Monday, November 28, 2011

A Lesson in Being Thankful.

Thanksgiving is one of my absolute favorite holidays.  It’s kind of like you get all of the fun family time from Christmas, but it’s more relaxed and there’s less expected of us all.  Don’t get me wrong – I adore Christmas.  I’m one of “those people” who totally shrieked driving down the road while station-surfing two days after Halloween when I accidentally ran into Delilah on our local radio station that goes entirely Christmas on November 1st

Yes, Dean Martin – it is cold outside.  And I think I will stay.  Thank youuu, sir. 

But anyway – back to Thanksgiving.  We all hear lots of lovely, warm, fuzzy things encouraging us to be thankful for this, be thankful for that, take a good look at what we do have rather than what we don’t and be appreciative of it…

I’m always a bit like, “Yeahhh, yeah yeah, that’s nice.  That’s cool.  Yay, yippee, fun and I’m thankful and whatnot.”  But this year, I got to thinking: what am I really thankful for?  And when things seem daunting, a little scary, and just really aren’t that good, why should I be?  What if I just don’t want to and am far more in the mood to have little toddler-boohoo-rants like this in my brain?  What have I got to be thankful for? 

Lots of things, dear friends.  Lots of things. 

Something I have incorporated into my life over the last year is being proactive in making decisions, taking actions, and thinking about things without feeling like it.  So on Thanksgiving day, I decided to put aside how I feel about things, and situations, and life in general, and make myself think of what I was thankful for right at that moment.  And here’s what came to mind.

  • I’m thankful the flowers I picked out for our Thanksgiving centerpiece looked so nice.
  • I’m glad my family is going to enjoy a nice day in my parents’ home with super yummy food, good company, my sweet puppy Kylie, and a fireplace to fall asleep in front of when my belly’s too full for me to stay conscious.
  • I’m thankful I still have friends in England who probably wouldn’t mind seeing me if I ever get back there.  I miss Liverpool so, so very badly.
  • I’m thankful, EVEN if my weigh-in Monday morning doesn’t go well, that I’ve lost nearly 86 pounds since March.  
  • I’m thankful my Dad’s watching football.  I don’t typically follow sports, but lately, I really like hanging out at my parents’ while my Dad watches sports.  
  • I’m thankful for Muppets.  
  • I’m thankful for a Mom who, time and time again, really does know best.  She is awesome.  She really, really is.  
  • I’m thankful my brothers are all doing so well for themselves.  
  • I’m thankful that ridiculously cheesy lady Delilah had some soppy one-liner between Andy William’s “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and Wham’s “Last Christmas” reminding me to shut up and stop my whining and think about what I really do have to be thankful for. 

Things are just things.  Places are just places.  People come and go.  Things aren’t always rosey.  I’m sure you are all 368% aware of this, and then some.  But I’m pretty darn sure if we’d all have a little more faith, show a little more love, and be a little more thankful, things at least wouldn’t seem all bad. 

I hope those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a good one.  And for those of you who didn’t, well – I’ll think of you while I’m being thankful for leftovers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Day Preparation...

I am excited!  I love Thanksgiving.  I've been given the duty of picking out some pretty flowers for my family's centerpiece, which is wonderful because I love getting my Mom flowers.  I've also got a self-imposed last-minute duty of attempting a light, yummy, Thanksgivingy dish.  I am a prolific procrastinator, so I will be braving the aisles of some alarmingly busy grocery store this evening to buy ingredients to prepare...  Something.  The Mom suggested a salad, so I'm thinking about a fall salad with mixed greens, flaked smoked salmon, apples, dried cranberries, some good cheese and maybe some nuts.  We'll see.

I thought about getting a spice cake mix and mixing it with soda and pumpkin pie mix, but I have no idea how it'd turn out.  It just sounds good...  Maybe I'll go all experimental on everybody.  We'll see.  I think I'm going to save all of my dessert experimentation for Christmas!

In preparation for my day of mild food extravagance, though, I've decided to work out first thing in the morning.  This is partly because I need to in general, and partly because I want to burn off a bit of what I'll be eating later!  I can't eat as much as I used to, so I've come up with a bit of a game plan.

I'm going to grab about a soup-spoonful of all the things I'd like to eat.  I figure, if I get a wee bit of it all, I'll be stuffed, not having gone over the top, but also getting to taste it all!  That way I won't feel like tiny, orange men are about roll me away, but will be mighty content.

Byyy the way...

If you're a record fiend like I am, be SURE to visit your local record shops this Friday for Black Friday!  So many albums are being released - both new, and reissued classics, and I'm sure there will be some great sales around here on used stuff.  I can't wait.  AND!  Make sure to support local business on Small Business Saturday!  I'll partake in the madness at all the big stores, too, I'm sure.

I hope you all have a tremendous Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

If the shoe fits...

I really should start a regular posting called "I told you so:  Mother knows best."

When I decided to lose weight and exercise regularly, my Mom told me that I should go to my local athletic shoe shop down the street from where I work, fork out the dough, and get a really good pair of shoes to work out in.  I was reluctant because I'm an intermittent tightwad (I have a tendency to grossly overthink "important" purchases).

Well, she told me so.  I went to Gazelle Sports in Kalamazoo, Michigan and let them work their magic. I did check some out online that I wanted to see, but I decided ultimately to not look at any price tags, be open-minded about how the shoes looked (I always opt for vanity over practicality), and let the good people at Gazelle guide me.  They asked what I was looking for, watched me walk, asked what size I needed, and brought me out options.  I tried on a fair few pairs of shoes, and ended up trying on one that just felt like heaven.  I had no idea that shoes were supposed to be a bit loose, and that your arches are actually located directly below your ankle bones - not in the middle of your feet like I'd assumed.  I've been so used to "making it work."

I ended up spending $125 of my tax return on these babies, but it was worth every penny.  They're still in good shape, but I might get some insoles to perk up the soles of my feet again.  I can't believe the difference they made.  I took the dog on a three mile walk a few days after I got them, and my arches burned for a little bit, but then it made everything better.  My back wasn't as sore, my feet didn't get tired and cramp up or fall asleep, and it was great.

Honestly - investing in a really good pair of properly fitting workout shoes is one of the best things I could have done.  And, really - what better to invest in than making sure I have good tools to get healthy?

My advice...  Find a place in your area that knows what they're doing, and take the plunge.  It might seem crazy spending that much on a pair of tennis shoes, but it will be worth it!

Friday, November 11, 2011

This is how we do it. Part 1 - Get off your bum.

Yeah, that's an awful song and it's stuck in your head now, too.

Chunk doesn't like the idea of diets, either.
Thanks to a lovely person who commented on my last post, I realized I have never really told you guys about my struggles with losing weight my whole life, and what has helped me finally conquer this beast.

Well, one thing I can tell you that I know for certain from this process:  there are no quick fixes.  Gimmicks and crash diets will not last, and if we aren't willing to change our lifestyle, our lives simply will not change.

I really don't think of what I'm doing as a diet, but a bit more like taking a red pen and giving things a good edit.  I could very easily continue my current lifestyle for the rest of time, and I would be perfectly content.  I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough!  Balance is key!

So, how have I done it?  What are my tricks, tools, and a few of my favorite things? There is no way I could possibly fit it all into one blog (I'm not exactly known for my brevity in the talking department...).  The things that have made the biggest difference for me, though, are:

Staying active.
Logging what I eat and developing a more interesting, aware, balanced relationship with food.
Making good, calculated, conscious decisions knowing that the "feely" part will happen later.

We'll get to all three of those, but today one in particular is on the brain.

Getting off my duff.  Purposefully, and regularly.
I was active for most of my life.  College came, and I gained some fluff.  From being on my duff.  Oh, all this rhyming is making me a bit nauseous.  But, anyway.  After losing weight from dancing, walking everywhere, and spending all of my money on records rather than food, I moved home from England and got a desk job.
Depression from lack of England + desk job = chub.

If it's within your means, go see a doctor and get a trainer!  I love to push myself, but if I do things like squats and lunges more than a couple of times a week, it leaves me in great pain and I've got to take it easy for a couple of days.  There are a few things I'd really like to ask a Doctor about and get checked out.  Thanks to an amazing deal on Groupon, though, I will have a trainer to get tips from soon!  I'll always find it satisfying, though, getting past that point where you think you're done, only to feel like you could go all day.  And I love feeling sore the next day!

Exercise has absolutely helped bring me back to life.  I'm fitter, stronger and in better shape, but the difference it's made in my overall countenance is outstanding.  If you think starting to exercise sounds laborious and daunting, just wait to see the ogre in you that pops out when you've not done it in a few days.  Even if you only do it three or four times a week for about a half hour, you're still doing it!

I typically work out five or six times a week, even if I only have time for 20-30 minutes, but I really like to get a few in a week that are at least 45 minutes to an hour.  I do a whole assortment of things - walking, jogging, using my parents' elliptical machine, Tae Bo, pilates videos I've downloaded from Fit TV, or playing EA Active and Just Dance games on the Nintendo Wii.  If you've got OnDemand, there are dozens and dozens of workouts available!  Take the kids or your dogs on a walk.  Have "workout dates" with friends.  I like to do things alone most of the time; I push myself harder.  I do a lot of thinking when I work out.  Figure out what works for you, and do it.

I used to be the queen of absurd, self-imposed time constraints and excuses for not making it happen.  It's a bunch of nonsense!  Don't make excuses.  Adapt!  Change!  I didn't think I could.  Turns out I was wrong.  But, if you're anything like me, no amount of hearing it from others will make you do it.  Something had to give, and then I just got on with it.  It's such a cliché, but I wholeheartedly believe this...  If I can do it, so can you.

Today, I ended up taking some adorable puppies on two walks and spending an hour on the elliptical machine.  I feel GOOD.

What works for you guys?  What challenges or frustrations seem to be popping up?  Share!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

81 Pounds Get The Boot.

81 pounds!  HA!  

Good God, y’all.  What is it good for?  Aaaaabsolutely –

Well, it’s good for a reason to treat yourself to a sweet new jacket and some rockin’ ankle boots.  That’s what.   I weighed myself this morning and was thrilled to see that I’d lost 5.3 pounds and had moved into the 80’s.  1981, if you will - the year I was born.  There's got to be some double-rainbow-mind-bending significance to that...  

Or not.  

These last couple weeks have been interesting.  I don’t know why, but my body has changed a lot over the last couple of weeks, and it’s been really, really strange for me to try and wrap my mind around some of the things this has stirred up.  The more weight I lose, I am constantly surprised by the ways it affects me, both physically and mentally.  The mind grows, the body gets...  Ehhhhhh, weirder, apparently.  It would seem my body is getting better in some ways, and just plain odd in others.  We'll discuss the weirdness later this week.  It’s not all roses lately, so I've had to keep reminding myself that this is a very good thing.  

We've got a lot to talk about.

But for now, you might be wondering, "Well, Sarah, last time you had sushi to celebrate hitting 70 pounds.  How about this time?!"  

did have salmon again, but the real celebration came in the form of suede, pleather, and a pleasing view of myself in the mirror.  My feet have finally decided to take part in this whole weight loss thing!  Some ladies are blessed and have lovely little feet and ankles, despite the rest of them not being quite so little.  Not I!

But, that has changed, and I have a rockin' pair of ankle boots to prove it.  I may or may not have also purchased a new pleather jacket at TJ Maxx.  (That, of course, means yes - yes, I did.)  Not only are my new ankle boots just plain awesome, they also happen to be deceptively comfortable.  Huzzah!!!

In honor of having lost 81 pounds, here are some photos of me basking in a brazen, wonderfully vain moment hearing Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak" in my mind while checking myself out in my new goodies.  

Pleather jacket - can't find brand!  TJ Maxx - $29.99
Zigisoho black ankle boot wedges - $40 at DSW

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Holiday Test-Drive - Fail.

"That time of year..." has begun with Halloween.  The holidays bring along so many lovely little anomalies, lots of last-minute-fun-things, and - well, yes...  Basically a great big barrel of really fun inconsistencies.  Inconsistencies that apparently aided in me gaining 1lb this week. I've shared my successes with you, so it'd be remiss of me not to share in my stumbles as well.  I haven't been awful this week, but I haven't been as diligent as I should.  And I can tell I consumed too much sodium yesterday (puffy hands & feet...), but I'm not giving myself a pass.  It's funny though, because I feel smaller, and seem to look smaller as well.  All's I know is that it is not a case of a plateau, it is a case of "Sort it OUT, Sarah!"

I was really hoping that all of the dancing on Halloween would do the trick!  Some of my girlfriends and I dressed up and went to my favorite dance party around here done by my favorite local DJ's, Bat Guano and Richard Bowser. Our adorable little group consisted of Wonder Woman (me...), Twister (she made a dress out of the game!), Brigitte Bardot, a Hot Mummy, and the Infamous Honey Badger.  And we danced - BOY, did we dance.  ELO, David Bowie, Devo, Michael Jackson, Arthur Brown's Fire, great old school R&B - it is impossible to have a bad time with those guys at the wheel.

My hair was so much better approximately 2 hours earlier...  My
Wonder Woman costume was awesome.  Photos will surface soon.

I've got to figure out how to get a good balance of all of this, because this last week was not my most successful!  I was very busy.  I tried to work out, but I only did "proper" workouts about three times and did not log my food as dutifully as I usually do.  In retrospect, I have not logged my food as well as I should for a few weeks.

A few things I've noticed since beginning this process:

1.  I cannot lose weight without regularly exercising at least 4 times a week.  
2.  I have to log every little thing I consume.
3.  I do better when I plan for my grab & go lifestyle by having pre-made foods, snacks, etc. around the house that allow me to eat a little bit several times during the day.  
4.  I have had several times where I've maintained, but only two when I've gained, and the reason for this has never been my body playing tricks on me despite my hard work; it has always been a case of user error.  So far.

So if Halloween were to have served as my pre-test for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, it taught me that I need to have a game plan.  I need to come up with a structure for the unstructured - decide how I'm going to attack all the unforeseeable wonderfulness that will undoubtedly come my way in the coming months!  And I need to remind myself that it is perfectly acceptable to just say no.

The Wonder Woman in me is on a mission to lose four pounds this week to make up for gaining a pound, and then some! Wish me luck, and I hope you all had a very fun Halloween.