Shapeshifting: Planning and Ideas

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As you can see – I’ve crammed all the activities I need to do each week into an agenda (created in Excel – could be done in a word doc with tables). I’ve always been a list-maker as I usually don’t like to fly by the seat of my pants! Also – if I have it all planned and sorted in a uniform format, I’m much more likely to stick to it. (Taking into consideration interruptions, etc. The trick is – to get back into it the next available day.)

Yesterday was my first day of exercise – 25 minutes on the Elliptical. Now – when I say 25 minutes – I don’t mean full throttle without a pause. I found that my right knee and hip ached just a little, so I occasionally slowed down or paused for approx 30 seconds, then picked it back up. When I got off, my legs felt like jelly and I was sweating and a little puffed – but otherwise quite okay.

It’s funny how the idea of exercise looms in front of you like a terrifying monster – when in actual fact – once you’re doing it, you realize it’s not such a big deal. Movement is necessary in everyday life – so ramping it up with occasional bursts of exercise isn’t that stressful or painful. As a matter of fact – I felt considerably better afterwards. I was more flexible and less stiff. I could tell that my metabolism was surging – so I took the opportunity to use the extra energy for housework. (Tedious – but necessary.)

The interesting thing is – that my energy levels were sustained throughout the day. Even my mental faculties were enhanced – so I produced a lot more work in regards to my writing etc. I was very pleased with myself.

In regards to food, I ate fresh tomatoes on wheat toast for breakfast. I cheated at lunch (naughty) – with a small bowl of potato chips that were left over from the night before. (After my crying session – Robert felt sorry for me and brought them back from the shops. He’s so kind and understanding – but I mustn’t lean on that – or I’ll never get away from eating crap!)

However – I didn’t snack throughout the day. I made Quiche Lorraine and salad for dinner. Not exactly diet food – but homemade and mostly healthy. No dessert.

When it comes to menu planning – I don’t like to be too pettifogging with counting calories and measuring tiny portions or doing complex calculations. I believe that keeping it simple makes it easier to stick with it. (At least – for me!) For example: I like to make sure I don’t go over 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily – approximately 1 teaspoon of sodium. So I do tend to read labels and use alternatives for seasoning – such as spices and herbs.

Sometimes though – if I really have to use salt – I do my best to keep it under a teaspoon when adding to my cooking. I find that lemon juice used on my veggies helps reduce the desire for salt. (Takes a little getting used to – but after the first few times – it’s not an issue and is quite tasty.)

I try to grill and bake – rather than fry – and if I do need to fry, saute etc., I limit the amount of oil or use stock. I also look for low sodium alternatives when shopping and only use low fat if it tastes good. Some low fat versions are horrid – so I’d rather go without – or use sparingly. It all depends on what you like to eat and what satisfies you. If you walk away from the table with your stomach still growling or with a sense of dissatisfaction – you feel cheated. That’s why I either modify my cooking by reducing the amount of bad things or find satisfying alternatives.

I’m still putting together my menu plan for the week – which I’ll post over the next couple of days. On average I like to have something like tomatoes on toast (limiting myself to two slices of bread per day), or Greek yogurt with a banana chopped into it. I went through a phase of having fresh fruit every morning – a combination of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries (cos I luv ’em!) – but I felt like the sugar content was too high. It was better than having sausage or bacon, biscuits and gravy (oh Lordy I luv that!) – however I realized that I had to limit the intake to approx two times per week, rather than every day.

Also – my thyroid medication was reduced by a third – from 150mg to 100mg. It will be interesting to see how that affects my health etc. (Apparently my dosage was too high – but I’m not sure if a lesser dose will answer my problems with hot flashes and swelling ankles!)

I’d like to share some products that I find helpful for healthy eating. (Click on the links for more info.)

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Sprouted grains and other lovely products

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Low sodium stock

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Guide to Low sodium cheeses – Yay for Swiss!

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No sodium seasonings and recipes

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The Healthy Heart Market – low sodium, low sugar and much more!

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From http://www.mynaturalfamily.com

Here are some recipes I’ve found useful: (Follow the links for the recipes)

fa94b4a13d4b6f89ae9864f299f31470Cumin Baked Tortilla Chips

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Avocado Dressing

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Cauliflower Sauce-tastes like alfredo sauce! 50 calories in 1/2 cup instead of 500 calories in 1/2 cup Alfredo! Adjust seasoning

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Roasted Cauliflower with red chile, cilantro and lime

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Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Cream Sauce

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Shrimp and Lemongrass Soup

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Baked Pesto Chicken – low carb and gluten free

Well – now I’m hungry! I’ll be jumping on the elliptical and having tomatoes on toast again, before I go food shopping. I always try to go shopping after a meal – so I’m not tempted to buy the naughty foods!

Back soon with more recipes and my menu plans.

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Shapeshifting: A Journey towards a better life

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And so it begins…

Like most people, I struggle with my health and oscillate between being ultra good to ultra bad – depending on my moods. I go on wild tangents – based on things such as inspiring articles, news about health and new products – but I’m more likely to be motivated by bad news from the doctor and physical symptoms that cause disruptions in my daily routine.

Since early 2014, I’ve been a lot more serious about my health – in sporadic bursts – but I have made some headway. For example: I switched from smoking cigarettes to vaping – which has made me feel a little better, in regards to coughing and wheezing. It’s also nice not to stink – however I know that taking tobacco into my body in any form, is bad.

I also went on a drug called ‘Zonnisamide’ to deal with migraines – a life long issue for me. After a year of taking it (and weaning myself off earlier this year) – I can safely say that my migraines have been drastically reduced. It’s difficult to say if the cigarettes were an issue – as I stopped smoking them at the same time I started taking the drug. In any case – it’s nice not to stink and to be relatively painless.

Around the time I quit the cigarettes and started the drug, I switched to a low sodium diet – where I minimized processed food and cut down on junk. There were times when we (my husband and I) had home cooked meals for weeks at a time – without any junk food. I remember one day – after having been junk free for four weeks, we decided to ‘treat’ ourselves to burgers and fries. They tasted so good – like ambrosia from heaven – but I have to admit that I felt like crap afterwards. I was sluggish and actually felt my blood pressure go up.

We went back to eating healthy for a few more weeks – and again broke it for junk food – which gradually became more common than the home cooked meals. We slid back to an unhealthy diet, with only a few days – here and there – where we ate at home.

I researched low sodium foods and started a Pinterest board – pinning healthy recipes and fact sheets about whole foods, vitamins etc. I was inspired – and found some great alternatives to junk. As my husband is diabetic, I also watched our sugar intake – but he loves the cookies and I kidded myself with thinking that home baked cookies made a difference. We’d eat them as soon as they came out of the oven – feeling vindicated that at least they weren’t store bought, with all the chemicals and god knows what!

My problem is salt. I can stay away from sweets – but savory is where it’s at for me. I love the chips, dips, cheeses, salamis, salty snacks and crackers, creamy casseroles and saucy stews. I find that you can – at times – substitute things like low fat yogurt for sour cream, or herbs and spices for salt, however – I always feel cheated. It’s like, I’d rather eat the real thing sparingly – than eat the ‘lesser’ or substituted version more often.

The thing is – with dieting – there really is only one golden rule: eat healthy and move more. My husband says this over and over like a mantra – and I know it’s true – but discipline is not my strong point. (At least – when it comes to food and exercise!) I can move mountains when I have a project or a deadline. I’m an author – and I write profusely – every day. It’s because I’m highly motivated when it’s something I enjoy doing – or if it’s a means to an end. To me – exercising would cut into my writing time. I already have an attitude towards being a Suzy Homemaker. (More like a lazy Susan! I do what I have to – to get by.)

Working full time is also a nuisance – as I scrimp and save what time I can for my writing. It’s all about prioritizing, organizing and planning. I need to create a schedule – and stick to it.

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That’s why I’ve decided to start this blog series. I remember watching “Julie and Julia” – with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. (Based on a true story.) Julie cooked all 524 recipes from Julia Childs’ cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” – over the course of a year. She wanted to prove to herself that she could see something through to the end. This struck a chord with me – especially in regards to my desire to lose weight and live healthier. To have a goal and stick to it is the only way to achieve success. Doing it on your own makes it easier to fall off the wagon. You can kid yourself that you’ll get back on the wagon tomorrow – which never comes.

Having someone in your corner – or doing it publicly on a blog – not only gives you incentive to keep going, but allows for others to offer advice and become inspired. Sharing information and helping others has always been a strong motivator for me. Applying the advice to my own life? Can you hear the crickets and see the tumbleweeds rolling by? Exactly!

What ultimately spurred me on to start this blog series – was a visit to the doctor for a check up last week. I’ve been having problems with my ankles swelling up, breathlessness and hot flushes. I already take thyroid medication for hypothyroidism. I assumed my medication wasn’t working anymore and wanted to get tested again. I thought that they would give me a higher dose and everything would be sorted. Even though I knew that I’d have to go back to low sodium eating – due to what I thought was high blood pressure – I was shocked with the test results.

Turns out my blood sugar was high! Mind you – I had drunk a third of a Chai Latte before I had my blood taken – but I’d be kidding myself if I disregarded the outcome. Also – they discovered that my thyroid medication was too strong! They’ve dropped me back to a lower dosage.

I came home with a defeatist attitude. I thought to myself – “What’s the point?” I sat in front of my computer and played video games – as the tears started flowing. My husband was in his office and heard me crying. He came in and I blamed it on the disappointing sales of my novels. But deep down – I was angry with myself for being fat and old. My blood sugar is 246 and my weight is 260 pounds. I can’t do anything about my age – but I can do something about my weight.

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I’ve also decided to get back into meditation. There are so many benefits – including stress reduction and lowering blood pressure. The mind is a powerful tool when it comes to attitude and regulating physical and mental health. Negativity floods the system with darkness. It’s time to get positive.

My husband (let’s call him Robert – cos that’s his name!) recently bought a great elliptical machine. Our old one had too short a stride – but this one is far superior. It doesn’t hurt your joints and has a built in-fan and an outlet for your ipod! Now there’s no excuse. I’ll be starting this morning – no less than 20 minutes per day – then building up. I will create a schedule that incorporates exercise, meditation, housework, writing, shopping for healthy foods, cooking – and more writing, promoting and marketing my novels, etc. I also plan to quit vaping – hopefully by the end of the year.

That way I won’t be likely to forego the healthy eating and exercise – using the ‘too busy’ excuse! *sigh*

I will endeavor to share my ‘journey’ – at least once a week – and will post interesting info, recipes and articles that enrich body, spirit and mind. I will be shopping for locally produced food – where possible – and will continue to choose low sodium options, free-range chicken and eggs, organic produce and so on.

To be continued…