May Challenge

Successful weight loss depends on habits. We know this. The problem with habits is that (the successful ones) are repetitive. Wake up, record my weight, put on my Apple Watch, fill my water jug, and get my lunch… did I lose you yet? Wait, don’t stop reading, this post will get better, hang in there with me.

This is all the good news… I do appreciate my habits, they are in synch and doing what I need them to do – I am losing weight. I am down 5.5 pounds just from April 1st. The “number” is feedback just one part of the process. The thing I’m even happier about is how I am feeling. I have good energy, and I am doing something to take care of myself.

Read Atomic Habits – it is so good!

This is the downside… it takes time to figure out the process. Then sometimes, you figure it out, and then something out of your control forces a change that causes a setback. So sometimes (while you’re doing all the work to get the process in gear) you need a little distraction to keep your spirits high. I work with young children, and I can tell you that there is no substitution for a little novelty to get kids to do things that are hard for them. To that end, I have created a little gift of sorts for you in the May Challenge! Take a look, feel free to download it, and come do this with me. It will be fun.

Earning My Keep

After finishing a challenging thirty-minute Peloton class, I was not looking forward to cooking dinner. After washing my face and changing my clothes, I checked my fitness app to see if I closed my “rings” and right at that moment a DoorDash notification banner popped up. Shaking my head, and giving a big sigh I headed down the stairs with as much enthusiasm as a kid diving into homework after school.

Click here to get the recipe

So much of weight loss success relies on determination and engagement. After cooking dinner, everyone at my house was surprised to see how tasty it was. Then it felt great (after) just as it is with so many different things. Working out feels great (mostly after). I’m never sorry I do these things but having the fortitude to actually get it done is sometimes REALLY hard to do.

Anything worth having takes care and consideration if weight loss is the thing you REALLY want – I hope you have the fortitude to see it through because you are worth every ounce of effort. You can do this, just don’t give in.

A Quick Glimpse: My Day

Drowsy bedhead sipping coffee as the sun slips silently into twilight. The early morning light scatters into the atmosphere it is officially another day. Two sets of clothes sit at the ready, one for work, the other for working out. Down the stairs, all set to go grabbing my green Yeti with a second cup of coffee to go… then a backpack, slinging my lunch over my shoulder, jostling my water jug. I am a woman on a mission…

Later, the front door opens and I step inside the house. I pick up the clothes waiting on the wooden chair in the foyer. Outside the sun still rules high above the horizon. It’s light seems extremely potent at this time of day. My back pack is dropped, I toss the cold packs from my lunch-bag to the freezer and they make a soft thump when they hit the ice maker. I’m prepping dinner in my workout clothes.

I climb the stairs with my dog Sadie following in tow. My water bottle feels lighter as it swings from side to to side with ever step. Sadie lays down under my makeup table, her head rests lightly on her paws, she is my witness to spin class. Thirty minutes later I am back in the kitchen, prepping my lunch for tomorrow. I think about the cooler packs slowly freezing and it’s strange because I realize everything is resetting only to restart all over again tomorrow.

Everyone’s weight loss journey has its own rhythm – the challenge is to learn the steps so you can let those habits lead.

What Works for Weight Loss

Sometimes you need a little guide on the side when it comes to knowing how to begin something new. This is especially true when it comes to a weight loss journey. There are so many competing ideas, and with it being a 3.8 billion dollar industry it can be easy to get “sold” on something that won’t work for you. Here are my top ten habits that are helping me lose weight:

  1. Daily weigh-ins: this has helped me know my patterns betters and has made me less uptight about seeing “the number”
  2. Drinking 64 ounces of water each day: I notice that when I am hydrated I feel less hungry between meals.
  3. Daily exercise: when I work out I feel better, and since I enjoy spinning and I own a Peloton, it just works out.
  4. Daily food tracking: I am a Weight Watchers member, so I do all of that on my app and it really gives me the structure I need.
  5. Weigh and measure portions: I find it difficult to eyeball a serving. A food scale and measuring cups really help me. I’m not overeating or undereating I’m eating a serving and it helps.
  6. Making healthy foods obvious: it helps a lot to have grab-and-go foods for meal prep. Hard-boiled eggs, cut-up veggies, or low-point/calorie snacks bagged up can make a big difference
  7. Daily reflection for gratitude is more helpful than you’d think: if you decide to focus on all that there is to be grateful for it changes the daily story we tell ourselves. It’s important to enjoy this time on the journey and not just wait for things to get better after weight loss.
  8. If you’re a learner it’s important to intellectually engage the weight loss process: read about health and nutrition to keep your head in the game. If reading is not your bag, there are plenty of podcasts out there.
  9. Plan ahead: for me the meal that’s the hardest is dinner. I use the Paprika Recipe Manager to plan out the week. The great thing is I can send myself the grocery list on the “Reminders” app on my iPhone.
  10. Build a community: having spaces you can share with others really makes a difference. Get a friend to join you on a weight loss journey, be part of a bigger group meeting, and/or engage in virtual platforms. If you are reading this and decide to comment you are making a move to be part of a community.

Here is a little door prize for reading today, this is a great habit tracker. Feel free to download this to try it out. If you would like one of your own here is my Getting to Goal Amazon List. You will find that and some other products that are helping me on this journey.

The Collective

Scrolling on Facebook, I happened upon a post: Collective Nouns of Humans in the Wild by Kathy Fish, for the Jellyfish Review. It immediately captured my imagination right away. Here is a few of them:

  • A group of grandmothers is a tapestry.
  • A group of toddlers, a jubilance.
  • resplendence of poets.
  • beacon of scientists.
  • A group of first responders is a valiance. 
  • A group of special education teachers is a transcendence.
  • A group of neonatal ICU nurses is a divinity

Perhaps the one that was the most meaningful to my husband and me, was that a group of neonatal ICU nurses is a divinity. As parents of premature babies, we understood how aptly named that group is and the significance of the name. Fate is a mystery, and it just so happened that one of those brilliant and compassionate neonatal nurses that cared for our twins some twenty-five years ago happens to be our neighbor. She lives three houses down from us. We saw her today while walking our sweet pup Sadie, and I shared what I had learned, and she was taken aback: “Really, is that true? I can’t wait to tell my friends.”

How we think about ourselves, and what we call ourselves really does matter. Since this is my blog and I get to make the rules here (wink wink) I want to make a contribution to this list of collective nouns:

  • A group of weight watchers is called a transformation.

You don’t have to be a member of Weight Watchers to be part of this group. You just have to be like-minded in the belief that you have the power and fortitude to make positive changes to your life for the betterment of your health.

A group of Osprey is called a duet

Permission to Live in the “Good”

Today is a day to just appreciate everything that is “good”. It doesn’t matter what it is or if it is even connected to your weight loss journey. Allow yourself to let go of all the worry, disappointment, or frustration you might be feeling and just revel in the “good”. Take a moment to write a list, draw a sketch or just contemplate in your mind all the things that are good in this life:

  • The sun was out and it was a beautiful day
  • I am breathing the air, and I am out in the world.
  • My repair on my car was reasonable!
  • I have meaningful work to do that benefits others.
  • I love my husband maybe even more than I did when we first got married
  • I love my kids, they are really good people who make this world better.
  • I had amazing parents, who have left an indelible positive mark on my life.
  • My parents gave me the gift of a lifetime, my brothers and sister, I love them.

For today, just be grateful for everything you have been blessed to have received.

The Ice Cream Effect

I read this article in the Atlantic today called, NUTRITION SCIENCE’S MOST PREPOSTEROUS RESULT, which proves (much to the dismay of many Dieticians) that there is significant scientific evidence that eating a half cup of ice cream a day yields extremely positive effects on our health. Watch this interview with author, David Johns on MSNBC for a good synopsis of the article:

I am not suggesting that for the sake of your health, you need to go out right now and indulge in a three-scoop Friendly’s Orginal Sunday… (these were oh so good!) To be clear, a half cup of ice cream looks like this:

Thanks to: Eating Made Easy for this great comparison

I’m suggesting that there are a lot of widely held beliefs out there that can be very discouraging for people on a weight loss journey. Stick to what’s working, and keep an open mind to new thinking, even when that thinking challenges the status quo. Sometimes when something sounds too good to be true – it is actually true.

Don’t You Mind Me: Mindful Eating

Here is a little story about my nephew, James. When he turned four he had one of those big family parties. After he made his wish and blew out the candles, it was time for ice cream cake! He took a nice big slice and proceeded to eat it with a tiny cocktail fork. Each forkful clung to the metal until some eventually spilled onto his plate. Well, of course, there were lots of “helpful adults” on hand to tell him, “You don’t eat ice cream cake with that.” To which he replied without missing a beat, “Don’t you mind me.” and promptly took his cake to eat with his more like-minded cousins. He was hilarious! But now I have to think, was he also wise?

Food is sensory and is meant to be experienced. Want a fun fact? Studies show that we eat less when we hear ourselves chew. (Brigham Young University) It’s a little weird, but it also makes sense.

So what is mindful eating? Mindful eating is an approach to eating that can be a very useful habit to establish on a weight loss journey. Harvard University’s research has shown that “mindful eating can lead to greater psychological wellbeing, increased pleasure when eating, and body satisfaction.” All I know is that when I eat something mindfully, I savor food rather than just consume it.

Sometimes I feel like a hungry lion too.

My present goal for mindful eating is to eat one thing a day mindfully. I don’t think I am ready for a whole meal this way, but I can say – I do enjoy it. I imagine where the almonds were harvested, or I name the sweet and sour notes in my Greek yogurt. Sometimes I look closely at the pistils of a raspberry in contrast to its deep red color. Here is what I try to do to set it up:

  • Be intentional with how I feel when I sit down to eat.
  • Limit outside distractions and make eating an experience.
  • As I eat focus on the sounds I make, name the colors of the food, inhale the smells, and experience the textures on my tongue.

As I close this post and Think back on my hilarious and wise nephew, James, the kid was onto something. There is no right way to eat something you really enjoy. For him, maybe that cocktail fork added a lot to the whole aesthetic of eating ice cream cake. It might be time to lose the “rules” when it comes to food, and just get carried away with the experience of eating food I really enjoy.

Alive & Kicking: Fitting in Time for Activity

More energy! More vitality! That’s the stuff that inspires a weight loss journey. Chances are good, you’ve read the phrase, “living my best life” What does that really mean? I looked it up on Google, and it’s meant to convey feeling happy and reaching one’s full potential. Well, how do we aspire to that in the day-to-day?

When I got home from work today I feel defeated and deflated. I was tired and cranky because it was a long day at school, a long commute home, and the day wasn’t even done yet. I still had so much to do! I have to: make dinner, clean up, and then lunch for tomorrow. Dear reader, in my mind’s eye, I imagine you nodding your head sympathetically, in solemn agreement. Fitting in time for an activity can be hard for some of us, but I’m here to tell you it’s not impossible. Begin by answering these three questions:

  1. What is an activity you enjoy? If you don’t like it you won’t do it.
  2. Thinking about your current lifestyle, how much time can you devote to activity? Be specific and realistic about accommodating your current schedule.
  3. What do you want to get out of this activity? Having an expectation helps reinforce engagement.

This is my reflection and how I settled on how to fit activity into my life:

  1. I really enjoy Spinning. I will do that because it’s rewarding to me.
  2. I own a Peloton, so I can do this activity daily. I can spend anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes doing it. If it’s a work day I might spend 20 minutes or maybe 15 if I want to do it before leaving for work. If it’s the weekend I might spend 30 to 45 minutes doing it depending on the plans for the day. I will stagger how long I spend doing it based on what’s happening.
  3. I expect to feel physically good afterward, satisfied with my effort, and mentally calm (either burning off stress or gathering energy for what’s next).

If you really want to fit more activity into your day, give this a try. Being physical, and getting out of your head can be a real relief. I feel completely different now than I did when I came from work. Now I’m ready to keep going; so… are you ready? Let’s do this.

It’s All in Your Head: Deciding What Habits to Keep

What kind of person are you? It’s the habits you keep that will give you away every time. If you identify as a person who lives a healthy lifestyle; but don’t work out, drinks too much, and eats mostly fast food – you are not living a healthy lifestyle, are you? Habits dictate how we live, they are the workhorses of everyday life. The goal for intentionally setting up personal habits is to simplify life. When it comes to deciding which habits to keep, is a deeply personal affair. Before you can decide which habits are serving you well depends on who you are now and your end goal.

There are five steps that anyone can use at any time to establish productive habits:

  1. Identity Work: Who are you? Who do you want to be?
  2. Lifestyle Choices: How do you want to live your life?
  3. Name the Goal: What do you want to achieve?
  4. Developing Systems: What habits need to be set?
  5. Momentum & Joy Are habits building momentum? Do they bring you joy?

Here is the template if you think it will help you do this work

There is no reason to wait any longer to grow into the person you want to become. This is your one beautiful life, live it the way you want. Allow yourself to be inspired and be inspiring to those around you. Believe you can do this and you’re already there…