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July 4, 2011

Water is My Motivater!

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I have actually been tracking my eating and getting regular activity in--a huge accomplishment for me.  Another thing that I'm doing differently, that I haven't done over the last nine months is--I've been drinking TONS of water!  And I'm loving it!

Every time I take a drink, I think, "Yep, I'm in this."  Every 10 minutes when I'm in the bathroom, I think, "yep, still going."  When I'm doing laundry, its, fold a basket, take a huge drink.  Go put some clothes away, maybe go to the bathroom, come back, take a huge drink.

So why is drinking water working for me?
--Focusing on drinking the water is a constant reminder for me that I am on my game.  I'm working towards my goals.  I'm living deliberately.
--It's a distraction from eating other stuff--the stuff I crave.
--It fills me up!
--And I think my body is feeling better because I'm so hydrated.

A Few Water Things that Work for Me
I know some people hate water, and I'm so glad I'm not one of them.  But sometimes I find it harder than others to get the water in.  It's summer now, so the warm weather helps.  But during the cold, long MN winter, it's not as easy for me.  Here are a few things I try to do to keep in the water game:

--Drink out of a bottle that I LOVE!  I have two "special" water bottles that I really like (it's worth the investment), and I use them both.  I LOVE shopping for water bottles.  My kids, of course, think that the water in Mom's bottles tastes better than theirs, so I sometimes share.  But I try to keep my water bottles just for me!  Buying a new water bottle would be a great reward for a scale or NSV.

--Work Out!  I always want to drink TONS of water after I've built up a sweat--especially if I push myself hard.  Now I'm not a die hard "worker outer" but I'm trying to be consistent.  Pushing myself involves doing some jogging and walking faster than I want to.

--Plan your outdoor workouts around the port-a-potties.  Nothing ruins a workout more than having that "I have to go" feeling through your entire workout.  We have lots of parks in our general neighborhood, so I know if I can just make it to the park, I will be OK.  And then I can keep on going!

--Drink it in the morning.  Sometimes just starting my day with the water helps me focus on what I really want--and staying on track.  It also helps me get the bathroom runs out of the way earlier in the day.

--Limit coffee.  During the cold months, I love to drink WAY too much coffee, but if I can limit myself to one big cup, I can hit the water right away and get on with it!  Works for me.

--Drink some milk!  Funny to say that here, but I think it's a good thing.  I'm am NOT a milk lover, but I think it's good for my body--so I also need some incentive to get the milk in.  And it's good for my kids to see me drinking milk.  So I try to drink a glass of milk with either lunch or dinner or both, or I try to make a smoothie with milk.  And since I need a little incentive for drinking milk, I count it toward my water consumption.  Works for me.

--Add citrus.  To freshen up my water, I love to squeeze in a little lemon or lime.  Sometimes a little change is enough to perk up my taste buds and help me drink and drink--delish!

So that's what I got.  And I know I'm going to have to come back and read this some time when the motivation is on the down side.

But for now, I'm going strong, I'm getting the water in, and I'm heading to the bathroom. . .

Do you have any tips for getting the water in and loving it?

June 29, 2011

Challenge of Changing Food Habits

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 If you have ever been like me and have used food for entertainment, for relaxation, or for reward, changing those eating habits can be a major challenge.  I am finding that running errands and regular daily activities can be major triggers for me.  Just going about my daily life, I am faced with decision after decision.   Just a few examples. . . and at the end, what I learned from writing these down:

--I'm grocery shopping.  Should I buy that big chocolate bar (that's only around $1)?  You know, the one you usually buy as a little, on the side, treat.  The one that you can eat as you drive home.  The one that has almonds in for a little crunch.  I often go to more that one grocery store in a week, so, again, I'm faced with a challenge--with the decision.  Should I buy that chocolate bar, you know the one. . . .

--Running Errands by Myself.  Should I just stop at Caribou and buy a medium Mocha (regular, milk chocolate).  I'll just get it this last time, and tomorrow, I will be eating better.  You could really use a little treat.  And don't you deserve it.  You finally have a kid-free moment--take a break.  It's just a little something.   Tomorrow, I will make better decisions.

--Running Errands.  It's almost lunch time and I didn't have that morning snack.  Maybe I should just stop for fast food (you know which one--the worst food ever--cheaply made and tastes cheap, but for some sick reason, I'm drawn to it).  If I get the fast food, I won't have to make a big mess in my kitchen.  But at the same time, I don't want to feed my kids garbage.  Maybe I'll just get it for me and make my kids regular lunch.  I'm not really on plan, so I might as well. . .


--Weight Watcher Meetings.  Even my WW leave me with a decision to make, since I've developed a bad habit.  Had a great meeting--I'm challenged to give this a go, but perhaps I should start a little later.  I hear that fast food calling my name (that same one).  What should I do?  That fast food would sure taste good.  I don't really need to start right this instance, do I?  Do I want to get to work, or do I want to make it happen later.  I have my little guy with me, so it's kind of hard to focus.  Might as well get something to eat. . . .

As I read this, I realize that I am going to face these kinds of decisions every day, every hour, and with the regular activities of my life.  Graduation parties, family potlucks, barbecues with friends, holidays.  Going shopping, going on vacation. . . . the list of events that triggers me to eat for the wrong reason is unending.  The list is the events of my life!

HOWEVER, if I can make the ONE decision, the ONE decision, to treat my body with the respect and care and love it deserves, perhaps dealing with the daily, hourly, smaller decisions will be more manageable.  Perhaps recognizing that the chocolate bar, and the coffee drink, and the fast food are NOT really treats, are NOT really rewards.  They are part of a self destructive behavior--a self destruction pattern--and they are not giving anything good to my body or my mind!

Life is about decisions.  Changing old habits and patterns is about decisions.  Losing weight is about deciding.  Living a healthy and full life is about deciding.

Next I want to talk about strategies to help with the daily decisions that can trigger poor food decisions.  I have a few I want to point out to myself soon.  Do you have any suggestions?

June 26, 2011

Talk Is Cheap

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I like to talk a lot.  I like to think a lot.  About what I could and should do to lose a little weight.   Or a lot of weight.  I stay in this thinking state far too long.  Too often.  It becomes a holding pattern.  A state of procrastination.  Thinking.  Which is really talking to myself.  And talk is cheap.  Talk is not action!

Lately, I find myself getting mad at my husband lately--at least mad at him in my mind.  I haven't talked to him about this--yet.  I might need to or I might not.  (Remember, talk is cheap).  This past winter, my husband decided to take more control over his health.  We decided to get the gym membership, and he started to use it on a regular basis.  He still uses it on a regular basis.  He makes it a priority in his life.  He makes the choice to go--and he does it more often than not!  He is putting himself first.  He is acting on his cheap talk, and actually he doesn't talk a lot.

Why can't I do that too!  And in a way, I have started to resent him for it, or at least be a little mad at him in my mind.  Why is he taking all of this time for himself?  Here I am stuck with the weight of everything in our family.  I'm stuck with three kids needing me constantly.  I have to do everything--take care of the kids, the house, the food, the organization, the financial budgeting, the calendar.  Why can't I take that time for myself too?  Why can't I make the choice--why can't I choose me and stick to it??  Why can't I do what he is doing?

And the real--TRUE--answer is that I can!  My husband is not the one stopping me from making a choice and acting on it.  In reality, he would and could easily support me!  In reality, he would help me make this happen.  But first, I have to make the choice and act on it!  I have to choose me!  I have to stop living in this state of deciding.  I have to make myself and my health and my weight loss goals a priority.  I have to start living my cheap talk.  Better yet, I need to stop talking!

For some reason at this stage in my game, choosing me has been a hard thing to do.  I choose my children.  I choose my family.  I choose the "mom" role of who I am instead of the "me" that I am.  I know that this kind of talk is somewhat cliche in the "mom" world--"you have to take care of yourself.  you have to put yourself first and it will make you a better mom, blah, blah, blah."

For some reason, I'm afraid to choose me.  I don't even know who I am any more, and saying that is so cliche, it kind of makes me sick.  But this is my blog, and my cheap talk, so I'm going to say it.

At the same time, I feel like--if I could just start acting on my cheap talk--I might just find that answer!

I have recently been enjoying the writings and musings of Rachel Held Evans, and in the comments of one of her posts, someone mentioned this saying from Alcoholics Anonymous: "I can't think myself into acting right, but I can act myself into thinking right."  This little saying gives me some hope, and seems to apply to my struggles.

All of this thinking and cheap talk isn't going to get me to do the work.  But if I start doing the work.  And if I keep trying to do the work, and do the work, and do the work, maybe, just maybe, my little old life will start making some sense.  And the questions I hold about it all will start to make sense.   I'm going to try to hold on to this saying and move forward.

Talk is cheap.  Don't I know it!

June 22, 2011

Why a Weight Loss Blog

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I've thought about blogging a lot--that is if I should do it or not.  I was first introduced to blogging a few years ago when I became very interested in serious coupon use to save $$$ at the grocery store.  (Man, you really can save lots of money, and the resources that are out there are awesome--but for this sorry momma--it takes tons of time--something I don't have a lot of!)

When I was pregnant with my third babe, I decided to start a blog dedicated to matching coupons to the sales flyers at my local grocery stores.  But I quickly found out that this was waaaaaay too much work for me and my verbose writing style (and there were other people out there doing a much better job at this than I ever could).  I wasn't interested in teaching people or making blogging my life.  I just wanted to share my story. 

So I decided to change focus and write more of a frugal living blog--one where I could talk about living a simple yet full life--one that keeps my spending in check.  (If you are really interested in my bloggy past, you can check it out--sorry lots of dead links since I abandoned the original web address).
But I quickly found that I couldn't maintain the blog and my sanity and keep my bathrooms clean all at the same time (well my bathrooms still are not clean, but that's not really the point), so I threw in the towel.

By this point, I became really interested in reading weight loss blogs, and decided that I too could use blogging as a tool to lose weight.  I thought it would be a great way to track my progress, communicate with others like me, and to find motivation.  I totally, totally think blogging can be all of those things for me.  I just underestimated how my life would change with a new babe (now almost two years old)--and I underestimated how little focused computer time I would be able to find in my life.  So for the first 18 months of my little guys life, I tried to write here, I tried to figure out what I was really doing with my "mom" life and with MY life and what I really wanted.  But I fizzled out. . . time and time again.

But life goes on and I am still here dealing with my lil old life and challenges.  Since the last time I blogged, I have made a few changes.  I have decided to re-join Weight Watchers, which I'm sure I'll blog tons more about in the future.  In any case, I decided I would work their program, use all of their tools, and focus all of my weight loss energy on what they have to offer.  I was excited to find out that they actually have a blogging tool available through their e-tools.  I tried to use it, but have found ONE MAJOR FLAW for me and the way I work: you can't save drafts!!!  You have to write and publish all at the same time.  Or I could have tried to first write in Word and then copy over to the blog, but this seemed way too tedious to me, so I let the WW blogging go as well.

So I am now back to Blogger and my little old weight loss blog--and I'm going to give the writing a shot.  I'm still contemplating how to use this best--like should I use it as a journal and ramble on and on.  How personal should I get?  Do I really want to post all of my dirty details here?  Are you really going to bear your soul Jen?

And I've contemplated if I should stick with Blogger?  Shouldn't I try Wordpress where I can get more serious about blogging?  And shouldn't I buy my own domain name?  And shouldn't I make my blog prettier and more professional and . . . ?  And shouldn't I change the name of my blog and find that perfect name?  Seriously, these are the silly thoughts that infect my mind and keep my from doing the real work, keep me in the little limbo state that has been my life up to this point.  You know what that real work is don't you?  You know. . . actually WRITING on this blog thing  . . and moving your body. . . and going to the gym. . . and walking. . . . and eating some fruit and veggies now and then. . . . and getting some sleep. . . . and doing it over and over and over again.  That's the real work, you know!  That's the real meat of it.  Write, Act, live!

So I'm a-writing --right here for a while.  I'm excited to see where this takes me.  I'm encouraged.  I'm glad I'm here.  So if you are a-reading, feel free to say "hey" and leave a comment.  We've got to keep trying right?  I know I do.

June 19, 2011

Hunting for a New Pattern

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I know that -- for me -- long term weight loss success and sustainability needs to involved shedding the bad habits and creating new patterns in my life to follow.  Patterns that involve healthy eating.  Patterns that involve moving my body.  Patterns that involve grocery planning and meal planning and getting enough sleep and using moderation.  Patterns that involve managing stress with something other than overeating.

Another major part of this weight loss journey is figuring out what the patterns are that I really need in my life.  And making the pattern a pattern -- by repeating it over and over and over.

Lately, I feel as if I have been repeating old habits--the same old pattern.  Here's my situation:

Part one of the pattern: Life with three kids and business happens and takes over my life and I "fall off the wagon" so to speak and return to the bad habits of eating too much, lots of junk, staying up way too late, watching wayyyyy too much TV, and feeling like crap!  And this goes on for a while.


Part two of the pattern: I decide that I need to regroup, so I tell my husband that I need to be by myself for a while.  I need to get away.  I need time and quiet.  So I take the laptop and head to the library or to the coffee shop (for that one last mocha) or to the coffee shop and then the library.  And I try to regroup.  I try to recommit to "the plan."  I try to get my brain in focus so that I can do the work, stick to a plan, and live the life I say I want to live.  A lot of times I get distracted by the computer and blogs and commentary and junk.  A lot of time I waste my time.  But I do decide to start again--after that last coffee and that last night of overeating.  Usually I spend a LONG time in this part of the pattern--waiting for that perfect time to start again, for when I am really, REALLY ready.

Part three of the pattern: And then I am on plan--I'm eating well, I'm moving my body, I'm writing it all down-- for a few days, maybe a week, definitely not a month and then it's BACK TO PART ONE!

I can not tell you how often I have repeated this same old pattern.  I bet I have repeated this pattern at least 20 times over the course of the past few years.   Seriously, I am doing it right now.  Although I'm not at the coffee shop; I'm in my bedroom, trying to escape three children who never stop talking.  And as I continue this post, I have also been to the coffee shop.  (I wrote this post a few weeks ago before I started using MFP).  

So this is one key for me: I need to avoid returning to this same old pattern!  I need to throw this pattern in the garbage--no more!  I need to find a new pattern for when life becomes too much, for when the endless questions of a six year old put me over the edge, for when I just need a little quiet, for when the chaos of my life with children seems to be a great reason to throw in the towel and lay on the couch and eat chocolate.

A new pattern is what I need!  I'm on the hunt for a new pattern.  I could lie to you right now and say--I know what I have to do!  This is what I will do instead of patterns one, two, and three detailed above.  I have figured out what to do by sorting through my thoughts right here and now.

But I do not know!  That's part of my problem.  That's why I am here.  And honestly, I'm just trying to figure out how to manage my life without returning to food.  I don't have the answers.

But I do know how to create a pattern: repeat, repeat, repeat!

I'm on the hunt for a new pattern. . . perhaps with time, action, lots of writing, and repetition, I will find it here!

June 17, 2011

Skin Cancer, Sun, and Weight Loss

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Earlier this week, I went to a dermatologist that a friend recommend to have my body checked for moles.  I have a number of large moles--especially on my back where I can't see.  And even though I don't burn and tan easily, I was a lifeguard for a few years in college--so I know I have had excessive sun exposure.

So this dermatologist, whom I was preparing to like since a friend recommended, was really direct with me--almost scolding--and so I didn't like her :) -- but I've been thinking a lot about what she said.  Here were her very direct recommendations:

--Do NOT go out into the sun between the hours of 11 AM and 4 PM.
--Burning is worse, but any tanning is bad--it changes the DNA of your skin and leads to skin cancer.
--Wear sunglasses and hats
--Sunscreen Number Matters -- SPF 50 or more
--Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
--Even when it's not very hot out, you still need to wear sunscreen
--1 in 5 Americans will get skin cancer.  Because I have had extreme exposure--I will most likely get skin cancer.
--If you have a mole, it doesn't mean the cancer is contained in that spot--it could be all over your body.
--Don't let your children be lifeguards.

Now I'm guessing that this doctor had her reasons for being very direct with me--and I'm guessing those reasons have something to do with wanting me to take this seriously.  And I can buy in to ALMOST everything she said.  But here's the kicker:

Staying inside between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm just won't work--and here's why:  We live in Minnesota, a state that typically only gets three warm months a year (and perhaps a few more weeks if we are lucky).  So when we get the sun, we are going to enjoy it!  When we get a hot, sunny day, we are going to go to the beach, or the lake, or outside for some summer fun!  We endure the cold, cold MN winters, so we deserve a little fun in the sun for a few months.  My children are also inside SO much during the year--and this is summer--we want to enjoy every second of it before the school year creeps up on us once again.

So I can get on board with all of her recommendations--we will slather on the sunscreen and wear protective gear--but we WILL be outside--enjoying life! And that's OK with me!


SO here's what this all has to do with weight loss for me:  

--I have to do what I can and accept the consequences of those choices. 
--Doing nothing is not an option--and is really irresponsible.
--I need to take care of my body, I WANT to take care of my body--so managing my eating and activity is necessary--just like managing sun exposure is a necessary reality.
--I have to do what I can do--even though I will not be perfect!  But that is life.
--I have to be realistic in what I can do and what works for me.
--And my expectations of what I can/can't do might change over time as I change and life happens.

So that's my sun and skin cancer connection.  Makes sense to me.  These days with weight loss heavily on my mind, everything relates back to it.   (BTW, I had to have two moles removed, and will find out next if they pose any problem.)  And I'm not sure if I will go back to this dermatologist--I prefer a gentler approach--but time will tell.  I could change my mind.  Life could change my mind.

June 15, 2011

Why Jen to Lose?

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When I decided to write on this lil old blog thing, I couldn't decide on a name.  Originally, I wanted to call it "Jen's Simple Gifts," because I  LOVE the words to that old Shaker tune.  These words just speak to me--about so many aspects of my life:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

I just think our lives get so crazy, and we make them crazy.  If I can just focus on the simple gifts that are my life--like a body that's still ticking, and three beautiful children, and a great husband who loves me because I'm me, and a little house that's small and cozy and works for our family, and home cooking, and activities that don't cost a lot--like playing games and park going, and swimming in lakes--THEN I can find peace.  Sometimes easier said than done, but I think it is TRUTH--my truth.

I also think the words apply to losing weight.  It doesn't have to be so complicated (I make it WAY complicated), and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money.  It's about focusing on the simple basics--like moving my body, eating natural food, and taking care of this body and mind--which really is a gift.

But for some unintelligible, probably ridiculous, reason,I did not feel like "Jen's Simple Gifts" was where I should go--it just didn't seem right.  So in the wee hours of the night, I came up with Jen to Lose.  I actually don't even remember where this came from, but I decided to go with it.

The major thing I DON'T like about it is that it seems to focus on the scale--on losing the pounds--on weight, weight, weight.  But we all know that it is really so much more than that, and I DON'T want to focus on just the scale.

But then I started thinking more about it, and I realized that Jen to Lose is so much more than about weight.  It's about losing the "starting over" mentality.  It's about losing bad habits.  It's about GAINING a maintainable change in the way I live my life.  In the past, I've had a tagline that says, "Losing the weight. . . gaining the world."  I like this.

But right now my tag line is, "Learning It, Living It, Losing It:"

Learning It: learning different behaviors, learning new tools, learning what I need to do to live a healthier, happier life.

Living It: Doing the work!  That means taking the things I am learning and doing them over and over and over again.

Losing It: So of course this means losing the pounds--losing the weight--and tracking that progress.  But it also means losing the things that are NOT working for me.  It means losing the processed food and going more natural.  It means losing old patterns and learning new ones.   It means LOSING the belief that I will be stuck here forever and embracing the FACT that this is my time to do the work and make a change.

So that's where I'm at --- Jen to Lose -- Losing It, Living It, Learning It.  I'll give it a shot.

How do you come up with your blog title?