farmer Day". I have no idea where they got that from, but it cracked me up.












Since it was the last day of the fair, we missed a lot of the livestock shows, etc. But, we enjoyed some cotton candy and soda (the treat the kids chose), games, and a few rides.

It was a nice afternoon. We came home, had dinner, and crashed. So ended day two of our stay-cation.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Health: Tasty tips

I don't know how many posts are in my head about this topic, but I'm certain it's a zillion since it's such a part of my life right now.

I was frustrated this week because I felt like I was really making an effort to add food tracking back in to my world and some how it failed me a a bit. Well, I guess technically it didn't fail me, but I failed myself. I got my spreadsheet opened each day. I entered most everything from morning until dinner, and sometimes through dinner, and sometimes until bed. I entered all my calories burned from workouts (thanks to my Polar heartrate monitor). I even reverted back to some of my tried and true recipes that help keep me feeling satisfied and within points range for the day. But, I still failed.

Failures come in many shapes and forms. But no matter how they come, they are tough for me. I set a pretty high standard for myself and don't give myself a lot of latitude for screw ups. Plus, as I mentioned before, I'm such an all or nothing person. If I mess up during the day, I have a tendency to believe that it was all for nothing. I'm learning though...slowly. I even told myself as I looked back over my spreadsheet...."at least your opening it"..."at least you tracked most of your day"...."at least you are trying to make wise choices"...etc. Everything is a process and so any movement in the right direction is a good thing, right?

Anyway, specific struggles? Well, there is ALWAYS something that is going to be there to "mess up" your day. It might be lunch with a friend. Donuts brought to the office by a co-worker. Someone's birthday which means a party, dinner out, and cake (gasp). It's tough. How do you navigate through all of that and still make wise choices...especially when you really don't want the side salad...you want FRIES! Ha!

As I thought through tips to share I began to realize that it basically boils down to two larger categories: plan ahead and stay satisfied. Within these broader categories, though, I can think of a ton of little examples and tips. I'll try to share some as a reminder to myself, and in hopes that maybe you can get something from it as well.

Plan ahead.

Examples and Tips?

  • Know what you are going to do that day and think through your food accordingly. Anticipate what might "mess you up" and have a plan of action.

  • Pastries used to show up at my all female office that I worked in before having kiddos. I knew they would be there, especially on certain days. So, on those days I began bringing part of my breakfast to eat while at work so that I could occupy my mouth and hands with something better while others indulged in the goodies.

  • When we used to live near family, we'd do a Sunday night dinner all together. I never was in charge of the menu (thank you mamacita) and therefore could never predict what options I might have. As such, I used to eat a big can of green beans, a salad, or something like that before heading over. This allowed me to eat less of what was offered, if it wasn't healthy. I also traveled with my own diet coke and bag of microwave popcorn so that I would have a healthy snack while we played games and munched on goodies that weren't great options for me.

  • Whenever we go out to eat I always try to peruse the restaraunt's menu online before hand. A lot of times they offer the nutritional information. There is also a great website that has calulated the W.W. points at hundreds of restaraunts already. Check it out at www.dwlz.com. Anyway, doing this ahead of time enables me to be ready to make the right choice.

Stay satisfied.

Examples and tips?

  • Know what food items are anytime foods (better known as zero point foods if you do W.W.) and snack on those in between your other planned items if you need to. If you are satisfied you won't be tempted quite as much and might also be able to resist.
  • Drink a glass of water before each meal.
  • Don't cheat yourself of something you really desire, but be sure and control the portion of it and count it on your spreadsheet. If you feel cheated you will cheat.
I guess that's all I can muster up for now. There are two more things that are swimming in my head....

First, I know that if I indulge in something because if feels right or good or is what I wanted at that moment it is fleeting. I will inevitably regret it later when I have to log it in the spreadsheet, don't see the numbers moving on the scale, or when my clothes aren't getting any looser. On the flip side...I know that if I walk away from the tempting item and don't indulge I will feel more powerful, proud, and inspired to keep making such choices. And, the clothes and scale will reflect the wisdom of my choice. So, again...why it that so hard?

Second, I realized this week that I often reward my kiddos with "treats". Nothing wrong with that, especially since they are wonderful eaters...such healthy palates. But, I don't want to create that in them. What brought this to my attention was that Poppy went with eWe to lunch at school one day. She invited a friend to eat with them, and that friend had a little candy bar as part of her packed lunch. Poppy said that eWe harassed the poor girl into giving her 1/2 of it. Poppy then mentioned to me that perhaps her actions stemmed from it being "the forbidden fruit". I don't know. We allow our kids to have a piece of candy after lunch each day, and ice cream from Poppy's store each night after dinner. They aren't restricted really. But, then Poppy said, "well, maybe it stems back to it being a big deal...like when they were rewarded during potty training with M-n-Ms". Hmmm. Could it be? I don't know. I won't lose sleep over this, that's for sure. But, it was just another reminder that our culture is centered on food (as I mentioned in a previous post) and that we often reward with food. I just want to be careful not to create a relationship with food in my children, like I've had. I want them to see food as food and not have to fuss with the rest.

Okay, so now that I've spent all this time writing about food, I'm hungry (truly). I've got to go grab a snack:)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We just got a Flip and I wanted to try it out. Here's one that makes me giggle. It's Lil' C doing his signature dance move, The Hula Hoop! Enjoy!

video

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Health: If the Truth be told

First, let me say that the last two food days have been better for me. I am tracking what I eat once again, and trying to stay within my limitations. Wouldn't you know that already I'm seeing a difference on the scale? I shouldn't be surprised. It's not rocket science. And you would think that having seen this as a result before would be enough to keep me motivated. So many feel like they don't know how to make the numbers move and that's why they don't keep at it. I do know how to make the numbers move and just don't do what I need to do. Crazy, eh?

Well, like I said in my last post...while you can boil it all down to an equation there is so much more under the surface. I'm certain that it is no coincidence that my last few good food days have also been better days for me in terms of claiming and walking in the Truth. After writing that post I realized that I needed to stop being a pawn for the enemy and overwhelm him with the Truth, by overwhelming myself with the Truth. I listened to worship music (which is typical for me), downloaded some sermons to my iPod, began reading a new book related to my struggles, etc. It's been so effective, which again should really be no surprise. The Lord has graciously met me at every turn and has been reaffirming Truth regarding who I am in Him, who He is, and how my own sin has kept me from experiencing that Truth lately. It's so sad to me that I get in my own way within my relationship with the Lord. But, that seems to be the pattern....I have all that I need in Christ and yet I rely on myself and fail. And then I have the audacity to blame it on Him directly or indirectly by not taking the responsibility myself. Oy! Father, forgive me!

Well, the sermons I listened to were about Joy. I feel like joy has eluded me for quite sometime now, so the sermons were enticing. They were also given by one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Crawford Loritts. The essence of what Dr. Loritts communicated was in two parts. First:

Joy IS happiness. So often we seem to separate those based on the fact that happiness is related to our happenings and joy is something is deeper. Well, he argued that that is not what Scripture says, but rather that joy is a deep, soul-nourishing happiness. He also said that every time the Word teaches of joy it can fit into two broad categories; happiness or confidence. And additionally, that the Bible presents joy within a template that includes a state, a condition, and then a purpose or a promise.

The second thing Dr. Loritts spoke of was:

That joy is experienced when you live a life that is surrendered, a life that knows the source, and a life of submission.

None of this may seem eye opening at first glance, but it was for me this week. It revealed to me that my problem wasn't a joy problem in terms of happiness, but rather confidence. I clearly have not been living a life of daily submission because I've not been confident in the Truth because I've not been well connected to the Source. Seriously, Woelke...get in the game! Honestly, I don't know how I got to this place. I know it wasn't overnight. I know that I've slowly been buying into lies and BOOM, here I am.

Having said that, the book that I'm reading is, "Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free”. I’m sure so many of you have read it before. I’ve been to a conference where Nancy Leigh DeMoss spoke on it, but never read the book through. For obvious reasons I thought now would be a good time.

She begins the book by covering the most basic lies that women believe about God. They are: 1.) God is not really good, 2.) God doesn’t love me, 3.) God is just like my father, 4.) God is not really enough, 5.) God’s ways are too restrictive, and 6.) God should fix my problems. I don’t know about you, but even if I would never say that I actually believe these to be true statements, I’m certain that I’ve lived in such a way that says I do. The ones that really hits home for me currently are #4 and #5. And this ties back into my series on health.

When I turn to food (or anything really) to satisfy something else in me, I’m communicating that He is not enough. Nancy says that it’s like we are saying,“Sure I need God. But I need Him plus close friends; I need Him plus good health; I need Him plus a husband; I need Him plus children; I need Him plus a job that pays enough; I need Him plus a house with a microwave, a washer/dryer, a garage, and a fresh paint job…”. So for me it would be like saying, “Sure I need God. But I need Him plus food”. Ick! HE IS ENOUGH!!!

As for lie #5…I’ll share with you what Nancy wrote because it is so fitting and honestly made me laugh (in a sad way). She writes,“I have often wondered why food is such an issue with so many women. I’m convinced it has something to do with Genesis 3. After all, what was the very first sin? It was the sin of overeating. The single restriction God put on her diet was one too many for Eve….So (like Eve) we throw off the restrictions, determined to “have it our way.” We are free to choose our own way, just as Eve was free to eat the forbidden fruit. But there is one thing we are not free to choose, and that is the consequences.” And while it may seem that by being able to do (or eat) whatever we want, whenever we want, and in whatever quantities we want we are free…we aren’t free at all. We end up being in bondage to food, overweight, and depressed. Freedom comes from obedience. Obedience to the Truth that God IS enough and His ways are for my good.

So, what’s my current next step? To continue to overwhelm myself with His truths, confess and repent of that which has kept me from living in submission to Him, and thus become confident in who He is, who I am in Him, and thus experiencing freedom and joy in ALL areas of my life….food included. I can already feel the wind in my hair:)

Lord, grant that I may pay much closer attention to what I have heard, lest I drift away from it, Hebrews 2:1(ESV) and may hold fast to what has been preached to me, and may not believe in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:2(ESV)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Health: Mapping the way

So, food continues to be my "frienemy". I've been desiring, as I think I mentioned previously, to get back on target with tracking my food. But, I've done a poor job. I know why, though. Not that this is meant as an excuse. Merely an explanation as part of my learning process.

I'm blue. I've been struggling for about 3 weeks now pretty intensely. This year or so has been characterized by more dramatic "downs" than I've ever experienced before, but this has definitely been the worst of it. I think it's a culmination of a lot of things that each deserve a little attention, so here goes..

1. Sadness. Year one without Mom represented a time of just trying to get my head around the fact that she was gone and loving those around me in their time of grief. But now? Well, now I get that she is gone, but I miss her.

2. Weariness. I've traveled quite a bit due to family emergencies, packing up the house, and some for fun family trips or visits from others. But, all totaled makes me tired. Maybe more accurately and positively put...they've been a good distraction and now I just see this vastness that lies ahead of me until the holidays.

3. Hopelessness. Yes, it may seem dramatic but that's how I've felt regarding whether we'll EVER be able to make a decision about where we are supposed to be geographically speaking. I've also felt that way about finding a church home, and thus friends (thank goodness for the See's). Nothing has seemed to "fit" us.

4. Defeatedness. The enemy has come on strong this year. I was reading on a blog that I follow and she shared a quote that her friend sent her about Satan. She said,
"Satan is no gentleman for sure, he doesn't back off when we are hurting or when the unimaginable has happened to us-he came at me with everything he had, with lie after lie...he tried to get me to believe that my life was over, that we wouldn't have happieness again...Thankfully, our great God pursued me even harder."

How true, How true. That pretty much sums it up for me. My vulnerabilities have been exposed this year in a whole new way. I've been walking through the loss of my Mom, a woman with whom a lot of my identitity stems from genetically, via nurturing, etc. As such, I've questioned many times what she thought about me....was she proud of me....it what ways am I like her....and on and on. So, in many ways I allowed myself to be open to the answers. And wouldn't you know that the enemy has jumped all over that opportunity. He has whispered in my ear that not only was my Mom not proud of me, didn't like me, etc....but that those are things that all the people in my life and even the Lord think of me too. That I have no value. That I am not loveable. You name it. And you know what it so sad about that? I BELIEVED him! ugh! It makes me so sick to think that I was scammed by him. I feel ashamed. I take comfort, though, that I've finally begun to see his attack for what it is...a lame attempt to make me ineffective in my life, the lives of those around me, and for the Lord. And just like that quote said earlier, my realization has only come because, "our great God pursued me even harder." Whew! Thank you, Jesus!

Now, having said that, I'm not quite out of this pit.....but I am on my way up.

Okay, so if you began reading this post because you were interested in what I had to say about food....sorry. My simple point is that food still has an unhealthy place in my life. But I've realized something new even just during these past few weeks. It's not just that food substitutes other things for me, but when I am overwhelmed with other things in my life I don't have the energy to deal with food appropriately. Thus, the old habits come right back into play. I eat without any thought for what I'm putting in my mouth or how much. During stressful times I apparently act on the basis that I am entitled to not have to think about food because there is too much else going on. That would be fine if all my old habits had been slayed and buried and new ones had been erected firmly in their places. But, I'm not there yet. I've not earned the right to be lacksidasical about food, and thus have no business ignoring it when the going gets tough in other areas.

Now that I have my own brow beating out of the way, let me just share one other little nugget that I've learned along the way so that I can end on a more encouraging note. When you make a mistake with you diet, or get off track with your exercise plan....the best time to get back to the plan is immediately upon realization. Don't wait until you get back from that trip, or finish that project, or attend that party, or even until you wake up the next day. Start with the next bite (or lack of one if necessary). We will all make mistakes. But, it is not an all or nothing thing (which is SOOOO my character). One mistake does NOT make it all for naught. Nor do several mistakes. What is important is that you recognize that you are off course and upon recognition, redirect. And that is where I am today. It's where I was yesterday and the day before too. My dietary navigational system is pretty stubborn right now. I've continued going the way I know that I should go, but my old GPS is screaming, "As soon as possible, make a U-turn." Well, not today, little missy, not today!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Health: Establishing a track record....

Okay, so on to the practical side of what I've learned about food....

No matter how much I wanted to believe otherwise, it does come down to basic math. The energy balance equation states that if energy consumed equals energy output you will maintain you current weight. In the same manner, if your energy consumed is greater than you energy output you will gain weight. And, yes, if your energy consumed is less that your energy output you will lose weight.

I used to find myself saying that I'd tried everything and it wasn't' working. I felt like I would watch what I ate and nothing would happen. I felt like I would start exercising and nothing would happen. I blamed it on God at times....that He must have made me "broken" (I know, a bit blasphemous...forgive me, Lord). I blamed it on my bad genes and thyroid problem. I blamed it on everything else. But, truly I know now that it really does come back to a basic math equation. Yes, there will be a variation in how the math plays out in a life, but the same principle is at work.

So, with that disclaimer aside....for me I began with choosing a method by which to track, journal, or record my daily energy consumption. I tried an actual journal b/c I believed that it would be helpful to carry with me at all times. But I didn't love the difficulty of finding an item I'd consumed before in order to copy it's information onto a new day. I tried the computer post-it note method, but didn't like that there was no record of the day before since I had to trash them or become post-it note cluttered each day. But, these might work for others. Would love to hear from you all if you have something that you love. For me, it has been an excel spreadsheet diary. I configured it to include each month, each day of the month, and a column for food names and their associated value. That way it calculates it for me and I can constantly be looking to see where I am throughout the day. The down side is that I don't bring my computer with me everywhere so I have to be sure to either remember everything I put in my mouth or jot it down and transfer it over later. But despite the down side, I love this method. Besides making it easier to copy common foods from one day to the next, it also gives me a better look at the big picture. I can evaluate where I'm failing and make changes. So, just find something that works for you. Again, if it doesn't work you will NOT stick with it. Oh, and if any of you want my excel journal to use for yourself, just email me and I'll send it to you read to use.

Once I decided on where and how I'd track my food, I had to decided what value I was going to assign to food. Because I had done W.W. in the past and knew the points system so well, I opted to go this route. For a friend of mine, it was easier to determine how many calories she should be consuming in a day and do it that way. What I like about the W.W. method is that because of their equation, you are often choosing foods that are lower in fat and higher in fiber in order to feel satisfied and use your points for the day. What I like about the straight calorie method is that it doesn't require any additional material, tools, training. It's so organic that you can use it wherever you find yourself. So, again it comes down to what makes it easier for you. I will say, that I've tried to become more aware of the calories associated with the points system this year so that I'm not just doing something easier, but also learning how to do it on my own should I ever need to. And if any of you opt to do the W.W. method but would like to know more about their equation and additional (free) tools out there to help you, let me know.

So, I mentioned a few posts ago that I began working out last September without tracking food. I barely lost even though I thought I was watching my food choices more closely. The problem is...no matter how good you think you are doing with food, you won't know until you write it down and see it on paper. It's much like budgeting your money. A little there and a little here adds up and all of a sudden you're wondering where all the money went! So, in the end of October I began tracking my food and staying within the right range, and guess what? Yep, it fell off me. I lost 25 lbs. by mid December!

Now, I knew from previous experience that if I tracked my food I'd lose weight. And I knew that the previous time I wasn't even working out and I lost a bunch of weight. But, like I said...I didn't just want to lose weight this time. I wanted to get healthier and more fit. So, I didn't give up going to the gym once I recognized that the food part was a lot more of the equation for me. And boy am I glad.

See, getting out of our habits is bound to happen. Life gets in the way as we attempt to form new habits. My prayer is that eventually my new habits won't be changed by life's happenings, though, as they become more ingrained in me. But, for now I struggle to keep them in place. And sure enough I got off track in the new year. But this time instead of gaining weight, I maintained because even though my food tracking had been thrown for a loop, my exercise habit stuck! Yea! A small victory. In fact, I've struggled most of this year with my food tracking, but my exercise has kept my weight steady. I don't say that with complete pride, as I'd rather be able to tell you that both have been formed as new habits and I'm at my goal weight...but not yet. And that's okay. I'm still heading there, still in process, and am prepared to keep at it no matter how long it takes. In the meantime, my body is still appearing slimmer because it's reshaping as I continue to tone it through exercise. People keep telling me they think I've lost a lot more since they last saw me, but I know that it's all muscle and not the numbers on the scale. Which is a great thing!

So, my new goal....it to get back to tracking my food and really making a commitment to it...again:) It fell away because there are so many new balls (habits) taking shape in my life and I couldn't keep them all in the air. But, I feel good about the ones that have taken route and now want to add on to those.

Some changes I've made in food this past year are small and some are big. Some are more personal goals of mine and some are general rules of thumb. I thought I'd log some of them here either way...
  • learning to drink my coffee black so as to avoid extra calories from creamer/sugar and to cut out artificial sweetener.
  • having protein as a part of my breakfast each day so that I feel fuller and have more energy for workouts
  • drinking 64 oz. of H2O/day
  • limiting myself to one diet coke/day (I'd like to cut this out completely b/c I believe I could do w/o the artificial sweetener and caffeine. But, I'm not in a rush do make this move b/c right now it is a good pick-up in the afternoon, it curbs my desire for something sweet, etc.)
  • switching to breads and pastas that are higher in fiber. I love the Ronzoni Smart Taste pastas. They taste like real pasta but have 3x as much fiber...even more so than a lot of the wheat pastas. And for breads I love The Alternative Bagel made by Western Bagel. I can only find them at Publix here, but they are worth every penny. I LOVE bagels and yet know that most bagels are either high in calories or they taste like cardboard. This one has 110 calories and 7g of fiber! I love their roasted onion bagel the most b/c I can use it for breakfast and even for sandwhiches at lunch. Oh, I'll also mention the Jospeh's pita bread. They are 60 calories and 5 g of fiber. I use them at lunch time and spread them with light laughing cow, cucumbers, lettuce, etc. for a delicious veggie sandwhich. Or I also use them in the afternoon with a little smear of almond butter and sliced apple. Very good.
  • leaving casseroles off the dinner menu. I've tried to make our dinners consist of a meat, and two veggie sides. Sometimes I'll sub in potatoes, couscous, or whole grain rice for a change. But a lot of times we grill a meat and have one hot veggie and then a salad. I just find that I can control my intake a lot more because I'm not bogged down in determining how many calories each ingredient in a casserole is, dividing it by serving size, etc. Yes, it does mean we have a lot less of our "favorite" home cooked meals...but we're getting by. We do still do them occasionally and everyone seems okay with that. But even with the old favorties we are trying to make changes that make them healthier...like using leaner meats, more veggies, less starch and cheese.
So, those are some of the changes we HAVE made. Some of the things I need to do better on...

  • seeking out more variety in meal planning and reworking old recipes even more so we don't feel "cheated".
  • learning how to prepare new veggies....in other words expanding our palates and abilities.
  • cutting down on alcohol. We often have wine with dinner, and I enjoy that, but I find that sometimes that leads to another glass or two after dinner which isn't necessary. I mean there's nothing wrong with it outside of the fact that it is empty calories that I don't need. I like to consider 2 the max at all times, and really maybe only do it a few times a week at most. Just a good place to cut calories.
  • stop snacking after dinner. Because I eat lightly all day, I'm often hungrier at night. I'd like to implement two day time snacks and then be done with eating once dinner is over. One problem I have here is that with kiddos we eat super early...like around 5-5:30. So, there is a huge stretch of evening with which I have to contend with. I know I should probably make myself a cup of hot tea and find something to occupy my time better than t.v., but there has to be a balance. I've thought of taking a walk after the kids are in bed (if the hubs is home), scrapbooking (if I can get motivated), or just limiting myself to one small snack before 8 p.m. I don't know quite what is realistic for me, but I'm open to suggestions:)
Okay, I guess I'll wrap it up for today.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Health: Hungry for more

Okay, so on to the topic of food. I've decided that the topic of food is going to have to be covered in several posts because to be honest there are many facets of it...at least from where I stand. So be patient with me.

To some of us, food is a dear friend. To others of us, food is an enemy. And there are those of us that may feel that it can be both. But, the problem is....it really should be neither. I feel like this past year has been a process (and I emphasize that word, as I've not arrived) of removing food from the category of things that I have a "relationship" with. Does that make sense? What I mean is...food is not supposed to be friend or an enemy. It is nothing more than a means of nutrition, health, and yes...it can (and maybe should) be enjoyable...but it is not something that I should turn to for more than that. Not for comfort, for something to do when I'm bored, or on the flip side...it's not something to control when my world is chaotic (which is what many people with eating disorders struggle with). It's just FOOD. If I can ever really learn that truth, I feel like I'll be able to treat it appropriately and not give it a place in my life that it doesn't deserve. A friend reminded me of that ever so fitting quote, "Eat to live, don't live to eat".

So, as I'm sure you gathered...I suppose that somewhere along the way I allowed myself to enter into a relationship with food. I'm not sure when it happened, or how. Did we have a D.T.R talk? Was it love at first sight? Did I see others having a relationship with it (i.e. it was modeled) and assume I too was supposed to have a relationship with it? I don't honestly know.

I do know, though, and agree with an anthropologist friend of mine who once said to me, "Food is at the center of all that we do as a culture". Meaning, we celebrate around food (cakes, party trays), we mourn around food (casseroles, pints of ice cream), we socialize around food (going out to dinner)....you get the idea. So, it's no wonder that we begin to move food from the category of necessity to relationship. We slowly make associations between food and feelings/emotions. We do the same thing with other senses besides taste too, like sound and smells. Think about it....if I played, "Cold Hearted Snake" by Paula Abdul (sorry, couldn't think of anything else off hand) it probably takes you back to a season in your life, whether generally or specifically. This time of year, I can smell leaves burning and am immediately whisked away to camping with my family as a child. It brings a huge smile to my face. So, taste is wired the same way. We become attached to certain foods because they remind us of home, or grandma, or college, a certain season, etc. And before you know it, we have associations with food that are more about comfort, nostalgia, tradition, and passing time with friends and family. It's not that this isn't an okay aspect of food. And, to be honest if we were able to keep these associations as just that, associations, it wouldn't be all that bad. But somewhere along the way they move from associations to substitutes. They no longer remind us of a time, person, or place that we once enjoyed....they take the place (or attempt to) of that time, person, or place...filling a void that can't be filled no matter how much pumpkin pie you eat. Can I get an amen? Ha!

Some may think all of this psychological hubbub doesn't matter. Or maybe you might be saying, "Yeah, yeah, I get it. But, just get to the practical stuff that I can actually DO to make changes in the way I eat". But, I am learning that if you don't first see food for what it is intended to be, examine what you've allowed it to become and why....the practical stuff will be for naught. Yeah, it might work for a while....but you'll yo-yo...promise.

So, this has been part of my process this past year too....determining why I eat (hunger/energy vs. other reasons), and determining why I eat the foods that I do (especially if I know it's going to sabotage my efforts to be a healthier me). But, this is just the beginning.

Like I said, food is not only a part of our culture, but truly at the center of our culture. So, working on changing my unhealthy relationship with food is challenging. I obviously can't just sever the relationship all together like others who struggle with alcohol or drugs might do. I HAVE to eat. Perhaps I can sever the ties with certain foods that I know are triggers for me to overeat, or eat unhealthily, etc...at least until I can am confident I can handle myself and those foods with self-control. But, people are still going to throw parties, ask me to dinner, etc. So, what's a girl to do?

For me it's a combination of things that allow me to be more successful. Sure, some of it is simply making better choices about what and how much I eat. But, a lot of it is asking the Lord to show me and teach me about the heart behind why I misuse food. I want to get at these areas and deal with them appropriately. And, in the meantime, I'm also trying to change the culture of my marriage, family, and maybe even some of my friendships so that I don't have to struggle quite as much day-to-day.

Okay, so I'm sure the all that I spewed out today will be revisited in some of the other upcoming food posts since it's so interconnected....so I'll just leave it at that. But, you can pray for me...that I would break up with food once and for all. It's not poor food's fault, it's mine.....I've abused him and misused him, and asked him to be more to me than he was able to. And now it's time to say goodbye to our relationship and allow him to simply be what he was intended to be....FOOD.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Health: Working it out

As I mentioned last time, my journey of becoming fit began a year ago. The first real step was that we joined the Y as a family and I began going to classes. It was therapeutic for me emotionally, it was challenging for me physically, and it really was my connecting point socially since we had just moved to a new area.

I didn't follow my own advice, the advice that I would now give, and I jumped right in. I took a Zumba class on Mondays and Fridays, followed by a body sculpting class. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I took Flexx it (muscle building) and Step. Wednesdays were my "off" day, but often I would run. I would even try to get a work out in on Saturday and maybe a run on Sunday. Whew! What was I thinking? Ha!

I saw very minimal weight loss in the first month or two and was quite discouraged. I could tell my body was working hard, why was it not showing any results?

I was told that my body was building muscle and that muscle weighed more than fat and thus often the scales wouldn't reflect the changes that were occurring. Honestly, that gave me little to no comfort. And so, I faced my first decision....should I just quit exercising. My body hurt, my schedule was full, and it wasn't working.

This is where the important points from my last blog entry come in. This is where I realized that this was going to be a process of time, trial and error of what would work for me, and that I needed to be in it for the right reasons. So, I prayed.

And from that I had a renewed vision. I knew why I wanted to lose the weight. I want to be an example to my children of healthy living. I want to take care of the body the Lord gave me and treat His temple with respect. I want to remove the obstacle of low self-worth so that I am freed up to be all that He has planned for me to be. I want to be strong, fit, and healthy so that I can encourage other women who struggle with these issues. And I decided that I wanted to do it all in my Mom's honor, as she too struggled with weight. This gave me purpose, inspiration, and above all it gave me a bunch of reasons that I could NEVER quit.

So, I pressed on (literally and figuratively)! Had I just continued to exercise without making any changes to my diet, I most certainly would have see changes. It would have showed up in inches...the shape of my body changing as I built more muscle, etc. But, I did add in dietary changes, which I'll address in my next post. But for now I wanted to pass on some nuggets of insight that I gathered along the way. Some may be obvious and may be things you've all heard before, but I still think they are important enough to repeat (if not for you than for me:)). I'll also share some personal examples but feel free to skip those and just read the 3 bullets if you want. I'll also sum it all up at the end if you just want an overview.

  • You do NOT have to be at a certain level of fitness to walk into a gym or begin exercise. That's like saying you have to be clean to get a bath...ridiculous! Fitness centers and their employees are there to promote fitness at all levels, from the beginners all the way to the gym rats. So, do NOT let your current fitness level keep you away. There is something for everyone. And if you are fearful of what others might think, I hear you. But, do NOT let them stand in your way. They don't have to live in your body, and therefore should not have that much control over it.
example: When I first started working out I couldn't run for a minute. I could barely make it through a class at the lowest impact level. I was the heaviest one around and could only imagine that people were looking at me with daggers of judgment and ridicule. But, I want you to know that now....now I have people that I don't even know coming up to me saying, "You look great! You have come such a long way! How have you done it? I need help. Etc." They have watched me from a far as I have journeyed, and they are inspired. THAT is what I'm talking about! Whether they judged me or not in the beginning I'll never know. Maybe that was just my own insecurities, right? But I know now that want to come on the journey with me...how exciting!

  • Don't shy away from trying new forms of exercise. You might be surprised at what you really like and don't like. Finding something that you LOVE to do for exercise is so super important. If you don't like it, or if you don't have enough variety you WILL burn out and lose interest. It's also important to cross-train so that you gain a variety of skill and also challenge your body wholly.
example: I got into my routine and thought I was happy with doing it over and over. But, I did notice that I was losing some excitement. So, I added in a day of machines, tried pilates, spinning, yoga, went running, etc. Now I try to stay away from having too much routine because I go with what I feel like doing that day instead. If it is a beautiful day, I hit the pavement for a run. I have noticed that I LOVE doing step. So, I faithfully go to those classes because they energize me. I didn't love spinning or yoga, but I'll probably try them again soon...maybe I just wasn't in good enough shape to enjoy them. Or maybe I really won't like them and that's fine. I did like pilates when I tried it, but I was NOT in good enough shape to do it then. So, maybe I'll try it again. Find what you like, no LOVE. You'll need that on days that you just don't want to work out.

example: Also, it's important to note that even if you work out for 2 hours/day 5 days/week doing classes (like I was), you might not be able to go out and run a mile (like I wasn't). Why? Because of what is know as the S.A.I.D principle. Specfic Adaptation to Imposed Demands. That principle states that if you want to train for a marathon you are going to have to run. Swimming or biking will improve your cardio health, but it will not enable you the exact cardio tools that you will need to run. Make sense? Running was something that represented fitness to me. I don't know why, but it did. Therefore it was really important that I be able to do it. I never liked running previously, so I wasn't hopeful that anything would change. But, interestingly enough I opted to stick with it as a personal goal of mine. I can remember walking most of the 1.5 mile loop that I would follow at first. As I did lose weight and get more fit through the use of classes I was able to do a little better. I had more muscle to power with in my legs. My heart could take more cardio-wise. But, I was still struggling to run. So, I kept at it and little by little I gained ground, literally. Now, I can run 2 or 3 of those loops with no problem. I'd probably be able to do more if it weren't for an old foot injury, but that's not important. All that to say, don't be discourged if your fitness level doesn't seem to be up to par when you try new things. But try them and use them as ways to improve your over all health. My plan now is to add in swimming. I tried doing laps and was exhausted! It works something different and so it would be a good change for me occasionally. And that brings me to my next example....

example: On the flip side of that same example....Your body will adjust and adapt to what you most often do. Your muscles and cardio system have a memory. So, if you do the same thing all the time your body will get used to it and won't be challenged. So, do the treadmill instead of the eliptical every now and again. Also, don't stay at the same level on the machine...dial it down and go really fast for a minute and then dial it up and power slowly.

  • Last but not least, for now....do get yourself exercise gear. You will feel so much better about being in front of a million mirrors in a classroom if you have something on that you think is cute, fits you right, and is proper for exercise. This includes shoes, headwear, and water bottles too. Oh, and please allow me to plug the Polar heart rate monitor watches. They have a band that you put around your chest and it communicates to the watch. You'll be able to see if you are in your target heart rate range, monitor the amount of calories you burned, log your workouts for the week, and all sorts of cool stuff. I have LOVED mine. I use it to be sure I'm challenging myself during workouts, track my calories burned each day, and other cool stuff. LOVE IT!
Okay, so there you have my basics on getting started on working out. To sum it up....don't let anything stop you from starting to exercise. Start slow. Find what you love. Try new things to avoid burnout, injury, and underchallenging yourself. Don't get discouraged if you level of fitness doesn't translate to new activities, but rather work at that activity to further your level of fitness. And find the right tools/gear that make you feel good and help you succeed.

Next time I'll try to post more about food.

Health: Weighing your options

I know I'm not the only one who has struggled with their weight, even if I feel that way at times. I have some friends and family that also battle it. Recently one of those friends and I were talking about options for weight loss. In particular she was asking me what I thought of Medifast and others like it. Not that I am a nutritionist or dietitian...heck, I'm not even certified to teach fitness classes yet:) But, I do have an opinion....one that comes from personal experience.

I think that the plans that offer their own food do serve a purpose. I think they are a great way for someone who knows they have little to no self control, no idea of portion control, feel too busy to think through their food for the day, etc. I also think that it is an "easy" way to start on the road to health because you really don't have to put a lot of thought into it. You just order your meals, eat the recommended amount, and possibly work in a little exercise to start out. Typically, this is also a good way to start because you'll see results and be encouraged to keep going.

Now, for those that have more self-control, know portion size, know what healthy eating requires, and/or have a little more time to devote to meal preparation I would say there are better ways. I've always been a big fan of Weight Watchers and programs like them that require you to eat "real" food, don't put anything off limits per say, make you track your food, and give you group support/accountability. And ultimately, I think it is important for those that start with the ready made meal programs to switch over to something more realistic. If you are serious about health and fitness, and changing your life, you're going to have to learn to do it in the "real world".

I've tried a lot of things in the past....programs that fit into both categories above. I've yo-yoed in my life. This time, though, I'm determined to terminate the yo-yoing. So, with that in mind I've come to realize things that you might hear all the time, but are solid truths that are helping me to tackle this more effectively....

1. It is a process (like anything), and you can't put a time limit on it. You are making a change that you want to last a lifetime. It will not happen overnight, and if it did, it probably wouldn't stick.
2. You need to be in it for the right reasons. Yes, you can want to look different, fit into your "skinny" clothes, etc...but ultimately you need to do it for something that is more lasting...to be healthy, to be your best self, etc.
3. Not only is it a process in terms of the amount of time that it may take, but changing your habits (eating and exercise) are often going to stay with you more if you do them gradually. Now, I realize that with some people sudden and drastic changes are often necessary due to severe health issues, and with that I say go for broke. But, for those that are not that at risk...you have to work things in and out of your day with ease. For example, if you start up with a rigorous fitness routine you may get injured, burn out quickly, or even be so sore that you just simply don't want to do it the next time and that leads to the next time, and the next time, and so on and so forth. All of sudden you're back to where you began. The same is true with dietary changes.

Having said that, I did lose a lot of weight about 6 years ago. I actually reached my goal weight on the day that I found out I was preggers with sweet eWe! Ugh! That time I did W.W., but didn't exercise at all until I lost most of the weight. I did begin to run and walk, but that was about it. It felt great to be skinny me, but it didn't last due to pregnancy and I certainly wasn't fit.

Of course, once I had eWe I thought I'd get back on track. I started to lose some of the weight, but when eWe was 6 months old, I found out I was preggers with Lil' C. Here we go again. And honestly, from there the yo-yoing stopped....and not for the better. Post delivery I was up to my eyeballs in having 2 so close in age (at least that was my excuse). I opted for unhealthy convenience foods, and rarely found time for any real exercise. I had bouts of times where I'd try to start W.W. back up again, start walking or going to the gym, but nothing stuck. I was to tired and it took too much of me. In hindsight, this would have been a good time for me to do the mail-order food deals....wish I had thought of that then. Alas!

Anyway, once I cleared the baby stage I thought I'd really get back on track (yea right!), but then my mom got sick and I kind of used food as a comfort (or at least it seems). And with her death I turned to food even more. I have a picture of me from that time that I will one day post as my before...be certain of that!

So, here I am today. I set out on this journey last September about this time and want to blog a little about it as I reflect on it. I figured it could help others, but at the very least it will be a way for me to review where I am and evaluate where I want to go next. So, look for that to come...