Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

Not much to say at this time of year except ...

I'm not looking back on the non-successes of 2012

I am looking forward to the successes of 2013

And, I wish everyone much health, happiness and prosperity in the New Year.

Monday, 24 December 2012

'Tis The Night Before Christmas

As a mom, one of the Christmas traditions that I remember fondly was sitting down with my girls and reading T’was the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore.  I remember that the version of the book we read was a big book with a blue cover.  Sitting in an oversized chair with a girl on each side of me, the book was big enough to span all three laps.

Being of German heritage we have always opened our gifts late on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas morning.  Let me tell you that book caused me to have to do some quick thinking and fast-talking when my girls were on the cusp of not believing in Santa anymore.  “Well, you see” I would start to explain, “the world is such a big place now that Santa has to make two trips to get it all done.  One for the children who open their gifts on Christmas Eve and one for the children who open them Christmas morning.”  That satisfied them for a little bit, and let’s face it, once those gifts were under the tree they really didn’t concern themselves about much of anything other than tearing open the wrapping paper.

Still, I remember the warmth those two little bodies generated as we sat and read the story.  My girls are beautiful young women now and although I have never done it, one Christmas I will have to hunt down a copy of the book for each of them and put it under their tree … from “Santa” of course!

In our TOPS meetings I find it particularly difficult to inspire people to stay on their healthy eating plan when holidays are looming.  By the time the last meeting before Christmas rolls around they are pretty much tired of my preaching about “How to Handle Buffets”, “Tricks and Tips for Staying on Track” and “Realistic Expectations So You Don’t Spiral Out of Control”.  All good things to think about but a little tiring to hear about all the time.  The last meeting before we break for Christmas I try to keep things light and fun.  I invented a Diet Christmas Carol game last year (think a poor version of Weird Al with Christmas Carol titles).  In researching “fun” diet topics, and if that’s not an oxymoron I don’t know what is, I came across a dieter’s version of T’was the Night Before Christmas.   I thought it was amazingly creative and it made me laugh.  Surprisingly enough it is pretty much on point too.  Perfect for the close of the meeting!  Everyone loved it.  Consequently, as so many traditions begin by accident, I have closed our last meeting before Christmas with this poem for the last three years.  Not quite the same warm fuzzy feeling as sitting and reading the original with my little ones, but pretty darn close.

This rendition is all over the internet but I could not find any reference to the original author … so again, if it’s yours let me know and I would be more than happy to acknowledge it correctly.

For your enjoyment …

T’was The Night before Christmas (Diet Version)

T’was the night before Christmas
And all through my home,
My family was sleeping,
I was completely alone.

The stockings were hung
On the mantle (it’s fake),
And on the table was placed
Some cookies and cake.

Gingerbread and chocolate,
Sugar and spice.
I was sure that Santa
Would find it quite nice.

My mouth started to water,
I looked at the treats twice.
Santa would understand
If I had just one bite.

Then what to my
Chocolate-smeared face did appear?
But Santa, an elf,
And a bunch of reindeer.

Santa walked up to me.
We stood toe to toe.
He said “Those are mine,
Or didn’t you know?”

I looked Santa square
In his twinkling eye.
And said
“You touch theses treats … you die.”

You see,
With chocolate, nothing can compare
Even with Santa,
I would not share.

I’ve always had trouble with this,
To make matters worse,
Snacks go right to my hips.

But I wouldn’t give up.
Those treats they were mine!
So I told Santa Claus
He was way out of line.

He wrote my name on his list
The one that’s naughty, not nice.
Then I balled up my fist and
Punched him not once, but twice.

The scuffle that night
Was ugly to see.
We knocked over the elf,
We destroyed the tree.

Santa and I got into a fight.
It seemed to last
Almost all night.

We fought over those treats,
Those snacks and sweets.
I even stomped
On his black booted feet.

Because when it comes
To sugary snacks,
I won’t give up.
I just attack.

But Santa’s tough,
Quicker than he looks.
(And besides that
He throws a mean left hook.)

Finally we sat,
Panting and bruised.
Santa said
“This just won’t do.”

He asked
“Tell me, tell me, why do you fight?
Are these treats so precious,
That you’ll fight all night?”

“Oh Santa!” I cried,
As I massaged my black eye.
“I don’t know why I love treats!
They go straight to my thighs!”

“I know that these snacks
Will just make me fat.
But I still want them.”
And there we sat.

Santa looked at me closely,
He may have shed a tear.
And quietly asked me
“What do you want this year?”

“Oh Santa” I cried
“I want to be thin!
Though I don’t act that way.
Is that such a sin?”

“I eat more than I should.”
I continued to say
“And what’s even worse,
I have treats every day.”

“And, yes.
I know that those snacks are yours,
But cookies and cake
I truly adore.”

“I don’t want to eat them.
Really, that’s true!
Because after I eat them,
I only feel blue.”

Santa nodded
To show that he understood.
He smiled at me
As he quietly stood.

“My child” he said
“This gift you desire,
The one that you dream of,
That sets you on fire.”

“This gift I cannot
Stock on my shelf.
The only way to receive it
Is to give it to yourself.”

The gift of good health,
Being fit, tone and trim.
Cannot be given,
Even by him.

“It must be earned,”
He said to me.
“With diet and exercise,
Don’t you see?”

“There is not shortcut.
No quick fix.
No elf magic.
No Santa tricks.”

“Oh, Santa” I asked,
“Are you really sure?
All of that effort,
Must I endure?”

“My dear” he replied,
“To be truly fit,
You cannot just wait,
You must work for it!”

He continued “Cheer up!
I know you’ll succeed!
For I’ve known you since you
Were as tall as my knee.”

“You can do it!” he said,
In a voice that rang true,
“Because, my dear child,
I believe in you.”

“Thanks, Santa!” I cried,
“For the gift of good health.”
“Don’t thank me” he replied,
“You give this to yourself.”

Santa turned to leave,
Back to his work.
But at the last minute
He turned with a jerk.

“Go ahead” he said,
“I’ll leave those treats you adore.”
“No thanks” I replied,
“I don’t want them anymore.”

And then up the chimney
His sack he did lift.
As he called back to me
“Good health … what a gift!”

And I swear I heard
As he flew off in the night …
“Merry Christmas to all,
and next year – no fight!”

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Is It Tomorrow Yet?

Well, it’s crunch time.  No, not the kind that tone your abs, the kind that gets all the Christmas things accomplished.  The last week before the jolly red man sneaks into your house, eats his Christmas cookies (sure it’s okay for him to indulge in the season), drinks the obligatory glass of milk (I think he carries brandy in his Santa sack and spikes the milk every couple of houses or so) leaves the gifts and disappears up the chimney.

By about this time I’d like to be the one that disappears up the chimney.

But, I can finally say I am ready.  No more malls, no more baking and no more wrapping.  I’m good to go!  Tonight is the last Christmas function on my calendar aside from the actual Day itself.  And before you ask, no … I have not gotten any further on my virtual walk.  But December 26th is going to see me make a dent in it.  Since I mapped it out I have accomplished 12.5 km of walking and 5 km of biking, for a total of 17.5 km.  Like I said, I have barely made it out of my neighbourhood.

Monday evening’s TOPS weigh-in was better than last week though.  I did see the scale go down one pound.  I am always tempted to say ONLY one pound, but each pound is one step closer to goal and there is not such thing as ONLY one pound.

Since my TOPS group meets on Monday nights we find that we lose many meetings to long weekends and stat holidays.  Generally when the group goes two weeks without a meeting the next weigh-in is not the best.  It’s difficult to stay on track when you know you do not have to be accountable for two weeks.  It’s easy to think, “oh, it’s all right if I overdo a little … I’ll be extra good tomorrow”.  That works if you stay within the one treat rule, but if you know you don’t have to step onto that scale for an extra week one treat (for the whole week) turns into one day of treats and then two and before you know it it’s the night before the next weigh-in and the diet gods have turned their collective backs on you.  No magic is going to help you then.  Trust me … I’ve been there.

I’ll be good tomorrow is not a truth in the world of weight-loss.  When you are dieting the time to stick to it is NOW because tomorrow never comes.  All those best intentions you come up with as you are drifting off to sleep at night fly out the door with the first bite of breakfast the next morning.

But I am getting a little side tracked here.  Back to TOPS and no meetings … because of the calendar this year Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall both fall on a Monday night.  That means (gasp) we go three weeks without facing the scale.  That’s a tough one.  We had a nice group discussion about realistic expectations.  Yes, you may overindulge A LITTLE on Christmas day … but the holiday is only ONE DAY.  It’s not the whole week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.  If you enjoy your dinner a little too much, what do we say?  Forgive yourself.  Do not beat yourself up.  Do not let that ruin the rest of the week.

I gave them a challenge.  We do pay monthly fees, in our group it is $6.00 a month (the money goes in a kitty for recognition awards, etc).  The challenge was any group member that weighs in on January 7th and posts a loss receives one month of free dues.  Not a stay the same … a loss!  It’s three weeks people … anyone can lose some amount in three weeks!  Even a quarter of a pound will keep those $6.00 in your pocket.  Okay it’s probably not about the money but it certainly is about the bragging rights.  And I’m the group leader and I set the challenge so, boy oh boy, I had better show up with a loss.  I’ll be sure and keep you posted.

I'm off to my company Christmas dinner now ... it's a buffet ... arrrgghhhh ... wish me luck!

That’s about it for this post but I’ll leave you with a little song …
Don’t worry, I’m not going to sing … I may have many hidden talents, but that is NOT one of them.  But hey, certainly feel free to belt it out if it makes you happy!

To the tune of ‘Let It Snow’ (I found this on line and do not know the original source.  If it’s you, let me know and I will give credit where credit is due)

‘Tis the season of things delicious,
Foods and goodies that bewitch us.
We give diets the old heave-ho.
And we grow, and we grow, and we grow.

We start strong, but then we weaken,
And before long, we start freakin’.
We step on the scales, and go,
“Can’t be so!  Can’t be so!  Can’t be so!”

Saturday, 15 December 2012

What Day Is It?

I started writing this yesterday trying to keep it light and somewhat amusing.  I am still going to post it today.  But before I go on with my somewhat normal life I did want to acknowledge the evil that struck yesterday and send heartfelt sympathy to the residents of Newtown, Connecticut.  The tragedy that happened in their little town is unbearably sad and as a parent I cannot imagine what those people are going through.  I went home last evening and watched the reports and my skin just broke into gooseflesh.  That kind of violence should never happen and is horrific under any circumstances, but when it involves children that young … unforgivable!

On with … WHAT DAY IS IT?

Wow … where has the week gone?

It’s Saturday already.

This is the time of year when everything turns into a blur.  I was so proud of myself this year for having my Christmas shopping done early but that never eliminates all the things that have to be done at the last minute.  I did a whole whack of my holiday baking last Sunday (my only day off in the week) but still have a couple of things to make that do not keep as well as cookies.  So that’s on the agenda this weekend.  As far as diet goes … don’t worry … I have enlisted a small group of taste testers just to make sure everything tastes the way it’s supposed to.

Of course, I always question whether they are just being flattering so I have to have a nibble of everything myself.  Hey … just to make sure it does taste right!  Okay ignore what I said earlier maybe you should worry about me just a little bit.  Honestly, I really tried not to overdo, but (hanging my head in shame) things might have gotten a little out of hand when it came to the Hermit Cookies. 

Alas, that probably explains why the scales at my TOPS weigh-in did not move this week.  Yup, it was one of those “stay the same” weeks.  As if that’s not embarrassing enough, despite my best intentions
(and we all know where that paved road leads).  And despite the topic of my last two blog posts nary once did I work out this week.  My virtual walk/run trip is going to take just that much longer.  L

Maybe I was setting myself up for failure trying to start all this right before one of the biggest eating holidays of the year?  NO !!!  I refuse to think like that.  After all, had I not been somewhat aware of what I was putting in my mouth, instead of complaining right now about staying the same on the scale this week I would no doubt be complaining about having to make two more batches of Hermit Cookies because I ate the first batch. They are that good!  And they freeze really well!  Even I am seldom desperate enough to eat frozen cookies.

STOP IT – Yes, I know about the microwave – SHHHUSHHHH – I’m in denial!

So what have I been doing this week instead of eating sensibly and working out?  On Monday evening we had out TOPS potluck Christmas dinner.  Let me tell you, when we all get together for a dinner its no wonder we are all members of a weight loss program.  As a group we ladies sure can put on quite a spread.  Most of it was fairly good (diet-wise) … low cal turkey chili, low fat cheese ball, salads, and veggies.  We won’t discuss the fact that some rebellious people actually showed up with desserts.  Neither will we discuss the fact that they were consumed.  The picture to the left illustrates that interesting, nutritious, low calorie, eye appealing dishes can be prepared for potluck dinners.  Needless to say none of our dishes were quite that on point.  Just goes to show that no one is perfect and we all slip up once in a while.  Can’t beat your self up over it.  It’s done – move past it and get right back on track as soon as you leave the room.  Again … maybe I (we) may have all slipped up and unconsciously given our selves permission to be lenient, but I know for myself I was very aware of the portions I placed on my plate.  After all (looking around furtively) what if they were all watching?  No, the group is not that petty, but the thought was in the back of my head.  Kept me within the parameters of sensible portions.

What else?  Oh yes … I finished some pom-pom snowmen and t-shirt scarves that I had promised to have ready for a seasonal craft fair.

I made two square-knot-tied quilts for my daughters as Christmas gifts and wanted to include a pillow in the gift so I had to get those done.  The quilts have been done since September, but of course being a procrastinating fool, the pillows were a last minute project.  Since I was in the crafting mood I decided to make some “rein beer” for my sons-in-law as a kind of gag gift.  Naturally I had used all the pipe cleaners, had no googly eyes or little red pom-poms so that involved a trip to my local Michaels Craft store.  Oh, of course a trip to the beer store too since I don’t keep “specialty brews” or, for that matter, any beer on hand.  It’s okay … they love their mother-in-law!

My grand-puppy had to go in for emergency surgery so I decided to make him some home made dog treats for his Christmas stocking since he enjoyed them so much last year.  Don’t judge me … I don’t have grandchildren to spoil.  At least I wasn’t tempted to nibble on those … although they are made from real food so I guess you could … NAAHHHH!

Yes, I DO bring it on myself.

Yes I am a bit a lunatic around Christmas.

Yes, I need to stop looking at Pinterest DIY boards.

I guess what I am trying to say this week is that we all live real lives.  Things need to get done.  Some things we have to do and some things we want to do, both equally important.  Not every choice we make is going to be the wisest choice.  Forgive yourself and get back on program right away.

In retrospect – a “stay the same” weigh-in was personally acceptable.  On to seeing lower numbers next weigh-in!  Have a good week all as I close with some diet key words to go along with the season …

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Exercise is a four letter word!

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will
sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Richard Stanley

Well, it’s about three weeks to Christmas so I decided it was time to get the tree and all the various and sundry decorations up.  So I put on some music (heaven forbid - not Christmas carols yet) rolled up my sleeves and started.  I decorate upstairs and my storage area is in the basement.  Its 16 stairs.  In my normal everyday doings those stairs are not daunting, but when several trips have to be made, especially several trips carrying totes and boxes full of Christmas decorations I start to feel it in my legs.  Of course, when putting up decorations one has to make sure the rest of the house is up to snuff and that involved more trips up and down the stairs to put throw blankets and cushions into the washing machine and dryer.  Okay … I am a little bit compulsive.  Putting up the lights in the window and the angel at the top of the tree involves a small stool … yeah … more up and down.  The job got finished; I had a hot shower, made a coffee and sat back to admire the pretty lights.  That’s when I realized my mistake … sitting down.  By the time I finished my coffee and got up to put my mug in the sink, the action of getting up out of the chair elicited an unexpected groan.  I had really started to ache.  My muscles are usually quite content to just lay there and do the bare minimum, but when they are unexpectedly called upon, they sure make no qualms about letting me know.  They scream at me and make my life very uncomfortable.  Their message is very clear … either use us regularly or let us languish into oblivion and give up on doing crazy things … like, oh I don’t know … moving!

I need to get back to exercising.

If you read my last post you know I used to belong to a gym.  Funny thing about belonging to a gym, you actually have to go and use the equipment to see any results.  Carrying around the membership card in you wallet just doesn’t add enough weight to even make it a resistance exercise.  I did go, regularly.  Now I can think of a lot of excuses not to go but my daughter made me!  The other funny thing was that I found I enjoyed it.  Who knew?  When my daughter’s schedule changed and we could not longer go together (that should probably read when she was no longer around to consistently shame me into going) I went only sporadically and then stopped altogether.  I still dutifully paid my dues though … that’s how I know a membership only works if you do!  Doing the math I decided that that money could be put to better use buying a piece of equipment for home.  My best friend M is a shopping goddess and she knows that I hate to pay full price for anything.  I mentioned to her that I was thinking about buying a treadmill and the next day she sent me an email with a posting from her community board at work offering a good used treadmill for sale.  I went to check it out and it was great.  I guess someone had purchased it and it soon became a very expensive piece of non-essential furniture.  Hmmmmm?  How does that happen?  I bought it.

Like a child with a new toy I used it religiously.  For about 3 weeks.  Then I found that I was an extremely creative person … creative in making up excuses that is.  Some of my favourite ones:

… I spent 20 minutes flat ironing my hair this morning AND I was not planning on washing it tomorrow morning AND if I work out tonight I’ll have to have a shower AND wash my hair.  Really inconvenient!

… I go downstairs fully intending to walk on the treadmill and there’s that whole load of laundry sitting on the laundry room floor.  How could I ignore it … better get it done now, or the dusting, or the vacuuming or anything else.

… The battery is low on my MP3 player
… I had to get groceries after work and now it’s too late.
You get the idea.

Since I am turning over a new leaf getting back into exercise is important.  You can eat properly, watch you portions, cut out all the bad food choices and there still comes a time when it is not enough.  Your body gets used to all the good eating and grinds to a standstill.  You just have to give it a kick start and then best way to do that is … ugh … exercise.

I truly do not know why I hate the idea of it so much.  When I schedule it into my day and start I always find that I enjoy it.  The bonus being that when I finish I realize that I didn’t die and there is an amazing sense of accomplishment.  It’s also a little me time.  A time when I do not have to worry about doing anything else, if I allow it that is.  Did I mention I am a little compulsive?  So I have to make it interesting.  I need to play little mind games with myself. 

The first thing I do is call up my “Work-out Playlist” on my MP3 player.  I actually have three playlists each with a different genre of music.  It’s quite an eclectic mix of music but all the songs have one thing in common; a distinct thump, thump, thump that keeps my feet moving at a steady pace.  A friend of mine listens to audio books while he runs.  I would love to be able to do that and actually tried it once.  It didn’t work.  About 10 minutes into my work out I realized I hadn’t registered a single word of the book.  So it was back to the driving thump, thump, thump of my music.

I should mention here that I like to walk.  But, I only like to walk when I have a destination.  That’s why I can’t just go outside for a stroll around the block.  That walk makes no sense to me.  I can walk to the corner store.  I can walk to the grocery store.  I can even walk 5 km to my girlfriend’s house, but I need a destination.  It motivagtes me.  It gives me a sense of purpose.  Of course, on a treadmill there is no destination.

Definite drawback!

So to make it interesting for myself I’ve given myself a purpose.  I picked a destination, one very, very far away.  I stuck a pin in a map and then Googled the mileage.  I have challenged myself to a self propelled journey of 3987 kilometres.  I say self propelled because I also have a stationary bike and I plan to intersperse walking with biking.  I have no idea how long it will take me to get there, but I’ll get there eventually.  I’ll keep a log of distance travelled and throw it in here every once in a while.  As of right now I am just about out of my immediate neighbourhood.

Stop laughing L I just started!

I guess what I am trying to say is do whatever works for you to get yourself moving.  If it starts out as a leisurely 5 minute stroll that gets a little longer every week, or if its taking an aerobics class (not high on the list of choices for me since I am extremely uncoordinated), taking a belly dancing class or Zumba or any other number of things, get yourself moving.  And trust me, it really does feel good when your done!

Oh, I almost forgot the TOPS weigh-in last night.

           I lost 1 ½ pounds.  Yeah me!!


Thursday, 29 November 2012

"Challenges" Revisited

Being leader of my TOPS group is an interesting yet challenging position to hold.  The thing I love about TOPS is that group leaders do not have to be members who have reached their goal (called KOPS … Keep Off Pounds Sensibly).  Everyone is on the same journey and able to help each other.  The challenge is coming up with a meeting topic every week.  This is my second year as leader and sometimes I feel like I am just repeating what everyone already knows.  I try to keep an eye out for interesting topics on line or in magazines or anywhere else I find current weight loss news.  I cut and paste links for future reference, I tear out magazine articles and yummy looking low fat/low calorie recipes (I’ll have to look for some of those to share on here too), I scan other Blogs and I print things off the computer.  There is an overload of weight loss information out there and boy, sometimes you have to take things with a grain of salt and really consider the source.  Hmmm … there we have another future idea … ridiculous diet ideas.

I like to print off a monthly calendar with my meeting plans so the group knows what to expect each Monday night.  Since the holidays are so close I want to try to keep things fun and light BUT still informational.  I was going through some of the articles I have filed away when I came across something I had written just after I rejoined TOPS for the second time.  It seemed like something that I should haul out, dust off and post on this blog.  Don’t be fooled, my reasons are entirely selfish … I desperately need to get back into a regular exercise routine.  Teaser ... more on that next week.

I enjoy playing with words and when I finished writing this I thought it was pretty good, so decided to submit it to the TOPS NEWS magazine.  I was tickled when they considered it good enough to include in one of their issues.

So, here it is as one of my “mid week sneak-ins” …


There is a building located not too far from my home. It is a modern looking structure of concrete blocks and large panes of glass in the front, much like other buildings located around it. The parking lot of this particular building is quite large and no matter what time of day you drive by, its usually quite populated, indicating a significant number of people frequent this establishment.

I happen to know that to enter this building you need to "belong".

I "belong".  And my goodness, what a special feeling that is!

I have to admit it is a rather strange establishment. It draws in people for any number of reasons, each one personal. People walk in with a sense of duty, or dread, or trepidation and, I have been told but find it difficult to trust, in a few cases actual anticipation. People congregate here for periods of time and yet rarely speak to each other. Oh, there are familiar faces indicating regular attendance. People make eye contact and occasionally smile. There may be the type of terse chit-chat that occurs among people who happen to be in the same place for the same reason. I am sure that at some point relationships may have formed, but I am not privy to any such information.

Upon entering I am always greeted by a smiling, energetic young person. Once I verify that I do indeed "belong" to this particular establishment I get a cheerful hello. I know what happens to those who cannot prove their right to be there. I shudder to even think of it. I remember the initiation process. I remember the vows made. I am still burdened with the debt of the dues this organization extracts. But I "belong", so I am told that "they" hope I enjoy my visit. I know this is a ploy. I know what awaits me. They want to try to convince me that I should "enjoy" my visit.


I walk in, trying to squelch down the urge I feel to turn around and leave. But I push forward, changing into the uniform required. Oh yes, there is a strict dress code. I carry with me my bottle of water, the only sustenance allowed during my visit here.

I walk down the ramp and into the MAIN room. There are other rooms. Each one designated for a special purpose. At various times I have attempted to partake in the activities in these rooms, but have found myself totally lacking in the enthusiasm and admittedly, the unique talent, it requires to do so. So I contain my activities to the MAIN room.

No one turns to watch me enter.

I pause for a split second to take in what is waiting for me. What lies before me is a sight that, could he have even imagined such a place, would make the Grand Inquisitor tremble in anticipation and rub his hands together with sadistic glee.

My time has come again ...

Oh God help me ...

(SOB) ...

I have to start my workout!

Alright – I got that out of my system. For those of you still with me here, there really is a point to this. Today I reached a personal goal. This article is nothing but a blatant, no excuses, pat on my own back.

First though, a couple of disclaimers.
     1. To those of you who run marathons, let me say without a trace of sarcasm and with the utmost sincerity, I have nothing but respect.
     2. I have absolutely no aspirations to ever do so. My brain and my imagination say "oh yeah, that would be so cool". At which point my body chimes in with a resounding "NO WAY!!".
     3. To those of you who do run this is going to seem like mighty small potatoes. I don't care. Because to me – today – this is the whole damn buffet.

I used to go to the gym regularly.  Every other day, and I really enjoyed it. Even, dare I say, missed it when I could not go. However, real life took over (I was working two jobs, my father took ill and went into care, and I just plain got lazy and stopped looking after myself) and I found myself going only sporadically over the last three years. Again, life hands you things, and there are a few important events coming up over the next year and I decided with a resounding THWACK to the forehead that I had better get my act together and start looking after myself again.

At the beginning of March this year, I swallowed my pride, tucked my tail between my legs and sheepishly walked through those daunting doors once again. I am a die-hard cross trainer fan and started off doing that as my cardio workout. My daughter, who happens to be my biggest rooter in this endeavour, likes the treadmill. In thanks for her support, I decided that a little mother/daughter time walking side by side on the treadmills would be nice. Only one flaw in that plan ... I walk ... she runs. My first day on the treadmill I managed to do one mile in a little over 19 minutes. I had one mile down to about 13 minutes a few years ago ... this was not good! When I got off I was wondering, "was it possible that the floor was really moving or were my legs just made of jelly?” That day I decided on a little personal challenge. I was older ... I needed to get started on this reasonably slowly ... so my goal was a 14 minute mile. It would involve little spurts of my own personal version of running ... the "wog". Well – I soon found out that it took more than a few spurts.

To cut a long story short, by the middle of April I had the 14 minute mile down. I like to spend about a half hour on cardio, so I tested myself to see if I could do two ...NOPE! Tiredness won out and the second mile took longer.

To cut that story even shorter, today I did three consecutive 14 minute miles. Yup – 42 minutes to do three miles. 3.03 to be exact. Never win me any medals but ... Oh yeah ... feeling proud ... back to the cross trainer I go. Until Nicole said, "Gee mom, you should try to get that down to 13 minutes each." DAMN, the nerve of her, a challenge!

So, on I go to the next challenge ... 
Right now it seems like it is going to be getting myself out of bed tomorrow morning.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Cravings and Permission

It’s Monday night, which means TOPS weigh-in night.  That small step up and onto the scale seems like scaling a mountain sometimes.  And really, I can’t kid myself.  I know if the result is going to be good or bad.  The people who step onto the scale, see the number and give it the “I don’t understand that … I’ve been good this week.”  Uh-uh!  Doesn’t work that way.  I had a sneaking suspicion that it was going to be a good weigh-in for me this week and it was.  I was down 2 ¼ pounds.  I’ll give myself a little “whoop-whoop” for that!

Before anyone looks at the date of my last post and thinks “no way”, let me clarify.  This loss is a whole week’s worth of being good.  I started thinking about this blog and putting together the first post for quite awhile before I posted it.  I am going to try for one post a week … probably on Monday night or sometime on Tuesday.  I may slip in an extra one here and there if something tickles my fancy.  It’ll make up for the week I may miss because I can’t think of anything even reasonably intelligent to put on paper.

I am sitting in front of my laptop at my kitchen table watching Dancing with the Stars as I type this.  Yes, Dancing with the Stars … sigh ... it’s a guilty pleasure.  And speaking of guilty pleasures I do have another one too.  Okay, not so much a guilty pleasure as a dirty little secret!  I also just ate a chocolate bar.

Before you start shaking your head, tsk-tsking, and pointing fingers at me, here’s a little deal I made with myself …

If I have a craving during the week I wait it out.  More often than not it goes away, especially if it was a craving brought on by something I saw on television (the Food Network will be the death of me), read in a book (authors seem to take sadistic delight in describing amazing sounding food in great, mouth watering detail) or saw in a magazine.  If the craving does not go away I allow myself a “treat” on Monday night.  Weigh in is on Monday, so if I need to eat something “bad” I do it on Monday, within reason.  Let's face it - you can’t sit down and eat a whole pizza or a bucket of KFC and not expect an impact on the scale, not to mention your hips.  Then I get past it, and get right back on track again.  Also, hehehe, I have a whole week to work it off.  So tonight it was a Three Musketeers Bar.  As I may have mentioned once or thrice, chocolate is definitely my weakness.  Admittedly, it may not be the best "tip" in the world of weight loss … but it’s worked for me in the past and I am counting on the fact that it will help me keep those cravings in check this time around too.  It's a quarter-step backwards that helps me keep my sanity.  I mean, who doesn't get a little ugly living in a world of total deprivation?  Frequently I will look forward to it all week and then when Monday night rolls around I find it’s not so important anymore and I skip my “treat” altogether.  Just giving myself permission seems to be enough.  This week it wasn’t and I caved.

I believe that giving yourself permission to have a small slip empowers you.  It allows you to plan for it, prepare for it mentally and then get it over with.  No beating yourself up … after all you have already decided it was okay.  No whole days of senseless eating because you “blew it anyway, so what does the rest of the day matter”.

It may not work for everyone and I am not necessarily recommending it.  I am only an ordinary person trying to find her way to a healthier lifestyle and a lower number on that pesky scale, and sharing what works for me.

The only other thing I stress is if you are going to give yourself permission to have a not so perfect food for heaven's sake ENJOY IT!  Don’t eat it with a guilty conscience.  Don’t scarf it down without tasting it.  Eat it slowly and ENJOY every single morsel.  ENJOY it and call it good … over and done with … and on to healthy, portion controlled choices for the rest of the week! 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Why now?

It’s true …being fat is hard.  The hardest part is saying “fat”.  So many euphemisms we use, but the truth is its fat we store inappropriately on our bodies and its fat we have to get rid of.  Weight is a battle I have been fighting for most of my adult life.  I’ve gotten to the high ground a few times, but always slid back down that treacherous slope covered in chocolate, rich food and laziness.  Every weight loss tips article I read, every television show I watch and every person I speak to about successful weight loss all say the same thing.  They say it in a variety of ways but it all boils down to the same thing … Keep a food diary.  You must journal what you eat.  It helps you see where you went off track and helps you avoid the same pitfalls in the future.

I have a personal problem with keeping a food journal.  I lie!  I do not want to write down everything I eat because it looks horrible to see it all written down on paper.  And … OMG … what if I accidentally leave it lying around somewhere and someone else happens to see what I’ve eaten that day, or that week?  I would be mortified.  I know that is the precise purpose of it, but I simply cannot do it.  Besides, I also know where I went wrong.  I started to slip up about the time I had the first bite of the chocolate doughnut that I should never have bought in the first place.  Chocolate could become a recurring theme here because it is most definitely my downfall … my food addiction.

So, because I HATE keeping a food journal but I do like playing around with putting words on paper I have decided to keep an information journal.  Hopefully writing things down will help.  Even if no one but me ever reads it, putting it “out there” might be the push I need to get “back on track” and finally make it this time.  If nothing else, it’s difficult to type on a keyboard and place food into my mouth at the same time.  That alone could save me hundreds of calories in a given day.

Now that I have made my mission statement let me tell you a little bit about myself …

I have just turned 54 years old.  I am mother to two amazing young women, have a close group of people in my life who love me and am secure enough to realize that the number on the scale does not reflect my self worth.  Secure in my mind that is … in my heart … I desperately need that number to be lower.  I work full time.  I am addicted to food, cigarettes and books.  I fully understand that two of my addictions are life threatening, but this is a case of picking my battles and right now weight is my priority.  I can only handle one fight at a time.  I belong to a weight loss group called TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) but more on that later.

That’s me in a nutshell.  If you happen to follow along on my journey you will no doubt find out more about me, but for right now that’s probably enough.

Oh … I guess to make some sort of sense out of why I am writing this … I currently tip the scales at mumble, grumble, and mumble pounds.  And WOW, that was hard to write down.  You see no one besides me and my weight recorder know that.  So please, don’t share the information, okay?  I know that’s a cop-out and maybe someday I’ll share, but right now – no can do!

Now, back to TOPS.  This would be a good time to put a disclaimer in here.  This blog has nothing to do with TOPS officially.  I mention it only because it has been a huge help to me personally as it has been for many other people around the world.  It is a non-profit weight loss organization that stresses healthy eating, smart choices, portion-control and education about real food.  It does not promote any particular weight loss program, sells no food products, vitamins or supplements.  I am currently a group leader so quite obviously (or I would not be writing this blog) consists of real people helping each other on their journey.  I will only be referring to TOPS in the context of a group I belong to, and possibly might pull some information occasionally from their website or the free magazine I receive with my membership fee.  If you would like more information you can visit

Now, back to TOPS.  When I first walked through the doors of my first meeting on a Wednesday afternoon so many years ago I stepped on the scale for my first weigh-in and promptly started to cry.  I had not weighed myself for a long time and found I tipped the scales at 275 pounds.  That was a shock.  I was very good at kidding myself.  I think most of us are.  I was a stay at home mom so wasn’t shopping much for clothes.  I lived in sweat pants and oversized tee shirts and sweaters.  My life revolved around my kids and their activities.  When one of the moms on my daughter’s T-ball team talked about TOPS I stored the information away but did nothing about it right away.  I couldn’t afford a weight-loss program, I didn’t have time to go to meetings in the evening and I REALLY did not want to step on a scale.  Oh yes - I had all the excuses.  It's scarey admitting you have a problem and even more frightening to make the decision to do something about it.  When I finally got up the courage to walk through the door I found a supportive group of people and, whew, I never had to state my weight or share my weaknesses.  This whole group was about positive support. 

I did well in that group losing close to 75 pounds.  By the time the weight had come off my youngest daughter was in school full time, my life circumstances had changed and I found myself needing to go back to work full time.  So, Wednesday afternoon meetings no longer fit into my schedule.  I, very regretfully, left the group.  If you have ever been out of the work force for a long time and then jumped back in full time you know that it takes some adjustment.  Tasks that were completed during the day now had to be completed in the evenings … it was a huge time adjustment for me.  I did not look for an evening TOPS group to join again right away.

Guess what happened.

Yup.  That weight started creeping back on again.  I needed the accountability of weighing in every week.  I fell right back into the old habits and let’s face it … if you are not accountable it really doesn’t matter if you eat that extra piece of chocolate cake.  Well, too many pieces of chocolate cake add up pretty quickly.  It took me three years to walk back into a TOPS meeting, but I finally took a deep breath and did it.  The scale was not quite as traumatic as the first time, but I had managed to gain back a substantial amount of the weight I had lost.  Once again I started being responsible for what passed my lips and I dropped almost all the weight I had gained. 

Once again life happened and I could not stay in that group any longer either.  I had to deal with my father facing dementia and eventually full blown Alzheimer’s.  I still had two daughter’s who needed me and still worked.  My hours had been cut at my full time job and my financial obligations depended on a certain level of income, so I took a second job.  You would think with all that going on I would not have time to overeat.  Not so.  Not so at all.  It’s not that I overate … I ate on the run – in the car going from one workplace to the next, in the car or at sports venues when my daughters were playing rep sports, and in the car driving to see to my father.  You get the idea.  You may even identify with the circumstances.  Needless to say, not a lot of wise choices were made in the food department.  Funnily enough, I always insisted my girls eat properly.  I just did not take my own advice.

Then many roads merged.  My father passed away, my full time hours at my first job were reinstated and my girls became a little less dependent on me for transportation. 

It was time to look after myself again.  Once again I rejoined TOPS.  This time I would make it stick and for awhile it did.  As I said at the beginning of this, losing weight it a slippery slope and last year, despite staying with my group (and being group leader no less) I started to backslide.  I have not yet been able to get my head in the game again.

And that’s where this blog comes in.  I’m hoping it will keep me focused.

A burning question would be “why right now?”  It’s a month to Christmas.  Crazy!  Setting myself up for failure?  Not the prime time to choose to start a diet.  True enough.  But keeping everything totally honest here, let’s face it … when your underwear starts to feel too tight … it’s time!  When you have more clothes that do not fit, than clothes that do … it’s time!  When you stop looking at yourself in a mirror … it’s time!  I won’t go on because I’m sure you get the picture.

I do have a plan … some fun things and mind games to keep me on track this time.  Will I slip up?  No doubt!  But I won’t beat myself up over it … I will get back on course and this time … I know I’ll get to my goal.

Join me, won’t you?  It’ll be fun!?!?!