Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Health Goals

Mrs Darling talks about protein requirements, and about how people tend to fall off weight loss plans.

Like her, I find that when I go too heavy on the carbs on one day, I wake up the next day sluggish, headachey, and too volatile in blood sugar. The solution is to go to mostly proteins, fruits and vegetables for a couple of days.

I have reached my weight goal! You can see the chart on the bottom of this blog. It took forever to lose those 15 pounds, but in some ways that was intentional. I wanted to try to really change how I operated; in some ways it's quite easy for me to lose weight, but then it heads up again as soon as I reach my goal.

Recently I read a book called Awakening the Diet Within. I probably wouldn't have sought it out, but it was on the library dime sale rack, and I like reading diet books, so I picked it up. Here's the author's blog. In some ways I hesitate to recommend the book because in one way it's really not my type of book. I have no goals to become a beauty queen, for example. And I don't care the word "diet" (or "awakening.... within", either, for that matter). But the method seemed very sensible to me. In spite of the title, she makes the point that there is no such thing as a diet, really. You start with yourself, and changing habits. She has this health pyramid(pdf) which to me seems quite sensible for someone who has a weight problem, or who struggles with blood sugar and energy issues like I do.

She proposes nine levels loosely based on the steps of her health pyramid. You start at the bottom and slowly work up, being patient with yourself. You start weeding out your biggest vices and replacing them with good habits.

My goal now that I've reached my weight goal is to stick with basically good habits, and keep them going through the winter and particularly through the holidays. That's hard for me -- so many tempting carbs during this season and when it's cold, it's hard not to crave the simple sugars just for a quick boost of warmth. When I'm cold, I'm trying to think in terms of some warm-up exercise, a warm bath or a cup of tea rather than loading up on Toll House cookies or brownies. When I bake, I try to bake things I can resist more easily, or the kind of things that disappear fast in this house before I get to eat very many of them. Fortunately, Kieron is at the baking age -- going on 13 -- so he bakes things and they disappear within a couple of hours among the seven other people in this house.

My other goal is to stay within 4-5 pounds of my target weight.

And my final goal, closer to the top of my goal pyramid, is to be more creative about getting healthy and inexpensive food into the house. See here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Occasional Update

I guess this blog hasn't been very active recently. We went on a trip and I haven't got my domestic energy back yet, so the kitchen checklist is still in my head. ETA: I talked myself into writing it out, so look at household forms to see the updates.

Fitness: I've maintained at 133 pounds. I seem to be maintaining better than I did last year....so far.... we'll see. Every time the temperature drops in the fall, I get the strong inclination to pack carbs. If it happens again this year, I'll take it as a natural pattern and deal with it accordingly.

I've started cycling again but I keep forgetting to add the totals to my Walk (Ride) to Lothlorien.

Aidan took this picture of me. I think it's obvious that what this mom of seven has to work on is POSTURE. I think this largely comes from very weak stomach muscles. My middle muscles were not that strong to begin with, and 9 pregnancies pretty much took out what was left -- they're quite like the strands of an old hammock.

Curling up with a laptop doesn't help much.

And my husband would say -- consume enough calcium and take Vitamin D, since osteoporosis is probably a good possibility with a basically sedentary sort like me.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Cleaning Rotation Checklists

I've been continuing to put my household checklists up on my learning notes blog.

I have finished the first two weeks, and am now thinking of skipping to Week 5 and tackling the laundry room. I don't know if this is slothful or not -- the next on the list is the big dining room/living room area, and I don't feel quite set up to do that this week. Hmm.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Friday Fitness

I'm trying to get checklists set up for my household rotation. Here is a first try (over on my other blog).

I have been stuck around 136 pounds, give or take a few, for the past 2 months. I guess that's OK, though I'd like to lose another 5 pounds. On the other hand, I've been slightly more active, and have been eating better than usual. When I do go off track, I can usually get back on within a few days rather than starting on a wild roller coaster like I used to.

I don't usually read Good Housekeeping, but when I'm visiting my mother in law I usually skim through her subscription, and I like Geneen Roth's attitude about food and life.

The truth is that many thin people are miserable. Many of them don't like themselves. And all people -- thin or fat -- get old, have cellulite, and die. Being thin does not exempt anyone from illness, loss, or heartbreak.


But there's another way of looking at this. I spent a good deal of my life believing that someone else would have done a much better job living my life. Now, whenever I find myself thinking that the answers are out there as opposed to in here, or if I catch myself wanting what someone else has or believing that I am the wrong person to be living my life, I do two simple things:

  1. I take a few deep breaths.
  2. I turn my attention inside myself instead of outside. How do you know when you're outside yourself? The first clue is that you start to feel panicky about needing to be "fixed." You embark on a major program of self-improvement, feeling 2 feet tall, weak, stuck, and unable to move forward with anything. That's when you know you need to climb back into your own body and focus your attention on yourself and what's really important in your life.

To do this, I make myself notice simple, concrete things: the pale turquoise sky, the cool air, the crisp taste of an apple, the fact that I have arms and legs. And, oh, I almost forgot: the sheer fact that I am alive. (That last one really helps. As far as I know, there are not many opportunities for earthly happiness if you are dead.)

I have never really been overweight. I have a high-wired Scottish metabolism that can see me through a lot of indulgences. HOWEVER, I am just as likely as the next person to overeat, to hoard, to be weird about food. On a more holistic level, I'm just as likely as anyone else to feel that someone else could do a better job living my life than I could.

When I gave up blaming myself for my ups and downs and settled down to try to address them, like managing a health condition, I stopped losing pounds as fast as I was able to before. But I also got where I understood how I reacted better, and could make adjustments without the emotional drain that had attended my weight-maintenance attempts in the past.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Friday Fitness

I continued my Dragon-slaying project today, spending about 20 minutes working. The garage looks a lot better. Another 2 or 3 sessions will probably get it winter-ready.

On the fitness front, I have been walking to the post office with Kevin, about 2-3 miles in all. It is making SUCH a difference in my energy level.

I have also been re-arranging the "schoolroom". I am planning to slowly go through all the picture books and get rid of the extras that aren't really being used. That's another 10 minutes a day project.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Works for Me -- Taming a Household Dragon

I've found that if I write something down that I am dreading doing, and make an appointment with myself to get a start on it at some specified time, I am MUCH more likely to actually do it and not procrastinate. It's not 100 % but it's more than the 35% I achieve when I don't do this.

So for instance, I have been bothered for a couple of weeks every time I stepped into the garage because it really does look horrible. I cleaned it last summer, but not since.

1. Commit to a start. So since it is a BIG job, I commited myself to spending 10 minutes a day on it. I think Flylady calls this Taming the Dragon. Anyway, that's how I think of it. I can almost visualize myself picking up my gauntlets, sword and shield and going out to spar.

2. Let it percolate. Giving myself a time in the (near) future allows me to figure out the "first step". I usually pick something easy that will pay off heavily in terms of how the place looks. So for the garage, the big "easy" thing was the bicycles all over the place.

3. Set a Date. I made the appointment for today, and when I had a few extra moments this morning I decided to go ahead and get the battle over with. Of course, once you start it's usually not difficult to do a bit more than the minimum.

4. Don't Overdo It. I try hard not to get carried away at first, with a big job. You can burn out that way and short-circuit future efforts, giving yourself an aversion that lingers. (this conscious reining-in may not be necessary for everyone, but it is helpful for closet perfectionists)

5. Plan while you work. Once I had engaged with the work, I naturally came up with the next step, and the next. It's useful to stop with a next step already in place (I found this out as a writer). That way, it's easier to pick up the work at the next session.

6. Delegate what you can. I actually left the bicycles for the boys to put away in the basement, and spent my time picking up and straightening.

7. Keep going. Now, I will try to spend 10 minutes, at least 4-5 times a week, working on this. I usually find that at some point there's a small enough bit left to do that I can spend 30-60 minutes and just FINISH. The trick is to wait for the right time to use that finishing-up momentum.

8. Be OK with 85%. I have learned to tell myself "good done is better than best undone" or "don't make the best the enemy of the good". If I can make it to 86% or even 90%, that's nice, but I try save the 110% effort for things that are of primary importance -- nurturing a sick child, or my prayer life -- things that are going to make a difference for more than the next week or month or year.

So there's my Dragon-Battling Checklist.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Frugal and Fitness Friday

It's a long time since I did a Thrifty Thursday, and it's not really Thursday today, but here are a few of the shirts (and the green dress at the top) that I got yesterday (and THAT was Thursday) on a thrift store trip with my daughter. I like the colors -- and I like changing my wardrobe "palette" every few months, though purple and grey are usually constants.

My daughter bought several things too -- we hardly ever really overlap on what we pick up -- she goes for fun, vintage things like polka-dots, and "classic" pleated skirts and jackets, and pastels, while I usually go for basic knits in deep colors, along with long skirts in neutral colors, and jeans.

As for fitness -- I have had trouble with good eating this week, though I only gained a pound. Too many carb cravings -- it's sort of a cycle, since if I eat too many carbohydrates on one day, it generates a craving on future days. The best way I have found to short-circuit the cycle is to stick mostly to vegetables and protein for a day or so... a sort of low-glycemic index pattern. But I haven't been focusing enough since we've had a busy week, so probably today would be a good day to get back on track.

I also have been exercise-averse, recently. It started off with a couple of days when I wasn't feeling very well and even a bit of cycling was too much. Then it generalized into an aversion. So I googled "hate exercise" and came up with, strangely, a couple of sites about Tai Chi. So is it incompatible with one's Catholic faith to practice just the exercises without delving into the "Supreme Ultimate" stuff? On Catholic Answers Forum, it would seem not, IF you stick to the good true beautiful aspects and stay away from the philosophy. Anyway, I'm thinking that for me, just taking the thoughtful warming-up aspects of exercising, WHEN I'm feeling like not even moving my body except in the laundry room, kitchen and computer table triangle, might be helpful in keeping some continuity in physical training. So we shall see.