Category Archives: Epiphanies and Words to Live By

Heart, Soul, Body, and Mind

I had so many blog-worthy things go on this weekend, but my camera batteries died at the most inopportune time.

This weekend was the Academy Awards and Spring Dance with Wayland. My last one to ever attend, and I wore the dress I bought for my very FIRST Academy Awards back in 2007. When I bought it, it fit mostly. It was loose in the chest but the belly area was just snug enough to expose the bit of a pooch I had chillin’ down there. Not the most flattering, but inexpensive it was.

I woke up yesterday morning unsure of what to wear. I was going to wear a cocktail dress I bought last summer but decided to go a bit more formal. After trying on several dresses, I concluded that EVERYTHING was too big and no matter what I wore, the work of safety pins would be required.

So I put on the black dress (now ENORMOUS in the chest and about 2-3 inches too loose in the belly), cinched it up in the back and called it a day.

The evening was pretty good. The videos were better than in years past (except last year. Those were the best!), but as I sat in my chair at the Fair Theatre, I had this feeling unlike any I’ve ever felt at the Academy Awards. I realized that I was going alone. Sure, Edgar was there, which is more than I can say for the previous year, but in all previous instances, there was the presence of a comfortable company of friends with whom to mingle. Now, my friends have graduated or moved on. And this became ever more apparent at the dance.

This is something Edgar and I have been realizing more and more. We are seeing how are lives are moving farther and farther away from college life, which is in a way painful, but not so much because of the actual college life. We are realizing that our tastes and perspectives are changing from what they were just several years prior. We are noticing how we don’t have much in common with our peers. I graduated a year and a half ago! I REALLY don’t fit in! But what I think I miss the most is my friends. Those I have been closest to have come and gone and I find myself wanting to physically move forward with my life and start the next chapter in another town.

I think the best way I can describe it is that we feel like we’re becoming too big for our shoes. I guess this is normal for a newlywed couple? I chatted with a dear friend of mine a little while ago, and she, like me, is a newlywed. I’ve watched as her outlook on life take a full 180* since being married. It’s been a long time since I’d been able to talk to her, and being able to do so this evening brought back so much that I’d been missing.

Companionship. Mutual Respect. Godly, loving support. I’ve always loved her because even though we disagree about so much (at least we did in the past?), we always keep an open mind with each other, and we love each other anyway. And now that we’re roughly on the same page in life (she’s married and her husband is currently in the Navy, while mine is still in the application process of the Navy), I feel like we have so many new topics to explore in our conversations.

I talk so much about bodily health in this blog, but health does not end with the body. Spiritual, emotional, and mental health are equally important, and that’s the message I truly want to convey here. To be everything God wants you to be and to truly do everything (“whether you eat or drink or whatever you do…” 1 Cor. 10:31) for the glory of God, you MUST look at the big picture. Where is your heart? Your mind? Your Soul? Your Body? Are you giving everything you’ve got? Are you giving yourself the respect you need as a part of God’s creation and an instrument to His purpose?

It’s not really about the scale. It’s not about trying to fit in skinny jeans. It’s not about going from “ugly” to “beautiful” in an exterior sense. It’s about honoring God with the life (heart, soul, body, and mind..) He gave you.

I think I’ve found my mission statement…

Brief Overview

It’s been a little longer than I want to wait before posting something new, but I’ve been “busy” (read: lazy?) and haven’t uploaded pictures. Anyway. It’s been two incredible weekends since I last posted, and even though I’ve only lost a grand total of .6 lbs, all the extra eating was worth it. Two weekends ago I took a trip with Edgar and our friends Greg and Ana to Lubbock. Ed and I had wedding gift cards to use and groceries to procure from Market Street. Ana had not been to Market Street yet, and Greg was only going to be in the lower 48 for a few more days, so we brought them along. I won’t go into too much detail with the food amazingness, but there were “food with integrity” burritos involved, and Edgar, Ana, and I did some considerable damage at the Market Street salad bar, and I made sure to try a few new things (dolmas: not much of a fan.).

Last weekend Edgar and I went to Fort Worth to visit my family for the Easter Holiday. There was much eating out and most of it was pretty incredible.  More “food with integrity” burrito action, but from a different burrito chain, a foodie visit at a quirky restaurant of Food Network fame, and more grocery shopping (Central Market and SuperTarget, how I love thee…). I swear, I can’t stay away. There was also a bison burger and cheese sampling involved.

Really, there will be pictures, and it will explain EVERYTHING.

Now that I’ve dropped a line, I should really get planning on my meals tomorrow and get in bed. It’s 11:15 and past my bedtime!

Realizations:

* Even though I used to hate it, I’ve realized I far prefer Greek yogurt over standard. I think it’s the artificial sweeteners and flavors that just don’t sit with me for very long. I’m also finding much of the flavored yogurts too sweet! I still haven’t developed a taste for plain yogurt, though. In time, though!

* Tofu is not bad. May need to experiment with it.

* I have little tolerance for burger patties that are in the perfect shape of an air hockey puck. PLEASE give me a REAL burger. Rustic, thick, slightly misshapen, and cracked edges!

* Goat cheese and brie for the win!!

* I need to settle down close to a SuperTarget.

* Apparently I could put away a LOT of calories without gaining. They just need to be smart calories! But really, the smart calories are more fun anyway!

Taste of Plainview

Today Edgar and I decided to go to the Taste of Plainview event here in town. It’s this convention-type event where various restaurants here in town set up booths and offer free samples on some of their best dishes and the attendees fill out ballots based on their favorites in various categories (ie. “Best Fast Food,” “Best Dessert” etc.). While I don’t necessarily consider this much of a “foodie” event since most the restaurants were chain restaurants, but it still made for a fun, worthwhile outing. If I hadn’t been the one paying, I would have considered it a date! 😉

Anyway, I filled up a plate and went back twice for a smattering of other items that I couldn’t fit on plate number one. No, not the best advice for one trying to lose weight, but I’ve learned not to fear food or the occasional excess of it, but I’ll address that later.

My plate(s) consisted of a small Sonic salad (no chicken), some barbecue turkey and ham (SO AMAZING), buffalo wings from Chili’s and Pizza Hut, a supreme pizza from Pizza Hut (ate most of a standard slice), a Cali Chicken Bacon Ranch pizza from Dominos (at most of a half-slice. Was very good, though quite rich! My small piece was enough!), two mini-sopapillas with some kind of honey-butter sauce, 1.5 pumpkin empanadas, some cut fruit, a pinwheel, half a Dominos chocolate lava crunch thing, a Sonic cheddar pepper (not that good), a little bit of beef enchilada (I love me a good beef enchilada), two tiny pieces of cheese (swiss and pepperjack. have decided that swiss on its own is quite flavorless, but melted on a sandwich is great!),  a tiny sampling cup of cantaloupe juice, and washed everything down with a bottle of water!

The damage…

And YES, I ate pretty much all of it. And YES, it put a HUMONGOUS dent in my calories/points available for use this week. But you know what? That doesn’t bother me.  Let me explain:

This week I’ve decided to work out a lot. A LOT. I mean, gaining 21 activity points lots. Monday, Tuesday, AND yesterday, I did a 3-mile walk/jog/run on TOP of 5-digit steps clocked on my pedometer. That’s also in addition to Zumba and a new workout video I got on Netflix (Billy Blanks Ab Bootcamp). And all day I’ve been INSATIABLY hungry. I’ve decided that my body probably knows what it needs, and STARVING it isn’t going to make me lose weight any faster (or healthier). I have this hypothesis that I lose more weight on weeks where I exercise frequently AND eat ALL the points those exercises burn, even if I eat TWICE the APs I recieve (thus breaking even between calories burns in exercise and calories consumed, since one food point is roughly=50 calories and activity points roughly=100 calories), than if I don’t exercise at all but never eat those extra calories in the first place. I’ve also noticed that in the past few months, my weight loss has slowed, but for some reason after a day or two of abnormally “high” calorie intake, I’ll randomly lose two pounds overnight. I think this has to do with my metabolism at the current time. I really think 21 points (+ 5 flex points/day) is too low normally, and exercising and consuming the calories burned from exercise actually may stimulate my body to burn those energy stores more efficiently.

I don’t know for sure. Like I said, it’s a hypothesis that I’m fully willing to experiment this week. If it works, I’m in no way suggesting that everyone do this, nor that it will work for me EVERY time. I’ve seen/heard of people who’ve overcome plateaus in strange ways, and the functioning of the human body is still a huge mystery to mankind.

That being said, I’ve also simply made peace with food. I’ve decided that food itself in NOT the enemy. Those fresh-made chocolate chip cookies lying around the office are not the enemy. I believe that it’s not the food itself that really makes people fat. It’s eating behavior! I grew up eating somewhat balanced meals (minus more than a few important nutrients, I’m sure), but what really contributed to my consistent carrying of a little extra pudge was the fact that I could not contain myself around snack food and dessert. I’m an external eater. I’m a grazer. I have a see-food complex. Whatever you want to call it. If we baked bread, cookies, brownies, whatever, it was gone within 24 hours. My parents learned long ago that 2-liters of soda are not safe in that house. It’ll be gone within hours. And a bag of chips with salsa? Please…

But now I’ve really made peace with “junk” food. I believe it’s okay in moderation, and I don’t feel deprived by not downing the whole pan of brownies in a sitting. I’ve learned I can’t keep that food lying out. Even if I have it in the house, if I put it in the pantry or fridge, I’ll be perfectly fine. I’ve overcome those irrational thoughts that tell me that I better take advantage of those trays of cookies while they’re available, because “who knows” when I’ll be able to have cookies again! It’s so silly, because now I know I can just whip up a small batch of homemade cookies if I really crave them. I’ve more or less learned to balance “indulgence” with a healthy lifestyle, and that’s why the fact that I consumed 3000 calories today doesn’t scare or bother me. I’ve lost 33 lbs in total, and that didn’t happen without my share of episodes of considerable overeating! And one night of indulgence is not going to make me gain back all that weight. The next meal will be right back to normal. I’m confident in that, and for the first time I think I finally understand what it means to be “on plan” even if I completely exceed my point allotments. I made a choice to eat what I ate, even if it was more than I originally expected. I’ve made the decision to make good choices and find that healthy balance in my life, and I believe this night of fun was fully worth the extra calories.

Life after Food Inc.

Last week I watched a documentary that will probably forever change my life: Food Inc. It did a fantastic job of exposing the ugliness and inefficiencies of the corporate food industry, and also what unhealthy practices they do in order to get bigger and bigger and the shortcuts they take to get more money. I’m stunned. I can’t watch that and go back to the way I was eating/buying food. I think the biggest thing I got out of it is that change is not going to happen if we give in to the system. There are people who can’t afford to buy healthy food, and it’s going to stay that way until we who CAN afford to make SOME sort of impression on the industry DO IT. Like they said, you can vote three times a day. Now, I can’t afford to go totally organic. Besides, there are plenty of food options that really don’t need to be organic. But my efforts will be mapped out here:

  • Limit meat intake. This is not necessarily for “health” reasons but for economic reasons. I can’t afford to buy grass-fed beef and cage-free chicken all the dang time. Rather than compromise my new-found standards, I can afford to learn to depend less on meat as an every-meal standard. This way, I can afford to get the GOOD stuff. For those of you in the Plainview area, Paidom Meats in Nazareth, TX raises their meat with integrity, and they distribute  at several health food stores in Lubbock. Walmart also carries some Harvestland cage-free chicken that I found on crazy-sale several weeks ago and stocked up on. Neither Paidom nor this Harvestland chicken cost much more than conventionally-raised meat.
  • Eat more beans. Gotta get my protein!
  • Go organic on the “dirty dozen” as much as I can. These are fruits and vegetables that have been found to contain a significant amount of pesticide residue. The list can be found here. Walmart recently started carrying some organic versions of these. The organic celery is marginally more expensive. The organic green onions are actually cheaper per ounce, and the organic bell peppers are still dang expensive, which means I need to branch out from using them all the time!
  • Buy local. Every summer a small Farmers Market meets two mornings a week here in Plainview. The food there is generally cheaper than anything you can find at the grocery store. There is also a Farmers Market at Apple Country Orchards in Idalou. I’m excited to visit them this summer!
  • Grow my own garden. Working on it! Trying not to let the West Texas winds and crazy randomly-snowy weather get to my fragile little seedlings…

But like I said, it’s not all about the health of it. The organic industry is not just about keeping pesticides out of our food or saving the earth. I don’t consider myself an environmentalist and I do believe God made meat to be eaten, in the most general sense. What I’m continually learning through this is that this is a far bigger effort that fights against an industry and concept that affects so many different facets of our culture. This is not just about what’s on our dinner plate. It’s about the economy. It’s about the fact that we’re the fattest country in the world and our deadly habits are seeping into the rest of the world. It’s about the fact that we’ve reduced our food processing to factories that thrive on the cheap labor of illegal immigrants (which I think is strangely akin to the economy of the south during the time of slavery). It’s the fact that as a result of this, Americans don’t have enough decent jobs that pay a sustainable wage, and this bigger-badder-faster attitude that businesses have these days are plaguing our society in ways we can’t fully comprehend yet. Federal standards have laxed, and American have become complacent and/or naive. Not everyone can do everything. But I can do something. And I choose to make a change, not just for me and my family, but for the hope that one day a pound of broccoli will cost less than a hamburger and that businesses will gain back a sense of integrity.

And thus…

This was grocery shopping trip part one of many I have made this week. This was the brunt of it though. In the cart went…

  • Kodiak Cakes Frontier Flapjack mix. They’re made of whole grain and are 100% all natural. I’ve been meaning to try them but they’re quite pricey. I’m glad I did, though, because Edgar LOVES them!
  • Kashi TLC crackers. I had these at an office party and they ROCK.
  • 2 cans of organic chickpeas. Didn’t cost much more than regular, so I got two cans. One can for Roni’s hummus (not a fan of tahini, so I’m excited to try her version!), and one for roasting!
  • Two cans of Del Monte organic tomato paste. It’s good to have around, was inexpensive, and there’s coupons for other Del Monte Organic products on the label!
  • Bananas, which have since been restocked! Do me a favor. Freeze banana chunks. When frozen, toss into blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Instant healthy soft-serve “ice cream!” Eat. Enjoy. You can thank me later.
  • Blood oranges. I can’t get enough! Though I’ve learned I need to scrub these down. When peeling them I get this nasty,  shimmery, waxy residue all over my hands. Can we say ew?
  • Pears. They were on sale! Unfortunately not organic, though.
  • Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit. Ed’s favorite fruit.
  • Butter with Olive Oil. For cooking. I use Brummel & Brown for smearing on stuff that needs smearing.
  • Chai Green Tea bags. Love it! Studies show that fresh brewed green tea helps metabolize fat more efficiently. And I really love a chai latte in the evening, so it’s win-win!
  • Canned pumpkin. I can’t ever have enough pumpkin in the house.
  • Earthgrains Multi-Grain sandwich thins. ‘Cause it had been awhile.
  • Flatout Multigrain with Flax wraps. Again, it’d been awhile.
  • Asparagus. One of my favorite veggies, ON SALE.
  • Pecans. For cooking with.
  • Dried Mission Figs. Because I can’t find a danged fig anywhere in West Texas and they suddenly appear in dried form at my local United.
  • White Merlot. Because it looked interesting and we didn’t have any fresh wine in the house.

Since then I’ve made a few more trips to United and Walmart getting milk, brussels sprouts, organic spinach (which amazingly lasts longer, btw), bell peppers, sesame oil, and the like.

And cost? Well, before now my grocery “budget” has been all but a lost cause. Amazingly enough, I have actually stayed within my budget for the first time EVER. Part of it is I stocked up on crazy cheap meat a few weeks ago. Another is that I quit looking up recipes and then going out and buying all the ingredients for those recipes. Now I get what’s on sale, what I’ve already got, and what I’m in the mood for and build recipes and meals around that. It’s gotten SO much cheaper. I also stopped letting myself think that everyone NEEDS a whole quarter-pound of meat in every meal. Seriously. My pound of ground turkey has never lasted so long.

New Goals

I’ll admit, I’ve been sort of avoiding this thing. My camera has be minimally recharged and my  USB port is in my possession. I haven’t been taking pictures of my food, so really I’ve been using that as a reason not to post, but enough of lousy excuses.

After several weeks of thinking, I’ve concluded that my goals need to be revamped. I clocked in at about 152 on Valentine’s Day—2 lbs above my goal for that day, which was in part due to several consecutive weeks of <1lb losses. I’ve been consistently losing, but the rate has slowed down. From my observations it seems to be a combination of fluid retention (been eating a lot of sodium lately) and the fact that as I get closer to goal, my body just wants to cling on to the weight. Rather than stress out about not meeting my calendar goal, I’ve decided it’s much healthier to allow my body to lose at the rate it desires, rather than fight it. After all, this is all about my health, right?

As for the Weight Watchers Lifetime membership, I’ve resolved that I am fully capable of losing this weight and keeping it off without the “Lifetime member” title. I think I really needed to find confidence in what I am doing and my ability to do it without the weekly accountability, and I feel pretty darn secure in it now.

Additionally, Edgar and I have decided to run our first 5K in September or October instead of April. Right now I’m a bit bogged down by other tasks and exercise regimens, and my knees have been hurting for about two months now. Plus we can’t quite afford the fee, the running shoes, and the extra trip to Fort Worth right now. We plan to complete that 5K in the fall when we should be more financially secure and I should have more time to devote to training. Meanwhile I’m going to focus on Zumba.

My ”personal” goal has become more clarified as well. My weight goal with Weight Watchers is 138, yes, and I would be perfectly fine seeing that number on my scale for the rest of my life. But my personal fitness goal is not necessarily the number that appears on the scale. My personal goal is a single-digit size. I’m primarily focusing on a size 8, but if I can comfortably and realistically sustain a size 6, I want to. I have never in my life been a size 6. I immediately jumped from a girls’ size 16 to a misses size 8, and I didn’t stay at a size 8 for very long. But I can’t imagine that maintaining below 130 would be any fun, so I’ve concluded it’s just not worth it if I have to go below 130lbs. Of course, my mind’s subject to change.

A Healthy Balance

Yesterday I made the most amazing pizza. Upon the announcement of my victory in making said incredible pizza about 80% from scratch, I was asked, “healthy? or splurge?”

Why does it have to be one or the other?

I can tell you the number one reason I am successful at my weight loss is that I never, ever feel deprived. I do not eat food I don’t like. I do eat food I love! I have just learned to balance it in the healthiest way. Some days I will make something that I enjoy and will make swaps to limit the calories. Every once and a while I’ll get the full-calorie original. I have just learned how to “read” my cravings and balance my budget of calories at the same time. Sometimes only the “real thing” will do, and I’ll have it and budget wisely for it. But most of the time I’m completely satisfied with a lower calorie alternative.

I think the biggest misconception is that because I am on a “weight loss plan” that I “can’t” have something, or I won’t “let” myself have “REAL” food. I find that entirely backwards. I LOVE food, and so much of my success comes from it. I love trying new foods, new dishes, and cooking for myself. I have a healthy appreciation for gooey, greasy cheese and I’m not afraid to show it. I have a once-unhealthy love affair with carbs and I will never actively limit my intake of good bread. I have a sweet tooth and I eat some kind of dessert every day. I’m a good Southern, Texas girl and I love beef and bacon way too much to ever become a vegetarian, and I’ll certainly never turn down good barbecue. You’ll also never see me pull the skin off fried chicken, because I eat it so rarely anyway that pulling the skin off really takes all the enjoyment out of it. But I don’t have to “prove” my appreciation for incredible, normally-“unhealthy” food by eating it in spades. If I ate it all the time, it wouldn’t be special anymore.

At the same time, “healthy” food can be “indulgent” as well. Healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad. I hate raw vegetables, so I don’t eat them. Simple as that. But I have found many foods that I love that happen to be very nutrient-dense and low in calories. I eat dates and pomegranate like candy, and sweet potatoes and avocadoes are some of my very favorite foods. I love the complex flavor of buffalo meat, and it happens to be lower in fat and cholesterol than chicken!

I designed my homemade pizza so that I get this wonderfully chewy, nutty, New-York style crust, limited but flavorful tomato sauce, a varied array of gooey, but not greasy, white cheeses, delicately seared Italian sausage, peppery, aromatic toppings, flavored up with Italian herbs and spices and a hint of extra-virgin olive oil. I look at my pizza and see culinary art, and I find pleasure in eating it. The fact that my waistline will continue to shrink while eating it is just the figurative cherry on top.

What Makes Success?

Today comes with some difficult decisions.

1. Is Lifetime really worth it?
2. Should I eat all my activity points?

Okay, so the second one isn’t too difficult, so I’ll explain that one first.

I weighed in at 157.8. I only lost .6, and this was a fantastic week of control. I didn’t even eat 8 of my activity points, and I was able to manage one one point less per day (as instructed by Weight Watchers since my weight dropped to the 150s). But I didn’t lose much! I know I worked out a tad more than usual, but I don’t give much stock into muscle gain. The most any one person can gain in muscle in one day is one ounce, and I am not the kind of person that works out so much that I would gain close to that. I might be able to credit “muscle gain” to about .2 or .4 “not lost,” but when I typically lose about 2 lbs, that’s not an issue of muscle.

I know the body does weird stuff when it wants. I know some days it will retain more water, and I did eat rather salty stuff yesterday, but I weighed less this morning than I did yesterday morning, so I don’t blame that.

I think what’s the biggest cause is that I wasn’t eating enough. This was my first week on 22 points, which adds up to 7 points less during the week. I also did not eat 8 of my activity points. That adds up to about 1150 calories over and above my natural loss. In my observations over past weeks, I lose more the weeks I eat more. Maybe I’m one of the lucky few. This next week I’ll make a point of eating ALL my activity points (in addition to my dailies and weeklies, of course).

The next issue: Weight Watchers beyond January. We only have two more weeks of free At Work meetings. Anything beyond that I’d have to pay for. I’ve been looking at my options and I considered 2 alternatives: Weight Watchers online (I’d be able to use my own scale and eTools is naturally included. It’s also the cheapest at around $18/mo, but the downside is no one-on-on accountability and no Lifetime awardship) and going to meetings very infrequently and pay the weekly price. Unfortunately my leader informed me today that there is a $5 penalty for every week missed. This would translate to $40/month! For that price I’m better off actually getting a monthly pass. But it’s still too expensive.

Right now my options are: 1) do WW online the whole rest of the way through and never receive Lifetime, or 2) do WW online until I’m 5 lbs away from goal and switch my membership to meetings for 6-8 weeks so I can receive Lifetime.

The questions I have to ask myself are: is Lifetime really worth it? What will I gain from it? What will I lose by not having it?

I feel like I want something tangible, something I can hold on to to assure me that I legitimately succeeded. Maybe I need to rethink my definition of success?