Monday, December 20, 2010

A New Beginning and a New Goal

Entry #36

Dec. 6 weight 204.5 loss of 2 1/2 pounds since Dec. 1st post
Dec. 13 weight 204.5
Dec. 20 weight 210 gain of 5 1/2 pounds

Well, I've learned my lesson when it comes to baking at Christmas time. It won't happen again. I baked up a storm this year for the first time in many years. In earlier posts I mentioned that I had a lot of mom helpers in my classroom this year and decided the cheapest thing to do for Christmas gifts was to bake. I baked two kinds of cookies, pumpkin bread and one candy. I did very well in terms of not eating what I'd made. That is, until last Wednesday when I was bagging everything up for the individual gifts. I had some leftover cookies and instead of putting them down the disposal I ate "just a few". That's what I told myself I would do. And "just a few" turned into many more and that led to four days of abandon where I ate anything my little 'ole heart desired.

Today I go back to the gym where I plan to add new machines to my weight training regimen. Last week I began jogging at 3.8 mph for most of the 45 minutes I was on the treadmill and plan to do that again today. I will also go back to counting calories every day and keeping them at or under 1200. Christmas Eve our family is gathering at my sister's for dinner and opening of gifts. I am planning to bring my own food, probably a Weight Watcher's dinner. The food table will be off limits as I know it will be loaded down with goodies. I may come late and leave early depending on how strong I'm feeling and how successful I am at resisting the foods set out. Being afraid of food is definitely a step back for me, but right now I need to listen to and respect that fear.

There is some good news to report though. My clothes are so loose I will definitely need to do some shopping over this Christmas break. A couple of weeks ago I put on a pair of jeans I haven't been able to wear in a couple of years and they were so loose I couldn't wear them! These are the little victories I will keep in mind this week as I get back on track with diet and exercise.

I've also set a long term goal. By this time next year I will be at my goal weight of 120 pounds. Before this latest setback I had set a goal of being under 200 pounds by Dec. 31st. That most likely will not be the case. But I now have a new long term goal to shoot for and I'm determined that next year at this time I will be celebrating my new body. Now, off to the gym!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Holiday Slip

Entry #35
Weight 207 pounds, gain of 1/2 pound

I guess gaining a half pound over the Thanksgiving holiday isn't too bad. I'm thankful that it was a small gain after the way I ate on Thanksgiving. I was determined not to snack my way through the day and did very well until I went to my sister's house to help her get the dinner prepared.

She had all kinds of great snacks put out. For awhile I avoided them, but eventually gave in and had a few which led to more and more and more. By the time dinner rolled around I wasn't even really hungry, but I ate anyway. For the first time in months I walked away from the table feeling stuffed. I'd forgotten how awful that feels.

My mistake, I think, is that I didn't really have a plan for how to deal with all the good food that would be set out. I'm not exactly looking forward to Christmas, but will definitely have to have a battle plan to deal with the food on that holiday.

Another challenge at this time of year is Christmas baking. I have six mother helpers in my classroom to give gifts to this year and I always set out a spread of various foods (both healthy and not so healthy) as my Christmas gift to the school staff. So that means lots of baking in the next three weeks. As baking is the least expensive of gift options, that is what I choose to do. I also love to bake and it's something I don't do much of during the school year because I don't have the time. The one ray of light in all of this is that I baked chocolate covered carrot cake bites and after sampling a few of them, put them in the freezer and haven't touched any in days. I'm hoping I can keep this up as I finish my baking.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pants on the Ground (Almost)

Entry #34

Weight 206.5 pounds - loss of 3 pounds

I just re-read last week's entry and realized I hadn't finished it. My computer has been messing up and after awhile it just disconnects from the internet. I took it in to the Geek Squad on Saturday and thought it was fixed, finally. However, after being online for about an hour Saturday night I was again kicked off. Hopefully I can finish this one.

It's increasingly difficult for me to come up with stuff to write on this blog and have been thinking about stopping altogether. This summer it seemed so easy to find things to write about. Now, it's such an effort and I dread it. However, I think I should keep it up just as a matter of discipline. It's helped keep me on track with weight loss knowing I have to post my weight every Monday or Tuesday.

My weight loss is really starting to show in my clothes and that is a good feeling. One of these days I'll need to buy some new ones. But I like the feel of pants that used to fit being very loose and baggy.

On to Thanksgiving. This Thursday will present a number of challenges. I've thought about doing what Sean does and just add an extra 1,000 calories for the day's total. That sounds good, but am afraid it will be difficult to go back to sensible eating the next day.

Just returned from a long shopping trip with my little sister and her two little ones. She's hosting our family Thanksgiving dinner this year and watching her load her cart with all kinds of good, fattening things, it became quite clear that Thursday will present some challenges. I'm bringing salad and some carrot cake bites. I found the recipie for these on another homemaking blog and they sound divine. I'm actually using my family as guinea pigs to test the carrot cake bites. If they are well received, I will be making them for goody bags for my parent helpers at school. Maybe I will add those extra 1,000 calories after all!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Entry #33

Weight 209.5 No gain/no loss.

Not much of a surprise at weigh-in this morning. I didn't expect to lose much, if anything and wasn't disappointed. Lately I've found myself sliding on the calorie counting. It's so easy to pop in a handful of cereal while fixing dinner, or eat a couple of slices of roast beef as I'm making a sandwich for lunch. I've also been very lax in recording calories on the weekends. They haven't been free for alls, but it's too easy to consume extra calories when I don't keep track of the calories I've eaten. So, this coming week back to counting calories faithfully.

In the exercise department, I haven't done too badly this past week. I've stepped up the speed on the treadmill from 3.5 mph to 3.6 for 45 minutes. It doesn't sound like much of a jump, just a tenth of

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Some New Goals

Entry #32

Weight 209.5 pounds. Loss of 5.5 pounds over two weeks.

It's been two weeks since I've posted an entry. There seems to be less and less time for writing these days. Preparing report cards and getting ready for parent conferences takes priority over almost everything at this time of year.

The weight continues to come off and I am grateful for that. Because the losses are continuing to be more than expected, the thought that my scale is off keeps creeping up on me. As I blogged last time, the solution would be to weigh something like an unopened bag of flour or sugar to provide a quick answer. However, I'm still trusting that the numbers are right. Is this denial or just positive thinking?

I managed to survive Halloween with all the candy and goodies offered to me at my classroom Halloween party. One holiday down and two more to go. This is my absolute favorite time of year where three holidays are crammed into the space of three months. It will also prove to be the most challenging time this year. I am determined to enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas, including a few goodies, but don't want to overindulge as in the past.

I met my three weight loss goals for October and feel good about that. The next step would be to set some new ones. So here goes. By November 30th these are the goals I will meet.

1. Elliptical - 15 minutes at Level 3.

2. Treadmill - 45 minutes at 3.6 or higher.

3. Loss of 10 more pounds.

These seem to be reasonable goals while still challenging. In terms of the other goals (decorating my living room and cleaning my garage and spare room) I didn't fare so well. I even had a friend offer to help me with the decorating and I've put off calling her. I'm not sure why decorating seems to be such a huge challenge that I don't even want to begin. So, I will set a very short term goal - by this Sunday, Nov. 14th, I will call my friend and set up a time for her to come over and give me some tips. There. Now it's in writing and published so I'll have to do it or face coming back here next week and admitting failure once again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Three Goals Met

Entry #31

Weight 215 lbs. Loss of 3 pounds.

I'm seriously beginning to wonder if there's something wrong with my scale. I expected to lose this week, but not as much as three pounds. I'm afraid to test the scale with a 5 lb. bag of sugar or flour to find out! I think I'll just choose to believe the good news.

It's possible that I did lose that much last week. Instead of walking 3.4 mph on the treadmill for 45 minutes I've bumped up the speed to 3.5 and have added extra weight to some of the machines. I'm up to 14 minutes on the elliptical with one more minute to go until I reach my Oct. 31st goal of 15 minutes.

Finally some beautiful fall weather! I feel so much better in the fall and just love seeing the colorful leaves on trees. An overcast, windy day energizes me. I've never been able to figure out why I love overcast, rainy weather. It's so contrary to what most people like. I think one reason may be that I associate overcast weather with the holiday season. The time between Halloween and Christmas is my favorite and most of this season occurs in the autumn.

Speaking of holidays, I'm beginning to plan what I'll give as Christmas gifts this year. I only buy for nieces and nephews and it's usually gift cards. However, we teachers voluntarily took a five day furlough this year to save the school district some money and some teacher's jobs and that's made a difference in my paycheck. So, trying to figure out gifts for nieces, nephews and the many mom helpers I've got in my classroom this year will be a challenge. In the past, I've baked cookies and breads and that's probably what I'll be doing this year. That may not be the best decision considering my dieting. At least there's a little time left to think this over.

In the meantime I plan to just keep doing what I've bee doing. It seems to be working and it's a good feeling!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Success and a Slip-Up

Entry #30

Monday's weigh-in report: weight 218. Loss of 4.5 pounds over two weeks. Yay!!!!

Monday's weigh in was a surprise. I didn't expect to do so well. You would think that after that kind of a loss I would be encouraged enough to stick to a good eating plan, avoiding junk food at all costs. You might think that, and you would be wrong. Monday and Tuesday went well in terms of making good food choices and then Tuesday afternoon I blew it.

My niece is dropped off after school at my school where she stays with me until her mom gets off work. Tuesdays I take her to CCD (formerly known as catechism for us older Catholics). Yesterday when I went to drop her off we found out that there were no CCD classes. Instead of going back to school I decided to take her home where I waited with her until Martha got home from work. Big mistake. We should have gone back to school.

My sister has never had a weight problem. There are all kinds of goodies in her cupboards, in the candy bowl on the table and in the refrigerator. I was hungry and had a couple of handfuls of sweetened cereal. Then went on to raiding the candy bowl and grabbing a cookie from the cupboard. My snacking binge didn't end there. When I got home I had a couple of granola bars to top off the evening. Lesson learned: stay away from my sister's house when I'm hungry!

Now for the more positive news. I'm currently up to 13 minutes on the elliptical machine at Level 2. I'll make my goal of 15 minutes by the end of this month. On the treadmill I'm walking 3.5 mph for 45 minutes, so I've passed my goal of 3.4mph. I'm beginning to be able to feel a real difference in my clothes. They're definitely fitting much looser now. It's a good feeling. One of these days I'll need to go shopping to replace some of them.

I know that eventually the weight loss will slow way down and am trying to prepare myself for that. That's usually the time I begin to give up the struggle. But I am determined not to let that happen this time. It's more productive to focus on the success and how far I've come than to think about how much farther I have to go and how long it will take to get there.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Small Victories

Entry #29

About a week ago I began posting and answering questions I got off of Kenz's blog , All The Weigh. At the time I'd planned to finish answering them a few at a time during the week. That didn't happen as my work week was extremely busy. So, with a few extra minutes tonight I'll tackle a few of them.

5. What's the #1 thing you look forward to when you hit your goal weight? I'm looking forward to being able to shop just about anywhere I want to. For the past twenty-five years or so I've had to shop in stores that carry larger sizes. It will be nice to be able to shop in the regular sections of any department store.

6. Do you have support on your weight loss journey? My friends who've read my blog, both those I've known for years and new ones made here, are all very supportive. I've told my little sister, Christine, about this latest attempt at weight loss and she has been very encouraging and supportive.

7. What is your favorite exercise? Right now my favorite exercise is the treadmill. I would like to eventually run on the treadmill. That will have to wait as the few times I did even a slow jog, my knees protested for days afterwards. I'm still too heavy to put that much strain on my knee joints. So, for now I'll have to settle for a fast walk.

That's enough of the questions for now. I've been finding that my determination has been waning lately. Some of the bloom is off the rose, so to speak. This past week I've been pretty good in making good food choices. But it's beginning to feel like drudgery. I skipped my workout on Friday morning which, thankfully, didn't translate into a day of eating junk. I could easily have done that as we celebrated Boss' Day and there were many baked goods and one of my favorite kinds of cookies - frosted sugar. I'm happy to say that I didn't have any of the sweets. Unfortunately, there's plenty left over for Monday.

I spent part of the afternoon at school getting some work done and those darn cookies are in the refrigerator just lying in wait for me. I'll need to go back out tomorrow for awhile to finish up and hope I can resist them just one more time. I just told myself that I can have one of those kind of cookies any time I want. I don't need to have one today. As long as I can keep making that decision every day, I'll be okay. Small victories - I'll take 'em.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Friend Makin' Monday

Entry #28

Weight 222.5 pounds. No loss/no gain. I'll take it!

Today is Friend Makin' Monday. Kenz is hosting it again this week. If you have a blog, copy and paste the questions to your own blog and pass along the fun. Add your name and a link to your blog at the end of this post.

1) Do you prefer talking or texting? I don't text, so I prefer talking to texting. I don't pay for that feature on my cell phone. So, for any of my friends reading this entry, don't text me. I don't even open them.

2) Do you make your bed everyday? Yes, I do it as a form of discipline. If I don't make my bed, I don't feel organized for the day. And it's just nicer to get into a bed that's been made than a messy one.

3) What sounds do you hear right now? I can hear the refrigerator running, my dehydrator drying tomatoes and occasionally the song of a songbird. It's 2:30 a.m. so I'm not sure why the bird is singing, but it's nice to hear.

4) List three things that you always carry with you. I always have my checkbook, my cell phone and hand lotion. There's much more than that in my purse, but those are the three most important.

5) What are your favorite TV shows? I got rid of my satellite service in July just about the time I started this blog. I did it for two reasons. One was to save money and the other was because I was spending too much time sitting in front of the television and eating. Now the only television I watch is Fox and Friends on the t.v. at the gym and whatever I rent from Netflix. Right now it's old NCIS episodes. Can never get too much Mark Harmon!

6) Is there a hobby that you'd like to devote more time to? If so, what is it? I don't really have time for hobbies during the school year. The closest thing would be reading. I love to read and try to do some before I go to sleep. Just finished a Jodi Picoult book, "Nineteen Minutes". It was a good read.

7) What is your favorite drink? My favorite drink is Diet Pepsi. I don't know what I would do without it. It helps me stay away from food when I'm tempted and know it's not time for another meal. I'm beginning to drink more water thanks to the water challenge Kenz and Sean Anderson were sponsoring this past summer. I probably drink the equivalent of six 8 oz. glasses a day. It has to be ice cold, though, or forget it.

8)Share a couple of cool facts about your family. My dad studied for three years to become a priest; my mom spent six months in a convent and they met in church. My dad left the seminary after three years and my mom had decided she didn't want to be a nun. They married and had nine kids! The other cool fact would be that I have a brother, Matt, who is in the Air Force Reserves. He just returned from Kuwait.

9) List one thing that you will do for yourself today. I will return to eating healthy food after an afternoon and evening of indulging in fattening snacks. And I will go to the gym to work out this morning.

10) Share something that you're thankful for today. I'm thankful for so many things, but today I'm most thankful for my health. Considering the abuse I've heaped on my body over the years with unhealthy eating and very little exercise, it's a miracle I'm still in relatively good health. I'm thankful that I'm on a path toward a healthy body.

That's the end of the questionnaire. Now on to my confession. I watched my two nieces yesterday and their mother left some snacks for us. How nice of her. I did well for the first few hours, but later in the afternoon after eating lunch I was still a little hungry and shared some chex mix type of snack the girls were eating. That opened the floodgates and I snacked the rest of the afternoon, went to McDonalds for a quick dinner and continued to snack into the evening.
The good news is that I'm leaving for the gym in a few minutes for a workout that will set the tone for the rest of my day.

Sometimes my friends are amazed that I get up so early and work out in the morning before school. One of the main reasons I do this is that if I start my day with exercise, I'm much more likely to make other good choices during the day. I don't want to "undo" the work I put in at the gym by eating junk food. It also tends to stop the likelihood of going on a junk food binge. Before I started faithfully working out in the morning my life would go something like this:

I would binge on junk food and tell myself that "Tomorrow after school I'm going to the gym." The next morning I'd eat whatever I wanted for breakfast (usually a stop at the AM/PM for a cup of coffee and six pack of mini donuts). I'd have a fat-laden unhealthy lunch and probably raid the goody box in the staff room. It was okay, because I was going to go to the gym after school, remember? Only by the time I put the kids on the bus and prepared for the next day I was too tired to go to the gym. Then I'd tell myself that I'd go tomorrow. Since I wasn't going to go exercise today, why not "enjoy" myself and stop by a fast food place for dinner to go. And since I was going to get really serious about dieting and exercise tomorrow, I'd better get a couple of candy bars to have tonight as a late snack. The next morning I'd stop for coffee and donuts for breakfast and repeat the day. This would go on for days and sometimes weeks before I scraped up the discipline to stop. When I started going to the gym in the morning, even if I'd had a bad night in terms of overeating, exercising in the morning usually ended the cycle.

After the afternoon I had yesterday I am determined to get back to healthy eating and exercising today. I'm looking for a loss next week, even a small one. Off to the gym. Have a great day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Staying Motivated

Entry #27

Every now and then along this journey I've been on since July I've wondered just how long I can stay motivated and hopeful. This past week has been a struggle in this area. Although I did well with exercise, stepping it up and jogging for a good portion (about l5 minutes at different intervals) of my 45 minutes on the treadmill, staying motivated was difficult. Friday I had to force myself to go in to the gym and I ended my time on the treadmill about ten minutes early. On the food front, I've been snacking on small handfuls of cereal a few times each evening when I get home from school. It just seems that everything is loosening up and it scares me because that's how the downward spiral begins.

In one of her blogs early last week Kenz posed and answered some questions that I thought were interesting, so I've decided to repost and answer them here. They will most likely be spread over a few days, so maybe I'll actually get in more than one blog this week.

1. What was your highest weight, what do you weigh right now and what is your goal weight? My highest weight was 270 pounds. I weighed that much in the summer of 2007. It really scared me as I was so close to weighing 300 pounds and at one time in my life I swore I would never weigh even 200 pounds. That fall I started going to the gym every morning, walking the treadmill and began watching what I ate. By the end of the spring of 2008 I had lost fifty pounds. I kept this up for awhile, but as usual, got tired of the discipline and slacked off. Any excuse was good enough for me to skip my workouts and the junk food binges began lasting longer and longer. Eventually I gained back most of what I'd lost. My current weight is 222.5 pounds, so using my heaviest weight as a starting point, I've lost 47.5 pounds since the fall of 2007. My goal weight is between 125 and 130 pounds. I've still got a hundred pounds to lose and that's going to take awhile. When I get a little discouraged about that, I look back to see how far I've come and realize that I don't want to go backwards.

2. What is your #1 motivation for losing weight? In the past I've had a few different motivations for losing weight. The first time I lost a good chunk of weight was in my senior year in high school. Our choir was putting on the musical "Bye, Bye Birdie" and I had been cast as the mayor's wife. At one point in the play I was standing on the second tier of a riser and had to faint and fall straight back where I would be caught by two guys standing nearby. I was concerned about them having to catch me at my current weight, so I went on a diet and exercised and lost between 25 and 30 pounds. I was so hoping that my weight loss would prompt someone to ask me to our Senior Prom. When that didn't happen, I got discouraged, figured "What's the use?" and gained it all back within a year or so. Throughout my 20's, 30's, and 40's my main motivation was to get thin so I could find someone to marry. I've always equated my single state with my being fat. In an earlier post I dealt with that, so I won't go into it here. Now my motivation is for health reasons. Although I've been very lucky that, even though I am considered morbidly obese, it hasn't affected my health to any great degree. My blood pressure is at the low end of normal and my cholesterol is at the high end of normal. But I know that as I get older my luck will start to run pretty thin and eventually run out, if I don't change my eating and exercise habits. The thought of being 65 and weighing 300+ pounds is a scary one, especially if I ever get into a situation where I can't care for myself and have to depend on others to help me get up and around. This reality hit me when I helped care for my dad in the last few weeks of his life. He's never been even slightly overweight and by this time he had lost quite a lot of weight. It took three strong adults to lift and move him. What would it have been like had he weighed 270 pounds?

3. Have you always been overweight? I never thought of myself as being fat until I was in second grade. My teacher often told me that I was chubby and should be careful not to become fat. Before that I had never given it a thought. When I look at pictures of myself at that age I don't consider that little girl to have been fat or even chubby. I remember my mother often speaking about being on a diet and having to lose weight. She would fix our dinner and sometimes fix something different for herself because she was on a diet. Being the child I was, I thought it would be fun to go on a diet. Mom informed me that it wasn't and boy was she right! Eventually I did become overweight and went on my first diet when I was twelve years old. Since then it has been a forty year rollercoaster ride.

4. When you want to give up what inspires you to keep going? I think back on how far I've come this time and realize that if I stop, it may be months or even years before I try again. In that time I will have gained everything I've lost and then some back and it will be an even harder uphill battle to lose the weight. I'm running out of do-overs. Eventually I'll be so old that the effort will seem just too great and I'll give up entirely. That cannot and will not happen. I'm determined to succeed this time. My friends, both local and those I've found as a result of this blog, my family members who have been encouraging, and feeling the responsibility of keeping up this blog are also great motivators for me.

I think I'll end it here for today. I've got to get ready for my nieces who are coming over to spend the day. Be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Entry #26

Weight 222.5 lbs. Loss of 2.5 lbs.

Monday's weigh-in made me very happy. I was expecting a loss and was happy to see it.

My reunion on Saturday was great. It was so much fun to see friends I haven't seen in years. The food wasn't the challenge I thought it would be. I ate a late lunch and pretty much stayed away from the table. When dinner time came I wasn't hungry so didn't fix a plate. However, before I left a grabbed a couple of tortilla chips and a brownie. No guilt. Yeah!!!

The reunion started at the Escalon Musuem where there is an impressive collection of items reflecting the history of Escalon. It was interesting to look at the old photographs, especially of the schools in the district. Van Allen, where I teach, had a number of photos dating back to the 1890's. As part of the exhibits, there were tables where memorials of classmates and teachers who had passed away were set up. As my father was a former high school teacher and administrator in the district, I was asked to contribute to the memorials. I wrote a short piece and put up a couple of pictures of him in his work clothes. I'll try to add the written piece at the end of this blog.

Being in the museum, seeing old high school friends and teachers and reliving the past was bittersweet for me. I still miss living in Escalon. A few years ago I had bought a house there and lived there for three years. Then I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life and sold the house. I moved to Modesto where I currently live.

For those of you from out of state who read this blog, Escalon is a small town. The current population is about 7,000. When I was growing up there, it was much smaller. It's probably the closest thing to Mayberry I'll ever experience. At one time when I was working in Boston, MA I was telling my co-workers that it would be impossible to walk two blocks of downtown Escalon without running into at least two people you knew well enough to stop and talk. They didn't believe me.

Escalon has grown since then, but it's still a great place to live and raise a family. Downtown Escalon (except for the bar) rolls up the sidewalks at dark. Although many things about the town have changed over the years, it still has a small town feel. If I ever get the chance, I'd move back in a heartbeat.

This entry doesn't have much to do with weight or exercise, but then, it was named The Kitchen Sink for a reason. I can throw just about anything in here.

Below is the little blurb I wrote about my dad for the memorial table.

My father spent his professional life in front of an English class and then behind a desk. But he always considered himself a man of the land and he loved working outdoors.
As soon as he came home from work he shed his business clothes and put on his work duds. Then he would go out to his gardens or tend to the few farm animals he insisted on keeping until the last few years of his life. Somewhere there is an Escalon police officer (or two or three) who remembers waking my father up at 2:00 in the morning to let him know that his cows are loose on First Street again!

(There's supposed to be a picture of two holstein cows with sunglasses and boots running in this space. I couldn't copy and paste it here for some reason.)

Now my dad farms a different patch of ground alongside his mentor, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A New Challenge

Entry #25

I've got a few minutes, so decided to write a short entry today.

I've met my treadmill goal this week and pushed a little more. While browsing other blogs this past week an exercise program called Couch to 5K caught my eye. It's a gradual training program to build strength and stamina. So, I've started adding short periods (2 to 3 minutes) of slow jogging (3.7 mph) to my time on the treadmill. These jogging times are interspersed throughout my 45 minutes on the treadmill. I was a little reluctant to do this as I was concerned about damaging my knees because of my weight. But, so far everything seems fine. I've even gone so far as to actually consider entering a 5K someday. Notice the word consider is in italics. The thought of running in front of others in public doesn't exactly appeal to me right now. If anyone is interested, the website is

Now onto the next challenge. Today there is a multi-decade high school reunion being held in my hometown of Escalon, CA. I'm looking forward to seeing many old friends and I understand there will also be some teachers in attendance. It should be a good time. My years in high school were the best of my school career. I enjoyed them more than any other time, including college. So, I'm excited about this gathering. However, there's going to be a potluck dinner where there will, no doubt, be many wonderful offerings. The plan right now is to have plenty of Diet Pepsi on hand and steer clear of the table or at least make good choices. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reaching One Goal

Entry #24

Weight 225. Two pounds lost!

This was a pleasant surprise. I wasn't sure if I would lose anything this week and if I did, thought it would be a pound or less. But, I'll happily and gratefully take the two pound loss.

Last week was a good one in terms of diet and exercise, but I'm noticing that it's getting easier to "cheat" a little and get away with it. A few times I popped a handful of sweetened cereal in my mouth as a quick snack, added a little extra fruit to the cup that had been measured out and ate extra chicken. Just for the record, no calories were added to my list for any of these snacks. This is one reason the two pound loss was a little surprising this week. This kind of snacking will have to end. It's too easy to justify it and, eventually the portions and frequency will increase.

Yesterday was a bit of a challenge. This past weekend was St. Stanislaus' Annual Fall Festival. It's a weekend long celebration. On Sunday they hold a live auction complete with all kinds of items for the home, weekend getaways and live cattle. It's fun and I usually find a few things to bid on. The challenging part is that while the auction is going on people with various types of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and trays of goodies such as cheese cubes, slices of Portugese sweet bread, meats, and fried dough circulate through the bidding sections. I had a couple of pieces of cheese, a piece of sourdough and a few slices of meat. But the fried dough looked awfully good. I was able to resist it, but just barely. Before leaving the festival I stopped in to buy a chicken dinner to go. It had a half chicken, small cup of beans, a roll and a salad. When I got home I tossed the salad out as I didn't want to add the calories for dressing, put half of the chicken away for lunch today and ate the rest. It was very good. I didn't count calories yesterday but felt okay about it as I hadn't eaten any dinner on Saturday night.

On Saturday I worked at school for about seven hours, spent a couple of hours with my Mom, went to the library to check out a book and came home. When I got home I had a bowl of cereal for lunch, took my book to bed and read for a few minutes. At about 3:00 I put the book down and took a nap. At around 6:00 I woke up, but didn't get out of bed. I fell back to sleep and didn't wake up again until 3:30 a.m. I'd slept for about twelve hours! It was a strange feeling. From now on my naps will be taken in my recliner which only allows for two hours at the most as it isn't all that comfortable. I felt like I'd wasted my day.

Another week begins and I plan to make it a successful one. Last Friday I made 45 minutes on the treadmill at 3.4 mph. Now the goal is to do the whole 45 without holding onto the top of the machine at all. I found myself resting my hands on the top of the machine every now and then and it makes it a little easier to keep up the pace. I'm up to nine minutes on the elliptical, so this week I'll bump it up to ten at Level 2. I still need to add at least one weekend day to my workout schedule. I'll add that to my list of short term goals.

I want to thank all of you who continue to check in with my blog and comment on it. It helps to know that others read it and it will keep me accountable in my efforts.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Very Pleasant Surprise

Entry #23

Weight 227 pounds. Loss of 4 pounds.

This was a pleasant surprise for me yesterday morning when I weighed myself. I figured I'd lost, but didn't think it would be that much. Evidentally stepping up the workouts is paying off. I guess the little mishap with the brownies didn't do much damage.

The fact that eating those brownies didn't trigger a binge is a very good sign for me. I indulged toward the end of the day and before getting serious about losing this weight I would have figured I'd "enjoy" the rest of the day and start again the next morning. The thought did enter my mind but I didn't act on it. Another potential setback avoided!

Today I had just settled in at the table to eat my lunch in the staff room and one of the teachers announced that the "goodie box" was back. Unlike the larger elementary school I taught at last year, we don't have a vending machine in our staff room. No, in our staff room there is simply a box stuffed with every kind of wonderful treat one can imagine. You just drop your $.85 in the little slot and take whatever strikes your fancy. This is so much worse as you can take what you want and pay later, even though that isn't how it's supposed to work. It makes it harder to resist a sudden urge. At least with the vending machine you had to have the money up front. I feel I'm up for this challenge, though.

I'm closing in on my weight loss/exercise goals I set for myself. Today I spent 37 minutes at 3.4 mph on the treadmill and the rest of the 45 minutes at 3.2 mph. In terms of losing ten pounds before Oct. 31st, I've got to lose four more which will happen. I will be getting together with some of my friends this Friday night, but have to be honest and fess up that I wasn't the one to set the meeting up.

The report on the other goals of decorating my living room walls, cleaning my spare room and garage isn't so rosy. I've done virtually nothing to accomplish these. Part of the reason is that I've been spending at least part of every Saturday since school started out in my classroom. I'm still trying to catch up a little from the move. I've also been babysitting for family and friends, which I enjoy. But when those kind of things take up my Saturdays I don't feel like doing anything on Sundays. I get home from school around 5:30 and, because I go to the gym so early, I go to bed early, so that leaves little time during the work week. Somehow I'll have to figure out a way to balance all of this stuff.

I have been much better about keeping my condo picked up though. Ever since beginning my weight loss/exercise program I've also disciplined myself to make my bed every morning and straighten up the living/dining areas before leaving for school. It makes a huge difference walking into a clean and orderly living room at the end of the work day. And it just feels better climbing into a bed that's been made rather than just straightening out a messy one.

All in all I'm feeling very hopeful about my success this time. It's hard to put my finger on why, it just feels different this time and I'm grateful.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Lesson Learned

Entry #22

The real date of this post is Sept. 17th.

It seems there's always plenty to write about when I am doing well on this path. It's easy to share victories. Sharing mistakes not so much. But it's the mistakes that teach me, so here goes.

At school we have been wanting hot water in the staff room for quite awhile. Our head custodian, Joe (a great guy), got on it and with the help of a couple of maintenance guys it was installed within a couple of weeks of our request. One of the teachers thought we should do something nice for the guys and I agreed. I offered to bake something for them.

At first I was going to make some chocolate chip cookies. Everyone likes those, right? I like them so much that a good deal of the dough never sees the inside of my oven. So, I decided that chocolate chip cookies are definitely out. Then I hit on brownies. With brownies you mix the batter and pour it in a pan and shove it in the oven. The only challenge there is not licking the bowl and spoon - a challenge I did not even attempt to meet, by the way. (It was yummy). For some reason I decided that one batch of brownies wouldn't be enough for three strapping guys, so I made two. For the second batch I added plain m&m candies. One batch I cut into small pieces and rolled in powdered sugar. The other I frosted with vanilla frosting and decorated with the remaining m&ms.

My next move was a mistake. I ended up having to cut up the pan with the m&ms at school so I could put together the plates for the guys. What I should have done was ask someone else to cut the brownies for me. But I didn't even think of that until later. When I first started cutting the brownies I did really well. I wiped the extra frosting off of the knife with a paper towel and didn't even feel tempted to eat it. However, it seems I added too many m&m's and they were making the brownies stick to the non-stick pan. As a result the pieces weren't uniform and were tearing. Now, in my defense, this came at the end of a long day and I was tired. The brownies sticking was the last straw. I ate two just to get even with them. There! Take that!

I eventually got the plates together and delivered them.

The lesson learned here is that the next time treats are called for, I will buy them at the bakery.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Successful Week

Entry 21

Weight 231 pounds. 2 pounds lost this week for a total weight loss of 28 pounds.

Again, very thankful for a successful week. I wasn't so sure I would lose anything this week and I don't know why I had that feeling. So I was very relieved and happy to see the new numbers this morning.

I thought it might be a good idea to look back at the goals I set last week and see what, if any, progress has been made toward meeting them.

I've got to lose 8 more pounds by Oct. 31st to make my goal of a 10 pound loss. If I can keep up this losing pace, this goal should be met.

I'm up to 8 minutes on the elliptical at Level 2. I want to be at 15 minutes by October 31st.

I'm walking the treadmill at 3.4 mph for 25 minutes without stopping. My goal is to walk it for all 45 minutes at 3.4 mph by Oct. 31st.

I have yet to do anything with my walls in my living room. There's still time to get this done.

I haven't gotten together with my girlfriends from church yet. Time is running out on this goal.

Even though I still haven't put up anything on my living room walls, I did spend a couple of hours planting more flowers and ground cover in my yard yesterday afternoon. So I feel good about that.

It's become obvious to me over this past week how important goal setting is. It was a little easier to push myself harder at the gym because I want to meet my goals by or before the "due" dates. Hopefully, I'll also be able to add a little swimming time at the gym after school one or two days this week.

Staying with this diet/exercise program has been easier than I thought it would be and that, in a way, is a little worrisome. I still catch myself wondering how long I'll be able to keep it up. I've been to this rodeo before and am usually gung ho for awhile and then eventually give up when it becomes too hard to stay away from the candy aisle at the store. This time is different in that I feel more accountable by my commitment to share my "weigh-ins" every week. There are also so many friends who know I'm on this journey that it would be hard to face them if I just give up. But, the most important reason to stick with it is my health. I want to be healthy and able to enjoy my old age when it comes!

Winning the Race

Entry #20

I've been so erratic with my posts. It seems I should make some kind of commitment to post a certain number of times per week, but am hesitant to do that. Sometimes there just doesn't seem much to write about.

A couple of days ago I was doing some reading in a little daily devotional magazine entitled "Magnificat". It has hymns, daily morning, evening and Mass prayers, as well as Bible readings, reflections, and interesting stories about different saints. On Thursday the song for morning prayer had the lines "Let us throw off all that hinders; Let us run the race to win!" All through my morning prayer and Bible reading time I couldn't get those lines out of my head. They made me face a truth in my life.

For most of my life I've put forth just enough effort at what I do to get the job done, but not much more. I'm embarassed to admit that, but it's true. I could have done much better in high school and college had I wanted to put more effort in my studies. With the exception of math, school came fairly easy to me and as long as I passed my classes, that's all I cared about.

When I started teaching I did put much more of myself into my work. It would be very hard to stay in this profession if you aren't willing to go the extra mile for the kids. Also, working all but one of my 23 years as a teacher in small schools, it was necessary to pitch in on almost all school projects. When there was something to be done, there usually wasn't a committee appointed. The teaching staff was the committee!

After thinking and journaling about the lines from that song I decided to live them to the best of my ability, especially in the area of exercise. So far I've been very disciplined about going in to the gym five days a week. I started using the weight machines a few weeks ago and felt that was good enough for now. But, if winning this particular race is truly important to me, it will be necessary to put much more effort into my workouts than I am currently giving.

So, I've started adding a bit more weight to the machines and added the elliptical to my cardio workout. My goal for the elliptical is to be up to 15 minutes by the end of next month. I started out at 5 minutes at level 2 and yesterday I put in 8 minutes at level 2. My goal for the treadmill is to walk at 3.4 mph for 45 minutes non-stop. I'm up to 25 minutes at 3.4 mph and the remaining 20 at 3.2mph. Eventually I want to start running on the treadmill, but that will have to wait until more weight comes off so as not to damage my knees.

In 2Timothy, St. Paul writes about having fought the good fight and having finished the race. He, of course, is talking about keeping true to his faith and his work of spreading the Gospel. There is a fight I'm involved in and my own race to be run. I pray for the strength and discipline to run to win this race.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Setting Goals

Entry #19
Weight 233 lbs. Loss of 1.5 pounds. Total loss of 26 pounds.

I actually weighed yesterday, but didn't post. I'm happy with this loss. As long as the numbers keep going down, I'm a happy camper.

This morning I read my little calendar and the quote was all about setting goals. A few posts ago I wrote about my need to do that, so I set down a few short term goals.

*Weight: By October 31st I will have lost ten more pounds. This should be possible, if I continue to plug away.

*Exercise: By October 31st I will be on the elliptical machine for 15 minutes and the treadmill for 45 minutes at 3.4 miles per hour the entire time. This morning I was on the elliptical for 7 minutes and spent 20 of the 45 minutes on the treadmill at 3.4 miles per hour. This goal is one I should be able to meet.

*Home: By October 31st I will have my living room walls decorated. I've lived in my condo for over five years now and only have two small things on my walls! I'm hesitant to put holes in the walls and then not like what I've hung. How silly is that?

By October 31st I will have my spare bedroom cleaned up. This is the room that I just open the door and throw stuff into when I either don't know what to do with it or I'm too lazy to put it away.
By October 31st I will have my garage cleaned up. My garage has been a mess for over a year now. Cleaning it up was a goal I had set for myself for this past summer and somehow it just didn't get done.

*Friends: Before the month of September has passed I will get together with my friends from church at least once.

So now comes the efforts to meet these goals. There are so many more I could have listed but this is a good start.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Losing My Fear

Entry #18

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." (Joseph Chilton Pearce)

Pearce is an author of a variety of types of books, including many on children and their development. I liked this quote because I believe it to be true. I also like it because a friend of mine has had the courage to put her creativity out in public for anyone and everyone to see and, thereby open herself up to criticism, both positive and possibly negative.

Last night (Sept. 3) I attended an art show where my friend Mary displayed some of the paintings she's painted over the last few years. Before going I had decided not to buy anything. I was there to just enjoy her art and give her some moral support. I walked into the little cafe and was immediately greeted by her two sisters and then Mary herself. It was so nice to see them and Mary's husband, Joe, again after a long time. While looking at all of the paintings what struck me was not so much whether they appealed to me or not. The questions that ran through my mind were: Where do you get the inspiration for your work? How do you overcome fear of rejection and have the courage to put yourself "out there"? I did ask Mary the first question, but not the second one. It seems she just lets the colors that appeal to her guide her art and expression. Her paintings are abstract and are all very dramatic.

As to the second question, I wish I had asked it. Fear of failure, rejection, criticism, etc. has pretty much dictated my actions most of my life. I'm not artistically gifted, or graceful and light on my feet, and my singing voice wouldn't cause Carrie Underwood any sleepless nights. Becoming a famous artist, dancer, or singer are big dreams and not many people who try for them are successful. Even though I never aspired to be anything as dramatic as an artist, dancer, or singer, even simpler dreams seemed out of reach for me. Dreams such as being married.

I've always blamed my not being married on my weight and how I looked because of it. The truth is I didn't go out of my way to meet men out of fear of being rejected because of my appearance. Odds are that, if I had put myself "out there", I would have been rejected on some occasions, but certainly not all. However, I let the fear of a few possible rejections keep me from socializing and doing the normal stuff teenage and twenty-something young women do to attract the opposite sex.

The same has been true as far as weight loss is concerned. I have talked myself out of beginning a weight loss/exercise regimen because it seems like they all end in failure. Why even try, if I know that in the end I'll be right back where I started and likely have a few extra pounds to boot. Of course, the fact that it's so much easier to just keep eating also played a role in not starting.

This time things are different. Somewhere I found the guts to begin writing a public blog telling anyone who reads it that I plan to be thin someday in the near future. If it takes me two years or ten years doesn't matter. I will get there. I am beginning now to feel the progress in my weight loss and exercise in the way my clothes fit. And yesterday my sister Christine asked me how much weight I had lost. She noticed how much thinner my face looks now. I'm on a roll and looking forward to my future successes. On second thought, maybe Carrie should think about buying some Sominex and Sleepytime Tea.

P.S. I did buy a painting last night. There was one done with greens, yellows and coffee grounds that jumped out at me. It made me think of the New York City skyline the instant I saw it. It will look beautiful on my living room wall.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Entry #17
Weight 234.5 Loss of 3.5 pounds!!!
Monday, August 30, 2010

I was very pleasantly surprised by my weight loss this past week, especially after my slip-up of Friday night. But I am thankful that it didn't derail me as it might have done in the past.

Early this morning I checked Kenz's blog and she is hosting something called Friend Makin' Monday. It's a series of prompts which the blogger finishes. I thought it would be interesting to use at least some of the prompts, so here goes.

I read. Unfortunately, during the school year I don't have much time to do it. My favorites are historical fiction and anything set in New England or the South.

I don't like...spending time in the morning doing my hair and makeup. I spend about a hundred dollars once a year getting a perm so all I have to do is wash, condition, comb and mousse my hair in the morning. The only makeup I wear on a regular basis is mascara. I'm getting a little better about spending more time on my hair. Recently I got it cut and most of the perm is gone, so I need to spend a little quality time with the curling iron.

I family, friends, and the ocean. I wrote in an earlier blog about my growing desire to spend time with my family and the need to see my friends on a more regular basis. My favorite season is fall. I love the cool weather and the beautiful leaves that change color. The ocean has always been my favorite place to visit. I am in awe of its beauty and power.

I wonder...what I will look like when the weight is finally off. I've never been a "normal" weight, at least not that I can remember. I'm looking forward to seeing what that looks like.

I know...this weight loss will take a long time. It will be a slow process and I need to acknowledge and accept that. Sometimes it's discouraging to see how far I have to go to get to my goal, but it would be so much more worse to stop and then have to start again at an even heavier weight.

I a friend's 40th birthday party last Saturday night. It was so much fun to see friends that I haven't seen in years. The food was good and the best part was that I was able to enjoy eating a good dinner, including dessert and not feel guilty about any of it.

I want...eating healthy to become second nature for me. It's been very time consuming planning what I will eat and then adding up the calories. It is getting easier the more I do it, though.

I increase the intensity of my morning workouts and add at least Saturday to the schedule. Right now I only go in Monday through Friday. I've been gradually adding more weight machines to my workout and the elliptical machine to my cardio time. However, I still need to push myself more than I am right now.

I am...much more positive toward myself and my weight loss.

I am not...going to give up and live the life of hiding, eating and watching television again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Good 'Ol Elbert

Entry #16 " There is no failure except in no longer trying." (Elbert Hubbard)

I found this quote on a little calendar I bought last year. Every day there is a quote by a famous and sometimes not so famous person. I looked Hubbard up on Google and found he was an author in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He founded a school for creative types that drew people from around the world. He and his second wife died when their cruise ship, The Lusitania, was sunk by a German u-boat in WWI.

The quote is a good one for anyone trying to achieve a goal. It's especially good for me as I view trying and not succeeding right away as failure after which I usually give up the effort. But as stated in a previous post, perseverance is now one of my favorite words. Good thing, too, as last night wasn't a rousing success.

My mom and I went to dinner at a Chinese place. I was actually very good about what I ordered and ate at the restuarant. We ordered honey walnut prawns, mu shu chicken and pork fried rice. I ate two mu shu pancakes, about a cup of rice and one of my mom's prawns. I ate until I was satisfied and stopped. I decided to take the leftover chicken mixture and a half cup of rice home to add to scrambled eggs for a couple of breakfasts. So far so good.

Now, I don't know if the old saying that Chinese food doesn't stay with you is true or not, but along about 9:00 I was feeling hungry. Since my calorie allotment for the day had been used and exceeded by about 50 I decided I wasn't going to blow my diet. Yeah, well I should have gone to bed right then and there. I was online reading different weight loss blogs and at around 9:30 decided to go to bed. As I was passing the kitchen the thought of having "just a bite" of the chicken floated through my mind. I took a bite and then another and another and, well I think you probably know how that ended. Good thing there was only about a cup and a half of the stuff left.

But my indiscretion didn't end there. Earlier I was tempted to eat a Skinny Cow ice cream bar (100 calories) even though I knew my calorie bank for the day was depleted. Well, now that I'd already gone way over 1200 calories, why not just go ahead and have that darn ice cream bar? I didn't even pretend to put up a fight. So yesterday's calories hovered between 1400 and 1500 calories.

Now for the good news. Today I got up and pretended that last night never happened. I was able to go back and eat a good, low calorie breakfast and lunch. I had to, because tonight I'm going to a friend's 40th birthday party. At this time I've got about 650 calories left for the day, so if I am careful, I can enjoy some good food choices and stay at 1200 for the day.

I am so grateful that I can view last night as a couple of mistakes instead of a failure. Elbert is right. There is no shame in trying and not making it. The failure comes in not even trying for fear of failure. The not trying is a failure in itself. It's a failure to put myself out there and risking whatever comes my way. Hopefully, those days are in the past for me. I know I will continue to pray and trust that God has good plans ahead for my life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Least Favorite Season

Entry #15
Summer is definitely NOT my favorite season. Although this summer has been the mildest I can remember, it seems Mother Nature is making up for lost time in a big way. I've heard it's supposed to "cool" down to around 97 tomorrow and then the weekend is supposed to be in the 70's. I'm looking forward to the weekend!

I've always had a hard time with summer. When I was a kid I loved school and didn't like summer vacations all that much. I rarely saw my friends over the summer and there were always plenty of chores to help with around the house. Not to mention the almond harvest which was sheer torture for about a month. Dad had 160 trees and he did things the old fashioned way. He'd climb the trees with a big rubber mallet and knock the branches to get the nuts off of them. The nuts would fall into tarps he'd laid on the ground. Then us kids would have to rake the almonds into piles, then put them in buckets and pour the nuts into gunny sacks. The whole business was filthy. We'd be sweating because of the heat, then the almond dust would stick to us and make us itch. I was so happy when I got old enough to stay in the house and help Mom with the canning of vegetables.

My Dad could eat anything he wanted and as much of it as he wanted and never gain a pound. The reason for that, I suppose, is that he did lots of physical work around our place which provided him with plenty of exercise. I remember him going through an old trunk and finding his Navy uniform. The last time he'd worn it he was about nineteen. (He lied about his age and enlisted to fight in WWII at the age of 16.) When he found it in the trunk he was either in his late thirties or early forties. He put the damn thing on and it fit him perfectly!

Unfortunately I didn't inherit my Dad's ability to eat anything he wanted or his penchant for hard physical labor. I would look at cupcakes and put on five pounds and always preferred television to exercise. Now it's come time to pay the piper. Every day that I make myself get up and go to the gym is a victory over my natural state of laziness. Sometimes it's a real struggle to get my exercise in and just about any excuse will do to just stay home. Just as sometimes I would use any excuse to eat junk food, I'll use any excuse to skip my time at the gym. There have been mornings when I've driven to the gym and left because the person opening the doors (my gym opens at 4 a.m.) wasn't there on time. I could have waited a few minutes, but didn't. That doesn't happen very often anymore. I'm determined to take this weight off and it's slowly sinking in that it's going to be a very long, hard road. But this time I'll do it and it will all be worth the work and sweat.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Twenty-One Pounds Gone!

Entry #14

Weight 238 pounds. Loss of 3.5 pounds. Total loss of 21 pounds.

Very happy with Monday's weigh in. It was more than I expected, so it was a nice surprise. I guess I need to stop "expecting" anything and just keep plugging along.

My negative voice still creeps in every now and then asking me just how long I think I can keep this up without going off the deep end in a binge. At times this past week a binge started to sound pretty good. I found myself thinking about having a fast food, drive thru meal topped off with ice cream and maybe a candy bar or two. The feeling I had while thinking about this was almost nostalgic. It's been over a month since I stopped eating that way, but it feels like it's been a lot longer.

When reading the blog of Sean Anderson, who has lost over two hundred pounds and is close to his goal, I've noticed words like "focus" and "determination" crop up alot. To achieve the kind of success he has, I suppose, those are two attributes he has in abundance. They are necessary to the success of anything worthwhile. One of my problems has always been a lack of focus when it comes to my weight and, to a certain extent, my personal life. I've never really set goals for myself. When there's no goal, it's hard to be determined and maintain a focus. Even now, I don't have a real "goal weight". I think I'd like to get down to 125 or 130, but that may be unrealistic. I think that would be a good question the next time I see my doctor. He can give me some idea of what a healthy weight would be for me.

My blogging will most likely be rather sporadic as it's hard to keep it up now that school's in session again. Still, I'm going to shoot for at least twice a week. I'll make that my "focus".

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Favorite Word

Entry #13

It's been almost a week since posting. I feel bad about not writing more, but since school has started up again, my time is very limited.

Today was kind of hard. I attended a religious conference where Father Benedict Groeschel was the speaker. He's one of my favorite speakers, someone who can get a point across with a great sense of humor. He's 77 years old and very frail now, but still very enjoyable.

Lunch was included in the price of my ticket and it wasn't exactly a dieter's delight. There was a turkey and jack cheese sandwich, a bag of potato chips, cup of fruit cocktail (yuck!) and a chocolate chip cookie. I was very hungry so I knew I would eat the whole sandwich. The chips were 230 calories but I also ate those. The cookie I put away until later. Although I didn't know exact amounts, I decided to count the lunch as 500 calories. That's probably pretty safe.

Later I ate the cookie while driving to Mass. As I was enjoying every morsel of that cookie old thoughts came flooding through my mind. I've had these thoughts every time I stray from a diet and enjoy a treat. The thoughts tell me that I've blown my diet and what's the use depriving myself the rest of the day? There's always tomorrow to go back on the diet.

As these thoughts were going through my mind I reminded myself that I had accounted for the cookie in the 500 calories I allotted to the lunch. But I was looking for an excuse to eat more junk food so I chose to ignore that fact. It was a real struggle not to give in and binge. Reminding myself of how much I've accomplished in the past month helped and it was enough to keep me from buying more junk food to finish off later tonight.

It is so necessary to almost constantly remind myself that I am making progress and that, even though it will take a long time and lots of patience, I will make it to goal. I just have to want it more than I want the temporary comfort of a fast food fix. Sometimes I'm not so sure I do. It's easy to get discouraged when I see myself in a mirror or try on clothes that are the same size as when I began this diet. What's necessary is perseverance and that's not always been part of my vocabulary. I'm working on making it my favorite word.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A New School Year

Entry #12

Weight 241.5 pounds. Loss of 3 pounds. Total loss 17.5 pounds.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't happy with my weight loss this time. I should be thrilled about dropping three pounds after losing three the week before. I guess an explanation for my ingratitude is in order.

Last week I began packing up stuff in my classroom at Dent School in the hopes that I would be moving back to Van Allen School. I spent all of last week bending, stretching, lifting, walking to move from one classroom to another and then set up my new room. I figured with all the extra exercise I did I would lose at least five pounds. Oh well, I guess my age is catching up with me. It's going to be much harder to lose weight this time around.

The last few days of last week I didn't count calories and may have gone over 1200 sometimes. I had to set priorities and those were getting my classroom ready for the opening of school today. Now I have to get back to the discipline of counting, weighing and measuring. This is most likely one reason I didn't do as well as I thought I would.

The other reason could be that I need to build more muscle. In one of my previous blogs I wrote about hating to use the weight machines. However, I need to grow up and do the unpleasant stuff. So this week I think I will increase my time on the machines and lessen the time I'm on the treadmill.

The first day of school went well. I've got 21 kindergartners. Little ones are so much fun to work with. Everything excites them and they are so willing to participate. They're not too cool to sing along with "Zippedee Do Dah" and do silly stuff. Today we listened to the story "The Gingerbread Man" and I made a giant gingerbread man cookie. Of course, he "escaped" from the oven and we had to search for him all over the school. Later in the afternoon we found him hiding in one of my cupboards. I cut him up and gave him to the kids to eat. I tried a little bite but gave the leftover cookie to my niece. It's getting harder to pass up stuff like this.

Our nice, cool summer came to a screeching halt today. Naturally, the temperature has to jump up when school starts. Thank goodness for air conditioning. It occurred to me that next year at this time I will hopefully be at least fifty pounds lighter and the heat won't get to me as much. It's no fun to be sweating your make-up off at 9:00 in the morning. I go through this every year at the beginning of school. "Next year I'll be thinner and will be able to take the heat better." And every year I'm heavier than the last. I am determined that this time I will succeed.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Left Hand

Entry #11
Weight 244.5 pounds. Loss of 3.5 pounds! Total loss: 14.5 pounds.

I'm very happy with my loss this past week. Taking in fewer calories and increasing my exercise program and time paid off.

My blogs will most likely decrease, at least for a short time. School is just around the corner and my time is going to be fairly limited. This year is going to be a little different and a tad more stressful, at least in the beginning.

Last year I was transferred from Van Allen School to Dent Elementary School because of fluctuating student numbers. It was a whole new world for me. For 22 years all I'd known in terms of teaching was small, rural schools where the student population didn't reach 200. Now I'm at the "big" school in town and things are very different. The other first grade teachers (there were seven total) were wonderful and the staff was very welcoming and patient with my constant questions. As the year wore on I really liked being there. I had a good class and enjoyed working with other teachers who were teaching the same grade I was.

Last Wednesday it was decided that Van Allen School would be opening up a second kindergarten class. I sent a letter of interest to the District Office letting them know I want to be considered for it. When I received the official notice, the deadline date for people wanting the position was listed as August 13, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. That's the Friday before the beginning of the school year! If I get to move back, I won't have to worry too much about my diet or exercise this weekend. There will be no TIME to eat.

As I wrote that last sentence I realized, though, that the reality may be just the opposite. Just about any time in the past when I had a lot of work to do at school (especially on a weekend), I "rewarded" myself with junk food. I didn't take the time to sit down and eat a real meal. So it was day-long snacking followed by stopping by McDonald's for a drive-thru dinner because, of course, I was way too tired to put something together for dinner.

So, if my weekend is spent moving and setting up a new classroom, I will be sure to plan my lunches and dinners and sit down to eat them. I've found that it's really true that if you eat slowly, you fill up faster and are satisfied with less food. Another tip I read or heard about is to try eating with your non-dominant hand. I'm right-handed so I've been eating with my left hand. It definitely slows down the pace. However, now I'm experiencing another problem. I'm getting really good at eating with my left hand!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saving a Starving Child in India

Entry #10

Okay, this is no longer any fun. It's 6:05 p.m., I've just finished my dinner and my calorie total for the day so far is 1195. I was really hoping to have a Skinny Cow ice cream tonight, but they are 100 calories each. Do I give in and go over my daily calorie total of 1200 or do I suck it up and stay far far away from the freezer? Even I don't know the answer to that one yet. We'll have to find out in my next blog entry.

Yesterday I fell off the wagon a bit. The first grade teachers at Dent had a morning meeting and then decided to go out to Taco Bell for lunch. I was going to beg off, but decided to join them. There was time to check the menu online before going, so I dashed back to my classroom and did just that. I was surprised to find a number of items on the menu that are very reasonable in terms of calories. I settled on the steak burrito supreme fresca and a side order of rice. This isn't the part where I go headlong off the side of the wagon. That happened when I returned from lunch and went back to my classroom.

Earlier that morning at our meeting one of the teachers was sweet enough to bring some treats. She brought in a big bowl of grapes and some low fat blueberry muffins. As she is unwrapping the muffins she mentions that they are lowfat so I could have one. I had told her a few days prior to this that I was watching calories. I felt badly about turning down the muffin. I wasn't in the least bit hungry but took a small amount of grapes anyway. As the meeting was ending she insisted that we all take a muffin so she didn't have to take them home with her. I decided to take one and save it for breakfast the next morning. Yeah, right.

When I returned from lunch I saw that lonely little muffin sitting among the clutter on my worktable. Without giving it much thought I picked it up and ate it. It was soooooo good. The whole time I'm eating it I'm thinking about how I'm not hungry and shouldn't be doing this. The bright spot in this situation is that my diet wasn't derailed by eating the muffin. Often something as simple as eating a muffin or a single cookie would be enough to decide, "Well, I blew my diet today by eating that cookie/cupcake/candy bar, etc. so what's the use? I'll go back on my diet tomorrow." Of course, "tomorrow" most likely didn't come for a few days or even sometimes, weeks.

My options when offered the muffin the second time were to, again, refuse it, or take it and then throw it away when I got back to my room. I almost did both. But then the guilt factor kicked in. I would have felt badly turning the muffin down the second time, especially after she mentioned bringing them with me in mind. Had I taken one and tossed it, I would have felt guilty about wasting food. We all remember the horror stories our parents told us when we were young about the starving children in India. I wonder how many of them were saved by my eating that muffin?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Need a New Name

Entry #9

I just discovered there's another blog with the exact same name as mine! Whoops. Hence the new name, The Kitchen Sink (as in "everything but the kitchen sink"). I decided on that for two reasons. One is that instead of just being about weight loss, exercise, and my struggles and successes with those, other stuff usually creeps in here as well. The second is that the kitchen sink is, well, in the kitchen where my nemesis (aka the refrigerator) also resides.

Yesterday was a good one in terms of diet and exercise. I ate out twice and managed to stick to reasonable choices and portions. Having lunch with a friend I used to teach with was wonderful. It was fun to catch up on what's going on in our lives and respective school sites. I chose the place to eat and it was slim pickins when it came to healthy, low calorie foods. Finally I chose a chicken breast on rye with a side salad. It was very good, but I didn't think about how the bread would be prepared. I was tempted to have it on a ciabatta roll, but decided to save calories and ordered rye instead. I felt so proud of myself ordering the sandwich without mayonaise (which I love on sandwiches). When the waitress brought my sandwich, I noticed it had been grilled (probably in butter). So, I learned a lesson about specifying how I want the sandwich prepared.

Then later it was on to Chevy's to meet up with some friends. My recollection was that we were meeting just for Happy Hour which I planned to spend with a diet drink. But when I got there we ended up ordering dinner. When I asked the waitress for the calorie information for the selections on the menu she pointed to a little flip chart. The writing was so small I could barely make it out. Finally I decided on shrimp and chicken fajitas. They came with beans and rice. I split the portions in half and asked for a to go box at the beginning of my meal so I could get the food off my plate from the start. Now I have lunch for today.

Sometimes it's hard to keep being vigilant about every single thing I put in my mouth, but I know it will be worth it when I reach goal. So, now I need to go and find my calculator so I can add up today's food choice calories. What fun!!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Free Willy

Entry #8

I'm beginning to think that my blogging is kind of a drag. Every time I sit down to write I come up blank in terms of ideas. Does anyone really want to read about my less than stellar life? But, then, the main reason I'm doing this is for a record of my progress and to think through some things that come a little easier when I'm writing.

The past couple of days have been good ones in terms of food and exercise. It's a little more difficult now that I've cut back on the calories. But I didn't expect to have a rip roarin' time at this, after all.

My niece Mallory (5 years old) and nephew Preston (3) have been after me to spend the night at their house for a few weeks now. So last night I did and had so much fun with them. My sister served lasagne and garlic french bread for dinner. I didn't pull out my scale or calorie counting book as I thought that might be a bit much. It wasn't too hard to keep the lasagne serving small, but the battle over whether or not to have the second piece of garlic bread was a bit more difficult. I could very easily make a meal of garlic bread alone. I didn't have the second piece, but might have if I hadn't been beaten to the punch by the kids who shared it. Since I didn't have anywhere near 1200 calories even after eating dinner, I didn't refuse when Christine offered some Baskin & Robbins Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. The serving was small and it felt good to both enjoy some ice cream and not feel guilty about it.

After dinner it was outside and into the pool. It's so much fun to watch the kids swim. They are both good swimmers for their ages. My nephew is a little fish! We were having a great time and then Mallory suggested we play a game. She wanted to play "Free Willy". Guess who got to be the whale? Oh well, it was great exercise anyway!

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Wake Up Call

Entry #7
Weight: 248 lbs. A loss of 1.5 pounds. I'll take it!

Actually, at first glance at the scale this morning I was a bit disappointed by my loss this past week. I've started enough diets to know that the first week of a major shift in eating and exercise always results in a big weight loss and subsequent weeks are smaller. However, I figured that all the exercising I'd done at the gym as well as climbing up and down ladders at school and stretching to put up bulletin boards should count for SOMETHING.

But, when I took the time to sit and really think over the past week I didn't come off as quite the exercising/diet wonder I was picturing in my very fertile imagination. To be really honest, the diet went well last week. However, I was starting to "forget" to write down the 5 measley calories in a bottle of Crystal Light Lemonade (never mind that I may have had two or three in a day) and the 5 little calories in a stick of Juicy Fruit gum. Then the "workout" at the gym where I was only spending 30-35 minutes on the treadmill began to look a little puny. I was a little too cocky about the original weight loss and thought I'd just stick to the same routine. This morning was a definite wake up call.

This week I'm going to cut down the calories to 1200. I was staying between 1200 and 1300 a day. At the gym I'm adding some strength training every day before I hop on the treadmill. I absolutely loathe strength training with weights. Whenever beginning an exercise program in the past I always rationalized putting off working with weights. I'd tell myself I'd just stick to the treadmill until I get back in "the swing of things". Not this time. Besides the fact that these machines build muscle, which in turn burns fat, at my age it is necessary to do these exercises for bone density and strength. And this effort is all about doing what is good for my body.

One thing I've decided to do this time around is reward myself for weight loss. Rewards after each loss of ten pounds sounded good to me. So, I cheated a little and even though I hadn't weighed yet, on Saturday I went to get my hair cut, colored and highlighted. The gal that did my hair lives in Escalon with her husband and three little girls. She knows half of the people I do. I guess I'd better be careful about who/what I talk about in the chair.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Beast

Entry #6

For the past day and a half I've been working in my classroom getting it ready for the opening of school in two weeks. Before going back I thought it would be much easier to stick to my diet once I went back to school. I'd be so busy preparing for the first day of school, my mind would be occupied and my body busy. No such luck.

You see, there is in our staff room a monster lurking. The beast is commonly known as the vending machine. This contraption is loaded with all kinds of treats (Snickers, Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies, Doritos, just to name a few). They've each got their own little window so it's oh, so easy to get a good look at the goodies. I came close to fishing through my purse for $.75 to plunk in the thing. Luckily good sense prevailed and I left the room.

Now when stuff like this happens I've been trying to stop and figure out why I have the desire to eat something that would not be a good food choice, especially when I am definitely not hungry. As I thought about this, I realized I was viewing the food as a comfort or consolation of sorts. Why do I need consoling? The answer came to me -"because I'm here at work all alone and the other teachers are still enjoying their vacation." Oh, boo hoo. Poor me! I should be (and am) grateful to have a secure job in a good district, surrounded by colleagues who care about each other. That's my consolation!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Family, Friends, Food and Insanity

Entry #5
It's been a few days since a new post has been added here. I guess I'll have to decide exactly how many times I want to post an entry. Originally, I thought every day would be good. However, after a couple of times where my days were very busy and ran late, it was impossible to write and get to bed early enough to get a good night's sleep. So for now, I'll post when possible. Maybe that's a bit too loosey goosey, though. Hmmm, I'll have to give this some thought.

This past week has been so busy with family, friends, and, of course, food. How is it possible to not connect getting together with family or good friends and food? That has been a problem for me most of my life. Whenever a special time came around it was a great excuse to go off the diet "just for tonight/today/lunch/dinner". Of course with the good intention that as soon as the special event was over it would be right back on that eating and exercise plan. Yeah, riiiiight. Many were the times when going off for "just tonight" ended up in a three day or, sometimes, three week eating binge. Finally I would muster up the determination and discipline, go back on my diet and be fairly successful. That is, until the next special event came along and the cycle would be repeated.

This week I had some girlfriends from church over for dinner. It was a wonderful time to reconnect and catch up on what's been going on in our lives. For the last year or so I've basically hidden away at home. I've avoided social situations whenever possible. It was so much more comforting to just stay home with my television and food. Those days are over. After sharing our dinner together I am determined to get together with friends more and get involved to some degree in my church again.

The same could be said for family. I come from a large family (I'm the oldest of nine children) and throughout most of my adult life have spent mostly only holidays and birthdays with them. This summer, though, I've felt a change in myself in this regard. Making time to spend with family members has become more important to me. Maybe it's my age. I don't know, but I like it.

Last night the California contingent of my family celebrated my brother Tim's 49th birthday at his home . He, his wife Nat and my two nieces Taylor and Danielle live in a beautiful rustic log cabin-style home on fifteen acres just outside of Oakdale. As it was getting dark the sound of crickets filled the air. It was wonderful to look up and see the stars in the night sky when they don't have to compete with the lights of the city. On the way home I was telling those in the car with me how nice it was to hear the sounds of crickets and frogs at night. I mentioned that I had been considering buying some live crickets at the pet store and letting them loose in my flowerbed so I could hear them sing at night. My nephew Preston (3 years old) told me that last year he had a cricket in his bed and the cricket "cricked" so loud it kept him awake. I'm not sure how much of that story is actually true, but his invention of the word "cricked" was just too funny.

At both of these events food was in abundance and, though I didn't weigh, measure and count calories for everything I ate, I was able to keep the portions small. And that included dessert which I thoroughly enjoyed on both occasions. It feels good to be able to eat any food I want and only watch portion sizes. Forbidding myself foods because I'm dieting has never worked. It's amazing that it's taken me forty years to learn that! What is the definition of insanity again? Oh yeah, it's when you keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Very Good Start!

Entry #4 Weight 249.5 lbs. Nine and a half pounds lost in 10 days! Woo hoo!

I couldn't believe it when I stepped on the scale this morning. I had to get off and do it again to make sure I was seeing the numbers right. If I hadn't compared my scale to my doctor's a few weeks ago I wouldn't have believed it and would have gone down to his office to get weighed. I was expecting a four maybe five pound loss. I am very thankful to God and to all my friends and family who have been very encouraging.

Today wasn't such a stellar day in terms of exercise. For some reason I couldn't fall asleep last night and then when I finally did drop off, kept waking up throughout the night. When the alarm went off to get up and go to the gym I reset it and tried to fall back to sleep. That didn't happen and I never got to the gym as I was babysitting my niece all day today. Oh well, at least the diet part of my day was good.

While fixing my lunch today I learned that when school begins Weight Watchers, Healthy Choice, and Lean Cuisine frozen meals will be my best friends. It took me forever to measure out, weigh, and look up the calories for the stuff I put in my lunch. Tonight while fixing dinner I found myself thinking that I would just "eyeball" the food I was putting on my plate. I didn't give in to that, thankfully. While the calorie counting book will not completely rule my life while on this diet, counting calories will be a necessity for a long time to come.

Tomorrow night I'll be having some friends from church over for dinner. I'm looking forward to seeing these women. One of them will be moving to Long Beach as her husband (he's in the National Guard) has been assigned there. Linda is a very talented musician and singer and a wonderful friend. She, her husband Greg and little family will be missed a great deal. But, then, now I have an excellent reason to go down to Long Beach, maybe make a side trip to Disneyland. Hmmm.

I heard from another friend today who saw my blog link on Facebook. It was so good to hear from Tina. I appreciated her kind words of encouragement and hope to be just as encouraging to her on her journey. This is one of the nicest things about writing this blog. I've heard from people from high school as well as other places. It's good to be back in contact with them.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Temptations and a Green Thumb

Entry #3
I'm realizing that I need to list these by entries instead of days. My computer had been in the shop with the Geek Squad for a few days so this is my third blog entry, but not the third day of my "diet".

I put that "d" word in quotes because I hate the word "diet". For much of my life I've been on one diet or another and always with the same results. However, in the interest of ease (and I am a lazy creature) and speed, that will be the word used when I write this blog.
Since posting last, I've successfully navigated two challenges and have begun searching for my green thumb.

Last Wednesday evening my family went out to dinner to celebrate my sister's 50th birthday. We went to Chili's and had a great time. For the first time ever I planned what I would eat before going to the restuarant. With the help of the internet it's now possible to look at the menu, including calories, online. So that's what I did before leaving for the restuarant. Passing up the chips and salsa (of course, placed right in front of me) wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. My sister Christine, who knows about this blog and my newfound determination to lose it this time, was so sweet and offered to move them away. It was tempting to have her do it, but I decided that I can't run from food and temptation for the rest of my life, so we left it where it was.

The next day I was meeting Christine and my niece and nephew at the movies to see Toy Story 3. The monster looming there, of course, is the concession stand. The smell of popcorn did provide for a bit of a temptation, but it wasn't as hard as I'd feared it would be to resist. Before I went I'd heard about how the last few minutes of the movie were pretty hard to take and to bring a box of Kleenex. I was bound and determined not to cry. Does two tears and brimming eyes count as crying?

On to the green thumb. My yard is small (I live in a condo) but it has looked like a jungle for most of the summer. This weekend I'd decided to start to spruce it up. When beginning this diet I wanted to start going to the gym on the weekends as well as weekdays. No need. My body is sooooo sore from the bending, shoveling, etc. that goes with gardening. This weekend showed me in no uncertain terms just how out of shape I am. But now at least half of my yard is pretty with flowers of every color everywhere I look (as long as I only look at the western half of my yard).

Gardening has never been my forte. I'm really good at killing plants and flowers. Growing them, uh, not so much. My father was a gardener's gardener. I swear he could have taken a popsicle stick, planted it, and something green would sprout out of the ground. He loved to work with the earth, plants and flowers and his yard showed it. Many people who knew who my father was would often comment to me on how beautiful his yard was. My dad passed away last April l5th and I miss him. So I'm determined to make my yard as pretty as I can. That will be my tribute to my Dad. With St. Francis (I have a statue of him in the yard) and my Dad watching over my efforts, I'm sure my yard will bloom.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Silencing "The Voice"

Day 2

Thanks to everyone who responded to my blog appearing on Facebook yesterday. It was very encouraging to hear from so many friends! I hope everyone who reads it can take something away for his or her own use.

As I said yesterday, I'm not exactly sure what all I want to include here. The main motivation was to post my progress (kind of like a diary) with weight loss. Another area of my life that is actually very much intertwined with weight is my faith life. Over the years it has been true for me that when I am disciplined in my spiritual life (prayer, Bible reading, etc.), it is much easier to stick to a good eating and exercise plan. When one of these areas breaks down, the other is quick to follow. By no means do I want to set myself up as any kind of teacher/lecturer on the topics of weight and faith, but these are two areas that will definitely be covered. Please feel free to let me know if I'm getting too big for my britches!

This morning while responding to encouraging words from a friend I came to a dead stop because I realized that I was getting ready to write something that was a put down to myself. Unfortunately, those come very easily. It was a real effort not to put it in there.

Almost as soon as I posted yesterday's blog "The Voice", as Geneen Roth writes about in her book Women, Food and God, started in. The tirade goes something like this: "Who do you think will read your blog? What makes you think you can do this? What if something goes wrong and you pick up and spread some kind of virus? How full of yourself can you be to write about yourself as if anyone else will care about your weight loss? How are you going to look when, just like every other time you've started out with high hopes, you give up and gain it all back?" I've never been much of a risk taker. Playing it safe could be the motto for my life. If I don't step out and take a risk, I can't fail. And not failing, above all else, is what's important. There is no room for that kind of thinking anymore. A huge part of the job of losing this weight will be to risk failure and silence The Voice.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Toes In The Water!

Day 1, Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This is my first attempt at blogging. I was encouraged by Kenz at All The Weigh to start a blog and, after some hesitancy, finally decided to just do it.

Before finding Kenz's blog I read the AOL homepage story from last week about Sean Anderson and his very successful weight loss. I stumbled onto Kenz's blog while reading Sean's. They are both required daily reading for me now. I've experienced my share of successes, always followed by regaining the lost weight plus more. The positive, sensible messages I've found on Kenz and Sean's blogs have inspired me to follow their examples.

Here's a little about me: I am a 52 year old single woman, living in central California. I have been an elementary school teacher for 23 years, this year will be year 24. I enjoy reading, listening to music, baking and cooking. I love the ocean although I don't get there as often as I would like. My faith is Catholic and in the past was very active in my parish. The past few years I've taken a bit of a break from that, however.

I'm a little uncertain of the direction I would like this blog to take. Like Sean, the main reason I've started writing is to keep myself honest with my weight loss efforts and if I can possibly be an inspiration to anyone else, so much the better.

At this time I am 5ft 2.5in. tall and weigh 259 pounds. I would like to weigh 125-130. At least that is what I'm shooting for! This time I really feel like it's possible. I'm counting calories (something I have studiously avoided for years) and there are no forbidden foods. I belong to a gym and plan to go at least five days a week. Right now I'm just walking the treadmill, but will gradually add other cardio and weight machines as I progress.

This is more than a little scary and intimidating for me. I am, by nature, quiet and reserved so putting myself out in the blogosphere is daunting to say the least. That, coupled with the fact that I am technologically challenged should make for interesting times ahead. But I am very excited to begin this process and follow in Sean and Kenz's footsteps. But, today I'm just putting my toes in the water!