Saturday, February 26, 2011

Good Health is a Weighty Issue

Since my "mostly retirement" I've been working my way through my backlog of professional journals and related publications.  Today I read an article on "Chronic Non-communicable Diseases".  That's a sort of silly designation for things like Type II Diabetes, coronary artery disease, chronic lung disease and the like.  Apparently they share a chronic inflammatory state that encourages these diseases to destroy our health.  The popular press reported this in the recent past with the emphasis on c-reactive protein levels as the indicator of these unhealthy conditions that I was surprise to learn cause 60% of the deaths worldwide.

And what can we do to counteract these conditions?  Avoid obesity, maintain weight and exercise. 

I actually like the constant reminders of why I want to lose weight and improve my diet.  It helps me to remember the big picture.  Lately I've come to realize that some of my food choices are not as healthy as I thought.  I read the ingredients on some oatmeal breakfast bars that I love only to find out that they are sweetened with corn syrup and have a host of ingredients I don't recognize.  I don't think I'll buy those again. I wish I could eat more fresh produce, but in the winter I seem to look for foods that are room temperature or warmer and having a cold orange or apple just doesn't appeal to me.  I have no desire to eat salads in the winter.  I hope to buy more carrots on my next shopping trip. And I enjoy cooked spinach (is that weird).  I even noticed that some of the frozen vegetables I bought on my last grocery trip (I'll soon post about my poor relationship with the grocery store!) are smothered in high fat sauces so they're off my list too.

And I think I need to add in some light strength training to my schedule.  I used to swim weekly but since my almost retirement I just like being home.  I know that will change, but for now I'm enjoying just hanging at my house.  I actually go days without going anywhere in the car.  I'm sure that will pass, but right now I'm just enjoying the tranquility and slower pace of life.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spring Is In the Air

We had one wonderful week of 60 degree temperatures and sun.  There was one day with fierce winds that caused some killer wildfires that are still smoldering and now we are back to a more seasonal cloudy 45 degrees.  45 degrees didn't seem so bad two weeks ago, but after that taste of spring it feels bitter cold.  The good news is, though that with February almost over, spring can't be far behind.  I have to admit, though that I've always considered March the longest month of the year.  It has nothing to do with it's 31 days, but rather with it's place on the calendar.  March promises spring but seldom delivers.  We've had some pretty big snowstorms in March.  It has none of the fun holiday's of February to break up the weeks.  But this year we get to change our clocks in March - on the 13th to be exact.

I think the scale is slowly showing some loss.  I'm sort of waiting for my doctor's appointment to declare any real success or failure. I will say that I'm definitely eating less and making healthier choices.  And as far as my three changes:  the extra fruit is happening about 60% of the time; I'm getting my walks in about 85% of the time and the no munchies after dinner, maybe 90% of the time.  That has to count for something, right?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How Does This Search Thing Work??

One more comment for today.  I'm still a little focused on the total lack of traffic here and I've stated before that having readers for my posts was not the original intent of my decision to blog.  And yet.....I have to wonder when I "google" this blog by name or by key words, I come up empty.  In fact, the blog title in quotes is a googlenope.  Is this a function of time. Are the bots overworked and will find this spot eventually?  Is search now advertisement driven leaving personal ramblings out in the cold?  Is the internet now just so crammed full of "stuff" that you need something special to perk to the top of the search?  My son told me that maybe if I link to some other blogs that makes the search engines happier.  I'm not so sure if it makes them happier or if it just sort of connects you into the whole blog network.  None the less, that's next on list - sharing the names of blogs that I follow.

Breakfast Ponderings

I've always been a breakfast eater - not a big breakfast eater, but I always have eaten something in the morning.  I think this was my mother's urgings during my growing up years.  Now, the funny thing to me is that when I eat a "good" breakfast (usually oatmeal with fruit or baked oats) I consume more calories than a less good breakfast (usually toast with Laughing Cow cheese or an english muffin) and the good breakfast doesn't seem to have any additional benefit throughout the morning.  I'm no less hungry by 11am, no perkier, no nothing.  I've just used up more of my calorie allotment and maybe feel a bet better about my nutrition.  Supposedly the oats are lowering my cholesterol, but I think I've maxed out on that benefit.

Maybe we just file that under "mysteries of dieting" and move on with life.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Diet Check In

Well, I thought it was only fair that I mention how the old diet is going since that was my primary purpose in starting this blog.  In general I feel that I'm eating healthier and I have lost a few pounds, but nothing dramatic.  My brain knows that the dramatic weight is not really what I'm looking for since those loses seldom stick, but it sure would encouraging to see more loss, to button my pants a bit easier and to have a little less of a "muffin top" when I wear my jeans.  Truth be told, the slower, the better if I can keep up the eating habits.  I'm doing fair with all three of my added changes (extra fruit, walking and no snacking at night) and in general I'm making better eating choices throughout the day.  I think I just need to keep at it and wait for the rewards.

I'm not walking today.  The winds here are incredible and there are several brush fires that have made the air very unpleasant.  You can even smell the smoke inside the house with all the windows and doors closed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This Blogging Thing

So, I've been blogging for almost a week now and I find that it is sort of an extension of my habit of talking to myself during the day.  I know that developing a following for my blog was not an original goal and the choices I made when I set this up has sort of put me "under the radar".  I haven't told anyone I know "in person" about my blog, except for my husband and he only knows that I now have one, but not the name or how to find it.  So, why am I a bit disappointed that I have no readers? I enjoy putting my thoughts down but perhaps I unknowingly hoped that someone would enjoy reading them also.  And I naively thought that my blog would just be stumbled upon by people clicking around the Internet. Or perhaps I've gotten wrapped up in this expectation from the capabilities built into this blog site.  I was amazed that they are able to tell me how many page views I have each day and what site they arrived here from. Of course right now all the views are my own.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Super Power

I've noticed that once women get to a certain age, most of them develop the super power of being invisible.  In most social settings young women are noticed at least to some extent, but once you pass some boundry suddenly you are invisible.  Comments in a small group are not directed your way and you're not exactly ignored, but neither are you noticed.  Getting sales help in a store becomes more difficult and these things don't depend on the age of the other people.  You're invisible to both genders, too.  In fact, the only people you aren't invisible to are those women in your own age group or anyone 20+ years older than you....and then only if there are no women under the age of invisible.  I miss being visible, but occasionally it can be peaceful in the midst of a crowd.  So, I wonder - do men ever feel that they become invisible at some age?   Comments welcomed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's In A Name?

Last night I decided to google "The Dieting Wars".  That was the original name of this blog.  And I DID think it was original to me.  Dieting has always felt like a war, a civil war in fact of me against me.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my title has been used over and over and over again long before my meager attempts at blogging!  Perhaps that title was tucked away somewhere in my subconscious.

Choosing names has always been difficult for me.  It took me days to name my children and in fact I was once threatened with a delayed discharge from the hospital unless I would settle on a name.  I owned several "name" books but the decision seemed so huge and permanent to me.  I wanted a name that was not super common but not super unusual.  I didn't want to saddle my children with a name they would hate.  I considered names with a significant meaning, Biblical names and briefly, family names. Of course, I finally made a decision for each of my three children.  Hopefully they're satisfied with the choices.

So, when my chosen name for this blog was taken, I had to search those corners of my brain again and come up with a new one.  Originally I wanted the word "diet" in the title since that was my primary focus for starting the blog and I figured if anyone wanted to search for something on diets, my blog might come up.  The usual ideas (which I was smart enough to google first this time) again had all been taken.  I considered "Standing on One Leg" since life is all a balance but again that left out "diet".  And so I finally combined the two settling on what you see above.  Actually I like it a lot better than my first choice. It's both more positive and descriptive.  Changing the web address to match the blog proved to be a little more challenging.  Apparently I'm not too good at reading those gooffy letters that prove...well, they prove something, but I'm not sure what.  I even tried the handicapped setting.  It took me about 10 tries to finally get it right!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Best Exercise Equipment EVER

On the diet end of things, I thought yesterday was a particularly difficult day.  I really don't know why, but I found myself slipping in a way I'm all too familiar with....a chip here, a cookie there, a taste of this or that and before you know it, I've eaten too much.  I'm not sure if men can appreciate how difficult it is for women to lose weight.  We're generally smaller so our allotted calories are less.  In fact many restaurants serve my entire daily calories allotment in one meal.  So it doesn't take much to stray off the path.  And just like success breeds success, so does failure breed failure.  But, it's the first thing in the morning and so far, my intake is perfect.  That's how I like to look at it anyway.

What I really wanted to talk about was my very best exercise "equipment".  I've owned the usually assortment of home exercise equipment that seems so wonderful at first and eventually just takes up way too much space in a home ending up at the neighborhood yard sale.  I've belonged to gyms, taken exercise classes, bought videos and joined contests to see who could walk the farthest or collect the most points for doing physical activity throughout the day.  I've walked for breast cancer, alzheimers, heart disease and whoever else was walking.  BUT.....the one thing over the years that keeps me walking day in and day out, season in and season out is my beloved Golden Retriever, Seamus.  He doesn't nag, he doesn't complain and he is always ready to walk.  In the winter we wait until the warmest part of the day and in the summer we catch the cool morning or evening.  Our walks around the neighborhood are just about onemile.  He loves to greet everyone we meet - those with two legs and those with four.  In that way he even brings an element of social outlet to our walks.  He's getting on in years with his ninth birthday just behind him but I"m hoping he will be with me for a long time yet.  Occasionally we get in the car and go for a special walk to a local park or arboureteum.  He is especially fond of those.  His picture is on the side of this blog showing him swimming in the local pool.  Every Labor Day before they empty the pool, they allow dogs (and their owners) to swim in it.  He had the time of his life!

So...I'm putting yesterday behind me and I'm off to a new day when I can eat as I should, exercise as I should and share the companionship of one of God's best creatures EVER.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Basics

OK, so let's set the starting point. Actually, this new endeavor to lose weight started about a week ago.  Maybe it was the new year, maybe it was my recent retirement, maybe it was the onset of health issues in family members - but whatever the reason, I decided to once again get serious about losing weight. 

I'm short at five feet and no inches, so it doesn't take many pounds for me to look pudgy.  And clearly weight makes one look older.  And weight makes clothes fit funny or not fit well.  And if you read information on just about any disease from diabetes to heart disease to even some cancers, the lifestyle change always mentioned is to lose weight.  And it doesn't take much weight loss to make one healthier.  So, that's why my realistic goal has been 15-20 pounds.  My starting weight (I can't believe I am putting this in print) was 145 making my BMI too high.  Oh, I should mention here that I am NOT a compulsive weigh-er.  Weighing myself each day is not motivating to me.  I prefer to weigh in maybe once a week.  So, don't expect frequent updates on that matter.

One other thing.....I don't expect a following on such a self centered issue, but in case I have readers please know that this is my first attempt at blogging and I'm learning as I go.  I'm putting this activity under mental exercise that helps in preventing cognative decline.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

And So It Starts

I've done quite a bit of dieting throughout my life - some successful - some not so successful.  And I find that it is time to try once again to trim down a bit.  But why a blog this time? I've kept journals on my computer for a while.  I have one that chronicles the places I've visited and one that lists hikes I've taken.  But, when it comes to dieting, the old "food journal" has never quite done it for me.  In fact, the more focus I've put on what I eat, the worse it becomes.  So, you might think that a blog of dieting would work against me.  But, I'm giving it a try.  Having it sort of "public" adds a bit of accountability to the process that may in fact be helpful.

I know about calories.  I know about metabolism.  I know just about all the "facts" that you need to know to understand dieting.  The problems not the knowing.  The problem is the doing.  Other vices can be given up completely.  When you give up smoking, you don't smoke anymore.  When you give up drinking, you can choose to give it up altogether.  But if I was to just give up eating - well, that wouldn't work.  So with dieting moderation is essential- and truly the crux of the problem.

I'm lousy at diets that give you menus to follow.  The reason is really simple. You read these meal menus and they sound great.  You go out and buy the food to prepare them, but of course, you have to buy more food than needed to prepare each meal.  And have left over ingredients to either rot in the fridge until you discard them or to tempt you to eat what you shouldn't.  Truth be told, we eat in "spurts".  We buy some great looking grapes and eat them frequently until they are gone.  We don't eat ten grapes one day, 6 strawberries the next and a medium apple the next.  We buy grapes by the pound and strawberries by the quart and we eat them.

So, my goal for this dieting attempt to to eat healthier and hopefully reduce by 15-20 pounds during 2011.  I have a family history of Type 2 Diabetes.  I'd like to delay my own onset of this as long as possible.
The best diet advice I've read of late suggested picking three things to focus on and to try to follow these each day.  My three things are:  increase my daily servings of fruit by one/day; no eating after dinner; and walk my dog daily.  I'm sort of cheating because I already walk my dog pretty close to daily, but some early success may be helpful.