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.

 

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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.

 

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.

The 3 P’s

I just uninstalled MyFitnessPal from my phone. An app called Streaks has dethroned it. (To all my MyFitnessPal friends, I hope you can keep going without my likes…which happen maybe once a month.)

Streaks is the first habit tracking app I found in Google Play. I put in 5 habits I would like to do daily, and I will check them off each day as I complete them. It shows how many days in a row I’ve done each habits (hence the name Streaks).

The next few times I post, I’ll explain one of habits I picked. The first one is the 3 P’s: portions, protein, and produce. I just want those words to go through my head when I’m making my food choices. Reasonable portions, a decent amount of protein, and fruits and veggies are a great start to helping me eat like a grown up.

Today, I thought through these when I desperately needed a snack after work. I grabbed some string cheese (protein), mushrooms, and cilantro (produce). I threw them in a tortilla and added some salsa and a true serving of sour cream (portions). Just like that, I have a reasonable snack that tastes pretty good and has some nutritional value.

We’ll see how it goes, but I’m off to a good start with this. I’m paying attention to what I’m doing, but not obsessing.

Beverages and Me

I’m not sure what the deal is lately, but I’ve been going crazy on the coffee and pop. So much so that the ice water I’m drinking as I write this seems like a long lost friend.

So, you can imagine how surprised I was when I was strolling around Target the other day, minding my own business, when tastebuds rebelled against me and insisted that my chestnut praline mocha was shockingly, excessively sweet.

It was all a bit disorienting.

I’m feeling like my constant sugar and caffeine highs are starting to take a toll. Time to rein it in. More water, less sugar. No sweeping declarations here, but something’s got to give.

 

The Stubbornness Factor

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When you last heard from me, I said all the right things. I was honest about where I was tripping up, gave myself some grace, and said I would pick up from there and start heading in the right direction.

Well, this time the magic formula didn’t work.

Instead, I spent almost two weeks breaking promises to myself. I said I would cut back to one non-water beverage per day. This seemed reasonable since not too long ago I drank one coffee or pop per week. No dice. I made a goal to get more sleep. My Garmin yelled at me. In the last month, I averaged less sleep per night than 96% of my demographic. I don’t trust this number. Apparently, moms of very young children don’t use Garmins. Anyway, the only thing that has forced me into more sleep is my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad cold.

Why didn’t they work? Because, sometimes an adult brain works about the same as a toddler’s. I didn’t wanna. I wanted to eat and drink what I wanted, when I wanted. And, I wanted to stay up late staring at my phone and watching Netflix. Yes, the stubborn factor.

I am relearning that I have to play mind games with myself. Now, all I have to do is slow down when I’m eating and eat off dishes while sitting. And, guess what? It’s working. I’m changing way more than those two habits without even trying. Really? That’s all it took?!

I’m a little frustrated that I have to go through such a run around. For once, I would like to just cut to the chase and make a quick, painless change. Unfortunately, there aren’t any shortcuts. I just need to hang in there with the slow and methodical tweaks until my want-to outweighs my don’t-wanna. Time to put the pouty face away and be a grown-up.

 

 

There’s something about August…

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Apparently, August is the month for challenges. Last year, I did a month long physical activity challenge where I did 10 minutes each day. Now, I’m in the middle of a step challenge with my weight loss accountability group.

It’s pretty simple. We just track our steps using an activity tracker, pedometer, or phone app and then report how many steps we’ve taken each week to see who gets the most steps. I keep falling just short of my goal of 40,000 steps for the week, and that’s not the only area where I’m falling short.

I’m in an eating slump. While most of the summer has been a refreshing change from previous food obsessions, I’m starting to see myself reverting back to some bad habits. Habits like eating chocolate right out of the freezer and eating a thousand snacks a day. It’s taking a toll on me, too. I haven’t been at this for too long, and I’m already feeling sluggish and have that familiar burning sensation in my esophagus.

So, what am I going to do now that I realize I’m messing up? Well, for one, I’m not going to freak out. I’ve been down this road before, and I’ve lived to tell about it. Two weeks of bad choices is not going to ruin two years of effort.

tomatoNext, I’m going to start heading back in the direction of the habits that have helped me: drinking lots of water, eating lots of protein and veggies, and trying to move…any kind of moving is good at this point. Volleyball is a casualty of our full schedule due to training, paperwork, and home studies to adopt from foster care (here’s an article about some ways to avoid weight gain during the adoption process). My gardening hobby made a dramatic exit somewhere around the middle of July when I went out of town and never got back into the routine. At least my three beautiful tomato plants were spared in the latest excitement of a tree falling in my yard during as a tornado went through my neighborhood.

 

It’ll take time to ramp up, but that’s okay. I’m just glad I am working on things before I gain all the weight back and more.

My Own Little White World – Part 4

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My husband and I at the bean in Chicago (a giant metallic bean-shaped structure).

A group from my church goes to a conference every summer in Chicago every summer called Legacy Conference. It’s a conference that focuses on making disciples and being a disciple (follower) of Jesus in an urban setting. One reason I love this conference is that I get to sit under the teaching of church leaders who are from different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. While I’ll focus more on that next time, I want to show how a college class taught by someone from a different background helped me sort through my own identity.

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Dr. Rhonda White

When I was in college, I took a required class called Diverse Populations taught by Dr. Rhonda White. Being the nerd I am, I used to keep every piece of paper from every class. When I put an end to the paper hoarding, I still held onto everything from this class because of the impact it had on me. My goal at the time was to teach PE in a low income neighborhood in Phoenix. Since I grew up in a lower middle class, mostly white suburb, I knew that I needed help to figure out how to teach students in that setting. What I didn’t realize is that I had to learn more about myself first.

I already loved learning about other cultures and wanted to spend my life among people who were different from me. However, sorting through my own cultural and racial identity was messy. Doing the work of the process has kept me grounded as I have spent time among other cultures and races (Google Rachel Dolezal and you’ll see what I mean). When I worked through journal entries, I struggled through my negative feelings about white American culture and worked through concepts like white privilege and dominance (if you’re struggling through terms like this, check out this list of resources). Here are some examples from a journal entry:

  • “Whenever I think about my own ‘Whiteness,’ I want to be someone else.”
  • “I feel like my culture doesn’t really matter. The only things I’ve ever heard about middle class White culture have been negative.”
  • “[God] decided that I should be the descendant of a man who owned a slave. He decided that I should be the descendant of a couple from Prussia. He decided that I should be the descendant of a Cajun family. While my identity ultimately lies in Jesus Christ, I was placed in this particular lineage for a reason…because He is the One that placed me here, I think wishing I was someone else is like saying that God made a mistake.”

When Dr. White had us create a cultural family tree, I thankfully started to see things about my cultures of origin to celebrate. As a whole, I don’t think white people in the United States take enough time to recognize this. Often, they just think that what their family does is normal and not connected to any culture or history. It’s like when people who speak English in the United States don’t think they have an accent (if this is you, please let me know and we’ll talk more).

During the process, I realized that not everyone’s family makes fry bread or sings together at Thanksgiving. I started appreciating things like my Scottish ancestry and the story of the Huguenots from France moving to the country to escape religious persecution. I started telling the story of my great uncle picking weeds called poke salat and bringing them to a family potluck with a little more fondness. On the health side of things, seeing my family’s view of food as love and how deep that goes gave me a good place to start understanding my relationship with food.

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My Uncle Royce (of poke salat fame), my grandma (who fed us even if we were stuffed), and my Aunt Linda (who brought the family together for reunions and potlucks)

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My mom as a kid on the right. Her interest in genealogy has given me a window to my past and present.

 

Another thing that I took from the class was how white American culture as a whole compares with other cultures, especially something called value orientations. Ironically, one of the key value orientations of white American culture as a whole is an emphasis on the individual. People who value the individual over a focus on a group perspective may not realize how much their culture affects them.

Understanding the different cultural influences in my family has given me a framework for understanding other cultures without trying to toss out my cultural and racial identity all together. I’m grateful that I had people like Dr. White in my life to guide me through the process.

A Redeemed Body Image

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A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in Indianapolis. This was an interesting nutritional experience, since I mostly ate whatever I could find at my parents’ house and in the volunteer lounge (trail mix, peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, chips, M & M’s, apples, etc.). Don’t worry, everyone, I’m on the road to recovery now.

Among other exciting things during my visit, I was pulled over by the police for a broken, but still working headlight.”What coalition?” was his question when he asked where I had been coming from. Apparently, coalitions are cause for suspicion. 🙂

While I was there, I heard a powerful speaker named K.A. Ellis. I didn’t get a chance to attend her workshop, so I listened to it at home. With a title like Living Our Theology as We Disciple Others, I didn’t expect to hear such a deep message about identity and body image in light of a creative, all-powerful God. Please listen to it if you get the chance.

A Whole Lot of Whole Foods

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I’ve been upping my vegetable game lately. The percentage of whole foods I’ve been eating has definitely gone up. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am not a clean eater. One of my ingredients for dinner was margarine (gasp!). I’m not on the Whole30. I like grains and dairy a bit too much for that.

While I am far from perfect, I am really working on eating more produce, and it’s helping me improve my eating overall. I love when I can focus on adding things instead of taking them away. I’m also trying to make more things myself. For instance, I made my own whipped cream the other day instead of buying Cool Whip. I know this doesn’t save calories, but it made my dessert much more satisfying. I’d love to do more things like that, and I’m hoping that will work well with my new gardening hobbies.