Thursday, May 28, 2009

More On Weightloss

Weight loss is a topic I've been concerned with over the past few years, particularly since my son was born. My weight has flucuated, only 10-15 pounds, but for me this is significant, since I stand only 4 feet 9 inches tall. I've tried many different things over the years, including a low-carb diet, a vegan/vegetarian diet, and most recently, more natural, "real" foods and even raw foods. My raw food diet only lasted 3 days (well, not a complete 3 days actually; I caved in at supper on the 3rd day and ate a cooked vegetable soup). While this kind of eating seems to be the answer for my sister, who has now lost 20+ pounds with very little exercise, it's just not a way of eating that I can live with all the time. Don't get me wrong, I love a variety of raw foods, mainly fruits and nuts, but when it comes to vegetables, it's a little harder for me. I like most of them at least lightly steamed, which I think leaves most of the nutrients in tact.

Anyway, the 3-day stint didn't result in any weight loss, in fact, I gained weight, which I attribute to eating at night and not being too active, which brings me to my next idea for losing weight. This idea is not something new to me; I've done it many times in the past and successfully lost weight with it. It was just the maintenance part that was always so difficult. What I'm talking about is pretty much what I talked about in my last post, eating more natural and less processed foods and following the advice of Paul McKenna. And also adding regular exercise back into my life. I've already lost 3 pounds this week (and it's only Thursday!). Here's what I'm doing:

I start the morning early, around 5 or 6 and get myself a glass of water, which I drink periodically during my morning workout. My workout consists of stepping on my Wii balance board while watching an interesting show on TV. Although with the Wii Fit game, there is the capability of stepping to a rhythm given to you through the Wii Remote, I'm not using that because it quickly gets annoying to me. I'm simply using the balance board not even turned on (I know, I just need to get a regular step, which would be higher, giving me an even tougher workout and I could actually jump on it a little). I've found I can easily move around this way for 30 minutes and not get bored or overly tired. I don't know if this is accurate, but I'm considering it roughly equivalent to taking a morning walk. I do this before my son gets up so I don't hear whining in the background about how much longer until I'm done so he can have his morning cup of warm chocolate milk. :)

This is not the end of my physical activity for the day. I've discovered the joys of keeping a clean, uncluttered kitchen, and that this is only possible if I spend time and energy keeping it that way. But I'm not complaining, especially about the energy part. I've changed my attitude about doing the things that so many people complain about, like daily chores. I figure, every movement I make during a day adds up and burns calories, including washing dishes, sweeping, mopping, wiping the counter and table etc. One thing I've started doing is to immediately hand wash, dry and put away each dish and utensil after using it. Not only does this keep my kitchen clutter-free, it also keeps me moving, and I believe is contributing to helping me lose weight.

As a stay-at-home mother, I have the time to devote to domestic activities, such as kitchen chores I mentioned above. Another activity I do in the kitchen is to make my own bread. I've been making my own bread regularly for the past 2 months, but using a bread machine, so it didn't require a whole lot of man power. But this week, I decided to try it the old fashioned way. I discovered it's really not that hard, but I do think the 7-10 minutes spent kneeding the dough definitely burns some calories. Another thing that really helps as far as activity goes is playing with my son. I actually discovered this a few years ago when he was about 2 years old. I would dance for 20 minutes with him to kid's music videos. It worked wonders. I lost weight easily. The thing was, I got bored of it after a while and so did he. As I said, this was a few years ago, but I thought of it again recently to help me get more active again. I'm doing this again, but a little differently. My son is now 5 and as any child, LOVES attention from me, and as an only child, sees me as his playmate, so he's always asking me to play with him. In the past, I have felt like, although I wanted to spend time with my son, a lot of it was boring to me, and I dreaded playing with him. But then I rethought it. What if I really dove in and let him lead the play while I followed? So I started following him around, imitating his movements as we raced and played out all sorts of scenes from his imagination. On the surface you might be thinking, so what, how is that a workout? To this I ask you, have you ever tried to follow a 5-year-old around and perform his every movement? They are fast and don't stop! Do this for 20-30 minutes and you WILL be tired when you're done!

The last part of my weight loss plan is very important, and perhaps the hardest part of it. It's not eating at night after supper. I've gotten into such a habit of eating while watching TV or reading, usually something sweet. It just relaxes me a the end of the day after my son is in bed and all is quiet. But I've known for a while now that this is one thing that prevents me from losing weight, since I'm eating so late then going to bed gives my body no time to burn off the calories before slowing down for the night. Like I said, it's been the most difficult part of my new plan. But I'm trying to follow Paul McKenna and Mireille Guiliano (author of French Women Don't Get Fat. They say to only eat when you can sit down at the table with no distractions and truly enjoy your food. Don't eat while standing up or while reading or watching TV, because this prevents us from savoring our food and leads us to eat more than we normally would. It makes so much sense to me, but I still want to veg out on the couch at night and watch TV while eating chocolate. This is my biggest challenge, but I'm up for it.

If your situation is similar to mine, stay-at-home mom with a young child or children who needs to lose weight, start today by happily participating in physical play with your kids. Go to the playground or just your own backyard. Not only will you get lots of exercise, you'll also be making precious memories with your dear little loved ones. Then start adding more fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains to your diet and start eliminating processed foods slowly. Make eating a sensual experience by sitting down at the table and savoring every bite. I didn't mention this earlier, but one good rule is to stop eating when you're 80% full. Even though you don't feel 100% full yet, in a few minutes your brain will catch up with that full feeling and you'll have eaten less than normal.

Another tip for exercise is to just fit it into your day, into your normal activities. Stop complaining about laundry, taking out the trash, washing dishes, etc. and seize them as opportunities to keep moving. It really does all add up, and you just may find some peace in having a neater house!

Most important, don't give up! You can reach your goal weight and be healthy so that you have the energy for your kids and family.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Real Food & Weight Loss

Since January, I've been trying to lose about 15 pounds. It seems like that would be so easy, but it has not been for me. So in the past few months I've put myself through a few tactics in hopes that I could shed those pounds and get back down to my high school weight. Unrealisitc? Maybe. I mean, I would be happy to lose even just 10 pounds, which doesn't seem an unreasonable goal to me. But it has just been so hard for me.

So, first I started working out 3 days a week with a friend, and paying a little more attention to what I was eating. When that didn't work right away, I decided to try, in addition to my workouts (I was also working out almost every day that I wasn't with my friend), limiting my calories, and counting every single one that went into my mouth. When that didn't give me instant results (the results were slow, and in fact, when I finally saw results, I had gained a couple of pounds!), I decided to try something drastic. I decided to really cut my calories, so low that I knew it was unhealthy. I've heard for the past few years that cutting calories lowers your metabolism and actually prevents you from losing weight, but I was getting desperate, so desperate measures, right?

Well, I actually lost those 2 pounds I had gained. The problem was, I was miserable, even though I was slow to admitting it. This part of my weight loss attempt only lasted maybe 3 days, and by the third day, I finally had to admit that I had no energy, I was cranky, and was constantly thinking about food because I was starving myself. I called my sister who is on a really healthy diet right now (and steadily losing weight) to talk. It was to the point where I was having to lay down every afternoon from sheer lack of energy to even walk, and the day before yesterday, my last day on this ridiculous "diet", I was even sick to my stomach because my body needed some FOOD.

My sister is experimenting with raw foods, so I wanted to give it a try, or at least research it and see if it would be for me. I knew something had to change, that what I was doing just wasn't right. So I went to the library and looked up books, but could find none on raw foods. I think it was a blessing in disguise. Instead, I found a book called Real Food: What to Eat and Why, by Nina Planck. I'm still reading the book, but so far, this book seems to present one of the most healthy and common-sense way of eating "diets" I've ever read about. And it really is mostly common-sense: reduce processed, "industrialized" foods and replace them with "real" foods with the actual nutrition our bodies need. Foods like eggs, whole milk, cheese, olive oil, fish, fruits and vegetables. Many of the things included are things that we've been told are bad for us and will contribute to heart disease, etc., and eventually even kill us. But I agree with Nina that it's really the processed stuff devoid of nutrients that actually does this.

I don't mean to offend anyone who follows a strict meatless diet, it's just that I've been down the vegetarian and even vegan route before, and it is not for me. But I do plan to try some of my sister's "raw-cipes". Like I said, we could all benefit from adding fresh foods to our diets and some of the things my sister has made sound delicious, and I plan to incorporate them into my eating plan.

While it would be hard to follow ALL of Nina's suggestions, such as only drinking raw milk straight from the cow, or only eating organic produce, I think simply cutting way back on the junk food and eating more foods that we were meant to eat would benefit anyone. I realize that there is WAY to much in the way of colorful boxes, cans and bottles in my pantry and fridge. These pretty, mostly plastic and cardboard containers to me represent what's inside them: artificial, incomplete, unhealthy foods. Instead, I'd rather see colors that are real, colors that more than represent, but actually ARE the very nutrients that will help make my body healthy, and maybe even lose a little bit of weight, according to Nina.

I realize though, that too much of even a good thing is bad. I also need to go back to only eating when I'm actually hungry and stopping when I'm full. A few months back, I saw a program on TV, "I Can Make You Thin" with host Paul McKenna. It was his eye-opening show that changed the way I thought about eating and weight loss. I did his suggestions for a while, but then let myself stray from it by ignoring his suggestions of not eating while watching tv, only eating when you are hungry, and stopping when you are full, or even before you feel full. I haven't read his book, but I plan on doing that soon. I think his method will be effective when combined with the Real Food method.

If you've been struggling like I have been, please check these books out. I started my new plan for healthier eating yesterday, and all day I already felt 100% better! I'm waiting for payday so I can head to the store and fill my cart with fresh real food.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Welcome to The Spice Rack!

I decided to start this blog to express the many thoughts that are always running through my head. Why do I call it "The Spice Rack"? Well, I have so many different interests, so many different subjects, I thought the idea of a spice rack captured that idea. The way a spice rack has a variety of flavors to choose from, depending on what you're in the mood for. That's what this blog is all about. I'll be writing about whatever strikes me at the moment. I may write about the same thing for a while, as I tend to focus on one thing for a very long time sometimes. Or it may be about something different every time I post. Variety is what I'm after!

I love variety in my life because that's what keeps me from getting bored. It drives my husband crazy that I love variety so much. He's the type that can (and literally does) listen to the same song over and over and not get tired of it. He told me the other day he listened to one song on the way to work, which takes him about an hour. Seriously. I cannot do this. That's why I listen to my cd's on the shuffle mode--I just can't stand to hear them in the same order every time!

Anyway, you you never know just what subject you'll find me talking about each time you visit my blog. So if you don't like what it's about today, come back tomorrow and you might! Of course, being a woman, I'm likely to talk about women's issues and interests. Some that I have in mind for the future are:

  • family
  • kids
  • adoption
  • breastfeeding
  • weight-loss
  • health issues
  • relationships
  • digital scrapbooking
  • photographing kids
  • gardening
  • cooking
  • books
  • crafts
  • sewing
  • movies
  • couponing
  • bargain shopping
  • working from home
  • and many more as I think of them!

I hope you'll check back often to see what's been knocking around in my brain recently!