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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sick Days




I have been sick (cold, sneezing, coughing, chest and sinus congestion) all freaking week. It's been m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e! Or rather, *I* have been miserable. Just ask my son.

So I thought we should talk about staying on track ... even on those sick days.

Back in the day, (that makes me sound like I am 80), when I lived at home my mom would break out the sick day staples: white toast, crackers, noodles....and chicken broth. Knowing what I know about food and nutrition, all the processed white carbs did was provide calories (empty and unhealthy) while the chicken broth seemed to work its magic. (So did mom putting her wrist on my forehead to "check" my temperature. I always think of that when I am sick.)

According to Dr. Mercola, chicken broth made from the bones (carcass) of the bird has proven medicinal value. He states "Simmering bones over low heat for an entire day will create one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is. You can use this broth for soups, stews, or drink it straight. The broth can also be frozen for future use. Keep in mind that the "skin" that forms on the top is the best part. It contains valuable nutrients, such as sulfur, along with healthful fats, so just stir it back into the broth."

Bone broth used to be a dietary staple, as were fermented foods, and the elimination of these foods from our modern diet is largely to blame for our increasingly poor health, and the need for dietary supplements.





So our mothers and grandmothers were right! I think we'll find that a lot of the "medicine" we use today was developed to fill the gap between today's diet and the healthy nutrition we used to get from real food. But that's another blog altogether.

To make the stock, you'll first need the carcass of a chicken. (Sounds yummy, doesn't it?)





I am not a Suzie Homemaker, but I did happen to roast an organic chicken last Sunday and put all the bones in the freezer. Maybe I sensed a cold coming on.


I don't think there is a need for a specific recipe for this. I think some bones, water, veggies and time simmering in a crock-pot is all you need.  

But here's what I did:
  • 1 organic chicken carcass (I think 2 or 3 would have been better, to make more, but I only had one. You want organic because you don't want chemicals and hormones and antibiotics leaching into your broth!)
  • A few cups of water. I used 4 cups
  • 1 onion cut up (large pieces)
  • 6-8 baby carrots cut up (large pieces)
  • 1 large celery stalk cut up (large pieces)
  • 1 tbsp Braggs organic vinegar (to help extract the goodies from the bones)

I put it in the crock-pot before I went to bed and let it simmer on low all night, and all during the next day until I got home from work. I ended up adding a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper because with the cold my sense of taste wasn't that great and I felt it needed it.

I drained/sieved the stock from the veggies and carcass and voila! Chicken broth!





Then I picked out the cooked veggies and some of the little bits of chicken and put them in a bowl, added some of the hot broth, got out the hand-held blender and made a kind of cream of chicken soup simply by blending it all together. It was a nice, yummy, hot meal that didn't require very much effort and it felt great taking care of myself in this way.

You can make this in advance and freeze it, and since this is cold season...why not do it this weekend?

In addition the the daily broth, I have avoided ALL white processed carbs and have feasted on dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), broccoli, lean proteins (chicken, salmon, eggs) and have carried my water bottle with me everywhere.  And I lost 3.8 pounds this week!

A friend's brother is a doctor.  He likes to say that if you have a cold and treat it with medicine, you will get over it in 7 to 10 days. And if you have a cold and do nothing about it, you will get over it in 7 to 10 days. 
I'm sure that's probably true. 

But I think if you have a cold and eat healthy, vitamin-rich foods, those 7 to 10 days will feel better .... both physically and mentally. 

Just knowing that you didn't use being sick as an excuse to eat badly is worth the effort!




Carly
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Monday, February 3, 2014

Heart Attack? What's Your Risk?

A few years ago I was a heavy smoker and a heavy woman. I smoked 1-2 packs of cigarettes per day, weighed 320 pounds, and ate incredibly unhealthily. Not only did I not exercise, I would get so winded trying to walk across a parking lot I would have to either walk very slowly or stop to catch my breath.

I can't even imagine what my risk for heart attack or cardiovascular disease was at that time. I can't tell you, because I was too embarrassed to even go to a doctor. I didn't have regular physical exams, checkups and honestly, I didn't want to know. You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, and I wasn't ready or able to start healing the physical stuff while I was still trying so hard to heal the inside (emotional and spiritual) stuff.

My current employer offers a partial physical exam. They test blood work, urine, weight, hearing and eye sight. Although I am scheduled for a full annual exam with my own general practitioner in April, I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of this free exam and benchmark the start of 2014. Since I have renewed focus this year and am actively losing again and actively exercising again, my hope is that when I compare my January and April numbers it will show marked improvement.


Still, I'm pretty happy already with the first set! All my numbers fall in the "healthy" or recommended desirable range!

So how do you go from a-heart-attack-waiting-to-happen to falling within a healthy range? You know what I 'm going to say, right? ONE NEXT RIGHT CHOICE AT A TIME!


Remember, I stopped smoking, then gained even more weight. Then I added one new thing at a time, starting with "drinking more water." Then I added "one healthy fruit or vegetable" to every meal. If I went to McDonalds for a Big Mac, I'd start with a side of apple slices. If I went to Wendy's and got a fried chicken sandwich and a large Frosty, I'd eat a small side salad first, no matter what.  Then I started walking on a treadmill...going 2 mph for 5 minutes!  No kidding!

Now I am able to lightly jog an entire 5k, participate in obstacle course/mud runs and I have lost 80 pounds.  It all adds up!

Now that I am refocused for 2014, my next right choices are going to be easier. I already drink water all the time. I already eat salads all the time. I already love fruits, veggies, and know the difference between processed frankenfood and REAL food. I just need to make next right PORTION choices and next right GET OFF MY ASS AND WORK OUT choices.

Okay guys and gals...you can't fix what you don't acknowledge. If you have any recent cholesterol numbers, go to the NIH: Risk Assessment Tool for Estimating Your 10-year Risk of Having a Heart Attack and see where you stand.(I am in the 1% range. 1 out 100 people with my stats have heart attacks.) This information can either reinforce your past and current next right choices, or help shape your future ones!

One thing is for sure. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and starting today you can choose to decrease or increase your risk for a heart attack. As always, the choice is ours!

Carly
p.s. If you like my blog, please share it!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gadgetry Round-up

I love kitchen gadgetry! 
Here are my 3 top finds of 2013.
------------------------------------------------

There's a store in Gatlinburg, TN called "All Sauced Up" that has the coolest little kitchen gadgets. I always find a little something there to take home with me, but the ones I found by Chef'n last year were the best.




The first one is a Chef'n Palm Peeler. You slide your middle finger into it and then peel away. Perfect for cucumbers, apples, etc. The blade never gets dull. I use mine almost daily (for the past year) and it is amazing!  

I can remember when I lived at home....my dad would get so annoyed with my mom and with me for peeling potatoes with a knife and taking off half the potato with each pass! ("You're wasting half the potato for crying out loud!" lol So true!) Not so with this little beauty!  

I eat cucumbers almost every day. They are always so waxy and even washing them I can never get all the wax off. This just skims the peel off without wasting any of the cuke. I even successfully peeled a butternut squash! It took the first pass off effortlessly and then I just went back for another skim and voila!  Perfection!) 

I don't get any cut of any sales - but you NEED one! At $6.99 how can you go wrong? Chef'n Palm Peeler (order from All Sauced Up). (I am sure you can find it on Amazon also.)







Next up?  

Chef’n SleekStor Pinch Pour Collapsible Measuring Cups (silicone) with matching "bonus" measuring spoons.

They will fit in any drawer, you can measure hot or cold ingredients, and they don't stain - not even when measuring out spaghetti sauce (and we are tracking and measuring our food, right? Right????)  

They are a little pricey at $21.99 maybe, but not having to fight the $%^$! drawer to stuff them in and out is worth it to me!  Chef'n Pinch Pour Measuring Cup Set (order from All Sauced Up)








And the last "favorite" from this past year is the Chef'n Palm Vegetable Brush.

It works perfectly on all vegetables and doesn't slip out of your hand.  Brilliant!

I can no longer find it at All Sauced Up, but did find it on Amazon for $6.99: Chef'n Palm Brush (order from amazon)





I long for the day when I can have a fully functional, gourmet kitchen again. I had that once, but I divorced it many years ago. (I really miss that kitchen!)

But even in my tiny galley kitchen, I can enjoy the whole cooking process a lot more when I find these little gems that make life so much easier.


What are your favorite gadgets? What can't you live without?  Let us know!


Carly
If you like my blog, please remember to share it!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Weight Watchers vs. My Fitness Pal


I have been asked, "Which is better? Weight Watchers or Myfitnesspal?" and the answer is EASY!

Hands, down, without a doubt....whichever one you'll actually follow!!!!

I come from a very respectable line of professional Weight Watchers. My grandmother (who is 94 and amazing) is the matriarchal Weight Watcher in the family. She worked for many years as the manager of the original Publick House Bake Shoppe in historic Sturbridge, MA.


Postcard of My Grandmother at Publick House Bake Shoppe, Sturbridge, Mass.


Fig squares and Cookies and Pastries, Oh My!

I worked there during high school and my aunt was the assistant manager. My grandmother and both of my aunts are amazing bakers. The world's best chocolate chip cookies, greek butter cookies, apricot squares, sticky buns, eclairs, anadama bread, jams, jellies, Joe Froggers (look it up!) and turnovers were probably my main food supply when I worked there.  (No one asked, but I am pretty sure profits lagged badly during my time of employment LOL) When I visit now I am sent home with sleeves of oatmeal cranberry or chocolate chip cookies (or both!)


The ladies on that side of the family are life long Weight Watchers and have lifetime memberships. They have reached their goals and maintained now for a few years.  It gives me hope that I, too, can make it!

When I started this mega-transformation journey January 1, 2011, I began with Weight Watchers.  And in 8 months I lost nearly 90 pounds. I would call that a major success! I ate real food, I followed it to a "T", I was seldom hungry, and the system allowed for the "oopsie" days where I went over my daily or weekly points.

The best part of Weight Watchers, for me, is letting go of counting calories and getting bogged down in perfection.  It focuses on what you are eating, and portion sizes, rather than calories. Five to six veggies and fruits each day, two or three dairies, plenty of water, at least one healthy oil, and some activity are the main focus. What you do after that is up to you, so long as you stay within the points.

This works for me...VERY well. I have already lost close to 15 pounds this month!

Myfitnesspal also worked for me...for a very short time. If I didn't meet my 1280 calories each day, I was deflated and felt like a loser, or somehow shamed. The GOOD part, however, is that it lets you track all your macronutrients and you can see how much fat, protein, carbs, calcium, sugars, etc. you are eating. I wish WW did that. I miss that part a lot.

WW is not free.  It is $18.95 per month for the online version which comes with free eTools. (You can use your phone to scan product bar codes and it will pop up the per-serving points. Fantastic at the grocery store or even for adding food at home.)

Myfitnesspal is completely free. There are tons more people and forums and support because it is open and free. Their database of brand name foods is exponentially bigger, so there is little you have to enter manually. It also has free eTools and I would say it is easier to use, a faster interface, and better supported by the community.

I say, try one. TRACKING is CRITICAL to success. I'll say that again. TRACKING IS CRITICAL TO YOUR SUCCESS.  All the Biggest Losers will tell you that!  So pick an app, try it.  If it works, stick with it.  If it doesn't...switch!  If it stops working, switch back.

The bottom line?  Be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, and if that means switching it up and trying something new? DO IT!

Carly
***If you like this blog, please share it with your friends!***

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Biggest Loser, Office Style

I signed up last week for the Biggest Loser Contest at work.

It starts every year in January and runs 12 weeks.

This 'lil competition is just one more level of accountability, and another reason to keep making good choices!   Here's what I am doing to maintain focus.

Blogging
If I start the morning with even a quick blog it means I am thinking about my goals and how to get there.

Weight Watchers Online
I switched from myfitnesspal.com to the weight watchers online tracker.  I will blog soon about why, but it is totally working for me already.  And tracking every morsel, lick, nibble and taste is key.

Weight Watchers meetings
They started Wednesday meetings at work, and while I honestly don't think I need it there are a few reasons to go:

  • I can meet other like-minded people. 
  • I have a weekly weigh-in that someone besides Carly is going to see. 
  • I will certainly learn something from the leader I didn't know.
  • I have a friend who told me about it and I love the idea of sharing tips, tricks, ideas and recipes, etc. with her. 
  • And I just thought of a new idea, too.  Make a totally WW dinner and invite her over.  I can even tell her in advance how many points to save.  Ha!

Google Calendar
I made a detailed calendar that outlines the plan, right down to which days and when to exercise, when to get groceries and prep for the week, etc.  Seeing this in black and white (with reminders!) helps.

Water, Water and More Water
I have started to make gourmet flavored waters (yup, another blog post for this week..stay tuned).  It helps me want to drink it! And I know drinking water helps tremendously with all aspects of my health.

Working out
I'm not killing myself with a trainer, a bunch of weight training, P90X etc. .... yet.  I am back on the treadmill, doing lunges, squats, some planking and getting my body used to being used again.  I'll step it up when I feel I need to step it up. Right now this is working.

Last year I lost 29 pounds during the competition.  I gained some back, and then lost it again by the end of 2013 for a net loss last year of 36 pounds (for all of 2013) At least it was a loss and not a gain!

I am setting a goal of losing 36 pounds just during this competition. I really believe I can do it.  I'll keep you posted!

Carly
.....Begin with the end in mind.  And as always, if you like my blog, please share it!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Year, Renewed Focus

Consistency.  My focus for 2014


  • I will post this year.  

  • I will post regularly this year.

  • I will post something, no matter what.

  • I will post because it starts the day with the right focus.

  • I will post because it keeps me accountable.

  • I will post because even when I'm a disaster, a trainwreck, a mess.... it helps me lighten up and accept that I am human (and That's OKAY!)

  • And I will post because sharing the journey helps ME as much and likely way more than it helps anyone who reads.


I had a "get off your butt and do it" moment I blogged about: Walking the Talk, 1 year ago

That lasted a week.

I am 48.  I WILL be at goal, healthy, toned, and fabulous by 50. I am going to create a roadmap and share it in the next week.

How many times have I said failing to plan is planning to fail?  I need to plan to SUCCEED.

I am close to my all time low weight right now (down about 80 pounds; my all time blogged low was when I was down 90).  I am refocusing this year and throwing myself into it like I did when I started this blog:

January 1, 2011: First Day of The New Me

I may struggle with consistency, but this is the first time in my life I have maintained somewhat focus on fitness for THREE WHOLE YEARS without going back to (and exceeding) my start weight!!!!  I am going to call that a success!

I am going to blog this year about ALL the factors that affect my journey.  The weight loss, the fitness and exercise, the food, the organizational challenges (ADHD), the mental aspects (depression, the committee in my head that wants to sabotage me), the emotional challenges (loneliness, easily frustrated with myself, etc.), and anything else that pops up.

And I am going to do this with some degree of consistency.  THAT is my MAIN goal for 2014.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

The L-Word

I avoid the L-word.  My closest friends know that this has been the bane of my existence. No matter how much I try, "L" always gets the best of me.

I'm talking about LAUNDRY, of course. Ugh.

So what does laundry have to do with weight loss, you ask? A lot! I am a total package made up of interlocking pieces...like organization, procrastination, motivation, dread, habits, fears, successes, and a cluttered mind. And that last one is probably the biggest hurdle I have to continuously strategize to overcome.

When my mind is cluttered, my environment is cluttered. When my environment is cluttered, my mind is cluttered. There is no chicken or egg here. It works in both directions. And it doesn't matter what causes it...what matters is that in order to make plans, keep plans, move forward and have success in ANY area of my life (fitness, work, parenting, even hobbies), I have to continuously devise methods, tricks and tips to overcome the clutter that is Carly's World.Seeing things organized frees me to focus and do better at EVERYTHING else!

Henceforth, I shall focus on ....the dreaded.... laundry.

All my life, my laundry has existed in one of three states: (1) In the dirty pile, (2) in the clean pile (overflowing hampers or piled on the unused side of my king size bed), or (3) on my body. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE clean clothes, washing and drying (or hanging) laundry. I really do. It's the details that bog me down, like having to sort, then hang, fold, organize and put away. Ugh.

So here are some things that have helped me get MUCH better with laundry.


Shout Colorguard. With this product, you do not need to sort. You can just throw everything into one tub on cold, and call it a day. This morning I threw a brand new ORANGE t-shirt (that I knew was going to run) in with a pale yellow blouse, black shirt, white socks and a mint green shirt. I really did. And I also tossed in a few of the colorguard sheets. As you can see in the pic, nothing ran, but the sheets are completely orange! It's like magic.


Matching Hangers. At Bed, Bath and Beyond I got the "Real Simple" slimline hangers and threw out the hodgepodge of fat plastic store hangers I had. These are visually uniform which helps my brain. They are slim which helps with my tiny closet. They are cloth which makes even slippery camisoles stay put. And they have slacks racks, clips, skirt hangers,etc. for consistency. This isn't a luxury item. This is a sanity item.


Re-purposed dresser.  I have a lovely mission style pine dresser that, for years, has either sat empty or shoved full of unknown objects (because I didn't look in there for anything.) I am a visual person. I need to SEE something to know it exists. It's just how my brain works. So I now use my dresser for towels for my master bathroom, a nice cubby for all my hair products, brushes, etc. and the other drawers are for makeup, bras, underwear and workout clothes. There are no pants, shorts, shirts, sweaters, etc. at all. I wasn't keeping up with it anyway so why set myself up for failure?

Closetmaid Organizers.  
I bought a few 3-tier Closetmaid stackable organizers. The shelves are adjustable. I have a cloth bin for socks, one for nylons/tights/knee highs, one for my bathing suits.  I use one of these in my laundry room, too, to organize laundry supplies. A place for everything, everything in its place, and I can SEE what I have!



Since my son operates in much the same way as I do, I completely ditched his dresser and replaced it with stackable 6-cube and 9-cube organizers. Because he can SEE what t-shirts he has, he actually wears more of them (instead of just grabbing the top one in a drawer!) It also makes it easier for him to put things away. He has bins for socks, boxers, bathing suits, t-shirts, shorts, etc. and he uses the extra ones for video games, spare skateboard and scooter wheels, etc. Doing this one thing has made him feel MUCH better about his room and he keeps up with it much better (although he IS a 14 year old boy, so don't expect TOO much right?)

I am going to spend more blog posts talking about organization. It is critical to my success at everything I do - my job, being a mom, fitness and weight loss goals - all of it!

And in case this seems like a lot to do all at once, please believe me when I say this has been a process over time, one small incremental change at a time. But if we just start and do SOMETHING, we will all get there!

Carly

p.s. I have missed blogging. I struggle with consistency (if you have followed me, you know that's true!), and I am working on strategies for that, too!  Please don't give up on me or the blog.  :-)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Prep Prep Prep

I have been struggling a bit (so what else is new right) ugh.

Trying to think forward to the work week I went out and got a lot of good healthy groceries.  Traditional wisdom says that you can't eat crap if you don't bring it into the house.  Experience says that you can manufacture crap from the healthiest of ingredients if you are motivated enough (cake anyone?)

Anyway...I know me.

In order to succeed in food choices I have to have a lot of good healthy choices
that are ready to eat without a lot of fuss.  If I am running behind (happens a lot more than I care to admit), or if I am feeling a little blue (yeah that happens too), I don't want to mess around in the kitchen.

So this weekend I did a lot of prepping.  I washed, peeled and cut vegetables for snacks - and put them into single serving baggies. I cut up watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries.

I measured out fruits and spinach for my morning smoothies, and put them in
freezer bags.  No ice needed in the smoothies...all the goodies will already be frozen.  Into each bag I placed:

  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup strawberries
  • 1/3 cup banana (about 1/2 of a 8" banana)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) spinach
Pre-made baggies of smoothie ingredients to freeze
In the morning I can pull them out and add whatever I am in the mood for into the blender with them - almond milk, protein powder, PB2 (ground peanuts so yummy!), kefir, yogurt, aloe juice, fruit juice.....whatever suits me that day.

The bottom line is that it's time I start taking control of myself.  I don't need anyone telling me what to do or how to do it.  I KNOW this stuff. It's up to me to stay focused and do it.

This weekend the focus was on redirecting my nutrition.  This week it will be on redirecting my physical activity to what works for Carly.  I'll come back when I figure out that plan....


Carly 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gonna Fly Now

You wanna flyyou got to give up the [crap] that weighs you down.” ― Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

I want to fly again.  

I have soared from time to time in the past.  

I have looked at the world from the bird's eye view with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. I carried a very light load and lived for the moment, enjoying the sun on my face and wind at my back.

And I have been crushed under piles of [crap] barely able to see even a crack of daylight breaking through the dark. You stay under those piles long enough and you even begin to forget there is a whole world out there with fresh air, flowers, sunshine and gentle breezes where you can breathe and be free.

Where I am now is somewhere in between.  I am free and don't carry the load I used to.  I was able to shed tons of other people's crap they had piled on me over the years.  I was able to sneak out from underneath other piles of crap I kind of asked to be put there as I was afraid of going too far or sailing too high.  That was unfamiliar territory.

Where I am now I am living in the sunlight, breathing in the fresh air, and have run fast and jumped in the air like Rudolph when he was first learning to fly.  I have sailed some....then realize I am flying, got scared, and came crashing back to the ground.  I have done that a time or 16 over the years.

Skaroo that.

I don't need to go back and psychoanalyze my past and figure out which trauma has created what barriers and which horrible experience piled too much weight on me.  

Nope.

What I need to do is back up, getting a running freaking head start and jump in the air and just start freaking flying.  And if I discern something is weighing me down, I need to lighten it up or let it go.

I'm sick of going just so far in life and then self-sabotaging and inviting weights in.  I"m like a weight magnet if you will.  (lol ha..see what I did there?)

I don't have all the answers in life and I am not 100% sure how I am going to do it, but I am here, the sky is there, I like it up there and by golly it's my time to fly, with or without a freaking copilot in the cockpit.  (see what I did there, too? I slay me.)

Life is frantically busy right now, but I need to blog.  The Universe is screaming at me to blog.  Maybe I'll be blogging from a mile in the air one day soon and writing my words in the sky.....

One thing is for sure.  I do know some of the patterns and behaviors that I choose of my own accord that can weigh me down and I'm going to get out from underneath them once and for all so I CAN get airborne.  

Yup,..I'm Gonna Fly Now....





Carly

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Class Reunion, Part One

“Real nice party, Hapsburg. I see a lot of familiar face-lifts.”
Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear (1991) – Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen)

My 30 year class reunion is next Saturday.  I would love to say that it doesn't really matter to me what anyone thinks about the way I look, but that wouldn't be particularly truthful.  

I think if you were thin in high school and then gain weight, there's a panic about wanting to look like you did back then and that would have its own stress.

But I think if you were heavy in school and then show up 30 years later, still fighting that battle, it feels like a big 30 year very visible defeat.  In my mind I have been self-talking continuously since high school about how "this year" I am going to lose weight.  Year after year after year.  Ugh.

Everyone has their issues.  EVERYONE.  But people with eating issues (whether anorexia or compulsive overeating) wear theirs on their outer shell, displayed for all the world to see and comment about.  

I don't mind as much as I would have 10 years ago.  I have found the right path for me and I am very happy being on it.  I love my blog, sharing what I am learning, and feel pretty comfortable in my own (now excessive) skin.  It's been a hard fought battle to get where I am now and I'm not going to give up ground over old high school insecurities.

I am getting together with a group of women tomorrow for a 5k Mud Run (LoziLu) from high school in my own home town.  I haven't lived there since 1984!  I will be so much fun catching up. It's going to be a great time, a great week, and end in a great reunion. WHO we all are is what is going to matter.  That's where I am keeping the focus. 

I'll update you during the week.  I'm not sure what kind of signal I will have to get online....will try to do a daily blog though they could happen at night instead of in the mornings.

And I will certainly give you a Class Reunion, Part 2, once the grand event happens.

:-)

Carly

When it's pouring down rain, stay under the umbrella

"When it's pouring down rain, stay under the umbrella" ~ Carly

When life is coming at you in all directions, and you are overwhelmed, and have multiple things competing for your attention, and....life is pouring down..... drop back to the very basics that keep the rain off you - use them as your umbrella to shelter you from the rest while you stay dry.

For example, I have a lot on my plate right now.  I'm wrapping up some work that is near deadline and in some ways past deadline while trying to pack for vacation while trying to get my house in order so it's good when I return while trying to reorganize my son's room while trying to plan for a 30th class reunion and a family reunion, while my dad recently got pneumonia while my son is visiting with him on his vacation while trying to work through the details on the sale of my house while.....

You get the idea. There is a lot coming down on me all at once.

But in reality, I can't control most of that.  Worrying about it yesterday was killing me, exhausting me, and causing my mind to be a hamster --- running endlessly on its wheel but getting nowhere.

Then, in a moment of brilliant inspiration, it came to me:  fuhgeddaboudit!  (Click here in case you are not familiar with fuhgeddaboudit.) 

I asked myself what really mattered in that 24 hour period and distilled it down to the most basic things that I could control and that were the top priorities.  So I discarded everything else yesterday and focused all my energy on three things:

(1) Work.  My job is the most important priority.  Need the job to support all other aspects of life (as I am the sole provider for myself and for my son) Work is required for food, shelter, safety...the most basic human needs.

(2) Exercise.  I focus better, feel better, have a clearer head, and more energy to face the tasks at hand if I exercise.

(3) Eat well. For the same reasons as exercise.

By doing that, I was able to really focus on my work and accomplished more in one day than usual, despite the stress.  A lot more!  And all the other things I was worried about slipped to the background.  I'll take them out and look at them one at a time, when each becomes the priority.

For now, I am enjoying the peace that has come from keeping it simple, staying focused on a narrow scope, and making some excellent next right choices yesterday. Standing behind the strength of taking care of myself helped. Hiding behind (or underneath) food surely wouldn't have helped.

What do you do when life pours down on you?  What's your umbrella?

Carly

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to get rid of fruit flies (This really works!)

"Time flies like an arrow.  Fruit flies like a banana...."

If you love fruit and eat it daily, chances are pretty high you've had or seen fruit flies.  If you've made the mistake of leaving out overripe fruit, you've probably walked into your kitchen to find a happy extended family of them flying around.

There are a few things about fruit flies I'll mention, mostly because I didn't really think about this until I googled it the other day (desperate to get rid of my own fruit flies) and was pretty grossed out.  Why not share the "ewwwww" with all of you?  (You're welcome.)

Where  do fruit flies come from?

I always wondered how they found their way to the fruit so quickly.  Like - of all the places on the planet, how did they KNOW I had bananas or overripe cantaloupe laying around? Was it a phenomenon like hummingbirds that are attracted to bright red?  Did they have some 6th sense that told them where on the planet to fly?

I was much better off not exploring the answers, so if you don't want the truth, stop reading now.  Otherwise, the obvious answer is on its way...... the larvae are already deposited on the fruit.  In other words, you bring the soon-to-develop fruit flies in with you from the store or farmers market and it's just sitting there waiting to hatch.  YUCK.


How long do they live?

According to the Orkin Man, they live around 25 days, and really strong alpha males can make it 30 days.  


Okay Carly, get to it:  How do you get rid of them????

I researched and experimented and by FAR, this was the best approach.


  1. Get some small bowls and put about an inch of APPLE CIDER VINEGAR in each one.  Into each bowl put about 1/2 tsp dish detergent and mix it up.  Set them around where you have seen the fruit flies.  Almost immediately you will see them gathering around the edges of the bowls.  The apple cider attracts them, and the soap makes it so they can't fly out.
  2. Get rid of all organic matter that they feed on.  This includes all fruits, trash in the trash can, slime in the garbage disposal, residue in the sink or spots you forgot to wipe off the counter.  
  3. Bring all new fruit and veggies straight into the refrigerator.  For at least a month, do NOT leave any food source out for them.
  4. After preparing or eating food, don't leave the dishes until later. Wash them or put them in the dishwasher immediately.
  5. Be vigilant.  Just keep everything wiped down and all fruit out of sight.
I had purchased a couple of overripe canteloupes and left them out on the counter for a few days, along with some hanging bananas.  I woke up one morning to find a lot of fruit flies.  Not realizing it, by not emptying the trash in the morning before work, I kept giving them plenty to feed on (I each so much fruit and veggies in a day there was no shortage of peels etc. in there.)

Using the method above, in just a couple of days I went from a hearty infestation to seeing only a couple.

You should change out the bowls for fresh after 3 or 4 days - and keep it out there for a couple of weeks.

Sorry if you find this all so yucky, but if you're going to eat fruit and vegetables all the time, you're probably going to run into this like I did and you'll be happy to know what to do!

Carly


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10 Things I Keep On Hand

I have some things in my cupboards and in the refrigerator that are almost always on hand.  I keep them around as a "sure thing" for times when I am too...

H..ungry
A..ngry
L..onely or
T..ired

(See previous blog article on HALT here.)

...to be bothered with fixing food or foraging.  These are the "go-tos," the staples, the must-haves.  Here they are in no particular order:

Apples

I love them.  I try to eat them in the morning or afternoon but not at night because of their relatively high sugar content.  At between 75 and 110 calories (depending on size) it's a low cal treat.  They are easy to toss in a bag, bring in the car, keep at work and they are filling enough to stave off a food craving.


String Cheese

Delicious alone or coupled with something else, like an apple.  I need the calcium anyway and depending on the brand they are between 50 and 80 calories. I love the Frigo Light, the Weight Watchers are okay but always seem a little dry to me.  And when money is less of a concern I'll grab the Horizon organics.


Almond Butter

Good, all natural, no additives (organic) almond butter is filling and tasty on celery, with apples (my favorite), on rice cakes, or just on a spoon.  There's an amazing recipe for paleo fudge that uses it.  Trader Joe's almond or peanut butters are my favorite brand, but there's now an organic brand, Artisana, 100% Organic Raw Almond Butter, that comes in individual packets which makes it so easy to toss in a purse or in my hiking backpack.


Granola

I can't live long without my Cascadian Farm Fruit and Nut Granola.  As-is right out of the box, mixed with plain nonfat yogurt, as a cereal with almond milk....the only problem I have with sweet, wonderful, delicious granola is my ability to regulate my portions.  So for right now there's a granola moratorium in my house until the granola learns better self control. (ahem, the moratorium begins after this existing box is gone....)


Spinach

I eat spinach every day. In salads or smoothies or sauteed or in an omelet or as a replacement for lettuce on wraps.  I have .blogged about spinach and all its wonder a couple of weeks ago. No matter what kind of a day I am having, I just feel so much better having spinach.


Coconut Oil

It is a healthy essential oil that holds up well when heated  Trader Joe's Extra Virgin is by far the most flavorful.  Spectrum Organic is much milder and available even at Walmart.  I use it in baking, cooking and even in smoothies. I tossed all other oils except Olive Oil and have never looked back.


Almond Milk

I buy single serve containers that don't need refrigeration (for convenience and for travel) as well as big ones for the fridge.  I get unsweetened plain, or unsweetened vanilla and both are tasty in my morning shakes, on granola, or just to drink.  As a beverage very high in calcium, this is almost a daily drink for me.


Amy's Organic Veggie Loaf Frozen Dinner

Because sometimes, I just don't want to cook, or think, or plan.  Tasty, hot, comfort type food that is good for you.  'Nuff said.


Tuna

I keep tuna pouches on hand always.  I can eat tuna when hiking right out of the package, use it in salads, piled on top of rice cakes, etc.  So high in protein and omega-3's, it's just good for you.

Skinny Pop Popcorn

I get these at Fresh Market or Earth Fare and in big bags or single serve (100 calorie) packs.  I love the flavor, lightly salted with olive oil.  It is low cal, high fiber, healthy snacking.  The portion packs are great takealongs for road trips or at night when portion control could be a problem.  And if I am really "bad" and grab two, it's still just 200 calories!


Carly

Monday, July 22, 2013

Preparing Success for Vacation

I am working on preparations for a vacation. Where I am going there will be no gym for workouts, no free weights, no DVD player for P90X, and the stores I am used to having so conveniently around me are going to be a good half hour a way.

What that means is I have to plan in advance how I am going to handle working out, how I am going to handle eating healthy, and how I am going to try to maintain some sort of routine to keep my momentum going and not lose my footing.

I have already started working out the details.  For starters, after morning workouts I like to drink a healthy smoothie.  And while I won't be adding my spinach in, there's no reason I can't bring a shaker bottle and stick with my routine.  So I have made up little containers with my Secure chocolate meal replacement shake, PB2 powder (low cal ground peanuts that tastes like peanut butter) and "Greenergy" green vegetable powder.  I am adding to my luggage a couple of single serving non-refrigeration almond milk containers and my shaker bottle.  Voila.  Done and done.  When I get groceries there I will get more almond milk to have on hand for the rest of the time.

I have mapped out the place I am staying and it is exactly 3 miles to walk/jog around the lake.  There is absolutely no reason, rain or shine, that I can't get in a minimum of 3 miles per day, and then do all the other fun things like swimming, water skiing, tubing, whatever else comes up.  

My goal is to return from vacation at least the same as when I leave.  Even better will be returning one pound lighter.  It's all in the preparation and deciding that's what I am going to do, purposefully.

I will eat a big fat juicy burger while I am there.  I plan on eating one meal at Dresser Hill - a place with some of the best fish and chips and homemade ice cream.  So I guess I better plan on 6 miles (2 laps around the lake) on those days.

The key is, for me, giving this thought in advance, giving myself permission to splurge but accounting for it, and not going into it unprepared and without a plan.  If I pull this off it's going to be a major win in the battle between the old Carly and the new "this is a lifestyle" Carly.  Guess who's going to win?





Sunday, July 21, 2013

20 Inches Gone in 75 Days!

Cardio matters.  Stretching matters.
Weight training matters,  
And sticking with it no matter what matters!

The numbers don't lie!  Since May 6th I am down:

Chest: 1.5 inches
Waist (above belly button):  5.5 inches
Stomach (at belly button): 5.5 inches
Hips: 3.75 inches
Thighs: 1.75 inches each

And total weight loss in the past 75 days (since April 15th actually) is 20 pounds for a total of 48 since January and 82 overall.

While this journey is definitely not all about the numbers, let's face it, measuring and weighing lets us know if we're moving in the right direction. AND HECK YEAH I AM!

I am heading out on vacation very soon and have a couple of goals in mind while gone. Two important ones are: don't gain back even 1/8th of an inch anywhere, and don't gain back even one pound.  

It's too exciting to see the results of all my hard work and dedication to blow it on a vacation!

My happiness doesn't hinge on the numbers, but I gotta tell ya.....I am pretty freaking happy knowing that.....ready for this.....those next right choices are adding up.  Or down, as the case may be.  :-)

Carly

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Important Blog Announcement!

Due to changes in Google and their ending of the Google Reader many people use for reading this blog, I am going to be making some service changes soon that could affect your ability to get blog subscriptions to The Next Right Choice.

To ensure you get blog posts I make, please subscribe via email.


The blog post will come directly into your email in full (the only things that don't pull into emails are youtube links and videos when I add those.)

You can always click on the blog link contained in the email and it will bring you right back here.

You can subscribe by entering your email address in the box below:


Enter your email address:


Delivered by FeedBurner

Your email address won't get spammed or shared - it will only be associated to my blog.

And then when I switch services, I can port the subscription list easily with me without skipping a beat.

They will send you a confirmation email that you will have to click to confirm.

Thanks!!!

(back to "regular" blogging tomorrow).....


Carly

Friday, July 19, 2013

Count Calories or Chins.

If someone were to ask me my number one tip for losing weight I would answer without hesitation:  TRACK.

Track your food.  Write it down.  Count calories or macros or nutrition or portions or whatever system works for you.

I have used Weight Watchers Online with great results.  With WW you don't count calories (well you really do, but it's all under the hood and they do that part for you to keep you at a healthy goal).  With WW they tell you instead how many POINTS to eat.  (You must have so many fruit and veggie points, so many meat points, so many carb points, fat points, etc.)  

I found that incredibly helpful when I started this journey and in fact used it for the bulk of my weight loss.  It guided you through what is a healthy portion size and really made you think about how much of each type of food you were consuming.  I found I was eating a LOT of processed carb crap and very little veggies.

The bottom line is there was an online tracker, and an Android app (iPhone too) so that wherever I went I could drop in that meal and it would keep a running total.  In that way I knew when I had to stop for the day.  WW was also great because it is designed for people who make mistakes and missteps.  They built in daily and weekly overages, knowing full well that at some point you'd blow it.  But it was okay because they accounted for it with 35 "anytime" points to cover you.  Brilliant!

Now I use My Fitness Pal:   http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ (You can add me as a friend if you want...my username is Carlyweb and I keep my entire food diary public.  How accountable is THAT?)

Every bite of food I eat gets recorded (most days) and it keeps me honest with myself.

It is SO easy to lose sight of what a portion size should be.  It is so easy to forget about that granola bar you ate this morning or all that half and half you put in your coffee this afternoon and before you know it, you are hundreds of calories over.  It only takes 3500 unaccounted for calories to gain a pound and frankly, I can do that pretty freaking quickly!

So today's tip is TRACK YOUR FOOD.  You don't need a fancy system (my fitness pal is free though and so easy!)  Even if you just keep a journal, diary, notebook...something. 

And write down every nibble.  ONE bite of fudge is STILL calories.  Just because you don't eat a whole something-or-another doesn't mean it's calorie free.

Be honest with yourself, because even if your mind deceives you....the scale will not.

Carly

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Splat!


"The greatest masterpieces were once only pigments on a palette."
-Henry Hoskins


When you first get started on the health and fitness path, you're NOT going to see immediate results outwardly.  You're just not.  It is important that you keep your expectations realistic so that you don't give up too soon.  It's also important that you just keep going anyway!

There are many "victories" you can find along the way if you remain open and expect slow positive progress.

Here are just some of the rewards, benefits, small successes that you can be on the lookout for over time:

  • When you eat the very first healthy, clean meal that is calorie or content controlled, think of how you FEEL.  It feels good to make that next right choice.  Stay in that moment and enjoy it.
  • When you drink a lot of water, you can feel your body responding and after a few days your skin will feel a little softer and healthier.  You may be less puffy (my face improves a lot when I am well hydrated.)
  • Your poopies will get more regular and less sludgy (yeah, I went there.  I'm sorry, but you are what you eat and when I eat sludge, I poop sludge.  That's a good barometer for me if I'm eating the right things.)
  • Eating less refined CRAP and more lean protein and dark leafy greens/vegetables you will find you have more energy and a more positive disposition.
  • After just a couple of weeks you will feel your clothes fitting better and bloating leaving the scene.
  • You might be sweating less.  (When I eat processed CRAP I sweat a lot.  When I exercise a lot and don't eat CRAP, I stay a lot cooler.)
  • There will be a little extra zip in your step.
  • You may have more focus.  I sure do, in all areas of life, when I am exercising and eating well.
  • You will feel so much better about yourself, knowing in your heart that you are doing what you can to be healthy.  That feeling translates into all your other interactions.

It can be frustrating making good next right choices and not seeing the scale drop 5 pounds per week, or not seeing the inches melt away immediately.  Take a slow, steady, consistent path to healthy eating and exercise and the slow, steady, consistent results WILL add up over time and you WILL reach your goal,

You just can't give up.  If you keep going, you'll make your goals.  If you turn around and go back to eating CRAP and ignoring the health ramifications of not exercising....you will never find what you truly want.  You know it's not back there.  It's ahead!! So get moving in that direction!

My friend Matt shared this with me while I was quitting smoking and felt like it was never going to get easier.  It applies here, too:

'A man meets a guru in the road. The man asks the guru, "Which way is success?"

The bearded sage speaks not but points to a place off in the distance.

The man thrilled by the prospect of quick and easy success, rushes off in the appropriate direction. Suddenly, there comes a loud "splat."

Eventually, the man limps back, tattered and stunned, assuming he must have misinterpreted the message. He repeats his question to the guru, who again points silently in the same direction.

The man obediently walks off once more. This time the splat is deafening, and the man crawls back, he is broken, tattered and irate. "I asked you which way is success," he screams at the guru. "I followed the direction you indicated. And all I got was splatted! No more of this pointing! Talk!"

Only then does the guru speak, and what he says is this: "Success is that way. Just a little past splat."

Carly

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stop Eating CRAP

I have a guaranteed, one line sentence that can change how your body looks, how your body functions, and how you feel.  One sentence.  Do this, and you will turn everything around.  Ready?

Stop eating CRAP.

Yup.  Profound, isn't it?

Let's look at what that means, really.  All at once, or in tiny incremental steps, make the goal to eliminate (or drastically reduce) the following:

Eat less CRAP:
C - carbonated drinks
R - refined sugar
A - artificial sweeteners &colors
P - processed foods

Eat more FOOD:
F - fruits & veggies
O - organic lean proteins
O - omega 3 fatty acids
D - drink water

I have seen those acronyms all over the web (I have no idea who to attribute them to, however.)  They are used for fitness, health, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, fighting ADHD and a whole array of wellness topics.  

Why?  BECAUSE CRAP IS KILLING US!  All those items have no redeeming nutritional value, and deplete the body of its ability to heal itself and keep itself healthy and strong.  I believe that while the body is busy trying to get rid of all this CRAP, it is less able to fight off disease.  It is less able to effectively use the nutrition we do get from other foods.  It doesn't move things along properly.  It depletes us.

I also believe we need the healthy stuff.  And lots of it.  That includes organic pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, plenty of NON-GMO grains and meats where the animals are not fed GMO corn, olive and coconut oils, ground flaxseeds, wild caught salmon and other fish, and yes, plenty of water.

This isn't rocket science.

If we eat chemicals, refined sugars and flours, and non-food - we are not taking care of our bodies and we are making ourselves sick and unhealthy.  We should not be eating all the canned stuff, the high sodium stuff, the artificial preservative and coloring stuff.

We just need FOOD.  Without the toxicity.

Why is it so so so hard for people to believe this?  Why do people refuse to look at the reality that what we are eating, and what we are feeding our kids...is killing us.

The more I learn, the more I want to buy land and grow my own food, raise my own cattle and chickens, etc.  Unfortunately, I'm far too spoiled and well, lazy, to do all that.

So I WILL go to my local farmer's market, buy fresh local foods, search for Non GMO labels, spend most of my time shopping only the outer edges of the grocery stores (where the whole, real foods live), and try to eliminate the CRAP.

The less crap I eat, the less I want it.  And that's a very good thing.

Carly

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Body Image

I was talking with my BFF earlier (my best fat friend) who has been on this journey with me since elementary school.

Together her and I have probably lost and then regained 1,500 pounds over the years - so we have a lot of shared perspective on this whole body image topic.

One thing we were talking about is how despite our significant weight loss and our solid progress over the past couple of years (she looks fabulous and has been near goal for quite some time now) we can still FEEL as fat as we were at our highest and we can still SEE ourselves at our fattest.  It's a little scary how easily our own body image can change based on the choices we make on any given day.

This picture was taken yesterday by a coworker who told me that a couple of times during the day, when she saw me walking down the hall, the word that came to her mind was "skinny"  (Not really that I am skinny, but maybe that my weight loss is so drastic that I'm moving in that direction?)

I asked her to take a picture so I could see what she saw.  She snapped front, side and back for me and when I looked at the pictures I thought, "wow!  That's me?"

I am looking at it right now as I type this and I am trying to imagine what I would think if I was meeting myself for the first time, or if I saw myself on the street.  I think I'd just think that was an average woman.  Heavyset/big, for sure, but heck so is most of America.  I wouldn't say "more fat" than anyone else.  In other words, I see nothing abnormally large in the photograph.

But in the mirror, I see every flaw.  Just sitting here, I can feel the loose torso area and when I look in the mirror, my eyes frequently zoom right in on the flaws to see if they are properly hidden/masked/etc.

And my perspective is influenced also by that day's choices.  This is where my BFF and I were laughing.  If I work out and eat healthy, I can look in the mirror and see a pretty cool chick who's got it going on.  Miss Thang.  After a weekend like the 4th of July (my 4 day bender) I would look in the mirror and see the same girl who was 81 pounds heavier!

I don't have this whole body image thing figured out yet and it really does fluctuate in ridiculous degrees.

What I do know for sure, though, is that when I make my next right choices - eat well and keep my body moving - I feel good about myself and that translates into the filter I use when looking in the mirror.

Body Image:  One more reason to keep making next right choices.

Carly
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