Sunday, February 28, 2010

Changing It Up in My Diet/Exercise Plan

As most of you know, I've been working on getting in better shape fitness-wise since November of 2008, when I started Jenny Craig. I really like the JC eating plan, and they emphasize lean meat, whole grain carbs as well as low sodium foods. That plan has worked well for me, but I've been in a plateau the last 6 months and have been finding it harder and harder to stay "true blue" to the eating plan, because frankly the frozen foods that is the core of their program is getting really boring lately. Sometimes I feel if I eat one more frozen dinner, I'll scream.

Therefore, I went on the search for a similar eating plan that would let me eat regular foods and be less expensive. Since the budget is tight right now, I've been cutting back on everything. What I decided that there are two plans that most appealed to my lifestyle: 1) The Flat Belly Diet created by Prevention magazine; and 2) the Super-Charged South Beach Diet.

I picked up a Flat Belly Diet Pocket Guide for only $7.99 and it fits perfectly into my purse. What attracted me to it were several things: 1) simplicity; 2) the emphasis on low sodium and healthy carbs (both a part of my JC program that worked really well for me); 4) a heart-healthy emphasis on eating "healthy fats" called MUFAs (Monounsaturated fatty acids) rather than saturated fats; you eat a MUFA with every meal - things like unsalted sunflower seeds, almonds, olive oil, olives, avocados and dark chocolate; 5) 1200-1600 calories a day which is a pretty healthy calorie level, without starving etc. I will probably try to stay more towards the 1200 because that is the same as JC's plan; 6) inclusion of exercise into the program.

I started this eating plan on Thursday 2/25 and so far I've lost 3 lbs in the "Jumpstart" portion of the diet, which last 4 days. Believe me I am NOT after the fast weight loss, I realize that 2 lbs a week or even less is healthy weight loss. It's probably largely water weight etc. but what this tells me is that I can jump off this plateau by changing it up a bit. Ya know? So I'm probably going to continue this plan through the 28 days and see what happens.

Also, I LOVE their Sassy Water. Like nearly every diet plan, you are told to drink at least 8 oz of water per day (64 oz). But this book has a recipe for Sassy Water that would be refreshing for anyone.

I give you Sassy Water

2 liters (about 8 1/2 cups) of water
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
12 small spearmint leaves (you can get these year-round at a health food store)

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and let flavors blend overnight. Drink the entire contents of the pitcher each day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Little is a Lot

Sometimes (times like NOW) I feel like I don't accomplish much. My progress in my job, in my relationships, in my knitting, in my fitness goals certainly in some of my financial goals . . . every accomplishment seems small and takes forever and seems LESS somehow than what I had hoped.

This is one of those weeks - a big disappointment in Bob's job search. A job he really wanted, and didn't get. Looking for a job is frankly the HARDEST job anyone can ever do if they're doing it right. Ughh. I know there's a reason, and who knows, maybe something even better around the next corner, but it's still disappointing.

But I am trying to focus on every little thing that I do that contributes toward our ultimate goals. Every time (like today over lunch) when it's too cold to exercise outside, but my coworker and I go for a brisk walk at the mall instead of chowing down at a fast food restaurant. Every time I let my daughter take on responsibility instead of doing it for her. Every time I back down from an argument and work toward compromise instead. Each time I knit 3 really good rows on a cardigan sleeve, even though I had to rip out 20 rows before it that were awry.

These are all LITTLE things. But once a few years ago, I listened to an inspiring motivational tape where the speaker kept reminding us, "A little is a LOT." Doing a little - just a little - more than one would normally do toward the GOOD creates an impetus that often is just what was needed to create a breakthrough. A little is a lot.

So the little bit I've done and keep doing in so many realms of my life really ARE having a big effect.

What little thing are you doing that you want to do more of? What little thing are you most proud of today?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday's Find - Decorative Tea Tin

When we were visiting Aunt Eve in St. Louis a few weeks ago, she offered us hot tea. Like me, she loves tasting different flavors of hot tea. But instead of pulling out a sterile and boring cardboard box of tea, we noticed that she had a large vintage metal container with which she stored all of her various bags together. So as we sat down at the table, the selection of our tea become fun and part of the process - much like sorting through old buttons when I was a kid with my grandmother. We had a chance to sort through, pick out and "oh and ah" over all the different flavors before finally selecting one for ourselves. And I ended up with one that I might normally not have picked (but enjoyed) because I had been allowed to leisurely appreciate and consider all the different varieties of kinds possible.

When I thought of all the assorted boxes in my cupboard that take up a lot of room, I decided that I too would find a metal tin from a thrift store and would begin storing my loose tea bags in a vintage tin too! It's really a handy and decorative way to store it.

And for a good entertaining book recommendation - I would HAVE to suggest that you read HOW STARBUCKS SAVED MY LIFE by Michael Gates Gill. It's a book that Elysbeth recommended to me, and boy was it just what I need as an inspiring "pick me up" last week. I think it's loosely autobiographical about a 60 year old former executive of a huge advertising firm who gets laid off too late in life to easily recover. He loses his health, his marriage, his job and his morale at a time of his life that isn't easy to just pick yourself up and dust yourself off.

He goes from being SERVED at Starbucks to being grateful to serve others and to have a job at all. He learns to truly change his attitude. He kicks himself in the pants, pulls himself up and finds new meaning in living a much simpler but more fulfilling life. I found the book really moving. It's not rocket science or great literature, but if you need a good "feel good" and moving tale, this may be it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympics Knitting - Not Hardly Out of the Gate

Well, my knitting plans for the Olympics this year haven't gone off in a stellar way as I would have hoped. They started Friday, on a day I had minor surgery, and I slept most of the day and didn't even cast on until Saturday. The pattern I'm doing Oatmeal by Amy King started out with the sleeves. A part of the garment I usually avoid, but I thought, "Hey, it's good getting these out of the way at the beginning of the project instead of the end."

For some reason, I didn't realize that I had to do them on DP needles. And that they are done in the round. Every other sleeve I've done before has been knit flat and then sewn in after the fact. This sweater is designed where most of it is already knit together so there isn't so much sewing at the end. That's good. But harder to conceptualize for me. What's weird is that the sleeves are knit in the round, and yet the body is knit flat. Huh? Go figure. There's an interesting discussion of this whole "Knit circular" or "Knit flat" over on Kim (Knitting Matter's blog on the February 9th.).

Anyway, my yarn is still not spun, because it took me so long just to get the right 3-ply yarn and consistency. I'm going to be spinning as I go along. That way maybe I'll spin the amount of yarn needed and not a bunch extra. We'll see how the "spin as you go" concept works. This is my first major spinning project.

In terms of knitting: So far, I've only finished the 8 rows of twisted rib for the first sleeve cuff, because when I tried to knit the cably diamond part of the sleeve, I couldn't get that right and had to rip it out. This whole thing is off to a slow start. I don't feel in a "fast" mode AT ALL so I'm going to give up on the idea of the official Ravelymics thing and just go at my own pace, doing my own thing.

This is what the sleeve will eventually look like. This is not MY sleeve, mind you, but one that I found as a close-up photo to help me figure out what the pattern is telling me to do. Maybe if I stop trying to read the directions and just look at what I'm trying to accomplish, I'll get farther along?

I'm not disappointed in myself at all for dropping out of Ravelympics. It just doesn't feel "right" for me this time. Frankly, this whole last 12 month period has felt very odd - like I'm striking out in my own direction, on my own timetable, with my own road map, and competing only with myself, which is something Phyllis has urged me to do for years.

Phyllis' famous Competition quote: “I do not copy, compete with or compare myself to others."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Riding the Wave . . . . Of Uncertainty

Maybe it's just the end of winter SAD syndrome, where this L-O-N-G winter never seeems to end. Or maybe it's the bad economy that has dragged on for so damned long. Maybe it's the tension of so many people holding on for so long and hoping things get better. I don't know quite WHAT it is, but this week has been a doozy. Sadness, tension, rudeness, snapishness and bad temper seem to be palatable.

Yesterday, a coworker stopped by my office and said, "We've got to get out of here. Take me away. Please." So we went out to lunch together just because we had to get away and vent frustration - get it out - and then laugh together, big belly laughs that made us both feel so much better.

And for those in the Northeast who have been hit by 30+ inches of snow, I realize that our midwest bellyaching about winter seems pretty shallow in comparison to your true despair at being buried in your homes for days and weeks on end.

Anyway, I told my coworker yesterday that I think one reason we're all so "nerves on end" isn't PMS, but simply the fact that people are extremely tense when change becomes such a constant. Many of us have been "riding the wave" for so long that we're getting deadened to it and no longer have the resilency to spring back.

My husband and I escaped last night -- yes on a weeknight, to a local comedy club, to see Jimmy "JJ" Walker. Remember the show GOOD TIMES? (Many of you may be too young to remember). This man is hilarious. He didn't talk about his GOOD TIMES days, but his humor was wonderful - sharp, right on point. What I like was that he didn't need to pick on people in the audience like many comedians do who have a little bully inside of them. Instead, he's talented enough to truly have a full show just on social commentary and acting out people he's seen and known.

Being a guy who was a teen in the 1970's like we are, of course we really identified with him. One theme that he drew from heavily was how uncertain the times are that we're in. He recounted all the sage advice he'd been given as a kid. Things like: Go to college, you'll get a good job. Get a job with a big company and you'll be secure. Invest in the stock market, you'll become rich from it. Anyway, he was a riot. I didn't realize that David Letterman got a start in comedy by writing material for JJ. Well anyway, his show was fantastic and gave me a mid-week lift.

I'm not a surfer myself, but here's to all of us hanging on, riding out the wave. Realizing that uncertainty is scary for most of us. But it will be okay. Really it will. We'll get through. When the wave hits you, do whatever it takes to pop back up from it. And breathe again.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday's Find

If you are weight or health conscious, can I recommend:

Jason's Deli (think this is a nation-wide chain) - The Savvy Chicken Salad Wrap

Wheat tortilla, almond chicken salad, lettuce, tomato - is low sodium, low calorie, low fat, and very delicious. It is served with grilled/steamed veggies if you like - all for only 350 calories. First rate. Would highly recommend. Affordable price too.