Friday, July 31, 2015

Weight loss success begins at the grocery store!

My job at the college often requires that I work at the ‘other’ (meaning Mt. Pleasant) campus. While this adds about a ½ hour to my drive and I sometimes feel out of my element using someone else’s office, it does allow me to do my shopping after work in the “big city.”  For those that live in a rural area like me, going to a town that has a Meijer AND a Walmart store is a BIG CITY!  My regular grocery store is 15 miles from home and has only the basic essentials (LIKE WATERMELON).  I can’t even get my favorite Dannon Greek Light-n-Fit yogurt there.  Getting to go grocery shopping in a big-box store (and the thrift store, of course J) sort of balances out any negative thoughts/feelings I have about being required to work at the other campus.

So…you may have guessed it by now….I have to work in Mt. Pleasant today and grocery shopping is on my agenda for after-work.  One of the things I learned very early in my weight loss journey is that WEIGHT LOSS SUCCESS BEGINS in the grocery store!  It’s a simple concept to grasp, and yet such a hard thing to actually embrace sometimes. The bottom line is… If it is NOT PART OF YOUR PLAN…..or a necessity for a recipe for a potluck/holiday dish….or something that someone in your family cannot live without….DON’T BRING IT IN THE HOUSE!  Even those of us that have a great deal of self-control do not need any unnecessary temptation in the refrigerator or cupboard to cause us to stumble in a moment of weakness.

In some ways, living alone is a blessing.  I’m not required to pack kid’s lunches or keep snacks in the house for growing teenagers. I’m not required to have chips and soda for the football games. I’m not going to get any flack from anyone for not having cookies or ice-cream at my house. While I continue to cook and bake treats for a friend, all of that is done and kept at HIS house, so I really have no excuse to buy it for my house.  That makes it a bit easier, and I sympathize with those that are required to purchase all sorts of goodies and make dishes that you are trying not to eat.

A few months ago, I got on a big protein bar kick. I justified them by convincing myself that they were ‘good for me” and that there really wasn’t any harm in eating them because they we allowed on my plan.  While it is true that protein bars were/are a staple in my diet and satisfied my sweet tooth, I developed a bit of an addiction to them and each time I visited the ‘big city’ I would bring home several boxes of them.  It was not unusual for me to have 30 or more protein bars of all kinds/brands in my cupboard.  Well…guess what?  Having them there….coupled with my incredible love of them….made it very easy for me to grab one whenever I wanted. Notice I said, “Whenever I wanted” and not “whenever I was hungry.” I had several stashed in my purse at all times; a few more at work; and several at a friend’s house. They were everywhere….and readily available for me to eat at all hours of the day. I even got into the bad habit of grabbing one in the middle of the night when I got up one of the half-dozen times to use the bathroom (gotta love that watermelon! LOL).  Each time I ate one, I justified it because it was “on my plan” and it was PROTEIN.  Actually, what was happening is that I was becoming addicted again to the sugar in some of the varieties. That, in turn, made me want to eat another….or something else….and I was constantly hungry and guess what… pants were getting tighter and tighter.  Fortunately, I am able to recognize that I was teetering on a slippery slope… that BEGAN IN THE GROCERY STORE….the ‘big city one” because they don’t stock my favorite flavor/brand in my regular small-town market….and I no longer even buy them! Certainly I will eat a protein bar if/when I want one, but not having them in the house makes it much easier to stay on track.

The same type of scenario played out a few weeks ago when I needed to buy a bag of pretzels for a recipe. It’s been over 4 years since I have had even a single potato chip or Frito. Salty junk food was my downfall (probably still is) and I know….that I cannot eat just one, so I simply will not even try it.   Pretzels, though….well, they are fat-free and better for you, so since Christmas I would occasionally allow myself to eat about 10 pretzels on rare occasions. Well….I discovered quickly that 10 pretzels became 12 the next time….and 15 the time after that….(all justified by “it’s fat free…..lowest calories of all the snack foods, etc….”) and I managed to eat the remaining pretzels (from the recipe) in a matter of a couple of weeks.  SO….I quickly learned that I WILL NOT BUY them in the first place. The next time I need to make a dessert for a gathering, I will choose something else.  The journey to weight loss BEGINS IN THE GROCERY STORE!!!!  Fortunately, I am aware of my addiction/desires/temptations/weaknesses and have learned how to avoid situations that will cause me to stumble.

So…for the past month or so….I have not even purchased a single protein bar, nor will I buy another bag of pretzels….because if it is NOT IN MY HOUSE, than I won’t be able to eat it when I’m tempted.  It’s a simple concept to grasp…..but not so easy to live by, is it?  All one has to do is walk in the store and be greeted by the smell of fresh baked goods or walk by the displays of goodies at every corner. Even waiting in line at the check-out is tempting to those that love chocolate and candy (fortunately not me.)  It seems like all the high-calorie junk is just crying out…..’Buy me….you can’t live without me….take me home…don’t I look good?”  Well, my friends….TRUST ME…….you CAN live without it….and YES, it looks good, and smells good, and very likely TASTES good too…..but…..NOTHING…NOTHING….NOTHING tastes as good as being healthy and reaching a goal (even a little tiny one along the way).  Simply put….JUST WALK AWAY, be strong, and JUST DON’T BUY IT!

There are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way…..
Don’t shop when you are hungry; you’ll end up with more than you need.
Go with a plan/menu… that you know what you need for the week.
Stay away from the snack food/cookie/ and bakery aisles.
Only buy what’s on your list.
Buy all the fresh fruit/vegetables that you can afford.
Mostly…..first and foremost….ask God to take away your desire/temptation for EVERYTHING that is not healthy and nourishing for your body and WALK AWAY confident that “ You can do all things through HIM that gives you strength!”

Happy….and healthy…!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When you don't feel like you have enough

“I just don’t have enough…..”  These words come out of my mouth countless times each week and the thought crosses my mind even more often. “I’m just so tired….I never seem to get enough sleep.” “I have so much to do….there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.” “Sigh….I’d really like to buy that….or go there….or…..but there never seems to be enough money left over after paying the bills.”  “I’d really like to help out….or visit…..or answer/read ALL the e-mails I get…..or do this…..or see that……BUT……I just don’t have enough strength, stamina, or energy….or whatever” 

How about………. “I’d really like to lose weight or give up smoking/drinking/gambling, etc…..but…. I don’t have enough willpower.”  “I don’t have enough motivation or discipline to commit to 20 minutes of walking/exercise a few times a week.”  I don’t have enough time to prepare healthy meals or enough money to buy produce/vegetables.”  I don’t have enough faith to believe that I can do it. I don’t’ have enough strength to stick to a plan. I don’t have enough   THIS….or THAT. 

From time to time (sometimes more often than we want to admit) we all are guilty of using the “I don’t have enough” excuse.  Sometimes, it is really true….and our life circumstances get so overwhelming that we are pushed to the edge and stretched until we think we are going to snap.   This weekend at Mass, I heard the famous Scripture passages feeding the crowds….and it really got me pondering about ENOUGH. The same type of story came from both the Old Testament (Elisha) and the Gospels. I have no desire to offend anyone who does not share my Christian faith, but perhaps you have a similar story in your faith tradition that will speak to you in the same way.

 In this particular gospel from John, crowds of people numbering around 5000 men had followed Jesus across the Sea of Galilee to hear Him speak. Some were sick and in need of healing. Some were distraught and discouraged and in need of encouragement and hope. Some were lost, scared, alone and in need of light, love, and forgiveness.  They knew He had what they needed to change their lives and make things better. Hmmm………..  They listened for hours without any thought of food or time, but hours passed and they became hungry. The apostles went to Jesus and told him that the people were hungry and they didn’t know what to do. All they had amongst themselves was five barley loaves and two fish, certainly not enough to feed the crowd. They exclaimed…. “ What are we to do; the people are hungry, and WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH.”  Jesus told the apostles to bring the bread and fish to him, at which point HE blessed it and gave it to the disciples to feed the people.  Everyone ate all they wanted….and not only did they have ENOUGH….but there were 12 baskets left over!

My friends…..the bottom line is this….the apostles did not have enough food ON THEIR OWN to feed 5000+ people, but when they gave all that they had to Jesus (GOD), he made it ENOUGH to meet their needs.  I am absolutely right in saying….that….ON MY OWN…. I don’t have enough…time, money, energy, faith, strength, willpower….whatever… do ANYTHING; certainly not continue day after day on this journey, but by the grace of God, I can do all things!!  The past 4-5 months have been very difficult….physically and emotionally…..but God has given me what I need to get through each day.  The road ahead may be even more difficult as I journey with my companion who is dealing with some serious health issues…..but GOD will give me more than enough of whatever I need IF….I give him all I have and trust that He will sustain me.  He will give you more than enough of whatever you need on your personal journey as well….IF….you give HIM all you have and have the faith that HE will help you. 

Feeding 5000+ people with five small barley loaves and two fish seemed impossible….but God helped the disciples accomplish the task.  Losing 20, or 50, or 100+ pounds might seem impossible too….but God will help you do it.  Going 10 days or two months without a cigarette/drink might seem too difficult for you….but if you give it to God, HE WILL HELP YOU.  Getting through a round of chemo…..going through surgery…..childbirth…..terminal illness……depression…..unemployment….(you name your battle)…..might seem like a task that you cannot handle because you “ JUST DON’T HAVE ENOUGH”…..but, guess what, my friends…… WE DO HAVE ENOUGH…..with God on our side!  We can do it.  WE can…and we will….get through whatever it is we need to get through.  We will find a way to make things work. We will lose the weight. We will reach our goals.  We CAN…and we WILL change our lives!  Just don’t give up!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

TODAY is the day, my friends!

What are you waiting for?  It won't be any easier tomorrow....or after your vacation....or Monday morning.  I encourage you to do at least one thing today to make a positive difference in your life or in someone else's.  Take a only 1/2 a donut.....write a thank-you note or send a a friend.....visit a neighbor....drink an extra bottle of water.....bite your tongue when you want to lash out.....the list is endless. Changing one's life isn't always about food, or drink, or exercise (although certainly those are important choices) but mostly it's about being grateful, kind, and loving yourself and those around you.  Regardless of what is on your plate today... join me in making a conscious effort to let those things that weigh you down go...and choose gratitude over complacency, kindness over selfishness, and healthy living over comfort eating.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Trying to catch up

Hello….. I’m not exactly sure where the past two weeks have went, but according to the calendar, it is almost the middle of July already. It seems that for several months now I have been trying to keep my head above water and coping with a number of personal and physical issues that have left me weary, but getting by. I do sincerely apologize for my lack of participation in our group, but sometimes life has a way of happening around us and things get crazy.  I seem to be busy from the time I wake up in the wee hours of the day until I fall asleep, but never seem to get caught up. I assure you, however, that I am okay and things are looking up.

When I wrote my last post a couple of weeks ago, I was about to start my big family reunion camping vacation over the 4th of July. I had worked to plan many of the activities and was looking forward to a break from the stressors of work and an opportunity to just have fun with my family members and hopefully work in the flower gardens and float in my pool. I had been struggling with the RA flares for a couple of weeks prior to vacation and that just continued through the first few days of my vacation, but then early in the week, my long-time companion became very sick and ended up in the hospital for emergency surgery. SO….I missed almost all of my vacation and spent several days/nights at the hospital round the clock, and then a few more days when he got home taking care of him. Fortunately, he is doing better and is healing. Unfortunately, it meant that I missed most of my family activities, the 4th of July parade, etc.., but I’d do the same thing again if necessary.  I did manage to spend the first day of the week at Ludington Beach on Lake Michigan with my family and my scavenger hunt on Tuesday went well, so it wasn’t all lost. In addition, I managed to hit a few EXCELLENT garage sales and got a bunch of new stuff to redecorate my house. LOVE IT!!!   As I’ve said many times, we cannot control the things that happen to us…we simply must make the best of things and trust that God has reasons for all that happens. There are few things as rewarding as helping to care for someone in need and I am grateful that I had the time off to assist my friend when he needed me most. 

This past weekend was BEAUTIFUL and I was able to spend some time outside enjoying the gorgeous weather and sunshine. I’ve picked my first few home-grown tomatoes, some green beans and snap peas and have squash, cucumbers, and zucchini staring to grow as well as a WATERMELON FLOWER or two!!!  The flowerbeds are full of colorful blossoms, the goldfish in the pond are thriving, and the pool temperature is 84 degrees, so…..even though my body is wracked with pain and I’ve gained 15 pounds from the increased doses of steroids and inability to ride my bike or walk long distances due to the RA….life is still VERY GOOD and there is much to be grateful for.  Sometimes we just have to look REALLY HARD to find reasons to give thanks.

Sometimes when one embarks on a life-changing journey, he/she tends to think that life will become perfect and life will be great WHEN/IF……we lose weight, give up an addiction, change a bad habit, etc.  Too often we connect joy and peacefulness to a goal…and we forget that life is still going to happen regardless of what size we are; people are still going to get sick no matter how many days we go without smoking or drinking; and things are STILL going to happen that we can’t control or don’t like.  The thing I have to constantly remind myself is that those struggles, trials, and difficulties and SO MUCH EASIER to cope with simply BECAUSE I have changed my life.  The last time I spent several days round the clock in the hospital was when I sat at my Grandma Borawski’s bedside as she went home to God. At that time I was in a mobility walker and could hardly stand up, and yet, my Aunt Vicky and I spent several nights at the hospital. It was a physical struggle, but again, a privilege to be there.  The time I spent caring for my friend this time was so much easier (not to mention not a matter of life/death) because I am able to walk (even with RA pain and pain medicine) and I am able to fit alongside the bed, sit in a regular size chair, and maneuver around the hospital.  I am beyond blessed….and even though I’ve been struggling physically for a few months…. I am so much better off today than I was a few years ago. 

If you are dealing with difficult situations….whatever they may be….you may want to ask yourself if they would be easier to handle if you were in a ‘different’ place physically, mentally, or emotionally. Chances are, making a few life changes will make coping with the changes of life easier…..not take them away or make life perfect….but making dealing with hard times more bearable.

I have a few days off the end of this week and I hope that I get an opportunity to take a little day-trip or spend some time just enjoying the north woods. I did stop to a few garage sales on Saturday morning and WOW….did I hit a good one. I purchased a Howard Miller dual-chime mantel clock for $1.00 that is going for over $300 on ebay, a solid bronze lamp with a leather shade for another buck, and several other treasures for a few more dollars. It sure was great to find such wonderful things and, even though my house is all tore up now with ‘rearranging” and moving things in and out of the garage, it is a wonderful way to distract my cluttered, weary mind.

So……how is everything with everyone else these days?