Snow Day!

I am a public school teacher. I am a 10-month employee. I have built-in vacations throughout the school year. And, I have snow days from time to time. Today is a snow day! Usually “the call” comes between 4:30 and 5:00 AM, today’s call came early last night. That is a definite treat. No matter how the unexpected (or sometimes anticipated) day off comes I always feel excited – like 9-year-old, clap your hands, and jump up and down excited. When the call comes in the morning it’s sometimes hard for me to fall back asleep. When the extremely rare night before call comes there’s time to prepare for the celebration.

In my past I would have loaded up on comfort foods, grabbed a good book and movie, slept in late, and stayed in my PJs all day. It would basically be a day of eating and not moving very much where I’d end up feeling a bit achy and sluggish.

My new snow day reality is a bit different. I still feel all the excitement, I hit up the grocery store for provisions, and I sleep a bit longer than I would on a normal work day BUT my food choices have surprisingly adapted to my personal health goals and I seem to be no longer capable of sitting still for long periods of time. When on earth did this happen to me?!

My grocery basket last night included bananas, celery & carrots, blue cheese, Frank’s Hot Sauce, BOCA crumbles, Halo Top ice cream, PB2, Quest bars, and a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. Did I need everything I bought? Nope. But, I wanted options for making food on this snowy day. I’m seriously contemplating making Skinny Buffalo Chicken Strips (http://www.skinnytaste.com/skinny-buffalo-chicken-strips/) and Low Fat Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing (http://www.skinnytaste.com/low-fat-creamy-blue-cheese-dressing/) from http://www.skinnytaste.com – hence the celery & carrots, blue cheese, and hot sauce. The BOCA Veggie Ground Crumbles I like to have on hand for one of our favorite Weight Watchers recipes of Pasta with “Meat” Sauce (7 SmartPoints). I had my typical breakfast of a Shakeology protein shake with banana, but I did add a little something special with an Eggo Nutri-Grain Low Fat Whole Grain Waffle spread with PB2. As for the Halo Top ice cream, Quest bars, and Diet Mountain Dew? Total splurges of comfort. Will I eat them any or all of them today? Yes to the diet soda (and, yes, I know it’s really not good for me) but probably no to the other items. Right now I’m splurging on having a second cup of coffee with half-n-half – I’m methodical in measuring out 1 tablespoon for each of my cups of coffee.

I slept an extra 2 hours from my regular work day wake-up time of 5:00 AM. That felt wonderful! I also stayed in my PJs and leisurely prepared and ate my breakfast. Then, instead of heading for the couch and my warm blanket, I tidied up a bit and changed into my yoga clothes for my daily practice with Yoga with Adriene (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFKE7WVJfvaHW5q283SxchA). I feel awesome! When I’ve been sitting too long my Fitbit will buzz to remind me to get up and move, which I will do. I also see some serious shoveling in my near future. Of course I will mix this all in with reading (YOGA: Mastering the Basics – Sandra Anderson/Rolf Sovik, PsyD) and watching some Netflix (The Crown). All-in-all a lovely day.

I still have the excitement for snow days, but now I physically and mentally feel great after the day has ended.

A Milestone and a Goal

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In 80 days I will be celebrating my 50th birthday. 50! I’m not angry, upset, embarrassed, or in denial, I am a bit perplexed, though. The concept of being 50 years old baffles me – how did I get here already? I know who I am and how I feel and that doesn’t jive with my previous understanding of what being 50 is. The laugh must be on me! The truth and reality of being 50 years old is not rigid and set in stone, it’s not any one thing for all people. Yes, it is a fixed number and that is how many years I will have inhabited this body, but I am absolutely certain that each of us is much, much more than a number – if we want to be. Now, if I can just wrap my mind around BEING 50 without falling into a wide-eyed stare I’ll have a much better appearance heading into this next year. Anyway…

My goal to achieve in the next 80 days is to reclaim my goal weight. I know that I can reach this goal. The challenges I have within this timeframe are rooted in my emotions and past experience. This Friday begins my summer vacation from school, which means many exciting and rejuvenating things but it also signals a complete change in the structure of my day. I long for this lack of structure, but I am acutely aware that I depend upon it to keep me in check and on track as far as my eating and moving are concerned. It’s time I reason out a new form of structure to guide me through the summer.

Another challenge heading my way as the summer commences is that I’m heading home to Wisconsin to take a class in World Drumming and visit my family. I’m looking forward to all of this, but my history with heading back home has had me quickly returning to my not so healthy eating and exercise habits of days gone by. I know I can’t control everything heading my way in this setting so I must keep my birthday goal fresh in my mind and gage what it is that I want most in the moment.

And yet another challenge that will present itself soon after I return from Wisconsin is a fabulous Eastern Europe river cruise vacation Mark and I have planned for mid-July. It’s going to be luxurious and grand, and the sites we will be seeing will be new and exciting. Once again I must keep my goal front and center and enjoy the sight-seeing excursions more than those involving food. I will enjoy the local fare as I might not encounter these fresh options again, but I can enjoy it and enjoy feeling satisfied rather than stuffed after the fact.

Front and center: I will reclaim my goal weight by my birthday in September. I will focus on the moment and remind myself of the goal I want to achieve. I will enjoy the new structure and experiences my summer vacation has to offer. I will try new things and be conscious of how I feel.

50, physically and emotionally healthy, and at my goal weight – that’s exactly where I’m headed.

What are your summer goals?

 

Eating by 22 Minute Hard Corps

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I’m a Weight Watcher for life. In fact, I’m a Lifetime Member of WeightWatchers. In complete honesty, though, I’m a Lifetime Member of WeightWatchers making my way back to my goal weight. The road back is more challenging than the road I took to get to my goal in the first place, but I’m personally assimilating the knowledge and skills this time around and that will serve me brilliantly for the rest of my life.

As I stagger through the end of the school year and deal with the various emotional ups and downs that pass my way I’ve found it more challenging to plan meals and even eat the meals that I have planned. It’s become apparent to me that when I’m stressed out and tired I lose all motivation to do what I know I need to do to eat for my best health. I completely understand how I’m feeling and I definitely know how to plan and prep for meals, but down to my bones I JUST DON’T WANT TO DO IT. In order to not think about it I decided to follow the eating plan that came along with the Beachbody fitness program “22 Minute Hard Corps.”

The nutrition plan is clean and straight forward. The recipes are easily prepared and quite tasty. I figured out my “Ration Plan” by answering a few questions and chose to follow the daily structure breakdown of what to eat for each meal and snack. The plan makes sense and I followed it quite successfully. Here’s what I learned –

  1. Eating more protein keeps me satisfied for a longer period of time
  2. Because I’m not starving going into lunch I can eat a smaller amount and continue feeling satisfied
  3. Eating a healthy fat for an afternoon snack seems small but it gets me through to dinner without a problem
  4. A serving of protein and vegetables for dinner seems skimpy but, once again, it’s enough
  5. I don’t need to have an evening snack because I’m hungry – I’m not hungry
  6. Although I love fruit I shouldn’t eat it endlessly because it’s good for me, watching my portion sizes and quantities will only benefit me in the long run

My big Ah-ha! though is that I need to adopt my “no think” method of exercising – which has made working out a natural part of my every day – to my approach for eating. I’ll think about what my body needs to feel its best, but I’m going to turn off that part of my brain that petulantly insists that it deserves to eat whatever I want whenever I want it.

What I really deserve and what I really want is to feel great – healthy and satisfied.

Releasing My Control Freak

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It’s been just over a week since we had to say our farewells to Miles and although the sadness continues, life does go on. My heavy heart is lightening a little every day and I’m starting to reorganize my daily routine without my dear pup. It’s strange.

Another side affect I’m experiencing in my grief is that I don’t feel like thinking and organizing myself. Maybe this shouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m very aware that I’m a control freak and when I don’t feel that I have a firm grasp on my responsibilities and what’s going on around me stress dominates my existence. Couple my emotional response to losing Miles with the fast approaching end of the school year and all the deadlines and general chaos that ensues I’m feeling completely out of control. I don’t want to think about any of it, but my responsibilities continue regardless. I also have personal responsibilities that need my time if not my attention. I need to return to my workout schedule and healthy eating but my head doesn’t want to organize it.

My solution is to follow someone else’s plan, the way they organized it. I’m turning off all my preferences that cause me to second-guess what I’m being told and then bend it to the way I think is best for me. I’m going to relax into not thinking about it and just following it – for ONE week. Starting tomorrow I’m following a full week of the Beachbody program “22 Minute Hard Corps” – workouts and diet.

Today I chose the meals that follow the eating plan, grocery shopped, and prepped some of my food for the week. It took a little time to accomplish this, but it didn’t really take that much brain power. What little organizational energy I have I’m going to use for wrapping up the school year.

My goals this week –

  1. Follow the “22 Minute Hard Corps” workout and eating plan
  2. Allow the plan to work by itself
  3. Consciously release my control freak tendencies
  4. Track my progress and how I feel

Commence release.

 

Do Not Disturb

As a teacher approaching the end of the school year I’m slightly overwhelmed and tired. I’ve been teaching for a while so my past experience tells me that everything that’s overwhelming me will get done – even though I don’t have a solid plan of attack in mind right now. If I let my emotions take over I’ll be heading down a very slippery slope to a place that has an abundance of foods that promise to make me feel better. All that will really happen is I’ll wallow even deeper in being overwhelmed, only now there will be the added guilt of trying, unsuccessfully, to eat my way to peace and control. I KNOW this. It’s time that I let go of trying to control and understand every move of how I will get from here to there and trust my abilities to get me through – after all, everything has always been accomplished in the past.

 

Now, for the tired part. I am tired. Then again, I’ve been tired for months now. In fact, I don’t honestly recall the last time I didn’t feel tired. This is a problem that I’m just starting to realize is causing me significant difficulties in making healthy choices for the greater outcome. When did it all start?

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I’ve always been a good sleeper. In the past nine hours of sleep was perfect for me, going to bed at 10:00 p.m. and waking at 7:00 a.m. was my regular schedule through high school. When I was in college I had a little more flexibility in my sleeping hours but I recall that nine hours was still the golden number. There were times in college that I would plan on doing an all-nighter for a test or project, only to get to 11:00 at night and just give it up because, after all, I was tired and going to sleep sounded way more enticing. I was a regular party animal!

As an adult with a full-time job my sleep schedule adjusted to the requirements of my workplace, but still I was clocking between 8-9 hours of shut eye a night. Now that I’m thinking about, everything changed for a very unlikely reason – at least unlikely for me – I started working out in the morning. A-ha!

Anyone that has known me for any significant amount of time knows that I was very opposed to moving my body in any meaningful, healthy way. The first time I joined Weight Watchers I was adamant that I would only change what I was eating, I would absolutely not work out and sweat. I admit that thought process stayed with me for a very, very long time and there are reasons for it, but I won’t go down that road right now. Anyway, I did gradually add working out/moving my body to my routine but by no means was it consistent. Then enter the time period of last spring.

Last spring I decided that my post-work workouts just weren’t happening, it was too enticing for me to forego the gym and just lounge in front of the television. I also decided that I needed to adjust my attitude about moving my body for my health and well-being. That was when my morning workouts began. I practiced the no-think method of working out – when my alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. I turned off my mind and just moved through the steps to getting up, getting dressed, and working out. I was always glad that I had finished my workout, but I knew that if I even gave it one thought after my alarm sounded for my wake up I would simply roll over and go back to sleep. The no-think method worked for me. I actually enjoy my morning workouts. I’m very consistent and I have no desire to adjust that part of my schedule.

The problem isn’t working out early in the morning, though, the problem is that I didn’t make any other changes to the rest of my schedule. I’m getting up earlier but I’m not going to bed any earlier and I’m only averaging about six hours of sleep a night. My body and mind are starting to make it very clear that six hours is not enough time to fully rejuvenate myself. Not only am I tired all the time, but I’m using food to keep me moving when really what I need is sleep. It’s a bit daunting to attack the goal of nine hours of sleep; that would mean going to bed at 8:00 p.m. and that doesn’t really work well considering I do like spending time with my husband and his work day goes a bit longer than mine.

Right now, my goal will be to increase my sleep time to seven hours each night. That goal doesn’t make me panic or feel overwhelmed. I can definitely get to bed by 10:00 p.m. Seven hours is definitely better than six – one step at a time. It’s time to put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign and get some quality sleep time.