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!!