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.

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.

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.

From Believing to Belonging

It is safe to say that just about everyone on the planet knows weight loss (or maintaining weight loss) is hard. To be successful at this you have to believe in yourself. Say it out loud, “I believe I can do this.” Now, if you have a community of others who not only hear you but also hold the same beliefs in themselves, you are on your way to something very special.

So many of these posts have been dedicated to my Saturday morning Weight Watchers group. Each week, we get up so early (our group meets at 8:15 am) on a Saturday morning to go sit in a Moose Lodge because we all get so much out of it. We share, we learn, and we belong. So many people are wise and generous, compassionate, and really vested in each other’s progress.

How do you make healthy habits stick? One way to help healthy habits stick is to create a robust culture around weight loss, and that makes it super attractive. There are norms, we all count points, we all track our foods, we all weigh and measure portions, and we believe in being accountable by weighing in on a scale. We are a community of people who share these beliefs, and we support each other on the journey.

One reason I blog is to keep that community spark going from Saturday to Saturday. I want to make it a big tent and expand that community to anyone who cares to read these posts. You are not alone, you are one of us, and we can be there to help each other through the rough times, and to celebrate the many successes you are bound to have along the way. I’m so glad you’re here.

Small Successes

There were a few challenges today.

  • Bagels, danish, and muffins
  • Rolls, candy, and cake
  • Workout routines were upset
  • Husband snacking

This is how it went:

  • I ate breakfast at home – that made it easier to say no
  • I ate the fruit plate mindfully and then enjoyed conversations at the table
  • I was flexible with my workout and was appreciative of how I felt after
  • I considered if I was really hungry and decided to say, “No thanks.” Saying no is a powerful thing.

There are days when it seems one issue pops up after the next. Knowing how to cope with each, without getting overwhelmed is a fantastic feeling. I am grateful for this weight loss journey. I am grateful that my body is resilient. I am grateful to have this space to honor my efforts. If you’ve worked hard at weight loss, then you understand how important these small successes are.

High Utility Habits

Do you have a junk drawer at your house? A drawer is a drawer that you allow yourself to just throw in whatever you want without any organization whatsoever. The only requirement is that the drawer can close. Out of sight out of mind. Until the tape is needed, or the little scale (don’t judge I do own two scales the little one is more precise with grams than the big one). The dog brush that untangles knots is there, right next to scented tartlets…

Some things are useless – like expired coupons or expo markers when there is no whiteboard in my kitchen. Some things are high utility objects, things I use every day like the tape, or pens you see in there. I think I have a condition that I always need office supplies on hand – but that’s a topic for another time.

In some ways, the habits I’m trying to cultivate are similar to this collection of stuff I hide away in my kitchen. Some habits are high utility – like tracking and movement goals. If I make those habits more accessible I am going to be more likely to lose weight. Others like meditation and bedtime routines are nice (and very good for me) but are not as likely to make or break my week when it comes to shedding weight.

So what habits are you trying to cultivate? As you think about it consider which ones are the most important – the ones you want to have on hand because they really make a difference.

Thanks for reading, and if you feel like it -leave a message, and let me know what you are thinking about.

A Little Imagination

I went for a walk today with my husband and our pup Sadie. It was cold and sunny, a welcome change from the soggy (unseasonably warm) grey weather of late. Along the way, we passed the telltale signs of post-holiday remains: condensed boxes tied neatly at the curb, a perfectly shaped Christmas tree rolled on its side, and houses stripped bare of their colorful lights. Then all of a sudden a splash of whimsy

Hello Mr. Narwhal

I just love a holdout. It sparked a little joy and optimism inside me like if you just look around you’ll find something special in the ordinary. Something that captures the imagination… I think it is very important to flex the imagination while trying to achieve any big goal. Especially when progress can be slow; as it sometimes is when it comes to weight loss. Think of it this way, imagination is the intellectual gift we give to ourselves. It is not something that is only reserved for artists, poets, and musicians. To imagine is to be human – it is innate to who we are and sustains us when the going gets tough.

Today has been a good day on plan. I hit my water goal, I am within my points, cooking dinner I planned out my meals for the week, and I had a very rigorous workout this morning followed by this leisurely walk that inspired this post. All of these tiny little goals knit together to form a strong foundation for my future success. No, I’m not perfect, as you can see by looking at my habit tracker… but the transformation to daily healthy habits is underway. I got this and if you believe it – so do you.

A January Jump-Start

Let’s go 2023! I am using everything I have to jump-start my healthy habits. Dinner was not the greatest choice, and I was very hungry by the time I ate. Instead of one portion, I had two. I thought about weighing and measuring my portion but I didn’t do it. That was what kept me from coloring in that goal on the habit tracker. While this is kind of a downer, I won’t let it steal my joy in everything that did go well. Overall, this day was a total win. I didn’t snack. I ate all the foods I prepared, I worked out, and I drank my water. I am here blogging to share my story with anyone who cares to come along with me – I would say I am being downright earnest. I do feel a small shift and I KNOW I am due for a comeback.

Snow Day 2.0…

I live in a northeastern suburb and we can get some brutal winters. Not as bad as New England but bad enough. The great trade off for black ice, shoveling snow, and bitter cold winds whipping off the ocean is the thrill of getting a “snow day”. There is no better feeling than getting the call that the roads are “impassable for students, faculty, and staff’. It is like getting a free day unencumbered by an over scheduled life

Then and Now

Snow days used to be full of dressing kids for outside play, movies and popcorn, steaming hot coca, and art projects. I put my energy into making those days happy special times, for my family. Now snow days give me the chance to put my energy towards self-care. It is a day where I can refocus on my priorities and treat myself well. Today is one of those days, so how will I use my time? All of the items on this list, would make my life better:

  • Writing to center myself
  • Taking a Peloton class
  • Spend time with my hubby
  • Appreciate some beauty
  • Do some light cleaning
  • Cooking a new recipe compliments of:
  • Reading for fun
  • Do some planning for work
  • Meditate and practice mindfulness

Writing this list has helped me to prioritize my health goals. Sure, maybe if I were more evolved I would not need a heavy snowfall to take time out for me. The truth is I’m not there yet, but I think just knowing this is a step in the right direction. If you’re like me, and need an excuse to take some time out for you, I suggest you try writing down a list of things that will help you to prioritize your health goals. For my type A friends, think of as a challenge or an assignment. Put it on your calendars and schedule it to make it happen.

Icy waters preceding the storm

In the meantime, I can look forward to six more weeks of winter and finding more opportunities to be be good to myself. I hope you are good to yourself too.