Tag Archives: cheap weight loss

When 50% is a Good Thing

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If you don’t already know, I’m a school teacher. I spend a lot of my time marking and grading. When I was a kid, if you got 50% on a test, it was a bad thing (I can’t remember, but I seem to think it earned you a “D”) Nowadays, a 50% is a C- (which means “not yet meeting expectations”). Grades are a big thing for me – not only professionally, but personally. I have spent pretty much all of my life around this idea of being graded. In elementary and secondary school, I brought home decent enough grades to keep my parents happy without having to do too much work. Now that my own children are entering high school, we talk about the importance of a good GPA as it pertains to getting into post-secondary programs.  As a music student, I took Royal Conservatory Exams, and remember the thrill of getting a “First Class Honours with Distinction” on a few theory exams…. and, I remember the devastation of failing my grade 10 practical exam the first time I took it (a pass, in that instance, was 70%). When I recently returned to university, I decided that this was my time to shine, and I pushed myself to get straight As. Each essay I got back with a lovely red “A” on the last page brought me joy. Those A+s were cause for celebration. When I was doing my teaching practicum, which was a pass/fail program, a friend and I resolved to give each other As at the end of the term, because we were both so driven by letter grades.  And, I’ve been known to brag about graduation from my B.Ed program with straight A+s. Grades are omnipresent in my life.

Today, however, I realized something very important: 50% is good enough.

Wow – I could hear my friends gasping at reading me say that!!! But, it’s true.

This week, I started following the Eat-Clean Diet (which isn’t really a diet as much as it is a lifestyle change for me). Typically, when I start a new “diet” it’s an all-or-nothing thing for me. If I couldn’t give myself a grade of “A” (or better) after a couple of days, I’d get so discouraged, and quit. Which would often lead to me feeling depressed and thereby eating more (usually in the form of chocolate).

Last Friday, during my counselling appointment, my counsellor had me set some goals. I decided that I’d eat clean for breakfast and lunch, which, a few days later, turned into “eat clean for two meals/snacks per day.” I know it sounds like a simple goal, but for me to not strive for perfection is very, very difficult.

You know what? It’s working! In striving for this partial goal, this ‘not-quite-perfect’ goal, I am actually feeling successful!! Sure, I’ve had a few “dirty meals” (um, Burger King isn’t ‘clean eating’ last time I checked), but, because my goal is two meals/day clean, I’m not beating myself up when I have one unhealthy meal. Ok, so I had that piece of cake and a can of pop at lunch today… who cares?!? It was one meal, and I didn’t let it ruin my day! I had a very healthy breakfast, and my dinner was really clean…. and tonight, when I was having a major sugar craving, I waited it out, reminding myself that this is just my body’s way of getting used to a new lifestyle, one that doesn’t depend on refined sugars for energy.

How cool is that?!?!

Even though yesterday I had Burger King for lunch, and today I splurged a bit, I don’t feel like a failure. I am able to focus on my success because I met my goal. And I can do it again tomorrow, and the day after that. Then, once I get used to eating 50% clean, I can increase it to 75% clean.

When I went to search for an image for this post, the first thing I typed into the search engine was “50%.” Do you know what came up? A bunch of 50% Off sale signs. That made me chuckle… maybe this 50% approach will help me take pounds off!!

I’ve never been one for baby steps. No siree. I’ve always been an ‘all or nothing’ type gal. However, I’m learning to be kinder to myself, to love myself, and to forgive myself. I’ve said it before that we treat our pets better than we treat ourselves. As I get ready to embark on a new year of teaching (and grading!) I need to remember something very, very important:

I am a great teacher who treats her students with love, compassion, empathy, kindness, respect and dignity (as every good teacher does): it’s time I started treating myself as well as I treat my students.

When a student fails a spelling test, I don’t tell them they should just quit school! When a student feels discouraged by an assignment that seems too difficult, I help them work through it, step by step. My goal as an educator is to help my students believe in themselves and feel proud of a job well done. I have come to learn that one student’s amazing achievement may be another student’s worst work; I work hard to help my kids recognize their strengths and improve their weaknesses. I encourage them to keep trying, over and over again, until they learn.

Why should I be any different with myself? Why can’t I encourage myself to keep trying and trying until I learn a new way of living? Because, really, it isn’t about the grade. Ask any teacher: grades are not as important as the lessons learned.

I am learning. I am learning a new way of being. It won’t always come easy, but as long as I try my best, I will succeed.

So, yeah, 50% is a good thing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oven Roasted Brown Rice Pilaf

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I took this recipe and modified it, as I didn’t have tomatoes on hand.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c finely chopped mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped.
  • 2 cups brown basmati rice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano or thyme
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, heated (you can use vegetable broth to make it a vegetarian dish)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy ovenproof saucepan with a lid. Add the onion & garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and red pepper, saute until soft.
  3. Add rice and chopped oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is shiny, about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in hot stock. Cover pot and bring to a boil.
  6. Transfer to oven and continue to cook, covered, until liquid is absorbed – about 40 to 45 minutes.
  7. Remove the rice from the oven and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl.

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The original recipe called for 4 1/4 cups of broth, but I misread the recipe while making it and used 4 1/2 cups – the rice was nice and soft. All three boys said they liked it – and they don’t normally eat brown rice.

Eating Clean

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Today, I am starting something new: Clean Eating. It’s a term I’ve been hearing over and over again since starting this journey. The way I see it is that if the universe keeps presenting you with an idea, perhaps you should listen. There are hundreds and hundreds of diet books, programs, pills, magic potions, on which you can spend money. Those of you who have been following my blog know that I’m trying to become fit and healthy without giving into the propaganda of the diet industry (and without giving them a ton of money!)

Well, I have to admit, I gave in the other day and bought a “diet book”. Actually, I bought three diet books, costing me a total of $33. Which really isn’t that bad.

What books, you ask?

From the research I’ve been doing, this approach seems to make sense to me. Eat more of the healthy stuff – protein, complex carbs, healthy oils; Eat less of the unhealthy stuff – sugars, refined foods, calorie-dense/nutrient poor, prepackaged foods. Sure, I could probably figure this out all on my own, but I love learning, and knowledge is power, right?

Tosca Reno, the author, states that our physiques are 10% genetics, 10% training and 80% nutrition.  I cannot control genetics (which, in reality, I’ve been somewhat blessed with! My dad is a very trim man. From my mother, I am blessed with amazing skin!). The thought of training freaks me out – I still don’t see myself as a ‘exerciser’. But I love to eat. And, I can control food!! And if 80% of how I look is determined by what I eat, that means I can control how I look! That’s great news.

This past week, I have felt tired, depressed, unmotivated, lazy, listless, and have sat around on the couch like a blob.  I’m not surprised: I’ve been filling up on simple carbs and sugary food. I really don’t recall eating much fruit and veggies in the last week. And once you feel that way, it is really hard to be motived out of it.

Fortunately, I have help. My darling friend Jenn and I went grocery shopping together this morning. She’s doing the Eat-Clean thing too (albeit for slightly different reasons than I). She’s helping me with grocery lists and menu plans, which is a godsend. It was nice to go shopping with someone else – I felt far less tempted to buy junky stuff (although, I did buy some not-so-healthy choices for my kids, but it’s things that I generally don’t eat, so I’m not tempted to eat it).

I had my first Eat-Clean lunch today:

2 pc. sprout grain bread

1/2 avocado

1 tomato slice

1 oz. reduced fat cheese

A bit of sprouts

1 c. strawberries

I am SO full, and feel great. I am looking forward to seeing what heath benefits I can notice in the next few days. I’m a bit worried that it will be hard to give up sugar entirely, wondering what type of withdrawal symptoms I may experience. I am looking forward to having more energy, feeling more clear-headed and emotionally stable (less mood swings), having healthier looking skin and, of course, losing weight.

I was reading in Tosca’s book that you can expect to lose 3 lbs a week. I’m not sure if that will happen to me, because I’m not focusing on going “all or nothing” with this. I know myself well enough to know that if I do go all gung-ho on this, and try my best to follow it perfectly, the minute I mess up, I’ll give up. I’m trying to see this as a lifestyle change, taking it one day at a time. I was talking with my therapist yesterday, and she was helping me set some  goals. This week’s goal that I came up with in counselling is to eat clean for breakfast and lunch.  I think I’m going to tweak that a bit: Aim to eat clean for two main meals and snacks/day. I have menu plans and a fully stocked fridge with healthy food. I think I can do this!

 

I did it!

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I’ve been thinking a lot about two things today: exercise as an enjoyable activity done for its own benefit, and the attitude ladder.

I knew I needed to exercise. I haven’t gone for a good long walk since late last week, and here it is, Wednesday already. The only other activity I’ve done this week was tennis with the boys yesterday (and really, it wasn’t really tennis… it was more like standing around trying to hit a ball… but it was fun, and I did work up a sweat).

Now I can see why I procrastinate with exercise. If I see it as punishment, why the heck would I want to do it? So, today, I tried to view exercise as a positive. I knew I would be busy in the morning, and I didn’t want to go for a walk this afternoon in the midday heat, so I made plans to go this evening after dinner. Throughout the day, I had this mental struggle going between wanting to go for a walk just for the sake of exercising (and those resulting ‘feel good’ endorphins), and feeling guilty for the White Chocolate Macadamia cookie from Starbucks that I had (did you know one of those cookies packs a walloping 470 calories?!?! Who wouldn’t feel guilty after eating one of those).

With my wishy-washy motivation in place, I drove down to Rocky Point, turned on my music (and my “Map My Run” app), and started off. It was an absolutely glorious evening. The tide was coming in, it wasn’t too hot, and the sun was beginning to set casting a golden glow on everything.  I started off slowly, being conscious of the times I’ve pushed myself too hard and ended up really sore the next day.

As I walked, I made sure I took in the beautiful scenery around me. About a quarter of the way into my walk (right at the end of the inlet, for those of you who know the park), it hit me: This walk was good for my soul. The beauty of nature around me boosted my spirits immensely. As I was nearing the end of the trail, where I turn around and head back, I was starting to feel tired… I thought, “Oh no, I’ve pushed myself too hard. I should’ve kept that slow steady pace I started with. Will I make it back?”

With about a kilometre to go (of the nearly 6 km walk), I got a second wind! I picked up the pace, walked tall and proud, and had a fantastic time. At one point, I realized that when I started this blog, at most I would walk about 3 km – half way around the park and back. Today was my third or fourth time walking all the way around.

But wait: it gets better!

Today I took 5 minutes off of my time!

Last week, I walked the entire 5.7 km in 1 hour 18 minutes. Today I did it in 1 hour 13 minutes. Last month, I couldn’t even walk half way around before I had to turn back, exhausted and in pain.

You know what?

I feel amazing!

I’m pretty sure that some of this amazing feeling comes from beating my time. And perhaps, just perhaps, the other part of it comes from those endorphins kicking in… how else could you explain that sudden burst of energy and the big smile I had on my face as I walked the last kilometre? Whatever it is, it does feel pretty good. I feel strong, healthy, energized, and in control.

In fact, that’s something I’ve been feeling more of lately: in control. I am not mindlessly eating or noshing on something loaded with carbs just because I’m feeling down. This in control feeling is making me feel a lot more hopeful about actually being able to achieve this goal.

Yay me!

Great Week!

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Last week, I made a bet with my friend Jodi to see who could be the most diligent with tracking their food intake for the week (and *sigh*, yes, staying within the calorie recommendations – not just donuts and pizza all day). I’m pretty certain it’s a tie (although I’m secretly hoping I beat her!)… but honestly? I don’t really care who won. I needed this little contest to motivate me in tracking my food. I know that keeping track of what I eat is one of the most important tools I have in this grand adventure. In the past, the only times I’ve ever been successful in losing weight was when I was tracking my food.

I must admit, I am quite proud of myself. I tracked everything I ate for the last seven days (even the trip to Burger King and the blizzard I ate on Friday!). For the most part, I stayed within my calorie allowance. My dietician suggested that I aim to eat healthy 80% of the time, and allow for some splurges 20% of the time. This cuts down on the guilt and shame, as well as the pressure to stay on an eating plan. And, realistically, that’s what I did. In the past week, we celebrated my youngest son’s birthday, and I treated myself to the aforementioned Burger King and blizzard.

I am really glad that Jodi and I challenged each other. I had been feeling really down about my lack of progress, and hadn’t been eating all that well. In fact, I felt a bit out of control. And, when you have an anxiety disorder, feeling out of control, even in the slightest, is a terrible feeling. I now feel much more in control and a lot happier. My motivation levels are rising, and I feel like I can actually do this!

The app that I’ve been using, My Fitness Pal has to bee one of the best weight loss apps/websites I have ever used! For a long time, I was using the Weight Watchers app (which you have to pay monthly dues to use). It was ok, but I found a lot of the foods I regularly ate weren’t in the database. I have tried SparkPeople before, but it seems like a bit of overkill, and you end up getting tons of emails from them every day. But I think I have found a winner in My Fitness Pal. The database of foods is great – I have not yet had to manually enter any food. Plus, I love the scan function – you can scan the bar code of any food product, and all of the nutritional information magically appears! I also love the way that the foods you eat on a regular basis are automatically saved to a list… so if you tend to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, you don’t need to search for those items each time you enter them. Like the Spark People app, My Fitness Pal has graphs that track your progress. The website is great too, although I haven’t spent time exploring it that much, I did pick up a nifty weight tracker that I’ve got on the side bar of this blog.

This has been a great week. Using the My Fitness Pal app has made it really easy to track my food, and, realistically, I think I can really keep tracking my food this way.

So, while I think I probably beat Jodi, it doesn’t really matter, because I really feel like I’ve won this week. I even enjoyed a delicious home-made Indian feast last night while staying within my calorie range. This doesn’t feel like a diet. This feels like a lifestyle change, and I feel like I am going to be very successful!

The Power of Words

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Words are incredibly powerful

This morning, I received a private message on Facebook from someone with whom I went to high school. She said she finds my posts motivational and they make her think twice while eating a bowl of ice cream. Her 40th is close to mine, and she wants to get in shape, too.

The funny thing is that this was one of the girls of whom I was so jealous of in high school! She was (and still is!) very pretty, and I remember wishing I looked more like her and her friends back then. (She probably has no idea I felt this way! lol)

When I was in high school, I was 5’9″ and weighed 160-170 lbs – by no means unhealthy. But so many of the girls around me were waif-like beauties. I had curves, and I hated them. I so wanted to look like the skinny girls at school. Having been called “fat,” “COW-en” and “jabba the **ut” in elementary school, I took those words to heart, and believed it to be true. Those words became my mindset. When I got to high school and I saw all the skinny girls getting boyfriends, my sense of self worth plummeted. (Turns out two boys I really, really liked were gay. They didn’t ignore me because I was fat. The ignored me because I wasn’t a boy!) I associated my lack of friends with my physical appearance. I was lonely, and I ate to fill the void.

To this day, I struggle with words. I am trying to overcome this. I am learning not to take things personally. I am learning to stop listening to the voices from my past.

But it’s not other people’s voices that are the problem. It’s my voice. It’s the words I tell myself. And, sadly, at times, I can be very hard on myself. Those voices we hear, “Oh, what’s one bowl of ice cream? I can exercise tomorrow,” “I’m too tired/busy/hot/cold/(enter excuse here) to exercise today” – we believe them. The more we say it, the more we believe it. The good news? We can change the messages we tell ourselves!

I know I tell myself a lot of negative things; even though, to the rest of the world, I seem like an upbeat, positive person, to myself, I am very pessimistic. In fact, I can be down right mean to myself. I struggle to treat myself with kind words.

I’ve written about Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements” before. His first agreement is “Be Impeccable with your Words.” I am finding it easier to be impeccable with my exterior words – it’s actually quite easy to say nice things to others. It’s a lot harder to say nice things to ourselves.

I have found one solution that seems to be working, and it involves my trusty little iPhone. At times, I think this blog should be called “How to Lose Weight Using Just an iPhone” because I’m finding lots of great ways to use technology in this journey.

So, here’s what you do to use your iPhone to help you change the messages you tell yourself:

1. Go to the Calendar app, and hit the little “+” button in the top right hand corner.

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2. The “Add Event” Screen will appear. Under “title” write a positive affirmation. Remember to keep it short – if it’s too long, when the reminder pops up, you won’t see the whole thing.

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3. Set a time for the event – preferably some time when you’ll see it.

 

4. Click on repeat, and select “Every Day”

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5. Click on alert and select “At time of event”

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6. Add a note if you’d like.

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Now, every day at the same time, you’ll get a reminder filled with positive affirmations. I have one that pops up every day at 3:30, reminding me that I deserve to be healthy. This pops up on my way home from work, and is a great reminder to exercise when I get home.

The words we tell ourselves hold such power. Wars have been started over words. Words become beliefs. If we hear something enough, we believe it. The words I tell myself, my beliefs about who I am are the biggest obstacles in my path to success.

My struggle right now? Exercise. I have been fairly good at cutting back on mindless eating, not eating when I’m not hungry, avoiding emotional eating, and tracking my food. But creating a regular exercise routine? Hasn’t been happening. Perhaps this is because I don’t believe myself to be an athlete. Perhaps I don’t believe that I can actually do it. Those words need to change. I need to put together a regular exercise schedule and routine and stick to it.

And when I think about it – this is the biggest goal I have. This blog isn’t called “Thin by Forty”, it’s called “Fit by Forty.” Maybe I need to stop focusing on the actual weight loss and begin focusing on creating a healthy lifestyle based around fitness. I am going to examine how my beliefs about exercise and fitness are preventing me from achieving my goals.

To all my friends who have given me encouraging words, cheered me on and supported me since starting this blog, thank you. Your words truly are powerful and inspire me to persist towards my goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game on!

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I still can’t believe the response I’ve gotten to this blog. What amazes me is not only that people are reading it (I figured at least my friends would read it), but that complete strangers are reading it and following it! So cool!

But what thrills me the most is the support I’m getting from close friends and strangers alike. One of the best things I’ve encountered since starting this blog is another blog with a very similar theme, Fat Girl PhD. Today, she wrote a great post about how she has managed to lose 110 lbs without the use of gimmicky, fad diets. I absolutely love her blog – she is such an inspiration for me, seeing someone with a similar problem be successful. The best part about her blog is that she is going to start sharing some recipes, meal plans, exercise tips and tools. I just can’t wait to see what she has to post, and to learn from her experiences!

The other amazing source of inspiration and support is my friend Jodi. Tomorrow morning, we begin a week long challenge. The goal? To track our food using iPhone apps (she uses Lose It, I use My Fitness Pal – both very similar). The person who tracks the most for the week is declared the winner; the loser buys coffee. I am game!

I am a competitive person, and I am SO going to win this challenge. Plus, it’s not like it’s an actual weight loss competition. That wouldn’t be fair because I think I’d win since one of us isn’t going to a wedding this weekend. And, I’m glad it’s not an exercise challenge – one of us (hint: not me!) did FemSport earlier this year. If you think about it, it’s kind of like competitive eating, just instead of eating two hundred hot dogs in 5 minutes, we’re eating and keeping track of it. I didn’t even say that we had to eat healthy, just that we had to track what we ate. I could eat donuts and pizza all week, but as long as I write it all down, I win.

Betcha didn’t see that one coming, my friend!