Monday, April 25, 2011

A Beginner's Guide, plus Friend Makin' Monday

A lot of people have asked me the same question lately.

"How are you doing this?" 

I understand why they're asking.  I look different.

Together, Tom and I are down 78 pounds since January.

More importantly, I feel different.  I'm stronger and I have more energy.  And one thing that many friends have noted is that I seem happy.

At first when I started hearing that word, I was a little confused.  I thought they were confusing my energy with my attitude.  I'm a firm believer that thinner does not necessarily equal happier.  But then I started hearing it more and more.  "I'm glad to see you so happy."  "You wear happy well."  I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror at a party this weekend, and I was laughing and smiling. That's when I realized it.  I was happy.  I am happy.

I don't think it's the weight change, specifically.  I think it's the kind of attention and energy I'm giving to myself.  The kind of care that I never used to let myself take.  I wasn't worth the energy.  I didn't have the energy.  There was too much on my plate, with a very long to-do list each day.  And I wasn't at the bottom of that to-do list... I wasn't even on it.

That brings me back to the question at hand.  How am I doing this?  The answer is both simple and complex.  The short version is that I made myself a priority in my own life.  And the long version... well, that involves a lot of changes, both small and large. Describing them could span a whole week's worth of blog entries.  So... guess what?  Today I begin a week-long series that I hope will help inspire you to take good care of someone who matters to me.  You.

You can do this too.

Each day, I will post a new Beginner's Guide topic, with a series of tips and ideas that will help you put yourself on your own to-do list.  So, with no further adieu...

...getting started

Starting anything is hard.  Especially if you've developed a pattern.  Just like a vampire's jawbone, they're hard to break.  (Pardon me, we've been watching too much Buffy lately.)

Before you get going, there are a few things you need to think about, and a few actions you might want to take.

  • For the love of Pete, see a doctor.  I'm not one, I don't play one on TV, and my weight loss journey has been fully under the supervision of my own doctor.  And if you don't have a doctor...

  • For the love of Pete's fluffy white kitten dangling dangerously from a tree branch, get a doctor, or find a free clinic.  Routine check-ups help find and prevent issues that may otherwise go ignored.  And if there's something that is scaring you away from seeing a doctor...

  • See a therapist.  I really believe that working through my emotions and my history has been key to making positive changes in my life.  If you, like me, find yourself eating for emotional reasons, there may be some behavioral patterns that your therapist can help you address. 

  • Think about what you want out of your life.  Do you have a particular dream for the future?  Do you have a trip you want to take, or a career you want to build, or a family you want to nurture?  I want those things for you, too.  Unfortunately, life is finite and it's pretty short. It's very easy to ignore the long-term.  But it's time to start moving toward what you want. 

    When you think about those things, how do you imagine yourself?  If you want to travel, do you imagine yourself heading out for long walks exploring Paris, or climbing the Aztec temple steps?  If you're thinking about a family, do you see yourself playing on the floor with your grandchildren someday?  If so, you need to start taking good care of yourself.  You need to build your strength, you need to develop a positive relationship with your food.  You need to make yourself a priority. 

    If visuals help you motivate yourself, consider finding a picture (or creating a collage) of your goal, and hanging it somewhere you can easily see it, so that every time you want to skip your workout or drown your bad day in a hot fudge sundae, you can remind yourself that what you choose to do today affects what you'll be able to do tomorrow.

  • Find a buddy.  Left to my own devices, it's possible I might eat deep-fried southwestern egg rolls morning, noon and night. Or I certainly might have before.  But every day, I lean on Tom - as he leans on me - for support.  When I have the urge to eat something outside of my plan, I talk it through with him.  When I want to stay in bed, he pokes me in the shoulder until I have no choice but to get up.  And vice versa. 

    Your accountability buddy should be someone you trust, and someone who is on a similar path to yours.  If you have a spouse or partner, I highly recommend you support each other on this path.  Like quitting smoking or getting sober (though without the ability to go cold turkey), it's much more challenging to kick a habit when you have to smell the smoke (or the pizza.)  I actually have several accountability buddies...  Rena, David, Teresa, friends from Slimmons... and all of you! 

  • Remember that you are worth taking care of.  It sounds a little corny, I know.  But here's the thing: did you eat mindfully today, or did you eat whatever was the office ordered?  Did you exercise, or did you collapse on the couch after work?  Are you really taking care of yourself?  Because you are worth it. 

    You are worth taking an hour away from your desk or couch, even if you feel like you don't have the energy - because when you start taking care of yourself, the energy will come back in spades.  You are worth being spoiled with delicious and fresh food, even if you think you don't have the budget for it, because there are ways to reduce the cost.  Even if you think you don't have time for it, because think about it: waiting in line or at a restaurant for food takes just about as long as actually making it for yourself. 

    Regardless of all of these things, you're just flat-out worth it. You have this one body, and this one lifetime in it, and making things harder for yourself is only going to... make things harder for yourself.  You can do this, and you are worth it.

All right, that's it for this "beginner's" Beginners Guide.  Come back tomorrow for a beginner's guide to exercise!  I'll have some playful ideas about how to get more activity into your life.  The old adage says "use it or lose it."  And there's a reason it's stuck around this long. 

I am hoping to spread the message of putting yourself on your own to-do list... especially because there are so many people out there like me, who have a hard time making themselves a priority.  If there is anyone in your life who might appreciate reading this series or my blog, please consider sharing it with them.  There are links at the bottom of the post to share via Facebook or email, and thanks in advance for helping spread the message.

Don't forget that you can sign up to receive my blog by email or Reader - and don't forget to keep taking care of you!

I'll leave you today with my answers for this week's Friend Makin' Monday, and my food log for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This will bring my food logging week to a close - but I did enjoy sharing it, so I'm sure I'll bring it back occasionally in the future.

Today I felt... productive and peaceful. It really helps me to stick to my schedule, and returning to it this morning was just the balance I needed.

Today I saw.... that my favorite indigo-blue dress - which had been too baggy - fits again, thanks to the tailoring prowess of my mother-in-law. Pictures soon.

Today I ate... my usual breakfast. Greek yogurt with berries & honey oat cereal, plus a boiled Easter egg.

Today I kissed... my husband goodbye before he left on our weekly food shopping trip.  (We're delayed a day because of the holiday.)

Today I bought... nothing, but I expect that Tom is about to purchase our groceries.

Today I heard... an episode of This American Life. It's my very favorite podcast.

Today I lost... weight, I expect. But I don't know how much; I have been stepping on the scale less (mostly just on weigh-in Tuesday.)

Today I decided... to start my new half-and-half writing schedule.  Half blog work, half projects with Tom.  (Currently another spec script for our portfolio.)  So far, so good!

Today I need... to have our weekly budget meeting.  The way we handle money in the past few years is a big improvement on our younger spending habits.  

Today I wish... that we will all have a healthy, happy, productive day.  And I think we can make that wish come true!

Friday 4/20/11 - total 1389 calories
Breakfast: 1/2 cup fat free greek yogurt, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup honey oat cereal, 2 Angel Egg halves
Lunch: 1 wrap sandwich (low-carb tortilla, 1 tsp veganaise, 2 cherry tomatoes, 2 oz grilled chicken, 1 oz brie), 2 carrots, 1 tangerine, 12 red grapes, 2 Angel Egg halves
Afternoon Snack at a movie theater: Mediterranean wrap (lavash, 1/2 cup cucumber, 1/2 cup tomatoes, lettuce, 2-3 chopped olives, 1 tb hummus, 1 oz feta cheese)
Dinner: Veggie burger sandwich (2 slices light whole wheat, 1 tsp Vegenaise, 1 morningstar farms patty, 1 Light Laughing Cow cheese wedge, 5 pickle slices), 1 cup turnip "fries" (my favorite 30 calories EVER), 2 tb ketchup
Beverages: 64 oz water, 8 oz skim milk

Saturday 4/20/11 - total 1390 calories
Breakfast: 1 banana, 1 boiled egg, 1 tb chocolate frosting (I was making it for cake pops and tested.)
Lunch at Tender Greens: 4 oz herb-seared albacore, 1 cup baby spinach/goat cheese/hazelnut salad, 1 cup mixed grilled veggies 
Dinner at a party: 2 halves of Angel Egg, 1 oz ham, 1 tb aioli, 1 oz rye bread, 1 oz white bread, 1/2 cup white bean salad, 1/4 cup quinoa salad, 3 strawberries, and 1 Cadbury Creme Egg.  And you know what?  I think my tastes have changed. I preferred the strawberries.
Beverages: 64 oz water, 8 oz skim milk, 8 oz of a beautiful Easter-Egg purple cocktail made with Creme de Violet and vodka.  Thank you, mixologist Brendan!

Sunday 4/20/11 - total 1482 calories
Breakfast: 2 halves of an Angel Egg.  This is not enough breakfast.
Lunch: 2 halves of an Angel Egg, 1 cup of snap peas with leeks and mint, 1/2 tsp butter, 2 oz tillapia, 1 cup of Greek yogurt potato salad (4 oz potatoes, 2 tb greek yogurt, tb dill relish, 1 tsp dijon, 1/2 cup cucumber, tb scallions), 1 cup mixed greens with 1/4 cup oro blanco grapefruit and 1/4 cup tangerine, 1/4 cup homemade lemon-basil sorbet
Afternoon snack: 2 slices light whole wheat toast with 1 tsp of my father's blackberry preserves
Dinner: wrap sandwich (2 oz tillapia, tortilla, 1 tsp Vegenaise, 1 oz goat cheese, 4 cherry tomatoes), 1 roasted potato, 1 tb ketchup, 1.5 cups tomato/cucumber/mint salad
Evening snack: 1 cup potato salad, 10 pickle chips, 1 oz chocolate
Beverages: 64 oz water


  1. Yay!

    What kind of wraps do you buy for your wrap sandwiches? They are deliciousness in sandwich form but [maybe I'm just making them too large] I find the shell breaks.

  2. I use Mission carb balance tortillas, in the next size up from the small size. They're nicely flexible, and don't break easily. But I don't tend to overstuff them - it's usually a couple ounces of chicken, an ounce of cheese, and a handful of veggies.

    One way that could help nix the breakage is to lay down a square of Saran Wrap first, then put the tortilla on top followed by the fillings. Then you can use the Saran to help you close and tighten the wrap, and hold it while you're eating it!

  3. "Remember that you are worth taking care of." - transcendental :]

  4. It was wonderful to see you this weekend as always! I ended up with the leftover cake pops, and while tempted to eat all of them in a binge, I've managed to only eat two so far :) I hope your Easter was wonderful! <3

  5. You two are inspiring and beautiful. Believing you're worth it isn't as easy as using L'Oreal cosmetics. :)

    - Renie