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Habits

Last night I did NOT want to work out.  I just didn’t want to do it.  So, I forced myself to put on my running shoes and headed down to the basement.  I still didn’t want to work out.  So, I got on the treadmill (yes, the treadmill again), and for the most part did not go any faster than 4mph, most of the time sticking to 3 mph.  My goal was to hit 3 miles.  I did, although it took me 55 minutes due to the pace I was going.  Even up to the very end, I hated working out.  Since I did not want to move very quickly, instead I chose to alter the elevation of the treadmill.  Every couple minutes I’d move it to 6% then to 8% and then to 10% (the steepest the treadmill will go) and then gradually back down by the same increments.  That way I was still working up a sweat in spite of my lack of speed.

Upon finishing the workout, I had a small all-fruit popsicle and a glass of water.  I was hungry from absolutely no snacking since eating dinner (it was almost 11pm at this time) and it was hard to ignore my mostly-empty stomach, but I did.  Brushed my teeth, picked up a book, and read.  Overall, the night was a success–too bad I didn’t enjoy it more.  Of course this morning I am happy with myself; most nights if I cave and snack away, I feel frustrated with myself the next day.  (The night before last I had a bad night.  Never-ending migraine was still there–day 6 of it–so I drank a Coke, snacked on a small bowl of potato chips and found some licorice in the cupboard which I ate.  I do NOT like the kind of licorice we had, yet I ate it as though it were going out of style.  Blech!  I’m blaming that one on hormones!)

Here’s to a new day.  Hopefully at some point the motivation will strike and I will want to exercise.  They say it takes 2 weeks of consistency for something to become a habit.  I am not sure that exercise falls within that range.  Last summer I exercised almost every day (changing up my workouts quite a bit) and after 3 MONTHS of that, I fell off the wagon, pretty much never to return.  I’m sure some of that is a result of my perfectionistic tendencies–once I was off the wagon, I just gave up–but you’d think if it was a habit, it would have outweighed a bad day or two.  It really only became a habit for me to *think* about exercise and how I was NOT doing it anymore.  Sometimes I feel like the only one who cycles through the exercise world like this.  I would love to become one of those people who loves exercising and looks forward to it, but so far that has yet to happen.  So often it seems that people stick with it.  Or they don’t, but they don’t seem to care, and don’t make it a priority, therefore it doesn’t bother them if they don’t work out.

This will be my 3rd attempt at consistent exercise.  The first attempt, 2 years ago, was going well.  We had a membership at the Y and I’d go there to walk, use a couple of their machines that we don’t have at home, and do some weight-training.  But then I suddenly became pregnant (2 years post DH’s vasectomy!), and allowed that to be my excuse to take it easy and eat more.  Around 12 weeks, I learned the baby had died.  What do I do when something stresses me out like that?  Bad stress initially saps my appetite and desire to eat entirely…but it’s short-lived.  After that, I eat food for comfort.  And if you lose a baby, you know that you desire comfort for a long time.  Fast forward to last summer when I was again doing so well at exercising and eating right.  We had a week-long family vacation in early August that kind of threw a bump in the road–I didn’t do any “real” exercise while there; at least nothing that caused me to break a sweat.  Came home, started up again, didn’t enjoy it (again), and once the school year started, that was the end of that.  Maybe the 3rd time is the charm!  We shall see…

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Done!

Did a 3-mile, 45-minute treadmill workout.  I know I should switch things up one of these days like I used to, but for the moment, I’m enjoying the treadmill quite a bit.  Some of my walking videos seemed to hurt my knee a bit, so I’d like to avoid injuries, especially while I’m first starting out.

So the kids were watching a video while I decided to do 3 miles.  I alternated going one minute at 3 mph, then 4 mph, then 2 minutes at 5 mph and 2 minutes at 4, 1 minute at 3.5, 1 minute at 3 mph, and back up again.  The only time the kids talked to me or started fighting was when I was jogging the 5 mph portion…you know, the most challenging part of the workout!  But I did it!  Feels good to have that accomplished.  Now I’m realizing that we’re 20 minutes out from dinner time…and I don’t exactly have anything planned…ooops!

It’s on the agenda.  My husband just wrote and said a bunch of his buddies are coming over this evening and they’ll be in the basement.  Which means I will be getting kids off to bed and certainly not working out with people in the same room as me!

This morning my 2 younger kids cleaned out the fridge for me.  We were pretty low on things, so they were excited to wipe down the shelves.  A bit later we went to the store and got 3 gallons of milk, 2 large packages of fresh blueberries (to go along with the 4-pound container of strawberries already in the fridge), a giant container of plums, some butter, and 7 & 1/2 dozen eggs.  Just needed to stock up on the basics.  (We go through eggs like crazy around here.)  I need to make my homemade granola again soon–I have a large container of plain yogurt sitting in the refrigerator just waiting to be sprinkled with granola and fresh berries!

Have you ever noticed how a number of people who think they are eating healthy actually aren’t?  For instance, they’ll buy “low fat” yogurts…which may be low in fats, but are extremely high in sugar.  Not exactly a great benefit for your health.

I like my share of unhealthy foods, but the bulk of what I make around my house tends to be homemade.  I’m not a fan of deli meats–I’d rather buy a whole chicken and roast it, take the meat off the bone, and then use the bones to make a healthy, homemade chicken stock.  You can use the meat for sandwiches or in other meals, as well as in a soup.  The meat stretches much further than if you just buy a package of deli meat.  And a lot of what goes into deli meats is not good…ever wonder how they can form the meats into nice little circles or squares?  Meat doesn’t naturally come in that shape!  We rarely ever have cold cereal in our home (much to the kids’ disappointment).  Even the “healthy” cereals, like Cheerios, simply turn to sugars and carbs as soon as you ingest them.  Plus, cold cereals don’t stick with you.  The days that we have had a bowl of cereal, we are all starving by 10:00.  Likewise, a bowl of oatmeal or a scrambled or fried egg will easily hold us over until lunch time.  Most homemade foods taste so much better, too.  Once you start making things from scratch, it’s almost like you can taste the chemicals and preservatives in other foods.  Is it easy to make soft flour tortillas?  Yes!  Is it time-consuming?  To a degree, yes.  But oh do they taste 100,000% better than the cardboard flour tortillas that you can buy at the store.  Trust me on this one!

As an interesting note, I recently read that foods high in fiber are better for another, less well-known (or discussed) reason. Apparently, because the high-fiber foods moves more quickly through your system, your odds of having colon cancer are reduced.  They are finding evidence that food that sits around for longer in your colon may cause cancer.  (Then again, what DOESN’T cause cancer these days–even the healthiest eaters sometimes still end up with cancer…but it’s eye-opening and makes you think a bit more about what you are putting in your mouth!)

The whole point of my ramblings is in relation to last night’s post about how I need to eat a little more healthfully.  As a general rule, I probably DO eat fairly healthy foods because much of what I make is made from scratch and I enjoy using whole foods.  (Does that mean that my HOMEMADE coffee cake is actually good for me?!  Probably not.  Boo. 😦 )  I’m paying more attention not only to WHAT I am eating, but HOW MUCH I am eating.  I’m guilty of over-indulging in foods that taste good.  I can honestly say I’m not too often all that hungry.  But that doesn’t stop me from snacking on a few chips or snagging a bite of, say, coffee cake…and I find that once I take that 1 bite, I have a really hard time stopping eating because it tastes so good.  Maybe I’d be better off if I were a lousy cook.  If food tasted bad, I wouldn’t be tempted to keep eating it! 😉

Well, I’ve put off my exercise for long enough.  Better try to get that in while the younger kids are absorbed in a movie.  Sometimes that helps to eliminate all the interruptions mid-exercise!  Wish me luck!

Not a whole lot to post in the way of updates.  I have not had the chance to try exercising during the day, however, I am currently 3 for 3 when it comes to exercising at 10 at night.  In fact, I got a head-start tonight; was able to get on the treadmill at 9:45, so exercised for 45 minutes instead of the usual 30.

The first night I did an interval session on the treadmill.  It was alright.  Last night I did the “weight loss” setting on the treadmill.  That one felt more effective; it changed the speed every 30-seconds, so my slowest point (recovery) was 30 seconds at 3 miles per hour, then it increased the speed every 30 seconds by a half mile per hour until I was at an easy jog at 5 mph.  Tonight I decided to go for the weight loss setting again.  Imagine my surprise when suddenly every 30 seconds the speed increased from 4 to 4.5, to 5, 5.5, 6, 6.5…what is going on?!  I’m doing the exact same workout as last night!!!  I quickly figured out I was starting on a higher “lower” speed than the night before.  Adjusted that a bit and the workout felt do-able.  In the meantime, hubby decided to join me and was on the elliptical next to me.  While it was sweet of him to want to keep me company, I actually found it annoying.  Not sure why–it certainly wasn’t anything he did.  Probably the knowledge that he would lose weight twice as fast with half as much exertion was my issue.  Plus, I like to focus on my workout when I’m actually working hard, and am not in the mood to chat like I would if I was just walking.  Maybe I’m strange that way.

The newest goal I need to focus on, since I have mastered gotten better about not snacking at night, is focusing on what I am putting into my body.  I usually do well with breakfast foods.  Most mornings I’ll do an egg or a bowl of oatmeal, but the food choices and cravings digress as the day wears on.  What’s my excuse (who, me?!) for not eating as healthy as I should?  Mainly, “But it’s so expensive to buy all those fresh fruits and veggies!”  But I’ll work at it.  In the words of Bob from the movie What about Bob, “Baby steps!”

Now, here’s hoping we can get the washing machine fixed in the very near future.  Working out and working up a sweat + no working washing machine = yuck!!!

Where to start…I’ve been doing better about not snacking at night.  The first few nights were pretty rough.  Going to bed early seemed to be the solution, which, if you know me, is very strange.  I am a night owl.  This was serious stuff.

But this turned into not only a holiday weekend, but a birthday weekend.  And a fair amount of eating restaurant food and/or not-so-healthy grilled summer foods.  On the morning of my birthday, I made my infamous blueberry cream cheese coffee cake.  Why?  Because I love it…and it was my birthday…and I deserved it…and no one in my family was going to be baking me a cake…plus, it’s good to eat the unhealthy, higher-fat content foods early in the morning so you can work them off throughout the day.  Ah, I am the excuse queen!  (And the coffee cake was VERY good!)  Hubby made excellent cheeseburgers for lunch, we ordered some Applebees for dinner…sadly, a VERY late dinner…as in after 8:00 (and we agreed to no snacking after 8, but this was eating a meal, not snacking, therefore it doesn’t count, right?!).   Today was more of the same.   And I found a new favorite potato chip from Costco–olive oil chips seasoned w/cracked pepper and sea salt.  Yum.  That’s probably not a good thing.

Now, on to the things that are good.  Last night I went shopping–that’s always good (until the credit card bill comes in the mail!).  I am a clearance shopper, so imagine my joy to find a new pair of running shoes for a mere $9.98.  I know, cheap shoes are not always very good, but it was worth a try.  And I liked the way they looked.  And I really liked the price.  Plus, sometimes having new shoes motivates one to start exercising.  The past few days I have been prepping for the upcoming school year.  (Trust me, the new shoes and school planning tie together, read on…)  Since I homeschool, school never really ends for me.  I have lots to get ready for in the upcoming year.  This year we’ll be studying the human body, so I’ve read up and planned out lessons on the skeletal system, muscular system, and digestive system so far.  Interesting stuff.  Convicting stuff.  Realizing just how important the food choices you make are, and why our muscles need to be worked out.  The human body is nothing short of miraculous, and I’ve been treating it as though it’s anything but that.

Fast forward to tonight.  Midway through the chapter on the muscular system, I noticed my new shoes staring at me from their spot on the couch, sticking their tongues out at me, daring me to try them on.  Not one to back down from a dare, even if it’s one that has been made up in my head, I grabbed the scissors and clipped the tag off the shoes.  I even clipped the stretchy tie that holds the shoes together–those shoes weren’t going to get the best of me.  Tried those things on and you know what?  One of the most comfortable pairs of tennis shoes I’ve ever worn.  Did I mention they were less than $10?!  And then I, the queen of excuses, decided at 10pm to go downstairs and hit the treadmill.  I don’t mean that literally, of course.  I actually got on the machine and did a 30-minute workout.  I did have to stop after 4 minutes to run to the bathroom–birthing 4 children leads to certain muscles not being what they once used to be, and I knew that I wouldn’t make it for 5 minutes, let alone 30, without it ending in a puddle…Of course, during the first 3 minutes I was fending myself from the dog who was utilizing his herding instinct with every step I took.  After my bathroom reprieve, I had another 2 minutes of shooing him away before he let up and I could really focus on the workout.  I did interval training, and every minute and a half I would switch from a 4 mph walk to 30 seconds of 6 mph jogging.  Just about the time my shin splints stopped burning from the jogging session, it was time to jog once again.  In the past, I’d suffer through it, being a perfectionist and setting high goals for myself.  Today I decided to just take it easy on myself.  Better to jog at 5.7 mph and not totally kill myself (and thereby ruin any motivation by being too sore or tired) than do nothing.  So that is what I did.  I even worked up a sweat.  It’s hard not to think that a year ago this would have been a super easy workout for me.  How far I have fallen.  But I will not fall into that trap and give up.

As I worked out, I did some more thinking.  I am not a morning person.  I’d love to exercise during the day, but in the past, that has failed for me because the kids argue and come to me, or someone gets stuck in the back of a dining room chair at the peak moment of intensity, requiring immediate assistance.  (Don’t ask…I swear they do these things on purpose at times.  The chair-trapped child was not injured and thanks to her flexibility, was easily freed from the chair.  Note to self: 36 year old flexibility is limited; do not try to crawl through the back of a chair just because.)  Anyhow, the kids are 1 year older now than they were last year.  This summer has already proven to be much more enjoyable because the younger kids in particular have matured so much from what they were last year.  So maybe daytime exercise is not out of the picture!  It’s worth a try!

Tomorrow is a new day.  Perhaps after lunch, I will try out this treadmill thing once again, allotting the first few minutes to persuading the dog to leave my leg alone, of course.  I’ll post an update on if it was a success or not…as well as if there were any crazy kid moments that interfered with the workout.

Now, if only the tendonitis in my left wrist would dissipate so I could type with 2 hands…it’s not easy getting old! 😉

 

Night-time Struggle

Here it is, 9:30pm and I have the urge to snack.  It’s become a habit for me…and it’s a hard one to break!!  This morning DH and I made a pact (one I made very happily begrudgingly) not to snack after 8pm.  I know the experts say you shouldn’t eat anything after 6 or something like that, but trust me, this is improvement and I’m going to take it in gradual steps.

I’ve always been a before-bed snacker.  I can remember my mom giving us kids a snack shortly before we’d go to bed.  I suppose it was (possibly subconsciously?) to fill our stomachs up so we’d sleep for a good long time.  I can recall as a teenager, sitting by my parents and snacking on a bag of popcorn before bedtime.  It’s always been a part of life as I know it.  (For the record, I do not give my kids snacks before bed–either you eat dinner or you don’t; your choice to go to bed hungry or not.)  For a while I gave up snacking in the evening and when I first started it back up, boy did I get stomach aches!  Sadly, that did not make me quit, rather, I “worked through it” until my body adjusted to its usual routine.

It also makes it worse that I have a tendency to stay up so late at night.  I am just not a person who needs very much sleep and I have always been that way.  Which suggests that perhaps some of my snacking is not only habitual, but also a result of boredom.  Not a whole lot to do in the evening except sit and relax…and eat.

I know all the “rules.”  Keep bad foods out of the house.  Don’t drink soda.  Eat whole foods and lean meat.  Unfortunately, I have a hard time keeping all bad foods out of my house.  I have a bias towards sweets and certain chocolates.  And as I stated in my previous post, sweets typically have to be followed by salty foods, and vice-versa.  And soda is my nemesis.  I’m not a coffee drinker.  I don’t “need” caffeine.  But I do like my Coke and feel entitled to treating myself to one can a day.  I don’t usually drink the whole thing, but sometimes I do.  This seems as though it would be an easy habit to break; simply don’t buy anymore soda.  Ah, but the excuses kick in: “We are going to have people over for BBQ’s this summer.  We need to have drink options for them.” (Because you know I’m always thinking about others and their love for Coke; it has nothing to do with my preferences! ;))  Another strange thing about me is that I crave carbonation.  I don’t mind plain water, but I much prefer carbonated water.  Sometimes I think that’s why soda is my downfall.  It’s an easy way to get a carbonated “fix.”  As for the lean meat, well, each year we order half a cow, so you can figure out that we do a lot of red meat and not so much of the chicken thing.  (As a side note, we had to have medical testing done for our new life insurance plan.  With the tests and blood work they ran, I tested at an “extremely healthy” level in all aspects and qualified for a reduced price coverage, so apparently the red meat isn’t hurting me too much!)

I did not “officially” exercise today.  I did get to play with a classroom full of 4 year olds this morning at church, move furniture (heavy tables!!!) to set up for an upcoming 3-day conference, played some basketball with the neighbor kids, and mowed the backyard.  I guess it all counts.  Too bad I have to sit in on that all-day conference this week.  It impedes my ability to fit in a work out.  (Look at that, yet another excuse!)

Maybe blogging is the answer.  I’ve been on the computer for nearly 20 minutes and have not given in to temptation.  As I retire for the night, I will quickly bypass the kitchen and hide out in my room until I fall asleep.  Instead, I will have sweet dreams as I imagine eating the Starbursts and Cadbury chocolates in the kitchen cabinet.  Dreams are calorie free! 🙂

A long time ago, I wanted to be just like my friend, Ginger, who had the cutest dimples when she smiled.  I remember praying and asking God to bless me with dimples, too.  Unfortunately, I didn’t specify well enough.  Now, 35 years later, I realize I should have stated that I wanted them on my face, not on my butt.

I’ve been a skinny person all my life.  You’d never know that I love food, especially junk food, as much as I do.  Some would say it’s not fair.  I would agree with that assessment.  At the same time, I’m also not very healthy on the inside, even though it may not look obvious on the outside.  I had 4 children by the time I was 31.  Even after my 4th, I managed to stay pretty skinny because I was constantly picking children up or stepping over baby gates, or rushing from one child to the next who was crying or needing assistance.  By the time I hit 34, that magical metabolism was starting to wear off, just like everyone told me it would.  A couple pounds here, a couple pounds there…as long as I still fit into my pants, I didn’t really care.  But now, well, I’m getting close to NOT fitting into my pants anymore.

I’ve attempted a healthy lifestyle on a few occasions.  It wasn’t so bad; I enjoyed knowing that my body was receiving the healthy nourishment it required.  That, coupled with exercise, and about a year ago, I was doing pretty darn well.  I made exercise a priority and switched things up every day.  One day I did a treadmill workout, the next an aerobic video, the next I would be on the elliptical, another day on the exercise ball, another day running up and down the stairs..  Now, the treadmill houses shirts that need to be ironed.  The aerobic videos are gathering dust.  The elliptical sits silently unless a child decides to take it for a spin.  The exercise ball has been popped by the dog.  The most use the stairs gets is being vacuumed on a weekly basis.  It’s very sad.

I’ve discovered I’m one of those “all or nothing” people.  Either I do it all the right way–eat ONLY healthy foods, exercise almost every single day–or if I screw up, then I seem to give up and fall off the wagon entirely.  I don’t seem to allow myself bad days.  Rather, I feel that I’ve messed up…and I continue to allow myself more and more bad days because I just can’t get it right.  Last summer I was doing great; then school started and that was the end of my track record (pardon the pun)!

I’ve used every excuse in the book to not exercise.  I can’t exercise:  I’m not a morning person.  I homeschool my children.  I’m involved in co-ops.  I have to cook food for my family.  I have to clean the house.  There is just no free time in my day to exercise.  If I exercise too late at night, I won’t be able to fall asleep.  (I’m an insomniac by nature, so really this is one big fat lie.)  Do any of these excuses sound familiar to you?  My latest and greatest one is: the kids are finally off to bed; I deserve some down-time.  With a snack, of course!  And the snack must be something salty…followed by something sweet.  And a can of soda would be nice.

I can think of all kinds of reasons to allow myself to eat unhealthy foods.  Somehow, in the evening, my resolve wears off and I just want to eat whatever I want.  I tell myself it’s not so bad.  The next morning I wake up and am disgusted with myself.  Why do I not have willpower at night?

As my 36th birthday looms a mere week away, I am going to attempt to regain control of the choices I make.  Perhaps, by admitting to the world “out there” that I am an over-eater and an under-exerciser, I’ll stick to the decision to lead a healthier lifestyle.  And maybe I’ll have fewer dimples by the time I turn 37!

Do you have any tips on staying motivated or for not giving up when you do screw up?

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