Stretching Time

I am a Ted Talk junkie. To give you a glimpse into my world, I have a book exchange in my office at work that is right next to an ever-changing inspirational quote on my white board. When people ask for resources, I can barely contain myself from Googling and spewing out articles, podcasts, video clips, and book titles.

In case I didn’t put enough emphasis on the nerd factor, I caught myself being way too excited that a board game involved scoring points for shelving books in alphabetical order. It had something in it called a “ghost of learning,” and I literally said, “ooohhh” when I saw it.

Yep. I know.

At any rate, I say this to give context to the video I’m sharing about time management. Laura Vanderkam’s point is that time has a way of stretching to fit what’s truly important to us. There are enough hours in a week to fit our priorities, even if we are very busy.

I may have plenty of time to watch videos about time management and all other types of learning, but I can’t seem to “find the time” to do things like exercise and do food prep. Why? Because, even if I don’t want to admit it, it isn’t important enough to me.

Exercise and other health related habits are only a means to an end for me. They’re things that allow me to function better. That’s great and all, but it also makes them slip far down the list of priorities. It’s on the list right next to switching the laundry before I have to rewash it.

So, I suppose I’m at a bit of an crossroads. I need to be more honest about my priorities and about what I’m willing to fit into my life.

Other things are more important to me than weight loss and fitness, and I think that’s okay. I just want to find out what it takes for my health efforts to be enough to accomplish what I want out of them.

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Treading Water is Better than Drowning

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A view of the lake during a recent ladies’ retreat with my church.

No matter how hard we try, there’s no way to avoid times in life where we’re in survival mode. Life is crazy and unexpected things come along that take all our best intentions and throw them to to wind. These times seem to be more frequent for me in the good old year of 2017.

When it comes to my weight loss goals, it has felt like hard work to keep up any sort of effort. What I do without thinking on most days suddenly feels nearly impossible. In times like this, my advice is to take a step back and look at the big picture of how you have handled these situations in the past.

How can you make the tiniest steps to make a better choice than before? Maybe it just means ordering a salad to go with your burger because you just can’t bring yourself to cook. Maybe it means you take a nap or drink a glass of water. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. Just take a moment to remember to take care of yourself in the middle of the chaos.

My weight loss has been minimal lately, but that’s better than stress eating all day and spiraling out of control. I may only be treading water, but treading water is better than drowning, and that’s enough.

 

Label Maker to the Rescue

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I know I’ve been eating healthy for a while when I am convinced that 1/4 cup of ice cream and a 1/4 cup of cottage cheese with berries and a little Cool Whip tastes as good as a giant hot fudge sundae. Seriously, this happened tonight.

A lot has happened since I last posted, including eating a lot of food from the hospital cafeteria (everyone’s fine, but my hubby is now recovering from an infection) and a weight loss of about 5 pounds in a month. I’m at around 261.

The main changes I’ve made include eating a lot more produce and counting my carbs per meal/snack. We’ve also been meeting with a nutritionist who is spectacular. She even helped me organize my fridge so that it no longer looks like a poorly played game of Tetris.

 

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My newly organized refrigerator…please ignore the book being used to keep it level. 🙂

She showed me how to make the healthiest options most visible and easy to eat. In the aftermath, I brought out the big guns: my label maker. After a few months of dormancy, this label maker has been put to work: my spice rack, my file folders, and now my refrigerator.

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I’m learning that if I want something to last, all I have to do is put a label on it. I’ll have to check a month down the road to see if the label system sticks (pun intended). The hardest  part will be cutting veggies as soon as I bring them home.

 

Scale Entitlement

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My self-awarded gold star

If I had to give myself a grade for my health-related choices yesterday, it would be about an A-. I moved around a lot because I had some cleaning to do around the house. I stayed away from sugar other than a little flavored creamer in my coffee at church. I had fresh veggies with lunch and controlled my portions. Instead of a sweet treat at night, I had a handful of pistachios. Go me!

Sure, I could have included a workout or avoided an extra couple of bites of lunch, but I felt really good about my day. Because of my nearly stellar performance (please read with a slightly sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek tone), I expected a lower number on the scale this morning.

Instead, a higher number stared back up at me. Wouldn’t it be nice if this never happened? When I have a good day, I feel like I’ve earned weight loss. If I don’t get it, I feel a bit slighted. Why doesn’t the scale acknowledge my hard work?

Unfortunately, my scale does not award gold stars. Sometimes, my efforts lead to a loss, but I’m going to be in trouble if I always look to the scale for my reinforcement.  I have to remind myself that it’s just one way to gauge progress. So, instead of giving the scale all the power, I gave myself a gold star. Take that.

Strides in self care

My scale read 267.8 pounds yesterday. Granted, I went out with a friend the night before, so that added a little weight that will drop off quickly. On the other hand, I’m also facing a reality of having regained almost all of the weight I’ve lost. I started at 275, lost 40 pounds, and then gained over 30. I was convinced this wouldn’t happen this time. I thought I’d figured this thing out, but here I am.

The good news is that me at 267.8 pounds today is much better off than the me of 3 years ago at 275. I am slowly learning to take care of myself and find healthy ways to cope with stress. I’m more active now than I was. I’ve been through much more difficult situations and, by the grace of God, I’m still standing (If you just had singing gorilla pop into your mind, you’re welcome…and now you probably have every song from Moana cycling through…but enough about quality sound tracks from animated films).

Now the struggle is taking care of myself better physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually when life is crazy. Some of it comes easy, like getting enough sleep. Some of it, not so much. Taking a shower, eating a vegetable, going for a walk, drinking water, reading my Bible…these are all things I need to be intentional about when I’m out of the usual routine. I need to use coping skills other than food in times like this, and there are plenty to choose from (reading, listening to music, journaling, etc.).

Before I know it, my “usual routine” will no longer exist. We are on the road to being licensed to adopt up to four kids from foster care. Unless something pops up between now and getting a placement that derails the process, I am about to enter a new stage in life. I know I’ll never truly figure this out all the way, but I’m hoping and praying to be in a better place when it happens.

 

 

 

 

Up-Anchor, Anchors Aweigh, etc.

A few weeks ago, I almost threw away $150. I tried to use my Garmin Vivosmart. Unfortunately, the display was just a tiny, illegible line down the middle. I contacted Garmin, and they sent me this for free! (It’s a $150 value.)

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My new Garmin Vivosmart HR

I’ve been using it for a little over two weeks, and I’m impressed. I like the bigger display, and it’s nice to have the option of checking my heart rate. The heart rate monitor seems to be more effective when I track an activity, so I’m not sure if my resting heart rate is actually 71 or if it’s trying to make me feel better about myself.

We’ve had a some very serious challenges in the last couple of months, so I’m hanging on to every glimmer of hope and joy I can (even something as trivial as a Garmin). Any time I feel like I’m getting a handle on my weight, life hits me with something that sends me spiraling.

This gives me the perfect chance to put into practice that anchor habit. For me, it’s putting boundaries on sugar. Let’s just say that my anchor has not been in the water for a while. As of this moment, I am resetting myself and starting to limit sugar to times that I’m spending time with people. I’m hoping that with more repetition, I’ll cut back on the time it takes me to get back to it when things get crazy. Time to toss that anchor back in.

 

Need to get back to the basics?

Basics: #1 – Don’t cover your hands in coconut oil before trying to write a blog post on your touch screen.

Even though my smeary, moisturized phone looks a bit like a Magic Eye poster, I’d like to share an article about the basics of health and fitness.

There’s so much information out there that I could spend my whole life Googling the essentials of weight loss, nutrition, and fitness. It’s hard to know who to trust.

When it comes to strength training, Nia Shanks has become my go-to source. I love her no nonsense approach. She has some great advice for busy women who are trying to wade through all the crazy out there:

http://www.niashanks.com/busy-womans-guide-strength-training/

Just remember that some is better than none. Don’t let perfectionism paralyze you.

Why daily means daily…until it doesn’t

I have some non-negotiable daily tasks/habits. They’re pre-made decisions that help me avoid bailing on things that I know are good for me. For instance, when I was working on my housekeeping skills, I did the dishes every day (usually twice, since we had 6 people in our house at the time). Now that I have the habit down pretty well, I can sometimes skip a day without dire consequences. I also have a reliable plan for where to start if our house is in shambles. (For more on cleaning and decluttering, check out this blog.)

I’m discovering that one of my issues with eating and exercise habits is that I don’t have a solid place to start when things go wrong (and, believe me, they do). I rotate through different ideas and strategies so much that I have no anchor habit like I do with cleaning my house. So, I’m starting one.

I’m picking something with clear boundaries (because I need them) that doesn’t need a tracking system. I want it to be so ingrained in my mind that I don’t need a checklist. Don’t get me wrong. I like lists. Sometimes, I just need to give it a rest, though.

What the anchor habit is doesn’t necessarily matter as much to me as it’s purpose. Washing dishes every day naturally reminds me at this point to think about things like wiping down counters and sweeping. Seeing results helps me to keep going.

So, I’m not going to say what my anchor habit is quite yet. When I start seeing other ways it’s affecting my health habits or when I mess up and start again there, I’ll let you know.

Streaks Habit 3 – Feed Your Soul

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March 2017 – 260.6 pounds

It’s time for a regress…ahem…progress picture. If you have lost weight and regained it recently, you’re not alone! I’m at 260.6. That means I’m down a total of 15 pounds total. What a tiny number list compared to my lowest weight just last year (it was 40 pounds lost).

I “knew” when I started all of this in December 2014 that it would be a lasting change. I would “never” go back to my old ways. Well, as odd as it may seem looking at the numbers, I think I was right.

It’s tempting to see all of my efforts in the last 2+ years as pointless. Yes, I’m frustrated about the weight gain. Yes, I thought I’d be nearing the elusive, shiny goal weight. Or, at least leaving the 200’s…I mean, come on. But, I’m coming out the other side of this feeling more at ease about who I am and more likely to take care of myself.

 

 

One of the habits I’ve been tracking on the Streaks app I’ve titled “Feed Your Soul.” There is a profound reason why God compares food with His word and His Son.

No matter how hard I try to be self sufficient, I am an infinitely weak and needy creature. I need food to live (along with things like water, air, Netflix, etc.). There’s no way around it. Not only do I have to depend on God for food, but I desperately need God Himself to sustain my life and my soul. I need to see Him and know Him to keep going in this life and forever.

I didn’t included this in my habit tracking because my life will be perfect if I spend time in the Bible or I will instantly lose 100 pounds if I am in constant prayer. Crazy things will happen no matter what, but when I’m grounded in Jesus and my identity is found in Him, I make better decisions moment by moment.

Even though I’ve regained some weight, I’ve learned some powerful lessons over the past couple of years. I’ve learned that my weight and weight loss are not who I am. I’m not defined by my  interests. I’m (thankfully) not my ability, or lack thereof, to grow tomatoes, make homemade gnocchi, take care of my hair, or swing a kettlebell.

As I press into my struggles to improve my health, I find that my weakness is not necessarily negative. If I’m filling up on Jesus and the word of God, it points to my need for Him. If I can’t do it, He gets all the glory. And, that is the point.

 

Streaks Habit 2 – 5+ Movement Minutes

5 minutes doesn’t seem like much. I mean, if you’re only spending 5 minutes on something, is it even worth doing?

That amount of time can make a difference in my cleaning routines. In 5 minutes, I can unload the dishwasher, clean the kitchen counters and sweep, or fold and maybe even put away a load of laundry. So, what about physical activity?

I’m short, 5 is better than 0. For me, a 20 minute workout is an hour long commitment (shower, hair care, etc.). Even if I can’t squeeze that in every day, I can do 5 minutes of something (anything).

4 days into using the Streaks app, and I’m 3 for 4 on this habit so far. I even picked up a kettlebell the other day for the first time in months. It felt great (and terrible…I was really feeling it by the end).