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.